Category Archives: Community

Back to School Street Smarts

by Robin Boland

With school buses being cut and school start times skewed many of us working parents will be sending our kids to school on Metro or on foot in just a few weeks. If you’re within the 2-mile ‘walk zone’ of your child’s school then your child will not be riding a school bus this fall.  As many of us are not afforded the luxury of beginning our workday at 10 a.m. (can you say 9:30 start times?) our older kids will be in charge of locking up & getting themselves to & from school. Add that to the near daily reports of phone snatchings and home invasions and anxiety ensues. Here are some ways of teaching our kids to protect themselves while we’re not with them, both at home & on the road.

 

Somewhere to start:

  • Speak honestly with your child about being aware of their surroundings while using a phone or other electronic device. This includes while riding the bus or train as well as while waiting at the stop or station. The idea to convey is that being aware of your surroundings makes you appear to be less of an easy target.
  • Discuss plans of action if someone is acting aggressively or making your child feel uncomfortable.
  • Communicate some common sense rules about locking up around the house, including locking up bikes & not leaving expensive items near open ground floor windows.

 

Additionally the South Precinct Crime Prevention contact, Mark Solomon (mark.solomon@seattle.gov ), offers the following tips to share with your family:

STUDENT PERSONAL SAFETY

Violent crime in Seattle is one of the lowest for cities it’s size in the nation.  And “Stranger Danger,” one of the most frightening types of reports in the news, is actually one of the rarest types of crimes.  With that said, there are no guarantees that you will never become a victim of violent crime.  However, there are some basic, sensible and easy to follow precautions that can lessen your chances of this type of encounter.

 

GENERAL SAFETY TIPS

  • Follow your intuition.  Pay close attention to the uncomfortable feelings that often warn us of potential danger.  “Trust your Gut.”  If you feel that a situation is not right, move out of the situation.  Trusting your own instincts that a situation feels “wrong” can be the best personal safety tool you have.  Don’t be afraid to cross the street, return to a business or ask for help based on that “funny feeling.”  You may be right.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.  In social situations, be alert to places and situations that make you vulnerable.  Know who is nearby or who may be following you.
  • Walk confidently and alertly.  Avoid walking alone and using shortcuts.
  • Walk with others and stay on paths that are well lit where you can easily see and be seen.
  • Carry your valuables safely.  Don’t display items (e.g., I-pods, cash, phones), when walking to and from your destination.

 

 

BEING SAFE ON THE BUS OR LIGHT RAIL

  • Maintain situational awareness on the bus, train and at transit stops.
  • While waiting for public transportation, keep your back close to a wall (or pole) so that you cannot be surprised from behind.
  • Don’t use or flash valuables like IPODS on the bus or train.
  • If there is a problem on the bus or train, notify the driver and/or call 911.
  • If someone is bothering you on the bus or train, notify the driver
  • If few people are on the bus or train, sit near the driver.
  • Use the transit schedules to minimize the length of time waiting for the bus or train.
  • Keep your purse, shopping bag, backpack, packages, etc., in your lap, on your arm, or between your feet — not by themselves on an empty seat.
  • Don’t let yourself doze off on the bus or train; it can make you an easy target.
  • If you feel uneasy about getting off at your usual stop, stay on until the next stop.
  • Guard transit passes like cash or other valuables (the school is not entitled to give you a new one if yours is lost or stolen).

 

 

BEING SAFE ON THE STREET

  • Know your routes.  Notice lighting, alleys, abandoned buildings, and street people.
  • If you are being followed or you see a person or group further down the street that makes you feel uncomfortable, cross the street, walk in another direction, or ask other people walking if you may walk a short distance with them.
  • Pick out places that you consider safer, places where you can either make a stand or reassure yourself that you are not being followed (i.e., lit porches, bus stops, stores, etc.).
  • Walk near the curb and away from buildings, trees, and shrubbery, which can hide potential threats.
  • When walking to your home or apartment, carry your house keys in your hand.  Don’t stand in a doorway and fumble in your purse or pocket for your keys.  Have them ready to use.
  • Always dress so that your movements are not restricted.

 

 

IF YOU ARE CONFRONTED

  • It may seem like a good idea to tell a robber that you have no money, but this technique may backfire. It is safer to give up a few dollars. Carry a little money separate from your other funds in an accessible place.
  • If someone demands your property and displays or implies in any way that they have a weapon, don’t resist.  Physical property isn’t worth getting injured or killed over.
  • If someone tries to grab you, make a scene. Scream, kick, fight . . . do what you can to get away and attract attention.

 

Robin Boland is a contributing columnist, South Seattle Enthusiast, and often is referred to as “little bird” by her friends who have heights over 5 ft 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Alajawan’s Hands: South Seattle Mother Keeps Her Son’s Memory Alive

by Marcus Harrison Green

 

Ayanna Brown
Ayanna Brown

“I still talk to him every morning. I say: Mama loves you.” Ayanna Brown shares as she delicately grasp a branch belonging to the Japanese Maple tree she and her husband planted in memory of her son Alajawan.

The 12 year old boy tragically had his life whisked away from him fours years ago walking from a bus stop near the Skyway 7-11 on Martin Luther King Jr Way  and 129th street, when Curtis Walker –  a member of the street gang The Bloods – mistook him for a rival and fired four shots directly at Alajawan. The only one to strike his body punctured his lungs, eventually leaving him dead in one of the convenience store’s parking stalls, just a few feet away from where the tree now flourishes in an adjoining enclosure.

“You know that tree isn’t even supposed to be here, that’s what the woman who dug the hole for it said. It’s some sort of miracle that it’s even there.” She says as she makes her way around the parking lot, retracing the steps from the  last few moments of her son’s life, coming ever closer to where she saw his body laying those four frightful years ago.

What is equally miraculous is how she is able to roam around the parking lot as if it were nothing but an extension of her living room. The site would more than likely trigger a hail of horrendous memories for most in her situation, but Ayanna has become a permanent fixture of the 7-11, so much so that her presence has become as synonymous with the store as its sporadically operational Slurpee machine .

“It says no loitering.” she chuckles, referring to the sign adhered to the store’s main window that is positioned just low enough for the cashier working inside to be able to acknowledge her with a wave and a smile as she journys around the former crime scene.“I’ve never paid any attention to it though.”

These frequent sojourns are her way of keeping connected to Alajawan, as she continues to cope with his passing. The time clock associated with the grief she feels for burying her youngest child, before he barely scratched life’s potential, has no hands attached to it.

“The Fourth of July is torture for me, all the helicopters, ambulances and fire trucks… it all makes me think back to that day when I lost him. My favorite show used to be CSI, but I can’t watch it anymore because of the autopsies. I just see his face every time. It never gets any easier for me. You just try to get acclimated to the feeling that he’s gone the best you can.”

While her son’s loss still haunts her, it also continues to resonate within the community of Skyway where her precocious 12 year old seemed the frontrunner for mayor had his age not prevented him from being electable.

Alajawan
Alajawan Brown

“He gave up his Saturday mornings to tutor younger kids at a math academy. He would feed people he would see outside of the stores begging for food. He would actually go inside the store and buy food for them with his own money, so they would not go hungry. He would save up to buy his own school supplies so that me and his father didn’t have to. He loved Skyway, and said he always wanted to make a difference here” she says as her mind savors nectarous recollections.

While it would have been understandable for her to have departed the area immediately after Alajawan’s death, forsaking it in the wake of tragedy, Ayanna has credited the Skyway Community for gifting her with strength during ghastly times.

“The people of this community have really rallied around me. I believe in the people who live here in the Skyway/West area. As tragic as Alajawan’s death was, I really don’t think any other community or neighborhood anywhere would have given me and my family the love that we received here.”

She realizes the surprise her statement might cause those whose familiarity with the Skyway area is limited to what currently passes for news coverage on the neighborhood.

“I’m not saying that we don’t have our problems, but so does Bellevue. From my own experience, the majority of the (violence and crime) that happens in Skyway is perpetuated by people who don’t live here. They bring their drama from their respective communities and leave the residents here to deal with the consequences and take the blame.”

She hopes to return all the support that she’s received from the community, while keeping her son’s memory alive, via the Alajawan Brown Foundation- operating as Alajawan’s hands- which besides offering tutoring services to area elementary aged children, provides Thanksgiving dinners to those residents who would starve on the holiday, and organizes a back-to- school supply drive that will be kicking off later today at the Sam’s Club in Renton.

In addition, the foundation offers scholarships to those children who would otherwise be unable to participate in youth sporting activities – including football, Alajawan’s favorite sport- because of the often prohibitive fees associated with them. Of all the charitable enterprises that the foundation participates in, it is this offering that Ayanna seems most proud.

“Before he passed away he wanted to play football. The season was four months away and the  fee to participate was $160. Me and his father were going to try to scrape it together, but he told us not to worry about it. He would pay for it himself. The day after he died we found a budget in his room that he had worked out. He had figured out that he had needed to make $40 dollars a month, and he had planned out how many lawns he needed to mow in order to reach his goal.”

“All this work that we’re doing with the foundation is really nothing but continuing on with what he was doing with his life, giving people opportunities that he wanted for himself and others. He would always tell me, ‘Mom, I want to make a difference. That’s my dream, and dreams never die if you don’t let them.” She continues.

“I refuse to let my baby’s memory die. I refuse to allow him to be just another dead black male. He’s not going to be just another statistic as long as I’m breathing.”

As she passes the Japanese Maple one last time before she gets ready to depart from the 7-11 parking lot, only to reconvene there with it again tomorrow, she can’t help but reflect on the trees tenacity. “Yeah, they said that he wouldn’t survive because his roots were too close to the cement in the ground, but  look at him now. He’s thriving anyway!”

If you would like to donate to the Alajawan’s Hands back to school drive you can drop off school supplies today between the hours of 9:00am and 3:00pm  at the Sam’s Club located at 901 S Grady Way, Renton, WA 98057. You can also deposit your school supply donations at any Puget Sound area Wendy’s collection box until August 20th. You can contact Alajawan’s Hands directly at http://www.alajawanshands.com.

Jolly Greeters Invade Rainier Beach

Corner Greeters

Rainier Beach residents have been growing accustomed to the welcome sight of jovial  faces greeting them along their daily treks through the neighborhood.

Corner Greeters, a project initiated by the Seattle Neighborhood Group as a part of Rainier Beach: A Beautiful Safe Place for Youth, places pop-up greeter stations throughout the area in places that have been designated as high crime spots.

The objectives of the stations are to encourage social engagement amongst community members, and deter future incidences of crime.

Along with smiles, the Greeters- who include community volunteers- provide public safety and legal information to passers by in addition to trinkets that match the theme of a particular station. Last week’s “Kindness Blossoms” station at the Rose Street Mini-Park, saw over 70 curious community members depart with flowers in hand and a better appreciation for the steps being taken to promote peace and unity within the neighborhood.

Corner Greeter events will be taking place over the next four weeks between 3:30 and 5:30pm at the following locations:

Wednesday, July 30th: Peace Revolutions at Mapes Creek Walkway Plaza (Near Saars)

Wednesday, August 6th: Fold In Peace at Intersection of S.Henderson and MLK Way South

Wednesday, August 13th: Peace Putts at Rainier Beach Safeway Parking Lot

Wednesday, August 20th: Harambee Drumming Circle at Rainier & Henderson Plaza

For more information on becoming a volunteer greeter you can visit: http://doodle.com/4eenicqnzbznewkg

Pianos In South Seattle Parks

At an event in Othello Park last Thursday, Seattle Parks and Recreation, King County Parks, Laird Norton Wealth Management, and local arts and business organizations collaborated to launch Pianos in the Parks, by unveiling an elaborately adorned vintage piano.

The Pianos in the Parks campaign placed 20 decorated pianos in parks around the greater Seattle area, including the southend’s own Othello Park and Rainier Beach Plaza, in hopes of encouraging residents to explore green and open spaces while enjoying each others’ art.

“We are delighted to host the pianos at our city parks, Seattle Center and City Hall plaza,” Mayor Murray said. “Pianos in the Parks will enliven our parks and engage communities through the power of art and music.”

“We are thrilled to host this positive and innovative way to bring more people into our parks and to listen to music for all to enjoy,” said Christopher Williams, Acting Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation.

The pianos were procured and donated by Classic Pianos and will be available in the parks until Aug. 17. Members of the public are invited to play the pianos and can upload videos of their park performances to the Pianos in the Parks Facebook page for a chance to play at KEXP’s and Seattle Center’s “Concerts at the Mural” on Friday, Aug. 22.

The Facebook entries that receive the highest number of “likes” will be judged by a community panel and a winner will be selected.

At the end of the campaign, the pianos will be sold to the highest bidder in an online auction on http://www.pianosintheparks.com. Proceeds from the pianos sales will benefit Seattle Parks and Recreation, King County Parks, Seattle Symphony, KEXP and Gage Academy of Art.

For more information about Pianos in the Parks scheduled activities, participating parks/open spaces and full contest information, please visit: http://www.pianosintheparks.com. To tag contest entries, pictures and experiences, use the hashtag #PianosintheParks and send your photos to @seattleparks on Twitter.

Mayor Walking to “Find It, Fix It” in Rainier Beach

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s “Find it, Fix it” Community Walk series, which focuses on several crime hotspots, will be making its way to Rainier Beach this upcoming Tuesday.

The walks – announced last month-  have featured community residents, police, and city officials walking together to identify and find solutions to physical disorder.

The two walks already conducted have seen great success with a 40 percent rise in use of the Find It, Fix It application and identification, notification and action taken on graffiti removal, street lighting, litter and garbage clean-up, along with trimming overgrown bushes and trees.

 

    Rainier Beach Find It, Fix It Community Walk

Tuesday, July 22, 7 – 9 p.m.

Rainier Beach Station Plaza

Martin Luther King Jr Way and S. Henderson St.

Meet in the plaza (Map)

Full itinerary can be viewed here

SEED to Host Southend Area Golf Tournament

Golf

Long-time affordable housing, arts, and economic development nonprofit, Southeast Effective Development (SEED), announced today that it will be holding its 1st Annual Golf Tournament on August 15th.

This year, the tournament will be raising funds to support SEEDArts.  SEEDArts is a non-profit program of South East Effective Development and is the driving force behind the creation of SE Seattle’s two main arts/cultural facilities: the Rainier Valley Cultural Center, our region’s first performing arts center; and the Columbia City Gallery, a cooperative featuring the works of 30 local visual artists.

The SEED Golf Tournament will be held on August 15, 2014 at the beautiful Jefferson Golf Course with an 8:00 am shotgun start and lunch to follow.

The tournament format will be a 4-player team scramble. This will be a fun-filled affair for golfers and non-golfers alike while supporting a great cause.

The cost for this event is $150.00 per player which will include golf, lunch and tons of gifts and prizes. In addition there are many sponsorship categories that include playing spots and opportunities for advertising.

For more information contact Brian Remington of Golf Solutions, Tournament Director at (206) 432-9014 or brian@golfcorpsolutions.com

Activists Call For More Investment in Education, Not Incarceration

EducationTwo rallies this morning, both organized by the Alliance for a Just Society, will issue powerful calls for more government investment in education – not incarceration.

At least 300 community leaders, and activists at each gathering will call for freedom from crushing student loan debt, and freedom from jailing children.

The rallies are part of the Alliance’s Power from the Roots Up conference being held this week on the University of Washington campus. Organizers, grassroots activists, and small business owners from 14 states are attending the conference.

Nationwide Seattle is often seen as ground zero in the movement to combat income inequality and to build power through grassroots activism.

The first rally today will be held from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. at the Federal Building, Second Avenue and Marion Street, to demand that the Department of Education, Sallie Mae and corporate bankers stop profiting off the backs of college students.

Speakers will talk about their student loan debt, the crowd will help “grade” the Department of Education on a giant report card, then several participants will deliver petitions to the DOE office in the Federal Building.

“As an educator, what I see my students experiencing is extremely troubling,” said Louisa Edgerly, an adjunct instructor at Seattle University, and one of the speakers at the rally.

“Schoolwork is suffering because of the long hours and multiple jobs students are working to afford college,” she said. “I’m concerned about the potential narrowing of career options due to their debt load upon graduation, and the urgency to take any job so they can make their payments.”
The second event Friday, calling on the King County Council to scrap plans for a $210 million juvenile detention center, starts at 11 a.m. outside the King County Courthouse, 516 Third Avenue. Experts say community-based restorative justice programs have much higher success rates than simply jailing children.

“Young people today need more positive people in our ears reminding us what to do and what not to do. I feel like there should just be more mothering and fathering and mentoring instead of a new youth jail,” said Rashaud Johnson, with EPIC – End the Prison Industrial Complex – one of the organizations participating in the rally.