Like the greater Tacoma area, Parkland has had its fair share of negative publicity. But with a will and desire to rewrite its own story, this suburban town has worked hard to change and still is changing for the better. Part of this change has come as a result of increasing collaborations between the and Pacific Lutheran University, a university of 3000 full-time students nestled right in the middle of Parkland.
While the Parkland community and PLU have had their historic ups and downs, in the recent years they have been coming back together. PLU Business professor Mark Mulder, a Harvard University graduate, said “What is really cool about PLU being in Parkland is that we have faculty with expertise, we have students that are gaining their expertise and we have students that are doing projects and have so much that they can give. And we happen to be placed in a community that has that same need.” And this impression comes from the community as well. While drinking a coffee bought at 208, a coffee shop on Garfield Street, Sarah who is a part of the Parkland community and a single mother of two, says “I think the students at PLU are bringing hope for us and for the future. Parkland does not have a good reputation, but the students that come here care about the community and they want to be a part of it.”
One example of this increasing collaboration is the Parkland Community Mural, which celebrates Parkland’s past, present, and hope for the future. This production was achieved with the help from a PLU student, Saiyare Refaei, who designed the mural after months of dialogue with Parkland community members. Another example is the Winter Fest, an annual collaboration between PLU and the community. Every Christmas for the last 24 years, PLU students, faculty, and staff, in collaboration with the community, gather resources for low-income families. With the support of local organizations and dozens of volunteers, this program helps on average 250 families and over 900 children each year. These two events show how far the community has come in providing care and service for the community.