Archive for September, 2007

Starting Over

Affordable green housingLast June, Seattle EcoUrban Village went on hiatus to explore the possibility of forming a nonprofit with two other grassroots organizations. After careful examination, we realized that our core goals varied enough to prevent a successful merger, but we still support each other through information sharing. So where does that leave us?

Seattle EcoUrban Village (SEV) project is in the midst of growing pains. Change is seldom easy but usually both necessary and beneficial. The SEV project still maintains a large email list of virtual supporters, and is in need of actual, physical support in the form of visionaries, organizational development planners, activists, grantwriters, and other general volunteer support.

In light of the lessons learned these past few months, let me tell you who I am, where we are, and where I hope we’ll go. My name is Alexis Pierre-Louis. I’m an interdisciplinary artist (a jewelry artist, painter, sculptor, and writer), and I am the founder of SEV. I organized SEV because I am tired of and fed up with the lack of safe, affordable, green housing and the lack of affordable organic food in my city. The way I see it: a lot of good organizations got started by tired and fed up people, so I feel confident that I’m on the right track.

My work as an interdisciplinary artist is informed by a philosophical framework that includes urban permaculture, futurist theory, Womanist studies, and the fine arts. I’ve been privileged to live abroad (Germany and Japan) and in most states in the U.S.A. I am a graduate of The Evergreen State College in Olympia Washington; I moved to Seattle about four years ago, and formally began my art practice this year.

I have mostly lived in small- to mid-sized towns, IGarfield High School now live in a mid-sized city, and I’m very concerned about the combination of economic disadvantage, environmental racism, and lack of environmental education, particularly in communities of color. I live in a community where there is a large number of people of color and poor people. Although Seattle is renowned for its commitment to environmental issues, I have too often been told that my urban permaculture ideas won’t work in the Central District and Seattle’s other economically disadvantaged neighborhoods because poor people want jobs not green housing and organic food. I believe all of the above are both desired and possible.

Now, after months of talking with local nonprofits, agencies, real estate specialists, and citizens, I realize that SEV’s focus needs to be on environmental education. So, it may take a very long time for the first SEV building to manifest, but it will happen because this idea is like a river: it may change course, but it won’t stop flowing. And like Sam Cooke originally sang, and like Midwest City sings today: A Change is Gonna Come.


(image credit: Garfield High School, Garfield High School Foundation)


Read Full Post »