March 22, 2011
Hello Dr Enfield,
Your letter to the Rainier Beach Community was forwarded to me. I am a part of the “community partner” area you mentioned in your letter to the Rainier Beach Community. You and I met briefly at the RBHS Dinner Auction, where I was acknowledged for my advocacy work on behalf of “RB”.
I appreciate your letter to the Rainier Beach Community. Communications like this are vital and for it to be your first one to us it was direct, thorough and rich with content. In particular it was important for you, as the superintendant, to share what is going on in the building at Rainier Beach High School.
I facilitate the communications action team of the RBHS Design Team and your communication provides important information we intend to share with the neighborhood through grass roots channels. This is an area I would like to draw your attention but at another time. For this letter I want to inform you of initiatives underway in the neighborhood of Rainier Beach that is directed towards its transformation. These efforts need your partnership.
Neighborhood Plan Update – The update process is focusing on linking our education centers to the economic development, transportation, family life, environment and public safety efforts in the neighborhood. Education is one three cornerstones of our neighborhood plan along with making Henderson a Great Street and enhancing the business core of the neighborhood. Since September over 500 people to date have participated, I will share your letter with them and the Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) a group of neighborhood residents and other stakeholders who advised the city on this process. In fact the NAC meets the third Wednesday of each month and have been longing for an audience with a representative from SPS. http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/Planning/Neighborhood_Planning/NeighborhoodPlanUpdates/RainierBeach/default.asp
SE Seattle Arts Coalition Feasibility Study – there are over 35 arts oriented organizations and scores of working artist serving over 400 Rainier Beach neighborhood youth and adults. A recommendation cited in this study is coordinating the efforts of these groups into a neighborhood calendar. Our hope is this calendar reveals that the true heart of Rainier Beach is the Arts. Due to the Paul Robeson Performing Arts Centers place as a preferred venue the involvement of SPS is critical. We will share your letter with this community as well. (See attached)
Rainier Beach Pedestrian Gateway – a key to economic development in the business core of Rainier Beach is making it a destination that is safe, appealing and pedestrian friendly. This project focuses on Rainier Avenue between 57th and 51st with transportation improvements, façade improvements etc for that area. This project impacts the families being educated by SPS therefore your awareness and understanding of this project is vital. (See attached)
Urban Farm at Atlantic City Nursery – Seattle Parks re-purposed the Atlantic City Nursery and a neighborhood based group Friends of Atlantic City Nursery were awarded the opportunity to operate it as an Urban Farm. I have already received a call from a teacher at RBHS who sees this as an opportunity for service learning and community service opportunities for students. This project connected with the Rainier Beach Learning Garden at South Shore K-8 has the potential to add to the uniqueness of our neighborhood. These communities will be excited to learn about the commitment of SPS. www.rainiervalleypost.com/rainier-beach-urban-farm-recommended-for- funding
The RB Coalition is an alliance of residents, agencies, businesses, faith based organizations (75 strong) that focus on addressing the critical issue in the RB neighborhood. Education is among its top priority with a more recent effort of outreaching to Seattle Central Community College’s degree program so we have Pre-K to 16 educational options in the neighborhood. www.rbcoalition.org
Dr. Enfield, these efforts represent the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is happening in Rainier Beach. Alone represent millions of dollars in staffing time, volunteer time, capital improvements, grants and contracts from entities such as the City of Seattle, Sound Transit, various foundations and local non profit service providers and residents. These neighborhood driven investments and activity braided together with the commitment from Seattle Public Schools will serve as a catalyst to transform both our neighborhood and our schools.
We are organized, we have a plan, all that’s left is for us to knit our hearts together..and now is the time. We cannot have a complete neighborhood change model without you. Will you join us?
Rainier Beach Community Empowerment Coalition
Yes, you can count me in. I appreciate your sharing all of this with me and I am copying my Chief Communications Officer on this so she is also aware of the work you have described here.
I am committed to working with staff and the community to make Rainier Beach High School successful.
I look forward to meeting with you in the coming weeks.
Thank you for your commitment to our students and to partnership.