by Brie Ripley
Writers, reporters, non-profit workers, a city council candidate, and community members all sang together last night. “Happy birthday dear South Seattle Emerald,” they chimed, “happy birthday to you.”
The South Seattle community gathered at the Hillman City Collaboratory on April 29 to celebrate the online non-profit news outlet’s one-year anniversary. Everyone was all smiles when the party kicked off at 6 p.m.
A fishbowl of green button pins that said “Citizen Journalist” were offered to guests as they walked through the door as well as a chance to enter a raffle to win a South Seattle Emerald baseball jersey handmade by local retailer Ebbets Field Flannels. Birthday cake was baked by South Seattle’s oldest bakery, Borracchini’s, and free beer for guests was provided by the Flying Lion Brewery.
Food was provided by Chef Tarik Abdullah, a South Seattle native and contestant on ABC’s The Taste. He’s a private chef and caterer whose made food for A-list celebrities like Kanye West. Last night, he served rose water basmati rice with a garden plethora of stir-fried vegetables tossed in French-Indian herbs and a spicy, must-go-back-for-seconds dish of yellow chicken curry.
After everybody filled themselves with a plate or two of Abdullah’s fine eats, the birthday speeches began. Dustin Washington, the Director of the Community Justice Program for AFSC, was first to address the buzzing crowd.
“We must continue to show our support for independent publications,” Washington said.
South Seattle Emerald founder and Editor-in-Chief Marcus Harrison Green, in a heartfelt speech punctuated by signature quippy jokes, thanked the publication’s 70 contributing writers for the hours that they spent pouring themselves into a publication he never thought would actually come to life. Green also thanked board members, volunteers, and contributing staff who do the behind-the-scenes work that help make the publication possible.
“You all do so much and I can’t even pay you,” Green said, “it just means so much to me.”
Following Green’s speech was a spoken word performance by South Seattle Emerald writer, drea chicas, who prefers to use only lowercase lettering in her name. Her spitfire tongue and booming tenor curled through her fingers and stomped from her feet as she recited a poem that wove metaphors about her Latina heritage between imagery of South Seattle and what it means to be an American and share our stories.
Her long black hair wooshed as she stalked the edges of an ornamental rug she performed on, getting close to the audience.
Between Italian birthday cake, curried chicken, plastic cups of local craft beer, and live music provided by folk duo Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons, the South Seattle Emerald brought writers, readers, and South Seattle community members together last night to celebrate one year of independent online media reporting from the most eclectic place on earth. And here’s to many more!