My family moved back into Seattle, we didn’t expect that we would still be as close to nature as we had been in the country, but how we were surprised. Only blocks from our new home we discovered the Union Bay Natural Area, owned by the University of Washington and consisting of the Yesler Swamp, Botanic Gardens and the Center for Urban Horticulture. Here we experience Beloved Community with every visit in our own neighborhood!
Walking the paths through this 90 acre tract brings to my heart and mind the Guiding Principles that move us to live in ways that sustain and enhance human life and the lives of all who dwell on Mother Earth: Starting from within, working in a circle, in a sacred manner, we heal ourselves, our relationships and our world. It is peaceful to be alone with your own pulse in such a natural setting, and the pathways are loops that form the circles of sacred practices. Yet the environment is people-friendly and it has been easy to engage with neighbors and build new relationships. Also, being in the city, there is also the connection to the hustle of daily life as evidenced by the view of Hwy 520 across the Bay, and the sight of Husky Stadium suggests the difficult conversations that are necessary to create a culture of compassion. And that brings me to the Urban Horticultural Center which has meeting facilities open to the public and available to Compassionate Northwest at no charge due to our relationships with the University. It is here that I envision holding our key planning sessions with community partners as Compassionate Northwest moves forward to achieve our mission: To inspire, promote, connect and build community around collective action to address the challenges in the community that are the root causes of suffering.
This area became a marsh in 1916 when Lake Washington was lowered to create the Lake Washington Ship Canal. For 50 years the area was used by the City of Seattle for residential and industrial solid waste. In 1971 the State enlisted the University of Washington to protect and support this 90 acre tract and they have undertaken the restoration of the area to its original habitat. The Union Bay Natural Area is now a public wildlife area and outdoor natural restoration laboratory for research, teaching and public service. It is an important habitat and with 4 miles of shoreline, it is the second largest natural system left on Lake Washington. It is considered one of the best bird-watching sites in the city of Seattle, with over 200 species of birds having been sighted here.
Union Bay Natural Area, in my experience, is a gem for the city and reflects authentically the spirit and substance of “Beloved Community”.
The Center for Urban Horticulture is located at 3501 Ne 41st St, Seattle, WA 98105