Kristin O'Donnell loves meetings. "Absolutely my hobby. I do enjoy meetings," she tells me over a cup of tea in the Panama Hotel. Meetings, she says, offer a way to affect change in her community. And besides, she likes to put on a show. "To a large extent community organizing is theater; it works just often enough that I'm hooked."
Yesler Terrace is Seattle's oldest public housing project. It was revolutionary when it was completed in 1940. In the near future, though, it will be completely demolished.
In its place will sprout a series of high rise towers with a limited number of low-income housing units alongside up to 4,000 market-rate private housing units, offices, retail and commercial spaces. The ultimate goal, says the Seattle Housing Authority, is to create a sustainable, healthy, mixed-income neighborhood.
It's a radical plan, controversial, and every bit as transformational as that which gave rise to Yesler Terrace in 1940.