Category Archive: News

Defining Community Safety: SNG in Conversation with Aaron Dixon

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On Monday, August 31, 2020, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways sat down (virtually) for a community conversation with Aaron Dixon, founding member and Captain of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party. We discussed community ownership of public space, how we define community safety, and community alternatives to policing.

It was wonderful to hear Aaron share his wisdom and experience, and I left the event feeling inspired. A huge thank you to Aaron Dixon and Peaches Thomas, as well as to everyone who attended, asked thoughtful questions and shared in this community space.

For those of you unable to attend, check out the Recording and Full Transcript.

Special thanks to Disability Rights Washington for providing closed captioning.

And a huge thank you to our other event co-sponsors: 350 SeattleFeet FirstSierra Club Seattle GroupTransit Riders UnionTransportation Choices Coalition, and The Urbanist.

If you are interested in learning more about our work in this realm, check out Whose Streets? Our Streets!, a work-group currently drafting recommendations to the City of Seattle and State of Washington to re-imagine traffic enforcement without armed police.

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Event Details:
Monday, August 31, 2020, 5:30 – 7:00 pm
This event will be a conversation between Aaron Dixon and Peaches Thomas (5:30-6:30 pm), followed by attendee questions and dialogue (6:30 – 7:00 pm). The event will be recorded and available in the days that follow. Closed captioning is available live and a full transcript will be made available after the event.
This event is co-sponsored by 350 Seattle, Disability Rights Washington, Feet First, Sierra Club Seattle Group, Transit Riders Union, Transportation Choices Coalition, and The Urbanist.
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Aaron-Dixon Headshot 2About Aaron Dixon, Guest Speaker:
Aaron Dixon, founding member and Captain of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party. As Captain, Dixon helped launch the Free Breakfast for School Children Program, which fed over 10,000 children every day before school. Dixon was also instrumental in the opening of a free medical and legal clinic which later became the Carolyn Downs Clinic.
Dixon is also the founder of the nonprofit organization, Central House, providing transitional housing for homeless young adults and a youth leadership project. He is a former Green Party candidate for WA State Senate, and an organizer of the Center for Social Justice based out of the Seattle Central District. He is the author of My People are Rising: Memoirs of a Black Panther Captain. Read more here or see his interview with the History Makers.
Peaches Thomas HeadshotAbout Peaches Thomas:
Peaches Thomas is a local Community Organizer with Duwamish Valley Safe Streets, a member of the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways network. She works to create opportunities for residents, specifically youth, to foster a culture of walking and rolling. Notable projects include SDOT’s pilot Home Zone project in South Park and the Georgetown to South Park Connection. Peaches recently received the Unsung Hero Award, presented by the South Park Neighborhood Association.
Peaches believes in empowering communities through advocacy, outreach, and education. In her experience working within Seattle’s South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods, residents feel safer when their shared spaces are equitable and accessible to all. She hopes to one day travel to Egypt, Ghana, and France.

On the Street: KL Shannon interviews youth advocate, community leader, and bike rider Dawn Bennett

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KL Shannon: Tell me about your first experience with a bike or who got you interested in riding a bike.

Dawn Bennett: My first experience riding a bike was when I was little in Youngstown, Ohio. There were eight of us (siblings). We all had bicycles because our mom wanted to make sure that we were busy. She got us little red tricycles (my bike was so cute). We were always falling off the bikes because we were daring one another … so we would end up in the emergency room! True story. <Laughs.>

KL: Can you tell me about a time you wanted to give up biking?

Dawn: Yes, When we got older. My older brother graduated to a beautiful silver 10-speed bike and his own apartment. At that time, I didn’t have a bike. It was time for mom to buy us all 10-speeds. And I was the youngest of eight — down the pecking order, I was last. So I was like, “I’m last, she will never get to me. I don’t want a bike and if I wanted a bike I want a silver 10-speed. I want to be like my big brother.” (And that wasn’t coming.) So, my mom saw that I was really mad about not having a 10-speed. Her partner at the time, she had him give me his old stupid bike. I didn’t want to ride it — so I gave up biking. It was not good enough for me, not good enough for Dawn!

KL: What’s a moment or experience related to biking that stays with you? Could be good or bad.

Dawn:  <Laughs> I have sisters. There are three of us. We’re all a year apart. There’s a lot of us (LOL). Anyway. When we moved to Seattle, we biked around Seward Park. We did the loop (or tried to do the loop, we didn’t make it.) We ended up having a picnic halfway through, then walked back. That was my best bike experience because it was about me and my sisters bonding, experiencing nature and the beauty of Seward Park. We were in the woods together and eating together.

KL: Tell me about why you bike.DawnBennett

Dawn: I bike because I like to keep my body moving. I have a twin brother and he is a fitness guru. And he has taught all of us sisters how to keep our bodies moving. My mom and grandmother were obese. They didn’t have heart problems, thank goodness, but they both had high blood pressure. My twin brother made sure we had the information to make sure we kept ourselves — um, fit. I played basketball for thirty years. My knees got kind of weak — so I got back on the bike and now I bike a whole bunch.

KL: I have a follow up question. Where are some of the places you like to bike?

Dawn: There is a black bicycle club that I want to be a part of. In order to be a part of this bicycle club, I need to bike as much as they do. I practice at Seward Park. And — I have to see beauty, beautiful nature. So, I also practice at Alki Beach. I own my home in Kent. I use to bike around Kent all the time. And so, when I can’t get to Alki, I bike around Kent. Pretty soon, I’m going to do the trails with the black bike club — I’m going to be a part of the club. I just need to get up to par.

Susan Gleason: <Interjecting> There are a couple, I think — Rainier Riders, but the one you’re talking about is really intense. Clara went on a ride with them. She was wiped out.

Dawn: This is how intense they are: I was coming out of Island Soul after grubbing. Walked out of Island Soul. Whole group of bikers came by me. Almost hit me. And they were all black. I yelled, “I want to join!” They said, “Sister, you can join.” But, they came very, very far that day — from Kent. I got to work up to that. That’s my goal, to join one of those black bike clubs.

KL: Another follow up question.  You met with one of my colleagues, Robert Getch [Beacon Hill Safe Streets]. He has convinced you to purchase an expensive bike. :-)

Dawn: <Smiles> Yes, I’m going to get a bike like his. I told him I am going to invest in a bike like that. My little Schwinn is not doing it for me. Part of riding a bike is you want the wind in your face and you want to be going fast — and my little Schwinn will not go fast, no matter how hard I pedal. He [Robert] knew all about it. So, in our meeting time [about the Beacon Ave Trail] we took some time to talk about bikes. I’m going to buy a bike like his. Twenty-five hundred dollars. A full-on investment, man. I’m going to do it. His bike has a little motor on it. I have a feeling my bike will have a motor too. I’m concerned I will have that motor on way too much. <Laughs>  I got to be careful about that.

Susan: <Interjecting again> People say that maybe you’re not going to get as much exercise with that electric assist on the bikes. But everyone I’ve talked to — avid bike riders, daily commuters, all different kinds of riders — say they bike ten times more because of the motor. Opens up the whole city. Gives you more things you can imagine doing in your day.

Dawn: That makes sense, because what Robert talked to me about are those hard hills. When you’re trying to have a beautiful bike ride — going up those hills is easier. You can get up to the top of those hills and then turn that motor off. It makes sense.

KL: You know we work on walking issues too. Do you walk?

Dawn:  I don’t walk. I don’t like walking at all. I’m ADD. <Laughs>

KL: Adult Attention Deficit Order?

Dawn: Yes! I have decided that I have that. (I haven’t been tested.) I can not walk down the street without — I need something faster! I’m not even going to pretend that I can walk.

KL: Do any of your family members still ride?

Dawn: No. Nobody still rides. Everybody graduated out of bikes to their cars. And never left their cars.

KL: In a perfect world, what would biking and walking look like for you? What would biking and walking look like, specifically in communities of color?

Dawn: So, folks here at Jefferson Park Community Center walk and bike on the pathway because its beautiful. There are a lot of people using this park. So, you walk and watch games. You can walk and watch your kids. Everything is overlapping. You can bring your kids to the park and walk the trail. It’s wonderful. I do walk and bike that trail sometimes at lunch. It’s hard to walk it, but I love putting my bike on that trail. Folks come in here [Jefferson Community Center] to do pottery and the whole pottery class will come out and get on that trail and start walking.

Susan: Can you say more about that? About how people can be making pottery together here on Beacon Hill, and leave class and go on a trail. Be among beauty?

Dawn: Beauty plays a big part of it. You want to be around stuff that has been taken care of. Lit up and safe. That’s what draws me to Alki — all kinds of people watching, the beauty of the water, riding my bike, and the sun is out, the clouds — it’s just beautiful. I would ride anywhere that is beautiful. So, that Beacon Ave Trail — if trees are put out there, if you see nature happening, I like being in that kind of stuff. And at night, lights keep people safe. Being safe, and with the beauty at the same time, that’s important to me.

KL: Why are people of color not sitting at the table participating in the dialogue regarding biking, pedestrian safety, transportation and walking?

Dawn: Because folks think we don’t do it. If they think we don’t do it, they won’t outreach to us. And we’re not going to go and say “Hello, we do it. See us.” There are parallels that they will not cross that keep us out of conversations where decisions are being made. There is no culture in the decision-making, which is sad, because we bring the soul. We’re soulful folks.

KL: Last question. Who inspires you?

Dawn: When it comes to athleticism, my twin who’s done fitness his whole life inspires me. But when it comes to inspiration from African Americans, it’s Janet Preston, who takes on a lot of this weight that our community is going through. She just takes it on, and she gives back the best way she can to give us some ease.

KL: She is an amazing elder.

Dawn: Yes, she is an amazing elder and mentor. The weight that woman carries for us. It’s freaking amazing.

KL: What she has done for people that are in prison and coming out of prison.

Dawn: Right. She doesn’t just do the work in incarceration. She does education, housing, and takes Christmas presents all over the freaking place. She makes you want to do more … she inspires me to do more and more. Not only is she educated from the UW, but she has that common sense. She walks and I bike.

Alki Point Stay Healthy Street: “Make it permanent!”

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Story and photo by Loren Schwartz (Stay Healthy Alki Point)

The change resulting from making Alki Point/Beach Drive a Stay Healthy Street was immediate and transformative.

At once, it made the street safe and inclusive. Prior to the Stay Healthy Street designation, Beach Drive was a route fairly exclusively designed for motorists. It seems planners hadn’t anticipated the amount or type of traffic and behavior that these streets and parks were going to experience.

The street closure (to vehicle through-traffic) and opening (to walking, biking, running, rollerskating, skateboarding, and more) has been dramatic and positive to everyone who uses the street and parks. And neighbors in the area are eager to keep it this way.

Folks may not be aware, but neighbors have been clamoring for more street and park safety on Beach Drive for years.

The campaign to make Alki Point a permanent Stay Healthy Street has included multiple community-led steps:

  • Creating an online petition, which enabled us to gather names, addresses, and comments from people.
  • Using data from the petition to create a presentation and map that clearly demonstrates people from all over the city, and beyond, are using the Stay Healthy Street — and they’re loving it!
  • In addition, to better tell the people-focused stories of this street, neighborhood volunteers came together to create a video.

Combined, these efforts have been powerful tools for storytelling and gaining broad support for making Alki Point a permanent Stay Healthy Street.

If you have any questions, please send your emails to: [email protected]

And please come out to Alki Point to enjoy this awesome Stay Healthy Street (then sign the petition) or get out and enjoy the Stay Healthy Street nearest you, whichever it may be!

We Stand in Support of BLM Protesters and Decry Any Use of Cars as Weapons

We are horrified at the tragic event that led to Summer Taylor’s death, and Diaz Love’s serious injuries, in the early hours of Saturday, July 4th—a driver, rushing at high speed, entered the WSP-closed Interstate 5 through an offramp, swerved around clear barricades, and plowed straight into the Black Femme March.

We don’t have all the facts, but we express our strong solidarity with those peacefully protesting for positive change. Here are the ways we’re standing in support:

  1. Organizers ask any of us who have the means to please contribute to Diaz Love’s GoFundMe site, as more than 2,500 people already have.
  2. We ask that allegations by the BLM Women’s March organizers—that the driver did not act alone and that multiple individuals not connected to BLM were filming it as it occurred—be investigated; and that inquiries be made into other accounts of driver-based harassment and threats targeting BLM protestors.
  3. As part of our commitment to racial justice, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is looking at how the urgent calls for police accountability and defunding police intersect with our core issues of safe and healthy streets. To that end, we are partnering with a diverse team of community members with expertise in transportation, mobility justice, restorative justice, criminal justice, public health and safety, and public policy, to dig deep into Seattle’s system of traffic enforcement. Check here for more about the newly launched Re-Imagining Traffic Enforcement working group.
  4. No one should ever intentionally use a motor vehicle as a weapon. At SNG, we’ve heard repeatedly that people in Seattle have felt threatened by drivers doing just that—using their vehicles to intimidate and frighten people walking, riding bikes, and protesting for justice—on countless occasions. And there are the many established accounts, from the 2017 murder-by-driver in Charlottesville, VA to the very recent driver-attack on Capitol Hill. The New York Times just reported that vehicle/driver attacks on protesters are on the rise (“There have been at least 66 car attacks nationwide since George Floyd was killed”). We abhor this assault on the right to peacefully assemble, and on the basic human right to be, and move safely, through one’s daily activities in public space. If you personally have felt threatened by drivers on Seattle’s streets, could you let us know about it?

 

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Re-Imagining Traffic Enforcement

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As part of our commitment to racial justice, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways (SNG) is looking at how the urgent calls for police accountability and defunding police intersect with our core issues of safe and healthy streets. Traffic enforcement is too often the pretext for armed police to stop Black and brown people, sometimes with catastrophic consequences. There must be a better way — but what exactly? That’s the question our newly-launched Re-Imagining Traffic Enforcement Task Force is set to ask.

An end to policing as we know it

As safe streets advocates, we believe strongly that the ability to get around safely to the daily necessities of life is a basic human right. And we recognize that policing practices, since the earliest days of U.S. law enforcement, have been biased, and often life-threatening, toward communities of color—especially Black people.

In response to the murder of George Floyd, and the abuse too many Black people suffer at the hands of police, people across the country are insisting: enough is enough. Our current way of policing needs to come to an end.

People and organizations have called for a wide spectrum of solutions—from reforming policing procedures to defunding and reallocating police budgets, from disbanding existing police forces to outright abolishment. How do these solutions play out in regards to traffic safety, where police have been entrusted with enforcing traffic violations and responding to traffic emergencies on the one hand—but found guilty of racial profiling, and too commonly, criminal brutality on the other? We’re determined to find out.

A task force to ask questions and find the best solutions

Over the next several weeks, under the leadership of KL Shannon and Phyllis Porter, we will work with a diverse team of community members with expertise in transportation, mobility justice, criminal justice, public health and safety, and public policy to dig deep into Seattle’s system of traffic enforcement.

Our Whose Streets? Our Streets! workgroup will take on these and other questions:

  • What is the appropriate role, if any, of police in traffic enforcement?
  • What other solutions could substitute for the role police currently play?
  • Are we enforcing the right laws, and are there some laws that are not just or effective at keeping people safe?

We will delve into available data, research best practices in other cities, consult with dozens of people on our advisory committee, and work in partnership with our local communities to map out a path to safer communities for all.

A significant initiative and commitment

We started out 2020 with an ambitious slate of safe streets priorities—including citywide Safe Routes to School solutions, creating walk/bike-friendly Home Zones in multiple neighborhoods, completing the Basic Bike Network downtown, and fixing our most deadly streets (Rainier Avenue, Aurora Avenue, and Lake City Way).

Due to the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak and health crisis, we first reoriented our 2020 campaigns to these 8 COVID-response strategies to help communities stay healthy and moving.

Now, our Whose Streets? Our Streets! workgroup represents another major initiative for SNG this year. This is the right time for every city to re-imagine and re-think how traffic enforcement works, and we are putting our shoulders into the work of getting it done here in Seattle.

 

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We share the outrage

We share the outrage that has filled streets in Seattle and across the world over George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police. We grieve for his family, for Breonna Taylor’s, and for the families of hundreds of others who are killed by police each year (1,000 Americans are killed by police yearly — these deaths fall disproportionately on Black men).

We are also heartbroken and enraged by the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a young man out for his regular run in his South Georgia neighborhood.

The awful truth is that in America, including here in Seattle, running while Black, biking while Black, walking while Black, driving while Black, even just being in parks and other public space while Black can trigger police intervention, hate-based harassment, and worse. This atmosphere of terror for people of color, Indigenous people, and especially Black people, cannot continue.

Our vision is rooted in safe, comfortable, accessible streets; in the belief that the ability to get around safely, to the daily necessities of life, is a basic human right. This includes the right to not be murdered by police or civilian racists and the right to assemble in public spaces to demand justice (“Whose streets? Our streets!” “Black Lives Matter!” “Say his name! George Floyd!”) — without being corralled, tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed, beaten, or shot with rubber bullets and flash grenades.

Our commitment now is to continue to advance community-led solutions for street and public space improvements; to implement our racial equity action plan at every level of our organization; and to build solidarity with Black people, Indigenous people, and all people of color in the fight to dismantle white supremacy and racism. There is a long way to go and difficult self-reflection to undertake, but we are committed to doing our part to advance racial justice in Seattle so that everyone can exist, enjoy, protest, and travel safely on our streets.

 

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Letter of Support from SNG Staff

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At our very core, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is a grassroots organization. We’re made up of neighbors, like you, all across the city. We are everyday folks, with varied backgrounds and interests, who’ve come together to figure out what it takes to make our neighborhood streets healthy and welcoming for the most basic of daily activities getting from one place to another, safely, comfortably, conveniently. 

We are passionate about our communities, especially those who are most vulnerable. And collectively, we are passionate about this city and making sure Seattle is a place where people of all ages, languages, ethnicities, genders, races, abilities, and levels of wealth are able to walk, bike, roll, and live. 

We’re about people — about all of us. And we take the health and safety of our community seriously. We’ve moved all of our organizing online, so that we can continue to bring community together in a responsible, proactive way. In this precarious and uncertain time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are eager to connect with you, our community, and provide whatever resources or support is within our realm to provide. To that end, we wanted you to hear from our staff directly, and from several of the volunteer community-builders who drive this safe streets work.

 

Gordon Padelford testifying at Seattle City Council.

Gordon Padelford, Executive Director: 

Here at Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, our mission is to organize and mobilize people to make every neighborhood a great place to walk, bike and live. But how can we organize and mobilize people when we can’t meet in person, when in-person outreach is not allowed, and when community members and politicians are understandably focused on the current pandemic? It’s going to be challenging.

Our current areas of focus during this difficult period of quarantine include short-term and longer-term solutions for keeping people safe as they recreate in their neighborhoods or move through the city. We’ve provided a full write-up of these ideas here. Take the short survey and add your own ideas, and please share with your friends and networks.

Our staff and volunteers are using alternative strategies to keep this critical work moving forward. We’re known for having frequent neighborhood-based organizing meetings and advocacy campaign meetings, and these meetings will still be happening, only online, through the Zoom video conferencing software we have provided to all our neighborhood groups (check out upcoming meetings here). 

We will continue to ground our community engagement strategies in the same principle that we have always used, which is to meet people where they are at. During normal times, that means having in-person conversations at the time and place of their choosing, but in this moment that may mean more phone calls, emails, video chats, and sometimes simply acknowledging that folks may, understandably, have other priorities for a while, and that we may need to adjust our campaign timelines accordingly. If you have thoughts about how we can best adapt our work, please let us know — we are learning together and will get through this together. 

 

Clara Cantor riding a bike in downtown Seattle.

Clara Cantor, Community Organizer:  

This is a scary time for all of us, and during this pandemic it is important to prioritize your health, physically and mentally. Social isolation, lack of routine, financial uncertainty, and stress all increase mental health problems, domestic violence, and anxiety. As a community-driven movement, everything about our organizing, actions, and impact are going to be different, and our expectations need to shift to match. 

But that can be a good thing. We’ve seen inspiring examples in Seattle and around the world of people supporting each other through collective action, financial support, and by spreading community joy. We are in a moment of tremendous societal shift, which is also a moment of great possibility. By coming together — in our collective creativity, resourcefulness, and care — who knows what impossible thing will suddenly be very, very possible.

Click here to get connected with other Greenways volunteers in your neighborhood, or join us for one of these upcoming virtual events. And check out this list of tips for organizing during the current outbreak.

 

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KL Shannon, Community Organizer:  

My thoughts are with our most vulnerable community members. Here are some ways, big and small, I’m encouraging folks to support our communities during the outbreak: 

 

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Susan Gleason, Development & Communications Director:  

I have to admit, this is a daunting period for our fundraising efforts. During this COVID-19 crisis, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is continuing to build campaigns and policies for a later time of greater mobility, while focusing on some of the immediate needs of our communities

The need for walking- and biking-friendly streets continues — now and beyond the pandemic. For a brief window here, the streets and sidewalks of the city have become enlivened with more families than ever taking daily walks together, parents biking with kids on quieter neighborhood streets. There’s a glimmer in this, of what Seattle’s streets could be like — a different future that we can build towards right now, where our public streets are designed for people. Safe, functional, enjoyable streets for everyone — at any age, from any background, and for all abilities.

This is the bold vision that Seattle Neighborhood Greenways continues to work for and you can help us get there. We simply couldn’t do what we do — to push community-identified safe street improvements and policies forward — without generous support from people like you.

Voices from the Coalition

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Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is a grassroots coalition, and we’re all about people. All of our work depends on volunteer time and energy, and in this moment our community is finding new ways to support each other. Hear from volunteer leaders from across the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Coalition about how they’re staying connected and continuing safe streets advocacy in a time of pandemic.

 

BRIE GYNCILD, Central Seattle Greenways: 

What are you doing to stay connected to people?

I’m spending hours on the phone daily with close friends and family, waving at neighbors as we pass each other at safe distances, and spending a lot of time on Twitter. I’m also enthusiastically attending Zoom meetings and more traditional conference calls.

What are you doing to support your community?

The primary thing I’m doing to support my community is staying at home, preventing any role I might play in spreading the virus. I’m also sharing reliable information with those who aren’t getting it through other means, and I’m coaching someone in my Buy Nothing group as she starts her first garden. :)

What are you doing to keep your safe streets work going?

Central Seattle Greenways is moving forward with the Bailey Gatzert Safe Routes to School effort in ways that we can finalizing materials, including an online survey; communicating with groups through newsletters and email; working with the UW Professor, Rachel Berney, that we’ve been collaborating with to find a way for her class to work with us differently than we originally envisioned.

What are you doing to support your own self care?  

I’m trying to get to bed on time and get good sleep. I’m eating nutritious and satisfying foods. I’m learning all that I can about the virus itself as research develops, about which policies are effective, and about how to keep each other safe *and* sane. I’m also listening to music, gardening, and finding opportunities to laugh regularly.

 


 

 

PhyllisPorterTestifyingAtCityHallPHYLLIS PORTER, Rainier Valley Greenways & Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Board:

What are you doing to stay connected to people?

I stay connected to people by reaching out to see how they are doing during these times. Reaching out to ones I haven’t heard from in a while due to being busy. I co-started a Zoom Group. Invitations are extended to paternal cousins. We catch up from where we left off. Our first and second meetings were with cousins from Tennessee, Mississippi, New York, and Illinois. We also discuss how COVID-19 is affecting our lives and each local community. At the end of our discussion we pray for our parents, any sickness among family members, and for the global family. The family created a social media page with Messenger to relay weekly messages of a concern or a happy event — an aunt’s death, and a new baby cousin’s birth was relayed this week.

What are you doing to support your community?

I involved community in a real life coronavirus scenario (mine – I was sick, but tested negative, thankfully) keeping them informed on what we can do as individuals and a community to stay healthy and safe. I posted a video of myself for those who didn’t know of anyone who had the virus or had tested for it. I wanted to show that this pandemic is real and is touching people in our own community. A big concern people have share with me is about the wait time for getting results — how you deal with that, waiting in anticipation, and how to cope with the worrying. I answered by saying, “Try not to focus on the what if, but the what is — Now.” Mental stability is very important at this time and there is no need to think the worst, panic, or have unnecessary emotions about what hasn’t been proven yet. I told them I took this as any other illness — treat your symptoms, get rest, drink fluids and when feeling better exercise. I posted another video with the negative results and thanked everyone for their concern and their part in helping me recover. I ended the message with an encouraging note about the benefits of a riding a bicycle, taking good care of yourself, and telling someone “thank you”

What are you doing to keep this safe streets / SNG work going?

I read info posted on SNG and my local coalition to stay informed. I reply if I have something to add.

What are you doing to support your own self care?

First, I take heed and follow all precautions and measures set forth. It’s flu and pneumonia season and being a person with a history of pneumonia, I take care of myself. Rest treat medical symptoms as or if they develop. I eat healthy and continue to exercise. I dance to music  and recently started riding my bike inside on a trainer for exercise. Starting tomorrow evening, I am riding in our first Black Girls Do Bike (BGDB) Ride and Exercise series. I am also a one of the ride leaders. I will be receiving some pointer from a European triathlete and triathlon coach during this Zoom ride series. 

 


 

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MICHAEL HERSCHENSOHN, Queen Anne Greenways:

What are you doing to support your community?

I am making grape jelly from grapes frozen last summer that I’ll share with neighbors. Also emailing friends; going for walks with my granddaughters while keeping distances. On these walks we’ve been meeting lots of neighborhood friends which makes us feel connected to them, and they to us. This is the only time I’ve ever agreed with Mark Ostrow about the narrowness of the sidewalks along the Willcox Wall, but the whole boulevard should be car free. Left that one out of Gordon’s map.

What are you doing to keep your safe streets work going?

Frankly, very little. I regret that; however, I see very little room for it except for managing the start-up of the Play Street project and the money we’ve raised from the city. Taking part in Coalition meeting totally uplifting. While every single one of us expressed cheer in the face of fear, we’re really all locked up in our little boxes.

What are you doing to support your own self care?

Daily bike rides while the sun shines. Writing one article a week on the history of Queen Anne for the Queen Anne Historical Society’s website. I am exploring ways to acquire goods without going to stores. (Looks like it means sending family members under the age of 50).

 


 

KathleenBarryJohnsonWithChickensResizedKATHLEEN BARRY JOHNSON, NE Seattle Greenways:

What are you doing to stay connected to people?

I’m getting really good at Zoom and teams, so I can see people’s faces. I’m calling someone in my family at least once a day.

What are you doing to support your community?  

My husband and I sent notes to all our neighbors to make sure we all have each other’s contact info and can reach out if there is a need. I’m working with a friend on the block to organize some socially distant street games like badminton and horse shoes. Also, I’m working with a group to organize “Sing Your Heart Out Seattle” a sing along time on Sundays (starting 3/29) at 2 p.m. More details to come.

What are you doing to keep your safe streets work going?

We had a meeting last week. Missed the coalition meeting but will be connecting on other meetings online.

What are you doing to support your own self care?

Biking – as often as I can, walking the dogs, watching our baby chicks grow.

 


 

AndrewKovedPPBLANDREW KOVED, Queen Anne Greenways: 

What are you doing to stay connected to people?

Social media, phone calls, video chats, and I plan on sending postcards and letters too. There is a great opportunity to disconnect from the noise of the 24/7 news, and tune into the smaller aspects of life, friendship, community, and self. We’ve gotten so carried away in the past few years with always being connected, this will be a great change to supply each other with more meaningful and worthwhile connections.

What are you doing to support your community?

Being available, being present, and being engaged. Too often I am physically somewhere but mentally distant, or a don’t pick up a phone call when I know I should; there is so much of our daily lives that reduces the quality of our community. That folks will be more sedentary, and we can finally engage at length without worry of other obligations or distractions, is an opportunity to build community.

What are you doing to keep your safe streets work going?

People are realizing the value of the street and their surrounding 15 minute neighborhood now that their travel is limited. I want to help bring these joys, and the many flaws, into relief.

What are you doing to support your own self care?

Choice of what to focus on is fundamental to our life — we at Greenways know this to be true with our focus on safe streets despite a world fixated on cars. I’m making sure that I focus on the many joyous, fascinating, engaging, enjoyable parts of life. The lens of pandemic can be crippling, but there are so many other ways to take in the whole world.

 


 

PeachesThomas headshot - cropped

PEACHES THOMAS, Duwamish Valley Safe Streets: 

What are you doing to stay connected to people?

Making a conscious effort to check in with my loved ones as often as I can. I have done this by creating group message threads. We all share information with each other and fun stuff too. I am also homeschooling our 11 year old Triplets. 

What are you doing to support your community?

By donating, staying informed, and passing along relevant resources to others. People are working tirelessly to help others during this time and I want to pay it forward as often as possible. Something as simple as reaching out and offering kind words or acts of appreciation can help keep people uplifted. 

What are you doing to keep your safe streets work going?

I’m actively seeking advocacy development and training webinar opportunities, reading up on current cyclist and pedestrian policies, and strategizing creative ways to stay engaged with our members at DVSS during this time of social distancing. 

 What are you doing to support your own self care?

Going for a daily walk has helped a lot. Meditation/affirmations, limiting my time on social media and binge watching my favorite shows and movies.

 


 

Kathy DunnKATHY DUNN, West Seattle Bike Connections: 

What are you doing to stay connected to people?

Calling family members around the country more often to check in.

What are you doing to support your community?

Donating to local charities.

What are you doing to keep your safe streets work going?

Reached out to our group to solicit possible alternative safe activities for Bike Everywhere Day/Month and to get ideas on how the current situation could affect our activities and priorities.Planning for a video conference version of our monthly 1st Tuesday meeting.

What are you doing to support your own self care? 

  • Walking the dog, biking to shopping and errands, switching from in person to online piano lessons with my teacher. 
  • Picking up the occasional growler of beer at a local brewery to drown my sorrows. 
  • Making sure I don’t bring home any germs to my husband and daughter. 
  • Watching the free Metropolitan Opera broadcast reruns online. Tonight starting at 7:30 Donizetti’s “La Fille du Regiment” will be available for 24 hours. Great music, lots of comedy and a happy ending, just what I need right now. https://www.metopera.org/user-information/nightly-met-opera-streams/
  • Going to bed earlier so I can get up earlier to go out when the crowds are smaller. By afternoon, the Alki promenade is swarming with people.

 

Photo Credit: Alex Garland

Photo Credit: Alex Garland

DON BRUBECK, West Seattle Bike Connections:

What are you doing to stay connected to people?

Talking to my kids, far-flung siblings, and a few friends on phone and WhatsApp. I’m also participating in the conversations on our WSBC Google Group.

Taking care of and playing with the toddler in our household. 

What are you doing to keep your safe streets work going?

  • Participating in conversations in this groups and in our WSBC Google Group, and promoting WSBC sharing of bike ride routes for people to do solo.
  • Submitting Your Voice Your Choice ideas and promoting participation.
  • Participating in a Duwamish Tribe steering committee for trails project feasibility study, meeting via conference calls.  

What are you doing to support your own self care?

  • Limiting news media and social media to about two hours a day. with none for at least an hour before bedtime.  Listening to more music instead. 
  • Taking a walk or going for a bike ride every day. 
  • Practicing social distancing and good hygiene to the extent possible when living with a toddler and two working healthcare workers.

Upcoming Spring Events

Coalition Zoom Call SMALL

Stay connected with the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways community by joining us for one of these upcoming video-conferencing events and meetings:

Neighborhood Groups Monthly Meetups. Citywide, and throughout the month of April. Contact us directly at [email protected] for the Zoom conference call details:

West Seattle Bike Connections Monthly Meeting. Tuesday, April 7th, 6:30pm – 8:00 pm. Video-conferencing via Zoom.

Central Seattle Greenways Monthly MeetingMonday, April 13th, 6:00pm – 8:00pm. Video-conferencing via Zoom.
Licton-Haller & Greenwood-Phinney Greenways Monthly MeetingTuesday, April 14th, 7:30pm – 9:00pm. Video-conferencing via Zoom.

Rainier Valley Greenways-Safe Streets Monthly MeetingTuesday, April 21st, 6:00pm – 7:30pm. Video-conferencing via Zoom.

Duwamish Valley Safe Streets Monthly MeetingTuesday, April 21st, 6:30pm – 8:00pm. Video-conferencing via Zoom.
Ballard-Fremont Greenways Monthly MeetingWednesday, April 22nd, 6:00pm – 7:30pm. Video-conferencing via Zoom.

Beacon Hill Safe Streets Monthly MeetingThursday, April 23rd, 6:00pm – 7:45pm. Video-conferencing via Google Hangouts.

Queen Anne Greenways Monthly MeetingTuesday, April 28th, 6:30pm – 8:00pm.

  • Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Social

    Friday, April 24th, 5:00pm – 6:30pm. Video-conferencing via Zoom. Join Seattle Neighborhood Greenways for a virtual social gathering! Catch up with friends and community and meet some new faces in safe streets advocacy. Find all the necessary Zoom conference call details on Facebook or contact us directly at [email protected].

  • SNG New Volunteer Orientation

    Wednesday, April 29, 5:30pm – 7:00pm. Video-conferencing via Zoom. Join us and learn about the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways coalition, our local neighborhood groups, and best practices for being an effective advocate in your neighborhood. Find all the necessary Zoom conference call details and RSVP on Facebook or contact us directly at [email protected].

  • Seattle’s Walk and Bike Plans in Action

    Thursday, April 30, 5:00pm – 6:30pm. Video-conferencing via Zoom. Join us and learn all about how the City’s pedestrian and bicycle master planning works — No background knowledge required! Find all the necessary Zoom conference call details and RSVP on Facebook or contact us directly at [email protected].

6th Avenue NW Greenway Project Proves “Yes We Can!”

By Melissa Riesland  

Photo Credit Catherine Anstett (2)

Photo by Catherine Anstett.

In November 2019, the first leg of the 6th Avenue Neighborhood Greenway gained funding via the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods’ Your Voice Your Choice program. In 2020, 6th Avenue NW, between NW 43rd and NW 50th Streets, will become a designated right-of-way, with bicycle-friendly speed humps, stop signs at east/west-bound intersections, and 20 mph speed limit signs. People riding bikes can connect to the Burke Gilman Trail at NW 43rd Street.

This is a “Yes we can!!” story of neighbors coming together for a common cause. Back in 2016, residents of NW 49th Street noticed a lot of cut-through traffic that was creating a dangerous, uncontrolled intersection at 6th Avenue NW. Mapping software such as Google Maps and Waze had begun directing more traffic through the neighborhood.

Accident_6th-49th

Photo Julene Schmalz.

Car crashes were becoming common, and we were seeing a wide assortment of vehicles–including service trucks, semi-trucks, tour buses, tow trucks, and personal vehicles towing large boats–cutting through our neighborhood and speeding up our very steep hills (grades as high as 18% at NW Market Street).

Neighbors began searching for ways to discourage this cut-through traffic, and connected with each other in the process. We began hosting neighborhood block parties that closed down a section of the street for a few hours once a month from May through September, building neighborhood camaraderie while also blocking cut-through traffic. But by September of 2017, neighbor Julene Schmalz witnessed another near collision at 49th and 6th, and resolved to find a better solution before someone was either seriously injured or killed.

Kids Greenway

Example of a neighborhood greenway.

Julene researched online and spoke to Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). She learned about more ways to address the traffic problem, including play streets, painted intersections, and radar gun tracking. She also learned that the City at one time had wanted to designate 6th Avenue NW as a Neighborhood Greenwaya traffic-calmed street with low vehicle volumes and slow speeds that is prioritized for people walking and biking.

She also found the Department of Neighborhood’s Your Voice, Your Choice (YVYC) program, which awards $90K for small park and street improvements. She reached out to SDOT employees to meet and discuss the idea, and eventually received their support. It was too late for the 2018 YVYC grants, but Julene was not deterred–the delay also gave the neighborhood a year to build neighborhood support for the idea before the 2019 grant cycle. Julene put posters on telephone poles asking for neighborhood volunteers, and eventually amassed a list of 50 people.

SMALL.Rally_PreFunc

Photo by Catherine Anstett.

Volunteers participated in many different ways: we hosted street cleaning parties, weekly play streets, and block parties. One group wrote the YVYC grant application. Another obtained grant money from Groundswell NW. To communicate with the neighborhood, we set up a Facebook page for the project. We connected with the newly re-formed Ballard-Fremont Greenways neighborhood group, and partnered with Cascade Bicycle Club to host a celebration station on Bike Everywhere Day with donated raffle prizes and other goodies. We made “Keep Calm and Greenway On” T-shirts for the volunteers and other supporters.

SMALL.KickOffParty_jeremy

Photo by Catherine Anstett.

In the spring, we had a kickoff party at Jeremy Eaton’s EnERGETIC Studio. Photographer Cathrine Anstett donated her talents during events. Volunteer Sophie created artwork for our flyers, and volunteer children helped make posters. Gaylene Meyer created a video about the 6th Avenue NW Greenway project for her film-editing class. And neighborhood volunteers went door-to-door, educating neighbors about the project, answering questions, showing them how to vote.

Our hard work paid off. During the first round of YVYC project selection, 290 people agreed that our project was worthwhile. In September, for the final vote, we amassed 563 votes–the most for any project in District 6. We celebrated our victory with a night out with neighbors at Populuxe Brewery.

Construction will begin in 2020, and the planning for the next phase of the 6th Avenue NW Greenway is already underway (continuing north across Market to NW 58th St and West Woodland Elementary School) with the eventual goal of extending all the way to Holman Road in Crown Hill.

SMALL_DCA6232 b

Photo by Catherine Anstett.

Congratulations to the whole team!! Thanks to everyone for their hard work, and especially:

  • Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, for logistical and moral support
  • Mike Kelly, for his raffle prize donations and overall support
  • Groundswell NW, for grant money
  • JRA Bike Shop, Bike Works, and Cascade Bicycle Studio, for raffle prize donations
  • Jeremy Eaton, for opening his studio space, EnERGETIC Studio, for our kickoff meeting
  • Catherine Anstett, for her fabulous photography
  • Gaylene Meyer, for her documentary video

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