Mental Health During COVID-19

Muguette Guenneguez is the executive director of NAMI Seattle, an affiliate of National Alliance on Mental Illness. Muguette sat down with us to talk about mental health in the time of COVID-19 and her collaboration with the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict.

“There are no words to describe how impacted our communities have been by this crisis, from the youngest people to the oldest people,” Muguette said. “What is going to be normal? You don’t know. This uncertainty is taking a toll on everyone, and we want to be there for the community to offer support. We have trainings, workshops that we have available online for people and businesses for them to offer support to their staff, their colleagues.”

Muguette works to support her community every day, designing next steps and coordinating efforts to connect people with resources. Later this month, she will join the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict for their Community Tea series to promote ways individuals can take care of themselves during this crisis.

“I don’t have all the answers, but I think we need to shield our children from some of the information out there – maybe we need to shield ourselves from some of the information out there too,” Muguette said. “Take ten minutes to catch up on the news, and then walk away. Eat balanced diets; refrain from drinking too much. Connect with friends and family.”

Muguette also encourages families to make the most of this time together.

“Some families enjoy cooking together, some families enjoy playing board games together, some families enjoy watching movies together. Whatever it is, do it together,” Muguette said. “I would also say that it’s important to have those conversations with parents, friends, people you cannot see. It’s important to keep those relationships going. It’s also important to do the things that centered you before – whether it was meditation, whether it was praying – continue doing it within the confine of your home, if possible. Myself, I love to garden. Anytime I have a free moment, I rush to the garden because this is where I love to be. People have to do what’s best for them.”

NAMI was started in 1979 by Eleanor Owen. Today, 41 years later, it is an association with more than 800 affiliates. NAMI Seattle works in three focused areas: educating communities, offering support to those dealing with mental illness, and advocacy.

“Advocacy is quite important because in raising awareness and supporting people, we need our elected officials and the community at large to know how important it is to support all community members who are dealing with mental illness,” Muguette said. “People with mental illness can lead, actually do lead, very successful and fulfilling lives, but they need the support of the community for that to happen.”

NAMI Seattle has a variety of support groups that meet throughout the Seattle area. There are peer-to-peer groups; support groups for family members; and groups that highlight the voices, stories, and lived experiences of those who have mental illnesses.

“That people are talking about these issues, that might be the silver lining of this pandemic,” Muguette said. “They’re not necessarily saying the words ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety,’ but you can tell that this has affected them in a very emotional way. This is not the way we would have hoped to start the conversation, but we will take it from there.”

Stormwater Matters: Here’s Why

The Capitol Hill EcoDistrict and the Seattle 2030 District have identified several areas in Capitol Hill that could be developed as stormwater retention sites.

In the Emerald City of the Evergreen State, there’s one green initiative that often gets overlooked: stormwater management. Stormwater is the runoff of rainwater and melted snow that directly impacts water quality. In a city that averages 38 inches of rain a year on a particularly hilly, impermeable topography, effective stormwater management becomes a pressing issue.

Rather than lament the perfect storm of factors that create this problem, the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict teamed up with the Seattle 2030 District to effect change. Steven Fry, programs director for the Seattle 2030 District, works on sustainability concerns every day. According to Steven, a stormwater walking tour was a natural first step.

“We figured we would take it to the public, engage with them, see what features they liked, and get a better sense of where they wanted work to be prioritized in the neighborhood,” Fry said. “The intention of the walk was, ‘How can we reimagine space in Capitol Hill that is either underutilized or overlooked to improve community resilience and improve public space with the added goal of stormwater management?’”

A walk in any direction in Capitol Hill will plainly reveal the issue the EcoDistrict and Seattle 2030 are driving at: cement abounds. According to Fry, the number one way to combat stormwater is to keep the water on site – how it would behave in a natural setting. However, in an increasingly developed urban setting, it becomes difficult to identify viable opportunities for green space.

“The vast majority of people still don’t understand what stormwater is and why it’s an issue,” Fry said. “They just think it’s raining, and they’re like ‘Oh, bummer. It’s raining today.’ But what we want them to think about is: All this rain means that our sewer systems are likely overflowing right now, that there’s direct runoff that doesn’t even go into the sewer or just goes straight into the lakes.”

Stormwater is very pollutant heavy. Flowing through urban areas, the water picks up grease, oil, fertilizers, pesticides, bacteria, sediment – all the trappings of dense cities.

“These chemicals morph and evolve as they come into the water streams, and then that’s literally discharged straight into our waterways,” Fry said. “When you have a salmon corridor like we do, they’re swimming straight through all this water that’s very polluted, and it decimates salmon populations, so they can’t spawn, they just die. They lose all motor functions. And it’s just devastating to the salmon population, which is in turn starving the orcas because they don’t have enough food.”

Stormwater management has benefits that extend beyond preserving our salmon and orca populations. The utility of green space becomes multifaceted the further it’s examined.

“I think a very critical piece of this is that it isn’t just about stormwater,” Fry said. “Green space improves air quality; it reduces urban heat islands. It’s shown to improve the mental and physical health of the community. All of these features improve resiliency, especially as climate change impacts increase. Part of the goal of this is to make people realize how valuable these spaces are and what we can do to improve them and add more of them.”

The stormwater walk has been postponed, but Fry and EcoDistrict representatives remain optimistic that it will take place. Stay tuned for more details as the situation evolves.

Special Meeting Notice


 December 8, 2016

Capitol Hill Housing will hold a special meeting of the CHH EcoDistrict Steering Committee in the Pike/Pine Meeting Room of the 12th Ave Arts building at 1620 12th Avenue Suite 206 from 5:00 – 6:30 pm on Friday, January 13, 2017. This is a change from the original date of the meeting, which was previously scheduled for Friday, December 9, 2016.

Thank you,

Capitol Hill Housing


Meet EcoDistrict Director Joel Sisolak

Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) has been working with community leaders over the past two years to establish an EcoDistrict on Capitol Hill. CHH and the EcoDistrict steering committee, led by Seattle University’s Robert Schwartz and local developer Liz Dunn, are pleased to announce the hiring of Project Director Joel Sisolak.

What’s an EcoDistrict? It’s sustainability applied at the neighborhood scale. EcoDistricts provide a framework for realizing advanced sustainability by reducing pollution, restoring ecosystems and strengthening communities – through behavior change, building design and infrastructure investments.

In the first phase of the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict, CHH conducted an analysis of neighborhood resources, and produced a report in collaboration with GGLO. Six performance areas were established: community, transportation, energy, water, habitat and materials.

The EcoDistrict seeks to engage Capitol Hill’s active community to improve the neighborhood’s health and resiliency and become a role model for other communities – encouraging city, state and national governments to match Capitol Hill’s commitment to sustainable development.

Learn more at or visit the facebook page:

EcoDistrict bike tour

On April 4, Capitol Hill Housing co-hosted (along with Cascadia Green Building Council and Cascade Bicycle Club) a bicycle tour of the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict.

It was a great turnout and participants talked about ways to strengthen the health and sustainability of the neighborhood. If you missed the tour but want to be a part of the EcoDistrict, look for future events and other opportunities for involvement on facebook.

Learn more about the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict.

Capitol Hill EcoDistrict Bike Tour

On Thursday, April 4, Capitol Hill Housing, Living Future Institute, Cascade Bicycle Club and neighborhood partners will host a bicycle tour around Capitol Hill.

Stops along the way will highlight some of the great neighborhood efforts to promote healthy living, walking and biking. It will end with happy hour at Sam’s Tavern at 11th and Pike with a few words about the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict effort and a discussion led by Dr. Howard Frumpkin about the relationship between neighborhood design and health.

The ride will depart from 11th and Pike at 4pm. Registration (FREE) is required. Get details and sign up here. No registration required for the happy hour at 5pm.

World Water Day

Today is World Water Day.

Did you know that water is one of the six performance areas addressed by the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict? The intent is to conserve potable water, and reduce blackwater production and stormwater runoff.

Cutting back on the water we use is good for the environment, for wildlife, and for our future. And it can lower your water bills, too! Check out for tips on conserving water at home and at work.

Learn more about the Cedar River Watershed, the source of drinking water for most of Seattle (including Capitol Hill).

Creating an EcoDistrict

How do we make Capitol Hill a model of sustainable development?

Capitol Hill Housing’s 7th Annual Community Forum   

Moderator: Former HUD Deputy Secretary and King County Executive Ron Sims

EcoDistrict report cover imageDistinguished panelists:
•    Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn
•    Denis Hayes, President of the Bullitt Foundation and founder of Earth Day
•    Naomi Cole, EcoDistrict Program Director at Portland Sustainability Institute
•    Llewellyn Wells, President of Living City Block
•    Rebecca Saldaña, Equitable Transit Oriented Development Program Director at Puget Sound Sage

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway, Seattle, WA  98122
•    5:00 PM Doors open
•    5:30 PM Presentation & Panel Discussion
•    7:00 PM Reception

Capitol Hill Housing is leading the effort to create an EcoDistrict in our neighborhood.

We invite you to hear a presentation on Capitol Hill EcoDistrict research, join a discussion with a panel of local and national urban sustainability leaders, and find out how you can become an active participant in the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict. Together we can make Capitol Hill a model for sustainable development!

Free and open to the public – RSVP required – Register now.

Learn more about the EcoDistrict.

Produced by the Capitol Hill Housing Foundation in partnership with The Bullitt Foundation, GGLO, Preservation Green Lab, Seattle University; Event sponsors: Boeing, Weyerhaeuser

The Rebirth of Sustainable Capitol Hill

Sustainable Capitol Hill Meeting Flyer

After a year of hibernation, Sustainable Capitol Hill is back with a string of Spring meetings focusing on food and the environment.  At the first of these meetings Capitol Hill Housing will give an introduction to our organization and then plunge into a workshop on sustainability and the connections between food systems, stormwater infrastructure, and urban gardening.  The workshop comes thanks to research CHH has done as part of our EcoDistrict Initiative.  Stay tuned for announcements about the release of our EcoDistrict report later this Spring.

The March meeting is tonight!  Details and facebook sign up below.

We’ll start at 6:30pm with a potluck and continue with the meeting at 7pm.

Hope to see you there!

Sustainable Capitol Hill March Meeting

Monday, March 5
6:30p Potluck
7:00p CHH & EcoDistrict Presentation

At Bluebird Microcreamery
1205 E Pike St., Suite 1A
Second Floor Meeting Room