News Gleams: The King and Queen of Rainier Beach, Cultural Center Gets a New Name, and City Aims to Lower Barriers for Civic Engagement

collected by Antonio Foster


Rainier Beach’s New King and Queen

Pedestrians walking along Rainier S and 51st Avenue have been greeted by royalty the past two weeks, in the form of king and queen sculptures. The pair of oversized chess pieces are designed by South Seattle artist Peter Reiquam, who worked with community members (alongside SDOT Safe Routes to Schools, and Seattle Arts and Culture) to develop art work that reflected the unique spirit, character, and pride of the Rainier Beach area. The pieces are a tribute to the decade-old chess club ran by the beloved Det. Cookie, and represent the power of both the king and queen, patience, and strategic thinking.  An official sculpture dedication ceremony will take place on May 7th at 11am.


City Aims to Lower Barriers to Immigrant, Refugee Civic Engagement

On Monday, The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA)  launched the Seattle Votes campaign to identify barriers to civic engagement for Seattle’s immigrant and refugee residents. The campaign consists of an anonymous survey that will provide data for community groups, agencies, King County, and the City to better understand the civic needs of specific immigrant and refugee communities within Seattle.

Immigrant and refugee residents are a growing and increasingly influential population in Seattle, with nearly 20 percent of residents being foreign born. However, evidence suggests that civic engagement rates lag behind other groups. The lack of voter data has been a challenge for City and election officials to better understand what is needed to serve communities across Seattle.

“When we first started looking through the data on immigrant and refugee voting rates, we were surprised to discover that comprehensive research at the local level simply did not exist,” says OIRA Director Cuc Vu. “That’s what makes Seattle Votes such a unique project. It will be the first time in recent years that a major U.S. city has collected data on immigrant and refugee voting and civic engagement.”

The campaign will focus on immigrants and refugees who are at least 18 years of age residing in the Seattle-King County area. OIRA has a goal of 5,000 completed surveys and will partner with more than 100 local community-based organizations to reach immigrants and refugees. These Seattle Votes partners will collect surveys in their communities.


Name Change Finally Official for Columbia City Art Center

Though many South Seattle residents had been aware of the renaming of the Rainier Valley Cultural Center to the Rainier Valley Arts Center for the past month, South East Effective Development (SEED) has officially announced the name change.

In a statement, SEED said the new name was due in part to wanting to end confusion several people had in mistaking the building for the Rainier Community Center, located just a block north. SEED feels the chance to the Rainier Valley Arts Center will clearly distinguish it from other local organizations.


 Plans to Rename Park After Community Organizer Moves Forward

Yesterday, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray moved forward with his plan to rename International Children’s Park in Seattle’s Chinatown/International District after beloved community organizer Donnie Chin. Murray sent the Seattle City Council a resolution seeking support from councilmembers to rename the park “Donnie Chin International Children’s Park.”

The family of Donnie Chin requested that the new park name keep “International Children’s Park” in the title, as Mr. Chin played an essential role in the creation of the park and approved of the original name.

“Our family is so pleased and deeply grateful to the community for their help and participation,” said Constance Magorty, Donnie’s sister.  “Thank you to [Seattle Parks & Recreation] Superintendent Jesús Aguirre for waiving the three-year waiting period and for the generous support of Mayor Ed Murray. Donnie was truly selfless and worked tirelessly, devoting his life to making the community a better place to live and work.”

Located at 700 S. Lane St., International Children’s Park was originally built in 1981 and was substantially renovated and improved in 2012. When the Chinatown/International District community began to identify needed programs and neighborhood improvements in the mid-1970s, Mr. Chin brought up the need for a children’s park and he continued to champion the idea until the park was built.


SPD Arrest Suspect in New Holly Shooting

On Wednesday, Seattle Police Detectives took an adolescent female into custody for the fatal shooting of a man at 33rd Ave S. & S. Holly St on February 24.  The young woman was booked into the King CountyYouth Services Center.

 Featured image courtesy of Peter Reiquam