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✨ Seattle People’s Fellows Spotlight: Hanna, Kalie, Aleyanna!

Seattle People's Fellows at an outreach event with collaborators First row second from the left: Aleyanna' Third from the left: Kalie
Seattle People's Fellows at an outreach event with collaborators First row second from the left: Aleyanna' Third from the left: Kalie

The Seattle People’s Fellows have played a key role in engaging with youth to get as many as possible involved in Seattle’s historic PB process. They co-created and tested a tailored engagement strategy to connect with and involve young people in the People’s Budget process.

The Fellows’ approach involves attending community events where young people are already likely to be and partnering with four youth serving organizations to host exciting events. These have included Skate meet-ups with Skate Like a Girl, and a youth open mic and free dinner where youth could suggest ideas for PB at the Rhapsody Project’s Black & Tan Hall.

We recently got the chance to interview a handful of our fellows about what the fellowship has been like for them. Read what they shared below! 

Seattle People's Fellow - Kalie
Kalie

Why did you become a fellow?

At first, I became a fellow because I knew $27 million dollars was a lot of funds to support the city and I wanted to be an active participant in witnessing and supporting the historic process to ensure it would go well. I was also about to be a first-year in college and knew the Fellowship would be a unique, valuable experience that would help me explore the field of community work and civic engagement. 

Later on, though, the fellowship helped me realize my love for my city and desire for its negative reputation to be changed by becoming a better place for its residents.

What has been your role in the fellowship? Why were you interested in that role?

I am both a facilitator and platform moderator, which means I not only have a large part in going to in-person events to do community outreach to build the public’s knowledge of PB and facilitate idea collection conversations, but also do the backend of inputting those ideas into our digital participation platform and putting in their City evaluations. I also sometimes monitor, update, and livestream at events for the Fellowship instagram. 

I wanted to be a facilitator because I love being in-person, at events, and interacting with the community in a way that builds power, trust, and solidarity. I ended up also becoming a platform moderator because I was curious about what kinds of ideas community members would submit, so I have personally read a lot of the submitted ideas.

What tips do you have for other folx looking to engage youth in our democracy? 

A tip I have for folx looking to engage youth in democracy is to genuinely treat youth right and see them as equals. What I mean by this is to show that you value them, support them, and center them, not just during public matters, but also internal matters. It really shows when an organization artificially includes youth to benefit from them and look good on a surface level, but doesn’t actually value them from an internal, hierarchical standpoint. Youth have sometimes been strategically used, undervalued, or exploited in activism, so when youth can tell that they are genuinely valued, they will trust and cooperate more authentically in return.

Seattle People's Fellow, Aleyanna
Aleyanna

Why did you become a fellow?

I became a fellow because I felt like the style of the process was groundbreaking, and I wanted to be a part of something significant. I did a lot of youth empowerment work as a teen, and I wanted to lend my skills as a young adult for a cause this important.

What has been your role in the fellowship? Why were you interested in that role?

My role has primarily been public speaking and being a liaison between community/community based orgs and the PBP. I love connecting with folks on a mass level by speaking publicly about what we do, but I also love the 1:1 connections. These smaller conversations really make this process impactful, and make youth feel seen, heard, and empowered. 

Oftentimes people and systems in power do “charity” or make other half baked efforts to support marginalized communities. These opportunities are (I dare say purposefully) inaccessible to said communities or simply aren’t impactful because barely anyone of that lived experience gets to be a part of the planning. Then when the community doesn’t show up/doesn’t show up in excellence they get blamed for it and biases get confirmed. 

I was interested in my role because youth as young as 10 could be involved, which is revolutionary. [The Steering Committee set the age minimum at 15 for voting however.] I fully believe that Black and Indigenous youth are more than capable of creating the change we seek, and I’m determined to support that however I can. I want to be able to connect with folks, answer any questions they have and empower them to participate even if they feel unsure or don’t feel the most “articulate”. And I love making connections between community partners and the PBP because it just shows that the community is capable of huge things when given the space and resources to succeed.

What have you learned so far doing community engagement in Seattle? 

I’ve learned that when people feel seen, heard, and empowered they are so eager to participate. Seeing the generational excitement to share ideas has been so beautiful to me. You have grandmothers speaking into existence ideas they’ve had for decades, then finding out their grandkids can participate as well and encouraging them to share. You have families supporting youth artists that have participated in our open mic, and young adults excited that they can get paid to do what they’re naturally talented in. In short, there’s never a shortage of brilliance when that brilliance is uplifted. 

Seattle People's Fellow, Hanna, sits in front of a laptop, smiling into the camera
Hanna

Why did you become a fellow?

I became a fellow because I wanted to connect with and empower the Seattle community!  PB represents an incredible opportunity to make a positive impact on our city by involving the people who live here in decision-making processes. With over $27 million of funding available, I saw this as an amazing opportunity to address critical issues that affect many people here.

What has been your role in the fellowship? Why were you interested in that role?

I am a part of the Coalition Builders team and while a few of my responsibilities depended on the phase/stage we were in throughout the process, I mainly manage our Instagram page! I have held positions in Public Relations at other organizations in the past and really enjoyed having the ability to bridge two or more communities together. Since the account’s creation at the end of 2022, we have grown to over 300 followers, allowing us to reach many different communities here in Seattle!

What has been your favorite event to be a part of?

My favorite event would have to be either the SkateLikeAGirl Idea Collection event or tabling at GIRLVOLUTION with OurPowerfulVoices! I love how being a fellow has given me the opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone and as a complete novice skateboarder, while I wasn’t sure what to expect, I left feeling very inspired! The GIRLVOLUTION event was held on my college campus so while it was a familiar setting, it was my first tabling event, and I had so much fun learning from my peers and connecting with new organizations.

To learn more about the People’s Budget, Seattle’s historic PB process, visit PBSeattle.org.  To keep up with the Seattle People’s fellows, follow them on Instagram!

PBP helps communities decide how to improve using public money.

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