In the past five years, Bellevue has seen tremendous growth and economic investment. However, Bellevue is struggling with the pains of growth, including a lack of affordable housing, increasing homelessness, and the struggle of seniors to afford “aging in place.” With increased development, concerns about environmental sustainability and a decline in sense of community have grown. Bellevue’s featured projects reflect collaborative efforts to mitigate these growing pains and create an equitable and resilient place for all residents to call home.
Inspirational Playground: A Castle for Every Princess!
The City of Bellevue had several creative and inclusive services for those with disabilities and their families, but the community saw a need to do more.
The Bellevue Rotary Club approached the city about creating an inclusive playground designed for children of all abilities. As the rotary club met with the city and the community, a vision for Inspiration Playground began to take shape, and Downtown Park was identified as an ideal place.
The next step was to engage the community for greater understanding and input. A “Play for All Expo” was held in the Downtown Park to share the Inspiration Playground concept with the community, and to celebrate and learn about community support programs for people living with disabilities. The city and the rotary club continued to engage stakeholders and the community on playground design. Specific effort was made to solicit input from parents with children with disabilities.
Next, the Rotary Club of Bellevue led a multi-year community-wide fundraising campaign, with over 25 organizations, and numerous individual donors contributing to the 4.5-million-dollar project.
By 2017, the city completed construction of Inspiration Playground and celebrated the opening ceremony. Inspiration Playground is now an inclusive play space enjoyed regionally by families and individuals of all ages and abilities, who play and explore at their own pace.
Additionally, trained community playground ambassadors volunteer to help make the playground fun and inclusive. They are energetic and enthusiastic, easy to talk to, and accessible for children who need assistance or have questions.
Diversity Advantage Initiative: Learning and Responding
Bellevue’s Diversity Advantage Initiative was created by the community working with the city to create specific recommendations around the areas of cultural competence within both the city organization and community.
The Diversity Advantage Initiative is advanced by the Bellevue City Council and the Leadership Team, Bellevue Diversity Advisory Network (BDAN), and The Diversity Advantage Team.
Building Cultural Competency within City Government
The city has worked to advance the Diversity Advantage Plan and to apply the principles of equity, access, and inclusion within department specific workplans. A sample of actions include:
Building Cultural Competency in the Community
In a normal year, the focus on building community cultural competence is centered around public programs that provide cultural learning and interaction such as Welcoming Week, Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebrations, and several others.
In response to the uniqueness of 2020, the Diversity Advantage Team provided a progress update on the Diversity Advantage Plan during a Diversity Summit, featuring community sessions on racial equity.
The Diversity Advantage Initiative has specific recommendations on how to advance and improve the civic engagement of the entire community:
The recommendations are viewed as work assignments for departments to track efforts and progress.
Jubilee Reach and the Community: Meeting Crucial Needs in a Pandemic
Jubilee REACH serves the children, youth and families of Bellevue through school site coaches, ESL classes at the Jubilee Center, a thrift store, and community service days to provide service to seniors and vulnerable adults.
When the COVID-19 lockdown began, Jubilee REACH listened to the families already being served and decided to redirect efforts and become an essential service to help the most vulnerable in the following ways.