Elected officials have reaffirmed Seattle as a “sanctuary city” following the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, and now Capitol Hill community leaders want to take actions to further establish the neighborhood as welcoming and safe.
“We’re thinking about … what are some of the tactics that we can be explicit about,” Capitol Hill Community Council President Zachary DeWolf told CHS.
The group’s approach aims to provide sanctuary for people being harassed or discriminated against, educate and activate community members, and raise awareness.
What exactly that will look like and entail is yet to be determined, DeWolf cautioned but provided some ideas the group leading the effort, consisting of representatives from CHCC, the faith community, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, Capitol Hill Housing, and Capitol Hill Eco-District, is interested in exploring.
The idea of making Capitol Hill a sanctuary neighborhood is more about taking action to show what the community’s values are rather than showing what it’s against, DeWolf said.
The conversation locally started with, Greg Turk, pastor at All Pilgrims Christian Church, meeting with Paul Corner, pastor of the First Covenant Church. While state elected officials declared Washington state a hate-free zone, the pastors wanted to explore what could be done locally and decided to bring other organizations to the discussion.
“So they kind of began the conversation around, ‘Hey what can we do that feels like we’re for something,’” DeWolf said.
One idea the group discussed as a pillar of a sanctuary neighborhood is establishing sanctuary spaces maybe at churches and businesses — emotional sanctuaries where people can be together and safe from harassment.
Another possible part could be programming likely lead by the community council to have “complex conversations” — maybe an interfaith panel or an intro to Islam discussion — and trainings on violence and prejudice.
DeWolf also said they could also “literally (put) a stake in the ground” with yard signs like those popping up around the nation saying: “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor,” in English, Spanish, and Arabic.
But with these ideas could morph into other plans as the group moves forward. DeWolf also said the organizations don’t want to duplicate efforts that are already happening such as Safe Place, Love in Action and others. Instead, the sanctuary neighborhood effort wants to bolster and support them.
The group plans to hold a meeting to shape the effort early this year.