The new community center at Pike Place Market provides space and resources to those in need.

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Crystal Dixon

What do you do? I’m the manager at The Market Commons, a new community and resource center in Pike Place Market that was established by Pike Place Market Foundation. The Market Commons provides vital social services to residents, merchants, workers and neighbors in need in the Seattle area. I work with a dedicated team that helps those in the community access information about resources such as health care, child care, services for seniors, as well as food and nutrition programs. Additionally, we offer a variety of activities and classes that teach skills such as sewing, cooking on a budget and tax prep.

How did you get started in that field? I have been in the social service field pretty much my whole career. Before coming to the Foundation, I worked with the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County as a unit director and Wellspring Family Services as a community engagement manager. Through these many different positions at a variety of nonprofits, I have developed a passion for creating and cultivating connections and space for people to come together to support each other in addition to their community. This job is the pinnacle of that.

What’s a typical day like? There is no typical day in this job. Sometimes we have a group of preschoolers in here doing art projects or building block towers with residents of our assisted living facility. Other days we have people being interviewed for a podcast about how they started their business in the Market, but a constant is that every day we have neighbors looking for information about the social services available to them, including affordable housing, EBT fresh bucks (matching farm dollars for food stamps) or free health care. … People find their way to us and we either provide space for them to engage in an activity or we connect them to the resources they need.

What’s the best part of the job? Hands down, the best part is the people. The Pike Place Market community is a diverse group of people working together to sustain the thriving, caring neighborhood that exists here. The fun and creative things people see when they visit the Market are not just for show — the same level of passion and creativity is applied to helping support the people that work and live here, too.

What’s challenging about your work? The Market is a multi-layered place with many subgroups. Each of the groups has its own energy and culture. There has not traditionally been a place for all these groups to gather. The Market Commons has been built to do that, but it will take some time for each group to see themselves in the space. In the coming months, it’ll be important for our team to show the community how adaptable this space is and that it is open to all.

What surprises people about what you do? Most people are surprised to hear that along with the fish, flowers and wonderful food, the Pike Place Market is home to 500 units of affordable housing, and a network of social service agencies and programs that benefit thousands of low-income neighbors, residents and workers. The Market Commons is the most recent addition to these services, and we are happy to provide the much-needed space and attention to connecting the existing services to the people in need of them.

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