Back in February, I wrote about the Community Involvement Commission (CIC), the city’s replacement for the old neighborhood councils. At the time, the commission was still being established, and the application deadline was still open. Now, the commission is nearly filled out with Equity Champions (as the city is terming the Commission members).
The purpose of the CIC (similar to the neighborhood councils) is to act as a liaison between citizens and city departments. To ensure that the CIC is representative of the broad spectrum of residents, CIC representatives must be approved by either the mayor or the city council. There are 16 members in all, with seven being drawn along the city council district lines. (The remainder are “at large.”) Since Wallingford is split across two districts, we share two Equity Champions: Alison Turner representing District 4 (shared with neighborhoods such as the U District and Ravenna); and Ben Mitchell representing District 6 (shared with neighborhoods such as Ballard, Greenwood, Fremont and Green Lake).
The CIC has not yet had its first meeting, and in fact, at least one member remains to be appointed, Alison tells me. Nonetheless, the city has rolled out bios for the members appointed thus far. I tried to get some additional, neighborhood-centric inputs from Alison and Ben, but we couldn’t close the loop before this article posted. And so with that … meet our Equity Champions!
Alison Turner – District 4
Alison, who grew up in Bothell, is a very recent graduate of the UW with a degree in Community, Environment and Planning. This would seem to be a perfect background for a member of the CIC. Says Alison in her bio, “I am very concerned that the current economic boom is not equitably benefiting everyone in Seattle, and I believe that we need to do much more to ensure that our city grows inclusively.” Certainly, that’s a concern shared by many in Seattle right now.
Currently a renter, Alison brings a perspective to the Commission that was, perhaps, lacking among the neighborhood councils. She says, “I hope that the Commission will provide a space for real dialogue about how our city can mitigate displacement and grow inclusively. I am very excited to get to work and see what we can accomplish together.”
You can read Alison’s complete biography here.
Ben Mitchell – District 6
Ben works for Social Venture Partners an organization dedicated to assisting nonprofits and philanthropies. Recently arrived to Seattle, Ben has traveled extensively including a stint in the Peace Corps (Albania), and he holds a master’s in International Policy Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Sam Read, writing for the city, asked each of the Equity Champions if they had any “superpowers,” and Ben is naturally imbued with a few: “I’m a fairly good long-distance runner. I’ve run a bunch of marathons and in my faster days I had some pretty speedy times. Outside of that, I once worked night shifts at a bakery where I learned to roll out, boil, and bake some pretty mean bagels.” I’ll be over for breakfast!
With the CIC having just recently formed, it’s hard to know where things will lead. But, says Ben, “I’m really excited about the vision and goals for the Community Involvement Commission. I’ve followed the development of the commission and, while I’m sure this group will have its growing pains and challenges, I’m coming in with a great feeling of optimism and excitement around our work together … I think the disparities in community engagement with the city cut along all sorts of lines (income, home-ownership status, work status, etc.), and my hope is that the Community Involvement Commission can help to break down these disparities in engagement.”
You can read Ben’s complete biography here.