About Us

ecoTHRIVE seeks to build affordable villages that are ecologically sustainable and cooperatively owned—creating beautiful places where people thrive and that surrounding neighborhoods are proud of.

Our Vision

We envision vibrant, affordable communities where people are connected with nature and with each other.

Our Mission

Collaborating to create resilient villages.

Why We Do It

While housing affordability is the immediate crisis that drives ecoTHRIVE, our community-building approach addresses the deeper roots that underpin the crisis:

  • The deep need for equity and justice, particularly the need for racial justice in a society growing more unequal and fractured.

  • The intensifying climate crisis, which in our region is worsened by housing costs that drive low-to-moderate income people out of the city, away from areas well served by transit, driving up transportation emissions, the region’s largest source of carbon pollution.

  • The deep need for connection: to ourselves, each other, and nature.

We’re forming a Community Land Trust to create pathways to ownership that are accessible to people earning low incomes, now and for future generations.

We aim to move past traditional affordable housing models—that often displace and isolate people—to build a more collaborative approach that meets human needs while addressing climate and ecological sustainability.

Our Roots

The vision of a Resilient Village emerged from our conversations with community members—at farmer’s markets, community festivals, local parks and homeless encampments throughout King County.

We began each conversation by asking two questions:

  1. What do you need to thrive?
  2. What do you value?

Through hundreds of conversations, responses consistently fell into two areas:

  1. Things that feed the body—water, food, shelter
  2. Things that feed the soul—art, beauty, community

The vision that emerged is a Resilient Village that thrives in a culture of mutual aid, shared resources, interdependence and beauty. With resilience as a touchstone, these communities are designed to withstand the impacts of economic downturns, climate disruption, and food insecurity.

Further conversations and research fueled our confidence that together, we can build truly sustainable communities, make them attractive, and make them last.

How We Work

We are committed to a community-centered, anti-racist process.

From the inception of our concept, we have been committed to listening, particularly to those most impacted by systems of oppression.

We have engaged in hundreds of conversations to develop our concept and our plan and will continue to collaborate with community organizations, particularly BIPOC-led organizations, to identify and recruit resident-owners.

After years of collective experience working in collaborative, grassroots organizations, we’ve learned that the decision-making process has a tremendous impact on the engagement of the team and the effectiveness of the decisions. We use Sociocracy because it’s the best decision making process we have found for organizing cooperative communities.

Our People

We are artists, architects, designers, developers, builders, activists, attorneys and organizers seeking to build sustainable, thriving community-centered villages. Our team includes people who have experienced homelessness and trauma. We all came together to address the housing crisis in King County, Washington.

Core Team

ZsaZsa Floyd headshot

Zsa Zsa Floyd

Board Secretary

Zsa Zsa organized the first homeless march in Eugene, Oregon. “I had $1800 in my pocket and two jobs but no one would rent to me. I was living in a Pinto with 3 kids.” She worked with the head of the NAACP to bring attention to local racial and economic injustice and was appointed to the Springfield (OR) Human Rights Commission where she served for a 4-year term.

After experiencing too many years of homelessness, Zsa Zsa moved into Camp Second Chance in South Seattle where she quickly became a respected leader and board member. She was trusted to mediate conflicts and counsel campers. She describes her role as “Creating a community where people felt safe and at least liked, if not loved, although love is best. And I listened because everything matters.” Zsa Zsa also used her considerable administrative skills to set up the camp’s first bookkeeping system and database.

Zsa Zsa has since moved into permanent housing and continues to advocate for people experiencing homelessness. She began as a consumer advocate for the Community Advisory Group (CAG) of the Seattle/King County’s Health Care for the Homeless Network (HCHN) and was voted onto the Executive Committee. Zsa Zsa currently serves as Vice Chair where she develops agendas for the executive board, determines training needs and facilitates meetings, in addition to her outreach work on the streets.

Building community isn’t just a strong value for Zsa Zsa, it’s part of her DNA. Her grandmother’s family was one of the first Black families in Eugene. Prior to moving into town, they lived in a tent city along the Willamette River. At that time Black people were not allowed to live within the city limits. In the 1960s, Zsa Zsa’s grandmother Mattie Reynolds ran for Eugene City Council and now has a city park named after her, honoring her commitment to social justice. As Zsa Zsa says, “This is where my sense of empowerment comes from.” Zsa Zsa graduated with honors from Sanford-Brown College in 2009.

“We were oppressed and depressed, but we had one another to raise each other up”

—Mattie Reynolds, Zsa Zsa’s grandmother

Susannah Hale headshot

Susannah Hale

Board Treasurer

Susannah, currently a fundraising consultant, has over 15 years of fundraising and partnership investment experience. She has led fundraising campaigns for environmental justice and land conservation efforts, including working closely with donors and tribal councils to secure over 4,000 acres in Kitsap County at the Port Gamble Forest.

Prior to fundraising, Susannah spent a decade running large-scale art fairs and events for a commercial art and design college.

Susannah is committed to doing work that advances a more sustainable world and more equitable society. She is passionate about the intersectionality of economic justice, land conservation, the right to housing, food sovereignty and Native land rights.

Susannah also serves on the Board of Directors for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe Foundation.

Denise Henrikson headshot

Denise Henrikson

Board President & Co-Founder

Denise helped launch the first Fremont Summer Solstice Parade and build the Fremont Troll. In 1996, she initiated the Village Project- a cooperative entrepreneurial education program that connects elementary students to their local communities.. The Village Project continued at BF Day Elementary School until 2020.

Denise’s successes in building joyful community coalitions led to a career in workforce development, providing technical assistance, oversight and analysis to education and training programs throughout the country. In 2007, she instigated Arts A Glow, a community lantern festival in collaboration with the City of Burien. Denise created the Salmon Is Life performance troupe that traveled to Paris for the 2015 Climate talks. It was through supporting Susan Russell’s vision to make art in homeless encampments that ecoTHRIVE Housing was born.

Denise has a Master’s Degree in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College and a BFA in Crafts from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Susan Russell

Susan Russell

Board Member & Co-Founder

Susan is a Real Change vendor who experienced 7+ years of homelessness in Seattle/ King County. She is a requested keynote speaker advocating for human rights, and was awarded the 2018 Real Change Change Agent Award for her work bringing people together through Art, Compassion, Love and Action. Currently, Susan serves as the Program Coordinator for the Phinney Neighborhood Association’s Hot Meals program where she leads a team of volunteers who feed people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity.

In 2016 she co-founded Love Wins Love, to bring people together—homeless and housed—to make art and share stories and ideas for reimagining housing. The conversations generated through Love Wins Love planted the seeds from which EcoTHRIVE Housing has grown. Susan is passionate about creating affordable housing solutions and rebuilding the community as a whole.

 

emma sutton headshot

Emma Sutton

Operations Manager

Emma is a designer, community builder, data enthusiast, and artist. She runs a consulting business (Marjorie Design) which focuses on providing digital infrastructure and project management services to communities and businesses. She is also a member of the 2019 cohort of the Housing Development Consortium‘s affordable housing leadership development course.

Through her studies at Hampshire College, she became driven to ensure that everyone has access to thriving and resilient communities. Emma began her education with a drive to promote environmental sustainability. While exploring sustainable architecture Emma studied how her grandmother had designed her own home. As a nurse and realtor, Emma’s grandmother made a home that she was able to live in for the rest of her life. Emma was inspired by her grandmother’s care, foresight, and innate application of universal design principles and Emma carries those lessons with her in all areas of her life.

Dara Ith

Lead Project Designer/Developer
Dara is a co-founder of Utopia Design + Develop, LLC, which specializes in innovative design, environmental stewardship and cost-effective solutions for new construction. She is a designer and project developer for the past 30 years on a wide variety of project types including custom residential, multi-family and commercial retail center.

Melissa Rasmussen

Grant Application Manager

Melissa believes that humanity can be a beneficial presence on this planet, and that everyone deserves to thrive. She has spent the past fifteen years learning all she can about how to design and cultivate homes and futures that work for everyone. Her interests span sustainable infrastructure, biophilic design, natural building, permaculture, network convening, cooperative ownership, business design, real estate, and land development. She graduated from Evergreen State College in 2019, after spending the early part of her 20s in Canada as a young mother, and spending several years in the tropics studying and building integrated food-forestry and aquaponics systems in four countries. She is passionate about affordable housing, democratic governance, and community land trusts, and is dedicated to ensuring all people have the dignity of shelter, stability, support, autonomy, and a path to a good future.

Greeshma Mysore Girish

Green Building & Sustainable Architecture Advisor

Greeshma Mysore Girish is a sustainable architect who works as a Green Project Coordinator in ArchEcology, Seattle. She uses her analytical skills and technical expertise to help the green building certification process and to make the building more sustainable. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and a Masters’s degree in Sustainable Architecture. She is a LEED Green Associate and Indian Green Building Council Accredited Professional and loves being part of ecoTHRIVE as she shares the same passion for the eco-community as them. She likes painting and spending time in nature in her free time.

Hanae van Wingerden

Event Manager & Affordable, Sustainable Housing Advocate
Hanae’s interest in housing initially sparked from her volunteer experience at a youth homelessness shelter nearby her school. In high school, she went on to pursue a semester-long research project on the impact of discriminatory New Deal housing policies on the racial and socioeconomic disparities seen in the housing scene today, an independent study in sustainable, affordable housing, and started a club to shed light on the lack of affordable housing in the Greater Seattle Area. She recently graduated from Lakeside School and currently attends Middlebury College, where she plans to further pursue her interest in the intersections of sustainability and housing.

Advisors

Tamara Broadhead

Marketing Consultant

Carrie Hawthorne

Communications Consultant

Andrew Heben

Urban Planning & Design Advisor

Pat Park

Real Estate Developer

Our Partners

Our process is community-driven, collaborative, and proven—building on the experience and wisdom of others to ensure an enduring and scalable solution.

SquareOne Villages (SOV) has been an invaluable inspiration and support. SOV builds affordable villages in Lane County, Oregon. The Village Model is an innovative ownership structure SOV is implementing that brings together two forms of shared-equity homeownership—a Community Land Trust and a Limited Equity Cooperative. 

Our immense gratitude goes to the Taubman Foundation for believing in our vision and our ability to carry it through.

We are grateful for the support and collaboration of the following organizations

Together we can shape the future of housing in King County. 

press

We've been featured in some exciting articles and press releases throughout our development process! Here's a round-up (sorted by date).

In Burien, an unusual affordable housing experiment gains steam

November 14, 2022

“Buying a home is out of reach for most low-income families in the ultra-expensive greater Seattle metro area. The city of Burien is trying to change that. It’s experimenting with tiny cottages, with up to two bedrooms, that families earning less than $50,000 per year can buy.”

Read The Article & Listen To The Broadcast

Artist’s Reception for Highline Heritage Museum exhibit will be Friday night

November 2, 2022

“Denise and Susan’s exhibit, “What Do We Need to Thrive?” features batik flags created that were made at over 40 different parks, festivals, farmers markets and encampments in King County. The free exhibit is at the museum through December.”

Read The Article

Burien Council Passes Tenant Protections and Extends Affordable Housing Program

October 29, 2022

“After a tense night of debate, the Burien City Council voted to preserve an affordable housing program for another two years at its October 24 meeting, reversing a decision from the beginning of the month that would have allowed the program to expire and endangered at least one housing development. The council also passed a suite of renter protections that are some of the strongest in the state.”

Read The Article

Burien City Council’s heated session on affordable housing & renters rights lasts over 5 hours

October 25, 2022

“Extending the Affordable Housing Demonstration Program – which has been in effect for three years and is expiring soon – received almost unilateral support among the community members who spoke on it during Public Comments.”

Read The Article

Burien affordable housing program in limbo after City Council refuses to renew it

October 19, 2022

“One of the developers whose plans could be derailed is EcoTHRIVE, which began its application process to the AHDP in July. However, EcoTHRIVE Board President Denise Henrikson told Real Change that she’s talked with all of the city council members and that they support the development of affordable housing, including her organization’s project.”

Read The Article

EcoTHRIVE’s Burien Affordable Housing Village Secures Key Loan

October 14, 2022

“The organization’s vision of using a limited equity cooperative to create a “resilient village” of 26 cottages affordable to people earning 40-50% of area median income (AMI) moved a significant step closer to becoming a reality.”

Read The Article

Affordable housing is about to have a new address in Burien

October 14, 2022

“ecoTHRIVE is an affordable housing development that is set to open in 2025 on a 1.8 acre site in Boulevard Park. Denise Henrikson of ecoTHRIVE said they hope to make it a place where people want to live connected to the land and people around them.”

Read The Article

Modeling a new housing method, with thoughtful design

August 31, 2022

“…Denise Henrikson stood next to a model of a terraced hillside set with small, wood boxes representing homes and handmade cardboard trees.”

Read The Article

Annual Seattle Design Festival Kicks Off August 20

August 15, 2022

“The Collaborative Design Swarm, hosted by ecoTHRIVE Housing, is one installation that should not be missed. Last year The Urbanist wrote about ecoTHRIVE Housing’s innovative model for creating affordable housing in Burien.”

Read The Article

ecoThrive’s Village is on the Way!

August 6, 2022

“Smaller footprints”, which is what a small cottage home offers, is something many folks want as a lifestyle, not a stop-gap. This is what moved Denise Henrikson and Dara Ith to collaborate on the development of a cottage village here in Burien.”

Read The Article

Ignite! Meet Our Speakers

March 23, 2022

“This week, we would like to highlight the work of our keynote speaker, Surya Vanka, and our 2021 partners ecoTHRIVE Housing and Seattle Happy Places, and welcome them all as participants at Ignite!”

Read The Article

EcoTHRIVE to Pilot New Model of Affordable Housing in Burien

September 8, 2021

“If all goes well, the result will be the transformation of an oversized single-family lot into a “resilient village” of tiny houses owned by residents through a limited equity cooperative.”

Read The Article

Reconnect with Community at the 2021 Seattle Design Festival

August 18, 2021

“‘People were dealing with isolation and the ever present connection of a shared traumatic experience during the last eighteen months… The focus of the festival is not to look back at that past, but instead to look forward to what we can emerge to — to heal and to gain new perspectives.'”

Read The Article

Artist and advocate Susan Russell wears her heart on her sleeve

September 12, 2018

“She’s also working on a new housing project called EcoThrive, which is guided by a vision of providing “deeply affordable” housing that focuses on community.”

Read The Article

newsletters

Explore the list of past newsletters below to learn about ecoTHRIVE's evolution and path ahead.

We’re Grateful for a year of Growth

We’ve been a busy group and our work is gaining recognition and publicity. It’s clear that we’re tapping into deep desires and needs that we all hold, food, shelter, love, and most importantly, community…

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We’ve Reached An Incredible Milestone!

EcoTHRIVE Housing is thrilled to announce that the Washington State Housing Finance Commission recently awarded us a $685,000 supportive loan (at 1% interest) to build our pilot Resilient Village…

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Save The Date!


ecoTHRIVE Housing is building a beautiful and affordable village of ecoCottages in Burien, Washington. We’d love to tell you all about it and we have some events coming up to do just that…

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ecoTHRIVE has some exciting events in the coming weeks!

ecoTHRIVE Housing is committed to building resilient villages that can meet the challenges of our changing world- in the built environment (via energy efficiency, permaculture) as well as the social environment…

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Cultivating Roots to Support Growth

We’re ready! We’re ready to start building truly affordable housing that connects people to each other and nature! We’re ready to find LAND to build a village…

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Building Community Block-by-BLOCK

A few weeks ago, six members of the ecoTHRIVE team had the opportunity to meet Bernard “Berns” Troyer, the Construction Project Manager at the BLOCK Project shop. The shop is a construction site for beautiful small homes that are built with love, mostly by volunteers from the community who are guided through the process by BLOCK project staff…

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Learn About Our Finance Circle & More!

How do we ensure that we are creating community-centered housing that is economically and ecologically resilient, not just for one village, but for any that follow? What do we need to support the creation of many villages- to meet the needs for community, affordability and regeneration- and honor the land…

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Building Resilience, Inside & Out

Thank you for being part of the ecoTHRIVE community! And for collaborating with us to create resilient villages. ecoTHRIVE aims to demonstrate resilience in 2 broad realms: the Built Environment – demonstrating affordable, regenerative design principles- and Human Relationships – integrating social systems that encourage harmonious relationships through shared decision-making, transparency and healthy conflict resolution…

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Read About Us In The Urbanist!

The Urbanist just published their piece on ecoTHRIVE! We appreciate the depth of the article and we’re excited to have this opportunity to share our vision. Our pilot project, based on SquareOne’s model, will feature a range of housing types potentially including tiny homes, coliving, duplexes, and row houses to increase density and allow for a diverse range of residents.

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We have some exciting events coming up!

The Seattle Design Fest is coming up soon- the weekend of August 21-22! We need folks to volunteer in our interactive booth- as a greeter, art facilitator and/or help us with load in (Aug 20) and load out (Aug 22)…

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You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it.
—Grace Lee Boggs

handdrawn leaf