By Andrew LaChapelle, UW News Lab/Special to CHS
There are other problems in the world — and opportunities to address them — beyond COVID-19. Donna Moodie, a longtime Seattle restaurateur and owner of 14th and Union’s Marjorie, is already thinking about how to solve them.
Moodie took the helm as executive director of the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict program to start 2020.
Her organization is dedicated to equity and sustainability.
“I’ve been really inspired with the youth movement, trying to be more aware of the state we are leaving things in for the next generations to come,” Moodie said.
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Moodie has long been passionate about housing equity. Moodie was one of the original founding board members of Capitol Hill Housing, organizing and planning events for years on the organization’s behalf.
The EcoDistrict is a program run and maintained by the affordable housing developer. Last year, CHS wrote about the program’s role in what could be a major new initiative in the neighborhood to create a pedestrian-and cyclist-first “superblock” in the middle of Capitol Hill.
“It’s about focusing on the EcoDistrict to make it more pedestrian friendly and a model for sustainability,” citywide representative Lorena González told CHS about her hopes for making a Capitol Hill block happen.
Capitol Hill Housing started the EcoDistrict effort in 2013 with funding from The Bullitt Foundation to increase sustainability efforts in the neighborhood. It has largely been a symbolic effort to date with efforts to pilot “shared parking” and a project to transform the Neighbours alley under its wing. In 2015, the EcoDistrict seemed primed to become a larger driver in the neighborhood’s community planning. After the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce shuttered this summer following a failed expansion bid, the EcoDistrict effort stands as one of the largest, most solidly backed community groups in the neighborhood and a potential counterweight — and ally — to the growing presence of the GSBA’s Capitol Hill Alliance in the neighborhood’s business community.
“In 2020, the EcoDistrict hopes to lead an inclusive, participatory planning process that will create a community-driven vision and implementation plan,” Capitol Hill Housing CEO Chris Persons said about the district’s plans this year before the COVID-19 restrictions hit.
Akeyla Jimmerson, a community development associate with the EcoDistrict who has been working on bringing a healthcare facility to Lowell Elementary in Capitol Hill, said Moodie brings deep community ties to her project.
“Donna is really great at bringing all voices to the table to help accommodate what we are really trying to accomplish at EcoDistrict which is deeply ingrained and community based,” Jimmerson said..
While Moodie certainly has a full plate these days with owning a restaurant and her new role with the EcoDistrict, she feels she’s well-equipped for the role.
“I’ve been doing this for a really long time and I have supportive staff, the proximity of Majorie in Capitol Hill is a benefit,” Moodie said.
Moodie also embraces the role of a leader in places beyond the EcoDistrict and her restaurant, participating and acting as a board member to a handful of community housing roles both in the Central District as well as Capitol Hill.
Senior community development associate for the EcoDistrict Capitol Hill Erin Fried agreed that Moodie’s experience running a business in the area was an asset to what EcoDistrict is attempting to accomplish.
“She’s been a small business owner in Capitol Hill for decades, managing to do so while participating in community housing, with her spot in the neighborhood,” said Fried.
The EcoDistrict covers a wide array of engagement and issues, from a program to reduce pesticide use in Cal Anderson Park to urban conservation tours for the bird curious Moodie designed to help get individuals involved in the community.
“I want everybody to get involved and working collaboratively would benefit everyone,” Moodie said.
Those interested in sponsoring an event, donating, or getting involved can learn more at capitolhillEcoDistrict.org.
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