This article is part of the ARCADE Issue 36.2 feature, “Seattle’s Ethos: Changes in our Shared Space,” in which members of the Magnuson Park and Central Area communities share their thoughts about what has happened and is happening in their neighborhoods. Articles from the issue will release online over the following weeks. Subscribe to receive ARCADE in print.

Four children swimming and wading in Lake Washington

Magnuson Park residents cooling off in Lake Washington. Photo by Carter Sylvia

I often tell people that Magnuson Park is my all-time favorite place to live and for good reason. It is the most diverse place I have ever lived. Our community members have come here from many different countries and a variety of continents; they are many different races and ethnicities. We speak a number of languages, cook foods new to each other. We play music that many of our neighbors might not have otherwise heard and wear clothing most of us started out not fully understanding. We worship a variety of Gods, but many of us are praying for the same things.

When most of us moved to Magnuson Park in 2014, the absence of the cultural bedrocks—like churches, multicultural centers, and large groups of immigrants—that are normally characteristic of African American, Latino, refugee, and immigrant communities left many people feeling disconnected and out of their element. Invisible borders formed around the park that we are still trying to rid ourselves of today. We lacked the usual pillars of community and had to create them ourselves.

Building our community started with our children making friends. Acts of kindness that transcend language were used as communication: freshly cut fruit, a plate of foods you’d never eaten, or insisting your child take another child’s toy as a gift. Recognizing the value of our diverse cultural histories has helped us bond with those different from ourselves. We are still striving to integrate into our neighborhood beyond the park and look forward to a time when housing tenure no longer defines who we count among our community.