Mar 6, 2008

The State of the Central District: A Community Forum

(click image for larger version)

The 2nd Annual The State of the Central District: A Community Forum, will take place on Tuesday, March 11, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., in Schafer Auditorium (Lemieux Library) at Seattle University.

This is an annual event that began in March 2007 as part of a service-learning class project where students were charged with the task of collecting data on the impact of gentrification in Seattle's Central District. This year, students will present their findings and a panel of key community leaders will address the findings and the current political, economic and social climate of the Central District.

The panelists are: James Bible (President, Seattle-King County NAACP), Garry Owens (Department of Neighborhoods, City of Seattle), Lynn Domingo (Legacy of Equality, Leadership and Organizing), Andrew Miller (Miller Park Neighborhood Association), Jim Mueller (JC Mueller LLC), Professor Henry McGee (School of Law, Seattle University) and Professor Flora Wilson Bridges (School of Theology & Ministry, Seattle University).

The findings of the first report, The State of the Central District Report (2007), will be unveiled, which we hope will continue an ongoing dialogue and call to action within the community about this issue. This event is sponsored by the Departments of Cultural Anthropology, Sociology, Social Work and Global African Studies, Washington Educators for Social Justice, the Seattle University Center for Service and Community Engagement and Professor Le Xuan Hy, the Pigott-McCone Endowed Chair.

[Notes from Andrew Taylor:

1) I believe I am the Andrew Miller mentioned above: they did invite me.

2) John Perry from Squire Park pointed out this 2003 U-DUB thesis on the same topic, which provides useful background

3) The format of the event is as follows:

6:00 – 6:10 – Welcome and introduction of our panelists
6:10 – 6:40 – Student Presentations
6:40 – 7:30 – Panel Discussion
7:30 – 8:00 – Q&A and Open Discussion with the Community

4) Notes from the organizers:

In preparation for tomorrow’s community forum, here are the questions that we will engage you all with during the panel discussion. Some of the questions will be asked of certain panelists, given your various positions in the community. We envision that panelists will respond to questions and to one another in an open, fluid exchange of ideas and experiences. In addition, panelists will field questions from the audience during Q&A.

Describe the changes to the Central District from your vantage point as a leader community.
  • How have these changes affected the populations that you work with?
  • What are some of the challenges that gentrified communities face with respect to civic engagement and neighborhood relations?
  • What does equitable urban development look like? How have different entities in the community worked toward equitable development?
  • What are some recommendations that you can make that will help foster more collaborative community relations, dispel stereotypes of different populations and ensure that all residents (regardless of socioeconomic background) benefit from urban development?
There may be one or two questions that come specifically out of the student presentations that we may ask the panel to respond to. Since the panel discussion is less than an hour long, 5-6 questions should be enough to spark conversation.


ktkeller said...

I had to work late, very interested. How did it go? How many people? What sorts of comments? Will the report be available online? Thanks!

Andrew Taylor said...

A reporter from was there, and promised to post video on the discussion part of the event.

The students reported on well-known themes of racism/gentrification in the Central District, and some of the panelists expanded on those themes. The students (young undergraduates) repeated the more vocal neighborhood viewpoints on several ongoing issues (eg Dearborn Street development, Casa Latina) without noting any of the opposing views.

They adequately documented the well-known themes, but sadly did little to suggest any innovative solutions. But, hey, they're undergraduates! Maybe next year....

Speaking personally, I felt that some of them could have benefitted from some instruction in public speaking (eg. don't read your slides to us!). Some of them had less of a grasp of word use (eg effect vs. affect) and punctuation (the dreaded apostrophe) than one might have hoped from college students! Disclosure: I am:
a) old
b) English
c) the son of an English teacher!

On the positive side, the students all showed confidence in talking about complex subjects before a large and diverse audience, something I'm still trying to master......

Last year's report will be on the website soon. This year's reports will, they hope, be available this Spring.

How many people?? Guess about 75: students and neighborhood representatives and others.

Comments:mostly reinforcing the students and panelists viewpoints. One audience member (parent of 2 Garfield graduates, one black, one white) strongly objected to a panelist's complaints about racism at Garfield High School.

Comments about Seattle University's relationship with the community were met with an audience request for details of Seattle U's 15 year plan. None of the SU faculty present could enlighten the questioner.

sexy said...