Councilmember Godden left office on January 1, 2016.
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It Takes a Neighborhood

This past Tuesday was “Seattle Night Out”, an evening when over a thousand neighborhoods arrange block parties to raise crime prevention awareness, increase neighborhood support in anti-crime efforts, and come together for a fun night out. It was a perfect night: sunny and in the 70s. And everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time meeting the neighbors, ohing and ahing over the toddlers and how they’ve grown. And talking up neighborhood projects.

I set off to attend as many as I could, armed with a Google map and a print-out of several dozen locations. First stop for me was Rainier Beach where they were celebrating health in the Rainier Valley.

When I arrived at 4:30 p.m. the party already was underway. Organizers had fenced off a corner of the Rainier Beach Safeway Parking lot. We checked in at the entrance and had our hands stamped and were given colored tickets, good for pasta salad, cold bottled water and a trip to the dessert table (awesome ice cream cones, bars and brownies.)

A nearby booth had been set up to hand out information on what’s happening in the Valley: upcoming events like Seattle Summer Streets, celebration of America’s most diverse zip code, set for Saturday, Aug. 21, “a party in Rainier Valley.” Also available was a South Seattle Residents Guide, a supplement to the South Seattle Beacon, showcasing South Seattle’s buy-local campaign.

Around the periphery, volunteers were handing out healthy food (apples, oranges) and information on how to obtain health and specialty care. The health emphasis fit right in with the view across the street: It’s the site of the new Neighborcare Health clinic, scheduled to open next spring.

Between the friendly partiers and the lively band, it was difficult to leave the party. But my assignment was to check in at as many of these events as possible, so it was on to Ballard, where we searched out 11th Avenue NW between NW 60th and 61st.

The neighbors there were quick to introduce me to their organizer, Dawn Hemminger, who, they said, had been a force for getting things underway – application for a Neighborhood Matching Grant and a push for a project a couple of streets over on 14th Avenue Northwest. The plan is to take out a gravel median on 14th Avenue, narrow the 100-foot wide street – transforming the street into a boulevard with a broad swath of green space and a wide sidewalk and bike way.

So convincing was Hemminger, that I traveled over to 14th Avenue to see the plan for myself.  An artist’s rendition rested on the porch of a nearby home. Peter Locke, a local architect, explained neighbors were hoping to get Parks Levy money to complete the vision they’d been working on since 2006. Before I left, I’d promised to do what I could to turn the awkward streetscape, relic of an old streetcar track, into the spot of green that the neighborhood has been dreaming about.

Night Out is a wonderful way to meet the neighbors and to hear about  all the good things that come when neighbors get together.