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Building Place Through Practice

Maisha Barnett, (CEP ’18) at Jimi Hendrix Park, standing under a shelter designed to look like a butterfly wing.

Creating change requires leadership, vision, hard work, and passion.

Maisha Barnett, a senior in the Community, Environment, and Planning (CEP) program, displays all of these traits as the project manager at the Jimi Hendrix Park Foundation for Seattle’s new Jimi Hendrix Park. The 2.5-acre park is located in Seattle’s Central District, a thriving multicultural community where Seattle-born, rock icon Jimi Hendrix grew up. Maisha is the force behind the park. She helped shape it from idea to completion and is developing programming that will make the park a new neighborhood hub.

In her role as project manager, Maisha has overseen the entire development of the park. Though she joined CEP in 2016, she has been working on the park since 2011. To start, Maisha was recruited to join the community volunteer group Friends of Jimi Hendrix Park, who brought in Murase Associates as the landscape architects to design the park. From there, Murase conducted three public engagement meetings to gather ideas from the community about what they wanted to see in the park. They narrowed down these ideas to form concepts that would inform the park’s design. The ideas that arose from these meetings are represented in the park today in the landscape’s eye-catching, abstract design as both a guitar and a spiraling flower. Every element of the design was informed by the community as an homage to Jimi Hendrix, from the purple walkways to the butterfly garden. Once the design was developed, the team was able to proceed with the park’s development.

“I had managed the development of a park before for Powell Barnett Park, but this was different from my first experience. I knew it would be a challenge in a few respects. I was working with a committee, rather than on my own. There was also a bigger budget, more stakeholders involved, and it took us a little longer to reach our goal. Through all of this, I’ve found that we can’t just do it ourselves. I am constantly reminded of the benefits of community involvement.”

Through this process, Maisha has done everything from planning and facilitating public meetings, to fundraising and event planning, and is now working on programming. The park’s largest event to date was its grand opening on June 17th, 2017. This day welcomed over 250 people to the park with a ribbon cutting ceremony led by Jimi Hendrix’s sister, Janie Hendrix, live concerts, an instrument petting zoo, and more. In the few short months since then, Maisha has already seen her work pay off. “Although I predicted and willed that this would be a destination park – it truly already is,” she commented. “The park can be used for performances by local musicians and as a beacon for tourists to connect with a space that defines its namesake. I hope that the people who live in the neighborhood use the space, and that it becomes a hub for inspiration, gatherings, and community activities. Here, Jimi is a great symbol of unity and diversity.” Looking ahead to programming for next year, Maisha is working to help this park become a cultural destination for the region.

Knowing that the Central District will completely transform in the next 10 years, she looks to the future, “I hope that unlike other areas of the city that have experienced gentrification, like losing the whole character of their neighborhood, I hope that the spirit stays in the space. The thing I fear the most about all of the new development happening in the area is that people will be priced out and displaced, and that we’ll lose businesses that have been here for a very long time. I hope this will still be a vibrant community, and that the people who live here won’t be an afterthought. With additional people and more useful services in the area, it could have a really bright future.”

A commitment to community; a celebration of unity; a point of pride that connects our past to our future – this is education with an impact.

Read more about the park’s grand opening:

  • Newest Seattle experience? It’s Jimi Hendrix Park, The Seattle Times
  • Jimi Hendrix Park Opens at Last, With a Purple Flourish, The New York Times
  • Jimi Hendrix Park Grand Opening Photos, KISW
  • Jimi Hendrix Park Opens to Public in Seattle After Years of Delays, Rolling Stone
  • Meet Louie

    “I am somebody, I won’t be stopped by nobody. I got my fist in the air and rhythm in my feet. I got love for my people, and it starts with me.”

    – Oakland Freedom Schools –

    Louie Leiva, MUP ’19

    Louie Leiva is a first-year student in the Master of Urban Planning (MUP) program at the University of Washington. He is the proud son to immigrant parents from El Salvador and the first in his family to pursue a graduate school education. Louie is new to Seattle, having recently moved from his hometown of Los Angeles, CA to pursue a professional planning degree. While studying sociology during his undergraduate career at UC Berkeley, Louie gained the language and tools to identify social inequities in his own neighborhood. Consequently, Louie saw the relationship between his community’s hardships – including barriers to accessing social services, public transportation, and affordable housing – to city policies and zoning ordinances. He found that several injustices faced by many low-income communities of color across the country are not mere coincidences, but direct results of planning decisions made by those in positions of power. As a result, Louie is pursuing a career in planning driven by a community-based framework that uses art and advocacy as tools for social, cultural, and political empowerment.

    Among his multiple open house visits throughout the country, Louie considered a series of factors in deciding which masters program would be the best fit for him. His trip to the University of Washington established connections with faculty and peers whose similar interests and aspirations affirmed that they were individuals with whom he could see himself learning from and collaborating with. In addition to factors within the department, Louie found what would become his community and the core of his support system at the University through the Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program (GO-MAP). GO-MAP’s organizational programming aims to cultivate a culturally and ethnically diverse academic, educational, and social environment through outreach, recruitment, and retention work that promotes graduate student success.

    Ultimately, access to funding played the largest role in influencing Louie’s final decision and commitment to the UW. Shortly after his open house visit, Louie was awarded a graduate tuition award from GO-MAP, alongside the Urban Design and Planning Professionals Council Equity Scholarship. The department’s Professionals Council is a volunteer group of planners in the Puget Sound region that mentor MUP students and act as a bridge between the program and the profession.

    During his time at the University, Louie has expressed special interest in transportation planning, especially as it connects to the arts and public space. “Prior to beginning graduate school, I had been working for an arts nonprofit in Leimert Park, the central hub for black artists in Los Angeles. The students I worked with collected neighborhood stories to inform and create temporary art installations throughout the city. I was constantly inspired and challenged by my students, their talent, and their dedication to their communities.” Here in Seattle, he is interested in further exploring the city’s community involvement process and support for public art projects in transit-oriented developments. “Planning is essential to building healthy communities, increasing educational opportunity, and economic prosperity. When I think of where I come from, I find it difficult to envision solutions without first addressing trauma.”

    Looking toward the future, Louie plans to leverage his talents as an artist and skill set as a planner to influence decisions that affect the quality of life for the most vulnerable. For the time being, Louie has short- and long-term goals that include excelling academically and continuing his involvement on campus as a member of the department’s Diversity Committee, the Race and Equity in Urban Planning (RE:UP) student group, and GO-MAP’s Graduate Student Advisory Board. He plans to secure a job before graduation and possibly pursue a PhD within the next five years (maybe).

    To read more testimonials from students in the Master of Urban Planning program, please visit Why I Chose UW.

    Celebrating 47 Years with Donald H. Miller

    Donald H. Miller, Ph.D.

    On the 16th of October,

    students, colleagues, friends, and family came together to honor Don Miller and celebrate the 47 years of service that he dedicated to the Department of Urban Design and Planning at the University of Washington.

    The event was held at the University of Washington Club which provided stunning views of Lake Washington and beyond. Remarks were given by John Schaufelberger, Dean of the College of Built Environments, Christopher Campbell, Chair of the Department of Urban Design and Planning, and Karen Wolf, a former student of Don Miller’s and current Senior Policy Analyst for King County.

    Attendees shared their memories of Don Miller and reminisced over hard-copy publications from years past. They marveled at the state of the world when he began his career in the Department in 1970 as well as the volume, breadth, and quality of his accomplishments in that time.

    The Seattle we know today has been shaped by Don Miller, through both his research and his students.

    Help us continue Don Miller’s legacy of excellent teaching and student support by contributing to the Donald H. Miller Endowed Fellowship.


    MIPM Named Top 10 UW Graduate Program Enrolling Veterans

    The Online Master of Infrastructure Planning & Management (MIPM) in the Department of Urban Design and Planning has been recognized as one of the top ten programs at the University of Washington enrolling student veterans. MIPM is designed for early- or mid-career professionals who want to advance their career and take a leadership role while offering students a flexible format as a part-time, two-year program. Courses are completely online, enabling students to earn the MIPM degree from anywhere in the world.

    Read more.

    University of Washington-led study shows new global evidence of the role of humans, urbanization in rapid evolution

    It has long been suspected that humans and the urban areas we create are having an important — and surprisingly current and ongoing — effect on evolution, which may have significant implications for the sustainability of global ecosystems.

    A new multi-institution study led by the University of Washington that examines 1,600 global instances of phenotypic change — alterations to species’ observable traits such as size, development or behavior — shows more clearly than ever that urbanization is affecting the genetic makeup of species that are crucial to ecosystem health and success.

    Read the entire article HERE

    Professor Emerita Anne Moudon Final Lecture

    anneLate Saturday evening, the UW department of urban design and planning held an event celebrating the accomplishments of one of their newly retired professors.

    Touted as her “final lecture,” professor emeritus Anne Vernez Moudon held this event to both raise money for her new fund as well as review the history of urban design and planning.

    Christopher Campbell, chair of the department of urban design and planning, gave a brief introduction of professor Moudon’s lifetime achievements.

    Click here to read full Daily UW Article

    Professional Council Fall Bike Tour

    Our incoming and existing Master of Urban Planning students were treated to a Designing Seattle bike tour the Saturday before autumn quarter started. The tour was hosted by members of the Urban Design and Planning Professional Council and had over 20 participants.

    The ride started at Volunteer Park and ended at South Lake Union by the Museum of History and Industry.  The tour passed through Capital Hill, Pioneer Square, Westlake, Downtown, the Olympic Sculpture Garden and Belltown.

    This was the first year the P.C hosted this event and we hope it will carry on for years to come!


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    Distinguished Staff Award Winner 2015-2016

    Congratulations to our very own Diana Siembor who is the 2016 CBE Distinguished Staff recipient!
    The Distinguished Staff Award is intended to recognize the recipient’s extraordinary contributions to the College.
    We are so proud !!!


    Wednesday May 25 | 7-8:30
    Gould 435


    Join us as we celebrate our graduating MUP students by coming to the UDP Professionals Council annual poster contest Wednesday, May 25.
    This is an opportunity for MUP’s to showcase their Thesis or Professional project in the form of a poster.
    Professionals Council members will make up a panel of judges who will determine three of the best Thesis and best Professionals Project posters and there will be awards!! In addition, guests attending the event will each be given one ballot to cast towards the selection of a People’s Choice award.
    The evening will also include the annual UDP student awards which recognize students for their exceptional contributions to the department.
    Current students, faculty and friends and family are encouraged to attend.
    Refreshments provided.

    CEP Student is Recognized as a Husky 100

    CEP Junior Veronica Guenther
    BS Economics / BA Community, Environment and Planning (CEP) ’17 was one of 100 students recognized as a Husky 100!



    I am committed to implementing equitable, environmentally-conscious and economically-viable urban policy through inclusive, community-empowering practices. Currently, I’m working to further this goal as the outreach coordinator at the student-run, student-funded Campus Sustainability Fund. Working in environmental outreach and advocacy, I’ve learned how to continuously reach out to my community with more than just grim facts, but a means for everyone to positively contribute.

    Veronica Guenther

    The Husky 100 recognizes 100 UW undergraduate and graduate students from Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma in all areas of study who are making the most of their time at the UW.

    As part of this prestigious group, students will receive:

    Recognition at a Husky 100 event in spring quarter, and individual profiles on a Husky 100 website that will launch in May 2016
    Opportunities throughout the following academic year to expand networks with UW students, alumni, faculty, staff and business leaders
    Membership in an exclusive LinkedIn group that will help build connections with employers
    Customized career counseling from the UW Career Center
    Invitations to events hosted by the UW president and provost
    Husky 100 Criteria

    The Husky 100 know that education happens inside and outside of the classroom, and they are making a difference on campus, in their communities and for the future. Through their passion, leadership and commitment, these students inspire all of us to shape our own Husky Experience.