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Denis Martynowych, wife Diane and daughter Anika ride their bikes to a ferry.
Media Caption
Denis Martynowych with wife Diane Hetrick and daughter Anika Martynowych.

Inside Sound Transit: Sustainable transit and living

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April is Earth Month, but when you ride or work in public transit, you're doing your part to save energy and protect the environment year-round.

Denis Martynowych, our senior sustainability planner and designer at Sound Transit, is helping to build our vision of sustainability. Our team recently celebrated the news that the Downtown Redmond Link Extension earned an Envision Platinum Award for sustainable infrastructure.

It was the first transit project in Pacific Northwest to achieve Platinum status, helping us achieve our mission to:

  • Help people move freely and affordably by providing regional transit service.
  • Promote stewardship that conserves the planet’s natural environment.
  • Support community prosperity by providing affordable mobility and access to opportunity.

"[Earth Month] is a time to more deeply appreciate that 'nature' is not a place we visit sometimes," Martynowych said. "We are part of nature in every way. Everything we do has a ripple effect."

He has worked at the agency since 2015, and is the subject of this month's "Inside Sound Transit" feature, where we introduce you to the people who make it easier (and more sustainable!) for you to get to where you live, work and play. 

Earlier in his career, he spent 19 years at the University of Washington on the capital projects planning team, helping write their first Climate Action Plan and serving as the Associate Director of the Burke Museum for two years.

Then, he was the Executive Director of a Meditation Retreat Center, and later Director of Facilities for Pioneer Human Services that provides wrap-around services for people transitioning from incarceration.

When it comes to sustainability, Martynowych walks the walk, often biking to work and living in cohousing to lower his environmental footprint. 

Denis in a large group photo with neighbors from Puget Ridge Cohousing
Denis, in greyish knit cap on the top row, with his cohousing neighbors.

Now, on to the questions!

Q: What do you tell your friends you do for work?

A: I say, “I help Sound Transit to build the greenest, healthiest, most equitable transit system possible.” Sound Transit is a national leader in sustainability and I know there is more we can and need to do.

Q: What’s your passion outside of your job?

A: Many passions but near the top is building community. I live in Puget Ridge Cohousing in West Seattle, making it easy to share and borrow stuff that I might otherwise have to buy. Although my own space is only 1,150 square feet, I can reserve the Common House when I want to host a big party for up to 60 people.

Q: What attracted you to work at Sound Transit?

A: High capacity transit has many benefits for building vibrant, human centered, cities and towns and reducing sprawl. It is the kind of work I can feel good about telling future generations that I had a small part in.  

Q: How do you get to work?

A: I most often bicycle to work. It is a good way to get exercise. I am glad that Sound Transit funds access improvement projects that help people walk and bicycle to stations, and I wish we did more. Visiting Copenhagen was inspirational and helped me appreciate what truly high quality a multi-modal transportation system is like.

Q: What three things would you take with you to a desert island (besides food and water)?  

A: Fire starter, Swiss army knife, and a good thick book about mindfulness. I would use all that time waiting to be rescued by practicing meditation more deeply. The practice of meditating would help me let go and freak out less. Even if I was never rescued, hopefully still be able to enjoy the parts of solitary island life that worth enjoying.

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