From Antioch Seattle’s MAEd Urban Environmental Education (UEE) Program’s Alumni Journal.
I am an educator and a community advocate. I have three jobs right now. I’m working as a grant manager for Historic South Downtown Seattle, helping move over 8 million dollars for community good. One of the biggest challenges is making sure that people understand how to make the distribution of funds equitable and ensuring that they attend to diversity and inclusion …we end up schooling many non-profits and foundations on how that really works. Moving grant money means making sure that all community businesses and organizations stay afloat. We try to help small businesses remain relevant and tech-savvy, overcome language barriers, help people adapt to Zoom platforms, complete compelling applications, conduct meaningful interviews, and use the funds they receive well.
I just accepted the position of Interim ExecutiveDirector for Central District CommunityPreservation and Development Authority (CDCPDA). I’m working with a historically Black (previously red-lined district) neighborhood to support the community. I’m on the ground level, developing procedures and protocols in addition to day-to-day community organizing. I know about community needs from listening carefully to a wide range of people.
I’m also working as an outdoor educator with middle school kids. I work with 6th and 7th graders once a week in their schoolyard and in the neighborhoods. My National Park experience laid the groundwork for my approach to outdoor learning. We visit ponds and wetlands, fields, and parks in Seattle. Younger kids help the middle schoolers dive into nature …handling salamanders and frogs, going under logs, playing with abandon.
What did you take away from the UEE program?
Many, many friendships andcontacts with community advocates and organizations. I had a lot of time to get to know people, study with them and work with them in the city. One of the most important skills I learned was howto listen, how to step back and be quiet but attentive. I learned when to step upand when to voice concerns. I became more aware of how my presence influences others and learned to avoid letting masculinity to take over or get inthe way.
I learned to better understand my impact as a man. Especially when women talk, I step back …set myself aside…and let others step into roles that they may never have taken on before. My mentors and the male, female and non-binary colleagues in the program, showed me how to step up and step out as a man and as a Black man.
James King is a graduate of UEE’s Cohort 3.