Category Archives: Community

Tutoring Programs Support Families During COVID-19

by Alexa Peters


In August, Governor Jay Inslee announced his recommendations for the 2020-2021 school year amid the coronavirus pandemic. Similar to the phased reopening of businesses throughout the state, Inslee let local county health departments and school districts decide how they’d like to proceed, while strongly recommending districts consider virtual learning alternatives.

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Pho Bo’s Proposed Demolishment for Luxury Apartments Raises Community Concerns

by Ronnie Estoque


Seattle resident Achil Obenza regards Pho Bo in Columbia City as her go-to spot for Vietnamese cuisine. In fact, when her newborn daughter was merely 3 days old, she brought her there alongside her husband for their first family outing. Now the restaurant space is under the threat of being demolished to make way for 71 luxury apartments by a company referred to in the design review documentation as CP Rainier LLC. Construction is projected to begin in spring of 2021 once the design review process is finalized by the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections.

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The Station Hopes to Avoid Being ‘One of the Closing POC Businesses’

by Marti McKenna


Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include information about a GoFundMe fund benefitting The Station.

For 10 years, Beacon Hill coffee and community hub The Station has been known to many in the South End as a place to get great coffee and snacks, meet friends, work, and hold community discussions. In that way, it’s like a lot of small, neighborhood cafes, though The Station has been a particular haven for People of Color and the space itself is a vehicle for activism on behalf of marginalized people. Luis Rodriguez and Leona Moore-Rodriguez have created an entity in The Station that extends beyond its walls and into the community itself. And now they’re turning to the community they’ve helped and asking for help to stay open.

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Ark Lodge Cinemas GoFundMe Asks for Community Support To Become “The Gem Of Columbia City”

by Mark Van Streefkerk 


Ark Lodge Cinemas, Columbia City’s movie theater, launched a GoFundMe on September 19 with the goal of raising $750,000. It’s an ambitious first step in the Ark owner David McRae’s long-term hope of raising $3 million overall, enough to buy the almost 100-year-old Masonic building and securing the theater as the “Gem of Columbia City” for years to come. In addition to the GoFundMe, the Ark launched a capital campaign to attract bigger investors, with rewards ranging from limited edition T-shirts to opportunities to rename the Ark’s screening rooms. In almost two weeks, the GoFundMe has raised close to $40,000, and at least one of the capital campaign rewards has been claimed. 

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Community Leaders Will Meet to Discuss Solutions to Increasing Gun Violence in King County

by M. Anthony Davis


A shootout last Friday in South Seattle near Emerson Elementary School sent five people to the hospital. According to reports, more than 70 shots were fired on a residential street. Then, later that evening, more gunshots were fired on Seward Park Avenue South. That shooting left one person dead at the Atlantic City boat ramp. According to police, witnesses saw a car fleeing the scene before hitting and killing a pedestrian at the intersection of Rainier Avenue South and Martin Luther King Jr. Way South. 

Gun violence is on the rise throughout King County. In Seattle in 2019, there were 18 gun homicides. In 2020, there were 17 by the end of July. If this trend continues, we will have a record year for gun homicides in Seattle. Local officials such as  King County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Ryan Abbott, quoted in the KUOW article linked above, blame “warm weather” and juveniles “not being in school” during summer months as reasons for the increased violence. 

Critics say local politicians and police have failed to curb gun violence in our communities. By and large, police are only involved in the back end of gun violence — they are called after the shooting has already occurred. In the demands of those calling to defund police, part of the reallocated funds are needed to support community efforts to stop gun violence on the front end — by strengthening social services and engaging youth before any violent crimes are committed. 

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Remembering Phil Hayasaka, Asian American and Civil Rights Activist

by Frank Irigon


The Asian Family Affair was the first pan-Asian community newspaper in Seattle which I co-founded in 1972 with Diane Wong, Norman Mar, and the late Alan Sugiyama. In April 1975, we published an interview with Phil Hayasaka for our Asian American Movement issue. At that time, Phil was the Director of the Seattle Human Rights Commission and Kathy Tagawa was the paper’s editor.

In the editor’s note preceding Phil Hayasaka’s interview, Tagawa wrote Phil “was one of the prime movers in beginning the Asian American Movement in Seattle. In 1969 the Asian Coalition for Equality (ACE) was begun. ACE was involved in such activities as picketing the Elks Club for its discriminatory policies, and shutting down construction sites with the United Construction Workers Association.”

Fifty years have passed since ACE was begun to bring about social change in Seattle. Although it had a short shelf life as far as community advocacy organizations go, it did leave its mark on Seattle’s Asian Movement. After ACE, Phil plowed ahead with his passion for civil rights. In 1972, he served as the first chairperson of the Washington State Asian Advisory Council under Governor Dan Evans. He used his position as Chair to convene the first national panel to bring awareness of institutional racism against Asians. 

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Forterra’s South Sound Gathering Brings Together BIPOC Leaders to Discuss the Future of Conservation in Our Region


by Jack Russillo

In the battle to confront the effects of climate change, Emily Pinckney, a Black marine biologist working for the Point Defiance Zoo, has compared the process for BIPOC communities to crabs in a barrel. 

First of all, crabs shouldn’t be in a barrel, she says. We should not be trapping ourselves in a scenario that forces us to claw at one another in a competitive struggle for survival and that ends with us getting boiled. There’s no reason for us to need to compete.

“Equality is not a pie, and there’s not just one slice for People of Color,” said Pinckney, a community-appointed member of the state’s Environmental Justice Task Force. “We need to make sure that we actually educate everyone and not necessarily empower people — because we do have power — but recognizing that power that we have and reminding us that we have it … Some people get it and some people just haven’t had the time to understand the concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion and why they’re valuable to this [environmentalism] movement.”

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Women of the Diaspora Helps Bring Much-Needed School Supplies to South End Students

by M. Anthony Davis


Women of the Diaspora (WOD) is a new collective working to empower individual and grassroots support of Black and Brown communities. The five women responsible for the formation of this collaborative came together during this summer’s protests in Seattle sparked by the death of George Floyd. 

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Edwin Wanji Brings Solar Energy to South Seattle — and Rural Kenya

by Sally James


When two men met long ago as part of a city committee, they didn’t know that years later it would lead to a solar installation.

Dennis Comer, who lives near Genesee Park, works as the director of the nonprofit Central Area Collaborative. His days are spent trying to promote investments and development that will benefit the Central District and preserve its cultural legacy.

Edwin Wanji is the owner of Sphere Solar Energy, a five-year-old company that installs solar panels on roofs in Washington as well as around the world. Wanji is an immigrant from Kenya who came to the United States with two $20 bills in his pocket as a college student almost 15 years ago.

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Listen to Your Passion: Powerlifting Champ Mark Bryant’s Inspiring Journey Rising from Adversity

by M. Anthony Davis


Editor’s Note: The following includes ableist language and description of child abuse by a parent. This content might be disturbing, so we encourage everyone to prepare themselves emotionally before proceeding. If you believe that the reading will be traumatizing for you, we suggest you forego it.

Mark Bryant, a proud resident of Columbia City, is not only an eight-time powerlifting world champion and a two-time powerlifting hall of famer. He is also an extraordinarily humble man who has dedicated his life to inspiring and caring for people through his knowledge of and passion for physical fitness.

“Whatever your passion is, you make sure that you follow it,” Bryant explains. “And don’t let anyone turn you away from it … No one knows what’s in your heart but you. Follow it, and more than likely it’s going to put you on the path where you belong. You’ll be free.”

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