Saturday, May 1, 2010

Please encourage the City Council to continue funding our Community Centers

Dear Clients and Friends,
The Seattle City Council and Mayor McGinn are considering closing some of our city's community centers in order to balance the budget. As many of you know, I been working with the Magnuson Community Center for the past 5 years to develop a vibrant nature program for children and adults, and gotten to know first hand what a vital resource our community centers provide for our city.
Please review the letter below, and if you are moved to do so, add your voice to the citizens speaking out to our City Council and Mayor about this issue at and

PS. If you would like to learn more about specific nature programs at Magnuson Park that would be affected if its Community Center is closed, visit and

It would be especially unfortunate to have Mayor McGinn and the City Council decide to close Magnuson Community Center and shut down its brand new 'Wetland Discoveries' field trip program during the EPA's National Wetlands Month, wouldn't it?

Dear City Council Member,
I am writing to express my thoughts about the possibility that you will choose to close some of our city’s Community Centers in order to cope with the current budget crisis.

As the recession continues to affect the entire city, and worsens for many of its residents, the wide variety of youth, family, and adult activities that community centers offer has become increasingly important in many ways. Here are just a few:

• Community Centers provide parents with young children a safe, reliable, close to home, and affordable place for early-learning experiences with nature, art, gardening, and music. These vital elements to childhood development have suffered deep cuts already from our city’s public school budgets, and Community Center programs that help fill that learning gap are vital to our children’s future. Community Centers also provide children with a neighborhood ‘hub’ that they can form a bond with throughout their childhood, and a sense of belonging within the larger community as a whole.

• Community Centers provide teens with a safe, reliable, close to home, and affordable place for classes that build knowledge, character and understanding, and that help prepare them for an adult life. They also provide a place for appropriate social interaction during after-school or evening hours, and service-learning opportunities that also build character.

• Community Centers provide adults of all ages with a safe, reliable, close to home, and affordable place to learn about health and fitness, sustainability, organic gardening, parenting, and other topics that improve their lives and the health of our environment.

• Community Centers provide seniors with a safe, reliable, close to home, and affordable place for exercise, art, and other classes to enrich their lives and keep them involved as a vital part of our community.

• Community Centers provide neighborhood groups with a safe, reliable, close to home, and affordable place to hold meetings, events, and other outreach to the community.

• Many Community Centers have developed demonstration gardens and other environmental projects that have educated and empowered the public to improve their own neighborhood as well as the greater community.

Community Centers are an integral ingredient in creating and maintaining the kind of city that we all want to live in, and a city that is sustainable in the long term. They provide our entire city with a wide variety of extremely valuable resources that cannot be replaced at any cost in the future. Closing Community Centers to save money now would be penny-wise and pound-foolish, and detrimental to our city’s future. It is also not at all cohesive with the Mayor’s youth and family initiative as well as the Council’s ‘year of urban agriculture’ and other priorities of fostering a safe, just, healthy community for all.

Thanks for your time and consideration.
Emily Bishton