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, 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, 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.
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:
- Check in with community elders. Do they have enough food in the refrigerator? Is there medication they need picked up? Even just a call to say “Hi” could be just the thing.
- Donate to a community food bank. Food banks are an essential resource to local families in need, including our city’s homeless population. (Seahawk quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife Ciara donated 1 million meals to Food Lifeline.) In my neighborhood, South End organizations are stepping up to feed students in need during the school closures.
- Support your local small businesses. Purchase gift cards to your favorite restaurants, coffee shops, and retailers. Local Asian markets, and many types of businesses in the Chinatown-International District are especially hurting in these times due to fear and racism.
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.