Bergmann and Capitol Hill Housing to Partner on a New Pollinator Pathway

For Immediate Release

Bergmann and Capitol Hill Housing to Partner on a New Pollinator Pathway™ 

Seattle, WA — A busy new thoroughfare will connect Seattle University’s campus with Volunteer Park. That’s the hope of Pollinator Pathway founder Sarah Bergmann and Capitol Hill Housing’s EcoDistrict Director Joel Sisolak. Bergmann and Capitol Hill Housing are teaming up with Seattle University and the University of Washington to begin pre-design and pre-development of a new 1.5 mile Pollinator Pathway for native bees, butterflies, birds and other pollinators between Seattle University’s grounds and the trees and gardens of Volunteer Park. Capitol Hill Housing and Bergmann announced the initiative as part of National Pollinator Week.

“We’re looking at 11th Avenue,” says Sisolak. “We like that it includes the eastern edge of Cal Anderson Park and the green space by Lowell Elementary School before reaching Volunteer Park. It also could be a central piece of the new Arts District being planned for Capitol Hill.”

Sisolak and Bergmann hope that the residents and property owners along 11th Ave will like the idea, too. “We are just beginning to talk with stakeholders about the north-south route,” Sisolak notes. “We hope they’ll embrace the concept like the folks on Columbia Street have.”

The project on 11th Ave would be the second official Pollinator Pathway. The partners are also committed to completing the first Pollinator Pathway, the original concept project started by Bergmann in 2008. Currently 20 gardens on Columbia Street comprise the first Pathway between Seattle University and Nora’s Wood, a pocket park in the Madrona neighborhood; another 40 gardens will complete the project.

Often called a New Audubon project, the Pollinator Pathway merges art, design, planning and science, and is getting national attention in urban design and ecology circles. Bergmann has received a Genius Award from The Stranger and the Betty Bowen Award (administered by the Seattle Art Museum) for her work. With local and national recognition has come increased interest from local and national entities in developing new projects, and Bergmann is working with partners to institutionalize the project’s requirements for connectivity, ecology, urban density, long term planning and design.

Bergmann’s vision is to rebind and strengthen isolated green spaces across multiple scales and landscape types to achieve lasting, networked habitat – connecting parks to parks, and working across cities to develop an ecological connection between cities, farms and wilderness. The Pollinator Pathway concept is simple but the important work is in the details. “This is a team effort that requires strong collaborative partnerships and long-term planning. A longstanding community development organization like Capitol Hill Housing is a natural partner for the expansion of the project, especially within the context of an EcoDistrict,” says Bergmann.

A north-south Pollinator Pathway through the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict would expand the model to include much denser land uses. While the Columbia Street corridor has primarily single family homes where gardens are hosted by homeowners in planting strips, an 11th Avenue Pathway would be integrated with small commercial, institutional, mixed use and apartment buildings.

“It’s an interesting design challenge,” says Nancy Rottle about the north-south route. Rottle, a landscape architect and director of the University of Washington Green Futures Lab, will encourage Master of Landscape Architecture students to assist with pre-design and community engagement activities associated with the second Pollinator Pathway. In a letter of support for the project, Rottle connects it with Seattle’s Olmsted legacy.

The Olmsted Brothers firm of Brookline, Massachusetts was hired in 1902 to create a comprehensive plan for parks in the young City of Seattle. Many of Seattle’s most beloved parks were designed by the firm, including Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson and Volunteer Parks. The Olmsted Plan emphasized “naturalistic parkland” and a series of boulevards that would connect Seattle’s parks as a city-wide network of green spaces.

A Pollinator Pathway on 11th Avenue would add an ecological layer to the Olmsted strategy: reconnecting two Olmsted Parks and creating beautiful habitat for people and pollinators, while creating an iconic project within the heart of Capitol Hill.

“Will the neighborhood embrace the second Pollinator Pathway? We think so,” says Sisolak. “Who doesn’t like flowers, birds and butterflies?”