BPS teacher creates Facebook pages to improve Bellevue

An old flyer promoting Bellevue restaurants was one element of Garrett Sims'

An old flyer promoting Bellevue restaurants was one element of Garrett Sims’ “Tastes of Bellevue” Facebook group. The contest ended March 5.

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An old flyer promoting Bellevue restaurants was one element of Garrett Sims' "Tastes of Bellevue" Facebook group. The contest ended March 5.
An old flyer promoting Bellevue restaurants was one element of Garrett Sims’ “Tastes of Bellevue” Facebook group. The contest ended March 5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garrett Sims is a fourth grade teacher at Fairview Elementary. He offers teachers weekend courses to learn more about using technology and educational games in the classroom. He coaches two robotics teams and runs a science camp in the summer for 5th and 6th graders. This, however, is not all that he does for the city of Bellevue.

Sims created two Facebook pages for anyone to join to learn and discuss about Bellevue–“Bellevue 411” and “The Tastes of Bellevue.”

“I teach my classroom, students, and my own kids if you are going to complain about something, you better step up and help change it,” Sims said. “I’ve done my fair share of complaining about Bellevue over the years. I view Tastes of Bellevue and 411 as my attempt to do something to help our city and the businesses within it.”

When Sims first started Tastes of Bellevue on July 5, 2015 he expected there to be around 1,000 members. Little did he know that it would soon turn into 6,500 people. This page discusses the positive aspects of local restaurants, bakeries and food trucks.

“Most of the food businesses on Tastes of Bellevue have mentioned a measurable increase in business,” Sims said. “Buying local is so important to our economy.”

Spanish teacher Carli Rhylander has seen a difference in a restaurant she goes to regularly because of Tastes of Bellevue.

“I’ve seen Bellevue grow just by the restaurants,” Rhylander said. “You always see people talk about the Tastes of Bellevue page. A place that I go to get dollar tacos on Tuesdays used to have not anyone there, but now everyone goes there to get their tacos because of this page.”

English teacher Amy Smith said that citizens who choose local businesses over chains help the city of Bellevue.

“I think the Tastes of Bellevue encourages us to shop local,” Smith said. “It is really helpful because Bellevue needs some help with its image and some of those things, and this makes it easier for me to be supportive for what we already have going on.”

Bellevue 411 currently has over 4,000 members. It started due to people using the Tastes of Bellevue as a place to ask other questions about the city. Group accomplishments, education news, construction updates, and questions about business are discussed on this page.

“I thought it would be nice to have a place for the people of Bellevue to share information about our city, ask questions, and get answers,” Sims said.

The 411 group posts projects like “Adopt a Park,” which gives Bellevue citizens a chance to get out and improve the public parks in Bellevue.

“I know one thing the page was talking about [was] getting people to clean up parks,” Daughtrey said. “How cool would that be if there are people who volunteer just because of this Facebook page to help clean up our parks?”

With a couple of thousand members on each page, this means a couple thousand different opinions. Sims does not allow negative comments on his pages. According to Sims the hard part of managing the two pages is making it  possible for others to disagree on controversial topics without arguing with each other.

“Social media can be very positive, but it can also be detrimental,” math teacher Angela Daughtrey said. “I think Mr. Sims has done an excellent job of keeping it positive. He always talks about if there is a problem you need to have a solution you can’t just sit there and complain about it, and I like that point of view.”

Tastes of Bellevue and Bellevue 411 have been up for less than year, and Sims can see a change.

“I think Garrett Sims did a really good job at starting to promote the small businesses within Bellevue, Rhylander said. “He’s also got a lot of contests going on. I think that social media is the first step to improving the community.”