Seattle Parks wins two statewide awards

The Pianos in the Park recently recognized by the Washington Recreation and Park Association. Photo provided by Laird Norton Wealth Management.

The Pianos in the Park recently recognized by the Washington Recreation and Park Association. Photo provided by Laird Norton Wealth Management.

The Washington Recreation and Park Association awarded Seattle Parks and Recreation two spotlight awards at a statewide Parks conference on April 30.

Pianos in the Parks

The Pianos in the Parks program a Spotlight Award in Arts and Culture.

In July 2014, Seattle Parks partnered with Laird Norton Wealth Management, King County Parks and local arts organizations to launch the Pianos in the Parks campaign. The campaign placed 20 decorated pianos in Seattle parks, King County parks, Seattle Center and City Hall Plaza to encourage residents to explore green and open spaces and to share and enjoy each other’s art.

The pianos were donated by Classic Pianos and were stationed in the parks until Aug. 17. People were invited to play the pianos and were encouraged to upload videos of their park performances to a Facebook page for a chance to play at KEXP’s and Seattle Center’s “Concerts at the Mural.” The Facebook entries that received the highest number of “Likes” were judged by a community panel.

At the end of the campaign, the pianos were sold to the highest bidder in an online auction. Proceeds from the pianos sales benefitted art and community organizations.

The Pianos in the Parks campaign was designed to foster a sense of community, break down class and racial divides and to make summer safer by activating neighborhood parks. More than 150 people submitted online contest videos. Additionally, the campaign was featured in approximately 100 media stories.

Seattle Parks heard many stories of families and individuals who made it their summer goals to find every piano. In fact, one Seattleite completed a 59-mile urban hike over one weekend to visit all 20 pianos.

For more information on the program, please visit http://pianosintheparks.com/.

Teen Programs Unit

The Teen Programs Unit won a spotlight award in Cultural Competency for its unit-wide Race and Social Justice Initiative which requires all persons interacting with teens, regardless of whether they are staff, volunteers or partner agency employees, to participate in an eight-hour training experience which examines racial inequality, the historic legacies of inequitable treatment that persist into today and how institutional racism perpetuates these inequalities on a systemic level.

By requiring all staff, volunteers, and partnership agency employees to participate in a shared framework, a clarity of intention results that helps all involved become clearer in the underlying message to and treatment of teens participating in Seattle Parks programs. The Initiative provides recurring opportunities for those providing services to teens to ask sometimes difficult questions of themselves and other adults. The ability to ask questions and raise topics related to race and equity can bring to light unconscious beliefs or assumptions that may subtly – or not so subtly – reinforce systemic racism or other prejudices that work to disadvantage some youth for qualities that are not under their control (such as appearance, gender expression, perception of their family’s wealth or poverty).