An inclusionary and holistic approach is the only means to truly find success in addressing the issues and opportunities that arise when change is eminent for a community. From the beginning of the Lake City Neighborhood Alliance and my work advocating for our community, I recognized that businesses and property owners were often absent from the conversation about a Lake City that has definitely and rightly so, earned the attention of the city.
The expectation of one final year of the City of Seattle’s “Only in Seattle Grant” and federal funding secured through a grant committed to connecting to our under-represented populations in Lake City has made it possible to staff a position for Lake City Future First (LCFF). The advisory board of LCFF has given me the opportunity to continue the work of connecting Lake City to its business and economic development in a meaningful way. I leave behind the stability of a career I’ve held for 24 years to take on this new endeavor largely because I believe we have an incredible opportunity to do something very special here in Lake City. My wife and I are raising our two boys, ages 6 and 8, in our home in Lake City – a home we were fortunate enough to buy 12 years ago. It would be difficult to convey how honored and privileged I feel to have the opportunity to continue my work in our community.
My responsibilities to our LCFF advisory board and to the Lake City community cover a wide range of issues. Much of our work is contained in our strategic plan. Some of the priorities and catalytic projects that I will be taking on are:
*To connect our businesses, residents, property owners, service providers and faith based communities through efforts outlined in our strategic plan.
*To partner with and support other neighborhood organizations with the twofold goal of: 1) informing people about all the work being done in Lake City and 2) connecting individuals with local opportunities.
*To promote a formalized “Clean and Safe” program in our community.
*To promote and retain our cherished small businesses through programs like the “The World of Tastes in Lake City” while also helping attract new business.
*To work with the community and the city to see a transformation of the Fred Meyer greenspace and activate the 125th street mini park to become a community asset.
*To guide, develop and support our LCFF board to help ensure a sustainable organization and increase our capacity.
There is no shortage of work to be done and my enthusiasm and commitment couldn’t be greater.
In early September of 2015, the advisory board of LCFF in concert with the City of Seattle completed its mission of reviewing applicants for the consultant and training position for outreach within the community. The position of advisor to my work was awarded to BDS Urban Planning and Development. This organization has already helped guide the work of the “Only in Seattle Grant” and Urban Design Framework process and was a natural selection because of their broad and deep understanding of the community. BDS will continue a one year contract to help support our board, solidify our organizational structure and help to train our staff by way of years of community engagement and economic development experience.
Lake City Future First was created out of the response by founding members of the LCNA to the absence of business and property owner participation. The model of the “Only in Seattle Grant” and its funding mechanism made perfect sense for our goals and mission. The criteria were to bring together a group of stakeholders form the five primary elements that make up a community (residents, business, property owners, service providers and faith based organizations). The goal was to have this broader representation create the necessary conversations that would lead us to a shared vision on how our community would develop and experience economic vitality. Most of the rest of the city was in the process of taking part in this grant and Lake City more than deserved its chance to explore the possibilities of the funding.
Lake City Future First also recognizes the importance of working with city staff and departments to obtain our community goals. We have been fortunate to work with several wonderful individuals form the city and value the outcomes of real dialog and relationships that meet on common ground. Katie Sheehy with the Department of Planning and Development, Christa Dumpys and Virginia Wheils with the Department of Neighborhoods and Theresa Berreras with the Office of Economic Development have truly been advocates for Lake City.
I hope that you will join LCFF and I as we hit the ground running with efforts to increase our connectivity, expand on our partnerships and commit to the future of Lake City for all.
Chris Leverson – Director Lake City Future First