by Gregory Davis
Rainier Beach is a neighborhood full of vitality that random isolated shootings of buildings and potshots by naysayers cannot detract from. For the record…crime is down in Rainier Beach and education is up. Re crime – Since September 2013 dozens of us have been reviewing SPD, Metro and Sound Transit crime statistics and it has decreased by 30%. Re education – the students, parents, volunteers and educational leaders in our neighborhood are closing the achievement and social gap slowly but surely. We are proud of Keisha Scarlett Washington State 2014 Middle Level Principal of the Year (South Shore PK-8), Barbara Moore the recipient of the 2014 Thomas B. Foster Award for Excellence (South Lake High School) and Dwane Chappelle who is leading an inspiring International Baccalaureate Program not to mention the three times state boys basketball champs (Rainier Beach International High School). Let me take the time to also give a shout out RBIHS’s Cheer squad and PTSA ….they gets no love but I am giving it here….how about that Marvette and Rita?). Principals Anitra Pinchback Jones (Rainier View), Winifred Todd (Dunlap) and Farah Thaxton, (Emerson) are also quality educators. We would do well as a neighborhood in sending our children to learn in the environments these fine citizens have created.
Oh and contrary to public opinion we are organized in Rainier Beach. Focused work is occurring on a number of fronts that’s raising the quality of life in our neighborhood. Our organizing got us property from Seattle Parks and turned it into an urban farm (The Friends of Rainier Beach urban farm and Wetlands Project). A $2 million dollar capital campaign is underway with fundraising going according to schedule. Our organizing (A Beautiful Safe Place for Youth Community Taskforce) earned us a $1 million Byrne Justice Department grant to Rainier Beach to do hotspot research as a strategy to reduce crime, particularly among youth. This is why we know crime is down… and we are soon to let out cash money for ideas that are interventions to the crime that is occurring in the RB.
Our organizing (Rainier Beach Moving Forward) helped create a neighborhood driven plan, with the City’s help (believe it or not there are some folk who don’t like that) that has ideas for equitable development intended to create race and social justice in our neighborhood for example – A Food Innovation District – a geographic zone surrounding the Rainier Beach Light Rail Station that will leverage the agricultural industry the urban farm creates with education and business incubation opportunities.
Our organizing (Rainier Beach Community Center Advisory Council) got us a beautiful new community center and even though no local jobs came of it, we will turn that around by our organizing for a target local hiring ordinance (Target Local Hire Coalition). A report with recommendations for this should get to City Council by June or July. Did you know that of the $250 million in city construction contracts in 2012/13 only 7% of the workers on those projects lived in Seattle.
Our transit justice organizing (Sage, RB Coalition) forced Metro to look at its bus service cuts through a race and social justice lens. …we were able to engage youth in this initiative as well. They have provided the adults in RB with three great ideas to enhance transportation for our community, one of which is to reduce the distance to 1 mile in order for students to be eligible for a free orca card to go to school. Right now the distance is 2.5 miles which is causing hardships for hundreds of families. One student catching metro/light rail to go to school pays $30/week. For some families with three high-schoolers….ouch.
Sure, there is still work to be done, our immigrant refugee communities still strive to be included, the stop light at Rainier and Henderson is not long enough, we do need to pick up our litter, or CBO’s services can be more coordinated, but, did you know we do have a youth orchestra in Rainier Beach? Did you know the nationally renowned Northwest Tap Connection calls its home Rainier Beach? Did you know Rainier Beach has four distinct business districts not one? Did you know Rainier Beach has more public art installations than any other neighborhood comparable in size? Did you know we have been doing an Artwalk (SEED, Rainier Beach Merchants) for the last three years? Did you know principals, residents and city staff meet once a month to talk about public safety in Rainier Beach. Did you know the RB Mock Trial team killed it the other day at UW?
While I know I am leaving out other fantastic work I hope I am not boring you. On the likelihood that I am I will end by saying this…there are far more people who care about Rainier Beach and are acting to make it a quality place to live than there are those who doubt it or shoot at it. On the chance you are not bored go to www.rbmovingforward.org. This is the only site of its kind in Rainier Valley that brings you real time feeds from other neighborhood sites, not just links. Better yet, join us at our monthly Action Team Meetings (ATM’s) which occur the 4th Thursday of each month at the Rainier Beach Health and Dental Clinic operated by NeighborCare – 6:30 p.m. The topic this month (May 22) is A Place For Everyone – Transportation, Housing and Economic Development in Rainier Beach. Also be on the lookout for training to be a citizen journalist through the SE Seattle FreedomNet Project were we will be conducting trainings to grow the pool of contributors to the Rainier Beach Newswire, if interested email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Counter punch with a right jab (take that with ya) , feint to the left, uppercut….