Mayor Annouces Funding for South Seattle Crime Prevention Groups in Budget Proposal

by Staff Writer

Murray and Safety
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray unveils his budget as SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole looks on.

Seattle – This Afternoon Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced that his 2015-16 budget to be formally proposed on Sept. 22 will make new investments in public safety and the safety net, including funding to South Seattle area violence prevention groups.

The budget, as currently constituted, seeks to allocate $100,000 for the Breakfast Group Mentoring Program, a program designed to provide young men of color in Seattle Public Schools with wrap-around services, individualized instruction plans and mentoring to complete their secondary education and improve employment opportunities for them.

The mayor’s budget also designates $75,000 for the Rainier Valley Corp, located in Hillman City, to recruit emerging leaders from diverse immigrant communities and provide training, support and mentorship. South Seattle currently has the highest concentration of immigrants and first generation Americans of anywhere else in the city.

“Public safety is our number one priority, and my budget for the police department reflects these basic budgeting principles by investing in best management practices and more effective use of resources to get better outcomes.” Said Murray.

In regard to direct investment in public safety, Murray’s 2015-16 budget for the Seattle Police Department will propose funding more civilian expertise, including a civilian Chief Operating Officer and a civilian Chief Information Officer for improved operations and systems management and innovation. The COO has been hired, and has already implemented CompStat, the crime and disorder data tracking and analysis method made famous by Commissioner William Bratton in New York City in the 1990s, where it was credited with reducing crime by 60 percent.

“CompStat will take the police department to the next level in observing, mapping and tracking patterns of crime and disorder, and in mobilizing, analyzing and evaluating officer response,” said Murray. “It is a major reform that I believe is the key to our future success in crime prevention, in efficient and effective deployment of SPD resources, and in police accountability.”

CompStat will be used in conjunction with the “micro-policing plans” that Chief Kathy O’Toole will deliver and make publicly available by the end of 2014, Murray said. The plans will reflect the specific needs and circumstances of each of the unique neighborhoods of the city, and are intended to reconnect officers with the communities they serve. CompStat will provide timely and accurate data to inform an ever-evolving patrol strategy, focusing resources on areas of concern and ensuring that police are present and visible where needed most.

Saving Mount Baker’s Day In The Park

by Marcus Harrison Green

Day In ParkWhile squeezing out the last droplets of Summer prior to the dawning of the Fall Equinox is the primary predilection of pretty much anyone saddened by the impending retreat of warm weather and blue skies, there might not be an area that savors the final remnants of the sweltering season quite like the Mount Baker community.

Since 1909 neighbors in the community have congregated in Mount Baker Park towards the end of summer to break bread, imbibe in drink, and otherwise engage in merriment with each other. The event was seen as essential to reinforcing communal bonds while forging new ones and was officially christened the Day In The Park in 1971 with the Mount Baker Community Club taking responsibility for its organization.

Recently, however, South Seattle’s longest running event faced serious danger of dying an untimely death as the Community Club found itself without any event chairs to coordinate the annual celebration. Realizing its essentialness to the community of Mount Baker, resident Erin Bruce took it upon herself to breathe new life into the event.

“Event planning is my background, and my husband and I used to put on music festivals, so it just was a perfect fit when we heard it might not happen this year. The Day In The Park really means a lot to us. We felt that we had the skill set to really do it justice and there was no way we were going to just let it up and disappear.” Said Bruce who now works as Programs Coordinator for the Community Club.

Bruce has not only assured its continuation, but has returned the Day In The Park – with its 43rd installment under the that banner taking place this Sunday- to its origins as a gathering that engaged the entire community, as the event in recent years had gradually become geared towards young children.

“The last few years had basically filled the park with bouncy houses and not much else, which isn’t all that appealing to someone over the age of 7. This year I’m really excited about the activities we have including an all neighborhood field day. We’re going to have tug of war, a watermelon eating contest, and parent and child piggyback races.”

“We’re also partnering with Amy Yee Tennis Center to do a Tennis Tournament, and Wilderness Awareness school is going to create an obstacle course for the kids along with a treasure hunt throughout the park.” Exclaimed Bruce.

As this year’s theme for the event is the Summer of Love, Bruce reflected that it was her own for the neighborhood of Mount Baker and South Seattle in general that inspires her community involvement.

“South Seattle just really has a cool orientation towards community involvement, which I love, and within that we have Mount Baker which has this small town feel to it. That’s the most endearing thing about this area to me. We really are this tight knit community and we really know our neighbors, not just the ones next door, but the ones across the street and the ones around the corner. You can always knock on a door here if you need help.”

The Mount Baker Day In the Park Festival will take place Sunday, September 14th at Mount Baker Park from 10:00am to 3:00pm

This Weekend In South Seattle: Arts Gumbo, Summer’s Last Day In the Park, and Sawant’s Housing Town Hall

Events this weekend in the South Seattle area

Weekend

Friday, September 12th

Movies: Opening of Calvery showtimes at 12:45pm, 4:15pm, 7:15pm, and 9:30pm @ Arklodge Cinemas. Also: Opening of Trip to Italy showtimes at 1:30pm, 4:00pm, 7:00pm, 9:45pm.  More Info: http://www.arklodgecinemas.com

Community: VFW Meat Raffle from 4 to 7pm @ Skyway VFW Hall 7421 S. 126th St Seattle, WA 98178. More Info: email persimmon1859@gmail.com

Music:  Sundae + Mr. Goessl’s CD Release Extravaganza begins at 8:00pm@ The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 98118.  Cost: Free. More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com.

 

Saturday, September 13th

Community: Jefferson Park Jubilee from noon to 10:00pm @ Jefferson Park. More Info: http://www.jeffersonparkjubilee.com/

Culture: Arts Gumbo: Mako and Munjuru from 6:00 – 9:00pm @ The Rainier Valley Cultural Center 3515 South Alaska St. Seattle, WA 98118  More Info: http://www.rainiervalleyculturalcenter.org/events/mako-and-munjuru/

Music:  African Music Nights begins at 9:00pm@ The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 98118.  Cost: Free. More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com.

Community: Detective Cookie’s Urban Chess Club with Pro Chess Instructor H.R.Pitre. From 12:00pm – 2:00pm @ Rainier Beach Community Center: 8825 Rainier Ave South Seattle. Ages 7 and Older. More Info: 206-650-3621 (Detective Cookie)


 

Sunday, September 14th

Community: 43rd Annual Day In The Park: Summer of Love presented by the Mt. Baker Community Club from 10:00am – 3:00pm @Mt.Baker Park.  More Info: ebruce@mountbaker.org

Civics: Affordable Housing Town Hall featuring City Council member Kshama Sawant at 5:00pm @ The New Holly Gathering Hall: 3815 S Othello Street, Seattle, WA 98118  More Info: adam.ziemkowski@seattle.gov

Music: Columbia City Beatwalk: Electric Circus begins at 7:30pm @ The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 98118.  Cost: Free. More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com

 

If you have an event to post, please email events@southseattleemerald.com

 

 

“Big Chickie” Hatches in Hillman City

by Robin Boland

Big Chickie (http://www.bigchickie.com/) , located on Rainier & Findlay, is the newest addition to Hillman City. Occupying an area that previously housed a gas station the owners have gotten creative with the space. All seating is set up outside under a covered area & they’ve added waterproof ‘drapes’ to protect customers from the inevitable wet weather ahead. There is some on-site parking and one imagines there will also be quite a bit of take-out business.

The "before" photo.
The “before” photo.

The restaurant specializes in charcoal roasted rotisserie chicken (also known as pollo a la brasa), marinated overnight, roasted and then carved to meet your needs (half, quarter, large chicken, small chicken, dark or light meat).  Beer, wine and soft drinks as well as an amazing array of sides and homemade sauces complete the menu. Note that vegetarians could easily be sated with the salads, rice & other side dishes.

After a number of little known ‘soft openings’ were successful Big Chickie took down the construction fence and officially opened its doors to Hillman City September 9th, selling out long before the hungry masses were ready. Day two was more of the same with those who missed out on the previous day showing up early to get in line. With only a few kinks to be worked out (when to start the chicken & how much to make) it seems unavoidable that Big Chickie will be a success.

My resident chicken expert (aka my 11 year old boy) provided the following feedback: “We’re going to need more chicken”.

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

 

 

 

“Arts Gumbo” Serves Up Japanese Culture

by Staff Writer

Arts GumboSouth Seattle –  This Saturday, September 13th, residents of South Seattle will be be able to experience the majestic culture of Japan first hand without stepping one foot outside the southern boundaries of the 206.

SEEDArts, the arts and cultural division of South East Effective Development, is presenting the second installment of their Arts Gumbo series, this one featuring music, dancing and food from Japanese Culture.

The event will take place at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center and will kick off at 6pm with the performance group Mako & Munjuru, who will be showcasing  the music and dance of Okinawa and Japan. Using the Okinawan lute, zither, taiko drums and voice, they will combine elegant melodies, folk tales and sophisticated classic tunes to present traditional “island songs”.

Munjuru (which means straw hat) is comprised of three musicians: Mako on vocals & sanshin; Sadayo on kutu; Noriko on taiko; and two dancers Takako and Hitomi.

After the performance, the audience will be treated to a traditional Japanese dinner cooked earlier in the day by Community Kitchens Northwest and local volunteers.

After dining, audience members can participate in a Bon dance workshop. Bon Odori are folk dances traditionally performed during Obon, a Japanese summer festival, to music that includes the steady beat of a taiko. The taiko sits on a raised platform, or a yagura, and musicians use bachi, or drumsticks, on the taiko, to keep time for the Bon dancers. The guiding purpose of Bon Odori is to set aside the ego through unselfconscious dancing.

“With this area being such a diverse place, we feel the the Arts Gumbo series is a wonderful opportunity for the community to engage with, and learn directly from, the various cultures that populate the South Seattle area.” Said Jerri Plumridge, SEEDArts Director.

Tickets for Arts Gumbo 2014 can be purchased for $15 general; $10 seniors and students; $5 for children 5-12; at the door or at www.brownpapertickets.com  For updated event times and dates, please call 206.760.4285. For more information you can visit http://www.rainiervalleyculturalcenter.org/artsgumbo/

60 South Seattle Youth Who Could Hang With CNN “Big Whigs” on Ferguson

by Drea Chicas

Residents of Ferguson, MO protest while St. Louis County Police look on. Photo Credit: Wiki Photos
Residents of Ferguson, MO protest while St. Louis County Police look on. Photo Credit: Wiki Photos

As elementary children return to school sporting new trendy backpacks splashed with Lego and Frozen logos, I wonder, have they heard about Michael Brown’s story in Ferguson, Missouri? Do children have an opinion about the racial injustices that plague their communities? If children where featured panelists on CNN, could they contribute to the national discourse on race and racism?

I know of at least 60 elementary age children who could discuss Ferguson alongside national experts. Frozen and Lego obsession or not, no amount of consumer culture could undermine the seeds that were planted in the lives of 60 children and their families. That’s because our community was transformed this summer at Urban Impact’s Freedom Schools in Seattle’s Rainier Valley. I was a Servant-Leader Intern who taught the students, called scholars. 60 scholars return to schools across Seattle this week, and my hope rests in them. They will not only be sporting new notebooks and new backpacks, but also, an “I can make a difference” attitude with an increased love for themselves, their families, their communities, their country and their world.

The CDF Freedom Schools model was piloted through Urban Impact because the national curriculum aligns closely with the organization’s mission of breaking cycles of poverty. One way to break poverty cycles in the lives of young people is to create pathways to high-quality education. Children of color stuck in cycles of poverty especially need rigorous summer programs to help close the achievement gap. The multi-ethnic diversity of the scholars reflected the varying communities in Rainier Valley. Families represented countries from the United States, Vietnam, Korea, Ethiopia, Mexico, Peru, Jamaica, and Nigeria.

After six weeks, scholars graduated the program with an increased awareness that injustice continues to mark the world around them but armed with new tools to tackle tough topics like racism, sexism, classism and ageism. Scholars read about and discussed historical figures that transformed their communities while overcoming inequities. They studied the stories of Ruby Bridges, Joe Louis, Clara Barton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Langston Hughes and Desmond Tutu (to name a few) and compared the context of these stories to current events. While strengthening their reading skills, scholars discussed social justice themes that also further developed their critical thinking skills. You see, scholars were equipped this summer. They really can hang with the CNN “big-whigs.”

Seattle public school students just completed their first week of school. As adult members of their communities, however, we must draw out what lies inside the scholars. Children must be contributors to at-large conversations. We can no longer be content with the voices of adults with higher education degrees.

The next time you come across a child, dare to ask them about Ferguson. If they are one of the 12, 745 young scholars in 107 cities and across 29 states that did CDF Freedom Schools, double dare ask them about Ferguson and Michael Brown’s story. They will have an unprecedented insight infused with love. So let their hearts be the key that unlocks the freedom for those of us who are not yet free.

Skyway Building Dedication Celebrates “An Angel on Earth”

by Marcus Harrison Green

Cynthia Green (middle) stands under the new Cynthia A Green Family Center sign.
Cynthia Green (middle) stands under the new Cynthia A Green Family Center sign. Photo Credit: Egan Kolb

The Skyway area has probably never been so thankful for its hilltop setting as enough tears flowed this past Saturday to precipitate a flood of biblical proportions when the community honored one of its matriarchs in a rousing building dedication ceremony.

“She is the most loving, caring person I’ve ever meet. She is the most selfless person I’ve ever been around!” gushed Harriette Moore, who offered but one in a grand chorus of echoes that lauded the woman whose name will be permanently affixed to the former Renton Area Youth and Family Services West Hill Family Center, Cynthia Ann Green.

The 69 year old retiree spent most of the balmy Saturday afternoon unsuccessfully fighting back tears as the building- located at the intersection of 76th Avenue and S 127th Street in Skyway- that served as her workplace for almost 20 years was designated the Cynthia A. Green Family Center.

Though her title officially read Program Assistant during her 18 year tenure at the Center, most in attendance at the dedication- which included a large swath of community members her work directly impacted, former colleagues, and local luminaries- would have found that akin to referring to Steve Jobs prosaically as a marketer.

Green’s days at the center rarely conformed to a 9-5 schedule as she spent long hours graciously assisting members of the Skyway community in everything from fighting home evictions, to securing enough money to keep utilities on, to providing food for those who had none- many times sharing her own lunch with those who came to the Center starving- to providing a pillar of strength in the midst of personal tragedy.

“Cynthia was your best friend. Your shoulder to cry on. The person who lifted you up when you had a bad day. She just brought out the best in everyone who came into contact with her. Everyone in Skyway still just loves her.” Shared Sherry Dione, a daily visitor to the center.

Confirmed Barb Wiley-Taylor, a long time colleague of Green’s. “I’ve been waiting for years to celebrate Cynthia; it’s so easy to celebrate her. This is long overdue. She’s such an incredible person who has given so much to the community. I’m glad we’re able to celebrate her!”

The celebration- which was a lively affair that featured the reading of an original poem written specifically for the occasion by award winning poet Peggy Williams, a performance from Seattle R&B sensation Shaprece, a proclamation by King County Councilmember Larry Gossett that declared it Cynthia Anne Green Day across the county, and frequent eruptions of applause as what seemed like an endless procession of speakers shared what Green personally meant to them – almost took place without its guest of honor in attendance.

Upon being forced to retire from her position at the center in February in order to care for her ailing mother, Green requested that the community and her colleagues at the center do nothing in recognition of her, and instead parcel out any money they had intended to spend on a celebration to families in the community who demonstrated economic need.

The modest mother of five, who abhors the spotlight, had  actually vowed to herself not to attend  any ceremony that was planned in her honor.

“I really didn’t want them to make a fuss over me. There are so many people that need help in the community that I thought they should just give any money they were going to spend on me to them.” Said Green. “Up until about an hour before the ceremony I was certain that I wasn’t going, but my husband convinced me that the community really wanted me to be there, and I’d be letting them down if I didn’t attend.”

The celebration’s ad hoc group of organizers included a myriad of friends, associates, and co-workers who Green had amassed during her time at the Center. They were able to construct a novel solution that both honored her request to help needy families and satisfied the communities desire to commemorate her accomplishments.

In addition to the renaming of the building, they founded the Cynthia A. Green Scholarship Fund that will aide families within the community in meeting their basic needs and will be managed by Renton Area Youth and Family Services- the local organization that continues to operate the Center.

Green looks on as a community member speaks at the dedication Ceremony.
Green looks on as a community member speaks at the dedication Ceremony.

All the day’s transpirings came as an immense surprise to the guest of honor, as she had not been made privy to any of the grand gestures the community planned to bestow on her. “I’m utterly shocked.” An overwhelmed Green said through tears as she reflected on the day’s events. “I just thought that people would get up and say a few things about me. I had no idea that they were going to name the building after me and start a fund in my name. I…I can’t believe all of this is happening!”

And although  it had been months since the honoree had stepped foot into the building that now bears her name prior to Saturday, her impact and legacy within the community surely would have endured even without her names inscription on one of Skyway’s oldest buildings.

“There’s not a day that someone doesn’t come up here asking for Cynthia, even though she’s been gone for a little while. There isn’t a day that

someone doesn’t  tell a story about  her, or recount a memory about what she did for them.” recounted Cynthia A Green Family Center Director Morgan Wells.

Added Ginney Ross, a member of the group that Green founded at the center to help support grandparent’s who were sole guardians of their

grandchildren: “She always had this smile on her face that forced you to smile back, no matter how horrible your day had been, and she always has a solution to your problem. We know that there are angels on earth because of people like Cynthia.”

Disclosure: The writer of this article is the  proud son of Cynthia Green

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