From our sister site The SeaTac Blog:

Local community activist Noemie Maxwell has written a poem in an effort to share her concerns about the risks to our region’s urban forests, targeted to airplane travelers flying in and out of Sea-Tac Airport.

Maxwell lives and works under the flight paths of Sea-Tac Airport.

“This risk to our urban forest needs people to ‘hear’ in different ways how we need to act to stop it,” she said.

Maxwell is also volunteer forest steward in North SeaTac Park with the Green SeaTac Partnership.

“I love this beautiful and many-storied park,” she said. “It was promised to the people in compensation for the severe impacts of the airport and that promise should never be broken.”

Over this last summer, she organized the “No Airport Parking in North SeaTac Park” petition which called on the Port of Seattle to withdraw plans in its Sustainable Airport Master Plan to pave over 11 acres of forested land inside North SeaTac Park.

“That petition succeeded, thanks to the responsiveness of current Port Commissioners and, most of all, 2,400 community members who signed it,” she said.

Signers included multiple elected officials (thank you, SeaTac, Burien, Des Moines, Tukwila, Normandy Park, and King County Council!) and two incoming Port Commissioners, Hamdi Mohamed and Toshiko Hasegawa. Every one of these signers stepped up to defend the community.

“I lost two close family members to lung cancer, have done related volunteer work helping people improve their indoor air quality, I am deeply concerned about the health impacts on children and other vulnerable people of the Port’s deforestation plans in our community where levels of pollution from air traffic overhead are so high,” she added. “I beg the Port of Seattle with all my heart: Don’t Deforest the City of SeaTac. These trees save lives.”

Here’s her poem:

To Travelers flying over the City of SeaTac

We’re in a city that has two names
One for the Mother of Waters that stores up the rains
One for Sealth of the Duwamish tribe
So long unrecognized
Under the towering pines
Bulldozers are coming
Travelers please look down
We’re in a city in a roar of planes
Crossroads of the traveler and the displaced
Generations, wave after wave
Those forced out and those chased in
Wetlands and lakes they filled them in
Bulldozers are coming
Travelers please look down
So many promises here’s just one
They’ll leave us our garden
cause they took the homes
The trees protect us from poison rained
By the planes but they fell them and strip the ground
Parking and warehouses all around
Who’ll speak for the salmon and owl
Bulldozers are coming
Travelers please look down

Maxwell is also encouraging people to write to Port of Seattle Commissioners: “Don’t deforest the communities under my flight paths”:

Some explanation:
Mother of Waters refers to the “Tac” in SeaTac – which comes from the city of Tacoma. Tacoma, in turn, is named after what is now known as Mount Rainier, but was once known as Tahoma – and reportedly considered by the first people in this region as the “Mother of Waters” as it stored up rains in its glaciers until the dry season.

“The Port of Seattle, which operates the airport, wants to cut down 31 acres of trees inside the park and over 70 outside of it for warehouses and parking lots,” Maxwell added. “This park was promised to the people as compensation for the severe impacts of the airport – including the fact that thousands of people were forced to move out of here, losing their homes, schools, businesses, to make way for the airport from the 1940s – 1980s. Now, people in this neighborhood are found to live years less – probably because of the poisons rained down from the planes. And it’s found that coniferous trees are highly effective at catching these poisons. In fact the county Dept. of Health has recommended planting more of them here for that reason. If travelers knew – they’d get the Port to do the right thing.”

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