The Friendly Faces of Rainier Avenue

by Jama Abdirahman

Note: This article originally appeared on the Seattle Globalist and has been reprinted with permission.

What makes a place a “bad neighborhood?” Is it the people who live and work there?

In Seattle, Rainier Valley and Rainier Beach have bad reputations. Outsiders say they’re afraid to live there, or even visit. It’s true that some crime rates are higher, and sometimes tragedy strikes. But are these neighborhoods really as dangerous or scary as people say?

I was curious to know the truth, so I set out down Rainier Avenue with my camera to see if I could capture that negativity myself. Despite the not-so-positive images of these neighborhoods that we’re used to seeing, most of the people I encountered were just nice, ordinary folks trying to live their lives. Some of them even smiled at me!

Here’s a photo collection of the many friendly faces you can find along Rainier Avenue:

Nubia Simpson, 17 (left) and Omera Abdirahman, 16 (right)

Tommy, 56, and his dog Wally

​Darrius Cox, 18 (left) and Robert Lexing, 18 (right)
Hope Desamearado, 18
Kyle Matthews, 21

​Kyu Olebar, 17 (left), Helena Young 37 (right)

​Miguel Cortes, 11 (right) George Ro, 14 (left)
Karina Saunders, 28
Willieetta Smith, 68
​Raequan Jones, 15
​Isaiah Johnson, 16 (right) Jasiah Gions, 16 (left)