No shortage of big news last night – from the Alaskan Way Viaduct “scenarios” getting narrowed down to two, to Cooper Elementary parents and teachers meeting to plot strategy to save their school (our report’s coming up later this morning), to Snow Watch. But one event that some might have overlooked contained big news all its own – because of neighbors from all over West Seattle celebrating community projects that received city $. (And taking home reusable shopping bags, shown above!) The periodic Neighborhood Matching Fund celebration brought people from all over the city to Alki Elementary – and a WSB reporter was there too – story and photos ahead, along with information that can help you seek out this kind of grant for your own neighborhood project:
By Julia Ugarte
Special to West Seattle Blog
The city’s Neighborhood Matching Fund Awards Ceremony for the Small & Simple, Small Sparks, and Outreach grants happened Thursday night at Alki Elementary. A number of West Seattle projects awarded grants were honored, including: Arbor Heights Basketball Hoops, Delridge Skatepark Art Advisory Council & Community Celebration, the FANNA Ice Cream Social, the Fauntleroy Community Association Outreach Program, and the Edible Garden Tour.
Though Mayor Nickels was unable to attend – he was still at the Alaskan Way Viaduct briefing – the community members who gathered to celebrate the award of the Neighborhood Matching Fund grants were no less enthusiastic or appreciative.
Here’s a Cliff Notes explanation of the awards: Small & Simple is for projects of $15,000 or less; Small Sparks are awards of $250, and Outreach projects are awarded up to $750. These grants are open for anyone with an idea for improving their neighborhood (but that might need a little boost), and all are strongly encouraged to apply. (For more information, visit seattle.gov/neighborhoods/nmf/duedates.htm)
Councilmember Sally Clark and Department of Neighborhoods director Stella Chao kicked off the final presentation of the NMF’s 20th-anniversary year, each giving a small speech before honoring the 63 projects that received grants. Chao told WSB later that this was “a special time, a special year … we wanted to make sure everyone felt acknowledged.” She added that the grants are often just the helping hand that neighborhood projects need to gain momentum; whether the funds go toward renting a space for a first meeting, or printing flyers to spread awareness — it is enough to, “help people get started.”
One of the Small & Simple projects honored was the Arbor Heights Basketball Hoops project. Franklin Hu, Jackie Snyder and Jodie Maas (pictured at left, from left to right) the driving forces behind the grant, attended and were happy to talk about the playground equipment in question and why Arbor Heights should be kept off the school-closure list (it was on the list of “preliminary recommendations” but not in the “potential final recommendations” announced this week):
It was Jackie who first offered to repaint the decrepit basketball hoops the district said it wouldn’t replace, but she was told that they must first be tested before she was allowed to do anything. The results were alarming: The paint contained 13 times the acceptable level of lead and the hoops and backboards had to go. These were removed, along with some other equipment coated with the same paint, which left the playground a little empty to say the least.
To Snyder, Hu, Maas and other parents, this was unacceptable. Collaborating with Snyder, Hu wrote the grant proposal in one week to meet the deadline and after a few fundraising events, along with the NMF award and community match, the team had enough for four new hoops and some other playground improvements.
Snyder was excited at the idea that Arbor Heights would be known for something positive in the light of the school closure process dominating the news at the moment.
Also in attendance was Manuela Slye with her three children Sabrina, Giovanni and Audriana, to represent the Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral (FANNA) project California Place Park. They were awarded the Small Sparks grant to hold an ice cream social at the park which encouraged neighbors to “connect with each other,” and become aware that “California Place is an existing park that should be used and enjoyed by all, young and old.” Here’s a WSB photo from that event two months ago:
Of the award program, Slye said that it, “allows regular people to do community-building events.” Here are Sabrina, Giovanni, Manuela and Audriana enjoying the refreshments provided by Husky Deli:
Another West Seattle Small Sparks recipient was Helen Shampaign, who spearheaded the Edible Garden Tour back in August (WSB coverage here). Here is Helen pictured with information about her project:
Galvanizing the West Seattleites who grow food organically in their gardens, Shampaign organized for ten gardens to be open to the public and for the “urban gardeners” to share their knowledge with the visitors. Shampaign encouraged anyone interested to get in touch, “all winter long we’re teaching people how to grow your own food.” And it’s free!
Two other West Seattle-based projects were honored. One was Small & Simple recipient Delridge Skatepark Art Advisory Council & Community Celebration, in which DNDA, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center and other community members will hold an event to introduce the concept of the future Delridge Skatepark and then develop an advisory board to aid with the artistic design of the park.
The other was Outreach awardee Fauntleroy Community Association Outreach Program which developed and distributed a newsletter to spread awareness about neighborhood issues and promote their organization.
Before the evening ended, I had a chance to speak with Emma Moreno, the project coordinator who oversees a number of neighborhoods including West Seattle. “My job,” said Moreno, “is to provide [people] with technical assistance…to help people if they have an idea to turn it into a project.” She strongly encouraged anyone and everyone to contact her if they are interested in utilizing these helpful grants. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 386-4123. The next deadline for the Small & Simple grant is January 12th. The Small Sparks and Outreach applications can be submitted at any time.