Category Archives: News

“Big Chickie” Hatches in Hillman City

by Robin Boland

Big Chickie (http://www.bigchickie.com/) , located on Rainier & Findlay, is the newest addition to Hillman City. Occupying an area that previously housed a gas station the owners have gotten creative with the space. All seating is set up outside under a covered area & they’ve added waterproof ‘drapes’ to protect customers from the inevitable wet weather ahead. There is some on-site parking and one imagines there will also be quite a bit of take-out business.

The "before" photo.
The “before” photo.

The restaurant specializes in charcoal roasted rotisserie chicken (also known as pollo a la brasa), marinated overnight, roasted and then carved to meet your needs (half, quarter, large chicken, small chicken, dark or light meat).  Beer, wine and soft drinks as well as an amazing array of sides and homemade sauces complete the menu. Note that vegetarians could easily be sated with the salads, rice & other side dishes.

After a number of little known ‘soft openings’ were successful Big Chickie took down the construction fence and officially opened its doors to Hillman City September 9th, selling out long before the hungry masses were ready. Day two was more of the same with those who missed out on the previous day showing up early to get in line. With only a few kinks to be worked out (when to start the chicken & how much to make) it seems unavoidable that Big Chickie will be a success.

My resident chicken expert (aka my 11 year old boy) provided the following feedback: “We’re going to need more chicken”.

Robin Boland is a contributing columnist, South Seattle Enthusiast, and often is referred to as “little bird” by her friends with heights over 5 ft 7

 

 

 

Skyway Building Dedication Celebrates “An Angel on Earth”

by Marcus Harrison Green

Cynthia Green (middle) stands under the new Cynthia A Green Family Center sign.
Cynthia Green (middle) stands under the new Cynthia A Green Family Center sign. Photo Credit: Egan Kolb

The Skyway area has probably never been so thankful for its hilltop setting as enough tears flowed this past Saturday to precipitate a flood of biblical proportions when the community honored one of its matriarchs in a rousing building dedication ceremony.

“She is the most loving, caring person I’ve ever meet. She is the most selfless person I’ve ever been around!” gushed Harriette Moore, who offered but one in a grand chorus of echoes that lauded the woman whose name will be permanently affixed to the former Renton Area Youth and Family Services West Hill Family Center, Cynthia Ann Green.

The 69 year old retiree spent most of the balmy Saturday afternoon unsuccessfully fighting back tears as the building- located at the intersection of 76th Avenue and S 127th Street in Skyway- that served as her workplace for almost 20 years was designated the Cynthia A. Green Family Center.

Though her title officially read Program Assistant during her 18 year tenure at the Center, most in attendance at the dedication- which included a large swath of community members her work directly impacted, former colleagues, and local luminaries- would have found that akin to referring to Steve Jobs prosaically as a marketer.

Green’s days at the center rarely conformed to a 9-5 schedule as she spent long hours graciously assisting members of the Skyway community in everything from fighting home evictions, to securing enough money to keep utilities on, to providing food for those who had none- many times sharing her own lunch with those who came to the Center starving- to providing a pillar of strength in the midst of personal tragedy.

“Cynthia was your best friend. Your shoulder to cry on. The person who lifted you up when you had a bad day. She just brought out the best in everyone who came into contact with her. Everyone in Skyway still just loves her.” Shared Sherry Dione, a daily visitor to the center.

Confirmed Barb Wiley-Taylor, a long time colleague of Green’s. “I’ve been waiting for years to celebrate Cynthia; it’s so easy to celebrate her. This is long overdue. She’s such an incredible person who has given so much to the community. I’m glad we’re able to celebrate her!”

The celebration- which was a lively affair that featured the reading of an original poem written specifically for the occasion by award winning poet Peggy Williams, a performance from Seattle R&B sensation Shaprece, a proclamation by King County Councilmember Larry Gossett that declared it Cynthia Anne Green Day across the county, and frequent eruptions of applause as what seemed like an endless procession of speakers shared what Green personally meant to them – almost took place without its guest of honor in attendance.

Upon being forced to retire from her position at the center in February in order to care for her ailing mother, Green requested that the community and her colleagues at the center do nothing in recognition of her, and instead parcel out any money they had intended to spend on a celebration to families in the community who demonstrated economic need.

The modest mother of five, who abhors the spotlight, had  actually vowed to herself not to attend  any ceremony that was planned in her honor.

“I really didn’t want them to make a fuss over me. There are so many people that need help in the community that I thought they should just give any money they were going to spend on me to them.” Said Green. “Up until about an hour before the ceremony I was certain that I wasn’t going, but my husband convinced me that the community really wanted me to be there, and I’d be letting them down if I didn’t attend.”

The celebration’s ad hoc group of organizers included a myriad of friends, associates, and co-workers who Green had amassed during her time at the Center. They were able to construct a novel solution that both honored her request to help needy families and satisfied the communities desire to commemorate her accomplishments.

In addition to the renaming of the building, they founded the Cynthia A. Green Scholarship Fund that will aide families within the community in meeting their basic needs and will be managed by Renton Area Youth and Family Services- the local organization that continues to operate the Center.

Green looks on as a community member speaks at the dedication Ceremony.
Green looks on as a community member speaks at the dedication Ceremony.

All the day’s transpirings came as an immense surprise to the guest of honor, as she had not been made privy to any of the grand gestures the community planned to bestow on her. “I’m utterly shocked.” An overwhelmed Green said through tears as she reflected on the day’s events. “I just thought that people would get up and say a few things about me. I had no idea that they were going to name the building after me and start a fund in my name. I…I can’t believe all of this is happening!”

And although  it had been months since the honoree had stepped foot into the building that now bears her name prior to Saturday, her impact and legacy within the community surely would have endured even without her names inscription on one of Skyway’s oldest buildings.

“There’s not a day that someone doesn’t come up here asking for Cynthia, even though she’s been gone for a little while. There isn’t a day that

someone doesn’t  tell a story about  her, or recount a memory about what she did for them.” recounted Cynthia A Green Family Center Director Morgan Wells.

Added Ginney Ross, a member of the group that Green founded at the center to help support grandparent’s who were sole guardians of their

grandchildren: “She always had this smile on her face that forced you to smile back, no matter how horrible your day had been, and she always has a solution to your problem. We know that there are angels on earth because of people like Cynthia.”

Disclosure: The writer of this article is the  proud son of Cynthia Green

Faith Leaders Protest Against “Youth Jail”

by Marcus Harrison Green

Faith Leaders stand outside  King County Council Offices
Faith Leaders stand outside King County Council Offices

Christians bound in solemn prayer with Muslims. Jews and Gentiles with arms interlocked in solidarity. In a world of ever increasing religious polarization those scenes may seem producible only by a literal act of God. However, on Tuesday such was the reality as a diverse assemblage of religious leaders gathered together to march on the King County Courthouse, located on 3rd Avenue and James, to protest the building of the controversial King County Youth and Family Justice Center.

The $210 million Center’s construction was funded by a levy initiative passed by 53% of King County voters in 2012, and has since become a tinderbox of controversy in the South Seattle community. Many of its members view it as a pernicious perpetuation of what they feel is an already harrowing juvenile justice system. A contention that resonated with several of the clergy members in attendance.

“This is important to me because I think it’s at the core of what Christ was talking about in the Gospels- justice for those that are oppressed and release for those who are imprisoned unjustly. It’s the core of the gospel to have equity. Us being here is trying to embody that message, that we’ve heard Jesus talk about.” Said Brandon Duran, an Associate Minister with Plymouth Church UCC.

The multi-faith protest was the brainchild of Rashaud Johnson, a local teen and member of Youth Undoing Institutionalized Racism (YUIR), who wanted to show that the issue of youth incarceration was a cause that unified all religions that purported to stand against social injustice, irrespective of contrasting doctrines.

“This is a justice issue. And as a  people of faith, if it’s a justice issue, it’s a faith issue. So, this protest is putting feet to our faith, about the intrinsic worth of every individual,  be they black, white, young, old, or whatever.” stated Masha Williams, Pastor of the Eastgate Congregation in Bellevue.

The collected clergy – whose affiliations seemed to comprise an entire Religious Studies course syllabus, and included Christians, Muslims and Transcendentalist-  were joined by dozens of youth advocates as they temporarily encamped on the Courthouse’s 12th floor, forming a circle that stretched from hallway elevators to just a few feet away from King County Councilmember offices, as they engaged in 15 minutes of silent prayer.

As curious onlookers, including some King County Council Members, glimpsed  the sight of heads bowed and hands clasped in prayer they were also privy to signs that read, “Invest in Education, Not Incarceration,” as they made their way passed the group.

The protesters’ goal was to shift the attention of council members to the issues the protesters say are at the forefront of the Center’s development – including a broken juvenile justice system that dis-proportionality imprisons youth of color- and in doing so, hopefully make County decision makers reconsider constructing the Center.

Similar actions were successful in halting development of a youth detention center in Baltimore, MD.

“I would hope that the powers that be, rethink their perspective on this. This is such a backwards way of dealing with this entire issue of youth violence. It’s very reactive. It just makes more sense to put more energy on the front end (in schools and education), and to help youth succeed and be successful whether than locking them into this box.” Said Tara Barber,  a pastor with the United Church of Christ, in response to what she hoped the protest accomplished.

While it is too early to conclude as to the impact the protest had on county decision makers, the faith leaders who participated in the protest viewed their efforts, whatever the outcome, as a religious obligation.

Offered John Helmiere, pastor at Valley & Mountain Fellowship: “My faith calls me to have greater imagination than what the County is planning to do. Their imagination seems to be that things are only getting worse and we should build bigger, larger prisons to incarcerate our youth, while I think we’re called to have an imagination about the potential and possibility of our youth. I believe that we should be investing their potential rather than guarding ourselves against their danger.”

As South Seattle Heads Back To School, Mayor Proposes New Early Learning Department

SEATTLE  – As parents ready their kids for the first week of school, Mayor Ed Murray yesterday unveiled his plan to reorganize the city’s education and support programs into a new Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL), the first of several proposals the mayor will make in his first city budget.

The new structure will enable the city to better coordinate existing work and resources on behalf of students of all ages, improve collaboration with Seattle Public Schools, colleges and child-care providers, and increase performance measurement of the city’s work to support educational outcomes.

“Equity in education is the foundation of our democracy and the future of our city,” said Murray. “The City already supports programs across the continuum from birth through college, but we must do better to align resources for better outcomes for education. We will sharpen our focus on achieving great outcomes for all, so that none of Seattle’s students are left behind. We want Seattle to be the first city in America that eliminates the achievement gap.”

Economic disparities contribute to a persistent achievement gap in the city of Seattle between the educational attainment of students of color and white students- especially in South Seattle, which houses one of the largest swaths of the city’s African American and Latino populations :

  • 90 percent of white 4th graders are reading at grade level compared to 56 percent of African American students.
  • One third of African American and Latino students—and half of American Indian students—don’t graduate on time, compared to 14 percent of white students.

The Mayor stated that research has shown that students with higher educational attainment have higher average earning power over a career, but also live healthier lives.

“All of Seattle’s children must have the same opportunity to succeed in school and in life,” said Brianna Jackson, Executive Director of the Community Day School Association. “By improving coordination across the entire system, from Early Learning to our universities, and by working together as an education community, we know we can achieve better outcomes for all students.”

Last fall, the City Council adopted a budget action asking the mayor to develop a proposal to elevate the city’s emphasis around education. The council voiced interest in aligning the city’s education and early learning programs, preparing for a universal preschool program, and improving collaboration with the school district.

“Twenty babies are born in Seattle each day and each one deserves a strong and fair start,” said City Council President Tim Burgess.  “We know that high quality education empowers children of all backgrounds to lead healthier and happier lives and their success makes our city stronger.  To enable our cradle to career programs to work better, the Council called for the creation of this Department and I applaud the Mayor and his team for doing the hard work to get the job done.”

For the last several months, the Murray Administration has been working to shape the new department responsible for supporting early learning, K-12 and higher education in Seattle. Most of the positions in the new department would be filled by existing city employees moving from Seattle’s Human Services Department, Office for Education and other organizations. Existing functions consolidated into DEEL will include:

  • Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, Comprehensive Child Care Program and other early learning services and initiatives
  • Elementary, Middle School, and High School academic and social support programs
  • School-based health services operated by the city
  • Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative
  • All Families and Education Levy programs

Nine new positions would be created to step up coordination with area colleges and universities, ensure the quality of city child care programs and pre-schools, and increase data collection to track the effectiveness of the department’s activities.

“We look forward to working with the Mayor and the new Department of Education and Early Learning to partner on behalf of our Seattle students,” said Dr. Larry Nyland, Interim Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. “As we head back to school tomorrow, our teachers, principals and staff are getting ready to ensure every student has the opportunity to graduate prepared for college, career and life. We cannot do this work alone. We are pleased the city will partner with us to meet our goals for student success.”

The new department would house 38 employees and manage a budget of $48.5 million, including $30 million each year from the voter-approved Families and Education Levy.

The mayor’s proposal will be included in his budget submission to the City Council on Sept. 22nd.

Art Walk Seeks to Transform Rainier Beach Narrative

Whether testified to by Albert Camus in his Nobel Acceptance speech, when he stated its supremacy as a tool to edify humankind, or the endless succession of works from writers, artisans, and musicians that have kindled imaginations and propelled human agency in directions never dreamed, much less comprehended, art has been imbued with the belief that it wields the  power of transformation. It is under this premise that the Rainier Beach area will play hosts to musical acts that leave no genre untouched, art installations that are certain to spark thought provoking discussion, and original paintings that serve as candy for the eyeball, as  it presents its 4th Annual Art Walk in an effort to profoundly alter the stubborn perception the area has been unable to discard.

Since its inaugural celebration in 2010, the burgeoning two day music and arts festival – which kicks off this Saturday near the Rainier Beach Community Center- has seen rapid growth in attendance, going from barely a couple hundred attendees in its first few years of existence to anticipating over 5000 people at this years event.

Despite the name, the event is hoping to avoid associations with the image of genteel beatniks hopping from gallery to gallery as they mull over existential matters, as it seeks to become South Seattle’s counterpart to the Capitol Hill Block Party and Fremont Festival.

For many residents, the Art Walk– with an aim towards galvanizing an often discordant Rainier Beach  community- could not arrive at a better time, as a familiar, and in the minds of some residents, lazy narrative of the area functioning as the uniquely dangerous and squalid section of the city has once again reemerged. This has mainly been due to a spate of violence the community suffered over the span of a few weeks.

“This event really gives an opportunity for people from other neighborhoods to come out and see what we’re really all about as a community. Rainier Beach gets a bad rap, but this enables people to come and see for themselves what we’re all about. They get to see how beautiful this side of town is and how well we mesh together as a community.” Said Su Harambee, the Past President of the Rainier Beach Community Club who intends to set up a booth at this year’s event.

Even as the festival has experienced impressive growth in its brief tenure as Rainier Beach’s premiere event, it has encountered some struggles- with the areas wide assortment of racial and ethnic diversity that is unlike any other in the city- in attracting the entirety of the community’s population.

“I’ve seen the posters hanging around for it and I’ve heard about it, but to be honest I kind of look at it as an African-American Event. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Says John Aaron, a Rainier Beach resident.  “It’s just that it does kind of cross your mind for a second, you know. It’s like, am I really welcomed there?”

Conversely, many community members don’t see why that should act as an impediment to the festivals continued success.

“(Rainier Beach) is one of the few areas in the city with a marjority-minority population, and I think that community events should be representative of the community they’re in- even as those communities start to evolve and change. Let’s face it, most of the events that happen (in South Seattle) end up being in places like Columbia City and may not feel super inclusive. Ballard still has the Scandinavian Festival.  Capitol Hill has the Block  Party.  Georgetown has the whole industrial vibe with a power tool race for their festival.” Said Masil Magee, who volunteered at last year’s event.

To their credit, organizers and  past festival participants do not appear oblivious to the hesitancy from certain community members to embrace the festival, and continue to emphasize  the importance the event plays in community building.

“We want to see everyone here!” States Merica Whitehall, the Art Walk’s lead organizer. “Rainier Beach is African American. It’s Asian. It’s White. It’s Jewish. It’s East African. It’s Italian. It’s Latino.  Our community is made up of many shades, and it’s our obligation to have all represented here, as it should be.”

Adds Hurambee: “Each year, from the booths to the entertainment presented, this festival is indicative of diversity of this community. It’s one that isn’t found in most places in the city.”

If any further underscoring of this point was necessary, the festival line-up, a mixture of heavy hitters and local performers, appears to contain no omissions from the musical dictionary as Jazz, Funk, R&B, Rock, Latin, International and Pop along with  a heap of other genres will all be represented.

“Most of the people in our group are from this community and we really just wanted to give back to it, by putting on a really wonderful show for them that leaves them grooving, and allows them to have fun.” Said Mike Barber, who will be performing with his group Shady Bottom at the festival.

Though easy to dismiss as just another festival for those suffering from event fatigue in a summer that seemed to feature one on just about every day that ended with a y, the importance of the Art Walk and its significance to the Rainier Beach community shouldn’t be overlooked claims Magee:

“Events like the Art Walk give this  place a sense of community. It’s a time when people can come out and join the rest of the community in enjoying an event together. People always talk about how diverse this area is, but in the day to day, there aren’t a lot opportunities for everybody to get together and mill about, and experience each other.”

“I realize that (being in Rainier Beach) we’re so close to a really dynamic part of the city that it’s easy to be a bedroom community to downtown, especially when we have so many ways to get there now.  But, this event kind of makes a statement that we are a dynamic part of the city in our own right.  We have artists and community right here. We can show the rest of the city, as well as our own community- which is the main thing- that we do have positive community events in the south end!”

Vehicle Crashes Into Rainier Valley Hair Salon

by Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Seattle Fire Department
Photo courtesy of Seattle Fire Department

South Seattle – An SUV crashed into the Carol Cobb Salon located on Rainier Avenue South and S. Ferdinand Street at around 1:25 pm this afternoon, injuring six people. City officials were quoted as saying that the two- story building is in serious danger of collapsing.

Emergency responders arrived to discover the entire SUV inside the hair salon, with stray debris all around it.

Komo News is reporting that  four family members were inside the SUV and some of them ended up trapped by the debris. Firefighters quickly removed piles of debris outside the building to pull them free.

Everyone in the SUV sustained injuries, along with two others who were working inside the hair salon. The extent of their injuries has not yet been determined.

Officials have confirmed that the woman driving the vehicle had a stroke while operating it and that was what led to the accident.

All lanes of Rainier Avenue South and S. Ferdinand Street are currently closed in the surrounding area while a structural examination of the building is being conducted.

“Find It, Fix It” Walks Spark Community Support, Skepticism

by Curtis Kent

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray addresses South Seattle residents at a Find It, Fix It Walk in Rainier Beach
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray address South Seattle residents at a Find It, Fix It Walk in Rainier Beach

As Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s “Find It, Fix It” walks continue across the city, so to does the commotion amongst South Seattle residents surrounding their effectiveness at addressing crime in the city’s south end after an uptick of violence in recent weeks, including a drive-by shooting and multiple armed robberies, has flared community anxieties once again.

The walk series- announced in June as a part of the mayor’s effort to address public safety concerns and improve collaboration between communities and Seattle area law enforcement by direct engagement between city officials and local residents- have been concentrated in areas around the city designated as high frequency crime zones, or “hot spots” and got underway last month.

Three of the walks have been held in South Seattle neighborhoods- two in the Rainier Beach Area and one in the Othello neighborhood- and appear to have made good on the mayor’s insistence that they would act as a platform for residents to actively express community needs to the city, as they have been punctuated by frequent stops, so that urban blight- including graffiti, safety hazards and derelict buildings- could be brought to official’s attention.

“These walks are really important. We can’t sit behind  a desk in headquarters and get a sense of what’s happening in the community. It’s important to get out and see it first hand and it’s important to meet people and hear their perspectives.” Said Police Chief  Kathleen O’Toole, who along with City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, and City Attorney Pete Holmes has been a consistent presence at the majority of South Seattle walks.

“People really take pride in their neighborhoods in this city, and South Seattle is no exception.” She added. “We want a plan in place for this community that comes from the bottom up, instead of dictating to the various neighborhoods here what their priorities should be. There’s a lot of work to be done, but we feel that this approach will help get us there.”

It is one that seems appreciated, and long overdue, by many south end inhabitants who have become accustomed to what they feel has been  habitual inattention to their concerns from the city.

“These events are very good. They’re really once in a lifetime as far as I’m concerned.” Said Mohammed Keemo, owner of a local clothing store in the Rainier Beach area. “(City officials) being here in South Seattle means that they can now know the reality of our street. They can finally see what’s really going on. I love to finally have them here and I hope they continue to come.”

“This are the types of events we need more of, were the community comes together and takes a stand. It’s like I tell people, don’t just complain about the violence and the crime, come up with a solution. This is a solution.” Echoed Rev. Don Davis, who participated in a walk held at the Rainier Beach Link Light Rail Station.

Though the south end area walks have been fairly well attended as dozens of curious residents have flocked to them in order to gain an audience with local officials – despite the 7:00pm weekday start time for most of the walks -not every participant has held such favorable impressions as they have questioned the  city’s actual intentions behind them.

“While I  think it’s important that the media is out here, I think a lot of (the walks) are being done so that (city officials) can look like they’re doing something in this area, even though I don’t know if they actually are. Having media out here keeps them accountable. I hope.” Said Jacob Stuiksma, who is blind and who took part in a Rainier Beach neighborhood walk.

“I don’t understand why it takes walking around pointing out graffiti, even though it’s been here forever, to finally get it taken care of.  When someone who is blind can tell you what’s going on with graffiti and trash because they’re tripping over it, and have been tripping over it for a long time while the city has done nothing, there remains an awful lot that needs to be addressed.”He added.

City officials say they are mindful of much of the criticism that residents of South Seattle have had in regards to the walks and are doing their best to address it.

“Most of the people who have come out to these walks in this area are very positive, but to be honest, yes we’ve run into people who are skeptical because, let’s face it, Mayor Murray has only been in office for a few months, so there’s still a feeling out period. But, I think people will begin to see that these walks are taking the community in the right direction.” Said Mayoral Aide Jacob Chin.

Though skepticism over the walks from South Seattle residents seems a long way from dissipating – unsurprising for an area that has seen its fair share of deflated expectations as a result of limited follow-through after promises of community improvement from past mayoral regimes- there remains many who are willing to be optimistic as to their impact.

“I know that some people are bagging on the mayor for the walks, but the guy isn’t out here kissing babies for a couple of seconds and then hopping into his Rolls Royce to hob knob in Magnolia. The officials out here are really listening to what the community has to say.” Said Karl De Jong who has gone on two of the South Seattle walks.