Category Archives: Community

Mayor Walking to “Find It, Fix It” in Rainier Beach

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s “Find it, Fix it” Community Walk series, which focuses on several crime hotspots, will be making its way to Rainier Beach this upcoming Tuesday.

The walks – announced last month-  have featured community residents, police, and city officials walking together to identify and find solutions to physical disorder.

The two walks already conducted have seen great success with a 40 percent rise in use of the Find It, Fix It application and identification, notification and action taken on graffiti removal, street lighting, litter and garbage clean-up, along with trimming overgrown bushes and trees.

 

    Rainier Beach Find It, Fix It Community Walk

Tuesday, July 22, 7 – 9 p.m.

Rainier Beach Station Plaza

Martin Luther King Jr Way and S. Henderson St.

Meet in the plaza (Map)

Full itinerary can be viewed here

SEED to Host Southend Area Golf Tournament

Golf

Long-time affordable housing, arts, and economic development nonprofit, Southeast Effective Development (SEED), announced today that it will be holding its 1st Annual Golf Tournament on August 15th.

This year, the tournament will be raising funds to support SEEDArts.  SEEDArts is a non-profit program of South East Effective Development and is the driving force behind the creation of SE Seattle’s two main arts/cultural facilities: the Rainier Valley Cultural Center, our region’s first performing arts center; and the Columbia City Gallery, a cooperative featuring the works of 30 local visual artists.

The SEED Golf Tournament will be held on August 15, 2014 at the beautiful Jefferson Golf Course with an 8:00 am shotgun start and lunch to follow.

The tournament format will be a 4-player team scramble. This will be a fun-filled affair for golfers and non-golfers alike while supporting a great cause.

The cost for this event is $150.00 per player which will include golf, lunch and tons of gifts and prizes. In addition there are many sponsorship categories that include playing spots and opportunities for advertising.

For more information contact Brian Remington of Golf Solutions, Tournament Director at (206) 432-9014 or brian@golfcorpsolutions.com

Activists Call For More Investment in Education, Not Incarceration

EducationTwo rallies this morning, both organized by the Alliance for a Just Society, will issue powerful calls for more government investment in education – not incarceration.

At least 300 community leaders, and activists at each gathering will call for freedom from crushing student loan debt, and freedom from jailing children.

The rallies are part of the Alliance’s Power from the Roots Up conference being held this week on the University of Washington campus. Organizers, grassroots activists, and small business owners from 14 states are attending the conference.

Nationwide Seattle is often seen as ground zero in the movement to combat income inequality and to build power through grassroots activism.

The first rally today will be held from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. at the Federal Building, Second Avenue and Marion Street, to demand that the Department of Education, Sallie Mae and corporate bankers stop profiting off the backs of college students.

Speakers will talk about their student loan debt, the crowd will help “grade” the Department of Education on a giant report card, then several participants will deliver petitions to the DOE office in the Federal Building.

“As an educator, what I see my students experiencing is extremely troubling,” said Louisa Edgerly, an adjunct instructor at Seattle University, and one of the speakers at the rally.

“Schoolwork is suffering because of the long hours and multiple jobs students are working to afford college,” she said. “I’m concerned about the potential narrowing of career options due to their debt load upon graduation, and the urgency to take any job so they can make their payments.”
The second event Friday, calling on the King County Council to scrap plans for a $210 million juvenile detention center, starts at 11 a.m. outside the King County Courthouse, 516 Third Avenue. Experts say community-based restorative justice programs have much higher success rates than simply jailing children.

“Young people today need more positive people in our ears reminding us what to do and what not to do. I feel like there should just be more mothering and fathering and mentoring instead of a new youth jail,” said Rashaud Johnson, with EPIC – End the Prison Industrial Complex – one of the organizations participating in the rally.

 

Cierra Sisters Presents: The 2014 Wellness Festival

Cierra Sisters’ Wellness Festival & Block Walk is a free health and wellness event serving the South Seattle community. Highlights of the event include: breast cancer screenings – via the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Mobile Mammovan, diabetes screenings, free dental cleanings, educational speakers, and door-to-door information delivery in the community.

Speakers will include Dr. Patricia Dawson from Swedish Medical Center and Drs.Beti Thompson, Scott Ramsey and Kerryn Reding from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The speakers will discuss breast and colon cancers, mammography, the value of cancer care, and the latest research in diet and exercise.

Event Details

Date:    July 12, 2014

Time:   Mobile Mammovan: 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Wellness Festival: 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Location:Rainier Community Center, 4600 38th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118

For mammogram appointments, please call 206-288-7800. Funding is available from the Breast, Cervical, and Colon Health Program and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to provide exams for women without insurance. Please inquire about a sponsored mammogram when scheduling your appointment.

Cierra Sisters, Inc. is an African-American breast cancer survivor and support organization that offers knowledge and power against the effects of breast cancer to our African-American women and men, members, and survivors affected in our community by various types of cancer and illness. Our community outreach is designed to increase awareness and importance of early detection and treatment for breast and other cancers in order to save the lives of our sisters and community members.

To learn more visit www.cierrasisters.org, or call – 206-505-9194.

New Holly to Open Farm Stand This Week

Farm StandsThe New Holly Farm Stand opens this Friday, July 11th and will offer fresh organic produce picked right from the P-Patch market gardens. Grown by low-income gardeners, the produce that is fresh right now is spinach, carrots, leafy vegetables, new onions, peas, turnips, and radishes, to name a few. The farm stand will operate every Friday, until September 26th, between the  hours of 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The farm stand accepts EBT cards and participate in Fresh Bucks which doubles consumers’ first $10 spent on the card.

Seattle P-Patch Market Gardens is a program of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods P-Patch Community Gardening Program in collaboration with Seattle Housing Authority and GROW to support low-income gardeners and their neighborhoods. Its mission is to establish safe, healthy communities and economic opportunity through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and farm stand enterprises.

 

To learn more, visit seattle.gov/neighborhoods/ppatch/marketgardens/.

 

The Movies Come To Skyway

by Marcus Harrison Green

Fans express their affection for the Skyway Outdoor Cinema.
Fans express their affection for the Skyway Outdoor Cinema.

If the image of neighbors camped outside under starlit sky – sprawled over transplanted home furnishings while gorging on popcorn, and participating in a collective chorus of oohs and awes conducted by a recent Hollywood blockbuster – seems a sight capable only in one of the idiosyncratic enclaves belonging to the northern end of our fair city, then you may want to watch your step for stray shards of shattered assumptions, as South Seattle readies for its own brand of outdoor film fun.

Later this summer, the Skyway neighborhood will play host to the community run – and eponymously titled- Skyway Outdoor Cinema (SOC) – a cinema series that will commence August 1st – in the U.S. Bank parking lot behind the 7-Eleven on Renton Avenue and 76th – with a showing of Despicable Me 2, and run three successive Fridays thereafter – finishing up August 22nd with Frozen.

Stewarded for over a decade by the volunteer operated West Hill Community Association (WHCA) – previously known as the West Hill Community Council (WHCC) – SOC was originally founded to provide a free, family oriented event that served as a much needed opportunity for engagement amongst community members.

A series of obstacles, including the lack of a thriving business district from which to draw sponsors, the challenge of uniting a disparate fan base and coordinating extensive fundraising efforts led to a reliance on grant funds to maintain a basic level of operation for the first thirteen seasons of the event.

With King County dissolving Unincorporated Area Councils in 2011 in response to budgetary concerns – resulting in a loss of guaranteed annual funding for the WHCC and a forced reorganization resulting in the newly rebranded WHCA – plus dwindling available grant funds, SOC decided to take a new approach. The new strategy, begun last season, is one that uses design and social media to increase its connection with fans and a more sustainable approach to its operating budget. By harnessing the power of its fans with crowdfunding and making smart purchases that eliminated the need to rent expensive equipment year after year – reducing basic operating costs- the event added a higher level of stability and increased its potential for growth.

Now in its second phase of life, the organizers of the open air cinema have redoubled their efforts in utilizing the event to galvanize the entire West Hill Community – which includes the neighborhoods of Skyway, Lakeridge, Bryn Mawr, Campbell Hill, Earlington, Hilltop, Panorama View, and Skycrest – providing a centralized gathering locale that functions as an incubator of community, and that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Something that – according to locals – has been long overdue in the area.

“I think everyone is really tired of Skyway getting such a bad rap. Most people simply absorb what they hear on the news, but those assumptions really aren’t rooted and fact and experience. I think that not only hurts our image outside of our community, but I think it affects us as neighbors as well. We want to provide a fun, free, safe family environment for people to really learn what their community’s all about – I think we deserve that.” said Devin Chicras, WHCA board member and co-organizer of the cinema – in addition to moonlighting as the event’s Master of Ceremonies, Diligent Custodian, Technical Support, and Amiable Attendant Greeter during its film screenings.

With that goal in mind, organizers have made great strides in improving their marketing efforts to attract a much larger swath of the community. Chicras, along with co-organizer Mary Goebel, have worked hard on implementing the new strategy for SOC, which included heavily promoting the event on social media platforms and improving visitors’ experience at every level from engaging pre-show entertainment to free raffle prizes and keeping all concession items under a dollar.

By all measures, these new efforts appear to be working, as not only did attendance double last year, but the event has also enticed people from as far away as Burien and Des Moines to spend their Friday nights in Skyway.

Not bad for an area whose own residents, not all that long ago, barely wanted to set foot on its pavement. “It’s incredible to see this little parking lot in Skyway fill up with all these folks, having fun, talking to their neighbors, eating popcorn or having Domino’s delivered to them while seated on lawn chairs, detached minivan seats, or sprawled out picnic-style on a blanket. These are the people you see sometimes walking down the street, in the store, waiting at the bus stop. And now they’re here, like one big family. At 10pm behind a 7-Eleven in Skyway. It’s truly surreal, and completely inspiring.” Says Chicras.

Communal appreciation could not have come at a better time, as in the ensuing years since losing the majority of its funding, the event has had to rely more heavily on contributions from those living around the area. A dependency that appears quite secure, as the cinema was recently able to purchase a brand new audiovisual system, directly as a result of local generosity.

Costing a little under $7000, The A/V system – which will allow for a larger film projection, along with improved sound and picture quality more in line with traditional cinematic experiences – seemed out of reach for event organizers, as they received only a $3000 Community Engagement Grant from King County towards its purchase. Unsure of how they would make up the difference Chicras and Goebel turned to the community via a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.

“We only needed $3975 and ended up getting $4320! We were absolutely blown away by the generosity of our community.” said Chicras. The additional funds will be used to supplement SOC’s already meager budget, as it has never turned a profit, nor sought to – its primary mission remaining to build connections between residents. “We’re doing our best to make sure each and every person feels like being in that parking lot with their neighbors and friends is exactly where they should be on a Friday night in August.”

That is believed to be mission accomplished according to Sherrie Vineyard – who has attended the cinema since its inception.

“It gives (Skyway residents) four Friday nights each summer to really connect with our families and neighbors, and share what we’re about as a community. Last year, they held a raffle for school supply filled backpacks, and I was lucky enough to win one. That backpack went to a little boy who had a mom with no idea of how she was going to get supplies for him. The Skyway Outdoor Cinema does more than impact the lives of the community for four weeks each summer. They impact lives for years to come with their generosity and warm hearts.”

Skyway Outdoor Cinema runs August 1st (Despicable Me 2), 8th (The Lego Movie), 15th (Gravity) and 22nd (Frozen). Pre-show entertainment starts at 8pm, with the film at 9pm. Visit their website (MyWestHill.org/SOC) and Facebook Page (Facebook.com/SkywayOutdoorCinema) for more information.

Additional thanks to Devin Chicras for assisting with this article.

The West Hill Family Center: Skyway’s R.A.Y.S of Sunshine

Rays 3By Marcus Harrison Green

On a typical day it can serve as a de facto community gathering hub, overloaded computer lab, hallowed sanctuary for religious revival, job center for the long term unemployed, adored romper space for toddlers, a copy/ printer/ fax depot of last resort, and a cherished Destress Zone for elders raising the twenty first century’s version of teenagers.  Of course, if you ask Morgan Wells – Director of R.A.Y’s West Hill Family Center, located in the Skyway/Westhill neighborhood – days at the center are anything but typical.

“The people who come in definitely vary on a day to day basis. They may be looking for housing, job searching, researching DSHS benefits, or wanting to take an online course, along with a myriad of other things. We want to serve as broad a part of the community as possible and throughout it all we want to make sure that we have a welcoming staff for them.” Says Wells.

The multifaceted West Hill Family Center – equipped with a computer room, conference meeting suite, children’s play area and a staff of five full time employees, in addition to two interns-  has been one of the Skyway area’s most venerable institutions, serving its residents for the past twenty years. Not a small feat when you consider – with a few notable exceptions- that during the same period the life cycle of most  businesses and organizations in the area have approximated that of the Mayfly.

Wells points to the unqualified support the center has received from the community as the main reason for its continued endurance. “This place is very much community run  and community owned.  Many times, when staff are away or sick, community members will just take the initiative to fill in for them, answering phones, helping people find resources, fixing computer problems, and keeping the building safe. It’s really them who have kept the Center thriving and helped us to avoid the pitfalls of many other organizations.”

To many of the area’s residents, the support has been both mutual and sorely needed, as Skyway- though falling within the Seattle city limits, and maintaining a Seattle address – is technically an unincorporated portion of King County, effectively meaning it lacks availability to the funding and resources that the rest of the city has access to.

As a result, the center has stepped in, during times both good and bad, to serve thousands upon thousands of the area’s residents. In several cases it has functioned as the last line of defense between them and destitution, both physical and mental. “If it wasn’t for the center I’d be homeless or worse right now. I really don’t even want to think about it!” one patron attested to as she used the center’s dual copier/fax machine to send her resume to a prospective employer.

Unlike the callous and aloof nature that is often associated with social service organizations, the center has cultivated a reputation of warmth and respect in its treatment of those who walk through its doors, regardless of circumstance, preferring to refer to all of them as clients.  “When I walk in the door here I’m treated as a human being, and not a piece of garbage like other places. You can tell at other places that they don’t care about you. They’re so condescending towards you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been waiting in line forever. It doesn’t matter if you have a child you’re waiting with. To them you’re just another number.” Said a young mother who frequently visits the center.

That reputation wasn’t acquired by happenstance, according to Wells: “Our vision is that everyone who comes here walks out of our door thinking they’ve been treated with respect, and that’s been a permanent part of our culture.  We don’t have direct benefits to give out and so we don’t have to ask people to prove their eligibility like other social service places. Our door is open to everybody and there are no eligibility requirements for any of our programs which is great. So we try to treat everyone like a person and not like you’re number 1652 at the DMV.”

Although it’s reputation has remained intact throughout the years, several new faces amongst the center’s staff have caused concern over possible changes in its operation. In a little under a year, the center has undergone almost a complete overhaul, as its previous director – Jennifer Moore, along with two of  its youth counselors-  departed for opportunities elsewhere.

Perhaps no loss has been as heartfelt  as the recent retirement of the center’s long time receptionist/ administrative assistant Cynthia Green,  who had been with the center since its inception, nearly becoming indistinguishable from it in the minds of almost all of the area’s locals.

“I don’t know, with Ms. Cynthia leaving it’s kind of strange. When I come in now I see new faces and I’m not sure what to make of everything. With all the changes I’m a little concerned.” said one grandmother who regularly attends kinship care support group meetings at the center.

Well aware of some of the anxiety that has arisen amongst the clientele, Wells has been proactive in soliciting the opinions of the center’s regular attendees, even going so far as to establish a community steering community to best identify what most needs to be addressed as it concerns the Skyway area.

“Historically, we’ve made an effort to be flexible and responsive when things change, whatever they are, whether at the center or within the community. I’m certainly willing, if we need to totally scrap something and start over and build from the ground up.  If that’s what we have to do to meet the needs of our community right here and right now. If the voices are coming to us and saying we need and A.A. group, or we need more Adult Education classes  ESL classes, or whatever that thing is, I’ll go after it and put my heart into bringing it here to this building.” Wells stated.

Even with the center undergoing potential changes, there is at least one thing that its regulars hope remains forever sacrosanct. As one stated, “This place, to me, is like a second home. A second family really. And I hope it always stays that way!”

Seed Arts Cinema Presents Lady Be Good

lady be good

 

Seattle, WA –  SeedArts Cinema and Jazz Night School are presenting a documentary that traces the musical contributions,  journeys and  obstacles of American women instrumentals in jazz form the early part of this century. The film will be shown on Saturday, June 28th at 7 pm  at the historic Rainier Valley Cultural Center (3515 S Alaska St, Seattle, WA 98118), followed by a conversation with the filmmaker, producer, and director Kay D. Ray.  Suggested donation is $5.

The 80 minute documentary film” LADY BE GOOD Instrumental Women In Jazz” concentrates on the contributions of local American women instrumentalists in jazz from the early 1920s to the 1970s and the development and extent of the all-woman jazz groups. LADY BE GOOD captures the lost stories of female jazz musicians in provocative and often humorous interviews with women musicians, big band leaders, jazz authors and historians. Musician and composer Patrice Rushen guides us through these exciting histories with rare photos, previously unseen film and television footage, and scarce recordings. Join Peggy Gilbert, Marian McPartland, Carline Ray, Quincy Jones, Jane Sager and many others in this important new narrative.

For more information, please visit: http://www.rainiervalleyculturalcenter.org/cinema/

 

 

Review of South Seattle Theater Group’s Modern Spin on Robin Hood

by Mary Hubert

Actors from Anything Is Possible Theatre's Production of Robin Hood
Actors from Anything Is Possible Theatre’s Production of Robin Hood

When I sat down with Ellen Cooper, the Executive Director of the Anything is Possible Theater Company, I was excited. Ellen, who also wrote the company’s current rendition of Robin Hood, was in the middle of telling me just why her company was different from all of the other kids’ theaters out there. Her reasons were compelling ones.

Above all, she talked of how the messages in children’s shows are not deep enough. The Anything is Possible Theater Company, she said, sought to bridge the gap between real-life issues and what is deemed appropriate for children.

To this end, she said, Robin Hood is set in the present, where the Merry Men are homeless youth and the Sheriff is an old rich businessman. By recontextualizing an old classic, they are able to grapple with issues that many children in the low-income areas of South Seattle face, while still providing the draw of a time-honored tale. This would then spark discussion in families about topics like class inequality and homelessness. She described Robin Hood as “A relevant show about people’s lives. It demonstrates an active and positive way to respond to what’s happening through community-building”.

Other things about this company also sparked my interest. Ellen mentioned the pay-what-you-can night and low ticket prices, designed to make the play accessible to a low-income crowd. AIP even gave away 40 tickets to Treehouse, a Seattle organization serving foster children. And in a neighborhood where this happens to be one of the only theaters in existence, let alone one serving children, AIP’s community-mindedness was something I gravitated toward immediately.

So, it was with high hopes and a growing excitement that I sat down to watch “Robin Hood.

The play did do some of what Ellen mentioned. The set was a homeless encampment, complete with a “99%” poster behind a chain link fence and a tent upstage. The costumes furthered this concept – the Merry Men were dressed in mismatching, ripped clothing, and the “bad guys” – the Sheriff of Nottingham, his daughter, and the host of barons and kings – were in business attire. From the offset, the stage was set for an interesting take on Robin Hood.

But then… the characters opened their mouths. And out came a jumble of what sounded like terrible Shakespeare. As I struggled to figure out why on earth the characters were speaking like this, I realized that as an attempted throwback to the traditional Robin Hood dialogue, Ellen had decided to write it in a strange approximation of pseudo-Old English. With that, what could have been an insightful look into why Robin Hood is relevant to our time – especially to the citizens of Rainier Valley – became simply a concept smacked onto a play that didn’t really fit.

Ellen’s idea to set Robin Hood in modern times, highlighting the disparity between classes in a way that would resonate with the community’s large low-income population, is a brilliant concept for a children’s show. Using a time-honored classic like Robin Hood to bring audiences in and then showing them a new way to look at it is all well and good. However, if you are going to do that, then do it. Language sets the time period for any play, so to not alter it made what would have been a brilliant commentary into a disjointed modernization of a dated text.

This was just the first of many examples of a half-realized concept. The stage was very narrow, so many of the scenes were conducted in a line. Though some handled their text and movement with ease, too often the scenes played like a presentation. The myriad of accents only added to the issue – we had Irish, British, American, and some odd combinations of the three, which served to confuse the audience rather than create a cohesive world.

For all of that, the show was enjoyable. Adorable children and talented young adult actors made us all smile as they carried out the telling of Robin Hood’s tale with gusto. Broad-sweeping villains made kids gasp and adults chuckle. The ensemble seemed to connect with each other in a way that was endearing, especially with a multi-generational cast. And despite some flaws and my disappointment that the show didn’t completely live up to my expectations, I found myself enjoying the piece.
The Bottom Line: Ellen has attempted to recontextualize children’s theatre by making it relevant and placing it in an area where kids have limited access to art. Although her show does not entirely succeed, her effort to create change and get the children of South Seattle involved in art is admirable. Go support the Anything is Possible Theater Company.

Mary Hubert is a performing artist, director, and arts administrator in the Seattle area. When not producing strange performance concoctions with her company,  the Horse in Motion, she is wild about watching weird theater, whiskey, writing and weightlifting.

 

Community Coming Together To Stop Youth Jail

by Staff WriterYouth Jail

Local social justice groups will be hosting a community meeting later tonight to inform south Seattle residents about the counties plan to build a new, supersized $210 million Juvenile Detention Center, and how it will impact the area’s youth. The event will feature free food,  a chance to meet with community organizers working on the issue, and a debate between elected officials about what is needed to fix the current Juvenile Justice System. Event organizers hope that the meeting will shift the community’s focus from “fixing broken youth” to “fixing broken education and criminal justice systems.”

“The story the County tells is that the current youth jail is old and needs repairs.  So they want to build a new one, but make the new one twice as big.  The current facility isn’t even at capacity.  That logic just doesn’t add up.” Says local area youth Khalil Butler, who will be speaking at the event. “When a school in my neighborhood needed remodeling, they moved the students to another location and made the needed repairs.  Then the kids were returned to a repaired school that was same size as when they left.  If construction of the New Youth Jail moves forward as planned, seems like a lot of money will be wasted.”

The No New Youth Jail Campaign: Community Night will take place in the 2100 building, located at 2100 24th Avenue South.  Doors will open at 6:00pm and the program will start at 6:30pm.  Over 200 people are expected to attend.