The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods’ Hey Neighbor! series introduces you to the people behind the scenes working to build, strengthen, and engage the communities of Seattle.
Meet Nicole Jekich
Nicole is an alum of the Spring 2018 session of our People’s Academy for Community Engagement (PACE). She is a food-obsessed game designer, writer, and community organizer in Seattle who is passionate about building inclusive communities and using games and food to connect people and bring about change.
What inspired you to join the People’s Academy for Community Engagement?
I wanted to learn more about our local government and how I can participate beyond what I already knew (voting, attending city council meetings, etc). I also wanted to learn how our local government is organized into different departments and committees.
What is one lesson you learned in PACE that has stuck with you after completing the program?
I learned a lot during PACE about the range of civic engagement opportunities available to me. I specifically enjoyed the class on WEALTH that went over the city’s budget and how revenue and expenses are categorized. For example, I’ve voted for plenty of levies as a Seattle voter, but I never really understood until this class how the money in levies differs from sales or property taxes.
In what ways have you used the lessons you learned in PACE in your civic engagement outside of the program?
I have used the program mostly to gain more information and learn more ways to get my voice heard on certain issues. PACE was incredibly valuable for meeting other community organizers and activists in the Seattle area who share similar interests and passions. I have kept in contact with a few classmates and we’ve supported each other by attending and participating in their community-focused events this summer.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about applying to join PACE?
I would encourage anyone to apply to PACE who wants to learn more about how the government and its departments operates in Seattle. PACE is more than just learning and pleasing academic interests – it also prepares you for real-life civic engagement, like how to effectively leave a public comment at a city council meeting, etc.
What is one thing you love about Seattle, and one thing you’d like to see change?
I love the variety of art and games in this city – it is the reason I moved here. Seattle is home to many prominent museums and galleries as well as many game companies and conventions. I don’t want to leave Seattle because it offers so much variety. However, Seattle is a playground for the rich. I’ve lived in Seattle for 12 years and, as a college-educated, working class woman, I continue to struggle to live in the city in which I work. I want Seattle to become affordable for those in the service industry, and for the students, artists, and working class people who build and create the culturally vibrant city that everyone wants to live in.