Wedgewood Community Council – Hunter Farm Gathering Place

Jeff Littlejohn – Imagine NW

Wedgewood Neighborhood, Seattle Washington

Lacking an outdoor green space, the community members of Wedgewood want to create a gathering space for all ages that reflects the vibrant character of NE Seattle. With the generous donation of space by the Hunter Family of Hunter Tree Farm, this already much loved space can now be enjoyed year round. Figuring out how to make a movable gathering place so the Hunters can sell their wonderful trees during the holidays has been the catalyst for ingenuity and one of a kind design.

In April of 2011, the Wedgwood Community Council partnered with the Hunter Family to submit an application for a Gathering Places Grant from Tully’s Coffee and the Pomegranate Center. We were 1 of 17 communities to apply and 1 of 3 communities in the greater Seattle area to be awarded the grant. The Hunter Farm site is located in the heart of Wedgwood, between the two commercial nodes at NE 75th Street and NE 85th Street. It’s location is an ideal and intuitive place for many NE Seattle community gatherings. The primary goal of the gathering place project was to improve the ability of the site to accommodate greater public gatherings while allowing the Hunter Family to maintain their thriving Christmas tree business.

After winning the grant, the Wedgwood Community Council reached out to several civic groups, school PTAs, and adjacent community organizations that are all stakeholders of the site to form a steering committee. This steering committee was intended to be a representative group of the greater NE Seattle community to provide logistics support throughout the project and a sounding board on behalf of the community during design iterations.

As part of the project design development, there were 2 community meetings. The first community meeting was held on June 11th at Messiah Lutheran Church. This was a full day workshop to solicit ideas and develop concept-level plans from those ideas based around realistic site and budget limitations. From this workshop, 68 unique ideas were proposed by the community and 4 concept plans were developed.

Following this kick-off community meeting, volunteer design professionals from the Pomegranate Center and NE Seattle community (Public Space Rangers) built upon the community’s ideas and refined them further using material availability, estimated construction costs, and further considerations/input provided from the Hunter Family. The result was presented at the final community meeting, on July 13th at Wedgwood Presbyterian Church, to unveil the project design.

Between August 18th to 21st, the NE Seattle community came together to build the project. Through tireless work by hundreds of volunteers, the project was largely completed by the last community build day. You can read more about Day 1 (August 18th), Day 2 (August 19th), Day 3 (August 20th), and Day 4 (August 21st).

Additional links telling the story linked with pictures and videos:

The Hunter Farm Gathering Place Grand Opening Bash
Tully’s & the Pomegranate Center – Hunter Farms build in Wedgwood
Overwhelming Turn Out for the Hunter Farm Community Build
Day 3 of the Hunter Farm Community Build
Emergency HUB planned for Hunter Farms Gathering Place Makes National News
Even More Progress Being Made on the Hunter Farm Gathering Place Project
Progress Already Being Made on the Hunter Farm Gathering Place Project

Brian Turnbull serves as president of the WCC. Brian, his wife, and their two boys have called Wedgwood home for the last five years. Brian is a missional pastor of a house church movement in Northeast Seattle, and owns a landscape company called Green House Landscaping. Brian enjoys people and the outdoors, which are two great assets we have here in Wedgwood. As the chairperson of Events Committee, Brian enjoys coordinating our annual Outdoor Cinema and Business Trick or Treat.

Inhabit Conference April 29 – 30, 2011

Partner: Clark Blakeman – Second Stories

Clark Blakeman, one of our partners, is taking part in a conference called Inhabit Conference. This is taking place in Seattle, Washington from April 29 to 30. For more information on the conference go to:

Gardening on Rooftops and the Radio

Okay, so we aren’t virtually gardening with radio waves as the title implies, but we are gardening on a rooftop here in Belltown and we were featured on a local radio station just yesterday. Here is a link to the radio show blog site where you can listen: …

As you can tell by listening to the program, it’s a really cool project that is actually putting feet to much of the hype floating around about “green” this-and-that–a conversation that seems to often happen more on the internet than in real neighborhoods. This project is a beautiful collaboration that I have only recently really stepped into. It started out with Sustainable Belltown (SB) and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) working together to create more sustainable food gardening in Belltown while also helping the city develop a pilot project for rooftop systems to then hold up as a model to use throughout the city. Our project is a small scale retrofit, meaning that it is a small scale container system that can be added to most rooftops without overloading the structural capacity of the roof.

(This is not a full roof system, and can intuitively be applied on rooftops or balconies that are already supporting lots of people, tables, grills, etc. Obviously, if doing more, one should consult an engineer or the building’s architect to be sure about safety concerns.)

What the radio show does not make obvious, is that this would be completely impossible without the collaboration, active participation, and fiscal sponsorship of the management company and staff at the Centennial Apartment buildings. Multiple folks there have made this possible and they took a risk last year of believing that this was worth their effort and finances as a way to give back to their residents and the neighborhood. I have worked some in the past few weeks particularly with one of their staff members, a gentleman named Markham, who has been a huge force in making this happen.

The Centennial is a great example of a private business that has decided to expand their bottom line to include doing something great in the neighborhood, and guess what? When people come to check out apartments in their buildings and find out about the foodbank gardens, it is starting to become a contributing factor for people to want to rent from the building–what a great win-win for this company that has decided to help make the neighborhood a little more human and earth friendly!

So, I knew about the project when it was started up and the containers were managed by a couple of wonderful gardener/residents over at Centennial. Now that the project is underway in earnest, I am working through SB to track data and help develop a case study that SPU can use for future developments and recommend to existing building owners. Being a garden nerd, I am also helping set up a system of managing the beds, educating residents on gardening basics, and setting up the process of growing, community building, and food donation so that it will be successful for years to come (ambitious, I know).

Some of the benefits of the system include: reduced rainwater runoff, community involvement and connection between gardeners and residents, fresh local vegetables for the local foodbank (helping reduce the carbon footprint of a local non-profit), increasing awareness of place, generating excitement and inspiring other projects, bringing food production into the line-of- sight for city dwellers, educating first time gardeners about a) how easy it is for them to grow food and b) how long it takes, and difficult it can be to grow food, thus building respect for those who grow most of our food and making us a little more willing to pay equitable prices for the labor and produce of food grown well with respect of the earth and our bodies.

As you can see, I am excited about this project. It is something I did not start, and I hope I will not see end, yet I get to play a fun and helpful part in doing something that makes our neighborhood a little better to live in. In the process I have met some beautiful people, had some great conversations about how we can connect with our neighbors and understand ourselves as people living in a community together, and learned a lot about what it means to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, our neighbors, and the earth.

Peace, Daniel

*While finishing a masters of divinity degree from Mars Hill Graduate School, Belltowner Daniel Tidwell has been pursuing urban agriculture opportunities along with his wife, Jocelyn. Members of the Belltown P Patch and part of the Emmaus Road crowd, Daniel and Jocelyn have also become rooftop farmers. Within the last year, the Tidwells have seen how growing fresh produce with the intention to share has brought neighbors together. Check out this radio story from GREEN ACRE RADIO on KBCS, and listen to Daniel speak about rooftop farming and community development.

Community Organizer Honors Motel Hero

There was a police report about what happened back in March at an Aurora motel. Now Karen Cirulli, a community organizer along the Aurora corridor, salutes the brave motel manager who broke up the sexual assault and subdued the suspect until police (lots of them!) arrived:

This past year I have been delighted to meet new faces on Aurora, some of whom have become friends. Samantha is one of those folks that I have had the honor of getting to know. “Sammie” is a twenty-something office manager at the lovely Everspring Inn on Aurora Ave. She is a very dedicated and hard working woman who takes great care of the Everspring office and guests, and has a heart for the community. Sammie helped host the Everspring BBQ back in November. Yes, November. Despite the slightly cold and rainy weather the community came out to listen to music, eat burgers and hang out. Aurora is not exactly a place to just hang out, let alone in a motel parking lot, so this was a beautiful picture of hospitality and light in a sometimes dark neighborhood. Sammie helped connect me to the motel owners (who, by the way are lovely too) and get the ball rolling for the event. Sammie also recently participated in one of the Asset Based Community Development workshops that I attended along with many other community leaders.

The other night my husband Kevin and I were driving past the Everspring Inn and saw about 10 cop cars surrounding the motel. My heart skipped a beat as I wondered what had gone down there. I quickly texted Sammie to find out if she and the rest of the office gang were okay. She called and said she was okay, and that she had a story to tell me, but I’d have to wait until the next day.

The next day I got to hear how Sammie essentially saved a woman from serious injury or worse. There was an altercation between two of the motel guests upstairs. Sammie went up to find out what was going on.  When she came out of the elevator, she saw a man pinning a woman down. He was assaulting her. Sam quickly ran and got her pepper spray.  When she came back, she pulled the man off of the woman. As a result, the victim was able to get away.  Meanwhile, Sammie had the guy on the ground. She sprayed the mace next to him to make sure it worked and to threaten him. Another employee, Becky, called 911. Sammie was able to keep the guy down with the threat of the pepper spray but was also dealing with her eyes and nose dripping from the little bit that had been released in that narrow hallway. The cops thankfully got there in a good amount of time and took the guy away.

Whew… what a night!  I feel like if this heroic act had happened just a few blocks up in Greenwood, Sammie would have gotten much attention. So that is why I’m telling this story, to tell as many folks as possible about the heroic act of Sammie and her sidekick Becky… here to save a victimized woman – and the day!

Thanks for reading,

KarenAurora|Seattle is a blog site committed to telling the stories of Seattle’s Aurora Avenue – the good, the bad, and the absolutely bizarre. Yes, Aurora Avenue is an old highway (aka, 99) and a boundary between neighborhoods (Greenwood and Licton Springs, Green Lake and Phinney Ridge), but it is also an emerging neighborhood with its own networks and dreams and stories to tell.

Holy Scribbles

Okay, okay, it might not look like much to you after a quick glance. But, this bunch of scribbles on an oversized napkin is indeed a very holy document for me and for our community.

It represents dozens of organizations that are feverishly at work seeking to provide housing, support neighborhood connection, advocating for environmental justice and on and on.

On this map are the homes of people in just about every income range. There are multi-national corporations beating Wall Street predictions and small start-up businesses struggling to make it another month.

This is the sketch of a neighborhood we love and showcases a God very much at work.

As I write these blog entries for the practicing church, even if I don’t mention it directly I’m going to be talking about this map because it represents a neighborhood, my neighborhood, and much more importantly, our neighborhood. Our church community has swallowed the “parish” pill, which effectively means that we are interested in joining God of all creation who is active in each square inch of this downtown neighborhood of Seattle. We figure that if we take God’s shalomic vision seriously, then we simply must begin where we are and take our locality quite seriously, the chances of losing security and comfort rise exponentially, but so far, there is nowhere I’d rather be.

Tim Soerens

For more on Tim Soerens church, DUST, visit their website:

1st CRC of Seattle

1st CRC of Seattle from CFA Videos on Vimeo.

Instead of trying to get people into their church members of 1st CRC of Seattle go out and meet people where they are. They have started doing this through Asset Based Community Development, community block parties, and something called Service Sundays. On Service Sundays the worship service consists of church members going out into the community and helping others.
Posted: June 16, 2009          DOWNLOAD QUICKTIME
General (5:03)
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The Green Bean Story 1

Green Bean Story 1 from CFA Videos on Vimeo.

This is a story from the Green Bean coffee house in Seattle, Washington. For more videos on the Green Bean follow the links below.The Green Bean
The Green Bean Story 2
Posted: June 7, 2009          DOWNLOAD QUICKTIME
General (2:09)
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The Green Bean Story 2

The Green Bean Story 2 from CFA Videos on Vimeo.

This is a story from the Green Bean coffee house in Seattle, Washington. For more videos on the Green Bean follow the links below.The Green Bean
Green Bean Story 1
Posted: June 7, 2009          DOWNLOAD QUICKTIME
General (1:12)
To download Quicktime right click (control-click for Mac) on the “DOWNLOAD QUICKTIME” text and choose “Save Target As,” “Save Link As,” or “Download Linked File.

The Green Bean

The Green Bean from CFA Videos on Vimeo.

The Green Bean coffee house is a non-profit approach to coffee. For more videos on the Green Bean follow the links below.The Green Bean Story 1
The Green Bean Story 2
Posted: Feb. 9, 2009          DOWNLOAD QUICKTIME
General (3:51)
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