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Reimagine Seattle: Mariela Camara

The challenges of the past two years have changed the way we live, the way we work, and the way we show up for each other. They have also given us a rare chance to collectively reimagine our future. Through the Reimagine Seattle Storytelling Project we invite community members to reflect on their current experiences in Seattle, how they have been impacted by recent events, and their hopes for the future of our city.

words and posters by Mariela Camara

When given the opportunity to contribute to the Reimagine Seattle campaign, I instantly knew this was something I wanted to embark on, but not alone. After 20 years in the City, I have developed relationships with many BIPOC communities and especially women, girls, femmes, and nonbinary residents who call this place home. Their voices are of utmost importance when we, as a City-wide community, envision a new future for Seattle.

I decided on a poster series as a creative way to collect, express, and contribute the experiences and perspectives of these young folks. I connected with those who have lived in Seattle since birth, childhood, or adolescence and sent them an online form. The form was created with five questions/prompts. Four of the questions came with instructions to respond using only one-word answers, and the last was an open-ended prompt. All responses were write-in, with no pre-set options to choose from. Each of the five questions and their responses became a poster for the Reimagine Seattle campaign.

What’s the Number One Thing That Needs to Change in Seattle Right Now?

word cloud with following dominant words: gentrification, homelessness, housing, drugs, unity

One Word to Describe Your Educational Experience

word cloud with following dominant words: unhelpful, disagreeable, racist, independent, undervalues, racialized, trash, unequal, inconsistent, blessed, white, inequitable

The Biggest Gift Seattle Has Given Me is…

word cloud with following dominant words: diversity, community, home, rain, support, nature, job security, small business, friends, roots, business

How Does It Feel to See the City Change?

poster with following words: frustrating, confusing, bittersweet, dominated, sad, expensive, odd, sickening, anxious, pushed-out, weird, nauseating, hard to see, distressing, horrible, heartbreaking

When I Reimagine Seattle, I Imagine…

Poster with following words: A city where low income communities and those in need receive access and resources to life
essentials that would help even the playing field in education, job opportunities etc. More
access to fresh & healthy foods less food deserts and better ability to obtain health insurance.
I’d also imagine a city that provides safe spaces for youth to gather and access resources that
young people would need
Safety, security
Safe, clean, drugless
a mosaic, not a melting pot. BIPOC communities getting what they have always deserved but
rarely receive, without the prerequisite of new white (and typically wealthier) co-inhabitants
Equity in the south end
Fixing the homeless crisis
Affordable housing
Defunding the police
Equal opportunity in south end schools
A regenerative community that is welcoming and inclusive to all
A city where the K-12 education is equitable regardless of anywhere you attend school
and isn’t reliant on the PTSA.
power, culture, peace, safe, diversity, open, inclusive
BIPOC leading community change, more money in low-income areas, more culturally
relevant grocery stores/food stands, more affordable housing, more parks, access to
affordable transit, community centers
eliminating the racial divide in Seattle school systems, putting a stop to the gentrification
of south Seattle neighborhoods, & providing homes and resources for Seattle's extremely
large homeless population
Diversity, kindness, less ignorance, less poverty more love, more common ground
Love. Culture.
Accessibility, community health, art advocacy
Rain, outdoor activities, national parks, hikes

Mariela Barriga, standing outside. Her hair is pulled into ponytail and she is wearing large earrings.
Mariela Camara (she/ella) arrived in Seattle nearly twenty years ago to pursue a degree in Administration of Justice as a Costco Scholar at Seattle University. Currently, she leads institutional innovations regarding food and housing justice, financial empowerment, and community partnerships as the Director of Student Success at Highline College. She also currently serves as a City of Seattle Community Liaison, connecting outreach and communication efforts to Spanish speaking communities. Previously, Mariela was a youth development practitioner serving teens of color. She recently completed ten years of board service: three years with Yoga Behind Bars and seven years with School’s Out Washington, where she served as Board President for two years. Born in Northern California, Mariela comes from a family of educators, artists, farmers, and storytellers.

Submissions for the Reimagine Seattle Storytelling Project were commissioned by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. The opinions expressed and information contained in each submission do not necessarily reflect the policies, plans, beliefs, conclusions, or ideas, of the City of Seattle.