by Mark Van Streefkerk
In an effort to increase access to journalism for BIPOC youth in the Duwamish Valley, journalists and community storytellers Bunthay Cheam and Jenna Hanchard are launching the first-ever Duwamish Valley Youth Storytelling Project. The project is in collaboration with the Port Community Action Team and sponsored by the Port of Seattle.
A series of four workshops, the project will help youth shape a story of community interest that will ultimately be featured in South Park Roots, on the Port of Seattle communications website, and on Hanchard and Cheam’s own storytelling platforms, Lola’s Ink and TnouT, respectively.
Continue reading Tell Your Story: Apply to the Duwamish Valley Youth Storytelling Project
by Guy Oron
On a small sliver of land in South Park along the Duwamish River, there once sat eight affordable houses. Now only five remain. Over the past few months, the new owners of these properties, National Products Inc. (commonly known as Ram Mounts or NPI), have begun demolishing these cottage-style houses.
Ram Mounts purchased the lots — known as the South Park triangle — through a shell company in 2019 for $2.5 million. The company is a plastics manufacturer that owns multiple warehouses and facilities on the block across the street to the south of the triangle. It hopes to replace the houses with a “park-like setting, with a noise abatement wall” to serve as a buffer between its facilities and the rest of the neighborhood. The company also plans on using the adjacent right-of-way for more parking.
However, some residents fear that Ram Mounts is simply using this new purchase to continue to expand their footprint in the area. Jennifer Scarlett, a neighbor who lives one block away from the triangle, sees the recent purchase and demolitions as part of a larger pattern of industrial expansion. “Yeah, they’ve already expanded twice … they’re an industrial company, they’re not on industrial zoning, and they keep expanding,” said Scarlett.
Continue reading South Park Residents Fear Industrial Expansion as Houses Are Demolished
by Paulina López and Troy D. Abel
Recently, legislative debates turned from carbon pricing to the Healthy Environment for All Act (HEAL) uplifting environmental justice (EJ). This is important legislation, but what we really need are bold solutions and different laws addressing a persistent form of unjust and ongoing pollution. Air toxic exposure disparities and their impacts on communities like the Duwamish Valley are still being ignored by politicians and industry. This inattention continues even as new research suggests that higher air pollution may increase COVID-19 vulnerability and deaths.
Many environmentalists in our region not only overlook decades of toxic air pollution injustice, some even gloss over the problem. In January, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Seattle office announced that industrial toxic releases declined in the Northwest. Pollution dropped 12% in 2019 for 752 facilities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska. They further asserted “that U.S. companies that use and manage chemicals and metals continue to make progress in preventing pollution.”
But we knew that regional averages likely obscured trends in our heavily polluted Duwamish River Valley neighborhoods of Georgetown and South Park — often first documented by our community. EPA analysts lumped air, water, and land pollution together. When viewed separately, air and water pollution went up in the Northwest. Surface-water discharges increased by 1.17 million pounds and air pollution by 610 thousand pounds between 2018 and 2019.
Continue reading OPINION: Clean Air Everywhere, for Everyone in Washington
by Mark Van Streefkerk
It’s no secret that small businesses and retail shops have had a challenging year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Most local retailers have had to move their sales online, or host a hybrid of safe, socially-distant, in-person shopping along with new online sales platforms. Here at the South Seattle Emerald, we encourage you and your family to shop local this holiday season, especially seeking out local, BIPOC-owned businesses that might have been hit particularly hard in the pandemic. Here are a few businesses from the Delridge, White Center, and South Park neighborhoods to support this year. Check out the Seattle Green Book for more Black-owned businesses, and The Intentionalist for an index of woman-, LGBTQ+-, and BIPOC-owned businesses.
Continue reading Shopping the South End: Holiday Gifts From BIPOC-Owned Businesses in Delridge, White Center, and South Park
In this special Emerald series supported by NW Journalists of Color and the Facebook Journalism Project, photographer and writer Sharon H. Chang introduces the womxn and nonbinary farmers of color at the heart of Washington’s agrarian revival movement who are moving the needle towards not only a future livable planet, but a socially just one.
by Sharon H. Chang
The air is comfortably warm at South Park’s Marra-Desimone Park on a late summer morning. Tall grasses line the dirt path to a little-known piece of farmland snuggled inside the park. All is quiet except for a small group working in the northeast corner. Two children run through rows of crops and nearby, their mother and four other cheerful women, known as the promotoras (community health workers), chat as they rake rows. There has been a crop failure because of rodents, but the women are undeterred. Well into their first full season, the promotoras have already transformed their land into an impressive Latinx-women-led farm called Salsa De La Vida. Continue reading Farming For Change: Meet the Latinx Women Leading South Park’s New Community Farm
by Bunthay Cheam
On March 23, the City of Seattle closed the West Seattle Bridge due to rapidly expanding cracks that rendered it unsafe for vehicle traffic.
The bridge will be closed until at least 2021 and may not be repairable according to Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) director Sam Zimbabwe. SDOT is still working to assess the full cost and timeline of needed repairs.
The city-owned bridge is vital to people living on the West Seattle peninsula, serving as the main route of access to the rest of the city, serving about 100,000 vehicles per day.
The main detour routes offered by the city take drivers through the Duwamish Valley, and through the communities of Georgetown, South Park and along West Marginal Way.
Continue reading West Seattle Bridge Closure Exposes Inequities in Duwamish Valley Communities