The Yesler Terrace Summer Youth Media Project on view at the Seattle City Hall Gallery

July 7 – September 2, 2016

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture presents The Yesler Terrace Summer Youth Media Project, an exhibition featuring photographs of the Yesler Terrace community and redevelopment project, in the Seattle City Hall Gallery, July 7 through September 2, 2016.

The exhibition is a result of the Summer Youth Media Program at Yesler Terrace Community Center, a seven week intensive program where teens discovered their voice through photography and video. The program focused on the residents and history of Yesler Terrace and the impact of the current redevelopment project on their community.

The Yesler Terrace Summer Youth Media Project explored their diverse community and transition through 40 photographs taken by 20 teens ages 13 to 18 years old. The Seattle Housing Authority has committed to a 15 year plan for the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace. Built between 1941 and 1943, Yesler Terrace is home to 1,200 residents and represents one of the most diverse and economically challenged communities in Seattle.

The Summer Youth Media Program at Yelser Terrace Community Center was developed in partnership with arts organizations such as Youth In Focus and the Fine Arts Department Photography Program at Seattle University. Based at the Yesler Learning Center, students had access to a digital media lab and learned both analog and digital photography, video production, digital imaging, journalism and documentary practices in interviewing, investigating and writing. The project allowed students to engage with their community, identity, history and their future.

The project was made possible through the support of Seattle University Youth Initiative, Humanities Washington, the University Unitarian Church Seeds for Justice, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and the Department of Neighborhoods Matching grants program.

Advancing Equitable Outreach and Engagement

Message from Kathy Nyland, Director

Mayor Murray recently issued an Executive Order directing the city to approach outreach and engagement in an equitable manner. Putting an equity lens on our approaches is bold and, yes, brave. It shows a commitment to practices that address accessibility and equity.

What does this mean?

  • We often hear that meetings can feel like we are “checking a box.” The Mayor’s action means we can create processes that are more relationship-based and build authentic partnerships.
  • It means that we can create plans that are culturally sensitive, which includes an emphasis on translated materials.
  • It means we broaden access points, identify obstacles and turn them into opportunities.

What else does this mean?

  • It means we have an opportunity to recreate, re-envision and reconcile many lingering issues, including defining the difference between neighborhoods and communities, providing clarity about roles, and creating a system of engagement that builds partnerships with, and between, communities throughout the city of Seattle.
  • It means that we will be working to expand choices and opportunities for community members throughout this city, recognizing a special responsibility to plan for the needs of those who face barriers to participation.
  • It means that we’ll work with city offices and departments on community involvement to ensure that they are effective and efficient through the wise use and management of all resources, including the community’s time.
  • And it means we will expand the toolbox and make some investments in digital engagement.


Seattle is a unique city, and we are fortunate to have so many valuable partners currently at the proverbial table. Those partners play an important role and that role will continue. While we are appreciative of the countless hours our volunteers spend making our city better, we recognize and acknowledge there are barriers to participation. There are communities who cannot be at the table, while there are some communities who don’t even know there is a table. This is where the Department of Neighborhoods comes in.

This is not a power grab. It is a power share. At the heart of this Executive Order is a commitment to advance the effective deployment of equitable and inclusive community engagement strategies across all city departments. This is about making information and opportunities for participation more accessible to communities throughout the city.


“This is not about silencing voices. It’s the exact opposite. It’s about bringing more people into the conversations or at least creating opportunities for people to participate so they can be heard.”

Face-to-face meetings are incredibly important and those are not going away. But not every person can attend a community meeting, and the ability to do so should not determine who gets to participate and who gets to be heard.

We’d love to hear what tools YOU need to be successful and how WE can help you. Share your ideas with us:

  • Send an email to
  • Share your comments below.
  • Contact us at 206-684-0464 or mail us at P.O. Box 94649, Seattle, WA 98124-4649.
  • Join and follow the conversation online using #AdvancingEquitySEA at:

Facebook – @SeattleNeighborhoods
Twitter – @SeaNeighborhood

This is about making things easier and less exhaustive. This is about connecting communities to government and to one another. This is about moving forward.

Kathy Nyland, Director
Seattle Department of Neighborhoods

People’s Academy for Community Engagement Now Accepting Applications

Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is accepting applications to the People’s Academy for Community Engagement (PACE), our civic leadership development program for the next wave of community leaders. The fall session begins September 27 and runs through December 6.

During the 10-week program, 25-30 emerging leaders (18 years and up) will learn hands-on strategies for community building, accessing government, and inclusive engagement from experts in the field. PACE has a strong focus on Seattle’s community and neighborhood organizations and the city’s governmental structure and processes.

Fall sessions will be held on Tuesday evenings from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Miller Community Center. Topics include: Approaches to Leadership, Government 101, Community Organizing, Inclusive Outreach and Public Engagement, Meeting Facilitation, Public Speaking, Conflict Resolution, and Sustaining Involvement.

Tuition for the 10-week program is $100. Tuition assistance is available. To apply, visit The application deadline is Friday, August 12 at 5:00 p.m.

Given the popularity of the program, PACE will be offered three times a year: winter, spring and fall. The winter session will begin in January of 2017. For more information, visit our webpage and for questions, email

Deadline Approaches for Matching Funds to Support your Neighborhood Project

September 2 workshop for interested applicants
Application deadline is October 5

If your group needs funds to do a neighborhood project, our Neighborhood Matching Fund may be able to help. However, you’ll need to be quick because the application deadline for the Small and Simple Projects Fund is Monday, October 5 at 5:00 p.m. This fund provides awards of up to $25,000 to for community-building projects that are matched by community contributions.

To learn about the Small and Simple Projects Fund, visit This is the last opportunity in 2015 to apply to this fund.

The final workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, September 2 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at University Heights Community Center (Room 209), 5031 University Way NE. The workshop provides an overview of the Neighborhood Matching Fund, the qualities of a good project, and the application process and requirements. To RSVP, go online at or call  206-233-0093. The workshop is open to all.

Our Neighborhood Matching Fund staff is available to advise groups on ways to develop successful applications and projects. You are strongly encouraged to call 206.233.0093 or email to discuss your project idea with one of our project managers.

The Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF) Program awards matching funds for projects initiated, planned, and implemented by community members. Its goal is to build stronger and healthier neighborhoods through community involvement and engagement. Every award is matched by a neighborhood’s contribution of volunteer labor, donated materials, in-kind professional services, or cash.

Design team changes outreach strategies for a changing community in Yesler Terrace

Monthly Vietnamese Senior Tea held at the Yesler Community Center, March 26, 2014.


When Seattle Parks and Recreation Project Manager Pamela Kliment began conducting outreach for a new park in Yesler Terrace, she had to rethink her outreach strategy. After presenting the project at three different Yesler Community Council meetings, she often found that there were only a few English speakers in attendance, and some community members couldn’t read in their own languages.

Shwu-jen Hwang and Frank Robinson are the designers for the project.  Both are Seattle Parks landscape architects.  Toby Ressler will be the project manager.  They are working as a team to make sure the park design will meet the community’s recreation and gathering needs, and be suitable for cultural traditions and future uses.

The team realized that if they were going to plan, design and build a park that reflected the people of Yesler Terrace and surrounding neighborhoods, they’d have to immerse themselves in those communities. During the last two months Kliment attended the First Hill Improvement Association Open House, and aided by interpreters, the monthly Vietnamese Senior Tea at the community center and an East African reading and singing event for children.

Reading and singing time sponsored by the Seattle Public Library held at the Yesler Community Center, April 9, 2014.


“Neighborhood discussions revealed that people will use the park to play games and to meet with friends,” Kliment said, “but we want to know the types of games they play in their cultures and the types of gathering areas they’d use. Do we put in benches and tables or have more open space? How close should these elements be to each other?  How can we add as much walking as possible?”

The design team faces a unique challenge because the park is part of the Yesler Terrace Redevelopment. Yesler Terrace is being redeveloped from a low-income housing development to a combination of low-income housing, market rate housing, offices and community spaces. All the existing housing will be demolished and the street grid will be altered.

The designers must try to satisfy current residents, future residents, business people, children, seniors and all of their diverse needs.

Yesler Terrace Community Council meeting April 15, 2014.


According to a report conducted by Seattle Housing Authority, African Americans/Africans and Asian Americans/Asians make up more than 80 percent of the Yesler Terrace population. Additionally, the disability rate in the community is nearly 50 percent higher than the overall Seattle population, meaning almost one in five residents is disabled.

“Yesler Park is the convergence point of many different cultures in a location that is close to downtown and is very connected to surrounding neighborhoods,” landscape architect Frank Robinson said.

In addition to attending already established events to do outreach, the Seattle Parks team sent out mailers in five languages and put up posters in the neighborhood inviting residents to attend three public meetings and give input on the park design. The first meeting was held in late April and the other two are scheduled for June 26 and Aug. 28 at the community center.

“Working with many different ethnic groups is very exciting and challenging, but we have found good ways to communicate with them and are very impressed with their level of engagement,” landscape architect Shwu-jen Hwang said.

The park will be 1.7 acres and will be adjacent to the Yesler Community Center on the west side. The 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy provides $3 million for the planning, design and construction of the park.

“The park is part of a changing community, and there are so many details to keep in mind,” Kliment said.