Tukwila Community Conversation on Thursday, March 6, 2014, at Showalter Middle School in Tukwila, WA.
Photo by Danny Ngan

Tukwila’s Community Conversation: Convening communities to build a vision

On March 6th Forterra co-hosted, along with Global to Local and the City of Tukwila, a Tukwila Community Conversation that brought together over 130 community members to contribute to the City of Tukwila’s 20 year vision. This gathering was truly a milestone event both for suburban city planning in our region and for Forterra as an organization.

This event was the culmination of a broad range of community work by Forterra in Tukwila, which includes long running projects like the Namaste Garden and Duwamish Hill Preserve as well the development of the community liaison program, “Community Connectors.” This latter program, developed in 2012 with input from both community members and City staff, was piloted in 2013 with training in equity and diversity for staff and planning for the liaisons, and a put to the test for the City’s Comprehensive Plan update.

Tukwila Community Conversation on Thursday, March 6, 2014, at Showalter Middle School in Tukwila, WA.

Starting in January and February 2014, twelve Global to Local Community Health Promoters (CHPs) and Community Connectors representing the Latino, Somali, Eritrean, Burmese and Arabic-Speaking communities conducted a total of 194 surveys to gather community feedback regarding housing, business, food access and service needs along the Tukwila International Blvd Corridor. The results varied community but the takeaways were clear. People expressed a need for more affordable housing options and for a large, higher-quality grocery store, and importantly, over 60% of people said they plan to stay in Tukwila.

Using the survey information as a baseline we hosted the Tukwila Community Conversation on March 6th as an opportunity for all Tukwila community members to come together and discuss the vision for Tukwila. Community members from all walks of life gathered at Showalter Middle School near Tukwila International Boulevard and were welcomed and encouraged to participate in activities, enjoy delicious food and find a table with friends or the appropriate interpreter. The Mayor of Tukwila gave a warm welcome then made way for each person in the room to introduce themselves and use one word to describe Tukwila. We captured these words in the Wordle below.

14 interpreters facilitated conversations in 7 languages and the Mayor and 6 council members engaged with residents and community members to gather feedback on important comprehensive plan topics. Specific topics included access to healthy food, housing and Tukwila International Boulevard. 17 different table groups discussed the topics, and in the report back we heard interest in improvements for pedestrian safety around the Boulevard, a new Farmers’ Market, more high quality affordable housing, better transportation to the community center, more space for gardening and again, a big grocery store along Tukwila International Boulevard.

Tukwila’s 20-year vision will be deeply informed by the information gathered through these Community Connectors activities. Engaging the community in multiple ways is essential for cities to effectively serve all of their residents. By taking on this project the City of Tukwila is ahead of the pack, and this event was an important step towards engaging the rich and diverse community in Tukwila in the City planning process. Thank you to all the partners and community members that made this project and event possible.

Please see our Facebook for many stunning photos taken by Danny Ngan.