There were so many people in attendance at last night's inaugural meeting for Mike McGinn's Youth and Families Initiative that groups had to gather in the lobby and hallways of the Rainier Community Center. Teams, they were called, churned out lists of rants.
Paul Patu says all this talk won't help if nothing actually gets done.
"Youth violence is a concern," a woman named Shentel told her group. Everyone around her nodded in agreement and it went on a poster-sized sheet of paper to be taped to the wall later. By 8 p.m., the walls and windows were covered with the sheets ticking off problems impacting Southside families including safety, rising living costs and keeping kids in school.
After weeks of butting heads with the city council, picking fights with legislators, and having almost no one show up at a public meeting on selecting the new police chief, McGinn was all smiles. "I'm really, really enthused by the turnout," he said.
But now he's under pressure to actually do something for everyone who showed up.It won't be easy. One woman wants McGinn to do more to get quality teachers in struggling schools, but that's not really under the city's purview.
And as to curbing violence, anyone running a little late to the meeting got caught in traffic at the intersection of MLK Way and Rainier Ave. after it was blocked off by squad cars and police tape when a man was shot outside a cheesesteak shop at the Mt. Baker transit station. Community dialogue doesn't make people stop trying to kill each other.
"What's frustrating is when you have talk, talk, talk and no action, action, action," says Paul Patu, who is running the discussion for Team 3. But he isn't entirely cynical. "If I didn't have a little bit of hope, I wouldn't be here."