By Linda Wallace

Author's thoughts on the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

White Center

Yesterday, I played tour guide for my community. When I invited a friend from the Eastside to dinner, she confessed to being afraid to drive through White Center. She envisioned tattooed gangsters with guns standing on every street corner. She agreed to come but only if she could bring another one of our friends along for support.

I’ve been attending White Center Community Development Association meetings for several months, so I had a fair amount of knowledge about the many current and scheduled improvements I could share with my guests. I chauffeured them around the business district, pointing out the international flavor of stores like the Heng Heng Market and restaurants such as the Salvadorean Bakery, Thai Thai, Pho’ and the Moon Indian Grill. There are many more, but those are some of my personal favorites. We visited the schools, including our two newly built, beautiful elementary buildings, White Center Heights and Mount View, and our libraries and parks.

I took particular pride in showing my friends the parks where I’ve worked as a steward planting and maintaining native plants. One of "my" parks, White Center Heights, is scheduled for a $550,000 renovation by the Starbucks Neighborhood Parks Program. The makeover is scheduled in June to take place over seven days using volunteer labor. Guess who’s going to be one of those volunteers?

My guests were suitably impressed with the neighborhood and enthused most satisfactorily at each site. The friend who’s a real estate agent was especially interested in Greenbridge, a mixed-income development of one hundred acres that potentially will house 3,500 people in 1,000 homes. The photo is from the King County Housing Authority Web site. I appreciated my guests’ interest, but what was most rewarding was by the end of the evening my friend decided she could visit me in the future with having someone along to ride shotgun.

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