I was born at University Hospital. Seattle runs through my veins. I am equal parts rain water and mountain ranges. But while I am of this place, it has never felt like home until now. Wa Na Wari is where I've found home.
I grew up going to church at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. I remember the critical mass of Black folks in the Central Area. I remember having a community that I could always go to for spiritual and cultural nourishment. In college I lived in the Central Area. I would take my dog on runs through the neighborhood every day, and I would pass the Quick Pack, go down to the wooded area in Leschi, then reemerge to pass Ethiopian churches, Garfield high school, and the Promenade. These runs would include smiles from community members and the energy of living in a community with people that looked like me.
During the same time that this community changed, so did my housing. My last affordable living situation in Seattle was in 2013. Since then I have been priced out of the rental market. Home ownership feels even more unattainable. When Inye, Jill, Rachel, and I decided to rent the Green family home to create Wa Na Wari, I knew we would be experimenting with the idea of who can rent in historically redlined neighborhoods and how renting a house can be an act of art resistance. But the moment Wa Na Wari opened its doors, I knew that I now had a home. I walk through the home, touch the walls, and “decorate” through curation. When visitors arrive, I welcome them in to Wa Na Wari like its mine. And I have always liked to share. Sharing the house with friends (old and new), and the larger community, feels like the old Central Area I remember; the one where people smiled and waved when I was running with the dog; the one with culture on every corner and in the air.