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Turning “Not in my Neighborhood” into “Welcome Home”

A Note From Our Executive Director

 

Last week the Seattle Times’ front page story was about local resistance to safe injections sites, part of a proposal by public health professionals and local leaders to deal with our ongoing opioid epidemic. This local resistance is part of a larger pattern that has been playing out over the greater Seattle area over that past few years, and beyond. Whether it’s a temporary shelter for the homeless, safe injection sites, or micro apartments, well-intentioned residents are setting a clear message: not in our neighborhood.

These resistance efforts have their roots in a disheartening “us versus them” mentality. And this mindset is ultimately inhibiting our ability to address the complex and systemic problems facing our country.

One project that gives us hope is Compass Crossing, a pilot homeless housing project in the Columbia City neighborhood in Seattle. We are excited to be mentoring Compass Housing in the community engagement aspects of their work. Not only has Columbia City welcomed the project and its future residents, neighbors are creating a support network to say “Welcome home – how can we support you?” I have been humbled working with such a compassionate and thoughtful group, and am proud to call this neighborhood home.

This pilot project was lucky to land in a neighborhood as generous as Columbia City. Future efforts will not be so fortunate. This project received one million dollars in seed money from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. What Pomegranate supporters understand is that investments such as Allen’s are wasted if communities fall into “us and them,” fail to see the greater good, and put up organized resistance.

This is where Pomegranate’s 30 years of experience comes into play. Transcending fixed positions, listening to others, and seeking what benefits the most people, are values wired into every step of our process. Our methodology can help not only neutralize narrow views that lead to resistance, but as in the case of Compass Crossing, create a culture of compassion to help those among us that are most in need. As we have seen countless times, the right approach can turn “us and them” into “we.”

Our collective prosperity rests on a foundation of social trust that finds strengths in our differences and looks to the common good. Every public project is an opportunity to practice.