Moving Forest Restoration, Artistry and Equitable Housing Stewardship Forward: A Night in the Woods to Remember

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Photo identification description: With towering evergreen trees on an overcast day and a perfectly manicured lawn, many guests converse with each other while standing at multiple circular bar tables outfitted with maroon-colored tablecloths. A few tent coverings are scattered throughout, and to the left is a vendor table from Footprint Wine Tap and Adrice Wines.

A glance into our annual Wine in the Woods event in the West Seattle neighborhood. Approximately 55 of our supporters came from all over Seattle to support our mission!

As we set forth for a lively summer programming season, the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association (DNDA) hosted Wine in the Woods on June 1st to celebrate community, passion for art, and dedication to environmental justice.  

Our team was filled with joy as we reminisced about the magical evening we all shared at Wine in the Woods, nestled in the heart of Southwest Seattle. Our neighbor and longtime supporter, Maryanne Tagney, graciously opened their lush forest landscape to our new supporters, community sponsors, and board members, providing a breathtaking view of Vashon Island in the distance. This year, we were thrilled to open this intimate evening to the public with Stacey Ejim MCing to foster connections among neighbors over Wine provided by Footprint Wine Tap and Adrice Wines, followed up with delectable bites by That Brown Girl Cooks Catering, Seattle Sorbets, and Brown Girl Charcuterie. The local music ensemble, The Interterrestrials, led by Benjamin Hunter, set a Jazzy tone. Artists Kay Burnett and Malcolm Procter showcased their exceptional skills by live painting items for auction, including portraits and vases, further enhancing the artisanal spirit of the event.  

Photo identification description: Two differently shaped hand-painted vases 15 inches tall and 6 inches wide by a local Black artist named Malcolm Proctor take up the entire photo frame. One vase is rectangular, while the other vase is oblong-shaped. They are painted with the same ombre effect of colors, starting with highlighter yellow, lime green, then teal, Cobalt blue, and black on the bottom – each intentional linear brushstroke, squiggly, chevron and circular shapes replicating tribal symbolism bleeds downwards into each other and blends colors well while showing peeks of a white background. 

The mesmerizing result of local Black artist Malcolm Proctor’s live vase painting.

Wine in the Woods was more than just a fundraiser; it was a testament to our neighborhood’s collective generosity and dedication. We are thrilled to announce that the event raised over $13,000, which will benefit Southwest Seattle and contribute to the incredible work that DNDA has been doing for over 27 years (and counting!).   

Mesha Florentino, DNDA’s co-executive Director, elaborated on our commitment to the neighborhood: “As part of our mission to build and sustain a dynamic Delridge, we know all too well that families are struggling to find affordable housing across this city, including here at home,” announcing that “As we maintain our seven affordable housing properties, we are also acquiring two new properties with multiple units. By increasing the availability of affordable housing, we can ensure that everyone — regardless of income — has access to safe, quality homes, and therefore, the ability to thrive.”  

One of the most remarkable aspects of DNDA’s efforts is its commitment to environmental stewardship through programs like the Urban Forest Restoration Program. DNDA’s Environmental Education Coordinator, Jules Hepp, spoke about the Environmental Justice program and the Summer Youth program, which serve youth from our affordable housing communities in Delridge and High Point. They noted: “The goals of our programs are to have youth feel connected to their local environment. We provide space for our youth to learn more about their community, get involved and feel proud of how they help our collective land and waterways. Throughout our Environmental Justice program, youth learn the history of our landscape, see how local issues of environmental and social justice impact them and our local places and learn ways to make changes to build thriving futures. Many kids pull away from our programming with a real responsibility for their neighborhood, which stays with them for life.” This initiative enhances the natural beauty of our surroundings and promotes sustainability and ecological resilience—a legacy that will continue to inspire people of all ages to be stewards of our intrinsically connected waterways and landscapes.  

Imani Sims, DNDA’s co-executive Director, had exciting updates on the Historic Youngstown Cultural Arts Center where DNDA lives: “In just a few short weeks, our new theater and commercial kitchen will be complete (…) which offers the community the opportunity to once again enjoy live performances from local artists in the heart of Delridge.” Further, the Nature team accomplished completing construction at Delridge Wetland Park earlier this year: “…the gathering space and outdoor classroom was brought to life by youth from local elementary schools, and our Nature team has been maintaining the site with help from restoration volunteers. This green space is a sustainable model for water filtration to be replicated in other urban areas, a haven for local wildlife, and a peaceful retreat for residents.”  

Photo identification description: With a substantially large light-purple colored Rhododendron flowering in the background, three of DNDA’s executive leadership team stand next to each other while smiling gleefully. From left to right, Co-executive director Imani Sims wears a navy-blue suit outfitted with bright highlighter yellow dress shirt and a large-brimmed hat. Board President Shannon Woodard stands with their hands in their pockets in a collared Black silk crop top and wide pants decorated by a gold chain belt. Co-executive director Mesha Florentino tilts their head, posing with one hand on their hip wearing a colorful painterly blazer and Black pants and shirt.

(From left to right) Co-executive director Imani Sims, Board President Shannon Woodard, and co-executive director Mesha Florentino.

From leading the way in affordable housing to driving restorative environmental justice programs and providing vital access to youth arts initiatives, DNDA’s profound influence on our community is profound and far-reaching. Each initiative is a testament to our collective commitment to building and sustaining a dynamic Delridge, and we are proud to be part of this journey.  

As we toast the success of Wine in the Woods and DNDA’s ongoing work, we want to take a moment to express our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who made the event possible. Your contributions, whether as organizers, volunteers, sponsors, or attendees, were invaluable and played a significant role in the success of the evening. We are truly in awe of the tangible collective efforts that integrated Art, Nature, and Neighborhood to build and sustain a dynamic Delridge. The ripple effects of your support will be felt for years to come, and we are excited to continue growing as your cherished community hub, showcasing more of our capabilities. Thank you for being part of our journey.  

Let’s carry the spirit of generosity and solidarity forward! Mark your calendars for our next event Destination Delridge on October 5th, 2024! This year, we have an exciting lineup of Casino-themed activities, including blackjack, roulette, a silent auction, and performances by local artists that promise to be a night to remember. As always, continue to check out more of our website for community restoration volunteer opportunities, organizational updates, and free art classes to unleash your creativity.  

With that, we’d like to thank our special sponsors who have joined us in this effort! 

SRM Development  

LISC Puget Sound 

Julie Ralph and Carlos Perez of Pedersen’s Event Rentals    

Ralene Simmons of Ralene Simmons Interiors  

Tom Sims of Team Logic IT 

Daisha Nilsen of Daish Coaching and Wellness  

Ken Dillon of Footprint Wine Tap