As bulldozers raze their neighborhood, public-housing tenants reflect on decades of experiences and grapple with losing their tight-knit community to a rapidly gentrifying city.
Even the Walls does not ask a slew of architects, builders, academics or public housing experts about Yesler Terrace and its track record. Instead it takes a more personal approach and speaks with the experts on Yesler Terrace and its efficacy: its community members. Those who know viscerally the reality of what will be lost and what we can gain by shifting our perspective from short-term financial gain to long-term prosperity for all members of our city communities.
Although linked to a number of politically-charged issues, the film storyline focuses on personal stories, seeking to foster empathy over sympathy. It avoids divisive thinking and finger-pointing, and instead exemplifies the life experiences we all struggle with, the joys we've known, and the desire for home, safety and belonging we can all feel.Not everyone in Yesler feels positively about their experience, and few feel completely happy with their time living there. But this is what an experience with place is. It is not perfect, but you still grow attached because you made new friends there, you got in trouble there, you discovered new things about yourself; you lived there. If you live there long enough, a place comes a part of who you are (and vice versa), integral to your identity. This is what home is.
On a personal level, we created Even the Walls to explore our personal interests in home, culture and community. In Yesler Terrace, we were able to see the type of connectivity we had always been curious about. Although its networks had already been slowly dissolving (news of deconstruction were announced in 2006), we were still able to witness the relationships that make a neighborhood a community and a house a home. To destroy a place like this without honoring its existence, recognizing its place in a chain of incredibly similar events across the country, or viewing it as a great loss to Seattle. These are the larger reasons we had for making the film.