Engaging the City

Engaging the City Tent City

Many hands helped make Tent City 3 feel at home on campus.

Sacred Sounds brings holiday cheer

The much-anticipated annual concert, which returned to Seattle’s Benaroya Hall this year, drew a sold-out crowd on November 26. The evening featured more than 250 of SPU’s vocal and instrumental musicians, including Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Gospel Choir, Men’s Choir, Women’s Choir, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, and Worship Arts Ensemble, under the direction of SPU’s music faculty. In addition to sacred Advent music and sing-along Christmas carols, the program included a recitation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s long-lost Christmas poem, “Noel,” discovered in 2016. 

Engaging the City holiday music

Tent City 3 returns to campus

In November, Seattle Pacific began hosting Tent City 3, a self-managed homeless community, for a three-month stay on campus. TC3, co-sponsored by SHARE/WHEEL, is a portable encampment for up to 100 men, women, and children experiencing homelessness. SPU hosted TC3 in 2012 and 2015, and welcomed the community back until February 10. TC3 returns to the SPU campus every three years. During their stay, students, faculty, staff, and community members got to know and learned from our neighbors at TC3 by help with move-in and move-out, as well as hosting meals, conducting research, and coordinating gatherings such as game nights and holiday celebrations. In 2015, President Dan Martin launched SPU’s Committee on Homelessness with the goal of keeping the issue of homelessness in front of the University and greater community through learning activities, symposiums, and ongoing TC3 involvement. 

Freshmen serve Seattle through CityQuest

On September 23, 431 Seattle Pacific students fanned out across Seattle and collectively provided more than 1,700 hours of work to serve the city. Members of this volunteer army rolled up their sleeves and helped at 24 sites, including parks, schools, churches, and food banks. Held annually during Orientation, CityQuest helps new students engage the city of Seattle through community service. Organized by SPU’s John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training, and Community Development, the effort familiarizes students — many of whom are new to Seattle — with area nonprofits, which are invited to be host sites. Freshman Samantha Kreeger was part of a team that weeded a church’s property, removed invasive species, and cleaned classrooms. “I had a really great time,” she says. “It taught me that even a little bit of help could make a huge difference in the community.”

CityQuest service

Students and professors participate in state housing advocacy day

Eighteen Seattle Pacific University students and faculty headed to the Washington state capital for Washington Low Income Housing Alliance’s annual Advocacy Day in February. On Advocacy Day, citizens from across the state come together to take part in meetings and speak with their representatives about addressing housing and homelessness needs in their districts and across the state. This year, lawmakers passed a package of seven bills focused on affordable housing and homelessness. Everyone who attended the lobbying day received a red scarf to signify their hope for justice in housing. These scarves were worn by social workers, students, educators, people from the faith community, and those who have been or are currently without housing. At the capital’s main campus, they meet with state legislators and their representatives to talk about the much-needed response to the sharp lack of affordable housing and its impact on people and communities in our state. Typically, over 600 attend each year, with nearly every single district in Washington represented.

Downtown Business Breakfast features Nicholas Kristof

In April, Seattle Pacific presented the 21st annual Downtown Business Breakfast, which gathered nearly 1,000 business and community leaders to hear from acclaimed New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. Kristof drew from his latest book, A Path Appears: How an Individual Can Change the World. Heralded as “the reporter’s reporter,” Kristof is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, best-selling author, and courageous advocate for human rights around the world. He has reported on the War in Darfur and China’s Tiananmen Square democracy movement, among other conflicts. 

Nicholas Kristof

Staff leader receives justice award 

Susan Okamoto Lane, dean of Multi-Ethnic and Wellness programs at Seattle Pacific University, received the “Vision from the Mountaintop Award” during the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast in Seattle on January 15. This annual award recognizes a community, education, and business leader from the Seattle area “who demonstrates leadership and contributes in the community or business world for the furtherance of justice, reconciliation, and empowerment.” In her more than 30 years at Seattle Pacific, Okamoto Lane has been a champion for students from all ethnic backgrounds and leads efforts to build bridges through cross-cultural engagement across campus. In 2008, she became the founding director of Seattle Pacific’s Multi-Ethnic Programs, which supports the academic, social, and cultural adjustment and success of students from diverse backgrounds.

SPU Jazz Ensemble performs live on radio program

The SPU Jazz Ensemble performed live (and online) on local public radio station KNKX (88.5 FM) in Nickerson Studios on April 19 for KNKX’s “School of Jazz” show. It was preceded by an SPU Music Department “Futures in Music” presentation with KNKX General Manager Joey Cohn and Jazz Host Abe Beeson talking about their careers in radio.