Tag Archives: Community

El Sombrero Closes After 17 Years, Leaving With ‘Love Full in Our Hearts’

by Mark Van Streefkerk 

For the last 17 years, Maria and Andres Rodriguez, along with Andres’ brother Daniel, made everyone who frequented El Sombrero feel like family. A favorite destination for many Columbia City residents, El Sombrero was an authentic family Mexican restaurant, with dishes like carne asada, enchiladas, and Borrego and an atmosphere where the whole family could gather for a midweek meal or celebrate birthdays or special events. When the Rodriguez family announced April 25 would be El Sombrero’s last day, devoted customers came out in droves, ordering takeout or dining in at reduced capacity, for one last show of appreciation.  

“It was definitely hard. There were a lot of customers that cried,” said Raquel Rodriguez, daughter of Maria and Andres, who worked at the restaurant for 16 years. “We weren’t expecting the amount of customers … and to know that so many loved us and came over to say one last goodbye and have one last meal at El Sombrero — It was great for my parents. I think they just felt really appreciated and felt so loved by the community.”  

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PHOTO ESSAY: Columbia City Farmers Market Opens for the 2021 Season

by Susan Fried

The weather was perfect, sunny and around 70 degrees, on May 12, opening day of the Columbia City Farmers Market. Although the crowds were probably a little smaller than they were pre-pandemic, a lot of people showed up to support the dozens of small farmers and local businesses selling everything from fresh produce and baked goods, to ice cream and wine.  

Despite some COVID-19 restrictions, people were happy to see the market back in business. Last year, during the height of the pandemic, the Columbia City Market opened a month later than usual and limited the number of shoppers. But as the pandemic restrictions have been lifted this year, more people are able to shop at a time.  

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Des Moines Marine Mammal Hospital Is Pacific Northwest’s First

by Caroline Guzman

For many people, one of the perks of living in Washington state is the chance to see charismatic marine wildlife like orcas, sea lions, otters, seals, and many others. But an average of 578 marine animals end up on shore dead or in need of care on Washington coastlines every year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Now, about 100 of these at-risk animals can be treated per year inside Washington state’s first marine wildlife hospital. In honor of Earth Day, the people behind SeaLife Response, Rehabilitation, and Research (SR3) joined Des Moines Mayor Matt Pina to cut the ribbon on this new facility.

“The accomplishments of locating SR3 in Des Moines Marina is a statement of our city’s commitment, respect, and our role to assist in the healthy stewardship of Puget Sound,” said Pina during the ceremony. “And our city understands the valuable interface between them. SR3, in addressing the health of marine animals, furthers our goal to see that this Puget Sound remains as healthy as possible.”

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After Seven Years of Service, Hillman City Collaboratory Fights to Survive

by Beverly Aarons

I first discovered Hillman City Collaboratory in 2016 while working with housing activists to save a Central District family from displacement — the collaboratory was a space where we could strategize and discuss. The second time I engaged with the space was when I attended a clothing swap in the main mixing room. High-quality clothes were neatly folded into stacks — anyone could grab some pretty decent threads and it didn’t matter if they had money or something to trade. And then there were the films and the talks and the discussions and the various events — social, political, cultural, artistic, and business-related — that I attended at the collaboratory throughout the years. 

But as I approached the Hillman City Collaboratory headquarters on April 30, I could see, even from across Rainier Avenue, that the social change incubator that once teemed with life was completely deserted. This was the final day of the community hub — they had to vacate the premises. An older man, who looked to be in his 60s, stood about 30 feet from the entrance. He smoked a cigarette and peered down the empty sidewalk. As I tugged on the collaboratory door, the man took a final draw on his cigarette and approached me. I wanted to know more about the closing of the collaboratory, I explained. He nodded in understanding as if he had been expecting me and we went inside. 

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Intentionalist: Celebrate AAPI-Owned Businesses

by Kristina Rivera

Intentionalist is built on one simple idea: where we spend our money matters. We make it easy to find, learn about, and support small businesses and the diverse people behind them through everyday decisions about where we eat, drink, and shop. #SpendLikeItMatters

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and it’s time to celebrate.

During the pandemic, we’ve seen local businesses scramble and adapt to the ever-changing conditions around them, with recent research showing Asian-owned small businesses have been disproportionately affected. But, despite this, we’ve also seen countless local businesses step up in so many ways to help the communities around them.

And we at Intentionalist think that’s a cause for celebration.

We believe AAPI Heritage Month isn’t just about supporting the AAPI-owned businesses in our neighborhoods — it’s about celebrating them and all the character, culture, and vitality they bring to our communities.

To kick off AAPI Heritage Month, here are three businesses you can support:

PHOTO ESSAY: El Comité’s Annual May Day March 2021

by Maile Anderson and Ronnie Estoque

Around 150 people marched from the Central District to downtown on Saturday, May 1, as part of El Comité’s annual May Day or International Workers’ Day march. It was one of the smallest turnouts in two decades, but the spirit of the protesters was undeterred as they walked on behalf of immigrant and workers rights. On their way, attendees passed through Chinatown-International District where JM Wong, co-founder of Massage Parlor Outreach Project, spoke out against the recent rise in hate and violence against Asian Americans. Other speakers included Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and Washington State Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos.

This year’s Trabaiadorxs Esenciales y Excluidxs (Essential and Excluded Workers) march highlighted the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on vulnerable and essential workers. “2020 became a major challenge for workers,” reads the event listing on El Comité’s website. “As a result of the virus, thousands of businesses closed, some forever. Millions of workers were furloughed or lost their jobs. Many lives were thrown into a world of unemployment, poverty, compounding rental debt, and homelessness.” Protesters also marched for immigration reform, equitable vaccine access, cancelling rent debt and evictions, and solidarity against police brutality, white supremacy, and systemic racism.

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Tilth Alliance Gets Ready to Bloom at 38th-Annual Plant Sale

by Carolyn Bick

Almost 40 years ago, Tilth Alliance’s plant sale was a modest affair, meant for just a few people in the neighborhood to share and discover varieties of decorative and edible plants.

Now, the nonprofit organic gardening and urban ecology organization’s annual plant sale has grown to become the largest in the region — a massive affair of lush greenery and silky flowers of different native plants spilling over the sides of pots and containers. The plant sale usually takes place at The Good Shepherd Center in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle but last year took place online, due to the pandemic. This year will see a return to an in-person event with limited capacity. The sale will take place from May 7–14 at Tilth Alliance’s urban garden space tucked away just off South Cloverdale Street in South Seattle. 

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Urban Impact Hosts Annual Pitch Event for Local Entrepreneurs

by Chamidae Ford

This Thursday, April 29, at 6 p.m., Urban Impact will host their eighth annual Sharks at the Beach, a free virtual pitch event showcasing local entrepreneurs and their ventures. Urban Impact is a nonprofit organization that has been supporting the South Seattle community for 32 years.

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Skyway Event Provides Vaccinations, Health Insurance Enrollment, Other Resources

by Elizabeth Turnbull

On Thursday, April 29, and Thursday, May 27, community members in the Skyway and West Hill areas can access COVID-19 vaccine doses, health insurance enrollment help, metro fare aid, and other resources at the Grocery Outlet in Skyway.

While other areas in South Seattle, such as Rainier Beach and Renton, have better access to the COVID-19 vaccine, this event is an effort to increase access for residents living in the Skyway and West Hill areas 

“The community partners in Skyway know what works for their residents and we’re working with them to develop sustainable resources,” said Daphne Pie, health services administrator at Public Health — Seattle and King County. “In recent months as we’ve been working with the Skyway community, we clearly heard that services need to be brought to Skyway.”

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