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                  Point of View

March, 2008 - Issue No. 26

park image

Dear Friends,

Big changes at the City Council occurred in January. The Council said farewell to Peter Steinbrueck and David Della and welcomed Bruce Harrell and Tim Burgess.  Richard Conlin was unanimously elected Council President.

I am thrilled to chair the Parks and Seattle Center committee. Click here to learn more about this new committee.

I have been asked how the parks responsibilities mesh with my recent experience as the chair of the Housing Human Services and Health Committee and my years of work in the community.  Like Human Services, our Parks and Recreation Department and Seattle Center have programs that change lives, support families and build community.  You will learn more about these programs in this issue.

Best wishes,

Tom Rasmussen
Seattle City Councilmember
Chair, Parks and Seattle Center Committee

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Seattle Center

Century 21 Committee Recommendations

The City is developing a new master plan for the 74 acre Seattle Center. The city is growing and changing and the plan will guide the development of Seattle Center to meet community needs for the next 20 years.

A seventeen member citizen committee, the Century 21 Committee, was appointed by the Mayor to develop a plan that was recently published. To read the recommended plan click here.

The committee did a great job and I am excited about their recommendations. It calls for more open space and less asphalt, new outdoor performance stages, a long overdue renovation of the Center House and a redevelopment of Memorial Stadium that meets the needs of the Center and the Seattle School District, and gives prominence to the memorial itself.

Festal logo Building Community: Festl

Seattle Center's Safeco Insurance Festl is a year-long series of FREE cultural events that honor the richness and diversity of the Pacific Northwest. Festl plays a vital part of Seattle Center's work to bring people together to experience and celebrate the many cultures of our community.
Click here for Festl schedule.

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Department of Parks and Recreation

Changing Lives: The Seattle Conservation Corps

Recently, I visited the Seattle Conservation Corps (SCC) program. This unique Parks Department program began in 1986. SCC trains and employs recently homeless or formerly incarcerated people for living-wage jobs.

SCC currently has approximately 50 people enrolled in the program. After being interviewed and accepted, participants are placed in educational programs and assigned work based upon their needs and goals. SCC case managers arrange supportive services for the participants including drug and alcohol counseling, child support planning, housing assistance, re-issuance of driver's licenses, family re-unification and mental health assistance.

SCC participants work on City projects including traffic circle construction and landscaping for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) construction of bio-swale drainage systems for Seattle Public Utilities and trails and stairs for the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Assistance in securing permanent employment is provided by the case managers at the end of each participant's enrollment. Approximately 65% of the participants who complete the program leave with permanent employment with benefits and an average per hour wage of $12. Often the participants receive permanent work with the City. Approximately 80% of the participants leave the program with stable housing.

One of the SCC members, Ed, enrolled in May 2007. He moved to Seattle in 1991 from New York City. He loves our clean air and Seattle's weather, especially autumn. While at SCC, Ed received his GED, improved his attendance record from previous jobs and is working on his interpersonal relationship skills.

park image One of Ed's first jobs with SCC was at Pratt Park. The job included removing old asphalt paths and putting down new material for the paths. He has moved on to new responsibilities, including the installation of traffic circles for SDOT.

Ed takes Metro every day to the SCC office at Magnuson Park and reports to work by 7:15 a.m. His increased physical activity has resulted in a loss of forty pounds and has increased his endurance on the job.

Learn more about the Seattle Conservation Corps by visiting their website.

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Supporting Families: Specialized Programs

Specialized Programs are for children and adults with severe developmental or multiple disabilities. The Specialized Programs Section provides year-round activities designed and conducted by Parks Department staff.

In February, I met with the staff and members of the Specialized Programs Advisory Council made up of the parents of children who participate in the programs. I learned that this is one of the few programs in the city for families with children living at home with such disabilities. It was powerful to learn the high value the programs provide to the parents and their children who would otherwise be isolated. The parents' trust and admiration for the staff of the Specialized Programs was a testament to the great work of the individuals involved in this program.

About a year ago one of the parents, Jerry Rosso, contacted me. I learned from Jerry that no Specialized Programs were provided in Southeast Seattle and very few in Southwest Seattle and there was a waiting list of children wanting to participate.

With the support of my colleagues on the City Council I provided additional funding in this year's budget to ensure that the Specialized Program activities are available in all neighborhoods and to reduce waiting lists. I will work to ensure that this wonderful program continues to receive the funding it needs in the future.

Learn more about Specialized Programs by visiting their website.

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Building Community: Urban Sparks

Do you or your neighborhood have a great idea but you don't know where to start? Or, are you getting more than a few discouraging words from the City or others? If so, I wanted to highlight a dynamic homegrown community based organization, Urban
, that helps manage and coordinate the implementation of public space projects by bringing together all of the relevant parties.

What I admire about Urban Sparks is they welcome new ideas, and they work to empower neighborhood and community organizations. Urban Sparks coordinates and holds community workshops to generate support and optimism for neighborhood projects. Urban Sparks helps to showcase the significance and richness of community projects.

Recently Urban Sparks assisted with the successful fundraising for a new pedestal and plaza for the newly recast Statue of Liberty replica at Alki Beach. Urban Sparks became the fiscal agent for the Seattle Statue of Liberty Plaza Project Committee. Through the hard work of the committee and the generous donations of community members and businesses, this collaboration raised over $114,000 and the City of Seattle also allocated an additional $50,000 for the project which is now underway. Paul and Libby Carr the co-chairs of the Seattle Statue of Liberty Plaza Project Committee said "Jack Tomkinson from Urban Sparks was like a breath of fresh air because he has a great "Can Do" attitude. You can feel his commitment and excitement as he helps people make a difference in the quality of their environment with not only beautiful, but meaningful public spaces."

Now, Urban Sparks is helping to organize the fundraising and planning for a life-size statue of J.P. Patches and Gertrude, in, where else but, Fremont. The statue will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the debut of the most popular figure in early Seattle television history.

The fundraising will continue through 2008, culminating with the unveiling of the statue this summer. Any monies raised beyond the cost of the statue will be donated to J.P.'s favorite charity, Children's Hospital. In addition, the ICU2TV (if you wonder what that is please click here) will have a slot in the top to collect donations for Children's.

If you know of anyone needing help with a community-based project, I encourage you to contact Urban Sparks to explore whether they can be of assistance.

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In The Community

  • Interbay Foodbank Garden Kick-Off Celebration Interbay P-Patch
    Tuesday, April 1
    5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

  • Food As Art-Forum for Arts and Ideas Bell Harbor Conference Center
    Saturday, April 5
    5:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.

  • Celebration of Seattles Civic Partnerships in Arts and Culture
    5th Avenue Theatre

    Monday, April 7
    6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

  • Seattle Sister Cities Awards Reception Bertha Knight Landes Room, City Hall
    Thursday, April 17
    6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

  • Allied Arts panel discussion on the future of Seattle Center location pending
    Friday, April 25
    6 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

  • Fostering Democracy From the Ground Up lecture Kane Hall, U.W.
    Tuesday, April 29
    5 p.m. - 9 p.m.

  • Lake Union Park dedication Lake Union Park
    Wednesday, April 30
    11 a.m. - 12 p.m.

  • Cascade Lands Conservancy-Conservation Awards breakfast
    WA State Convention Center

    Thursday, May 1
    7:30 a.m. - 9 a.m.

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