community

BE A HERO IN THE HOME STRETCH

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The Pig Roast Fundraiser event on September 16th, taken by Principal Kischner from the 3rd floor of Genesee Hill Elementary School.

The Urban Homestead Foundation has generated overwhelming community support for the purchase of the Dakota Homestead land. Our base of support continues to grow as we reach out to the community through events and media, and we gain further support from our local leaders who wish to see this kind of community outreach - a ‘modern barnraising’ -  succeed. People are inspired to get involved as soon as they hear what we have planned and are asked to participate in the vision of what this space could be.

Since establishing the Urban Homestead Foundation as a nonprofit less than two years ago, we have grown to a nine member Board of Directors, brought in over 25 active volunteers and more than 200 individual supporters, while establishing partnerships with numerous local environmental groups and a Community Partnership agreement with Genesee Hill Elementary across the street. Our volunteers have written grants, hosted house parties, worked festival booths, met with local officials, started letter writing campaigns, canvassed the neighborhood, and planned fundraisers.
 

PIG ROAST FUNDRAISER RECAP!

Our largest fundraiser this fall, a Pig Roast Fundraiser Dinner with a live band on the property, was a huge success in bringing neighbors together. With over 100 people from the community in attendance, and more from the neighborhood walking by to donate money when they found out what we’re doing, we witnessed the possibility of creating an urban hub where residents can gather in green space. This one fundraiser raised almost $10,000 through ticket sales, raffle tickets, donations and drink purchases. It was a blast! 

The developing relationships between neighbors is inspiring – there were many stories from the pig roast dinner of neighbors who had not yet been introduced, some living only a block away. Thank you to our community sponsors that made this event possible with donations of food, money and raffle items, thank you to Board member Becca Bay and her team of volunteers for months of planning, coordination and execution, to Josh Schramm and Westerly for amazing music and the pig crew of Nicole Ott, The Swinery and Genesee Hill PTA President Christine Kraynek and family for roasting the pig! Thank you to Kristen and Slade Bedford for the awesome cornhole boards that were raffled off, and to Christie Kinskey for the professional pictures. The biggest thank you to the community for coming together, supporting this project, showing up and making it a great event!

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The partnerships we are building and plan to build are numerous. From the already mentioned Genesee Hill Elementary School, to other local schools in the area, and resources like Seattle Farm School, Seattle Tilth, AlleyCat Acres, the Beacon Hill Food Forest and Bradner Gardens. In addition, we are actively establishing relationships with local farms and farmers, small businesses and restaurants who want to be a part of a movement of individuals and families interested in urban gardening, environmental education, and sustainable food systems. 

This kind of community growth and strengthening can continue....but only if the land is saved in time. There are developers waiting at the door for us to fail and turn it into more housing. We have until the end of this year to raise the remaining funds needed to save the land forever. We've already cut the purchase price in half thanks to a matching grant that will match $325,000 and we have raised over $30,000 of individual donations from generous people like you.

We need $300,000 to save it. Now is the time to activate - ask your philanthropic friends, coworkers, your rich aunt, corporate community donation funders, dig into your own pockets....it's do or die time folks. Once lost, it can never be recovered. Save this land for yourself and your community this year!

 

As West Seattle experiences exponential residential growth, the purchase of the Dakota land mitigates this rapid density by preserving a piece of green space and creating an active community hub for children and adults. Beyond the environmental and educational benefits of preserving this open space across from Genesee Hill Elementary, this land acquisition allows residents to engage with each other in the development of something unique to Seattle. The question of what the land should be used for, from serving local food banks to partnering with social justice organizations and developing food sustainability curriculum, is an opportunity to come together in community conversations and develop an actionable plan that preserves the best and highest purpose of this space.

The fact that the land sits directly across from Genesee Hill Elementary, the largest elementary school in Seattle, is an asset. The students and staff will immediately gain the ability to develop a ‘living laboratory’ for student groups and adults to experiment with edible gardening and nature-based art, science and math. The preservation of this land connects the school to the neighborhood and the neighborhood to an active green space and experience which educates and inspires.

It’s rare that a community has the chance to deliberately invest in its own future. The Dakota Homestead presents an opportunity for people of all ages - kids, adults, and seniors - to have a spot right in their neighborhood to gather and be exposed to knowledge lost to the generations, about nature, about food, and about working together to make a better tomorrow. Preserving this land from development will reverberate through our community for generations to come.

Urban Homestead Foundation in search of a few heroes to help save green space in West Seattle

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From left, Katie Stemp, Phoebe Ingraham and Kristen Bedford, from the nonprofit Urban Homestead Foundation, are asking the community to support their effort to save a piece of land on the corner of 50 Ave SW and SW Dakota and transform it into a neighborhood green space and demonstration garden. 

Lindsay Peyton

Mon, 10/02/2017

By Lindsay Peyton

An overgrown lot located on the corner of 50 Ave SW and SW Dakota St has become the center of a big vision for a few dedicated West Seattle residents. 

To most, the property would be easy to pass by. The decommissioned Seattle City Light substation stands vacant, adorned only with a chained up gravel pad, where electric equipment once stood. 

Katie Stemp, however, recognizes the site as an urban forest grove, complete with Scots pine, Pacific madrone, Ponderosa pine, Japanese maple and Lebanon cedar. 

She wants to save the trees – and turn the plot into a green space, complete with demonstration gardens, greenhouse, fruit orchard, workshop space, park benches and an outdoor cob oven. 

“We would have a covered structure where we can host classes, tons of raised beds in front, dwarf fruit trees and a container garden,” Stemp said. “We could show a lot of ways that people could grow food in their own space at home.”

She first discovered the 10,000 sq. ft. lot about two years ago, when it came up for sale by the City of Seattle. 

The Seattle City Council agreed to allow an extension of the sale date for a community organization, if the group could raise the funding needed.  

Stemp joined forces with Kristen Bedford and Phoebe Ingraham to create a nonprofit to meet the city’s requirements. 

They formed the Urban Homestead Foundation – and the city granted them until the end of 2017 to purchase the site, which was recently appraised at $650,000. 

The women named the project the “Dakota Homestead Site.”

Ingraham said their plan includes partnering with other educational organizations, as well as groupd those promoting sustainability and the environment. The lot could become a home for a rain garden or solar power demonstration site. 

“People can take classes, learn it here and bring it back to their own space,” she said. 

With an elementary school across the street, Bedford believes the garden would become a destination for field trips. 

“We would really integrate science, nature and art,” she said. “That’s what we need to teach kids -- the innovation and creativity from nature-based education. This is our opportunity – but that window is closing.”

She explained that there aren’t a lot of grants out there for the acquisition of land – and the Urban Homestead Foundation is consumed with fundraising. 

Stemp said the nonprofit has acquired a matching grant of half of the amount needed – but they have a long ways to go to reach that milestone. 

“What we really need are corporate sponsors,” she said. “And we need it by the end of the year, or else this goes back on the market and developers will jump on it. It’s Hail Mary time.”

So far, the nonprofit has raised $30,000 from individual donors. 

“We’re looking for a champion,” Ingraham said. 

She hopes to not only finish the fundraising effort and build the garden but to set a precedent for other communities that want to preserve green space in their neighborhoods.

“Our vision is that this could be a replicable model of the community coming together to save something,” she said. “But right now, we just need this to happen. We need to save this piece of land.”

Bedford said that individuals can also help by voicing their support to the city council. 

“People who are passionate about this, their voices are important,” she said. “We need to hear from them.”

To learn more about how to become involved in this project or to donate online, visit www.urbanhomesteadfoundation.org .

SAVING THE SUBSTATION: Urban Homestead Foundation benefit dinner Saturday

Post courtesy of West Seattle Blog.

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The Urban Homestead Foundation, raising money to buy the former City Light substation property on Genesee Hill, is sending out a last call for tickets to this Saturday’s pig-roast fundraising dinner. UHF’s Katie Stemp says it’s happening at the site, 50th/Dakota, 5-9 pm Saturday (September 16th): “Tickets are $75 and include a sit-down dinner, a drink, live music and dancing, and outdoor games! It’s going to be a blast and hopefully raise a lot of money to match the King Conservation Futures Fund grant we received! If there are local businesses that would like to be promoted by helping sponsor part of the event, they can contact Becca Bay at beccabayaway@gmail.com.” (We reported on the grant back in June.) You can buy your ticket(s) online right now – if you can’t commit until the last minute, Katie says they expect “a limited amount” available at the event.

VIDEO: Urban Homestead Foundation celebrates big grant in campaign to transform ex-substation

Courtesy of West Seattle Blog post

(WSB video: Urban Homestead Foundation VP Kristen Corning Bedford announcing grant news)

Leaders and supporters of the Urban Homestead Foundation‘s vision for the ex-substation on Genesee Hill had big news to celebrate today. As you can hear in our video clip above, they’ve been recommended to receive a King County Conservation Futures $281,000 matching-fund grant that would get them to half of what they need to buy the land and transform it into a community learning and gathering place and urban-agriculture demonstration zone.

The grant recommendation was announced during a block-party potluck at the site. They’re also celebrating gifts of all sizes – earlier in the day, Girl Scout Troop 44428 stopped by with a $350 donation:

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(Photo courtesy UHF president Katie Stemp)

While the grant recommendation is big news, the group is racing the clock, as they were given until the end of this year to raise the money they need before City Light sells the site on the open market; the utility is in the process of getting a new appraisal (the previous one put the site’s value at $530,000). Later this summer, UHF plans a Farm Dinner fundraiser at the site, 5 pm August 13th – more details to come but you can save the date now.

BACKSTORY: The site at 50th and Dakota, just north of Genesee Hill Elementary, is one of the six former substations in West Seattle that Seattle City Light declared were no longer needed, putting into motion a process to sell or otherwise dispose of them. Three of them – on Pigeon Point, in south Highland Park, and in Fauntleroy – have been or are being sold for housing; one in north Highland Park is proposed for mixed-use rezoning at the community’s request; and then there’s the one becoming the Delridge Wetlands Project. The UHF plan is described in detail in the application for the just-announced grant.