I have lived in Seattle my entire life. As I walk around my neighborhood, I sometimes wonder about the history of its buildings. I make a mental note to go home and do some research, but then forget. So last Friday, I joined a Civic Boot Camp, a day long exploration of what makes a livable neighborhood, by exploring South Lake Union and its neighbor community, Cascade.
A group of 25 or more of us met at Seattle’s oldest park, Denny Park, for an overview of the day and then headed out on a walking tour and history lesson. We were encouraged to take photos, so my Boot Camp became a Camera Walking opportunity. I love walking around South Lake Union, but this tour took me to places I hadn’t explored.
South Lake Union was once a manufacturing center hosting industrial laundry facilities, and was considered Seattle’s Auto Row. Families lived in small houses, and over 1,000 children at one time went to school in the area.
The older structures now co-mingle with high rise buildings housing high tech companies, such as Amazon, Microsoft, and biotech companies. Apartment buildings are springing up throughout the area, some with low income housing included in the mix.
As the day unfolded we learned what groups are doing to address the issues of transportation, human services, homelessness, affordable housing, and development. I was surprised to learn that Seattle’s 89 P-Patch community gardens donated 41,000 pounds of food last year to food banks in the city.
I walked away from the day with much more knowledge and understanding, as well as impressed with the various services that are available in this very compact part of our city.
We are fortunate that Seattle CityClub conducts Boot Camps on a regular basis to help people get more engaged in our civic life. Most likely there are organizations in your city or region that offer similar experiences, or at least historic tours. Invest an afternoon or day and learn more about your neighborhoods. And bring your camera! You won’t be disappointed.
We would love to hear from you, so comment below, post on our Facebook page, or send us an email at getmoving(@)camera walking.com.