High Point Neighborhood Association: KaBOOM! – yum! – & more

Today, the High Point Neighborhood Association moves into its new office in the two-month-old HP Neighborhood Center. It’s the perfect followup to all the community information shared in a meeting room at the center Thursday night, during HPNA’s quarterly meeting. Among the highlights – word of a new park/playground; a survey about healthy food; and words of wisdom from a West Seattle community builder. Full story ahead:

(HPNA trustees at the start of Tuesday night’s meeting)
First, the new park/playground. Remember KaBOOM!, which came to Delridge Community Center last July to help community volunteers build a new playground? They’re coming back to West Seattle. HPNA president Jennifer Cobb announced at tonight’s meeting that KaBOOM! will be helping with a playground at Bataan Park, one of the undeveloped park parcels in High Point.

According to the Bataan Park page on the KaBOOM! website, the organization hopes the project will be done on/by July 4th. The site is on the northwest side of the High Point development; a photo of the site is on this KaBOOM! webpage. A planning meeting is set for next week.

The plan for a new playground fit right into the theme of the evening – healthier living at High Point. The meeting itself opened with a health-minded dinner, and concluded with free fitness activities elsewhere in the Neighborhood Center building. Other announcements included “High Point Neighborhood Night” coming up February 5th, with more fitness activities, photo-taking for a mural, and information about other fitness classes coming to HP, including, the group was told, women-only classes and youth-geared classes.

HPNA vice president Andrew Mead talked about the Youth Summer Activities Fair that’s planned for April 10th, 10 am-1 pm – that will offer information about summer activities for kids 10 to 18, along with food and raffles (a bicycle and video camera will be among the raffled items).

Also in the works: A celebration for the Lunar New Year, the first Friday in February – look for more details.

Once announcements concluded, guest speaker Derek Birnie stepped to the front of the room. He is executive director for Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association, which as he explained covers more than just the immediate Delridge area: “Our mission is to engage businesses, residents and institutions in creating a thriving Delridge neighborhood – really, a thriving network of neighborhoods.”

DNDA is best known for “developing properties to serve the neighborhoods’ needs,” Birnie acknowledged, ticking off a list including Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, Delridge Library (“the only library in the city that’s in a mixed-use building”) and Croft Place Townhomes. But the organization also works to help “create a strong fabric of community.”

And that, he noted, takes more work than just bringing people together. He talked about former King County Executive Ron Sims‘ work forwarding a study “demonstrating that your zip code determines your life expectancy” – because of geographic resource inequality.

Birnie used a four-page brochure from the Community Development Collaborative – an alliance featuring DNDA and seven other organizations – to highlight the building blocks of strong communities: Neighborhood investment, homes for all, clean and safe streets, green places, thriving business districts, transit access, historic preservation, youth development, arts and culture.

“Thriving business districts,” he explained, means businesses that work for the customers as well as the proprietors. That brought up a topic that is a particularly sore subject in eastern West Seattle – the lack of grocery stores. “Where do you go for your groceries?” Birnie asked the crowd.

“Beacon Hill!” called out a woman, laughing.

Another voice called out “The Thriftway on Morgan” – downhill from High Point – “You can walk there.”

Overall, though, food is not easily accessible for those who get around High Point on foot, “even in this new, incredible public-investment neighborhood … the lack of access to food has a big impact on whether you can call this a great neighborhood or not. ‘Thriving business districts’ means access to people’s basic needs.” And if those needs aren’t being met, “organizing for change” is imperative. “Policy decisions and systems decisions are typically made to benefit the people at the table when the decision is being made,” he observed.

“There is nothing convenient for us here, when they developed this,” interjected an attendee.

Agreeing, Birnie went on, “We have made placement of grocery stores an entirely economic decision, and we have left it up to the people (who invest) – but I think the solution here is, get together in enough numbers, put pressure on the city council, and say if it’s purely economic it’s not gonna happen here – if it’s policy, maybe it will.”

Miranda Taylor, from the HPNA’s Healthy Living Committee, stood up and said, “If you are interested in a grocery store here in High Point, come talk to me.”

After a brief mention from Birnie of the Healthy Corner Store project – and its first full-fledge participant, the Super 24 on Delridge – a survey was distributed to meeting participants to gauge their interest in healthy food. “Your surveys are going to help us shape a new direction in the neighborhood.” And everyone on hand was urged to come for the “next step” during the aforementioned High Point Neighborhood Night on February 5 – an event for families, as was, in its own way, Thursday night’s meeting, with many attendees’ children coming and going; guest speaker Birnie even brought his twin 4-year-old sons, who came up front before his speech was over:

The exclamation point was put on the night by a little boy named Isaiah, who wanted to sing for attendees. He brought down the house with an a cappella rendition of Michael Jackson‘s “Man in the Mirror”:

If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make the change …

(Lots of info about High Point Neighborhood Association can be found online at highpointneighborhood.org.)

4 Replies to "High Point Neighborhood Association: KaBOOM! - yum! - & more"

  • morcaffeineplease January 15, 2010 (6:36 am)

    Playgrounds are great; I’m glad High Point will get another one for the kids to add to the two that are there already, but why won’t the city allow a dog park on another very small piece of land(by Forest Lawn Cemetery) that cannot be built on anyway and has no other purpose than open space?

  • marco January 15, 2010 (10:27 am)

    Thanks a lot for your coverage, Tracy!

    The Retail situation is a disaster, so I will surely support the Healthy Living Committee.

    Looking at a High Point Walkscore you get
    “92% of Seattle residents have a higher Walk Score.” http://bit.ly/64dD6L

    I’m still quite mad how all the Retailers claimed the market was already ‘saturated’ and a few months later they built a QFC next to the Safeway at the Junction.

    Marination is the only business that was “added” (Saturday only) to High Point I can think of.

    Of course you can walk to Thriftway, but you have to have the time and carry your groceries up the hill or wait up to 30min for the 128. Otherwise, you have to buy junk food at Walgreens.

  • petaki January 15, 2010 (2:20 pm)

    its exciting tos ee our communiyt gorw- thriftway is nice but the food it too expensive!

  • Andrew January 16, 2010 (4:01 am)

    Isaiah was the bomb! What other neighborhood would you find that kind of un-scheduled entertainment? Thank you for being there, Tracy, to let people know what we are doing with HPNA. Building community across cultures is not easy, but absolutely worth it.

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