Earth Justice Now!: Building Intersectional Community Spaces

1:30 pm, Room 220 - Access and Equity

Tahmina Martelly, World Relief Fund/Kyla Rynard, Alleycat Acres/Jake Harris, Stone Soup Gardens (moderator)

Join Kyla Rudnik of Alleycat Acres, Tahmina Martelly of World Relief Seattle and Jake Harris of Stone Soup Gardens to learn about two community development projects focused on Social Justice and Food Access.

Wetmore Community Farm:

Wetmore Ave was a dead end S-DOT street covered in knotweed that Alleycat Acres opened up and developed into a community farm and food forest. Wetmore Community Farm now is a food hub of an elementary school, the food bank, low income senior housing and a neighborhood in the rapidly changing Rainier Valley.

Paradise Parking Plots:

A recently de-paved church parking lot in Kent is being transformed by World Relief Seattle into a habitat space, a GSI demonstration site and a welcoming community farm for over 50 refugee families.

Both projects had ribbon cuttings this year, and both projects are taking a whole systems approach to their development.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand how two amazing organizations are achieving their goals of creating spaces that engage currently marginalized communities while bettering the planet.

  • Recognize the challenges and successes each organization had in engaging the community and making these projects real for them.

  • Understand the challenges and successes around developing two neglected spaces: through funding, permitting, networking, and construction.

  • Understand and feel empowered to incorporate equity, justice and whole systems thinking for planning, implementation and operation of public spaces into their own projects.

Originally from Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tahmina lived in Yemen before arriving at a farm in Idaho. A registered dietitian by education, Tahmina has worked with refugee and immigrant resiliency projects for the last 25 years. Most recently, she taught at the University of Utah, division of Nutrition and developed and taught computer literacy classes at the Utah Refugee Education Center. Tahmina has been with World Relief Seattle since 2016. She oversees the new Resiliency and Empowerment programs at World Relief Seattle that includes women’s empowerment programs through sewing and literacy as well as teaching/commercial kitchen and gardening.

Kyla grew up in coastal Massachusetts and moved to Seattle after completing a master’s degree in environmental anthropology at Washington State University in 2009. As part of her master’s program Kyla served in the Agroforestry sector of the US Peace Corps in Ghana, working with traditional shea butter processors, teaching women in her community about moringa trees, and on a mango tree nursery. Upon moving to Seattle, Kyla began teaching ESL in South Seattle to elderly East African refugees. It was through working with these individuals that she learned about their desire to grow food in their new home country. This spawned an interest in her combining her passion for agriculture with that of working towards creating a space for meaningful cross-cultural and multi-generational interactions in Seattle. Kyla started working with Alleycat Acres in February of 2015 as the Beacon Hill Farm Manager. She later took on an administrative role with Alleycat as a Program Coordinator and now also manages the Wetmore Community Farm.

Jake has enjoyed many pursuits in life as educator, community organizer, bag monster, and landscape general contractor. Jake melded his love of environmental justice and place-making when founding Stone Soup Gardens in 2011. Stone Soup Gardens is a design/build landscape company that focuses on whole system permaculture principles, working with community organizations and residences in greater Seattle to create beautiful sustainable and delicious gardens that bring local solutions to climate change, peak oil, declining habitat, watershed pollution, and access to sustainable food. Jake has been a Rainwise contracor since 2012 and a steering committee member for the Green Infrastructure Partnership, a consortium of governments agencies, non-profits, academic institutions and businesses that meet monthly around the voluntary adoption of Green Stormwater Infrastructure. In addition to extensive work in GSI, the team at Stone Soup Gardens also offer classes, consultation and workshops around urban farming, greywater, permaculture 101, rainwater harvesting, soil building, human-mushroom relations and the Joy of Chickens. Jake is honored to be included in this year’s Northwest EcoBuilding Guild summit and looks forward to hosting a panel with two of his favorite collaborators.