A message from the South of Downtown Community Development Organization Staff,
Over the past five years, the staff of South of Downtown Community Development Organization (SDCDO) has been proud to serve and strengthen the Everett and Near South neighborhoods alongside our neighbors and community partners. It has been a joy and an honor to work alongside you all, even when we had different ideas of what community development looks like and how to do the work. What we saw was a need for greater engagement and involvement in this work among our most vulnerable neighbors: renters, folks with low-income, and those accessing resources to meet their basic needs. We tried to reach our neighbors at their doors, in and around gathering spaces, and along the sidewalks of our community, in order to uplift the incredible work that y’all were already doing for our community.
It is with a heavy heart that we announce that all SDCDO staff are stepping down from the organization at the end of 2021. This includes Isabel Salas, Director of Community Engagement; Kat Wiese, Community Arts Organizer; Allie Christianson, Community Organizer; and Shawn Ryba, Executive Director.
We do this with confidence in the tools, resources, collective knowledge, leadership and relationships that exist in the Everett and Near South neighborhoods. We appreciate everyone at every level who advocated for neighbors, centered their lived experience, and focused efforts to build on our neighborhoods’ abundance of beauty. This work has always lived within our shared community, being driven by and for neighbors since before we even started with you all. We have faith that everything we had been advocating for together will continue no matter what the next year holds.
Many neighbors remember the H3 redevelopment planning process that led to the formation of SDCDO. In 2016 and leading up to SDCDO’s founding in 2017, there was conflict with the planning process. SDCDO staff have been dedicated to elevating the voices of neighbors who felt disregarded and unheard. We realized that our biggest focus should be building relationships in the community - relationships that we still treasure today. We listened deeply, engaged, and worked directly alongside our neighbors on what they were most excited about. Even in the messiness of community development, we are so proud that our neighbors stepped up as decision-makers in their own lived environment.
As we transition away from the organization but not far from community, we are so grateful for the joy, lessons, moments of humility, and beauty each of our neighbors have gifted us with. As the work shifts, you may find it with friends, community partners and neighbors, we hope that when you show up, you remember “your experience is expertise, make sure they know it” (merely one micrometer closer to fair, Amanda Huckins).