One of Seattle Parks‘ best-known leaders in West Seattle has died. Sheila Brown was 59. Here’s the remembrance sent to us this afternoon:
Sheila Brown, longtime West Seattle environmental activist and Education Program Supervisor at Camp Long for the past 17 years, has died. Sheila was responsible for initiating the partnership with 4H that resulted in the building of the Challenge course at Camp Long. She was active in race and social justice issues at the City, and committed to getting kids of all backgrounds to appreciate and experience the natural world. She helped create the Leaders in Environment, Equity, and Facilitation (LEEF) program for developing BIPOC youth leadership in environmental education. The program has recently been expanded so that youth leaders will be employed to lead environmental programming for the Parks Department.
Sheila’s career in environmental education and youth recreation included managing education programs for EarthCorps. She was known as a great mentor and courageous leader of teams. She was a Board member for the Common Acre, a nonprofit involved in community agriculture habitat restoration and bee keeping projects. Prior to working for the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, Sheila was a volunteer in the development of the Longfellow Creek Legacy Trail, and in open space preservation in Delridge.
Her personal hobbies often involved music. She sang with the Northwest Chamber Chorus, and went to Eastern Europe on a tour with that group. She was a staff person at the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop for many summers, and is remembered as the lively host of many open mikes that went into the wee hours. She was a longtime fan of the Vancouver Folk Festival, even when it involved sitting in the rain wrapped up in a tarp.
She was a seeker of spiritual truth and community all her life. She was active in a successful effort to save Camp Gallagher, a Catholic Youth Organization camp at which she worked in her 20s, which was transferred to a new nonprofit owner and reopened recently. She was also very involved in the Non-Violent Communication (NVC) community. NVC is a theory and practice of communication based in Buddhist principles and seeking to resolve conflicts in ways where everyone gets their needs met. She dreamt of promoting NVC and Awareness Through the Body (ATB) principles to help youth enhance self-knowledge and to facilitate reconciliation between people disconnected by vastly different perspectives.
Sheila lived in Rio de Janeiro during high school, and stayed in touch with many former students from the Escola Americana there throughout her life. She planned to attend the 40th reunion for her class of 1980 in Rio last summer that was unfortunately cancelled due to COVID.
Sheila received the news that her third bout with cancer was terminal late last year. She decided to leave a legacy by raising funds for the construction of a gateway at the eastern entrance of Camp Long, designed to match the main entrance on Dawson Street. Nearly 80 donors contributed over $22,000, and the new gateway will be installed later this year. Remembrances for Sheila can be made to the Gateway Project c/o Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association. Donations will support trail and habitat restoration in Camp Long and the Longfellow Creek Watershed. Sheila’s memorial website is here.
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