Delridge Day & Community Open House, May 31, 2008 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., was an empowering, educational event that brought together a community and gave them an opportunity to thrive. During the event — much of it outdoors, in the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center parking lot — participants enjoyed live performances by Kore Ionz and Gabriel Teodros, learned how to break dance, drum and draw, gathered resources on buying a home, continuing their education, walkable community trails, and many more. Indoors, the Cooper Artists upstairs presented their annual open house and gallery.
Multicultural music, arts, and food offerings were all on tap (the fabled falafel truck that visits Youngstown on Mondays was there); but the most intriguing feature was the debut of an “Art Lending Library” — Artists will donate pieces that community members can check out for up to 2 months and display in their homes. The only requirement is that if you check one out, you take a photo of it on display in your home, and provide a writeup afterward about what it meant to have the piece in your home.
“Delridge doesn’t have a downtown, in the traditional sense; we don’t have a Main Street,” said Randy Engstrom, director of Youngstown. “Any time you can bring lots of people together for a shared experience, I think it’s a good thing to build a community.”
Delridge Day offers the opportunity to learn about Youngstown’s programs and other social programs in the community, event organizers said. Youngstown opened in 2006 in the former Frank B. Cooper Elementary School and is a Delridge Neighborhood Development Association program. The association is a private nonprofit organization based in West Seattle
The center’s first floor is home to social, arts and environmental programs while upstairs levels serve as live-work space for artists. It was designed to provide youth arts education and serve as a community space.
“I don’t think having a downtown in itself builds a sense of community,” said Pigeon Point resident Pete Spalding. “It’s the people involved in the community who give it its character.”
A programming committee made of Youngstown students, from fifth-graders to high school seniors, worked with adult mentors who live or work at Youngstown to schedule activities and advertise the event. One weekend, they went door to door in Delridge to invite residents, said Youngstown program coordinator Estrella de Leon.
Reflecting on the successes of this event, we were inspired by the creative excitement of the youth who helped organize the event, the artists living in the Cooper Artist Housing sharing their passion with the community, the coming together of the community and community resources, and the talents of the live performers. Thank you Department of Neighborhoods and Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs for helping Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association to fund this event.
Click here for photos and coverage from The West Seattle Blog.