Say hello to community-driven design in Rainier Valley
As our region continues to experience growth, communities in South King County are working to ensure their neighborhoods have opportunities for success, health and well-being. Communities of Opportunity is working with partners to prevent displacement and create equitable growth in Southeast Seattle.
This is the first blog in a three-part series that shares how On Board Othello, our partner coalition in Rainier Valley, is making a difference through neighborhood projects, coalition building and community engagement. We want to share the transformative work our partners are doing, so read the story below and stay tuned for more!
By Amanda Mancenido, Communities of Opportunity
Ask someone how a neighborhood mural impacts their life and they’ll probably say it adds a little beauty to their day. But if you ask the team of highly motivated community members in Othello known as Healthy Othello Safer Through Environmental Design (HOSTED), you’ll learn that neighborhood projects like murals also provide opportunities for community members to come together to make their community what they envision.
In Rainier Valley, several coalitions have come together through Communities of Opportunity to create equitable growth in the neighborhood and drive their community vision. One of those coalitions, On Board Othello, is focused on creating a safe space for the Othello community to live, work, and play. Specifically, HOSTED is using community-driven, non-arrest solutions to create a welcoming environment that enhances safety for Othello residents.
Data-driven crime prevention
The HOSTED team started their project by conducting a survey of more than 60 Othello residents to understand where in the community they feel safe and unsafe. They also reviewed police department data to identify 11 neighborhood “hotspots,” or areas with high occurrences of crime.
They then held a community workshop focused on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design to identify strengths and challenges the community attributes to those hotspots.
Community improvements shaping the neighborhood
The workshop sparked several different community projects.
A safer pathway in New Holly: With support from local property owners, businesses, and a City of Seattle Find It, Fix It grant, Othello youth collaborated with the HOSTED team to improve a poorly maintained neighborhood pathway. Their efforts to clean the path, add colorful plants, and rename the space “Unity Trail” led to the property owner installing lighting along the once dark path.
New garden at previously vacant lot: Community members identified the vacant lot at MLK Way and South Othello Street as a space for improvement. To encourage community connection in the space, a nutrition-focused pop-up space called The Beet Box opened its doors to offer a community garden, free nutritional workshops, and a seed and garden tool library for Othello community members.
Neighborhood mural and art installations to instill a sense of community ownership of the space, HOSTED sponsored local artists to create a colorful mural that reflects Othello’s vibrant and diverse community. They also worked with local designers to create interactive art installations that engage community in public spaces, including spinning chairs, a giant kaleidoscope, and lily pad benches with solar lighting. Through surveys, community members shared their input on which project to permanently install in 2019.
Community gatherings: In June, Othello residents gathered for a summer kick-off called Othello-bration. Community members connected with neighbors, local businesses, and service providers and celebrated the unveiling of the neighborhood mural at Othello’s Safeway store.
The HOSTED team knows that together these individual projects can have a big impact on people’s safety, health and well-being. By centering the strengths and solutions important to community in their projects, HOSTED is turning community-driven ideas into neighborhood designs tailored to the unique identity of Othello. To learn more and get involved, visit HOSTED’s website or stop by their community meetings at Van Asselt Community Center the first Wednesday of each month.