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One Community Extends a Welcome

Hello Neighbor,

My name is Ruby Holland and I’ve lived in the CD since 1961. Being raised in the CD was filled with many warm and pleasant memories. After living in other cities for many years, I returned to Seattle. I never got over my love for the beautiful mountains, water, seafood (Ivar’s) and those plump, sweet blackberries (invasive I’m told) that grow on many street corners.

I’ve been back in my childhood home now for 2 years. Of course, my neighborhood has changed. What I miss most is that warm, fuzzy feeling of community that we used to have in the CD. After talking with other long-time CD residents, we realized that it’s time for a good, old fashioned welcoming. Excuse my frankness here, but I want to make sure that everyone knows specifically of whom I speak.

On behalf of myself and many other long time, Black or Afro American CD residents, we would like to welcome you, our new White, Hispanic, or Asian neighbors to the CD. It is our belief that we need to know our neighbors in order to look out for and to help each other. While Facebook, NextDoor and email are great tools, community building requires us to leave our comfort zones and use the old school tactics of face-to-face contact to get to know each other. Taking things in bite-sized chunks, we don’t need to know everyone in the CD, only those on our block. When we see each other on the street, let’s say hello and introduce ourselves as neighbors. When seeing other CD residents at the bus stop, library, or out shopping in the neighborhood, let’s smile at each other and say “hello.”

(The wading pool at Powell Barnett in use during hot summer weekends this year... Photo courtesy John Barber)

Sometimes, we older, retired CD residents like to talk and reminiscence about old times. We realize that younger, working residents may be pressed for time. Don’t feel that you have to engage us in a long, drawn out conversation if you need to go. Politely excuse yourself and get on with your day. We will be okay.

We won’t always agree with our neighbor’s point of view. Not everything requires a debate. We should acknowledge the other’s point of view and move on. We must all learn to pick our battles. After all, when all is said and done, we all want the same things: to feel valued and appreciated, to have a safe neighborhood, free from crime and gun violence, to make a better life for our children and grandchildren.

Please be aware that many older, black CD residents love our homes and wish to remain in them. Asking us about selling is not a welcomed conversation with many of us. We feel insulted and devalued by those real estate people who are constantly trying to get us to sell our homes. Please help us to rid those folks from the neighborhood.

I do not wish to appear one-sided here, but I am Black and so I view life from that perspective. Help us to understand your wants and needs as well.

For sure, not everyone from either side will be on board with our new love for each other, but once they see our example of love, harmony, peace and happiness they will surely want to be a part of this. Let’s show them, and everyone else, how to live in a beautiful, diverse neighborhood where we work together on issues and celebrations.

Other Bridge Builders who want to build unity in the CD: Cliff Holland, Diane Snell, Paul Green, Troy Meyers, Cynthia Johnson-Garnett.

We’d like to invite each and every one of you to be Bridge Builders. If you see any of the above Bridge Builders, please give them a shout out and let them know that you are a Bridge Builder as well.

Change will not come overnight. Change is not always easy, but it’s not always bad. Together, we can make this work.

Feel free to call me with any questions or concerns.

~Sincerely, Ruby Holland (770) 471-3472.

Please meet Patricia, another Bridge Builder:

Hello neighbor,

I am writing this to you and every household in the CD. I have lived in my home on 28th Ave. S. since 1991. Many others that live on my street purchased their home before me. Now that we have many new neighbors, we would love to at least know who you are and have you know who lives on your block as well. By “know,” I mean at least by name and face.

When we know our neighbors on our block, it makes it easier to identify abandoned vehicles or vehicles of visitors or people that do not live on our block. For those who do not have a garage or drive way we can know whose car/s belongs to whom.

If someone may be vandalizing, we can alert someone else, pay attention and take notice for later reference/ID. I believe the neighborhood is safer when people know and respect one another. Even though there have been different situations that have occurred in the past, we have dealt with them with respect and helping out in ways that benefit one another before calling the police.

There will be times when people are outside and having family fun and may get noisier than some of you are used to. If it’s noisy and you would like to address it, if you know your neighbor you can ask them to please lower the noise instead of first reaching for the phone to call the police, especially If the noise you hear is just people/ families having fun. I’d like to think that the noise will subside out of respect of our neighbor’s request.

Different cultures act and respond differently to different situations because of fear. You do not have to like someone to give them your respect and love, after all responding in Love is always the easier way. That is my way of looking at the world. You may or may not agree.

With peace and sincere regards,

~Patricia Valentine

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