Columbia City has been transformed over the past decade, with new boutique shops, brewpubs and cafes lining either side of Rainier Avenue.
Its neighbor to the south, Hillman City, still boasts its old nail salons and bars and has yet to see the same economic transformation.
A local church and an arts group want to boost the neighborhood, serving existing residents and preserving history. The Hillman City Collaboratory, a storefront on Rainier Avenue South about a half mile south of Columbia City, is home to the two organizations, as well as a mashup of shared office space, a church, a meeting hall, a concert venue and a community garden.
“We want this to become a hub for change makers and a place where people doing good work in isolation find community and shared ideas and cross-pollination,” said John Helmiere, pastor of Valley & Mountain, a United Methodist congregation that started in Columbia City three years ago.
Helmiere and Ben Hunter, executive director of Community Arts Create, started their respective organizations about three years ago. They became friends and began planning an open community space where they could do their work with enough space to host other organizations as well
Be sure to click here to read the whole piece.
On a connected note, Burkhalter has another piece in Real Change covering the Collaboratory’s role in reviving the Catholic Worker Movement and its push for social justice.