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Tacoma artists Chris Jordan and Kenji Stoll will lead art visioning process for Eastside Community Center

Local artists tapped for effort to involve young residents in the creative process


Christopher Paul Jordan and Kenji Hamai Stoll, who have a history of engaging local youth through art, have been selected to create a community-inspired art strategy for the new Eastside Community Center.

The resulting art plan will include concepts and locations to integrate art into the community center’s design as well as for display. Over the next several months, Jordan and Stoll will implement activities that engage young people in the art planning process, building on their own work as local teaching artists as well as efforts over the past year by the nonprofit Greater Metro Parks Foundation to have local youth help design aspects of the building.

“These two energetic young artists are a great addition to the Eastside Community Center effort,” said Jessie K. Baines Jr., one of five members of the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners. “Their proven ability to connect and inspire others is sure to contribute to the center’s success.”

Jordan and Stoll have been working as an artist team since 2009 when they collaborated on a mural informed by a community process focused on youth violence. Since then, they have gone on to create work for the University of Puget Sound’s Race and Pedagogy conference, Intel Corporation, the City of Tacoma, and Sound Transit, among others. They are currently working with the Tacoma Housing Authority to create site-responsive artworks at Bay Terrace and to lead community engagement strategies that inform the Hilltop housing planning team. In addition, they have been connecting with young people and giving them voice through art for years as teachers and now co-directors of Fab-5, a youth arts training program and its community art center FABITAT.

“Chris and Kenji are uniquely suited for this project because they bring excellence in the three areas of specialty required for this project. They are strong artists, they enable successful and fun community engagement strategies, and they know how to engage youth in a meaningful way,” said Tacoma Arts Administrator Amy McBride, whose office is under contract to manage the public art component of Metro Parks’ construction projects.

The new center is scheduled to open in 2018 on the campus of First Creek Middle School, 1801 E. 56th St. Metro Parks is spearheading its development with the support of multiple community partners, including Tacoma Public Schools, the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, the City of Tacoma, Tacoma Housing Authority and the Greater Metro Parks Foundation. For more information, visit


Reminder to Link Your Fred Meyer Rewards Card

Make sure to link your Rewards Card with Greater Metro Parks Foundation on Fred Meyer Community Rewards!

After Fred Meyer's June 2016 customer re-enrollment period customers who did not re-link their card were dropped from the system.

Follow these steps to begin the program or re-link your card:

  • Sign up for or login to the Community Rewards program at
  • Look for the link to "re-enroll or link your Rewards Card now."
  • Then, every time you shop and use your Rewards Card, you are helping the Greater Metro Parks Foundation earn a donation.
  • You still earn your Rewards Points, Fuel Points and Rebates, just as you do today.
  • If you do not have a Rewards Card, they are available at the Customer Service desk of any Fred Meyer store.

For more information, please visit


Support parks while you shop

Support great parks in Tacoma while you shop! Give to the Greater Metro Parks Foundation while shopping online, or in person. By using AmazonSmile and Fred Meyer Community Rewards, you can give back to your community while doing what you do every day.

The AmazonSmile program allows you to support GMPF every time you shop using, at no cost to you. Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the Greater Metro Parks Foundation. To set up AmazonSmile, go to, and choose the Greater Metro Parks Foundation in “Settings”.

At Fred Meyer, use your Rewards Card every time you shop, and you will help GMPF earn a donation through the Community Rewards program. All you need to do is link your Rewards Card to our nonprofit. Log on to your online account at Once logged in, search for “Greater Metro Parks Foundation” and select it. After that, each time you shop will earn a donation for GMPF.

Thank you for you for your contributions and partnering with GMPF to build a healthier, more vibrant community by investing in people and parks.




“A place to be me”: Eastside Community Center Open House Event

Above: one attendee presents her message about why she supports the Eastside Community Center. 

Members of the Tacoma community gathered on May 18th, 2016 to explore the latest schematic designs for the up and coming Eastside Community Center. The open house event was attended by approximately 80 people, which was a great turnout for such an important community event.

Below: Students presented information to attendees, showing their care and dedication to the project.

In the spirit of fun, Metro Parks provided props for attendees to take selfies. Some of these props included various musical instruments and even some snorkeling gear!

Check out these fun photos below.

We encourage all Tacoma community members to take a selfie with your favorite props and post it to your own social media, using the hashtag #ImagineEastside.

Stay updated with new information about the Eastside Community Center by visiting

Please donate to the Imagine Eastside Campaign at



Matt Driscoll: Shalisa Hayes and the human story behind the East Side Community Center


Tacoma City Councilman Marty Campbell gets choked up thinking about the first time he met Shalisa Hayes.


Not long before that first encounter, which took place at a candidate forum on Tacoma’s East Side, Hayes’ 17-year-old son, Billy Ray Shirley III, was shot and killed at an after-hours party in Nalley Valley. He’d gone there innocently, with friends, intending to give someone a ride home.

For a kid remembered as a selfless social butterfly with a strong compassionate streak — a jokester and protector always looking to lend a helping hand — it shouldn’t have ended the way it did.

Shirley’s 2011 death is the definition of a “wrong place, wrong time” story. Senseless violence erupted, shots were fired, and Hayes wouldn’t see her oldest son again until he was in a casket.

“For 10 agonizing hours I sat around waiting for the final news,” Hayes, now 40, says, describing the excruciating experience of waiting for her son’s body to be identified. “Deep down you know it’s true, but you’re holding on to that last ditch of hope.

“Finally I got the call. My heart sunk.”

At Shirley’s memorial service, drawing on a conversation she’d had with her son earlier that year about East Side kids having nowhere to go and the need for a community center, Hayes first spoke of Billy Ray’s vision of building one.

The moment of grace amidst overwhelming grief galvanized an East Side community scorned by what Campbell describes as a history of “disinvestments” — including the 2010 closing of the Boys & Girls Club on East 64th Street and the loss of the Swan Creek Library the following year.

“When I got that dreadful phone call about him being dead, two days later my mind just says, ‘community center,’ ” Hayes explains. “I think the reason why my mind was saying that is because subconsciously I think maybe if he had (a community center) to be at, he wouldn’t have been at the space he was.”

In response, almost immediately, a group of 15 to 20 kids — friends and classmates — took up the community center cause under the Team Billy Ray name. They started with a humble car wash that raised just more than $700, and the effort grew from there.

Hayes and Team Billy Ray used the candidate forum to highlight the need, asking the local leaders in attendance, including Campbell, to agree to fight for it.

“She gets up to speak, and she was having a hard time. I think this was within a week of the funeral,” Campbell recalls.

“She was in a raw state.”

The message resonated. Soon, leaders from the city, Metro Parks Tacoma, the Greater Metro Parks Foundation, Tacoma Public Schools, the Boys & Girls Club and Tacoma Housing Authority had all bought in, working together in partnership to help bring the vision of an East Side Community Center to reality.

They realized the obvious: The need is real. And Hayes isn’t the only person capable of articulating it.

Will Moncrease, who manned a tank in the U.S. Army and today serves on the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound board of directors, grew up at 68th and McKinley.

Now 35, Moncrease vividly remembers losing three childhood friends to violence, and tells stories of being shot at more during his time growing up on the East Side than during his stint in the Army.

“No joke,” he says when asked if it’s an exaggeration. “It sounds crazy, but it’s true.”

Moncrease also remembers the crucial role the now-closed Boys & Girls Club on East 64th Street played in helping him become the person he is today.

“There are times when I really thought my life was destined to be taken by the streets,” Moncrease says. “I could have been that kid if I didn’t have an outlet. That’s the difference I see between myself and my friends that passed away. I had a safe place to go; they had the streets. While I was learning how to be a productive adult, they were learning how to survive.”

Like Hayes, Moncrease believes building a new community center will save lives. “Children are still being taken on the East Side,” he says. “There’s a ton of work to do. … This community center is going to be the heart and soul of the healing process, of things coming back together.”

Recently, representatives from nearly every involved entity shared with The News Tribune the progress and good news: The $29 million facility — which at this point includes plans fora basketball court, swimming pool, a training kitchen and a recording studio, among other amenities — is scheduled to break ground in December on the campus of First Creek Middle School, with hopes of opening by 2018. It will serve every facet of the community, with an obvious emphasis on youths. An open house at 6 p.m. at the Salishan Family Investment Center on May 18 will give the public an opportunity to weigh in on the final design.

While the momentous task continues, and there’s significant fundraising yet to do — some $10 million is still needed, including an endowment for sustained youth programming — you can’t help but get the sense the East Side will not be denied.

“The core group of people who have formed around this and the work that they’re doing, I don’t think they could be deterred at this point,” Campbell says. “I’ll go out there with a shovel and dig the holes if I need to.”

And Hayes, through a mother’s grief and determination, deserves a lot of the credit.

“I think that her involvement has been essential in bringing us to where we are today,” says Bryan Flint, executive director of the Greater Metro Parks Foundation.

Billy Ray would surely be proud. But to hear his mom tell it, this is bigger than one story of heartbreak.

“I did this for my son, but he’s not here to enjoy it. This is really about those kids who are here, and how do we keep them safe and give them options,” Hayes says.

“If I can prevent one family from going through what I went through,” she continues, pain still fresh in her voice, “I did what I was supposed to do.”