Project Partners :
With the Trust for Public Land and the City of Wenatchee as primary partners, the renovation of Kiwanis-Methow Park was an occasion to unite dozens of organizations and hundreds of community members. Partnering organizations represented the arts (Museum and Cultural Center and the Numerica Performing Arts Center), civic life (Latino Community Fund and the City of Wenatchee), public health (Wenatchee Health Department), and the environment (the Trust for Public Land and Wenatchee Parks Department), all whom shared the goal to provide better quality places for the residents of Wenatchee to engage and recreate. The Parque Padrinos—or godparents of the park—emerged as a “friends of” group from the design and community engagement process.
What started this project?
The neighborhood of South Wenatchee is predominantly Latino and has been largely under-resourced, which was especially noticeable in the absence of quality parks. Originally built in the 1930s, Kiwanis-Methow Park remained poorly maintained, underutilized, and generally deactivated to the point that the park was a blight on the community. The last new park to be created in South Wenatchee was in the 1950s, making the neighborhood a prime area to invest in park improvements.
South Wenatchee is a vibrant community in mid-Washington state known for its verdant apple orchards which has drawn a large population of Latino migrant workers over the years. Partners worked closely with the community in the development of a park renovation that will provide a platform to engage with nature and culture. A kiosko–or traditional Mexican park pavilion–reflects local culture and promotes community gatherings and events. Through the use of materials, colors, and design vocabulary that represent the rich local culture of South Wenatchee, the park will be a place where the community feels at home.
The Trust for Public Land has led the renovation of a small park in South Wenatchee called Kiwanis-Methow Park. More than 4,200 people live within a 10-minute walk of the park, which serves predominately low-income and Latino residents. The community had thriving pockets of arts and culture (such as mariachi groups) and an appreciation for the nearby outdoors. By working with local leaders and connecting citizens to resources, the park project sparked a new wave of civic activism that spurred broader investment in the neighborhood.
420 Methow St, Wenatchee, WA, 98801, USA
From the outset, TPL and the City of Wenatchee wanted the park improvements to have lasting health benefits for the 4,200 residents within a 10-minute walk. Through a health impact assessment, it became clear that access to mental health resources and stigma was a challenge in the community. As the team conducted rich community engagement, the goal expanded to include increasing social cohesion and civic capability that celebrates a culturally rich community.
Coming from a place of disinvestment, marginalization, and even exploitation, the community near the park did not at first trust that the park renovations would happen. However, connecting with community members through arts and culture became a way to build trust. Outreach and park planning was conducted at local community and cultural events, such as the Northwest Mariachi Festival. A range of medical and social-service providers joined the park community engagement process.
Relations between South Wenatchee leaders and decision makers improved and a more open dialogue about health, discrimination, and racism continues to evolve. Most remarkable is the establishment of the friends-of group, Parque Padrinos, that acts as community organizers for Wenatchee Latinos. Leading up to the 2018 elections, they knocked on 3,500 doors and made 4,200 phone calls which increated the Latino vote by more than 20%.