Find Posts By Topic

Seattle City Light and YouthCare Unveil the Future of Power at the Denny Substation

"The Future of Power Starts Here" at Denny Substation's southeast community space.

In the heart of Seattle, a celebration unfolded as Seattle City Light and the nonprofit organization YouthCare joined forces to open the southeast community space at the iconic Denny Substation. This momentous event not only marked the completion of a new space for YouthCare but also showcased the power of collaboration between a public utility and a community-focused organization.

Situated in the vibrant South Lake Union neighborhood, the Denny Substation is critical to City Light’s strategic plan and efforts to keep pace with Seattle’s growing power needs, economic development, and to ensure reliable power through the 21st century. City Light worked with the community to design the Denny Substation to fit the neighborhood’s character, provide needed community amenities, and serve as a model for environmental sustainability. This substation is a unique example of innovative infrastructure designed with input from the community and with those neighbors in mind.

“City Light has continued to work on projects to benefit the community – which is why we’re here today. What was once an empty space has now been designed and built out to house YouthCare’s Orion Center Annex. This facility embodies a theme of “transformation” to support the vision of a safe space for young people emerging from homelessness to heal through learning, growing, and making mistakes while offering job training and employment opportunities,” said Tamara Jenkins, Director of Project Delivery, who emceed the event.

Attendees of the open house mingle and take a self-guided tour.

City Light had been making tenant improvements at the Denny Substation in preparation for YouthCare to occupy the space as their new Orion Annex. YouthCare is a Seattle-based organization that works to end youth homelessness and to empower youth to achieve their potential. The Orion Annex will be used to provide more support to young people experiencing homelessness through education and workforce development services. The annex represents more than just a physical expansion; it is a commitment to empowering the next generation through education and comprehensive support services.

Erin Shigaki, Ken Robertson, Degale Cooper, and Tamara Jenkins all spoke at the event.

“Our young people deserve an opportunity like this. They deserve a high-dignity space to come and be engaged in their city and with each other, and to plan for their own futures,” Degale Cooper, CEO of YouthCare, stated.

Attendees also heard from Ken Robertson, YouthCare’s board president: “Partnership is the word of the day. Our young people deserve inspirational spaces,” he said. “This is the kind of thing that motivates young people to success.”

As part of this capital improvement project, City Light engaged the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and YouthCare for the creation of a collaborative artwork through the public 1% for Art fund. The artwork, titled Golden Futures, was created by teaching artist Erin Shigaki through a mentorship and teaching program with three YouthCare clients. The artwork is part of the City’s civic art collection and is proudly displayed at the entrance to the Orion Annex.

The Golden Futures artwork is proudly displayed in the entrance to the Orion Annex.

At the event, Erin told the audience that she wanted to teach the young artists about “kintsugi,” a Japanese pottery term meaning “golden repair,” and how “it’s about not throwing something away — it’s about creating something more beautiful and special than you had before.”

The Denny Substation is more than just a substation; it’s a symbol of transformation. Together with YouthCare, we are redefining the purpose of this space, channeling the energy of the city into empowering programs for homeless and at-risk youth. This partnership reflects a shared vision of a future where every young person has the opportunity to thrive, which Tamara summed up well: “Ultimately, as the glass on the outside says, ‘The Future of Power Starts Here.’ This spirit embodies YouthCare’s mission, and City Light couldn’t be prouder to partner with YouthCare on this project.”