Where do we go from here?

The Ballard District Council met December 15, 2016.  Members indicated they want to continue to work on behalf of Ballard and our member organizations.

District councils across the city feel the same way.  On November 20, 2016, The Ballard District Council hosted members of the District Councils from across the city and members of the City Neighborhood Council to discuss our combined interest in neighborhood-based advocacy.

We recognize the loss of the City of Seattle Neighborhood District Coordinators, who assisted in preparing agendas, invited guest speakers, and publicized meetings through City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods email lists.  We appreciate these individuals, whose role was to provide a conduit between neighborhood interests and the public outreach agendas of city, county and other agencies.  This is no longer the case, and we are forced to continue without this assistance, that has been in place since 1986.

In some ways this forced severance from the City is freeing for our neighborhood District Councils (whatever we may call ourselves in the future).  Our advocacy role is no longer tied to city processes. Outreach in the hands of citizens is freed up to grow into something new.

The underlying need for neighborhood groups to organize and communicate effectively remains.  Mayor Ed Murray and certain council members are acting upon a concern for inclusivity.  District Councils recognize that inclusivity is important.  Equally important is advocacy that arises from the grassroots.

Our work going forward into 2017 is to retool the district council neighborhood groups to increase meaningful civic participation.

Meaningful civic participation is urgently needed at a time dialog with public agencies is flattening out to internet-based polls, push technology and hand-picked committees.  We do not think these types of dialog represent a full- spectrum of citizen involvement.

There is no substitute for the hard work of finding out what is really going on at city hall, and communicating what you think needs to be done with your elected officials.  This is the heart of democracy.  Meeting face-to-face with people for information exchange is essential to this process.

Seattle is a beautiful, people-friendly city precisely because its identity is rooted in its unique neighborhoods. The Ballard District Council stands on the shoulders of feisty grass roots activists who came before us.  Ballard is a neighborhood with deep civic roots. We are not about to give up now.

-Jalair Box, Member, Ballard District Council
representing Canal Station and Canal Station North Condominiums