Category Archives: People

Skyway Community Bids a Fond Farewell to Beloved Fire Chief

Mark Chubb 2
Photo Courtesy King County Fire District # 20

Hero is probably the most taxed word in the English language. Plastered on everyone from talentless reality television mavens to recalcitrant multimillionaire running backs it remains a minor miracle when it finds itself attached to a worthy party. No Skyway-area resident would challenge its precision when used in describing their beloved fire chief of the past two years; the soon to be departed Mark Chubb. Continue reading Skyway Community Bids a Fond Farewell to Beloved Fire Chief

South Seattle Gems: Lisa Cooper

Lisa Cooper
Lisa Cooper

Gems is a column devoted to spotlighting the various denizens who contribute to the rich mosaic that is the South Seattle area.

Who: Lisa Cooper

Best Known Around South Seattle As: “That” lady who never met a volunteer opportunity she didn’t like

Special Trait: Inexhaustible charm she disseminates freely throughout South Seattle

Motto: “Yes!!!” (To whatever wide eyed idea you just presented her with that will improve the southend)


What do you like most about South Seattle?

The people.  The ‘struggle’.  You know in horticulture, the sweetest fruits are from plants that have endured some stress in order to survive. When the roots have to look harder for water and nutrients in the soil, they produce more sugar.  I think that process is alive and well in the varied and vibrant communities of South Seattle.  People from all walks of life seem to come together more readily here than elsewhere in the city.  Conversations tend to flow easily- even when not speaking the same mother tongue.  Everyone is wanting the same thing essentially which are solutions and fixes to the myriad challenges we face.  We may all have different ideas about how to go about bringing  the change that is  needed- but it is precisely these differences in perspective that make our group dynamic so powerful.  Worldly people working together to make it happen, all while embracing our differences and celebrating each other.  Folks from Somalia, South America, South East Asia, Ukraine, Japan, the  Philippines, the USA – making great change together.   Making art and music together.  Crafting policy together.  Teaching children together. Building community together. It is the quintessential Great American Story. Of course, the process is not without its strife- but even that part is essential.  Making our victories all the sweeter.


You live in the much maligned area of Skyway, which some call South Seattle’s red headed step child. What is the most surprising thing about it in comparison to other areas of South Seattle?

Skyway may look funny or scary  or inconsequential on the outside- but true riches are tapped by scratching the surface.  There are some very, very cool people and places here.  Full on creative class.  I am surprised and delighted that you can have roosters here.   I did not realize that they are against the law in King Counties incorporated parts.  There are a few in my neighborhood and it is  a joy to hear them crowing  on sunny mornings.  The little dudes are kind of lazy actually (thankfully) so they tend to crow later in the morning rather than at the crack of dawn.  Either that or they are very well trained.  Unincorporated King County Roosters Rule.  Another pleasant surprise is that we have among the best water standards in the entire nation in Skyway.  Serious shout out to the Skyway Water and Sewer District.  At what other utility around here can you call and actually have a friendly , knowledgeable person answer the phone and take your payment while chatting about the neighborhood?  Its a throwback to easier times.  Where I live we have well water that is so pure I now notice how bottled waters  taste ‘off’.  The views of Lake Washington and Mt Rainier are insane from this perspective.  There is a vantage point a few blocks from me where the panorama of Lake Washington looks like Switzerland.  Mt Rainier looms majestically from points all around the West Hill.  We are so very lucky that this area is  beautiful, relativity untouched and still quite pastoral.  It is an asset to be carefully protected from the run-away train that is the overly dense urban development here in the Puget Sound region.  Biggest surprise of all is that there are no current residents or any recorded history of the Duwamish Tribe up here on the West Hill. They inhabited this land long before we came along  with our maps, boundaries, claims and county lines.  Duwamish villages stood all along Lake Washington, the Black, Cedar and Duwamish rivers. How did they use this land up here on the hill- of which Skyway is centered?  It was Duwamish hunting grounds for goodness sake.  I have a hunch that if one were to follow the origins of Renton Ave South, it would trace back to a trail made and used by the Duwamish People.  Somewhere there is a Duwamish burial ground up in the Earlington neighborhood.  Chief Seattle’s Mother was Lake Washington Duwamish- from what I gather her people lived in a longhouse on the ground that is now the Boeing/Renton Municipal Airfield.  The last Chief of the Duwamish- Henry Moses- grew up on that land.  He attended Renton High School and was their star football player in the 1920s.  How cool and how mind blowing is that?  I feel strongly that we need to invite the Duwamish People back to the area.  They would be a potent force in helping to envision and construct a new way of life here in Skyway, the West Hill and all of South Seattle.

One more surprise and then I will stop.  Surprised that the Renton School District is the largest employer in Skyway.  And that they are so readily engaged in helping make this a stronger community through open thinking, accountability and access.  They are a huge resource.  But we need family businesses here.  That could change things for the better.  A restaurant like the much beloved and recently closed  Silver Fork on Rainier(still mad at Safeway for that land grab) , a coffee house, a bakery, a pizza place, Mom and Pop hardware store, thrift shop.  Right up there by the new library that is being built.  Gathering places for our ready community.


You work at Ebbets, which is a throwback jersey and vintage flannel maker, if you were going to produce throwback jerseys for some South Seattle neighborhoods what would they look like?

This is such a fun question I can hardly stand it.  I am one of the founders and owners of Ebbets Field.  We have been crafting products based on sports history for 26 years now.  Teams most always derived their names from something specific to a town or a region. So having said that…

Columbia City Millers.

Columbia City used to have multiple saw mills.  Once cut and stripped,  logs would shoot down to Lake Washington- to be then transported around the region by boat or by train.  Colors could be Dark Green and Blue.  Logo would be a Doug Fir

Seward Park Owls.

Natch. Did you know that Owls do not poop? They regurgitate everything.  And that coyotes wrongly get a bad wrap about missing cat when owls are usually the true culprit.  You learn all of this on the evening owl walks  in Seward Park.   Colors would be brown and gold like their eyes

Rainier BeachBoyz.

Nod to resident great Jamal Crawford who (I believe) coined the phrase.  There is something truly special and different about the talent coming out of Rainier Beach High School. In basketball they have a drive and a talent and a vibe that is unmatched. And it keeps going on and on and on.  Stress=sweeter fruit could be at play. Colors Royal Blue and Orange.  Mt Rainier is the sleeve patch.

Skyway Transformers

The Coast Salish- of which the Duwamish are a tribe- have stories to explain the origins of everything.  These are called Transformer Stories. This name also acknowledges all of the dedicated residents that are living and working together to transform Skyway into something even better. As lastly- it ties into the giant electrical transformers cutting a swath thought the heart of the area- bringing light and heat and compromised views.  That would be the logo- a giant transformer.  Colors  silver and black

Mt Baker Capitalists.

Sorry- I couldn’t resist.  Mt Baker has the most money of all of these neighborhoods and is known for its mansions and its views. Unimaginative- I know.  Colors: 3 shades of Green.


If you had the power of the goddess Athena what would you bestow upon South Seattle?

Another great question.  Athena. Known as the Goddess of War. She was most adept at strategy.  And was equally adept at peacemaking.  It is said she created the olive tree. That is pretty powerful stuff: creator of food, shelter, fuel..  I would borrow her powers to help devise wise strategy for the future successes of South Seattle.  And to help people see when it is better to extend the proverbial olive branch rather than fight over it or fight with it.  A good listen reveals The Blue Scholars “The Long March” EP as Athena.  I think it is the soundtrack of South Seattle. Masterful in showing the duality of  our situation here. One hand open and the other closed into a fist.  That’s the other thing I would do – get everyone a copy of that album, a quiet room, a great pair of headphones, an easy chair and nothing but time to listen and ponder the message and the musicality of this fine work coming out of our area.  Its about 10 years old now- and just as on point today as when it first came out.  Perhaps more so.


Five years from now what would you want someone to  be able to say about South Seattle and Skyway that can’t currently be said now?

For South Seattle- that it is the most progressive area in Seattle with admirable success rates  in housing, education and job creation programs.  Envied and copied around the nation.

For Skyway-  Vast open space protected from development while our central business district is forwarded as a thriving retail and service sector resulting in multi-lingual  growth,education and job opportunities for our children and adult residents. And seeing the Duwamish people welcomed back to their home turf and in turn helping to forward our progress.


South Seattle Gems: Gabbie Guncay

Gems is a column devoted to spotlighting the various denizens who contribute to the rich mosaic that is the south Seattle area.

Who: Gabbie Guncay

Best Known Around South Seattle As: That bubbly tutor lady from Lake Washington Apartment’s Youth Tutoring Program

Typical Day: 1)Wake Up  2) Somehow manage to keep 30 children who are at the peak of a sugar high and overstimulated from social media focused on a lesson plan  3) Sleep a merciful sleep.

Most Oft Quoted Phrase: “What just  broke?!?”

Gabbie G
Gabbie Guncay


What do you like most about South Seattle?

I appreciate that people are really friendly here. It’s so interesting because the last few weeks they’ve been doing these Corner Greeter activities to promote the idea that Rainier Beach is a more friendly and open place, but I already feel like it is despite the recent going ons. Every time I go somewhere, or ask someone a question, or go to the grocery store, people automatically come up to me and talk to me. I don’t ever have to initiate a conversation.


You’re the head of the YTP (Youth Tutoring Program) at the Lake Washington Apartments in Rainier Beach. What’s the best thing about the kids you tutor?

The best thing about the kids I tutor is that I get to be a part of their lives and share some great moments with them. For example, I have a student whose father is a truck driver- so he is never home- and the other day (during our summer session) I noticed that an older man was hanging out with the student, so I asked him about it, and he said: “Oh yeah, my dad’s home!” So, it’s just fun to share in their joy,such as a parent being there for them, or them getting a new bike, or new shoes. I’m one of the two or three people that they tell their story to, and who actually sits and listens to them. It’s just fun to be part of their lives.


What’s the most surprising thing about South Seattle in comparison to other areas of the city?

It’s not surprising, but that Seattle is highly segregated. You have North Seattle and the Eastside where many wealthy upper class people live who don’t know that they have all these privileges that they have. They then go down to South Seattle and think:“This isn’t where I want to be.  These are not the people I want to associated with. This isn’t the area I feel like I belong in.” I think that a lot of that would change if there was more interaction between people who live in different areas of the city.

I feel like our tutoring program helps to foster that interaction, because we have tutors who live in Rainier Beach and Skyway, but we also have ones who live in Capitol Hill and Greenwood. In fact,I have a tutor who comes all the way from Woodinville, so that he can tutor in Rainier Beach! I asked him if he wanted to come to a place that was really unique and where he felt feel like he belonged? He said,“Yes”, and he’s been welcomed in by the kids. They make a big commotion every time they see him! He could not find the same opportunity in Woodinville. I guarantee you!


As you are helping to foster the next generation of South Seattle residents, what would you want people to be able to say about our area by the time your students have reached adulthood?

I just hope that people can see it as being an equally rich community as that of any other area of Seattle, and that it’s equal in economic opportunity as anywhere else. I just hope that it becomes  a place that people respect, and that people want to make a safer place. My main hope is that people stay and don’t move away.


If you had the power of the Genie in Aladdin (R.I.P Robin Williams) what wish would you grant to South Seattle?

I would wish that there was someone who would fund all the various micro projects that are in need of funding in the area. There are people in the area who have great ideas, but just can’t get the funding for them. I think micro projects are awesome because they get people together who wouldn’t normally come together. That’s what the Corner Greeter Stations are doing. South Seattle really needs more anti-violence programs, especially Rainier Beach. We don’t need more police. We need more friendly faces.


You recently did a project with the YTP kids that required them to come up with book titles for stories they created. What would the title of a children’s book based on South Seattle be named?

Well, we titled one: The Boy Who Loved A Seed. The seed was a metaphor for nurturing something that you love. It takes hard work in order to do so. Since this area is a place we all love, I would title it: A Community That Loved A Seed.


Know of a Gem in the South Seattle community? Email us at

South Seattle Gems: Joya Iverson

Gems is a column devoted to spotlighting the various denizens who contribute to the rich mosaic that is the South Seattle area.

Joya Iverson
Joya Iverson

Who: Joya Iverson

Best Known Around South Seattle As: The jovial owner of Tin Umbrella Coffee in Hillman City

Special Trait: Dazzling all who cross her path with sublime kindness

When Not Serving Coffee You Can Catch Her: Good luck NOT catching her serving coffee

Motto: “La Caffe Vita”


Favorite haunt in the South Seattle Area?

Huarachitos by the Othello link light rail station. Their food is out of this world!


Finish this sentence: Love and coffee are synonymous with one another because…

Because that’s the secret to our coffee. Every shot is just infused with love. A bitter barista makes for a bitter shot. I think when you’re having fun there’s no way you can’t make awesome coffee.


Why does South Seattle undeniably lay title to the greatest hamlet in the Milky Way?

The People! Everyone says it, so it sounds cliche, but I really think the people who live here and call South Seattle home are amazing! They all have amazing stories that are just as numerous and wonderful as the stars in the sky. The people I encounter here just blow my mind.


Funniest moment you’ve ever experienced in South Seattle?

One Saturday at the shop we did Beyonce Saturday, and Becca- a barista who works here- and I committed to it! We listened to the Beyonce Spotify station all day long, until every song in her catalog had played at least five times, and I danced behind the espresso machine for the amusement- and probably embarrassment – of some of my customers. I actually did a lip sync with the caramel sauce to her song Halo.


What would you like to be able to say about South Seattle five years from now?

That we are still an amazing community. “Local for local.” That we have good people who understand our neighborhoods who have set up businesses here. I would like South Seattle to foster local entrepreneurial dreams.


After experiencing a great deal of adversity during the early stages, your shop will soon be celebrating its one year anniversary.  What’s the most profound lesson you’ve learned during that time?

Focus on the bright spots and the wins because there will always be things that go wrong. There will always be unexpected hiccups. There will always be human moments when you forget something, you screw up, you make a mistake, or you totally blow it. It’s really easy to lose motivation and energy, and that is what kills a business. That’s what kills inspiration, and you have to stay inspired and in love with your dream for it to come true.

Tin Umbrella Coffee will be celebrating its one year anniversary with the South Seattle community on Sunday July, 27th from 9:00am-12:00pm at 5600 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98118