Rainier Beach Action Coalition (RBAC) and in turn the Rainier Beach neighborhood has good reasons to be optimistic right now. We are ecstatic to announce that we recently received the continued support from the City of Seattle, King County and Seattle Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation. These awards from the Equitable Development Initiative (EDI), Communities of Opportunity (CoO) and Fresh, Local & Equitable (FreshLo) will support ongoing efforts around crime prevention, known as A Beautiful Safe Place for Youth (ABSPY) and the development of a Food Innovation District (FID).
While this may not be everyone’s vision for the neighborhood, it is encouraging to see RBAC’s ideas and work recognized at a local, regional and national level. RBAC has been active with several advocacy groups to make this happen like the Racial and Social Equity Taskforce (RSET), South Communities Organizing for Regional/Racial Equity (S-CORE), Rainier Beach A Beautiful Safe Place for Youth and the Regional Equity Network (REN).
It takes a lot of courage and tireless faith to keep hope alive in these challenging times signaled by unprecedented growth and associated increases in disparities. RBAC wouldn’t be able to do it without close community partners like Seattle Neighborhood Group (SNG), the Friends of the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands (FRBUF&W), the Ethiopian Community in Seattle (ECS), and Roots of All Roads (ROAR).
With these capacity building and implementation funds RBAC will continue to provide opportunities for Youth and Young adults in the neighborhood by creating jobs through its programs and expand these initiatives to support even more residents. Last year over 20 youths from Rainier Beach high-school participated in ABSPY’s youth and neighborhood engagement project Corner Greeters and brought home an additional paycheck to support their family. Similarly, 40 canvassers were compensated during the FID Community-led Participatory Research, while residents answering surveys about their desires for the neighborhood were treated to a gift card.
RBAC is aware the EDI alone won’t prevent displacement as some urbanists would like to believe, and despite multiple setbacks due to real estate pressure, including the current threat to the Rainier Beach Food and Farm Hub, there is hope for the future. RBAC is more than ever committed to deliver affordable housing, equitable economic development, and health benefits, to the Rainier Beach neighborhood starting with fresh, healthy, affordable and culturally relevant farm stands operated by local youth next year.
We are not done trying, quite the opposite, this is just the beginning.