Residents reclaiming their street through guerrilla gardening
September 1, 2010  |  Call to Action, Fun, PI

A group of residents in Pioneer Square have begun to reclaim their street, beginning with the small act of turning three planters that used to be filled with garbage and cigarette butts into gorgeous flower pots filled with petunias and geraniums. And to many residents of 80 S. Jackson street, it is just the beginning.

Leslie Haynes-Earle and Randy Earle have lived in Pioneer Square for over three years (check out this Seattle Times article), and are also the driving force behind the guerrilla gardening.

“To accentuate the positive, when I water the plants in the morning, I’m often greeted by supporters and admiring passerbys,” says Haynes-Earle. “One of the local mail carriers mentioned to me that she admonishes people who try to sit on the rim of the planters. I’ve heard her ‘Don’t do that!’ carry across the street.”

Not only do many of the residents help keep the planters garbage free, another resident in the building does his own graffiti abatement program, quickly covering any writing that appears from the previous night.

Their next project? Taking on the alley behind their building. But before they can move forward, they need more support from businesses that use the alley, including local nightclub, Aura.

Through these small acts, they feel like they are slowly reclaiming that stretch of the street that all-too-often was used for drug deals, public urination, and other unsavory acts.

I asked Leslie what she likes about living in Pioneer Square + what makes her willing to continually put effort into their street:

“I feel different when I cross over Yesler,” said Haynes-Earle. “The pace feels different on the Pioneer Square side. It’s slower. Maybe more attentive. Residents are present. And affable. And open. It’s a place of opportunity. A place where you can take a chance.

“For the smell of the brine, the view of the bay, the feel of old buildings, and well-used sidewalks. For a thousand different reasons, I’m glad to a part of the square.”

Unfortunately, on Monday, I received a note from Leslie that two of the planters had been destroyed during the night. With neither the city, nor the parking garage willing to take responsibility, she enthusiastically plans to replant all three containers with fall flowers. Mums, she thinks, and possibly ornamental kale or cabbage.


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