Community activist: 'Little things' can improve neighborhoods, reduce crime

SEATTLE -- In West Seattle, there are chairs asking people to have a seat and think of ways to improve their community. For several months, Pete Spalding and his community group have been moving the chairs to different spots as a way to get more people involved.

“Just think about what you would like to see in your community,” said Spalding.

He’s a member of Visualizing Increased Engagement in West Seattle also known as VieWS. The group works to fix problems and build stronger communities.

Last month, Spalding spoke to members of the South Seattle Crime Prevention Council following a wave of gun violence in the Rainier Valley. Spalding says there are small things people can do in every neighborhood to make it safer and a better place to live.

“It can be something as simple as standing at the bus stop and picking up a piece of trash and putting it in the trash can. It can be as simple as using the find-it fix-it app and taking a picture of graffiti that you see,” said Spalding.

He says it’s important to get to know your neighbors. Social media sites like Nextdoor and Facebook make it easy to connect and identify neighborhood problems. Clean yards and properties can also send a message that crime won’t be tolerated, according to Seattle Police.

“Those little things that you do can eventually morph into great things that can help everybody in the community,” said Spalding.

That’s why his community group started putting the chairs throughout West Seattle. Spalding admits some of them have disappeared over several months. However, he believes the chairs encourage people to sit down, look around, and think of ways to build a better neighborhood.