Pomegranate Center Programs
The Center has been recognized locally by Washington's 2009 Evergreen Award for breakthrough accomplishments in collaboration, by Seattle's City Club, and by the Center for Ethical Leadership. National recognition was received from the Home Shelter award. The Center's current work is to replicate its success through new projects following our model, while training new community leaders in well-proven methods.
Listening is a key component of constructive and inclusive community-based planning. We facilitate public processes that foster civic connection and commitment; help communities identify and attain common goals; find positive, sustainable solutions to problems; and build long-term leadership capacity within communities to meet future needs. No one knows a community like its own residents. Our methods give everyone equal voice in the process and ownership in the outcome.
A gathering place is a space for the entire community- what used to be called the commons- serving as a focal point for a community's civic and cultural life, and an anchor point around which new, more livable urban patterns can emerge. We work with communities to create gathering places--shared public spaces including parks, neighborhood focal points, community trails, and public artworks--that contribute to community distinction, vitality and social interaction. Our Gathering Places program focuses on communities in greatest need of generative public spaces including: low-income urban, rural and migrant farmer communities; high-density neighborhoods feeling the pressure of increasing development; and cities and towns in search of a greater sense of identity and cohesion.
Multiple Victories Workshops (MVW) is a training program designed to share our 23 years of expertise and experience with emerging community leaders. Through a series of day-long workshops (once a month for five months), MVW participants use their own community projects as the framework for developing their community leadership skills. The MVW modules, covering topics like "Convening Constructive Public Workshops," "Wiring your project for success"and "Creating lasting ownership,"bring together theory, case studies, concrete tools, role playing and real-world projects for a powerful learning opportunity. "Homework" involves applying the module topic to the participant's own project and reporting back at the next workshop. The peer support during these sessions is an incredible learning tool. Participants are additionally supported during the workshops by direct access to the Pomegranate Center team for project advice and consultations.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
The Edith Carrie neighborhood is sandwiched between Walla Walla's industrial district and the State penitentiary. Primarily housing families in poverty, this ignored neighborhood was falling into disrepair. Gang activity and drug use was rampant. In 2008, Pomegranate Center partnered with local agencies and Edith Carrie residents to turn a misused neighborhood lot into a community park. With over 1,000 hours of community volunteer time, we created an amphitheater, shelter, gateways, a kiosk, an artistic fence and a 70 ft mural. We built what the local Parks Department thought would take two years in six days - all within a $60,000 budget. The park is beautiful, but the ripple effect of that week is profound. The neighborhood has literally been transformed: residents, who had not spoken before the project, are now forming work parties, speaking at City Council, organizing outdoor movies, creating informal translator programs, planting trees, and organizing "living room" food banks to care for their neediest neighbors. When asked what they were doing before the park's construction, "Nothing," was their answer.
Shirley, a 75-year old neighbor who's lived in Edith Carrie for over 11 years, said "We hardly even knew each other, let alone cared, before we built the park."
Pomegranate Center always appreciates general support to expand our work in three arenas: community-based planning, gathering places and training. Specifically, we encourage Seattle Foundation donors to contribute to our Dig Fund. This fund helps a chosen community realize a project that is needed but has limited resources. Each year Pomegranate Center's Board and Staff choose a project from the list of communities that have asked for Pomegranate Center's assistance. The Board organizes events to raise a portion of the funds, the staff writes grants, and the chosen community raises a portion of the funds, solicits in-kind donations and volunteers. Together we create a project that could not happen otherwise. Pomegranate Center would like to grow this program so that more than one community can benefit each year.