Milenko Manavotik

A new community space in Neah Bay

Early April marked the end of another successful project in Neah Bay, WA. Together with the Makah Tribe, Pomegranate Center, VIA Architecture, Caribou Construction, many amazing volunteers and funding from ArtPlace, we built a beautiful community gathering space inspired by community input and full of beautiful tribal art.


Helping build a community gathering space in Neah Bay.
Milenko Manavotik

The space is called Be?is (Beh-is) which translates to “beach house” in Makah and can be found on Makah Bay, the west side of the Makah Reservation. It will be a destination point and tribal gathering space for generations to come.

Starting in 2012, the project cycled through many iterations: from a renovation of a current gathering space on the northern shore with a boardwalk, to a bigger, new facility on the western shore. There were several project managers from each partner organization and the vision morphed over time as community input was incorporated. The resilience of the project is a testament to the people involved and the importance of authentic community engagement, which requires flexibility, long-term commitment and follow-through.

This project built on previous work that began in 2010, when the Makah Tribe received technical assistance from Forterra as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program. That project engaged the community in conversations about healthy living through biking and walking and included walking and biking audits, a discussion on safe routes to school with high school students and a bike repair workshop. The relationships built during these conversations allowed us to co-create the Be?is project proposal two years later.

Thank you to all the partners and volunteers that made this project possible!