Those interested in the history of our part of Seattle should journey to nearby Columbia City this Friday, June 1, at 5:30 pm for a free all-ages public event celebrating the Southeast Seattle Community History Project.
The Community History Project’s goal is to use traditional historic preservation methods combined with community-based research to identify and illuminate the people, places, events, and policies that shaped Southeast Seattle during the post-World War II era. See the Project’s website here.
Some of the Project’s activities have included studies by community organizations such as El Centro de la Raza, the Northwest African American Museum, the Wing Luke Asian Museum and the Washington State Jewish Historical Society; essays on geographic and social themes related to the neighborhoods within Southeast Seattle; a new local history app by HistoryLink.org; and a multilingual poster series in Chinese, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
The event is at the Royal Esquire Club, 5016 Rainier Ave. S. in the Columbia City Historic District. Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith and City Councilmember Sally Clark will be there to join the celebration. Free Southeast Seattle posters will be available.
It’s a busy weekend this week, particularly on Saturday morning. Take your pick from several events, including:
The Seven Hills Seattle and Scandinavian history walk starts on Queen Anne Hill at 9 a.m. and finishes right here on Beacon Hill. Information here.
Fire Station #13 Open House from 11-1 p.m. will celebrate the station’s reopening after renovation. All are welcome. Information here.
Franklin Arts Festival from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m will feature music, art, and food for the whole family. Information here.
Beacon Hill animator Tess Martin’s short, Hula Hoop, will play at SIFF Cinema Uptown at 10 a.m. as part of the Seattle Times and SIFF 3 Minute Masterpiece contest. Admission is free. Information here.
All are invited to a Lewis Park work party to assist in improving the park. These volunteer events are every first and third Sunday, starting at 10 a.m. at the park, 12th Ave S and Golf Dr S. Tools, gloves, water, and refreshments are provided.
A bit later in the day is a cooking demo at El Centro de la Raza with chef Vincent Rivera of Jazz Alley, who will demonstrate how to cook carnitas, pozole, and ceviche. Information here.
And finally, the ROCKiT Community Arts board meeting is Sunday from 1-3 p.m. at the Garden House, 2336 15th Ave. S. The meeting is open to the public.
Beacon Hill is (and historically always has been) a community of mixed incomes, cultures, ages and lifestyles. I am sometimes teased by friends from other ’hoods for what seems like excessive neighborhood pride, but there’s a lot to be proud of! Our Neighborhood Council is an active and effective voice for the community, and meetings are almost always respectful and productive. Even comments on our neighborhood blog manage to stay civil most of the time.
I hope we can maintain the positive and productive tone as the process moves forward to plan the next stages of development activity at El Centro de la Raza. El Centro staff, volunteers, patrons and tenants are part of our Beacon Hill community. I don’t understand the “us versus them” tone that creeps into conversations and comment threads about El Centro—especially when we’re all in the same room. We share the same goals and priorities: making Beacon Hill safe, vibrant and successful for everyone who lives, works, plays, studies and shops here.
El Centro de la Raza is working towards a goal to develop affordable housing, commercial space, and a public plaza. They are trying to build the “beloved community.” The need is real and the goals are attainable. While the process of changing zoning around the light rail station moves forward, El Centro is trying to activate their now-vacant south lot. They want to encourage vendors and food trucks, and to improve security and pedestrian access. They also need revenue and are proposing a gravel parking lot with 80 spaces for commuters and sports fans.
In 1972, the “Four Amigos” inspired countless volunteers to pressure elected officials for access to a space that would become a community meeting place. The original Beacon Hill Elementary building was vacant and seemed an ideal location. Their passion and dedication still inspire 38 years later.
El Centro de la Raza is the Center for all Peoples. The name is Spanish; the roots and mission multicultural. Roberto Maestas is the man best known for the occupation that led to El Centro’s foundation, but a photo of those involved in the occupation would make a classic Benetton t-shirt.
Today, the people who seek services (and those who provide them) are astonishingly diverse. Blonde acupuncture clients share the halls with East African mothers picking up children who learned Spanish with their Filipino classmates. Ukrainian seniors wait in line at the food bank staffed by Latino volunteers coordinated by an Asian AmeriCorps leader.
El Centro’s clients and staff are more than culturally diverse. They also represent the economic diversity of Beacon Hill. The food bank and meal programs help our hungry neighbors. All services are supported by donors and volunteers who have extra time, money, or other resources to share. Several small businesses and independent nonprofit organizations thrive as tenants in the building.. Public art and cultural events are offered throughout the year. El Centro is also the new home for Tots Jam, the toddler music class that started at ROCKiT space.
In addition to the work that goes on inside the building, El Centro advocates for and represents those in our community who might not otherwise participate in the political process. Through translation services, advocacy training, public meetings hosted at accessible times, and other means, El Centro staff and volunteers engage and inspire the community.
I’m not thrilled about parking lots on Beacon Hill. I don’t like any part of the idea. However, I’m willing to support El Centro’s efforts to build a temporary lot while the slow zoning process moves forward. A safe, accessible area with vibrant small businesses is a better short term use of this area than an empty lot. Some small income to help support programs is better than nothing.
El Centro is a vital part of the incredible community I’m proud to call home. They need our help so they can help us.
Oh, by the way… a group of diverse community activists are working to secure public meeting space on Beacon Hill. The North Beacon Hill Council is working with the Beacon Hill Merchants’ Association and other groups to request free access to office space in the library. We need a place to share community information and provide storage and meeting space. Please contact the Mayor’s Office and City Council members to support our efforts. We’re not asking people to occupy the space—an email or tweet should suffice.
Want to be a TV producer? Seattle’s public access TV station, SCANTV (Comcast 77/Broadstripe 23) is holding an orientation session on Beacon Hill for those interested in producing programs for SCANTV. The orientation is Wednesday, August 25, from 6:30-7:30 pm at the Beacon Hill Library, 2821 Beacon Avenue South. It is free and open to all, but you need to register in advance by contacting Rita Meher, Community Media Educator, at email@example.com or 206-522-4758 x104.
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A neighbor tweeted us, concerned about seeing a “creepy older white male in black parked jaguar on street w/kids”. Be careful out there, everyone.
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The Seattle Public Library recently released the results of their recent Community Survey. 33,000 people completed the survey in May, and SPL points out that that is a number equal to 5% of the city’s population. Of those who responded to the survey, 4.4% said that they visit the Beacon Hill branch regularly, and 0.9% visit the NewHolly branch regularly. Beaconians make a bit less use of the “hold” service than average; holds are just over 20% of the total circulation of the branch, as compared to 25% for the system overall (and 34% at Wallingford).
The survey asked questions such as “If you had $10 to invest in Library resources, how much would you spend on each of the following? Books and Other Print Resources, Audio-Visual Resources, Online Resources” and “When would you like the Library to offer programming?” The results are interesting. You can download the whole report here.
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Speaking of studies, Knowledge as Power, a non-profit based in Seattle, is running a usability study about the seattle.gov city website. They need participants from Beacon Hill who are willing to sit in a room and let them take notes as you browse for information on seattle.gov. Participants will get $20 in Tippr credit. (Tippr.com is a local “neighborhood deal” company similar to Groupon or LivingSocial.)
They are currently seeking two specific groups of people for the survey: 1) People who use or have used seattle.gov for a business purpose and 2) Ordinary citizens at every level of computer competency. If you are interested, you can sign up here.
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The Jefferson Park Lawn Bowling Club will host the US National Lawn Bowling Championships here in Seattle in August 2011, so they are hosting a Swine and Wine Sunset Dinner at the Greens fundraiser for the championships on Saturday, September 4, from 6:00 – 10:00pm. Guest chef (and Beacon Hill neighbor) Nick Musser from icon Grill will prepare a 4-course “porketarian” dinner “paired with wines, the best sunset in the city, and a side of lawn bowling.”
“I live two doors down from where the family was burned out of their house on 17th. Today I went to the bank to try to contribute money to their fund, and it was extremely difficult. So difficult I doubt that many people have been able to do it. Apparently the information in the paper/blog is only partly right. First of all, the account name is Alexandra Sarmiento, not Urrea. But even more unfortunately, without a published account number, because a trust or charitable account was not set up, it isn’t actually possible to contribute money to the family’s account. I was able to do it only because I spent so much time at the bank that they took pity on me.”
We apologize for the mistaken information. If donating through Chase won’t work, our understanding is that donations can also be made via the KOMO Problem Solvers fund, but when you give, you need to say in the instructions that your donation is for the Sarmiento/Urrea family.
Alleycat Acres and ROCKiT space have been pretty busy in the neighborhood lately. Now, they are working together to build an educational community garden in the backyard at ROCKiT space. On Saturday from 1:00-5:00 pm, the two groups are inviting the community to a work party to transform the space. They will also sell plant starts and baked goods to help raise funds for the garden, and there will be music and artsy activities as well as a potluck. To help out, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or just show up on June 12th. ROCKiT space is located at 3315 Beacon Avenue South. For more information, see the website.
Speaking of Link, Mike Lindblom reported in Sunday’s Seattle Times (BHB news partners) that there are still issues with the noise of the trains in Tukwila, along Martin Luther King Jr. Way South, and along the curve near Mount Baker Station and the Beacon Hill tunnel, though a lubrication system added last winter has helped somewhat. Have you noticed the noise, and have you noticed any improvement?
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Dan Bennett took this cool panoramic photo of Jefferson Park recently. Click on it to see a larger version. Once you’re there, click “Original” to see a much larger version.
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A land use application has been filed to allow change of use in the basement of an existing apartment structure at 1731 South Horton Street to a religious institution (Zen Buddhist Meditation Center); it would require approval of an Administrative Conditional Use to allow an institution in a single family zone. See this bulletin for further information. The comment deadline is June 20.
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Lastly, we wanted to pass on some information about a financial assistance program that is currently open for low-income families in Seattle. Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP) offers an Energy Assistance Program that provides financial assistance through LIHEAP and Puget Sound Energy HELP to help low-income families and individuals pay home heating bills and minimize future home heating costs. Eligible clients can receive up to $1,000 through LIHEAP or Puget Sound Energy for utility payment assistance and up to $5,000 for dysfunctional heating system, chimney, or window repair or replacement. For more information, see the website or call the Appointment Hotline at 1-800-348-7144.
Once, many years ago, I was in a very bad financial situation and CAMP’s program was what kept the heat from being turned off in my apartment that winter. I want to take this opportunity to thank them for being there when I needed help. If you know anyone who might need similar help, please do make sure they get information about CAMP’s program.
There are currently three open spots for the May 15 tamale-making class at El Centro. The class is $50 and you get to take home some delicious work along with your newfound skill and knowledge. Contact Ashley Haugen at 206-957-4611 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to sign up. Proceeds benefit El Centro’s senior programs.Thanks, Elliott!
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The Seattle Department of Transportation continues to work on the West Seattle viaduct construction project, as well as other construction and changes in the Sodo area and the overpasses from Beacon Hill to Sodo. Particularly of note: the First Avenue South on-ramp to the West Seattle Bridge will close permanently on May 17, and there will be lane closures on the Holgate Street overpass on May 17-18, and on the Columbian Way overpass on May 19-20. See the latest planned construction notices here.
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The Seattle Public Library wants to know what you think about library services and priorities. Help plan our local library’s future by filling out their survey — it’s available through May 16.
Pat McGannon is organizing a neighborhood clean-up to collect litter from the streets and public stairs.
The clean-up is Saturday, May 15, at 10:30 am, and will will include Dawson (between MLK and 30th Avenue South), 30th Avenue South (between Dawson and South Edmunds), South Edmunds (between 30th Avenue South and Mount View Drive), Mount View Drive (between South Edmunds and Alaska), and the stairs that connect 30th Avenue South to South Ferdinand below. (See the map to the left.)
Gloves, grabber tools, orange safety vests, and garbage bags will be provided to make litter collection safer. Volunteers should meet at the top of the South Ferdinand stairs (on 30th Avenue South) at 10:30 am. For more information, please contact Pat at email@example.com.
We recently posted a couple of photos of the view from Beacon Hill in 1959 and today. Burr Cline (Cleveland High School class of ’47) contacted us with a similar photo taken in 1949, and this one’s in color! There are fascinating details in it — billboards, cars, buildings that still exist and buildings that don’t. The color is amazingly true for a 60 year old image.
Please click on this image to see the large version.
Thanks to Burr for sending us this wonderful view!
BeHi Bonsai, the blog about the funky topiary foliage found throughout Beacon Hill, has found a yard that goes above and beyond the call of topiary duty: “Rings of foliage waft above the ground magically as if there is some unseen creature underground blowing leafy smoke rings for our amusement.”
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Health Department restaurant inspectors have recently visited a few more local establishments. Results of the inspections are posted online. The Aloha Grocery at 7762 Beacon Avenue South had 8 “blue” violation points (“surfaces not maintained, clean, sanitized”), El Delicioso at 2500 Beacon Avenue South had 5 blue violation points (plumbing issues), and Wing Luke Elementary School at 3701 South Kenyon Street scored a perfect 0. (Congratulations!) Dahlak Eritrean Cuisine at 2007 South State Street (at the foot of Beacon Hill, near Oberto’s) received 10 “red critical” violation points, for inadequate hand washing facilities.
Context: 45 or more red violation points force a re-inspection within two weeks, 90 or more red points force closure of the establishment, and 120 or more total (red and blue) points force closure of the establishment as well. So all of these businesses were in no danger of closure. Even one red violation is enough to result in an unsatisfactory inspection, however, and specialists work with the operators of the establishment to make sure that the situation is corrected immediately.