By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
HPIC’s all-volunteer board took a big step down that path by leading an online community “town hall” Wednesday night. Now that they’ve maneuvered through some of the most arduous immediate tasks such as dealing with insurance, it’s clear that they can do more than simply rebuild all or part of the historic building at 12th/Holden: They could re-envision the site’s future by answering the question “What does the community need this building for?”
The June 25th fire came toward the end of major renovations – we reported on the project just a month before the fire – but as trustee Kay Kirkpatrick showed in an HPIC-history presentation during the Wednesday night meeting, HPIC was building on what it inherited. The building itself dates to 1924, five years after the club started; its evolution over the years has included additions, changes, even alterations to expand its dance-floor space in post-war years.
Kirkpatrick’s presentation also shone a spotlight on other evolving needs and priorities over the years – first showing the community work parties to pave the parking lot in the 1970s …
… and then the “de-paving” that created the front patio and stormwater features in the 2010s:
Even without structural/site alteration, HPIC’s mission has pivoted over the years – most recently, as a community mutual-aid center in the first year of the pandemic, when it became a center for getting food to families in need, especially during the early months when Seattle Public Schools campuses were closed and the district hadn’t figured out how to resume meal distribution for students.
Along with revisiting the club’s history, the meeting, led by HPIC board president Nicole Mazza, also recapped what’s known about the fire – more about where it started than how or why it started:
And that brought the discussion to where HPIC stands in working with its insurer – which has determined that up to $750,000 would be available for rebuilding, treasurer Shannon Harris said.
The questions they’re asking include: What does the next building look like? Do they save part of the building or rebuild it from the ground up? The dilemma presents what was termed “an opportunity to build with intention and create a unified vision for the neighborhood.” To fulfill that, the question that must be answered: “What does the community need this building for?”
The board will not answer that question alone. They’re inviting community members to be part of the process in the months ahead, leading to a final design for the project by spring. when they can seek permits and hire a contractor.
But this is about more than a building. It’s about people. Even in the post-fire months, HPIC has worked to keep serving the community.
They’ve repurposed city grant money – with the city’s permission – to obtain what’s needed for outdoor events, including portable restrooms and storage. That helped them go ahead with some events such as the three summertime Giant Garage Sales.
The more people involved, the more creative and innovative the ideas will be, the more they can do. So, Mazza explained, HPIC is also using this time to “revisit the board structure.” They want to be sure it’s “diverse and sustainable.” Years ago, 501 Commons helped them move from a membership organization to a charitable organization, so they’ll help now with the board reinvention.
Getting involved with the board’s future is one way community members can help with “HPIC 2.0.” Other ways: Join in the upcoming discussions. Donate to the rebuilding fund. Become a club member – increasing revenue from dues would help HPIC stabilize their operational funding (especially until they can regularly host events, which along with rentals were a major source of money pre-fire). Members get to join in club decisions. And – volunteer! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out what you can do, offer an idea, or ask a question.