Meeting facilitator Eric Iwamoto (Westwood, Roxhill, Arbor Heights) engages in group discussion along with Tamsen Spengler (MOCA and SWDC), Cindi Barker (WS Emergency Communication Hubs), Mat McBride (North Delridge), and Marianne McCord (South Delridge).
Photo and story by Jason Grotelueschen
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
Neighborhood leaders gathered Thursday night at the West Seattle Senior Center/Sisson Building for the second official meeting of the District 1 Community Network (WSB coverage of the group’s first meeting, in January, is here).
The D1 Community Network (D1CN) is a new coalition of representatives from organizations and community groups throughout West Seattle and South Park (which together comprise what the city now calls District 1), working with a common goal of sharing information and ideas and “doing better things for the peninsula.” The group is planning to have meetings every month or so, with a “rotating facilitator” model that has a different member running each meeting.
For this month, the facilitator was Eric Iwamoto who represents the Westwood, Roxhill, and Arbor Heights areas, and the agenda included discussions about a community survey, securing grant funding for improvement projects, regional transit and housing, neighborhood events, emergency preparedness and overall prioritization of the organization’s goals.
Staff members representing the Seattle City Council were also in attendance – Alex Clardy, Legislative Assistant for District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold, and Brianna Thomas, Legislative Aide for Councilmember Lorena González – and offered input and answers to questions about how the group can best help D1 residents be heard and get involved.
Meeting notes below:
SCHEDULE: After a quick round of introductions, the group started by talking about meeting frequency. Because the D1CN group has members from so many West Seattle organizations, all of which have their own recurring meetings, simply finding a monthly meeting time that doesn’t conflict with existing schedules is a challenge. The group settled on the 4th Tuesday of the month as the likely best option, and scheduled the next D1CN meeting for the evening of Tuesday, March 26, with venue TBD.
COMMUNITY SURVEY: In the group’s January meeting, considerable time was spent talking about the need to do an electronic survey of D1 residents to get input and feedback to help determine priorities, and the subcommittee provided an update on Thursday night. Iwamoto presented some early findings regarding survey research, and attendees discussed ways to promote the survey via various channels to ensure a wide representation of responses. The subcommittee will be meeting this month to push the effort forward and to create a preliminary draft for group members to review electronically prior to their next meeting. The goal is to get the survey created this spring, well in advance of the summer months.
PROJECT FUNDING CYCLES AND GRANTS: Another action item from the D1CN January meeting was for the need to give D1 groups better views into the various opportunities and deadlines throughout the year for pursuing funding to support important community projects. In Thursday night’s meeting, Cindi Barker shared an early spreadsheet draft of that tool (“for illustrative purposes”), with rows and columns representing monthly deadlines and the different funding programs such as Neighborhood Matching Funds, compiled from a number of city websites and information sources. Barker reported that the tool will continue to evolve and will be shared and available broadly with community groups as it takes shape. Attendees discussed the need to eventually include “everything” (including funds for parks, county, state, etc) in the tool, and Barker agreed but stressed that it will take time. Barker also committed to share other informational resources that the group had agreed could be beneficial to D1 residents (such as information about how to attend public hearings and how to understand various governmental budgeting processes, perhaps in a “video of the month” format).
Attendees also had a frank discussion about the perceived effectiveness of the processes involved with applying for certain funds and getting things done, with volunteer Jim Guenther and Highland Park’s Gunner Scott and others sharing thoughts. Group members agreed that pursuing funding via other sources (including private donations) can often be equally or more effective. This prompted a similar discussion about concerns with the limited scope of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods’ Community Involvement Commission, and D1CN group’s role in encouraging and educating residents on how to get access to data crucial to “making their case” for prioritizing things important to their neighborhood (for example, traffic-collision data to help inform traffic safety modifications like roundabouts, stoplights and crosswalks). Concerns were also expressed about how difficult it often is to find information on city websites, and Herbold assistant Clardy agreed and took some action items to follow up.
RESOURCE SHARING: Member Mat McBride, chair of the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, provided an update on efforts to create centralized electronic storage and sharing for the group’s documents and resources. He did a demo of a new Google Drive site that is coming together, and shared tips and tricks on how to use it. McBride and others in attendance also discussed ways to use standardized templates for explaining the goals and status of individual projects that the group would tackle. This segued into a discussion about the group’s mission, goals, and objectives and how to continue to define those things and communicate them to other groups and to area residents. Group members agreed to continue working on this and sharing ideas, and devote time in the March meeting to check-in on those efforts.
OTHER PROJECTS: Attendees went around the room and gave quick updates on various projects and community happenings:
- Candidate forum: The group had previously expressed interest in hosting or co-hosting “candidate forums” prior to upcoming elections, and Tamsen Spengler (of Morgan Junction and the SW District Council) talked about that. Jim Guenther reported that the West Seattle Chamber is potentially interested in doing a joint co-hosted forum. Gunner Scott and Brianna Thomas provided input based on their experiences with other candidate forums, and the group agreed to continue working on that.
- Emergency preparedness: Cindi Barker (who represents the West Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs) provided an update on her efforts to organize “post-disaster trauma care centers” on the peninsula in the case of disasters, and said the work “has taken a couple of steps forward.” Barker said she recently interviewed a local West Seattle doctor interested in reaching out to other doctors who could sign on to help, and the Seattle-King County Dental Foundation has agreed to help advertise to find dentists to be part of the effort. In addition to maintaining tight communication with first-responders on the peninsular, other groups to involve could include veterinarians, translation services, mental health practitioners, and medicinal marijuana providers.
- School-levies vote: Brianna Thomas reminded attendees that the Seattle Public Schools levies are on the ballot for next week’s February 12 elections, and encouraged residents to get their ballots in (especially with the inclement weather).
- Highland Park events: Gunner Scott of the Highland Park Action Committee (HPAC) gave an update on activities for HPAC and the Highland Park Improvement Club (HPIC). Scott reported on HPAC’s recent “listening session” (WSB coverage here) about the Camp Second Chance encampment on the city-owned Myers Way Parcels in southeast West Seattle, gave an update on the group’s community survey that is finishing up soon, and noted that the group would be holding elections next month. For HPIC, Scott said it’s celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, with “centennial events” happening each month including “theme nights” (more details on the HPIC website).
- Councilmember Herbold’s district office hours: Clardy noted that she will be holding her next “office hours” session on Friday, February 22, at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave S) from 2-7 pm.
- MHA/HALA: Deb Barker from Morgan Community Association (MoCA) provided an update, along with Clardy from Councilmember Herbold’s office, on HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability efforts. Clardy talked about the committee discussion meeting (which happened the next day), in which central staff was to discuss key issues, and noted the impressive amount of input regarding proposed amendments (making reference to a 179-page memo prepared this week for the committee). In response to a question about whether concerns raised by constituents would even be considered at this point, Barker and others said “absolutely” and encouraged members to stay informed and involved with the process. Key upcoming dates are:
- February 21, 2019, 5:30 pm: Public hearing
- February 25, 2019, 2:30 pm or after City Council: Committee discussion, final amendments, committee vote
- SW Historical Society: Kathy Blackwell, president of Southwest Seattle Historical Society (which announced leadership changes last month as reported by WSB), encouraged people to visit the Log House Museum (3003 61st Ave SW) to see their current exhibits focusing on the history of the Duwamish Peninsula: “Sound Spots” (bands and music) and “Fired Up” (neighborhood fire stations). Upcoming exhibits this year will include a focus on the annexation of West Seattle into the city of Seattle, and the history of women’s suffrage in the region. Blackwell noted that the group is looking for a full-time curator, and continues to work hard on landmarking and preservation efforts. She also mentioned an upcoming event on Sunday, March 17th at the Admiral Way library featuring Rebecca Ossa, director of preservation for Seattle City Light, on the topic of “Preservation 101.”
- “Low-acuity” emergency response: Ray Krueger (SW District Council) mentioned the “low acuity response” pilot program sponsored by Councilmember Sally Bagshaw last year, which is going into effect and aims to preserve first-responder resources for large emergencies. Under the program, “a couple of responders in an SUV” could be dispatched for minor emergencies, rather than multiple fire trucks being dispatched, for example.
- D1CN visibility: In response to a question about how the D1CN group can make itself known to residents and other community groups, attendees agreed to continue discussing and collaborating on this, including Cindi Barker’s “tip of the month” idea for community involvement, as well as a website for the group.
The next D1CN meeting is scheduled for the evening of Tuesday, March 26, venue TBD.