East Central’s Greening Grant

Greening East Central

East 9th Avenue just got a bit greener- thanks to the City of Spokane’s Greening Grant and hardworking volunteers!
On Saturday, April 30th East Central residents came together to spread mulch around newly planted trees along the planting strip. Property owners were offered the opportunity of a free tree, if there was enough space in front of their house and if they agreed to care for the new tree. Multiple people said “yes!”. Staff from the Urban Forestry Department picked out the best tree for each home. The variety of trees planted is astounding- Filbert, Cork and others will provide a much more diverse tree canopy. Not only will the trees look beautiful and help our environment as they grow, they will also have a traffic calming effect on East 9th Avenue.


Cafe Meeting at SPEAR

On the first and third Mondays of the month there is an East Central Neighborhood Cafe meeting for those living north of the freeway. It is facilitated by Jennifer Hansen from the Spokane Regional Health District. From 6 to 7:30 or 8pm we discuss the issues in our neighborhood such as crime, clean up, home ownership and rentals, public transportation, the businesses along east Sprague and many other things. The cafe group has worked with the police department to get better lighting in the alleys, reduce crime, helped with cleanup efforts along east Sprague and in the neighborhood, thrown potlucks and block parties, helped with Art on the Ave, removed tons of trash and debris, and worked with STA on their proposal for bus stop upgrades, giving resident perspectives on everything from design to traffic congestion. It’s a wonderful group of people meeting twice a month who care deeply about their neighborhood and aren’t afraid to dig in and help out where needed.

In our most recent meeting, on Monday April 4th, we discussed the upcoming cleaning from the corridor event and all the exciting things going on during the event along east Sprague. There is so much planned that a prep day was needed to clean up some areas and prime buildings and containers to be ready for the painting of murals.  On April 16th, we will be meeting at 8am and working until at least noon prepping for Cleaning From The Corridor. All who would like to help are invited to join us. We would appreciate as many as possible to lend a hand.

East Sprague Map

We also talked about the East Sprague Rebranding presentations from some SCC students.  We looked through all the presentations and gave Jennifer feedback.  There was some discussion about the names and the lack of any historical context of the neighborhood in them.  A few people stated that changing the name would be a difficult thing to do and advocated for the rebranding to focus on boosting the public perception of our neighborhood emphasizing all the positive changes going on.

The rebranding process will be a joint effort between ESBA (the East Sprague Business Association) and the residents of the neighborhood and the ECNC (East Central Neighborhood Council).  A plan was discussed for how to decide the direction of the rebranding and a way to vote on it once some decisions have been made.


The last topic of discussion was what would we like to do as a neighborhood this summer.  We decided on an ice cream social possibly in June.  More details will be discussed at the next meeting. It was announced that STA would be at the ESBA meeting on April 13th and DOT and STA are scheduled to be at the next ECNC meeting on April 19th.  They will be discussing the north – south freeway, and the East Sprague revitalization project.

Our next meeting will be on April 18th at 6pm.  We meet at the SPEAR building and encourage you to attend!

Cleaning From the Corridor comes to East Central Neighborhood

This years Cleaning From the Corridor event is coming to the East Central Neighborhood on Saturday, April 23rd.  This year’s event features both commercial and residential projects focused on temporary and permanent improvements! Projects like facade improvements, exterior painting, internal housing rehabilitation projects like electrical, plumbing, interior wall repairs.  Historically, this event recruits the help of 400+ volunteers who are mobilized to complete meaningful, lasting projects! Join the neighborhood in volunteering for this event, visit www.volunteerspokane.org to get involved.

Cleaning From the Corridor is part of a larger city initiative called Spokane Gives which aims to activate the Spokane community to create volunteer events and opportunities that give back!

More will be posted as the East Central Neighborhood learns more.


International Holiday Potluck at ECCC

On the 12th of December, community volunteers and East Central residents decked the halls of the East Central Community Center (ECCC)* in preparation for the neighborhood’s International Holiday Potluck; which will be held this Saturday, December 19th from 4:00-6:00pm. People worked together to hang garland, ribbons, stars, snowflakes, ornaments and beads to make the atmosphere feel festive.

Bring your friends, family and favorite dish to share this Saturday.  The East Central Community Center will be providing crafts for the kids, beverages and cutlery.

Special thanks to Christine from the ECCC who organized the volunteers for the decorating party, she did an awesome job.

*The East Central Community Center is located at 500 South Stone.


Fresh Soul Restaurant Inspires Community Spirit in East Central Neighborhood

Fresh Soul Restaurant Inspires Community Spirit in East Central Neighborhood

Spokane, Wash. – A group of community partners are working together to build and open Fresh Soul, an East Central neighborhood restaurant with a mission of engaging and empowering youth in efforts to build a better tomorrow. Fresh Soul is the creation of Michael Brown, Founder and President of Spokane Eastside Reunion Association, (SERA) and Sheldon Jackson of Selkirk Realty, the Fresh Soul Project Coordinator.

SERA, an organization focused on restoring a sense of community within Spokane neighborhoods by inspiring and engaging young people, saw potential within an existing building located at 3029 E. Fifth. That building, Brown explained, had the potential to be much more than a vacant shell of a building that once housed Flipper’s Ice Creamery.

Fresh Soul is going to be much more than just a restaurant,” Brown explained. “We want to motivate and teach our kids skills that will inspire them to continue their education, and provide a platform for success and to find their passion.” The restaurant will operate as a full-functioning café serving southern-style food.

Flippers/Fresh Soul sign

Engaging neighborhood youth is not the only focus of Fresh Soul, which will also work to revitalize the area. “It’s time we gave the East Central neighborhood the community support it needs,” said Brown. “We want to give the neighborhood a restaurant it can be proud of – proud to support, proud to work at, proud to share with the rest of Spokane.”

Helping SERA to create the restaurant are several community partners including: Bernardo Wills Architecture, Numerica Credit Union, Gonzaga University, and Spokane Arts.

“Our partners have truly made our vision a reality,” said Brown.

Bernardo Wills Architecture (BWA) is supporting Fresh Soul through in-kind architecture and design work. “We are very excited to transform a forgotten building into a space that the whole community can be part of with a shared sense of identity and place,” says the BWA design lead and project manager Damian Cronkhite.

Numerica Credit Union was the project’s first financial donor, funding the project’s early stages through a $20,000 grant. “Numerica is committed to enhancing lives, fulfilling dreams and building communities,” said Carla Altepeter, Numerica’s president and CEO. “Fresh Soul is a project that directly aligns with our core mission by giving teens a chance to serve their community while developing skills that will help them to be successful.” Altepeter explained that Numerica is continuing to provide in-kind support through public relations, marketing, brand development, and media outreach. They are also providing financial literacy support to the SERA tutor and mentoring program.

The project’s most-recent partner, Spokane Arts is partnering with Gonzaga University students to create a mural, led by local-artist Ellen Picken. Gonzaga University’s School of Business participated in creating a marketing and business plan for the restaurant and now students, enrolled in a course taught by Shalon Parker, will help to paint the mural. “Artwork that is created by the community and brings neighbors together is truly owned by the people,” says Picken. “This work will represent the vibrancy and diversity of the neighborhood as well as the sweat and laughter that goes in to making it.” The mural will cover the east-facing external wall of the restaurant, and will take place on September 26 and 27.

2015 Fresh Soul Restaurant volunteers painting a new mural.

2015 Fresh Soul Restaurant volunteers painting a new mural.

While the completion date of the project has not been determined, BPainting the muralrown and Jackson are confident in the progress of Fresh Soul. “We need our community to see the potential that we see in this project,” said Brown. “Together, we can make this vision of serving and mentoring our community’s youth a reality and can create a true neighborhood restaurant founded on building a better tomorrow.”

The cost of completing and opening Fresh Soul is estimated at $100,000, explained Jackson. The project is still in search with individual and corporate sponsors to help complete the restaurant. For more information contact Michael Brown at info@spokaneeastsidereunion.com, info@spokaneeastsidereunion.com, or at (509) 995-3606.

Founded through a collaboration of community partners, Fresh Soul is a mission-driven restaurant located in Spokane’s East Central neighborhood that gives local youth the chance to develop meaningful career skills through employment and mentorship. As a program of SERA (Spokane Eastside Reunion Assoc.), Fresh Soul works to build a better tomorrow by engaging and inspiring today’s youth and the Spokane community.

Check out Fresh Soul’s Go Fund Me Campaign.

Spokane County United Way – Day of Action.

The 2015 United Way’s Day of Action (#DayofactionSpokane) took place in the East Central neighborhood.

Workinit Peepswork1300 hundred volunteers from private businesses, City government, Public Health and nonprofits assisted with projects in the neighborhood.  The East Central Community Center hosted the well-attended lunch rally which featured photos of many community projects in action.

With dozens of projects to choose from, it was very exciting when, private businesses,2Q== public servants, residents and nonprofits came together on a landscaping project to help a neighbor in need.  Due to health issues, a long time East Central resident was unable to provide the care her yard needed.  Her immediate neighbors had been helping when they could, but they too were overwhelmed.  The United Way’s Day of Action provided the perfect opportunity for people to come together to weed, rake and plant!  At the end of the long day, the homeowner was able to enjoy the beauty of her new drought tolerant landscaping which was donated by Northwest Seed and Pet and the pavers, sand and gravel which were donated by Clear Water Summit Group.  The homeowner could not believe the generosity of the community and said that after everyone left, she sat outside in her newly cleaned porch and “just drank it all in”.

findingcats image001

Below is a list of some of the community partners who helped this year’s United Way Day of Action:

  • Baker Construction
  • AmeriCorps Vista
  • Avista
  • Caterpillar
  • City of Spokane
  • CenturyLink
  • Delta Dental
  • Cougs in the Community
  • HotStart
  • Inland Northwest Blood Center
  • Empire Health Foundation
  • Northwest Farm Credit Services
  • Potlatch
  • Numerica Credit Union
  • Principal Financial Group
  • Spokane Falls Community College
  • US Bank
  • Premera Blue Cross
  • Washington Trust Bank
  • Maxey Law Offices
  • Leadership Spokane
  • Lakeside Capital Group
  • Travelers Insurance
  • Trindera Engineering
  • Williams Pipeline

1,200 hours of volunteerism donated from the various non-profits who participated in Day of Action. The cost to pay for these valuable hours donated would have totaled $26,400!