Building Community in Capitol Hill
Written by Maureen McGregor. Contact the author.
Sustainable Capitol Hill is a network of neighbors dedicated to making Capitol Hill a sustainable community. Working to create a vital neighborhood, Sustainable Capitol Hill builds strong connections between people, place and the local ecosystem.
As a member of SCH, I can tell you that this is not just Sustainable Capitol Hill's mission statement; it's a message that dedicated residents live by to encourage sustainability within their neighborhood. SCH holds monthly pot-luck dinners, welcoming newbies and veterans alike to participate in engaging conversations about how to make,Capitol Hill, Seattle, and the world at large a more sustainable place.
Recently in danger of going on an undetermined hiatus, SCH is quickly making a revival as residents get out of their homes and into the heart of sustainability, engaging neighbors in events, activities, and the planning of future initiatives. Only months ago SCH members met regularly and held events at the Bluebird Homemade Ice Cream and Tea Room's small community space. But with the growing attendance, most of their meet-ups are now located at the Electric Tea Garden, one of Capitol Hill's best kept secrets. Webster Walker, a veteran of SCH who joined the organization when his workplace, Central Co-op, got involved with the Imagine Capitol Hill community fair that SCH organized in 2008, notes that, "there are a lot of new people involved in SCH right now and it's very exciting!"
It is an exciting time for SCH, indeed! Although fully volunteer operated, with no distinctions or titles given to its members, SCH is not just another community organization run on the bleeding hearts of its members. Veteran member, Gina Hicks states that "We've got great ideas, and a good core group of people...we have some presence and we provide visibility and voice to the ideas of treating the place we live in and the people we live near with respect and thoughtfulness." Walker also says, "It's the people who are launching projects that will make a difference."
One of these projects is the Melrose Promenade, an effort to make Capitol Hill's Melrose Avenue more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. With SCH's support, this proposed development will make strolling or riding on Melrose a safer, more enjoyable experience, while improving connections between Seattle neighborhoods.
Another project in the works is the up-and-coming Capitol Hill Tool Library, inspired in part by a recent workshop highlighting the West Seattle Tool Library, organized by Sustainable Seattle as part of their newly developed Neighborhood Program. The Tool Library would be a place to rent tools you do not own, and a place to use them if you do not have a garage. Many members are excited about this project. "The tool library is a very practical project that will reduce our environmental footprint, improve people's lives, and build neighborhood relationships at the same time," explains Walker.
Recent smaller events included participation in the Capitol Hill Clean Sweep during which SCH members picked up trash along 12th street between Pine and Madison, the creation of a book club, and medicinal herb walk with Dr. Jake Felice. As these events show, relationships with neighborhood residents is at the core of what makes SCH a thriving organization. As Shaz, a relatively new member of SCH, puts it, "Not only does [SCH] show people how to reduce their ecological footprint, but it also brings people out to meet their neighbors. It's a good way for people to get together to share a common interest, which happens to be taking care of our planet."
|Some SCH members at Capitol Hill Clean Sweep|
Member goals and aspirations of SCH are far ranging. Amongst carbon neutrality and other bold neighborhood planning efforts, members seek to establish SCH as a hub to support and connect other Capitol Hill projects and organizations working to promote sustainability; a valuable resource for everyone in the area; a clearinghouse of information, a catalyst for community growth and cooperation, and an instigator of neighbors becoming friends.
Although the wheels are starting to turn in a more rapid pace for this neighborhood sustainability group, more community participation is being sought out. As Shaz states, "If we can continue to grow and get more neighborhood involvement, I'd be happy. We can do great things, if we put our minds together."
So what are you waiting for? Come join us!
Monthly potluck meetings are held on the first Monday of each month (check out our Facebook page to find out where these are being held), check out our website for resources, and reach out by contacting us. And, if you're interested in getting involved with the Capitol Hill Tool Library, please contact us at here.
Some SCH events coming up:
- Melrose Promenade Project (check Facebook page for more info).
- July 9, 6-9pm-Sustainable Capitol Hill BBQ. Come meet your neighbors, support your local sustainability organization and enjoy good food. BBQ will be held at Summit Park. Suggested donation of $5-10/plate.
- Fruit gleaning, recycled art show, and more to come!
See you around the neighborhood!