The italicized text that appears within is editorialized by the person who wrote the initial draft of this post. Black lives matter.
Since this past spring of COVID-19 sheltering and the groundswell of the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests here and across the country, several of our projects have taken different paths from what we had begun to plan. In the interrim, some of our friends and neighbors here in Seattle have helped to cover changes to our greenways and other public spaces. The asterisk (*) statements express areas where social distancing is leading us to get brainstormy with other ways to be a neighborhood together.
Racial Equity Committee: in reviewing notes from these past ten months of meeting, we turned in this past June meeting to how we can use our voices and skills to support racial justice and equity. Agenda focus points are as follows: drafting an equity plan for 2020, varying our means of neighborliness through means of gathering (safe play streets) or similar*, and mobilizing on supporting partner organizations who center equity for the longstanding communities of color in our Central areas.
One of our initiatives with significant communications for racial equity is the Bailey Gatzert Elementary School safe-routes-to-school walking school busses. Upon the launch of the volunteer parent-led routes, BGES leadership and Seattle Public Schools at large had still been looking for ways to address reported interactions between elementary school students and gang-affiliated people by the school. SPD had expressed an interest in information about these interactions, and in their own ongoing relationship with Seattle Public Schools. As a group working with this SRTS initiative, we recognize this relationship as a perpetuation of risk and inequality for students of color. People with this neighborhood group support demands to end the contract between SPS and SPD, as well as those of King County Equity Now, of Defund SPD, and of reclaiming land use to dismantle resources that enable criminalizing people of color. There are other demands needing support whose links we are in a position to share. There have been concerns voiced by leadership for National Innovation Services that the demand to reclaim the Seattle PD East Precinct does not fully address equity, in that the Capitol Hill neighborhood is not the neighborhood that would benefit the most in acquiring land for community use.
One topic of discussion that helped inform us in deciding how best to foster racial equity was a recent spike in interest in city council president M. Lorena Gonzalez’ tweet about jaywalking and helmet laws–specifically, the dangers of law enforcement using these laws to discriminate against people of color existing in public as white people freely do. CSG members felt that should we contribute to the abolition of these laws, our skills can be used primarily to research the impact of these practices at home by pursuing statistical and experiential data. We felt that an important person to speak with was Phyllis Porter of the Seattle chapter of Black Girls Do Bike. Our capacity to help lies in furthering the work that marginalized communities have already been doing to bring about justice for their safety.
Another relevant touchstone for CSG has been the Union Street protected bike lanes and their implementation alongside input from its immediate inhabitants and stakeholders. The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DoN) has been stepping up to help address equity issues where marginalized communities are concentrated and impacted by infrastructure. The Union PBLs are still on track for construction, although the DoN response for this specific process did not manage to capture the full extent of stakeholder input, to our organization’s knowledge.
In addressing our racial equity action plan, the subject of Central District-specific projects such as the Union protected bike lanes and the aforementioned Bailey Gatzert project helped us hone in on a potential focus: we may be able to take on a role conscious of bridging communications between our own neighbors and the governing agencies who we have, throughout our growth, strengthened relationships with. Trust needs healing between these governing agencies and the residents who are least benefiting from their actions (see: Pike/Pine PBLs), and we may be able to offer our position in all this to refocus to each other and especially to those who cannot or attend our group of self-selective membership. Urbanism as it has been known in the mainstream has long been a tool for strengthening the safety of one community against all others. The feeling of being heard by governing agencies is a privilege that CSG wields.
With that being said, however, CSG leadership has long been compiling a resource for identifying organizations in our neighborhood we hope to support. The list can be found here.
Please–we encourage feedback on our roles for our community as we adapt to put our skills and intentions to use to aid in amplifying the fight towards equity in our physical environment.