Rainier Beach residents have been growing accustomed to the welcome sight of jovial faces greeting them along their daily treks through the neighborhood.
Corner Greeters, a project initiated by the Seattle Neighborhood Group as a part of Rainier Beach: A Beautiful Safe Place for Youth, places pop-up greeter stations throughout the area in places that have been designated as high crime spots.
The objectives of the stations are to encourage social engagement amongst community members, and deter future incidences of crime.
Along with smiles, the Greeters- who include community volunteers- provide public safety and legal information to passers by in addition to trinkets that match the theme of a particular station. Last week’s “Kindness Blossoms” station at the Rose Street Mini-Park, saw over 70 curious community members depart with flowers in hand and a better appreciation for the steps being taken to promote peace and unity within the neighborhood.
Corner Greeter events will be taking place over the next four weeks between 3:30 and 5:30pm at the following locations:
Wednesday, July 30th:Peace Revolutions at Mapes Creek Walkway Plaza (Near Saars)
Wednesday, August 6th:Fold In Peace at Intersection of S.Henderson and MLK Way South
Wednesday, August 13th:Peace Putts at Rainier Beach Safeway Parking Lot
Wednesday, August 20th:Harambee Drumming Circle at Rainier & Henderson Plaza
Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in our series of interviews with the candidates- 5 Democrats and 1 Republican- who are vying to replace retiring State Senator Adam Kline in the 37th District. The top two candidates chosen in the primary election- held on August 5th- will continue on to the general- which takes place on November 4th. The winner of which will represent the 37th District in the Washington State Senate. The 37th currently comprises almost the entire South Seattle area.
You would think Louis Watanabe would have long ago tired of the role of educator. While he has held the official title of professor for only a little less than ten years, the erudite Beacon Hill native has spent nearly the entirety of his adult life, whether as engineer, social activist or entrepreneur, imparting lessons.
However, his passion for pedagogy appears in a state of constant revival, and can be found on full display whether in a classroom fertilizing the minds of the next generation of business leaders, on the dance floor for those eager to learn the foxtrot, or on South Seattle’s streets. A place where he freely lends advice to those youth that most have cast off as beyond hope. Watanabe now hopes to extend his talents for instruction all the way to Washington’s State Legislature, teaching new lessons to an institution he believes is in desperate need of them as the 37th District’s state senator.
Emerald: You’ve had great success in the private sector as the company you founded was Microsoft’s very first business acquisition. What made you want to step into the public realm and run for state senate?
LouisWatanabe: For the past ten years I’ve worked with students from various areas, including in and around South Seattle. What I’ve come to worry about is that you work so hard to get them prepared for the future, and then once their education is complete you worry about whether or not they’ll be able to find a job that pays well enough, allows them to raise a family, and allows them to do the things they set out to accomplish. I look at my job as a professor being about people achieving their dreams.
The other thing that worries me is education, mainly that we are still struggling to amply fund K-12 education while we’re also now seeing tution go sky high. If people have to go way into debt to have an education then they’re basically sacrificing some of their future in order to be able to have one. That doesn’t seem right.
A few weeks ago the governor was talking to different state agencies about 15 percent cuts across the board. They say it’s a planning scenario, however, it is pretty alarming. First of all there are some things that are a part of our budget, such as our food programs, where a 15 percent cut would be a pretty significant thing as food banks are closing down. Another is our homeless programs; their number has actually expanded. Transportation is also a concern. We’ve struggled for ten years to attempt to get a transportation package. After prop 1 failed we still find ourselves in a hole. I live in this neighborhood and I travel all over the place, and people depend on buses for jobs and to get to doctor’s appointments so this is a real problem that needs addressing.
Emerald: What’s your proposal for enticing more businesses – and the employment opportunities they bring- to the South Seattle area and larger 37th District?
Watanabe: First of all I have over twenty years of economic development experience – in addition to my having started a software company. I also teach statistical analysis, business research, and marketing courses at Bellevue College. I’ve also served as the business counselor for the college’s entrepreneurial center on the north campus at the old Microsoft Headquarters.
What I have in mind is that I’ve had experience in this area through sending student teams to work with businesses. I’m very familiar with the Southeast Effective Development, and so what I first took a look at was the County Business trends. That revealed what businesses are actually in the district. A lot of businesses in the 98118 zip code are actually fairly small, meaning 1 to 3 people. So we need to figure out of our existing businesses if we can help them hire more people, but you need to be a certain size in order to do that. It would be ideal to have people commute within the district as opposed to having to commute outside of it, which is what we have right now.
The areas where we really don’t have that kind of thing, we need to encourage businesses to come in. Columbia City is a great story, because what we’ve seen is it has taken twenty years to get to where they are. There has been some discussion in Othello, Rainier Beach, and Seward Park about food innovation centers, where you can tie in urban food courts. We should really take advantage of the fact that we have great culinary programs at South Seattle Community and Seattle Central Colleges. Manufacturing is something we should look at, and having a light rail that exist would allow us to take advantage of that in this district. There are also new technologies we can bring in such as LED (Light Emitting Devices), that’s become a big thing in terms of lighting. LED manufacturing might be a possibility here. If you look all around the region we have businesses involved in the production of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner bodies. The question is, can we actually take advantage of the land we have to the south?
Emerald: Education is obviously something near and dear to you. How would you make sure that our area schools are adequately funded?
Watanabe: Right now we’re in a budget crises because what revenue we have has been allocated towards other things. Personally I believe that when we have crisis we have to say that everything has to be on the table. The most obvious things are to look at tax loopholes, and businesses certainly have preferences of various sorts. The question is which ones pay their way, and which ones don’t? Is it right that Boeing got as much as it did (in its recent deal with the state) and they pay fewer taxes than they did before? While they are a major employer in the region, the fact is that they benefit from the improvements that the region makes, but they don’t pay their fair share. Quite frankly, I don’t like the idea of someone being able to come and just use up the resources in our area and then leave everyone else with the bill.
Emerald: What ideas do you have for Washington State to generate more revenue in order to fix its budget woes?
Watanabe: Revenue has not been keeping up with the growth of the state. We have the most regressive tax system in the country with the sales tax. It disproportionately impacts the people who can least afford to pay taxes. The reality is that Bill Gates Sr. made really great arguments as to why we should have an income tax on high income earners, however it didn’t carry the day in the last election. I firmly believe that this is an educational process. If people believe that it is for a good purpose they would consider a tax, but there’s a lot of skepticism that they’ll pay the tax and it won’t get used for the purpose it was intended. We have to be able to establish the trust of the people in order to do that. I’m a straight shooter. When people have worked with me as a negotiator I really tell it like it is. I would try to do as a state senator, in convincing others of the necessity of a state income tax. A compelling case needs to be made for it, and I believe that I can do that.
Emerald: With the rise in crime across South King County, public safety has been a huge weight on the minds of community members. What do you feel is the best way to address the issue?
Watanabe: When I went to the South Precinct a few weeks ago they had just picked up a 13 year old with a gun from Rainier Avenue. I think about that and I say: “A 13 year old having access to a gun!” This is really problematic. How do you prevent that kind of free access? People say: “Well you need to prosecute people who steal guns.” There’s more to it than that. People need to take on a certain amount of responsibility if they’re going to have a gun. We’ve unfortunately had all kinds of mishaps, even with a police officer’s family.
We know that it isn’t a perfect world out there. Criminals know that because juveniles are treated differently under our system, the juvenile can get away with more. So, they’ll often give them a gun, or drugs. As that’s the case, we have a revolving door before we can do something. This needs to be addressed. The core problem is why do people use guns? They use guns because they don’t feel that they have any other way to assert themselves. Many of them are disconnected from our community.
Prosperity really hasn’t benefited the ethnic communities here and we need to change that. People find ways of surviving, and you can either do it the right way or the wrong way. We have had a lack of investment, and attention paid to this area for a very long time. The stark symbolism is that we have properties that our boarded up and graffiti all over them. You don’t see that in Queen Anne, or in other areas of Seattle. People are left with a sense that people don’t care, so as a state senator I think that it is really important that the state invest in programs that are going to solve these problems. We have a need for basic services, whether it’s food programs, medical care or homelessness.
That’s why we need to bring in manufacturing jobs, because those are skill building. We need not only to bring in the income, but the abillity to go onto the next step. People talk about bringing training to this area, but it’s not training that drives jobs, it’s the other way around. I don’t want to just simply invest in an education center with no prospect of getting anything out of it. Economic development is the best crime prevention tool we have.
Emerald: Assuming you were elected, what would you want a constituent to be able to say about you once your term in office was over?
Watanabe: I’d like them to be able to say that I gave this district hope for a better future because I brought in the means for being able to achieve that through more jobs and skill building. I’d also want them to say that I was able to bring the entire community together in a way that it hadn’t been brought together before.
Emerald: What most distinguishes you from the other candidates running for the 37th District senate seat?
Watanabe: I have the skills that matter to people because I started off in engineering, and so I can see the big picture. I can see the tasks that need to be done and I can sequence them. The order of how you do things is very important. I’ve been an educator at the college level. I see the problems that are going on in K-12. I know first hand what it’s going to mean to be successful in our technologically driven future. I have been a community leader, serving on a number of boards. I think I bring that practical approach to problems with a lot of different skills. There’s a lot of legislation that has been written by people who don’t have a lot of time in the field, so to speak. I have that time.
Emerald: What is so special about the South Seattle area for you?
Watanabe: I’m proud of the fact that my family started out in this area, farming along the Green River and selling vegetables at Pike Place Market. I feel a personal history to this area.
I also like that it’s large enough to do significant things, but small enough that it is very personal. If you want to meet someone you can. I also love the range of humanity we have in this district, whether I go to Columbia City, Rainier Beach, or Seward Park.
Joel DeJong is an enthusiastic advocate for mountain biking. He runs a commuter bike-building company in Fremont, takes his kids out on wooded trails outside of the city on weekends and for the past seven years has marshaled hundreds of volunteers to help clean up and restore the overgrown woods near his home. (Read More)
What more do I have for you than this unworthy little thought in the wee small hours? I can’t hold you and hug away your pain, you’re too far away. I can’t run my fingers through your soft hair. Life forbids us even having the time to take solace in exchanging words on the telephone. But I will stare down the time and space, like a mighty bull. You will see me snort and toss my head, knowing my eye is on you and you alone. You will hear my hooves pounding futilely on the earth- my solitary dance of death, loneliness, and warning. And maybe, just maybe, while you sleep, you will feel my breath fall softly on the nape of your neck, my heart beating- strong and hard but NEVER rushed- through my chest and against your back, my whole self pressed against the thin, thin pane of glass that separates the miles. I may fog the glass, but I will never look away.
We have all been living a charmed sports life since February, relishing in the Hawks’ title, and, if you are like me, re-watching the Superbowl on your DVR 5-6 times just to confirm it was all real. The off-season with free agency departures, some limited arrivals, the draft, and the post-draft free agency period have completed. There are now 90 men wearing Seahawks uniforms hoping to contribute to a repeat title this year. I believe these are the 6 biggest storylines heading into training camp the Seahawks need to address to again field the best team and come away with another championship:
1) The contract holdout of Marshawn Lynch casts a shadow over the start of camp. He knows that from an NFL personnel standpoint a 28 year old running back that has led the NFL in carries over the last year is viewed as having minimal tread left on the tires, and he has read how the Seahawks are likely to cut him to make room to sign Russell Wilson to a big contract next year. The struggle is that he is a top 10 paid running back who got a large raise two years ago, restructuring or increasing his deal does not send a good precedent to other players who may look for the same. The difference here is Marshawn Lynch embodies the style of this team, he has earned his contract and then some. I believe the Seahawks will eventually bend after a 1 to 2 week holdout and will either guarantee a larger portion of his 2015 deal, or will increase his payout marginally in 2014. I also believe Marshawn will play out his deal in 2015 with the Seahawks, and will most likely not be re-signed after that, but two more years of Marshawn would be great for Seahawks fans if they can find a solution both parties can live with.
2) Four major contributors are returning from injuries and hoping to participate early in camp, they are: Kam Chancellor, Russell Okung, Malcolm Smith, and Bruce Irvin. Each of these individuals did not work out during mini camps, and has not played since the SuperBowl. All are currently slated to be either starters or major contributors. Their ability to start camp off in good shape and without medical hurdles to clear will be key in starting the year off strong and starting as close to where they finished last year as possible.
3) Special teams was a major advantage for the Hawks over their competitors last year, and punt return was a big contributor to their ability to flip the field to their advantage. Golden Tate has moved on to Detroit, and there are a host of candidates from Earl Thomas to Richard Sherman to Percy Harvin to rookie Paul Richardson. All of them have one thing in common, none has been the primary returner in the past and there could be a learning curve in this duty. Identifying the winner of this job and giving him as much in-game experience to grow into the role and get comfortable fielding punts will be key to keeping this portion of special teams an advantage instead of a concern.
4) Stability on the offensive line was an issue the Seahawks struggled through last year with major injuries to Okung and Giacomini as well as Unger, leading to linemen playing out of position, and unseasoned rookies starting pivotal games. Identifying the starting line and building cohesion will help keep Russell from running for his life and better consistency in the ground game. Okung, Sweezy, Carpenter and Unger appear locked in, but a battle needs to be settled at Right Tackle between 2nd year player Michael Bowie and Rookie Justin Britt. Bowie has the inside track due to experience, but was scolded by coaches for being out of shape at minicamps. If Bowie reports to camp in shape and with good initial results I believe he runs away with this position, then with some luck, health will play out this season leading to improved play throughout the line in 2014.
5) Identify receivers who will contribute this year beyond Harvin, Baldwin, and Kearse. I expect rookies Richardson and Norwood will make the team no matter what based on their draft position and their initial work at minicamps. Receiver is traditionally a very difficult position for a rookie to have a huge impact in. With Sidney Rice retiring there is likely one veteran position up for grabs. Look for former practice squad player Phil Bates or special team contributor Ricardo Lockette to emerge and grab the last receiver roster spot, and to have a material contribution to the team’s offense this year.
6) The defensive line rotations will need to be determined from a variety of good young players. Gone are Bryant and Clemens, two ends with very different skill sets. The starters of Bennett and Avril remain, but having solid rotations with little drop off between players is a Seahawks belief. Look for 3rd year man Greg Scruggs and 2nd year man Jesse Williams to emerge as versatile players heavily involved in rotations this year. This is also a spot where difficult decisions will have to be made at roster cut time. Someone from the Scruggs, Hill, Mayowa, Jesse Williams, or Kevin Williams backup DT/DE group will not make this team due to the sheer numbers crunch, and will be eagerly picked up and play for another team this year.
As you will hear from any coach, player, or front office person, “Getting through training camp healthy is our primary concern.”, and again that is the case for this team. The raw talent coupled with demonstrated production eclipses every other NFL team’s roster. Sorting out the 6 issues above and remaining healthy will get this season started on the right foot with the potential for another quick start. Fans in every city in America relish getting back to football and the possibilities this season may hold for their team. Seattle fans are different we don’t need to dream about the possibilities this season may hold, we have seen the reality of what this team already is, I can’t wait to see them take the field again.
Clint Elsemore has been a rabid Seattle sports fan for his entire life and possibly in several past lifetimes should reincarnation prove to be legitimate
Gems is a column devoted to spotlighting the various denizens who contribute to the rich mosaic that is the South Seattle area.
Who: Joya Iverson
Best Known Around South Seattle As: The jovial owner of Tin Umbrella Coffee in Hillman City
SpecialTrait: 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
Community: Rainier Beach Sound Transit Center Work Party from 09:00am to 12:00pm @ Meet at the NE corner of MLK Way and S Henderson St . More Info: http://www.seattle.gov/trees
Art:Blue Art Exhibition (work reflects many connotations of the word “blue”) Showing from 10:00am – 6:00pm @ The Columbia City Gallery:4864 Rainier Avenue South. More Info: http://www.columbiacitygallery.com
Community: DetectiveCookie’s Urban Chess Club with Pro Chess Instructor H.R.Pitre. From 12:00pm – 2:00pm @ Rainier Beach Community Center: 8825 Rainier Ave South Seattle. Ages 7 and Older. More Info: 206-650-3621 (Detective Cookie)
Sports: The Emerald CityYouthAthleticAssociationYouthFootball ConditioningCamp from 1:00pm – 3:00pm @ Van Asselt Elementary School: 8311 Bacon Avenue South Seattle. Ages 6-14 (Boys and Girls) Cost: Free. More Info: Coach Dustin (206) 377-9878
Culture:MalamBudaya: A Cultural Night of Indonesian Dance, from 6:00pm – 8:00pm @Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute: 104 17th Avenue South. More Info: http://www.seattleindonesiandance.com
Sunday, July 27th
Community: Brunch at the Beachcomber from 10:00am to 12:30pm @ Beachcomber 12623 Renton Ave S Seattle, WA 98178. More Info: (206) 772-5183
Music:The Bobs doors open at 5:00pm (early show), and at 9:00pm (late show) @ The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 981178. Cost: $17 advance/ $20 at the door. More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com.
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