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'Find It, Fix It' Walks Urge South Seattle Residents To Point Out Problems

City of Seattle
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signs kids' bike during a recent "Find It, Fix It" walk in south Seattle.

Imagine being able to turn to the person walking next to you and say, “Could you fix that streetlight?” That’s been the experience for people in south Seattle who’ve taken part this summer in what Mayor Ed Murray calls “Find It, Fix It” walks.

On a recent warm Tuesday evening, I tagged along on one of these walks. There were neighbors, the mayor and city employees holding up “clipboards, clipboards — there we go, we’re talking clipboards,” said Seattle Police Capt. John Hayes, Jr., our guide for the two-hour trek. On the clipboards, they were to record problems residents pointed out.

On Rainier Avenue, Hayes stopped us on the sidewalk in front of the Lucky Devil Tattoo Parlor, Tagla’s Ethiopian Café and Delight Medical Marijuana shop.

“We want folks to see the businesses here. It’s really important that you know they are open, that they doing their part to try and help the community,” Hayes said.

These walks are part of the city of Seattle’s summer of safety initiative, an effort to focus attention on crime hot spots. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced the plan following a series of deadly shootings in the south end. I caught up with clipboard-holder Jacob Chin to find out what was on the top of people’s minds here.

“It’s like asking for more crosswalks on Rainier. There’s complaints about trash cans,” Chin said.

So, traffic and litter. The city says research shows taking care of such everyday things can make a dent in crime.

Walking along a weedy stretch of broken sidewalk, Mariko Lockhart, who runs the city’s youth violence prevention initiative, said a place like this just isn’t conducive to building a health community.

“Really, who would come and stroll here, because it’s filthy and there’s garbage. So if people did feel comfortable, you’d have more human traffic, which means more guardianship,” Lockhart said. And, she said, there would be less crime.

A man carrying a Starbucks drink crossed the street near Lockhart. She asked him to join the walk. He declined, but when we asked him what concerns him the most, he thought for a moment then shared his thoughts.

“OK, you know what? My nephew got hit right there on MLK and Walden. His name is Trayvon, and he’s still like not walking,” said Marcus McLin, adding he’d like better street lighting. Mariko made note of McLin's concern on her clipboard.

Later, city departments will get together to review all the requests and decide which action to take. Seattle’s next Find It, Fix It walk takes place on Tuesday, Aug. 12.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.