Community Post

HRS Student Activism at TT Minor Playfield

Have you ever faced a larger community issue and wanted to do something about it? Well, the students at Hamlin Robinson School did!

T.T. Minor Playfield, the park neighboring HRS, is home to many wonderful community activities including the school’s Ultimate Frisbee team practices, running, catch and dog walking. However, as you come onto the field, you might find something you didn’t want to find – dog waste. This has been a neighborhood concern for many for quite a long time – so HRS 6th graders took notice and acted!

They recently kicked off a campaign to encourage the neighboring community to scoop-up their dog’s waste. The students created a plan, called STEP:

S= Supply bags
T= Teach the lower grades about the environmental impacts of dog waste
E= Educate the community
P= Promote

This campaign first started earlier in the year when the 6th graders complained about stepping in dog waste. In response to this, the students wrote persuasive letters to the Seattle Parks Department asking if they would be willing to install a dog bag dispenser. A representative came to the class and read each letter explaining why individual students letters were impactful. Then, agreed to install the dispenser. The students discussed having a voice with a choice: to be heard you need to choose to approach the problem in a manner that both parties win.

Then 6th graders passed the torch to the 7th graders asking them to create enthusiasm within the school and the community spirit to change dog owners behavior. The 7th graders formed task groups: one was to collect bags, another was to promote the concept with the neighborhood, and another group was to educate the neighbors by making flyers.

The students decided to have a poster contest in which 60 posters were collected, winners were chosen and all the posters were displayed on the fence surrounding the playfield creating a powerful reminder. They also included a poster with 10 reasons to scoop-up dog waste listed. The students hope that their campaign will raise awareness and create a better place for the whole community.

Now that’s nothing to bark about!

0 thoughts on “HRS Student Activism at TT Minor Playfield

  1. I’m so glad to hear about this.
    I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure dogs aren’t allowed on athletic fields/playfields in this city. I’m pretty sure there’s also a sign posted there with that cited. I guess that doesn’t really stop people from using the school’s fields as their own little off leash dog park. I hope the kids’ message is received and they don’t have to dodge the dog poop anymore….

  2. +1…. that is my comment as well – the kids shouldn’t have to worry about dog waste on the play field because dogs are not supposed to be walked there PERIOD…. and yes there are signs there that state this.

    I was up there once when a guy decided to start throwing a ball for his huge nasty rottie mix…. when I pointed out that he shouldn’t be there with his dog, much less with an off leash dog he threw the ball at me so that the dog would charge me…. I had to threaten to call the cops

    It’s great that the kids had a civics lesson and got their dispenser that they worked for, but I hope that it is actually off of the play field grounds, as a bag dispenser there is an encouragement to bring dogs somewhere they do not belong….

  3. This is actually a public park. The playfield is owned by Seattle Public Schools and leased to the Seattle Parks Department. The Parks Department pays for all the maintenance of the park/playfield, but Hamlin Robinson School is able to close the park to public use whenever they want during the school day. And they do close it.

    I don’t know for sure, but suspect that because it is a park, dogs are allowed on leash. Great that the kids are doing something about the dog waste problem.

  4. This is a great example to live by for all of us – use your voice and creative thinking to better the community around us. So glad that you are part of our neighborhood!

  5. Actually, dogs are not allowed on athletic fields or playgrounds. If signs are posted, it is illegal, on or off leash to have a dog there. The fee is (I think) $150 & I have seen offenders fined–not often enough in my opinion.

    That said, the kids had a great lesson in how government responds to citizens.

  6. TT Minor is listed on the city’s web site as TT Minor Playground

    Dogs are not allowed at organized athletic fields, beaches, or children’s play areas in Seattle parks, per the Seattle Municipal Code.

    I’m also pretty sure that there is a sign attached to fence outside of the area that states this.

  7. My understanding is that dogs aren’t allowed on playgrounds at schools but they are allowed on leashes in public parks (just not at the playground areas). There is a playground at TT Minor, but there is also a sidewalk that runs through the park area to get from Union to Madison. You can’t tell someone not to walk their dog on a sidewalk through a park on a leash.

    It’s too bad that some irresponsible pet owners were leaving messes for the kids to encounter. I hope everyone steps up to do a better job of being responsible members of the community.

    So this points out what the CD really needs: An off-leash dog park!

  8. Gotta disagree – the whole thing is fenced, can be closed off and is called a “Playground”. I don’t think it is a public sidewalk, so technically I don’t think you should even walk through with a leashed dog. Plus its just good manners… it is an elementary (middle?) school – even if you pick up your dog poopies it leaves residue and you can’t pick up dog pee…. It is a place where kids play get their hands in all manner of stuff on the ground and then stick them in their mouths/noses etc. While I don’t think a little exposure to germs is all that bad for kids, unintentionally eating dog poo is just nasty.

  9. Again, it may be named TT Minor Playground, but it is a public park maintained by the Seattle Parks Department. As “exactly” noted above, “Dogs are not allowed at organized athletic fields, beaches, or children’s play areas in Seattle parks, per the Seattle Municipal Code.” The grassy area is not an organized athletic field, and obviously not a beach. The confusion is with the definition of a children’s play area. Seattle Municipal Code calls it a “designated children’s play area.” That would be the area with the play structures on the south end of the playground. The grassy area is not a designated play area. In fact, the signage in that area tells people to obey the leash and scoop laws.

    It is perfectly legal for people to walk their dogs on the grassy area on leash if they pick up the poop. By the way, I do not own a dog.

  10. Would be nice to have an off leash park/area in all neighborhoods. Not only would it be nice to have more space to run than Pillars, but I hope it would finally give me a place to take the kids without having to deal with an off leash dog. Perhaps it would be easier to have just ONE city park designated “people only” since all parks are now used as off leash anyway. I would even welcome that.

  11. The use of the TT Minor Playground as an off-leash park is one of my biggest pet peeves in this neighborhood. There is a sign stating the $150 fine, but it’s not visible enough, and I’m not sure people would heed it anyway. It’s not like anyone is patrolling the parks, and Animal Control, who is in charge of enforcing that particular law, has told me that they don’t have the budget to send anyone out there to enforce it. They told me I could take photos of the license plates of offenders, but most people walk their dogs to that park. I’ve been verbally attacked the one time I asked someone to put their dog back on it’s leash (it ran at me as I jogged by), so following someone to their car to take their picture is not something I really want to do. I did take a video of someone while they let their dog poop on the playfield and didn’t pick it up. Haven’t done anything with it, though.

    It’s too bad that the kids of HRS have to deal with the dog waste, but kudos to them for finding a way to deal with it. Hopefully people with dogs who use this park see this story and are more conscientious about how they use the park.

  12. I still say the whole thing should be dog free…… if I’m not completely crazy, there used to be a sign on the east entrance that excluded dogs – but that seems to be gone now…

    That aside the *entire* park is a play area – it is even signed that way. It is TT Minor *Playground*, play area….

    If you want to be nit-picky and claim only the area of the jungle gyms is the play area, I can be nit-picky too and point out that a running track is an organized athletic field and so is the grassy area – or at least designated as a play area – it is signed “Grassy Area – This area is for running, tag, games, playing catch, kickball, drill team activities and sitting quietly” That only leaves the sidewalk that cuts through – and since the whole thing is signed – outside the fence as a “play area” I don’t think people should even go there with their dogs…

  13. I have a dog. I live near this play field. I agree with most of what is said regarding the use of the field. There is really no point in nit-picking over if it is or isn’t for dogs: the field is not for dogs. And, I admit, I have been a dog-walker/user of the park, who for the record scoops & is sensitive to the fact that this is not a dog park so I need to be aware of who else is there. The others I know who go there are similar — sorry to the gal who had some jerk sick her dog on her. Lame. Still, we are sneaking in a use of public space that it is not intended for. Good job to the kids for taking the first steps to return what was a vacant space back to its intended purpose.

    Since the school has been in active use, I curtailed walking pooch there. It IS nasty to think of the kids playing in a field-of-dog, scooped or not. Yuck!

    That so many have been sneaking onto TT Minor’s field, breaking the rules set for the space, points to neighborhood need. I agree with Derek, we need a dog park. I know all the dog parks within ten miles and it is awesome they exist but we need one centrally located in the Capitol Hill/CD region on top of the hill where a dog can have some length to chase a ball.

    With budgets the way they are I won’t hold my breath this wished for dog park will come soon but I will keep pooch off TT Minor’s field in deference to its rightful tenants.

  14. I have child that goes to Hamlin Robinson and she continually tells me about how many kids are accidentally stepping in dog poop when they are out at recess. Not only is it gross, but it takes time away from their school work when they have to go clean their shoes.
    That being said, I am a huge fan of dogs and beleive they need a place to run. A little compromise is a good thing! If people would simply scoop, I think the area could be shared.
    Thankyou to the person who wrote the “the bigger picture” for your balanced perspective and your willingness to not take your dog to that field in order to support the kids. It is much appreciated. And I will support getting more dog parks in the central area.

  15. This is great! They should sell laminated prints of their posters – I would totally buy one for the planting strip in front of our house.

  16. Thank you for such a mature view point and responsible actions. I appreciate the respect you are showing our community and park system.

  17. Wow. You don’t see posts like this every day. Someone taking accountability for their actions and doing something about it. THANK YOU!

    On a related note, I have spoken to City Park Dept and there doesn’t seem to be any plans to open any additional off leash areas in the near or distant future. I have written Sally Bagshaw’s office on putting a proposal to increase license and violation fees to fund a possible future site. Any one want to join in support? I understand it is low on the priority list, but it does seem as if we are in desperate need of a solution. Our last run in with two loose dogs was very frightening not only for my kid but I was at a loss as what to do next with two dogs who ran to us barking and then stood firm in our way tail up barking and growling. Especially concerning was that the dogs would not respond to the owner’s call. He had to literally run over and grab them by the collars to pull them away. I am really getting tired of this.

  18. Yes, this should be a dog free zone. Kudos to the kids for their creative, positive, and fun efforts and for being great neighbors. The fact that people take there dogs there says to me that there is a dearth of dog parks in our part of town. I feel for owners (more so for the dogs) that they need to travel farther for an off leash play area – but owners, you know where these parks are, please make an effort to get there. (yes, I have a dog).

  19. From the area around the school
    Magnuson Park is a little over 5 miles
    Woodland Park 4.5 miles
    Jose Rizal Park 2.5 miles
    Blue Dog Park 2 miles
    Plymouth Pillars 1.25 miles

    There’s also an off leash area at Colonnade Park, at Genesee Park, at Regrade Park and at Golden Gardens….

    This part of the city actually has *more* off leash areas available in a condensed area than other parts…

  20. I agree, not that far away, but not exactly walking distance either. Would be nice for area dog owners to have a park they could walk to rather than drive to. The one off Boren is walkable but it looks rather small. I don’t have a dog, but I would think they would need a larger space to really run. The fact that 9.9 out of 10 times I go to a park, there is at least one off leash dog says we need a more convenient solution so I’d like to continue to push for something in the CD/Cap Hill area. If anyone is already working on this or can suggest more effective ways on getting this accomplished, I would welcome working together.

  21. Yes, most of the parks in the CD are not in the center of the area and more around the edges with just a few very small ones toward the center and good for humans. Given the situation I think that if dog owners want an off-leash area they will have to plan for a bit of a longer walk or short drive south where it appears there are two or walk or drive over to Boren and in between walk the dog on the leash. I know it would be nice, but given the dearth of open space I don’t think it is practical to wish for an off-leash area here. Part of the area does belong to the School District and part of it is Seattle Parks, all good for kids. Leash laws have a purpose.

    Dr. Jose Rizal Park
    1008 12th Ave. S (Map It)
    Genesee Park and Playfield
    4316 S Genesee St. (Map It)
    Golden Gardens Park
    8498 Seaview Pl. NW (Map It)
    I-5 Colonnade
    Beneath I-5, south of E Howe St. (Map It)
    Northacres Park
    12718 1st Ave. NE (Map It)
    Plymouth Pillars Park
    Boren Ave. and Pike St. (Map It)
    Regrade Park
    2251 3rd Ave. (Map It)
    Sam Smith Park
    1400 Martin Luther King Jr Way S (Map It)
    Warren G. Magnuson Park
    7400 Sand Point Way NE (Map It)
    Westcrest Park
    9000 8th Ave. SW (Map It)
    Woodland Park
    1000 N 50th St. (Map It)

  22. The problem is that the leash laws are not working. I would love it if dog owners gave consideration of whether they were able and willing to drive or walk further to run their dogs off leash, but it doesn’t look like that is happening. My older daughter is now so afraid of dogs that her flight response has taken over. And when she runs from a loose dog in a park or street, they chase. Period. So now we can’t go to parks. And often have to cross the street to avoid an off leash dog being walked on the streets. We have been working with her on this fear for YEARS now and every time we make progress another incident occurs. So, rather than wait for people to do the right thing, I feel that creating a solution to a seemingly real need is more productive. Please, if you have other recommendations, I am all ears, because asking dog owners to leash their dogs is NOT working. We are just met with hostility.

  23. Funny…I don’t own a dog…I live on 17th and walk through the playfield to TJ’s and work daily. I LOVE SEEING DOGS on the playfield..I feel as if the presence of the owners and dogs keep the vandals at bay. You know this is a neighborhood as well as a school. And if I had my way…I would ban kids in favor of dog any day…and of course the mostly rather rude mothers that drop them off daily.

  24. Well, given that my and the earth’s survival depends on these kids learning empathy, accountability, responsibility, and ethics I side with being a good role model and fighting for their lawful rights over caving in to irresponsible law breakers.