Next week, we’ll be celebrating community leaders from across Washington at our Spring Luncheon and Livable Communities Awards. Each year, Futurewise honors those who are working to make our state a more sustainable, equitable and vibrant place to live. This year’s awardees hail from all over Washington and are pioneering innovate approaches to planning, environmental education, community development and more.
Meet our 2019 Livable Communities Awardees:
Community Champion: Tony To, Homesight
Tony To is the Director Emiritus and Othello Square Project Director for Homesight, an organization that preserves and promotes economically and culturally diverse communities through affordable homeownership, business development and community advocacy. Most recently, Tony has led the Othello Square project, a community driven effort in the Othello neighborhood to build a mixed-use, community oriented development at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and S Othello St.
In Tony’s own words: “I could envision people living there and owning a shop or a booth there or working in a health clinic while their kids go to school there…That’s transit-oriented development. And that, right now, only exists in the privileged communities.”
Equity and Environment: Tacoma Tenants Organizing Committee
Since spring 2014, the Tacoma Tenants Organizing Committee (TTOC) has organized in Tacoma to pass stronger tenant protections in Tacoma. Formed in response to mass displacement at the Tiki Apartments, TTOC successfully mobilized to pressure Tacoma City Council to improve renters rights in the city. In fall 2018, the Council passed a suite of new renter protections including increasing the notice period to 60 days if rents are raised more than 10 percent, preventing source of income discrimination, providing payment plans for security deposits and last month’s rent, and offering $2,000 in relocation assistance to eligible low-income renters being displaced due to construction, demolition, rehabilitation or change of use.
Grassroots Community Organizing: Our Valley, Our Future
Our Valley, Our Future / Nuestro Valle, Nuestro Futuro is a community visioning, planning and developing initiative in the Wenatchee valley. For the past three years, Our Valley, Our Future has led a community engagement process to gather input and create an action plan for the future of the Wenatchee valley. The resulting Action Plan includes 149 specific actions and seven “game-changer” projects, to be implemented by coalition of more than 80 lead partners that include local nonprofit organizations, businesses, public agencies and community groups. Most recently, Our Valley, Our Future released a thirty-page housing report on how to improve housing affordability in the region.
Smart Growth and Transportation: The Urbanist
In the past four years, The Urbanist has become a leading voice in influencing and advancing smart land use and transportation policies. Between regular online publishing, monthly meet-ups, neighborhood walking tours, action alerts, election endorsements, and more, The Urbanist is building a community of progressive urbanists dedicated to making Washington’s urban environments more affordable, accessible, equitable and vibrant.
Local Government Excellence: Stormfest (Cities of Burien, Des Moines, Seatac, Normandy Park and King County)
Last spring, a consortium of cities in South King County put on the first ever Stormfest, a two-day educational event for sixth grade students in the Highline School District. Students participated in a number of activities designed to teach them about stormwater and its impacts on the local watershed.
The Highline School District is one of the most diverse in the state and the event included 17 on-site interpreters to make the event accessible to all students. Additionally, post-event surveys sent home with students were translated into different languages to be shared with the whole family. Stormfest returned in October 2018, with the goal of becoming an annual event.
Thank you to our 2019 awardees for your leadership in advancing livable communities!