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Seattle Department of Neighborhoods News
Spring 2010

In This Issue...

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A message from the director

Director Stella Chao

This has been a busy and rewarding spring for all of us at Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.  From winning a prestigious historic preservation award to opening new P-Patches, our staff has been has been busy celebrating, stewarding and engaging with community members and our city's neighborhoods. 

We say that Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is about "connecting people, communities and government."  But beyond the job of just connecting them, we develop partnerships, build relationships, engage ALL people from ALL backgrounds, and provide ideas, resources and tools to help community members create a stronger neighborhood and city. 

We serve as a catalyst.  By that, I mean we help get things going, but the rest is up to you. It might begin as a simple gesture - a phone call, perhaps, to a District Coordinator - those Department of Neighborhood staff out in the communities, working with communities.  Information is shared, contacts are made, ideas are created, resources are found.  Then, with our support, a group of neighbors, the concerned citizen, or a community organization takes that first step, then the next, and the next.  And before you know it, magnificent things happen: a weedy lot becomes a P-Patch, a historic building is saved, an immigrant helps plan his neighborhood's future, a teen joins the Seattle Youth Commission and helps shape city policy. 

Take that first step, make that phone call, use our help and make great things happen in your community!

Stella Chao
Director, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods

Historic Preservation's work honored at Historic Seattle awards ceremony

By Karen Gordon, Historic Preservation and Major Institutions Manager
Seattle Department of Neighborhoods' Historic Preservation Program and the City's Landmarks Preservation Board, along with Katheryn Krafft, Karin Link and Mimi Sheridan, project consultants, were honored at Historic Seattle's Second Annual Preservation Awards Ceremony at the Women's University Club on May 11. The Downtown Historic Resource Survey and Inventory was recognized for "Excellence in Preservation Planning" and was honored along with a range of projects in downtown Seattle.

The City's Downtown Historic Resources Survey is a component of the City's downtown planning efforts and was conducted in conjunction with changes made to the downtown zoning code in 2006. Approximately 387 properties were included in the survey and inventory. Of those buildings, 92 properties were identified as eligible for nomination as a Seattle landmark, and landmark nomination applications were prepared for submission to the Landmarks Preservation Board. This survey and inventory effort will assist property owners with planning for both preservation of historic buildings, adaptive re-use of historic buildings, as well as new development.

In photo from left: Mark Hannum, Mimi Sheridan, Karin Link, Kate Krafft, Karen Gordon, Sarah Sodt, and Vernon Abelsen

Mayor McGinn tours neighborhoods with community members

Contributors: District Coordinators Yun Pitre, Southeast, and Ed Pottharst, North District
Since March, Mayor McGinn has been connecting with community members by taking walking tours of their neighborhoods. Organized by the Neighborhood District Coordinators, these tours engage the Mayor directly and personally with neighborhood stakeholders to get a better understanding of the opportunities, challenges and successes in their neighborhoods.

In April, more than 200 community members participated in an extensive walking tour of Lake City. Community representatives shared their vision for the Lake City Community Center, as well as their desire for sidewalks and streetscape amenities. On a sunny May day, Rainier Beach kicked off their tour at the Atlantic City Nursery where over 50 people gathered to greet the Mayor. He toured Lake Washington Apartments, the business core, and South Shore Court, plus learned about the many projects that organizations were working on to make their community an even better place to live and work.

Picardo P-Patch celebrates Seattle's 1st public composting toilet

By Jake Hanson, Community Relations
We are relieved to announce that Seattle has its first composting toilet, now installed at the Picardo Farm P-Patch community garden in Wedgwood! On April 3, Picardo hosted the opening ceremonies, featuring a T.P. ribbon cutting, speeches by local dignitaries, and garden tours for the public. VIP and emcee Ciscoe Morris shared his excitement with the audience and his appreciation for its usefulness and uniqueness. Big thanks went to volunteers Trent Elwing and Eileen Long for seeing the entire process through to its completion. For information on the composting toilet, visit the Clivus website and for event photos, visit our Flickr page.

In photo from left: Trent Elwing, Katherine Forbush, Don Mills (of Clivus Multrum), Betsy Bridwell, and Gwen Heisterkamp of Picardo Farm

Efforts to help South Park as closure of bridge gets closer

By Andres Mantilla, Community Capacity Manager
As the bridge closure date of June 30th approaches, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods continues to work with King County on the impacts that the bridge closure will have on the South Park businesses and community. Along with the Office of Economic Development, we're visiting every business in South Park to identify their specific issues and concerns leading up to the June closure date.

Simultaneously, our department is leading a team of city departments in identifying creative strategies to activate the street end in ways that will bring the South Park residents and business community together. We have organized a number of meetings with community and business leaders to discuss these ideas, as well as discuss other suggestions that have stemmed from previous community events.

For more information on the bridge closure, including the planned alternate routes and Metro changes, please click here.

Nearly $700,000 awarded through Small & Simple Neighborhood Matching Fund

By Jake Hanson, Community Relations
The Neighborhood Matching Fund Program recently announced the Small and Simple award recipients for the first half of 2010! With awards totaling $692,256 for 48 projects, awardees were delighted to hear that up to $20,000 in funding would be allocated for their projects to match the amount they raise through their volunteer hours, materials, and cash.

 "Partnerships between city and community are more important than ever in this economy. Now in its 22nd year, the Neighborhood Matching Fund program continues to support the many projects that are so valuable to the communities in Seattle," said Stella Chao, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Director.  

This year's awardees will use funding to train youth in violence alternatives, engage at-risk and under-served students through mural creation, create safer bike circulation systems, and much more. Please note: July 12 is the 2010 deadline for new proposals.

Fremont celebrates opening of Hazel Heights P-Patch

By Beckey Sukovaty, Hazel Heights Volunteer Site Coordinator
Seattle's newest garden, Hazel Heights P-Patch community garden, in Fremont is off and growing thanks to many generous donors including Seattle's Neighborhood Matching Fund! Since the grand opening on March 21, gardeners on the 18 regular plots have planted everything from artichokes to zucchini. Bumper crops of radishes and greens are already being harvested, irrigated from the on-site cistern that collects rainwater from the roofs of nearby homes. The 19th plot is being gardened by neighborhood volunteers for the nearby Family Works food bank, and has already donated over five pounds of scallions and other spring produce. Other committees are busy tackling the many needs of a new site, including getting our bees settled into their hive. All are welcome to come see how our garden grows!  Note: See additional photos and video clips on our Flickr page.

City Hall celebrates "Spring Into Bed" during the Year of Urban Agriculture

In February, the Mayor and City Council announced 2010 as the Year of Urban Agriculture, a campaign to promote urban agriculture efforts and increase community access to locally grown food. Seattle Department of Neighborhoods has been partnering with community groups, coalitions, and small businesses to further this work. We recently convened a City interdepartmental team to coordinate and implement progressive food systems policies and practices, inviting key community leaders to share research and partnership ideas. 

To celebrate the grassroots "Spring Into Bed" garden-building effort that happened across the city in May, we worked with community groups P-Patch Trust and Solid Ground's Lettuce Link, to expand the City Hall container garden on the building's 7th floor.  Local businesses provided support as well: Magnolia Garden Center donated planters, Cedar Grove provided soil, Lettuce Link and Mayor McGinn provided seeds, and the Bucket Brigade donated plant starts.  Tended by the Mayor's Office staff, produce grown in the garden will be donated to Northwest Harvest's Cherry Street Food Bank a few blocks away.

Desperately seeking sweet spots for new P-Patch community gardens

By Laura Raymond, P-Patch Program Coordinator
Thanks to the Parks and Green Spaces Levy passed by voters in 2008, we're growing new P-Patch community gardens in Seattle.  New and expanded gardens are up and running in the Central Area, West Seattle, South Park, Fremont, and Eastlake.  Others are in process on Capitol Hill, Rainier Valley, and Roxhill/Westwood. Now we need your help identifying other locations for new P-Patch community gardens! The P-Patch Program's primary goal with new garden development is to increase community gardening opportunities in Seattle, especially for underserved communities.  We're especially interested in publicly-owned land in priority areas. These areas are underserved by the P-Patch Community Gardening Program, are becoming denser and have relatively high percentages of under-represented populations, or are called out in the Parks and Green Spaces Levy itself.  From now until August, we welcome community suggestions for potential garden spots. You can submit your idea here. Like all P-Patch community gardens, these projects will be public resources that build and sustain community as they are imagined, built, and cared for into the future. Your good suggestions are a key first step.

Seattle City Council approves ten new historic landmarks

By Sarah Sodt, Landmarks Preservation Board Coordinator
On May 10, Seattle City Council approved landmark designation ordinances for ten new City of Seattle landmarks.  Representing a number of neighborhoods, these ten landmarks exemplify the diversity and the rich cultural and architectural heritage of our City.  The Landmarks Preservation Board approved the nomination, designation, and controls and incentives for each of these landmarks, and forwarded the draft ordinances to City Council for approval. 

The landmarks are: (Former)First United Methodist Church; MGM Building; Sorrento Hotel; (Former) Sixth Church of Christ (Scientist); Egan House; Coca-Cola Bottling Plant; Fire Station # 13; and Seattle Center House, Kobe Bell, and Horiuchi Mural, which are all at Seattle Center.

Our Historic Preservation team works closely with the owners and applicants on all aspects of the nomination and designation process, from the preparation of the nomination to the final approval of the designation ordinance by City Council. To watch for upcoming nominations and designations, click here.

Large increase in visitors at Neighborhood Service Centers

Our Neighborhood Payment and Information Services (NPIS), located at seven of the Neighborhood Service Centers, have seen a significant increase in the number of community members visiting the sites.  The largest reason is due to utility customers who are making smaller but more frequent payments on their accounts.  "We know that the downturn in the economy has affected our visitors in a variety of ways.  I'm glad we are here in the neighborhood to help people, albeit in a small way, through these harder times," says Margaret Cesena, manager of NPIS and Facilities.  In addition to taking utility payments, NPIS offers information on human services, city jobs and other resources. 

Three hundred youth discuss key issues at Youth Town Hall

By Jenny Frankl, SYC Program Coordinator
On May 22, nearly 300 youth congregated at the Vera Project for the annual Seattle Youth Town Hall hosted by the Seattle Youth Commission (SYC).  This event provided youth the opportunity to discuss issues that are important to them with elected officials and with each other.  The day began with a Youth Resource Fair in which 25 organizations connected youth with various programs and opportunities for involvement. Following the fair, attendees spoke directly with Mayor McGinn and Seattle City Councilmembers Tim Burgess, Sally Clark, Sally Bagshaw and Mike O'Brien in a moderated Q & A session.  The youth raised questions on issues such as community center closings, segregation in schools, bus and road safety, support for youth programming, and a host of environmental concerns.  The Mayor and City Councilmembers embraced the discussion which contributed to the general youth response that "they felt HEARD!"  Following the discussion, youth broke into youth-facilitated roundtable groups to discuss issues in more depth:  youth-police relations, youth violence, climate change, public transportation, community center/pool closures, and education.

Even though the Seattle Youth Town Hall marks the close of the 2009-2010 Seattle Youth Commission program year, the present youth commissioners will continue to track the progress of the proposals they recommended to the Mayor and City Council in early May.

Submit your events to our online calendar!

By Jake Hanson, Community Relations
Seattle offers a variety of neighborhood events and opportunities, and now it is easier than ever to access and promote those events on the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods online calendar. We encourage you to post events that are happening in your neighborhoods and promote the calendar to anyone who might find it useful. The calendar can be found here, along with instructions on how to submit events.

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