For 30 years our Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF) has been providing financial support and resources to help make our communities stronger and more connected. In that time, we have funded more than 5,000 projects across the City of Seattle, including neighborhood improvement projects, community organizing efforts, cultural events, public art, workshops, and so much more!
Now and then, a project comes along that really gets to the heart of the NMF program and highlights what communities can accomplish when they come together around common goals. The Let’s Talk Race Series produced by Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association (DNDA) is one such project. The series, which concluded last month, provided eight interactive workshops focused on challenging institutional racism and fostering a culture of belonging in the Delridge neighborhood. Through film, dialogue, storytelling, and restorative justice, the series tackled specific topics relevant to the Delridge community. Immigration, food access, housing, criminal justice, education, and other issues were all examined to illuminate how they relate to race and the daily lives of people in the neighborhood.
“The main goal of this project was to break through the binary of blackness and whiteness in racial equity work and magnify additional voices in our community of Delridge. If we are to tackle issues of race, we have to do it together, across ethnic boundaries and beliefs, and this project was a start to that process.” – Nafasi Ferrell, DNDA Community Engagement Manager
DNDA wasn’t interested in just hosting passive workshops. They were looking to engage Delridge’s incredibly diverse community as active participants in this work. Each event allowed individuals to participate in interactive activities, have group discussions, learn engagement skills, practice healing, access resources, and push themselves to become leaders and change-makers in their community. DNDA also emphasized youth involvement throughout the process – even engaging young people to lead some of the discussions. This provided youth from the neighborhood an opportunity to amplify their voices and get involved in issues they cared about.
“I was given so much room to grow and learn and lead on my own,” said youth facilitator Sonja Learner. “I think this project is having an amazing impact on the community: it is bringing us together, providing a space to look closely at subjects that are often shied away from, and facilitate healing.”
Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is proud to support projects like this – projects that engage a community in working towards an inclusive and shared vision of their future. Funds from the NMF program made it possible for DNDA to present the series as free and open to the public and add services like childcare that worked to eliminate barriers to participation.
“By hosting free workshops as part of this series, we were able to eliminate any financial burdens that would otherwise have prevented people from attending,” said Nafasi Ferrell. “The Neighborhood Matching Fund allowed us to create a comfortable space for participants, complete with food and refreshments, as well as to widely publicize these free events to encourage greater community engagement.”
You can learn more about DNDA’s Let’s Talk Race Series at https://dnda.org/raceseries/.