The Capitol Hill EcoDistrict brings together a range of talents, backgrounds, and experience to shape community development in Seattle’s center city.
Capitol Hill is the heart of the LGBTQ community in Seattle and is home to more artists than any other neighborhood in the city. Its residents, more than 80% of whom are renters, represent a range of identities, backgrounds, and experiences. Over the past two decades, Capitol Hill has faced unprecedented growth spurred by a new light rail station and proximity to South Lake Union, one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the country.
The Capitol Hill EcoDistrict began in 2011 as an effort to address runaway growth in Seattle by ensuring that community priorities are reflected in the significant developments changing the neighborhood. By engaging community leaders, small business owners, government agencies, and local media, the EcoDistrict has grown its capacity to shape development amid rapid growth, gentrification, and the displacement that threatens residents, businesses, and community institutions.
We focus on making this densely populated neighborhood livable and sustainable for all people by piloting new and innovative ideas at the neighborhood level that can then be scaled throughout the city or region.
Founded by Community Roots Housing, the EcoDistrict serves as a test lab for innovative problem solving, offering expertise in community engagement and development, research, and advocacy.
Ten years of celebrated wins
COMMUNITY RESILIENCEIn the age of COVID-19, we can see the immense value of public space for distanced connection, mental health, and exercise, especially for folks without a yard – or without a home. Mutual aid efforts leverage public spaces that are not currently constructed to support such acts of care, and administrators struggle to manage parks designed for uses that do not reflect current need. Now is the time to consider how our public spaces could better serve us, not just in good times, but during the next crisis.
GROWTH VS. DISPLACEMENTSmall businesses, community organizations, and renters, especially those from already marginalized groups, face challenges brought by skyrocketing growth, which has spurred rising rents. These circumstances have been catastrophically intensified by COVID-19. These groups seek visibility and stability amid challenges like safety, construction, and increased expenses.
CLIMATE CHANGEOne of the greatest crises of our time, climate change, threatens unprecedented flooding, poor air quality from wildfire smoke, and extreme heat events for the Seattle region. Climate change exacerbates existing inequities, contributing to increased health risks for vulnerable groups. Capitol Hill has an opportunity and an obligation to our neighbors and ourselves to do our part in mitigating these impacts.
GUIDING INVESTMENTFor billions of dollars in upcoming development to contribute to thriving public life in Capitol Hill, the community must have a voice, and our most impacted members’ voices must be centered in our approach.
ACCOUNTABILITYCapitol Hill has an obligation to its most vulnerable community members as well as to adjacent areas – especially those downhill or with fewer resources. The impact of changes to public spaces here affect connectivity, public health and wellness, and environmental resilience elsewhere.
LEGACYCapitol Hill is the heart of the LGBTQ and arts communities in the Seattle area. Many LGBTQ folks experience intersectional oppression; their ability to remain and thrive is essential to neighborhood identity. The arts community, itself at risk of displacement, represents an untapped resource in creating invitations and cultivating a sense of belonging for BIPOC and low-income people who report feeling unwelcome.
SAFETYA center city neighborhood ought to welcome everyone into its public spaces. In 2020, the neighborhood became a focal point of protests against police brutality toward the Black community, and today Capitol Hill continues to experience an increase in bias crime. Consequently, our approach must center the needs of Black and indigenous people, people of color, and LGBTQ people, with the goal of co-creating sanctuary without criminalizing homelessness, poverty, or other vulnerabilities.