SU Receives Grant for Projects at Yesler Terrace

Written by Laura Paskin
July 31, 2015

The Center for Community Engagement received a three-year, $156,000 grant from Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) to support art and artisan programs at Yesler Terrace. Under the grant, Yesler Terrace youth and adults will work with Seattle University faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences, Albers School of Business and Economics, and College of Education. Original funding came to SHA from the Kresge Foundation.

Yesler Terrace, a public housing complex built between 1941 and 1943, is currently being redeveloped. The highly diverse community is located just east of Seattle's downtown and close to the Seattle University campus. On average, its residents earn less than 30% of the city's median income. Redevelopment is replacing existing buildings with a mixed-income community.

According to SHA, few examples of art serving the community have been done in the context of a radically transforming mixed-income, mixed-ethnicity, urban neighborhood. Yesler Terrace will eventually house 12,000 people and be the workplace for 3,000.

Photography Professor Claire Garoutte, above, has worked for several years with Yesler Terrace youth on photo and video pieces documenting the redevelopment of the site. Under the grant, youth will produce a series of photographic and videographic pieces related to Yesler Terrace, its history, and its transition into a new development. The completed work will be displayed in the various community, residential, and public buildings on the site.

The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center in the Albers School of Business and Economics, under the direction of its Executive Director Sue Oliver, will provide expertise and guidance to Yesler Terrace residents seeking to market their products to the broader community. Working with individual artisans and nurturing a home-grown cottage industry of artfully crafted objects of beauty, utility, and value, the center will assist with promotion and counseling involving commercial transactions and promotion, both wholesale and retail.

As part of the grant, SHA has asked Seattle Univeristy to document and evaluate its overall Kresge funded creative placemaking effort. In addition to Professor Garoutte, College of Education Associate Dean Bob Hughes and Professor Brynnen Ford, College of Arts and Sciences Master of Nonprofit Leadership program, will conduct the evaluation.

"This is an exciting but also challenging time for the Yesler Terrace community," said Kent Koth, executive director of the Center for Community Engagement. "We are pleased to be part of efforts by SHA, the Kresge Foundation, and neighborhood residents to draw upon the power of art to foster community and a sense of place."