What Peace Looks Like: Rainier Vista’s Beautify the Block Party

by James Williams

Positive energy and children’s laughter overflowed Rainier Vista Central Park last Thursday, October 1, 2015 .  It was the first annual “Beautify the Block Party”, an afternoon focused on bringing the South End together, healing from recent gun violence, and accepting direction from the next generation.  The powerful event was planned, put together, and facilitated by a visionary group of pre-teens who live in the Vista.  

Adult support was provided by Jamil Suleman and Yasmin Habib.  Jamil teaches many in an after school program run by the Refugee Women’s Alliance. Yasmin is part of World Mind Creation Academy.  Much of the outreach for this event was done through word of mouth, Facebook, and Youtube.  The promo is moving.  It begins with a group of beautiful black and brown girls chanting:

“We are Powerful

We are Strong

Changing the world

All day Long”  

In the same two minute clip, Jamil Suleman and a youth who is part of the program talked Build and Develop Boyz, a youth group focused helping young men from the Rainier Vista neighborhood grow in a positive direction and preparing them to be providers for their community.  Yasmin Habib talked about the unlimited potential of children in the area and importance of adults like you and I supporting and encouraging them.

The good vibes were contagious.  Hip-Hop beats cascaded from the walls of surrounding apartments and possessed the feet of people passing by.  Several of the afternoon’s most memorable moments came during the G.O.O.D.(Girls Out here Opening Doors) Girls and B.A.D.(Build And Develop) Boyz talent show.  The charismatic young MC’s kept the show moving and the crowd smiling.  Also, there were performances by local artists respected and loved by the young organizers such as Nikkita Oliver, Jamil Suleman, and Raz Simone.  District 2 City Council candidates Bruce Harrell and Tammy Morales  also were in attendance and spoke briefly.

If you missed this event, you missed a lot.  We need more events that are truly led by and for the youth.  We need more events aimed at healing the community.  Many adults I know could learn so much from young leaders like the ones who organized this event.  We should all look forward to G.O.O.D. Girls and B.A.D. Boyz coming back to do it again next year.

Events like the Block Party give us life and keep us going.  They remind me that community really does know best.  They remind me that within us, we collectively have everything we need to create the world our families really deserve to live in.  To get there, we will have to celebrate ourselves more, accept leadership and direction from the next generation more, and lift up and have faith in our collective genius more.  All of those components were at play last Thursday.  I felt honored to be in attendance.

Featured photo courtesy of Jama Abdirahman. For more photos and coverage of the event please visit the Seattle Globalist.

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