News and Insights

Place-Based Philanthropy Supports Urban Sustainability


Mitchell Thomashow, Catalyst Fellow | Cities consist of many communities tied together by proximity, infrastructure and networks. But what happens when some communities are overlooked, when neighborhoods are gentrifying or otherwise going through changes that may not necessarily be in everyone's best interest? How do you prevent this from happening — or how do you deal with it when it does? Place-based philanthropy can ensure the sustainability of urban development efforts by providing long-term strategy, mobilizing patient capital and connecting funders with grassroots community leaders. In the Northwest, I recently visited three extraordinary urban sustainability projects that demonstrate the power of place-based philanthropy as a convener and catalyst: Yesler Terrace in Seattle, Living Cully in Portland and the Puyallup Watershed Initiative in greater Tacoma. more »

Embracing a Place-Based Approach to Our Work


Mitchell Thomashow, Catalyst Fellow | For each of us, our community, landscape and identity create a fluid concept: place. Environmental thinkers use place as a common ground for deepening local awareness of ecological relationships, with bioregionalism as a compelling manifestation of that impulse, suggesting that political boundaries, governance and public policy must be considered within the natural connections of geographic settings. We regard place-based thinking as the foundation of community relationships as well as the appropriate scale for civic engagement; this concept has also become part of the literature in anthropology, economics, education and political science. We believe it has an important role to play in philanthropy, as well, as The Russell Family Foundation and other Philanthropy Northwest members have demonstrated in their place-based community partnerships. more »