This week, the Seattle Public School (SPS) District and the Seattle Education Association (SEA) resumed bargaining about when the return to in-person education for pre-K to first grade will happen and what it will look like. In a pandemic month that also featured a failed coup and the inauguration of our country’s first Black, Asian, and female vice president, SPS has already seen a school board member abruptly resign and the staff of a South End elementary school announce that they will refuse to return to in-person learning until it’s safe for their community to do so. With pressure mounting to reopen SPS as soon as possible and bargaining already strained, there is mounting evidence that suggests white families stand to benefit more and that their communities will face fewer impacts from a return to in-person learning.
In a Facebook message posted on Jan. 7, SPS board representative Eden Mack announced her resignation. Mack, who represents District 4 (which includes the neighborhoods of Magnolia, Queen Anne, and Southern Ballard) mentioned a “dysfunctional culture” and also stated, “The massive gap between the true cost of providing basic education in an urban school district and what the State provides is not imaginary.” Mack then went on to ask the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) of the state of Washington for an “intervention.”
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As we enter the new year, there’s one thing that’s already clear: We’re going to need our energy to get through it. And what could be more energizing than a carefully crafted cup of coffee from a local South Seattle coffee shop?
Independent coffee shops are so much more than the coffee they serve. Pre-pandemic, they were our go-to meeting spots when we wanted to catch up with a loved one, community organizing spaces, and where we set up our office for the day. It may be awhile until we can fully embrace everything these special neighborhood spaces have to offer, but for now, we can still enjoy a delicious drink made by people who genuinely care.
Beacon Hill’s The Station coffee shop has long been a hub of community activity and advocacy, hosting everything from meetings to artwork to a free pantry. Now it’s home to Washington State’s first Short Story Dispenser, courtesy of the Seattle Public Library (SPL) and French publisher Short Édition.
Before the pandemic, my two favorite places to shop for holiday gifts were Kinokuniya Seattle and Pike Place Market. At Kinokuniya, the bright, densely-packed Japanese bookstore in Uwajimaya Village, I browsed children’s books, comics, magazines, and stationery for hours. At Pike Place Market, I beelined to the Herban Farm stand, founded by Ras Levi Peynado, a Seattleite with Jamaican Roots who farms and dries his products. There, I would test-smell the fragrant seasonings, rubs, and salves, while staring at ferry boats crossing Elliott Bay, before buying gifts for family members. Among favorites were Pike Place Herbs (an all purpose seasoning), the paprika-rich Seatown Smoke (“BBQ in a jar”), and the floral Lavender Sea Salt.
For Chef Melissa Miranda, Musang has always been more than a restaurant. The popular popup found a permanent home in North Beacon Hill at the beginning of this year, and through the crisis of COVID-19, pivoted to a community kitchen as well as restaurant, offering free or pay-what-you-can meals during the pandemic. Musang is one of seven restaurants and popups that form the Seattle Kitchen Collective, a grassroots collective of like-minded chefs who provide meals for community members who need them. Now through Little Wildcats cooking classes, Miranda, Chef Amelia Franada, and Chef Marizel Yuen are sharing Filipinx culture with the youngest in the community.
Community members across Seattle are celebrating Ron Chew for a career totally dedicated to his community as a journalist, advocate, and fundraiser for Seattle’s International District. Since the mid-1970s, he has worked as editor of the International Examiner, director of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific Experience, and currently as the executive director of the International Community Health Services Foundation (ICHS) for Seattle’s Chinatown International District (CID). Chew will retire from ICHS on Jan 1 after leading it the entirety of the past decade.
In a recent Emeraldarticle, Glenn Nelson aptly described Ron’s journalistic focus: “Chew practiced his craft largely on a concrete island isolated from the rest of Seattle by railroad tracks and the I-90 and I-5 freeways.”
When Luis Rodriguez and Leona Moore-Rodriguez put out a call for help on Oct. 13, they knew their community would answer that call. But they couldn’t have imagined all the ways their neighbors would rise to the occasion. A few days later, the GoFundMe a friend and customer set up for them has raised over $25,000, and members of the community have found a host of creative ways to help keep their favorite coffee shop from closing.
It wasn’t easy for Luis and Leona to ask for the help they needed. “For me it was humbling, a little embarrassing,” Luis told the Emerald. “To have to ask to your community like, ‘Yo, we’re struggling, we’re going through some rough times, we need your help, we need your money, we need people to donate …’”
“It was a little hard to ask for help,” Leona agreed, “but at the same time, I know we have a beautiful community that’s willing to stick their necks out and help those in need. And we just happen to be one of those businesses, like so many other businesses in Seattle, struggling through COVID.”
Organizer, promoter, entrepreneur, computer scientist, father, and community gardener — Chukundi Salisbury has amassed several titles since moving to Seattle as a 5-year-old boy in 1975. He’s looking to add at least one more come November: state representative for Washington’s 37th Legislative District.
Over the course of two hours on Saturday afternoon, some 200 people trickled onto a sunny field in Jefferson Park on Beacon Hill to join a rally and march held by the newly formed Climate Justice for Black Lives collective. After a brief blessing by an Indigenous LGBTQIA+ drum group, emcee B.M. Williams explained that the gathering was “about celebrating our resilience as Black people, Indigenous people and People of Color” while calling attention to the dire and worsening impacts of climate change on BIPOC communities locally and nationwide.
When Kevin Nguyen’s independent produce stand in South Seattle was set ablaze last week, his first reaction was to close up shop and leave the city. It was the fourth time in the past month that a fire was intentionally set on the property — part of a recent string of arsons around Rainier Avenue South — and Nguyen’s patience was wearing thin.