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How Seattle’s Delridge neighborhood is more than a shortcut to the airport

The first meeting in the DNDA's "Let's Talk About Race" series on Jan. 13, 2018. (Tanisha Frazier, Moments Captured Photography)

The Delridge area of West Seattle — sandwiched between West Seattle and White Center — is a neighborhood that’s managed to find a balance between working with the local government and being largely self-sufficient.

Overall, many view Delridge as the city equivalent of a flyover state.

“My knowledge of the Delridge area is it’s a shortcut between West Seattle and the airport,” KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross joked.

For the people living there, though, it’s a diverse, vibrant community. Leading that charge is the Delridge Neighborhood Development Association, a local nonprofit “devoted to social, racial and environmental justice.”

“It’s been an interesting challenge for our group to sort of help highlight the identity of the neighborhood,” DNDA Executive Director David Bestock told Ross. “I think what’s made our organization particularly successful, is being focused on the needs of the people in the neighborhood.”

The DNDA works with the city, county, and state governments, but largely operates as a grassroots organization that looks to accomplish what government officials can’t.

“I’m not waiting for them to fulfill their promises … they can only do so much,” noted Bestock.

How this Seattle community is talking about race

More than that, the group functions as a platform for Delridge residents who are unable to have their voices heard.

Not everyone has the time to speak out at council meetings or get deeply involved in local government. As a signal boost for those people, the DNDA is integral to letting city officials know exactly what the concerns of the neighborhood are.

“Those folks in neighborhoods that have more access to resources have a higher expectation for what their neighborhood ought to be,” said Bestock. “They may also have more time to be in City Hall advocating for their needs. Folks who are working two jobs and taking care of their family aren’t able to show up at those city meetings, and that’s where I see the role of DNDA and organizations like ours — we’re able to provide that voice for a lot of folks who maybe wouldn’t otherwise be heard in those positions.”

When an issue does pop up, Bestock sees it as a chance groups like his to take action, rather than wait for someone else to fix it. It’s with that proactive philosophy that the DNDA looks to get Delridge on the map as one of Seattle’s premier neighborhoods.

“I don’t think you should wait for anyone to notice a problem — if you notice it and you want to fix it, get right to it,” he said.

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