Visions of Wallingford is a neighborhood community project launching this week. It’s part learning, part dialogue with the intention of collaborating on a vision for the future of the Wallingford’s built environment. Residents are invited to learn more about the project during a meet & greet program this Thursday, May 26, 7-8 pm via Zoom.
During the event, participants will have a chance to hear the background and goals for the project, meet members of the project team, and learn about ways to get involved over the upcoming weeks and months. Community organizations represented will include the Wallingford Community Council, Historic Wallingford, Tilth Alliance, Wallingford for All, Seattle Mosaic Arts, and Friends of Meridian Park.
The project originated in connection with city planning measures. As the City conducts outreach for a major update to the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan — which lays out a 20-year vision for land use, zoning, transit, and capital expenditures — the Wallingford residents’ “Neighborhood Learning” project aims to fill an important need. In past years, the Wallingford Community Council has organized efforts to integrate the Wallingford Neighborhood Plan into the city-wide Comprehensive Plan. This year, the collaborative project seeks to fashion a “living” neighborhood plan made up of the stories, experiences, and visions of local community members.
The project is facilitated by Wallingford resident Ari Hock, a doctoral candidate in the College of Education at the University of Washington. Hock initiated the project as part of his dissertation research in the learning sciences, where he is researching how communities come together to share and build collective visions.
Hock was inspired by the ways that Wallingford residents responded to the COVID pandemic by forming mutual aid networks, distributing flyers to support local businesses, and setting up a community fridge and pantry to keep neighbors nourished. He also hopes that residents will use their participation in the project as a way to surface perspectives on the conversations that divide Wallingford, particularly the issues of housing and zoning.
“At a time of deep political polarization, when many Americans are finding it difficult to engage in meaningful civic discourse, our community project is exploring new ways to share perspectives and find common ground,” Hock said. “This is something you don’t get sitting in a meeting room or in front of a laptop.”