My Emerald Story: Building Back Greater

In celebration of the South Seattle Emerald’s 8th Anniversary, we asked community members to share moments in our publication’s history that remain special to them.

by Cynthia Green

Help the Emerald create more “ripples and sparks” throughout the community! I’m the publisher’s mother and an Emerald founding board member. I’ve lived in Seattle all my life. Over most of those 77 years, the brilliance, diversity, and beauty of our community lacked a constant spotlight — that was until the Emerald came along. I’ve seen my son and the Emerald team sacrifice sleep, health care, self-care, and better salaries elsewhere to keep the Emerald shining a light on our community. I’d never ask anyone to make that kind of sacrifice, but I do ask to do what you can today to support the Emerald as a Rainmaker, or sustaining donor, during their 8th anniversary campaign, Ripples & Sparks at Home, April 20–28. Become a Rainmaker today by choosing the “recurring donor” option on the donation page!

—Cynthia “Mama” Green, The Publisher’s Mama & Rainmaker 

So, another year has gone by. I am so grateful that the South Seattle Emerald is still here to serve our community due to the dedicated leadership team, writers, photographers, board, and community. I’m also grateful that I have had the opportunity to see and experience something rare during my lifetime, largely because of the Emerald’s coverage. 

Years ago, while working at RAYS Family Center, now called the Cynthia A. Green Family Center, a family medicine and substance abuse clinic, I had the privilege of meeting a young man named Cortez Charles. 

In just a short number of years, Cortez turned his life around completely. He’d originally been involved in street life, but soon after I met him, began working a full-time job, became a co-founder of the organization TOKEN, got married, and had children. And, much to my delight, he was recently interviewed by my son Marcus for an article in the Emerald about his noteworthy and heartwarming reformation and service to our community.

After the interview, Marcus shared that Cortez had told him how he had been a negative influence in the South End community, but then decided he wanted to be a positive force, aiming to rebuild a community he once helped destroy. Since committing himself to community service, he hosted a three-day Turkey Bowl Week of Service that brightened the lives of the less fortunate in our area around the holidays, and taught South End kids about the responsibility and joy in giving back. On the first day, the youth prepared sandwiches and assembled hygiene kits to give out to those in the community. On day two, they held a flag football game and dinner to thank the kids for volunteering, and on the third day, there was an adult football tournament and food drive. Cortez is clearly living his change of heart, and showing the community that he meant it when he said he wanted to do better for them.

I have continued to keep up with Cortez and recently attended one of his events. It is so gratifying to see what a person can do when they make their mind up about who they want to be — and to watch the community, including those at the Emerald, amplify his important and impactful work on the South End. To me, the fact that there is a publication telling stories like this one about Cortez exemplifies why I love and believe in the mission of the Emerald. The Emerald helps to narrate and affirm the sort of community I want to live in: a community that allows people to make mistakes and encourages them in their path to be and do better. It shows that you’re never stuck, and that you can always move forward and make a difference.

As Cortez says: “I was one of the individuals that helped tear down this neighborhood, tear down my community, and it’s my duty and my calling to be one of the ones that help build it back up.” Likewise, the Emerald — through its unconditional support of the South End community — feels that call of duty, too, and shows up for it heartily.

Help us celebrate our 8th anniversary with our ‘Ripples & Sparks at Home virtual event on April 28 at 7 p.m. with Ijeoma Oluo, Charles Johnson, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, and our own Marcus Harrison Green — with the music of Shaina Shepherd and Intisaar, plus Emerald board member Lucas Draper will make a custom cocktail/mocktail with you to enjoy in the comfort of your own home. RSVP here!

Cynthia A. Green is a lifelong South Seattleite. She currently works as a kinship care navigator for Catholic Community Services, helping King County kinship caregivers (including grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and others caring for family members’ children when circumstances prevent their parents from caring for them) find resources and support. Cynthia is also a volunteer tutor with the Lake Washington Youth Tutoring Program. Extremely modest, she will never tell you that the Cynthia A. Green Family Center in Skyway is named after her.

📸 Featured Image: Illustration by Haley Williams for the South Seattle Emerald.

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