The Madrona Community Council (MCC) would like to respond regarding the holiday tree that was at 34th and Union last year. Some of our neighbors have shared that the presence of the tree caused them pain and distress. We hear you and acknowledge your concern and empathize with the discomfort that you felt.
We would first like to point out that the tree was not an MCC project, and funds for the tree were raised independently by the Madrona Blossoms organization. All funds for the tree were raised from private donations.
MCC’s involvement was as a pass-through entity for the funds. We will no longer be acting in this capacity.
What follows below is a series of questions and answers to help address concerns that we heard via online community forums. We also share who is Madrona Blossoms and who is the MCC and its role in our neighborhood. We also share how to get involved with the council and how to make sure your voice is represented in council decisions.
Who is Madrona Blossoms?
Madrona Blossoms are comprised of neighbors who fundraise each year to bring beautiful flower baskets and other street decorations to Madrona’s business district.
Who is the MCC?
The MCC is a group of neighborhood volunteers who plan neighborhood events, such as Neighborhood Appreciation Day, Madrona Mayfair, summer concerts in the park, and more. The MCC also publishes the Madrona News. The group’s purpose is to support a vibrant, welcoming Madrona and enable neighbors to gather in community.
Did the MCC use funds donated to the council to purchase a holiday tree?
No. Money for the holiday tree was raised with private donations led by the Madrona Blossoms organization.
What does it mean to be a “fiscal pass-through entity?”
From time to time, a community-based project is spearheaded by a group or person with a specific goal, like funding a new playground, resurfacing the tennis court, installing public art in the park, and the Madrona Blossoms. These groups or people come to the MCC for help in temporarily handling donations and grants, which are placed into an account separate from the MCC. The projects then use these collected funds to pay for project expenses. Such funds are never intermingled with the general funds of the MCC and are accounted for separately. We use our experience, expertise, banking relationships, and non-profit status to make dealing with the logistics of handling the money easier for these neighbor-led endeavors.
How did the MCC find out about the tree project?
On June 4, 2019, at the monthly MCC meeting, the representative of Madrona Blossoms came to present the idea for the tree and to ask for MCC’s assistance acting as the pass-through entity for the donations.
During that MCC meeting, did someone express that the tree might not be well received by neighbors with varied traditions?
According to the meeting minutes, it appears the MCC may not have considered that feedback.
It is important to note that council meeting minutes are not an exact transcript of MCC meetings.
In the spirit of the MCC being an open forum for neighbors, there was a discussion about the independent donations for the flower baskets and the tree.
One person in the meeting raised the concern that a holiday tree might not be well received by neighbors with varied traditions. People then shared ideas on how to give the holiday endeavor more breadth and inclusivity. Several ideas were shared.
From the perspective of the council, the concern seemed to have been addressed to the demonstrable satisfaction of the resident who raised the concern. Following the meeting, we witnessed both residents (the Blossom’s rep and the concerned neighbor) having what appeared to be an amicable conversation about the topic.
During the months that followed, the MCC noted that the tree project was being well-communicated to neighbors by the tree project sponsor. Plans regarding the tree were published on page 2 of the council’s main communication vehicle, the Madrona News, in the Sept. and Oct. issues. Plans were also shared by the tree project sponsor via Madrona Moms. Additionally, the tree project sponsor canvased parts of the neighborhood in a door-to-door fundraising campaign.
Was the holiday tree on public land?
The holiday tree was on private land. The location for the tree was secured via the efforts and collaboration between Madrona Blossoms and the property owner. The electricity for the tree lighting was also donated by the property owner.
When was the MCC made aware of concerns regarding the tree once it was installed?
The MCC was informed via Madrona Moms and the Blossom organization on Jan. 1 that a concerned citizen requested a discussion regarding the tree. An invitation was extended to discuss the issue at the Jan. 7 MCC meeting. No one attended the meeting to discuss the tree.
The MCC did not hear any additional feedback, positive or negative, from neighbors regarding the tree until the issue was formally raised on neighborhood list serves (Feb. 6, Madrona Moms and Feb. 7, Next Door).
How can I make sure that my voice is represented in council decisions and community issues such as the holiday tree?
There are several ways.
- Attend an MCC meeting. The MCC meets the first Tuesday of each month at 7:15pm (except for July and August) at the Madrona Playfield shelter house. The meetings are a way for everyone to have an equal voice amongst a present, caring, and engaged group of neighbors. We believe that the relationships formed in face-to-face friendly dialog pursuing our collective neighborhood welfare is one of the paramount benefits achieved by the MCC for almost 50 years.
- Get involved with the Madrona Community Council. “Council” is such a formal word—what it really means is a neighborhood gathering. We have been asking (sometimes pleading) for more neighbors to join us for many years. At present, we are six people doing what in the past has been done by 10-12 people. As such, we most certainly are not wholly representative of the breadth and depth of viewpoints that exist in Madrona. A council should be representative of its neighborhood which means we need you, too.
- Bring your ideas and concerns to the MCC. Attending a meeting is best, but if you can’t you are welcome to email us. Our email addresses are on the website (Madrona.us) and on the back of the Madrona News. We will be sure to air your comments in the next meeting. We encourage neighbors to bring any concerns to us so that we can address them in the most expedient and helpful way. The council does not have a presence on community forums such as Madrona Moms and Next Door nor do we formally monitor these forums.
Those of us who make up the current council volunteer our time because, like you, we love Madrona and want it to be a wonderful place for everyone. We are a handful of folks trying to do good things for the neighborhood. If you think we’re missing that mark or could do more, please get in touch and give us the chance to show you that we do, indeed, truly care.
The Madrona Community Council
December 3rd, 2019
7:15pm at Smallish Photography Studios
All are invited. There will be wine and refreshments. Come join the fun.