Let me say up front that I have been neighbors and friends with Janet Stillman these last 11 years and I admire her. Deeply. Because she is talented and energetic and caring and I can’t think of anyone else who has done more for this neighborhood. And, no, no one elected her First Lady of Wallingford but in my mind that’s what she is. There, I’ve put all my cards on the table.
Janet’s official title is the Director of the Wallingford Neighborhood Office, where she has worked since 1998 when she retired from Boeing. She and I had a friendly chat one morning in their small but handy office on Meridian just north of 45th St. because she’s the best resource I can think of for neighborhood information.
Me: What are the main functions of the Neighborhood Office?
Janet: Our mission is to build community in Wallingford. We do that by advocating for Wallingford with businesses and governmental agencies, such as the city of Seattle and King County, and by organizing community events such as the Garden Tour (June 6th), the Kiddie Parade and Street Fair (July 10th) and the Home Tour (October 3rd) where folks can meet their neighbors.
Me: What are some of the Office’s best accomplishments?
Janet: The fact that we’ve stayed alive! We are entirely supported by donations and income from the Home and Garden Tours. We are not funded by the city. Every year, when we have our annual donation campaign, I am blown away by the generosity of our neighbors in Wallingford who provide a very large share of the funds that allow us to exist . . . . I can’t thank them all enough. Our events are very successful. We have a new website and the E-News is sent out monthly. All our work is done by volunteers. . . . . We are the only neighborhood that has their own Office that doesn’t have a community center. We have information for newcomers. We coordinate graffiti removal. The Graffiti Sheriff is Gene Slagle. Call to report graffiti and we will paint it out within 2 days.
Me: When did you move to Wallingford and how has it changed since then?
Janet: I moved here in 1975 and still live in the same house [it cost $29,000 at the time!]. Wallingford is much more developed now. At that time it was a working-class neighborhood. There were lots and lots of families with lots of children. As the years went by the houses got more and more expensive very quickly and families got priced out of the market. . . . . In the 1970’s there were more variety of stores on 45th Street and they were more for families. There was a dime store, you could buy children’s clothing, office supplies, there was a butcher. It was not as upscale as now.
Me: What do you like best about Wallingford compared to other Seattle neighborhoods?
Janet: What I like best is that the people who live here are proud of their neighborhood and they take good care of their houses. Also the businesses seem to be doing better than similar businesses in other neighborhoods.
Janet: My hope is that we will get a true community center with programs for adults and programs for younger families where everyone can get together and where we can have events. The problem is the location. People have suggested the pit on Stone Way, the 3 houses across from the Boys and Girls Club. But it will cost a lot of money. The city is considering funding it. We are looking for ideas.
If you would like to stop by and meet Janet in person or have a question she’s sure to have the answer to, she’s at the Neighborhood Office from 10 to 3 Tues-F. Or you can email at [email protected]. Click to donate, volunteer to staff the office or do website or network admin, and sign-up for monthly e-news. You can also score some great Wallingford-themed merchandise to help their fund raising efforts.