Environmental Works News April 2015

In this edition of environmental WORKS News:

  • Urban & Rural Shelter: The Caroline W. Apartments & Crossroads Housing
  • environmental WORKS Celebrates 45 Years!
  • GiveBIG on May 5th

Urban & Rural Shelter: The Caroline W. Apartments & Crossroads Housing

Capitol Hill, Seattle and Shelton, Mason County could not be more different when it comes to context. While Capitol Hill sits near the center of an energetic, growing city, Shelton’s location at the southernmost tip of Puget Sound offers forested hills, farm and dairy fields, and oyster cultivation in quiet harbors. Capitol Hill, like most of Seattle, is bustling with new developments while Shelton struggles to recover from economic downturns that challenge possibilities for growth. Both places, however, are home to people facing homelessness.

The Caroline W. Apartments

For Community House Mental Health Agency, serving clients with chronic mental health issues while being part of the fabric of Capitol Hill is part of their mission – to serve where the need is great and be part of the neighborhood, not removed from it. A gracious gift to create permanent housing for homeless individuals from a longtime board member, Caroline W., inspired the creation of this building—from its wide, cedar lined front porch welcoming residents home, to the warm, inviting spaces inside. Artist Melissa Koch created several custom pieces for the Caroline W. Colorful cut-metal art panels under windows incorporate healing quotes by Robert Hunter, friend of Caroline and longtime lyricist for the Grateful Dead, giving residents and passersby the opportunity to reflect or meditate. The musical theme is continued in decorative bands surrounding a column outside the front door, which itself is opened via a cast bronze drumstick door pull. In the lobby, a poem written by Hunter in Caroline’s memory frames a mosaic mural, and a whimsical ceramic column enlivens the space.

The Caroline W.’s five stories house forty-four 270 square foot studio apartments for single clients. Each apartment offers an efficient, comfortable space with private kitchen and bath. Apartments and corridors are flooded with natural light through large windows that also provide natural ventilation. A roof deck offers magnificent views to the city beyond. While art at the building entry offers warmth and respite, the durability of surfaces and finishes provides a grounded atmosphere of healing and recovery. The new building is sited to sensitively preserve an existing large chestnut tree and create a large yard with native landscaping. Within five years, Community House expects to install solar hot water panels for increased energy savings. Many clients arrive at the Caroline W. with only a bag of clothing and for these fragile residents, the stability of having a place to call home as well as access to on-site case management services greatly aids their successful development and recovery.

Crossroads Housing

In Shelton, a highway borders Crossroads Housing’s shelter for homeless families; the shelter’s design and color stand-out from the traffic blur in and out of town. Adjacent to the shelter, Crossroads’ eight-unit apartment complex offers an affordable housing option to families transitioning out of shelter life. Together, these recently completed buildings offer Mason County community members a safe, dry and warm place compared to the aged, leaking and often flooded facilities of the past.

As the only provider of services for homeless families in the area, Crossroads Housing knew exactly the type of facility that was needed, yet they had no experience in construction or design. With Environmental Works’ design and project management assistance, Crossroads Housings’ goals were met: a residential expression for both buildings which include compact shelter space for seven families and eight units of permanent housing where families can heal together. The Great Room is a focal point — a space for gatherings and classes for those taking part in shelter programs, those living in the apartments and the community at large. Crossroads staff have seen their space improve as well, replacing desks on the path to a bathroom with dedicated offices and ample space to help clients.

The undertaking of a new facility was daunting to Crossroads Housing, but they were not deterred by difficult site conditions. Beauty was also a key element on their wish list. For a small logging town, grit is often more abundant than beauty – but for families that are healing and rebuilding, comfort and beauty are essential.

While the contrasts between the Caroline W. and Crossroads Housing are many, so are the similarities: both serve their clients with great levels of community support and help their clients meld into the fabric of everyday life in their communities. Both projects came to reality through tight sites, budgets and timelines to serve fragile populations well into the future with sustainable, solid buildings that fulfill organizational missions.

To learn more about Community House Mental Health Agency, go to www.chmha.organd for information on Crossroads Housing, go to www.crossroads-housing.net.

environmental WORKS Celebrates 45 Years!

Environmental Works was founded in April of 1970. To commemorate the occasion, the founding “Environmental Workers”—University of Washington students and faculty—salvaged extra daffodils from the Pierce County Daffodil Festival and handed them out across the UW campus on the first Earth Day.

This year we’re celebrating our 45th anniversary in the same way: giving away daffodils to our neighbors on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2015. Stop by outside our home at the old Fire Station 7 (402 15th Avenue East) from 4pm till 6pm to say hello and pick up your own 45th Anniversary Environmental Works daffodil. We’d love to see you!

**Missing our Annual Earth Day Parklet?** Not to worry! We have a new tenant, Station 7, moving into the retail space on our ground floor, with renovations currently underway. Plans include a permanent parklet space in front of the firehouse doors. We will soon be celebrating Station 7’s opening with a community event in front of the building, stay tuned for more information, coming soon!

GiveBIG 2015 is Coming!

The Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG is a one-day, online charitable giving event to inspire people to give generously to nonprofit organizations who make our region a healthier and more vital place to live.

This year we are partnering with WestSide Baby, a local nonprofit social service agency that collects, inspects and distributes free diapers, clothing, cribs and safety gear for babies and children of low-income families. More than 120 local social service agencies, including shelters and food banks, rely upon WestSide Baby to provide critical necessities for low-income families.

WestSide Baby is growing and moving into a larger building nearby. They need help planning the needed modifications to the existing building and getting a building permit – and they need it fast. A recent electrical fire in their current space has made providing these important services even more challenging.

All funds raised through GiveBIG on May 5th will be directed toward providing space planning and permitting services for WestSide Baby’s relocation. Please consider supporting WestSide Baby and Environmental Works for this year’s GiveBIG — more information to come!