Sleeves rolled up, all hands on deck.
Nearly 150 volunteers, or “Change Agents,” as organizer Linh Thai called them, turned up for Operation Clean Street in Little Saigon on Jan. 15. It was a combined effort of The Mission Continues, Friends of Little Saigon, and the City of Seattle.
Donned in KN95 masks, safety gloves, trash pickers, and trash bags, the Change Agents split up into smaller groups to clean their assigned grid.
Thai told volunteers, “We are here because we are making a commitment to tackle these challenges together in the spirit and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today and every day in 2022. If you and I are committed to that, the collective impact will be felt, and we are the catalysts for positive change in our community. Your presence and leadership confirm this belief.”
It’s a good start for 2022 and the new Bruce Harrell administration.
The new mayor had emphasized public safety in his inauguration speech, noting that he wants to create a “one Seattle” where “we all feel safe and supported.”
Right now, Little Saigon feels supported. Now, it is seen and heard, after years of what has felt like neglect, despite several pleas to rid the streets of trash and bad actors, someone has decided to step up and take action.
“Let’s be realistic about our impact on one day of work,” Thai said. “It won’t solve long and enduring issues and challenges confronting this neighborhood and other neighborhoods around this city.”
We agree. Operation Clean Street was a great first step. And we hope to see more—that this isn’t just a one-off.
We were happy to witness elected officials, such as King County Councilmembers Joe McDermott and Girmay Zahilay, Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales, state Sen. Joe Nguyen, and Congressman Adam Smith, get dirty. This is the only kind of dirt we want to see our politicians involved in! And we want to see more involvement from other officials and community leaders—perhaps with their family members and children, as a show of confidence to the general public that it is safe to come here.
We’re tired of the old news of robberies, thefts, assaults, shootings, and drug-dealing in the open.
We want fresh news of businesses thriving and booming because visitors are no longer afraid and are flocking in record numbers to experience all that Little Saigon and Chinatown have to offer.
Yes, please! Let 2022, the Year of the Tiger, be the year that the entire city will hear the roar of our community—and it will not be a cry for help, but rather a thunderous roar of our strength and prosperity.