A black woman in a purple shirt stand on the porch of a gray house, waving to the camera. She's wearing a protective mask. (photo: Susan Fried)

PHOTO ESSAY: Rediscovering the Central District With Wa Na Wari’s ‘Walk the Block’

by Susan Fried

Over seven hundred people bought tickets for Wa Na Wari’s inaugural “Walk the Block fundraising event on Saturday, Oct. 16. Attendees were treated to a feast of visual art, music, dance, food, and drinks. 

Upon arriving at the event, participants were given maps, chose custom racing bibs with a variety of words and slogans, and then set off on a .08 mile walk through the Central District neighborhood. During “Walk the Block,” they could find work by artists Inye Wokoma, Chloe King, and Kimisha Turner. There were also video pieces by Martine Syms, Sable Elyse Smith, and the Shelf Life Community Story Project, as well as live music by the Gary Hammon Band. Three blocks away, in front of the Garfield Community Center, there were dance performances by Northwest Tap Connection and the Bring Us Collective, with jazz trumpeter Owuor Arunga playing in between performances. There were 15 stops along the way.

Elisheba Johnson, co-founder of Wa Na Wari, told the Emerald that the event was “a total success.” 

“Walk the Block” event map. There were 15 stops on the map that featured visual art, dance performances, and live music. (Photo: Susan Fried)

“We decided to do this on a lark and had no idea if it would resonate or not, and it’s just so amazing,” Johnson said, adding that Wa Na Wari plans on making this an annual event. Feedback from the neighbors, who want to add their houses next time, and from the participants, who suggested partnering with other organizations, has already given them some great ideas for next year. 

Johnson said that one participant returning to Wa Na Wari after their “Walk the Block” tour  said they got to “rediscover the Central District.” 

“And that felt like everything that we [Wa Na Wari] do, at once, in a way,” said Johnson. “We’re all about people rediscovering their relationship to the Central District.”

Two of the over 700 participants in the “Walk the Block” fundraiser for Wa Na Wari check out the event’s map to see where they should go next. (Photo: Susan Fried)
A little boy gets help attaching his racing bib to his shirt during the “Walk the Block” fundraiser for Wa Na Wari on Oct. 16. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Inye Wokoma’s collage “diptych C.R.E.A.M M.O.V.E” was located on the traffic circle at 24th and E. Marion Street. It was one of 15 locations where attendees could experience art. (Photo: Susan Fried)
People stop to watch Martine Syms’ video art “Notes On Gesture” at 2320 E Columbia Street, one of 15 stops on the “Walk the Block” map. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Karen Toering (left) and Kirsten Harris-Talley (right) joined over 700 people at the first “Walk the Block” fundraiser for Wa Na Wari on Saturday, Oct. 16.  (Photo: Susan Fried)
Soulma Ayers gets a drink from Kasi Gaffle whose company, Erudite & Stone, offered craft beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) in the backyard of Wa Na Wari during “Walk the Block.” (Photo: Susan Fried)
Artist Lisa Myers Bulmash poses with her art piece during the “Walk the Block” fundraiser for Wa Na Wari. Bulmash invited attendees to pick a sticker and attach it to her piece. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Artist Lisa Myers Bulmash invited “Walk the Block” participants to apply stickers to ”Nanoforest,” her interactive art piece. (Photo: Susan Fried)
People picked their running bibs with sayings and slogans before participating in “Walk the Block,” a fundraiser for Wa Na Wari. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Participants in the “Walk the Block” fundraiser stop on 25th Avenue to watch a video created by the Shelf Life Community Story Project. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Elisheba Johnson (left), one of the original co-founders of Wa Na Wari, and artist Barbara Earl Thomas (right) pose under one of several pieces by Thomas that were on display during the “Walk the Block” fundraiser on Oct. 16. (Photo: Susan Fried)
The artwork of Marita Dingus was featured at Coyote Central, the fifth spot on the “Walk the Block” map. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Northwest Tap Connection wowed the crowd outside Garfield Community Center when they performed during the Wa Na Wari “Walk the Block” fundraiser on Oct. 16. (Photo: Susan Fried)
The Gary Hammon Band performs at a house on 25th Avenue near Spring Street during “Walk the Block,” Saturday, Oct. 16. Hammon was one of several musicians who participated in Wa Na Wari’s 3rd Annual Fundraiser. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Jazz trumpeter Owuor Arunga performed outside Garfield Community Center during the “Walk the Block” fundraiser for Wa Na Wari on Oct. 16. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Susan Fried is a 40-year veteran photographer. Her early career included weddings, portraits, and commercial work — plus, shes been The Skanner News’ Seattle photographer for 25 years. Her images have appeared in the University of Washingtons The Daily, The Seattle Globalist, Crosscut, and many more. She’s been an Emerald contributor since 2015. Follow her on Instagram @fried.susan.

📸 Featured Image: A volunteer helps keep track of the people inside the Wa Na Wari house during the “Walk the Block” fundraiser for Wa Na Wari on Saturday, Oct. 16. (Photo: Susan Fried)

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