SPP Peer to Peer gathering
By Joslyn Rose Trivett, SPP Network Manager
All photos by Kelly Frakes, Capitol Programs
Twenty-two people gathered at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center (CRCC) for a two-day, high-intensity meeting at the end of June. This was a “peer to peer” event, funded in part by the SPP Network Conference Grant from the National Science Foundation. To make plans for CRCC’s sustainability programs, we brought experts (“peers”) in sustainability from Airway Heights Corrections Center and Washington State Penitentiary, WA Department of Ecology, Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), and SPP staff from Washington Department of Corrections headquarters and The Evergreen State College. Many of CRCC’s administrative and operations staff joined the meeting, and they proved both gracious hosts and willing subjects.
The first order of business for the visitors was learning about CRCC’s campus and existing sustainability programs. CRCC’s main complex is Washington’s newest prison, opened in 2009. It holds the distinction of being the only LEED Gold Certified prison campus in the country. Linda Glasier from WA Ecology related that the extra costs incurred by meeting LEED Gold standards was paid back in about six months (through energy savings), and that CRCC is one of the state’s most resource-efficient complexes. This infrastructure could be the foundation for surpassing sustainable operations programs in a prison.
After an initial welcome and setting the stage, the group toured many areas of the expansive campus: kitchen, warehouse, laundry, textile shop, a living unit, the main yard, and waste collection sites. We also visited the recycling center, housed in the older, minimum security area. All were impressed by the rigorous sorting and the impressive reductions in waste already accomplished. All were also impressed by the extreme heat outside—even though we were not in the heat of summer, many bodies were wilting in the hot, arid environment!
Day two of the gathering was devoted to a marathon meeting. The group participated in a “brain dump,” committing to paper their ideas for sustainability programming. We also heard from our visiting experts. Linda Glasier from Ecology encouraged CRCC not to talk about “waste”. The materials called “waste” are actually commodities, and there are better uses and destinations for those resources than the landfill. Along similar lines, Sergeant Resor from the Correctional Facility at JBLM advised the group to “throw nothing away!”
The results of the brain dump were organized into topics, and the group voted to determine three top priorities for action:
- Elimination of single-use plastics
- Zero net waste
- Education and culture change
With determination and focus, the group crafted action plans for the three initiatives. We emphasized immediate next steps and short term goals. We left the meeting with concrete commitments to further building on the already-excellent sustainability programs at CRCC.