My Emerald Story: A Deep Sense of Home

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 Sarah Stuteville

The Emerald is a blueprint to showing, sharing, and bridging Black and Brown folks through the power of storytelling. The Emerald is what we should be truly striving for as a community. Don’t just talk about it. Create a way to practice and be about us coming together. The Emerald is setting the example. Join me in supporting the Emerald as a recurring 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!

—Sharon Nyree Williams, Artist, Orator, & Rainmaker

My first exposure to the Emerald was, like for many of us, through founder Marcus Harrison Green. It was 2014 and I was still working at the University of Washington (UW) in the Journalism Department. I was still writing a column for The Seattle Times and I was hustling to find funding for The Seattle Globalist — a now-closed publication dedicated to providing media training for diverse and underrepresented communities. 

Marcus showed up at my office to talk about his new project, which would bring community media to Seattle’s South End. He was looking for support, advice, and words of wisdom — and caution. He was passionate, funny, and already deeply committed to the vision of a better type of media for a city, and specifically for the South End community, roiled by breakneck change and rising to respond in creative and beautiful ways. That hour-long meeting turned easily into two and within months I was in Columbia Ale House with Marcus and other media makers brainstorming community meetups, training programs, story ideas, and events. 

It was as though there had been an Emerald-shaped hole in the Seattle media landscape. Some of the most creative, challenging, interesting thinkers and creators were immediately drawn to it. It quickly became the media meeting place for the city’s most essential conversations. Whether that was in its digital pages or through live events. What we couldn’t have known in those early years was how much we would need this publication in the deeply tumultuous and frightening times to come.  

With every new political, social, or economic upheaval — the Trump years, the pandemic, the racial justice uprisings — the Emerald has been the fire that gathers around it the crucial, diverse, and brilliant voices of this city. It has been a conversation generator, a launchpad for new writers, a place for writing and analysis that centers BIPOC experience and perspective, a publication holding a mirror up to a city that too often sells itself to the highest bidder.

Personally, the Emerald has been a home for me too. As a columnist during the pandemic, it gave me a platform to explore what COVID-19 has exposed about capitalism, care, and collapsing systems — to imagine what it might mean for us individually and collectively. As an editor, it has given me the deep honor of working with seasoned and emerging writers and journalists — people I learn from, and am inspired by, every week. As a community member, the Emerald gives me a deep sense of pride. I hear people reference Emerald articles regularly — often after having read something compelling or controversial in our pages.

Eight years from that UW meeting with Marcus, many of the students and young people I was teaching through UW Journalism and at The Globalist are now writers and contributors for the Emerald. This publication has become a key media source with broad implications for a city that sits at the crossroads of some of our generation’s deepest challenges. From homelessness and gentrification to racism, gender, and late-stage capitalism, the Emerald places BIPOC and South End communities at the very center of those topical conversations. As a writer and editor, the Emerald is the media outlet I am most proud to work for.

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!

Sarah Stuteville is a writer and therapist with a background in international journalism. She writes about feminism, social justice, mental health, media, parenting, and relationships. Sarah has reported from over a dozen countries and wrote a social justice issue column for the Seattle Times.

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

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