Last month, we announced the winners of the first quarterly West Seattle Community Recognition Awards, a new way to honor West Seattleites working to make a difference — the brainchild of Julie Mireille Anderson from Divina, with the nominating process open to everyone in West Seattle. As we open the next round of nominations, we are profiling the first three winners today, tomorrow, and Saturday — people you may or may not have heard about or met, people whose hard work makes West Seattle a better place. Today, we want to tell you about Cindi Barker from the Morgan Community Association, which has its next quarterly meeting tonight (7 pm, The Kenney); even if you don’t live in the Morgan Junction area, chances are that Cindi’s work has touched you:
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
One of Cindi Barker’s greatest passions is work that she hopes will all be for naught.
It’s intense work, difficult work, trying to motivate people to take time out of their hectic lives to think about the unthinkable, and what they must do now, to be ready “just in case.”
The work in question is disaster/emergency preparedness. Though Cindi’s official role in the West Seattle community is “information coordinator for the Morgan Community Association,” what she is doing regarding preparedness is benefiting everyone on the peninsula – and some beyond.
We first worked closely with Cindi, in fact, last year, as she brought together experts, volunteers, community leaders, and interested residents for the West Seattle Emergency Preparedness Event on June 23, 2007, at West Seattle High School.
This year, no giant event in the works at this point, but what matters about disaster/emergency preparedness is a series of small actions — creating a family kit, a family plan, stocking up on supplies. Cindi keeps in close touch with local government-agency reps whose job is to help educate people on the best way to do this. You will hear more about all this from Cindi (and from us) and from your local neighborhood reps as the year goes by. But right now, she is doing it in parallel with her work gathering information to share with the Morgan Junction community (and environs) — hers is the only official neighborhood group on the west side of West Seattle between The Junction and Fauntleroy.
She’s been in West Seattle for 15 years, after living in various communities around South King County, where her previous volunteer experience included 10 years with the Renton Historical Society, though she says that until her Morgan work, she wasn’t nearly as immersed in the terminology and details that comprise the officialese of neighborhoods — “arterials, zoning.”
Now, she’s the scribe who shows up at every even-remotely relevant public meeting to take copious notes and ask pointed questions. A far cry from those early days when she “walked into the middle of neighborhood planning” and saw so much contention, discussion, and challenges, she wondered how a plan would manage to emerge from it all.
Along with a plan, Cindi says, MoCA has a philosophy — they’re not an organization that speaks for its members and all area residents; they are there to be stewards of the neighborhood plan, as the blueprint for the neighborhood’s future, and to get information to people, to empoweer them to take action, if they choose.
Cindi gets that information to Morgan Junction residents, and other interested parties, in a variety of ways. She e-mails a detailed, info-rich bulletin which also includes numerous city alerts that she vets for relevance to area residents. The bulletins, as well as her notes from key meetings — most recently, that includes the Morgan and Myrtle park meetings — are posted to the MoCa website (morganjunction.org).
“I’ve overdosed on meetings sometimes,” Cindi laughs. “I think my record was attending seven in one week. Now I try for a healthy average — like, one.”
What keeps her going with this intense work — for which she has never quite tallied the total number of hours invested — is the joy of “getting things done.” She smiles widely and says, “I get the biggest kick out of that — My energy is around tangible things, like seeing a new park created.”
What about West Seattle’s future in this time of growth and transition, we ask — what would she like to see?
“Thoughtful change” is Cindi’s answer. She elaborates, “Certainly, we’ve got to change; we can’t just keep what’s old BECAUSE it’s old. But let’s think two generations down the road — before we get rid of something — what would it mean if this is here, what would it mean if this is gone?”
That’s why neighborhoods, indeed, have plans — to help guide such decisions — and Cindi Barker is determined to make sure hers has all the information it needs to work within those boundaries, for the current time, and what’s to come.
Tomorrow, meet our second winner from the first-quarter West Seattle Community Recognition Awards, Larry Carpenter, who works with the Alki Community Council and Southwest Historical Society. Nominations are open now for our second-quarter awards — deadline is March 31st, but why not nominate someone now, while you’re thinking about it? Three people will be honored each quarter. Forms are available at Divina (California/Genesee) and other participating businesses, or you can download it here (it’s a Word doc so you can use “replace” and type the info “inline”), and e-mail the completed form to us at email@example.com; explanatory info is here. Then mark your calendar for the informal gathering at which we’ll announce the winners (here’s WSB coverage of the first event, last month), tentatively set for April 18.