New green spaces are coming to Tacoma neighborhoods


Areas of Tacoma will receive new green space for play and recreation, and they will also be close to residents’ homes. As part of the Green Schoolyards program, the outdoor play areas at six Tacoma public schools will benefit from significant upgrades that students can enjoy in the school and the wider community after school hours as safe and rich parks. in nature.

The Green Schoolyards program is a collaboration between The Trust for Public Land, Tacoma Public School and Metro Parks Tacoma. IDEA (Industrial Design, Engineering and Art) High School is also on the list. These will serve as pilot sites to test the process and results with the possibility of improving outdoor spaces in more schools in Tacoma in the future.

According to David Patton, director of the North West region for The Trust for Public Land, the Green Schoolyards program grew out of the Trust’s 10-minute walk campaign started a decade ago to ensure that everything everyone has access to a park or green space within a 10-minute walk of their home. He said that in Washington state, Tacoma is the largest city with the greatest 10-minute walking gap.

“About 31% of Tacoma residents do not have access to a quality park within a 10-minute walk of their homes. In order to truly meet the needs of Tacoma and the communities that have the greater gap analysis … a great way to solve the problem while using the existing public space. As a result, we also recognized that in many of these places we had to look at the quality of the spaces themselves. This is how we arrived at this great program. ”

The first pilot sites will serve more than 25,000 people in the eastern neighborhoods of Tacoma. This work will increase the percentage of Tacoma residents living near parks from 69% to 75%, which is in line with Metro Parks’ target. achieve 100 percent coverage by 2030. Since the Green Schoolyards program is not underway anywhere else in the state at this point, it is hoped that other municipalities will take notice of what is happening. going to Tacoma and will institute their own methods of making their schoolyards thrive in the park’s public spaces.

On October 6, MP Marilyn Strickland and White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) President Brenda Mallory visited Jennie Reed Elementary School to see for herself the groundbreaking yard work there. planned.

“Sustainable infrastructure like the Green Schoolyards Project at Reed Elementary can help students thrive, respect environmental justice and make lasting improvements in our communities,” Strickland said. “I applaud The Trust for Public Land, Metro Parks Tacoma and Tacoma Public Schools for their efforts and look forward to working with CEQ President Mallory, the Biden administration and community partners to increase green spaces in our poorly served neighborhoods.

Funding comes from public and private sources, including grants from Metro Parks, Tacoma and Washington State Public Schools, and private philanthropic dollars. The Trust for Public Land is also looking to include wording in President Biden’s “Build Back Better” legislation. ensure that schoolyards are acceptable recipients of school capital construction funds and ensure that there is dedicated funding for this purpose.

The Jennie Reed playground is clearly in need of improvement.

Right now, the visible condition of Jennie Reed’s playground is proof that it needs to be improved. With I-5 running parallel to it, highway dust and noise pollution can be overwhelming for autistic students in particular. The playground is strewn with bare spots and weeds, and the race track is a dirt road where crooked pegs are not uncommon. The Green Schoolyards program will bring in new trees and plantings to buffer I-5 intrusions, an outdoor classroom will be created, and there will be a nature-rich area for children with new play features. The basketball court will be upgraded and additional swings will be installed, which Jennie Reed’s young students said they wanted because they were instrumental in the design of the space.

Jennie Reed’s principal, Abby Sloan, said that each year she asks students what they would like to do with the budget she sets aside for the use of the “student voice.”

“Every year the ‘new playground’ comes near the top – every year,” she said. “TThe general state of our playground is catastrophic. It’s no one’s fault in Tacoma right now, but the decisions of times gone by.

She said Jennie Reed’s Green Schoolyards program is “years of student voices finally coming to fruition. It’s the red line and structures of systemic racism that are somewhat balanced where we get a new playing field and a new field that says, “You count. ‘”

The Trust for Public Land ensures that student feedback is both heard and applied to the design. For 12 weeks, TPL was at Jennie Reed and Stafford Elementary applying their curriculum to the process of respecting student voices.

“We’ve been doing this type of program for about 25 years now from New York where we’ve done over 250 schools,” Patton said. “The idea is to involve children, to have them participate in the design and ownership of it so that once created, they not only have this great playground rich in nature; they can also be proud to have been part of it.

Sloan said it can do wonders for students’ self-esteem, confidence, and even academic performance. “When you know that you have the power to influence your environment and that an academic, social or emotional challenge presents itself to you, why is it any different? The thought is, ‘I can change my situation.’ This growth mindset applies to everything. The brain science behind it all is, “I have the power. If I have the power of voice, I have the power to learn.

The community is expected to start seeing construction begin at Jennie Reed and Stafford Elementary this spring, with the goal of completing construction in time for the start of the 2022/23 school year.

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