‘We need a hero’: Urban Homestead Foundation has weeks left to find dollars to help dream come true

(Photos courtesy Urban Homestead Foundation)

“We need a hero to save this land and legacy before it’s lost forever.”

That’s what it’s come down to for the West Seattle volunteers who founded the Urban Homestead Foundation, as they now have less than 8 weeks left to finish raising the money needed for a rare remaining open-space site in West Seattle, right across the street from the area’s most-populous elementary school.

The grass-roots group won a $281,000 matching grant from the King County Conservation Futures Fund, as reported here last June. That was a major achievement. But the key word there is “matching.”

The land at stake, dubbed the Dakota Homestead, is at 50th SW and SW Dakota [map], to purchase the lot, on the corner of SW Dakota and 50th Avenue SW. It’s city-owned – a decommissioned substation – and holds 20 mature trees, six of them with “exceptional” status. The foundation has been working for more than a year and a half to manage the land as a neighborhood preserve and gathering space, a hub for urban gardening and environmental education.

But they have to have the money to buy it by the end of the year. That’s where the hero, or heroes, come in, says foundation board member Phoebe Ingraham: “We are confident a visionary family, an energized community member or local businesses will respond to this call and save the day with a major gift. We need a hero to save this land and legacy before it’s lost forever. It’s the 11th hour on this unique opportunity. This green space represents West Seattle’s past, present, and future.”

The Urban Homestead Foundation has raised money and awareness, and along with securing the grant, they’ve pulled together $30,000 from neighbors. On the same June day that foundation supporters celebrated the big matching-fund grant, for example, a Girl Scout troop stopped by to donate $350:

(Photo courtesy UHF president Katie Stemp)

And now, they need major gifts totaling at least $300,000 before the end-of-year deadline.

The community supporters include Gerrit Kischner, principal of Genesee Hill Elementary across the street. He sees the site as “a natural classroom. Right now, much of the space is closed up and cut off from the community. Urban Homestead Foundation wants to do better for students and neighbors. I urge local families, individuals and businesses to consider their deep ties to this area, learn about the vision, and to step forward. It would be an incredible legacy to capture this moment in time and preserve the Homestead for future generations.” He’s one of the people you’ll hear from in this video about the site:

Donations are tax-deductible; information about how to give is here. December 31st is the deadline.

12 Replies to "'We need a hero': Urban Homestead Foundation has weeks left to find dollars to help dream come true"

  • ELLY November 6, 2017 (5:29 pm)

    Is there somewhere to donate? Who have they asked for money and can they get an extension? This would be a huge wasted opportunity and I think GH parents would help out if there was a concerted outreach effort. 

  • Rachel November 6, 2017 (7:56 pm)

    With all of the crazy building going on in West Seattle it would be such a gift for this piece of land to be saved for the kids for generations to come.  Have to believe there is somebody or a few good somebodies in the area who want to save the day and take advantage of this amazing legacy opportunity…

  • Jana November 6, 2017 (10:49 pm)

    Thank you for giving some attention to this story WSB!  Greenspace, beautiful trees and an incredible community are what makes West Seattle unique. I’m hopeful that a philanthropic Hero will rescue the Urban Homestead Foundation and donate funds to match the grant + community funds already raised.  

  • Molly November 6, 2017 (11:30 pm)

    Come on West Seattle! We can do it. Let’s rally & help the Urban Homestead Foundation save this green space. We at Schoeb Chiropractic are donating because we believe in preserving green space for the community. Also,  all raffle ticket proceeds from our event this Wednesday will be donated to the Urban Homestead Foundation…but they need more people & businesses to help. Who’s in? Who’s donating next? 

  • Matt November 7, 2017 (5:54 am)

    It is insane that Seattle City Light is charging Seattleites $581,000 for a plot of land we already bought through our utility fees.  I question City Light’s mission, if it can’t act in the public interest, make an exception and transfer this parcel to Parks.  

    • ImmaMom November 7, 2017 (9:49 am)


    • McBride November 7, 2017 (12:47 pm)

      Perhaps more frustrating than insane. City law states that surplus property has to be sold for “Market Value”. The land can be transferred to other departments (e.g. Parks), but the recipient department has to accept it, along with everything that entails. Essentially, it adds a new budget item to an already stressed department’s budget.  I’m not saying I agree that this is a reasonable position for the City to take, it’s business vs. customer in this case.

      The frustrating part for me is that large parts of this process which are challenges for the community are manufactured. The City has all sorts of room for flexibility in negotiating this deal, although it might mean keeping the property on City books for another year. I would like to see City Light make a commitment to the community that starts with “How do we get to yes” and goes from there. Because “Good luck, best wishes” is a disservice to the folks who effectively bought and maintained that land in the first place.

  • Alice Kuder November 7, 2017 (9:51 am)

    Have they tried using “GoFundMe” or a similar site to raise funds/awareness?

  • Shanna Christie November 7, 2017 (10:31 am)

    I was born and raised in West Seattle and have watched this community change a lot in the last 40 years.  Some of the changes and development are great – I’m glad the community is thriving – but I’m also afraid we are losing a bit of our soul in the commercialization and new builds.  If you have this feeling too – this project is exactly the type of thing we should be championing.  Yes, $581,000 is a lot of money, but it’s only going to be more and more expensive in the future.  This is one of those moments to step up and save something local and create a new community hub.  I live in the neighborhood and attended their fundraiser back in September – even that got me out to meet neighbors I hadn’t before. 

    I personally am donating $1000 to try to save this.  A bit of a stretch but it’s important.  If you live in the area, can you do $100? $50? We will be so glad we saved this in a few years. 

    • Kristen Corning November 9, 2017 (2:09 pm)

      This is exactly it, Shanna! And stretching to make donations that matter is so important. I appreciate this so much. THANK YOU for your contribution!

  • Katie Stemp November 8, 2017 (11:04 am)

    Hi everyone! Thank you for your outpouring of support, donations and suggestions! We are a group of West Seattle residents who, like you, recognize the need to save this space in the midst of all the density growth happening here. We created the Urban Homestead Foundation non-profit specifically for saving this land and have been fundraising for 18 months. We aren’t fundraising professionals but we have achieved a lot in this short timeframe, including becoming a tax exempt organization so your donations can be honored and become a charitable contribution. We are also the very first citizens group to be awarded the Conservation Futures matching grant! 

    Can we as a tight-knit, caring, environmentally conscious West Seattle community please set a precedent for saving these pockets of green in Seattle? This property is in the first wave of parcels going for sale from City Light, Ballard is the second wave and there is a citizens group gaining momentum there for the same reason. As citizens of the Emerald City it is our voice, our money, and our time that will keep our city green and protect these special pocket parks in our neighborhoods for our future generations that currently have no say of their own.

    What legacy are we going to leave them? Right now, in these last few weeks that we have, we can literally protect and preserve for them a beautiful space to learn about nature, to learn how to grow plants, to have authentic hands-on experiences while learning about our urban ecosystem and tree canopy, and help them become good stewards of the environment.  Will you please make this your legacy and do everything you can to help save this land?

    Saving the Dakota Homestead property is so very important. It will have a massive positive impact on over 700 elementary students every single day that go to school right across the street and will be a field trip destination for all other schools in the area. The trees alone are worthy of saving the land from development – get off the sidewalk and walk through the property…it’s amazing and transformative!

    How can you help? You can donate – it will take the community’s financial backing to save it.  And every dollar is being matched! Donate here: http://www.urbanhomesteadfoundation.org/donate/

    Are you a journalist? Robert McClure from InvestigateWest is “scrambling to find resources to cover situations like the one you describe. I’ll follow up if we can find someone.” Can you help cover this story and get it out to the major networks with InvestigateWest? They published a very timely piece on saving the Emerald City’s tree canopy just last week: http://www.seattleweekly.com/news/will-seattle-finally-protect-its-tree-canopy/  With your help we can get this to The Seattle Times, The Tacoma News Tribune, KCTS, Seattle Weekly and other media outlets that may pick up and run any stories they cover.

    If you have a suggestion for ways to help, will you also put some work behind it? We are small but mighty team of volunteers and are already doing everything we can to save it…what we need are more hands, more phone calls, more door-to-door help, more sharing on social media to get the word out and make sure this campaign doesn’t fall short. Please take whatever skills, time and money you are willing to donate and put them towards good use to save this space. Own it as if it’s your own project, because once it’s saved, this land will be open and useful for everyone to use!

    Thank you for all you are doing – this is an amazing community and together we can shift the tide!

    -Katie Stemp and the UHF Board

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