Outside Citywide

The Importance of Public Space to a Thriving City

Outside Citywide is a collaborative initiative to create a flourishing, equitable, well-connected network of public green spaces across Seattle. Public spaces are critical infrastructure for the health and well-being of our communities and environment. Access to public outdoor space gives city-dwellers opportunities to relax, exercise, play, connect with nature, and safely gather with friends and family.

Through partnerships and innovation, Outside Citywide identifies priority areas and key strategies to improve public space at the city scale, while also testing and improving these strategies by implementing projects at the neighborhood scale. We work with youth and community leaders to create public spaces that tackle environmental and climate injustice while also celebrating and bolstering cultural and community identities.

Equity and Environmental Justice

Past City policies and investment decisions have created and perpetuated significant racial disparities in access to green space and safety from environmental harms. Unhealthy environmental conditions (like air pollution) and vulnerability to climate risks (such as sea level rise) disproportionately impact communities of color and lower-income residents. Future green investments should focus on addressing these disparities and improving the health and safety of frontline communities. However, we also must be very mindful of how we do this work to avoid green gentrification-the heightened displacement risk that can result from new parks or green amenities. By working closely with communities, we can identify strategies to avoid unintended harms. Simultaneously investing in both people and places, and co-delivering public space alongside jobs, affordable housing, education, and other opportunities, can help to ensure that our communities are able to thrive in place.

Climate Resiliency

We have already begun to experience the impacts of climate change in this region. Witnessing our skies completely blackened by wildfire smoke has become a seasonal occurrence. And these impacts will only worsen in the coming years. Sea level rise will begin to threaten shorelines, especially along the Duwamish. Dense, paved urban areas will face more dangerous extreme heat events. We need to develop solutions that use public space to protect shorelines, divert flood waters away from homes and businesses during big storms, and help cool the city during heat waves. Through this initiative, we explore how public space infrastructure not only provides outdoor recreation space, but also protects our community from floods, heat, and other climate impacts.

Resources for Addressing Green Gentrification

Sharing in the Benefits of a Greening City

Sharing in the Benefits of a Greening City by the CREATE Initiative

Policy and Planning Tools for Urban Green Justice

Policy and Planning Tools for Urban Green Justice by BCNEUJ

Play button

Our Community. Our Process. Our Plan. by 11th Street Bridge Park

Moving animation of city scenes