Community Reimagines Seattle Through Storytelling
The challenges of the last two years have been immense and impacted each one of us. They have laid bare deep inequities and racial disparities in our culture. They have changed the way we live, the way we work, and the way we show up for each other. But, most importantly, these challenges have given us all the rare opportunity to collectively reimagine our future … to shake things up and chart a path toward a healthier, more equitable city.
To understand the impacts of the last two years and what that new path forward might look like, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods launched Reimagine Seattle, a storytelling project in which community members from across the city reflect on their current experiences in Seattle, how they’ve been impacted by recent events, and their hopes for the future of our city. Stories for the series are commissioned from Seattle artists, writers, community advocates, and social justice leaders.
The stories in this project are told through writing, artwork, photography, audio recordings, and videos. Each provides a snapshot of the rich diversity of Seattle and helps identify areas where we can do better.
- My Fearless Imagination or How Re-imagining Seattle is a Question Better Asked of Fire—Seattle poet Roberto Ascalon reflects on the joy, pain, and responsibility of parenthood, sharing the beauty of the little things with each other, and the power of fire to both ignite change and warm a bone-chilling cold.
- In the Seattle We Imagine—Community health workers Sophia Malik and Shakeitha Howard discuss the societal need for community care models, the drive to transform their roles within the healthcare system, and how Seattle could change for the better.
- Reimagining Seattle—Muckleshoot Indian Tribe member Rachel Heaton reflects on the hardships of her ancestors, the continued oppression of marginalized people, and the importance of focusing on wellness for both people and nature.
- Seattle Sonata—Queer poet and Native folk artist Arianne True contemplates her relationship with her hometown as she reflects on the ways she has watched the city shift.
- I Know What You Did Last Summer—Speaker, writer, and Executive Director of Choose 180 Sean Goode reflects on the local protests following the murder of George Floyd, the hollow promises that stem from performative politics, and progressive platitudes. He envisions a future where Seattleites can put differences aside and continue a journey toward justice together.
- Storytelling from Chief Seattle Club & Sara Thomas—Chief Seattle Club employee Sara Thomas shares her story of overcoming incarceration, addiction, homelessness, and what she hopes for the future of Seattle.
- Reimagining Seattle—Local artist Kimisha Turner discusses Seattle’s progressive façade, the dangers of covert racism, as well as her vision of a city that promotes and creates opportunities for underprivileged communities.
- Sweet Slow Disabled Home—Writer and performance artist Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha discusses how the isolation experienced during quarantine is nothing new for the disabled community and her hope that some of the changes made throughout the pandemic will help with accessibility moving forward.
- The Future of Seattle—Seattle poet Ebo Barton describes how softness between individuals helps build a stronger community that, despite tragedy and hardships, continues the journey toward justice and equity.
- Walks with My Son—Author and illustrator Jessixa Bagley discusses the challenges of simply taking a walk as a Black woman with a light skinned son, and how the actions she must take to comfort other people’s fears create sadness and unease for her.
- Sharing Juk—Taiwanese/Cantonese American artist Monyee Chau reflects on the role of food in culture and community and the detrimental impact xenophobic narratives have had on Asian communities throughout the pandemic.
You can view all Reimagine Seattle stories at frontporch.seattle.gov/tag/reimagine-seattle/.
Contributor Sam Read manages communications at Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.
This article originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of AgeWise King County.