STORIES FROM THE FRONTLINES
Read about participatory democracy campaigns from community organizers on the ground

Seattle, WA

Graham Street Project

The organizers of the Graham Street Project in Seattle, WA sought wide community input in visioning the Graham Street neighborhood, which is the most racially diverse neighborhood in Seattle, and used these visions to shape priorities for changing policies and moving towards greater community control of land and development. The project is facilitated by Puget Sound Sage and other community groups that make up a Community Action Team (CAT), and was initiated in response to the threat of neighborhood displacement after it was announced that a light rail station will be opened in the neighborhood in 2031. The CAT designed a planning process that would address the structural barriers of low-income and BIPOC communities and go beyond physical improvements to space. To reach over 2,000 people and deeply engage 500, the CAT convened a series of community meetings, conducted surveys of businesses, tenants, and homeowners, and organized listening sessions with members of multi-ethnic and multi-faith community groups, which were led by neighborhood cultural leaders and organizations in multiple languages. Through these modes, people from different communities articulated their visions and desires for their neighborhood. In community meetings, people participated in interactive activities to explore how they want spaces to be used. Based on what they learned, Puget Sound Sage and its partners developed a series of priorities that are shaping the next steps of their work in the neighborhood.

For more case studies and information on building participatory processes and deeper democracy, please see our report.