Much of the stream called Little Brook flows below the pavement in Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood, emerging for just a moment to burble through a small park shadowed by apartment buildings.
For some people living near Little Brook Park, the almost-hidden stream is a metaphor for the surrounding area: Unjustly overlooked, with a beauty that runs deep. There are plans to renovate the park to better accommodate the diverse and growing neighborhood, with funding needed.
“It’s the only access to nature that this community has,” said César García, co-director of Lake City Collective, an advocacy group that focuses on people of color. “There cannot be equity [among Seattle parks] until that park gets redeveloped.”
As Seattle leaders weigh competing demands for precious public dollars this month, considering a proposal to boost property taxes by more than $50 million annually to address parks and recreation needs, few neighborhoods have as much at stake as Lake City, which has been waiting years for a new community center, as well.
The nonprofit Coyote Central, which offers pay-what-you-can art classes to kids, opened a Lake City branch in 2020, and the Refugee Artisan Initiative, which trains immigrant women to make clothes and home goods using recycled materials, is located on the same block.
When Kuguru started working in Lake City, an acquaintance jokingly disparaged the neighborhood. That bothered the Thriftology owner, who sees “so much” that the area offers.
Families hang out at the Refugee Artisan Initiative workshop; Build Lake City Together has opened a temporary arts and culture center in a onetime pawnshop; and Children’s Home Society of Washington plans to open a community venue next year.