North Delridge alley update: ‘It is the beginning of something’

When we dropped by the alley behind Delridge Library this past Saturday morning, to check on the ongoing neighborhood alley cleanup, we found Karrie and Amanda toiling to make more progress (with the help of tools from the new West Seattle Tool Library!). We asked Karrie a followup question later – and received a full progress report:

It was our 3rd weekend working on the alley and we have all come to the realization that it’s a summer-long project. We originally thought we could knock it out in 2 days, but we didn’t realize just how much work it was until we dug in. Blackberries are adamant about holding their ground and the layers of garbage make me feel like an archaeologist. I do have an anthropology background so it’s kind of fun to see what we unearth, as long as it’s not too nasty.

Interesting finds so far: a decaying purse filled with syringes, couch cushions, a toilet, an active underground bee hive, a polaroid of a birthday party, enough green yarn to sew a sweater, dirty diapers and several other unmentionables. …

It is the beginning of something. Our plan now is to focus on small sections and start planting them so that people can see some reward for their hard work in the beautification sooner rather than later.

Neighbors north of our block have heard about this project and have said they want to clean up their alley now, so it’s catching on. That’s my hope. I would love to know that I could walk through any alley in Delridge/West Seattle and feel safe and see something beautiful. We are starting here, where we are.

Our block sees this alley as part of our community and we know that if we leave it to be swallowed up by weeds, brambles and litter, it’s a more attractive and hidden place for behavior that is not supportive of our community. So, we are determined to transform this particular alley into one that is safe, clean and a beautiful place to walk. It’s going to take time, clearly we have amazing neighbors who are invested in this project and who keep showing up. Bit by bit, we’ll make this happen.

And “bit by bit” of course also means person by person – here’s a photo Karrie shared, taken weekend before last, when a couple boys out for a bike ride stopped to help:

And the alley itself – though she notes, “Keep in mind, these pics are from our 2nd week into it so you cannot see the massive piles of brambles and trash we picked up the weekend prior.”

There’s also a much-tagged metal building along the alley that she says they have reported many times over, and if it isn’t handled soon, they’ll paint over the vandalism themselves. If you want to help with the ongoing alley cleanup, they’ll be in this alley (map) Saturday middays TFN, 11 am-1 pm.

11 Replies to "North Delridge alley update: 'It is the beginning of something'"

  • Mike June 21, 2010 (9:33 pm)

    Congratulations on taking ownership of a problem and solving it. I can assure you that you will see less and less dumping of trash and illegal activity. I have been working for the past 2.5 years to restore a green space on Longfellow Creek and we cleared out tons of trash, much that had been there for years. Since the space has become cleaner, the dumping has stopped.

    You guys are setting a great example for the neighborhood. Keep it up!!

  • eileen June 21, 2010 (10:34 pm)

    This is inspiring – thanks for the report WSB!

  • brittany June 22, 2010 (8:25 am)

    drove thru the library lot last night and took a peek- alley looks great!! wonderful job everyone!

  • Diane Fields June 22, 2010 (8:41 am)

    This looks terrific. We also drove through this morning not knowing about the clean-up. Could tell that many hands had been hard at work. Great job!

  • CMT June 22, 2010 (9:47 am)

    That’s awesome. I love to hear stuff like this about the Delridge community!

  • Ryan B. June 22, 2010 (9:51 am)

    Very inspiring indeed. Fantastic job! My neighbor and I have begun putting something together in our alley, culminating with a celebration of the community’s success during National Night Out.

    I’d love to see this take on steam and proliferate out across West Seattle. Thank you for setting progress in motion!

  • Vanessa June 22, 2010 (10:01 am)

    You GO girls. Great job, great work! Good news like this helps prevent more news of crime and property damage….YOU ROCK! Keep up the good work.Be PROUD.

  • miws June 22, 2010 (10:50 am)

    Huge kudos to Karrie and Amanda! And to the two boys that stopped by to help! :cool:



  • Karrie Kohlhaas June 25, 2010 (7:34 pm)

    Thanks to everyone for the supportive comments! Sure feels great to hear from you all. We’ll be in the alley this Saturday (6-26) from 10-2, so come join us! Bring a bottle of water and a snack. We have gloves, bags and tools (though you can also bring your own shovel, hard rake or hoe if you have them). Thanks again for cheering us on!

  • phil kohlhaas June 25, 2010 (9:15 pm)

    It is a glorious day when neighbors gather together for a worthwhile cause. It is a shame when others believe they have a right to throw away their trash on public property, If it is true that we are here to serve others, what exactly are the others here for? The purpose of your life is to leave it better than you found it, and to do no harm. Congratulations to the neighbors who are still cleaning up. Thank you, you are nice people.

  • Jen Bush June 29, 2010 (9:21 pm)

    We know that there is beauty in everything and everyone around; the beauty sometimes needs a little encouragement. The thing to remember is that in people’s times of desperation, their beauty may be so hidden that all that comes out is trash and urgent behavior. I see your efforts in this alley as encouraging beauty around you and inviting the beauty in all to emerge, little by little.
    Thank you for the loving support of the beauty within us all.

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