One of three major items on the Delridge District Council agenda last night: Presentations by three groups seeking city Neighborhood Matching Fund money for their projects – the final three that the council has forwarded into citywide competition. The presenters — including a Chief Sealth High School group (photo above) had a high-profile audience — not just a good turnout (more than 2 dozen people) for the meeting, but also the president of the City Council, Richard Conlin (who later quipped that he thinks it may be time to allot more money to the NMF – the funding request from these three groups is among $2.5 million total requested citywide, but the available pot of money is less than half that). As Pete Spalding, former council chair sitting in for current chair Pablo Lambinicio, described all three as “pretty remarkable projects” — and that was even before their presentations. Read on to hear more about what’s presented and what happens next:
The students’ proposal — introduced by teacher Gary Thomsen, but presented entirely by the teens — is for funding to create an online news network of sorts, in 8 languages, so that diverse ethnic communities know “about meetings like this,” as one Somali-American student in the group put it: “These are silent voices you don’t hear much about.” Group members want to translate, facilitate and report, and not only bring more news about community meetings and events to those who don’t know about them, but also to bring those community members – including children and teens — to the meetings, so more voices are heard.
The proposal included a “newsgathering chart” mapping out students’ responsibilities for the proposed endeavor, and an advisory board. “We would talk to adult contacts and share intergenerational ties,” explained another student presenter. Their grant request would include money for a video camera they promised to share with community members — maybe even for “oral histories,” they suggested.
But their presentation turned back to their lament that there isn’t enough cross-cultural interaction going on. A Filipino-American student said, “At events like Pista sa Nayon, it’s still mostly Asians – it would be great if we saw more white or Hispanic people, so you guys can buy our food!” (Meeting attendees laughed.)
Another student summed it up: “We want to break down the borders (created by) stereotypes from other people … so you can see my culture (too), instead of me just seeing yours.”
Also presenting, West Seattle pedestrian advocate Chas Redmond, moving so fast (as usual) that our iPhone photo catches him in a bit of a blur:
With Seth Schromen-Wawrin from Feet First! standing by in support, Redmond explained the proposal for the Delridge area – really, the eastern half of the peninsula, because of the way the city breaks down “districts” – to get the wayfinding kiosks that are now well on the way to reality for the western half of the peninsula. (The locations for the first ones, in Fauntleroy, are now mapped and detailed on the project website that Redmond maintains, westseattlewalks.org.)
Ironically, even though the first group of kiosks is set for western West Seattle (because the grant was obtained on behalf of the Southwest District Council [WSB sponsor]), the very first one, as a pilot, was put up in front of the Delridge Library. “Now we want to finish out the wayfinding process for all of West Seattle,” Redmond explained. Kiosks and other wayfinding signs will help people make their way around the area, and their locations are chosen with community input. “The way the Fauntleroy process,” Redmond noted, “We asked folks, ‘where do you walk to?'”
The final group presenting its project proposal was from Youngstown Arts Center – where last night’s meeting was held – on behalf of the All-Access afterschool arts program:
Youngstown leader Randy Engstrom, left, explained – with the help of three young assistants – that while All-Access is booming, with programs such as sewing, cooking, breakdancing and sound recording, it is a challenge to keep it going because they’re managing it with “zipties” — not enough staff and teaching hours “to make it a sustainable activity.”
“This place has been amazing for me,” said one program participant, a rap artist. “Last year, I was out on the street.”
“We serve a lot of at-risk youth,” added another, explaining, “My generation is on the extremes, from complete philanthropists to people who don’t care about anything … Through Youngstown, we’ve learned so many things about our own future.”
The third young rep said: “The classes here open your eyes to ideas … I didn’t know how to cook till I started coming to FEEST [a monthly potluck] … I recently became vegan, and my mom said that was fine, as long as I learned how to cook my own dinner!”
Engstrom summarized, “A lot of people view the arts as an enrichment activity – we see it more as an empowerment activity.”
Next step for the project proposals: A three-member committee will rate the projects, and then those ratings go to citywide evaluators who will rank the 33 projects proposed by district councils all over the city (three for each of the 11 councils, totaling $2.5 million in requests, for a fund with slightly less than half that much money).