Interview with Cathy Tuttle

With seven years of planning and managing projects for the City of Seattle behind her, Cathy Tuttle has joined the nonprofit community to promote healthy, safe streets via Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. She also hopes to someday be a master in making pop-up books.

~~Q: Who are you? Introduce yourself as you would at a dinner party.

A: I am a community organizer. I am the founding Executive Director of Seattle Neighbourhood Greenways, a healthy safe streets advocacy organization with 20+ member groups around Seattle in our coalition.

Q: What is your background? How does it differ from what you are doing now?

A: After completing a PhD in Urban Design & Planning and a Master's in Anthropology, I worked for 7 years as planner and project manager for the City of Seattle. I've always been active in advocating for a resilient city and climate action. Now that I'm in the non-profit sector, I can be more direct in advocacy and in building bridges between people ar the local and political levels.

Q: What are you working on right now?

A: I’m creating a coalition to monitor and promote traffic safety through a program called Vision Zero that takes as its premise that all traffic violence is preventable and a public health crisis and that we need to design "forgiving streets" for the mistakes we invariably make as street users. We're continuing our work in local neighborhoods too (see our 2015 priorities), running another 10 campaigns.

Q: Why did you join Impact Hub?

A: I love the fluidity of coworking spaces and the way coworking helps to meet our sustainability goals. Because Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is a city-wide organization it was imperative that we be centrally located and have good transit access. The spaces work super well for us and I appreciate how we can quickly reconfigure desks for impromptu meetings with groups large and small. The work space itself is lovely. We're going into our 3rd year and couldn't be happier!

Q: How do you make money?

A: I pay myself and our staff. Not a lot, but a "savant-level" living wage. Our main funding comes from private donaors. The Bullitt Foundation is our primary foundation supporter.

Q: What is something that really excites you right now (a trend, life development, time of year, food, etc.)?

A: Civic engagement. I think more people are starting to look up from their screens and realize clicking online petitions is not enough to make change. I love hackathons, crowd-sourced everything, guerilla street improvements, and the way people are really starting to show up at political events. Our group had close to 25 people speak up at City Council budget hearings last year, which had a direct impact on how money is invested in city projects.

Q: You have $10M to spend in the next year, and you can’t spend it on you, your friends or your family. How do you spend it?

A: Building coalitions to deal with inequitable access to city services. Hiring people within underserved communities to do the outreach and engagement as I build those coalitions. I have high hopes for Seattle becoming a world class city, but there are some key voices missing from the table.

Q: What’s on the horizon for you (a new project, career path, personal development)?

A: I'm learning to make pop-up books. I'd like to be a pop-up master.

Q: Where do you usually hang out when you are at Impact Hub? How often are you here?

A: Usually on the 1st floor, having meetings. My staff and I are there mostly 10am-6pm on weekdays. Then we head off to evening meetings.


Q: What is something we don’t know? (Either about you, or something else)

A: I worked in the film and video industry in LA, including some time with Zoetrope Studios.

Q: Give us your top three Seattle gems!

A: Best view: Ella Bailey Park (One of my projects when I worked for Seattle Parks!)

     Best homestyle Japanese food: Musashi's in Wallingford

     Cheapest place for getting a boat on the water: UW Waterfront Activity Center


Contact Cathy at [email protected] .