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Youth Safety is the Focus at the RACE & CULTURE DIALOGUE REDUX

Last year, Unified Outreach facilitated the Race & Culture Dialogue Series, a half-dozen community workshops aimed at building bridges between people, neighborhoods, and community silos across the city. We inviting cultural organizations, business leaders, youth advocacy groups, and violence prevention counselors from across the city to meet together, seeking ways to heal the city and to move forward as one-Seattle.

We asked the question, is it possible for people from different
backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, and economic statuses to live
in real community? They answered, YES!

Last month, in response to the multiple youth-on-youth shootings, Unified Outreach put out the call for another series of community meetings, offering a safe-space for people with different backgrounds and life experiences to come together to share different perspectives, gain a common understanding, and work towards creative solutions to violence prevention and gang-intervention with practices aimed at decreasing youth-involved violence an increasing public safety in Seattle’s underserved communities.

“ Ballard can seem like a world away from the CD and Rainier Valley, but the truth is that the city is getting smaller, and it’s time that those with more take honest steps to help those that have less. ”

The workshop welcomed a variety of voices, representing the diversity of Seattle itself; yet all unified in their belief that there must be a better way to save our children from the violence that has reached epidemic levels over the summer. Community leaders representing Circle of Love Outreach, Black-Man’s Conscience & Freedom Group (BMCF), BW Sons of Haiti Grand Lodge, Colossal Life Media, and more were present, as well as community leading individuals such as “Uncle Steve” Stephen Williams, Anthony Hall, Rob Ross, “Daud” David McRae, Edward Dumas, and others, including Fremont Brewing co-founder, Sara Nelson. Conversations touched on anything and everything as they worked towards developing a better understanding of each other and how they can work together to make a positive difference in the city.

Sara Nelson went above and beyond, arriving with food and beverages for the meeting. Late August in Seattle can be sweltering, and the meeting room felt like a hotbox, so the cool drinks were a welcome surprise! Thank you Sara!

For those outside of the Ballard area, or new to Seattle altogether; Sara is the co-founder of Fremont Brewing in Ballard. Fremont Brewing is a family-owned craft brewery founded in 2009, where they brew small batch artisan beers for “artists, fisherpeople, tradespeople, technology geeks, and lots of beer lovers.” As an artist over 21 years of age, I’m very familiar with getting together with friends over a cold glass of libations at Fremont Brewing. Whether pre-planning our next project, or celebrating a job well done, Fremont Brewing has long been the destination for artist gatherings and shop-talk. Some of my best memories are of comparing sketch-book illustrations with friends in the warm and relaxed atmosphere of Fremont Brewing.

“The workshop welcomed a variety of voices, representing the diversity of Seattle itself; yet all unified in their belief that there must be a way to save our children… ”

Having an artist/businesswoman involved in the conversation was refreshing! She’s the quintessential thinker that we at VIBRANT often talk
about, utilizing both the left hemisphere for linear thinking and problem
analysis, while the right hemisphere helps find creative solutions, delivered with empathetic program implementation.

Both Sara Nelson and the committee members came prepared to engage
and to find sustainable solutions to the growing epidemic plaguing
our most vulnerable neighborhoods. Sharing a common goal, the communal conversations were almost symbiotic in nature, a natural fl ow of opinions and ideas between all in attendance; and touching on a variety
of subjects that both directly and peripherally contribute to teen-life in
Seattle’s most diverse areas.

As always, I came to the meeting with a focus on arts-enrichment as an essential part of the solution. Believing that the arts encourage communication and expression, builds bridges, and breaks-down racial, social, economic, and cultural barriers. I was not disappointed in the dialogue, as the group was in agreement about the value of arts enrichment resources. The conversation then moved to economic recovery, public safety, housing and homeless prevention resources, public safety, social justice, and government accountability, and the role of each in protecting our children. A very productive meeting, producing real-life solutions with measurable outcomes. Check our Facebook page for the next meeting.

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