A cure for the will to live is what greeted me on the streets of South Seattle Monday night. The mood was like Vatican City moments after they announce the pope died. It was barely an hour after a different announcement. One made by a St. Louis Grand Jury who decided against indicting Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Mike Brown, effectively absolving Wilson of any wrongdoing for fatally shooting the unarmed teenager on August 9th. Continue reading Seattle’s Two Ton Elephant→
In an announcement anticipated by most long before it was officially revealed around 6:00pm PST last night, a St. Louis County Grand Jury decided not to indict Ferguson, Missouri Officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting of 18 year old teenager Mike Brown. While the small Midwestern city with a population of less than 22,000 erupted in a storm of violence- with at least a dozen buildings reported burned down as of this morning- the decision has reverberated throughout the country sparking mass demonstrations from coast to coast. Continue reading South Seattle Reacts to Ferguson Decision→
TAF Academy’s STEM Expo Pitch Event on November 13, 2014 ended with a pitch from a tenth grade student of color. She proposed a convention bringing together tech companies, gamers, bioengineers, and anyone else who might be interested to lay foundations for the ethics of transhumanism. Huh? What? What did she just say? What is transhumanism? And how is it a tenth grader knows and I don’t? Continue reading Technology Access Foundation: Education Done Right→
Some expressed outrage at the city for what they view as gross negligence. Some reserved their indignation for the craven perpetuator of a deplorable crime. And still others probed for concrete solutions to a problem that continues to plague the southend of Seattle with abnormal frequency- yet all gathered together last Saturday at 2:00 pm at the Columbia City Light Rail Station to participate in a “walking vigil” for the 7 year old victim of a hit and run car collision.
One month prior, Zeytuna Edo- walking a short distance from her home to a tutoring class- was crossing the street along Genesee and Martin Luther King Jr Way S with her family, when an unidentified car, struck her, leaving her unconscious, bleeding body in the middle of a busy intersection, furiously speeding away before any witnesses could identify the driver behind the wheel of the vehicle.
Edo-who is currently hospitalized and only recently emerged from critical condition- sustained multiple injuries, most significantly to her head. The rapid response of paramedics to the scene is credited with saving her life.
The Seattle Police Department continues to search for the person who hit her, and is asking anyone who may have any information on the event to come forward.
“I think it is completely wrong that a kid can get hit in the street and a person can drive off and not care,” said Adam Dodge, a local Columbia City resident who came to the vigil to lend his support to Zeytuna’s family.
While nearly everyone in the crowd of more than 100 people who attended the vigil walk- which commenced at MLK Jr Way S and Alaska ended several yards north on MLK Way and Genessee- shared in Dodge’s disgust at the tragedy, many in attendance saw it as symptomatic of a much broader issues-what they feel is the city’s indifference at calming traffic along busy southend arterials- most notably Martin Luther King Jr Way S and Rainier Avenue South.
With the area experiencing a series of car accidents- most recently a massive wreck involving 15 cars and injuring 10 people that transpired on Rainier Avenue South just a day before the vigil- most southend natives have been left scratching their heads in attempts at pinpointing the root cause of all the vehicular calamity the area has suffered through in recent months.
“I think the issue is road design, traffic planning and education,” said Barb Norman, a local who had for some time been concerned about the speeds cars were permitted to go as they entered into the densely populated neighborhoods.
“We have a similar issue in the north end. We have very busy streets like MLK Way,” said Selena Carsiotis- who is a safe streets activist and ventured from her Crown Hill neighborhood to be part of the vigil as well as to take part in a dialogue centering around what can be done to make all Seattle streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.
“I was looking at the wreck that happened on Rainier Avenue South where 10 people were injured. I think its speed and freight that is the main thing causing these accidents. Also, this area is a state freight corridor and I think that might be one of the challenges to the city’s ability to slow speeds. So we might need some collaboration with other jurisdictions to make that happen, but it can happen.”
Both Seattle City Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director Scott Kubly attended the vigil and reiterated their committed to calming traffic in the area. SDOT had previously scheduled two Rainier Avenue Road Safety Meetings- taking place November 12th and 18th with the intention of relaying the city’s plans for taming traffic along South Seattle arterials to the community and seeking their feedback.
Earlier this week, November 6, SDOT hosted a public meeting at the Hillman City Collaboratory to start a discussion on improving safety, keeping speed low, and helping people cross busy streets, part of SDOT’s effort of implementing a North- South Spine greenway in 2015- north south neighborhood greenway connecting Rainier Beach with Mt. Baker. The gathering had about 45 in attendance, including residents, business owners, community leaders and Rainier Valley Greenways organizers.
Residents hope that the meetings will provide more action than talk, as several have grown exhausted dealing with an issue they feel the city should have addressed long ago. This was on full display at a “Solutions Meeting,” hosted by Rainier Valley Greenways- the main proponents of
city prioritization of safe southend streets for walkers and bicycle riders – that was held directly after the vigil at the Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club.
Interactions between the mayor-who spoke at the Boys & Girls Club- and community members often grew testy as many remained unsatisfied with the city’s response to the ongoing rash of accidents.
“I really hope that something actually comes out of these (upcoming) meetings and that SDOT can put some immediate measures in to slow the traffic. That would improve what’s been happening in the area immediately,” iterated Norman.
With the cacophony of opinion surrounding what, if anything, the city can actually do to ensure safe, walkable southend streets, it seemed almost inevitable that the original impetus of the vigil would be drowned out, however, the thought of the 7 year old girl who was transferred to Children’s Hospital early last week after being at Harborview Medical Center since the incident, was never far from anyone’s mind.
“Our first goal today is to make sure that Zeytuna- her family, her friends, her relatives- know that we are here to support her as a community,” shared Phyllis Porter, who assisted Edo’s family in organizing the vigil.
“Zeytuna and her family is in our hearts. We will hold the idea that our community can be a safe and healthy place for everyone and the streets we walk on can be a good place for us to live”, continued Porter.
If you’d like to help:
come forward if you are the driver of the hit and run collision or know
the person who did this horrific act. Please call the Traffic Collision
Investigators with any information at (206) 684-8923.
Family of Zeytuna is asking for assistance with bus tickets-this will assist her family on their daily travel to Children Hospital to visit Zeytuna on the north side of town.
It all started with a bang and ended with a crash.
It began at 4:00 on Friday night; by 5:30, more than one thousand Rainier Valley residents decked out in full Halloween regalia (Iron Man and Elsa from Frozen costumes to name but a few) had descended upon the eastern portion of Rainier Beach Safeway’s parking lot last Friday for the inaugural Rainier Beach Boo Bash.
The Bash was conceived by Rainier View resident Cindi Laws in response to the 165% increase in gun violence within the Rainier Valley during the past year. “We had a couple of blocks-long shooting sprees in Rainier Beach,” said Laws. “Businesses were shot up. Scores of drive bys. More than a dozen dead. Schools in repeated lockdowns. What does that do to kids? To families? To communities?” she asked.
“Safeway managers were also concerned, and wanted to be a part of a solution, wanted to demonstrate its commitment to our community,” Laws continued. “So we came up with this big idea of creating a Halloween event to provide a safe environment for kids to trick or treat through booths sponsored by local merchants, community groups and city departments.”
Boo Bash at the Beach was also established to draw some positive attention to an area that continues to suffer from the negative public image of crime and violence. The Federal Department of Justice in 2012 identified five locations in Rainier Beach as crime hotspots, and provided nearly a million dollars in funding to change the statistics. After nearly a dozen deaths in spring and early summer, several “Find It/Fix It” walks were scheduled for Mayor Ed Murray to show he cared about Rainier Beach. The mayor, however, was not present at the wonderfully positive Boo Bash.
“This is absolutely fantastic!” exclaimed Jazmine Sampson, who brought her children Jaziah (4) and Lilliana (2) to participate in the Bash. “I thought about taking them out trick-or-treating but I was wary of that because you never know about people these days, unfortunately. But here they can interact with other kids from around the community, and I can connect with my neighbors. I can’t believe all the people here! Kids in the southend complain all the time that there is nothing to do around here, and that often leads to them getting into trouble. We need constant events like this.”
Sampson’s opinion seemed the consensus amongst parents in attendance that were appreciative to see an event thrown in the community that actually diffused many anxieties about safety and provided a ready-made local activity on Halloween night.
“I honestly didn’t know what to do tonight. I wasn’t sure how long I would let my kids be out and how safe it would be as I was only going to allow them to walk to a few houses in either direction of mine while I stood out on the porch, which wouldn’t have been too fun for them. This really solves everything for me,” said Katrina Young, who brought her two daughters along with her.
“I’m sure people heard Rainier Beach Boo Bash and immediately associated that with Halloween in the Hood or some nonsense – meaning that there would be shooting, fighting or what have you,” expressed John Aaron, who has no children of his own but came to enjoy the festivities nonetheless. “Look at all the people here, young, old, black, white, yellow. Everyone is just having a good time. It flies in the face of what most people think about us out here.”
Boo Bash featured live music, Halloween-themed games and nearly thirty trick-or-treat booths carpeted Safeway’s parking lot-treating young ghouls and goblins to so much candy that South Seattle dentists’ jobs are now officially recession proof. Indeed, Boo Bash was free of the violence that some detractors intimated the event would invariably invite.
The only scare that threatened to derail the community celebration was a horrific multi-car wreck involving fifteen cars and a Metro bus, injuring ten people. Rainier Avenue was closed around 5:30 pm, just a few dozen yards from Boo Bash.
With a helicopter overhead, local news outlets exhorted residents to stay completely clear of the area. “Had the media not frightened people away, attendance would easily top 2000 people,” said Laws.
With the success of the event by both quantitative and qualitative measure — the Boo Bash Facebook page continues to be swamped with effusive praise from supremely grateful parents — it is a bit mind boggling that its planning and promotion came about in such a short time.
“We had the will, and we had to find a way to pull this off. ‘No’ was not an option,” said Laws, who had been a long time West Seattle community leader before moving to the Rainier View neighborhood in 2004. “There were many skeptics. It should not be so hard to promote an event that is for children, and it certainly shouldn’t be so challenging to convince some to fund this type of a community festival.”
“Boo Bash was a phenomenal success!” said Laws. “Thanks to our amazing community partners, especially the remarkable people of Safeway; Seattle City Councilmembers Bruce Harrell and Sally Clark, City Attorney Pete Holmes, Maia Segura, Patrice Thomas, Jenny Frankl, Jennifer Samuels, Sally Bailey, Dan Sanchez, Yalonda Gill Masundire, Mark Briant, Jeremi Oliver, Martha Winther, David Della, and Dick Falkenbury; the amazing folks at the Seattle Police Department’s South Precinct and mounted patrol unit; entertainers Michael Cagle, Omar Jackson, and Ryan Hazy; all the incredible people of Seattle Parks, City Light, Seattle Tilth, the Department of Neighborhoods, McDonald’s, Vulcan NW, Waste Management, Burien Staples Copy Center, Boruck Printing, Sound Transit, the Seattle Fire Department, Rainier Beach Merchants Association, Rainier Valley Chamber, Rainier Beach Community Club, Othello Park Alliance, All-Inclusive Boy Scouts, Rainier Vista Smilow Boys & Girls Club and so many others!”
“People of all stripes, colors and creeds are begging for another big event,” concluded Laws. “We really showed what can be accomplished in Rainier Beach if people just come together and quit worrying about turf and credit. It is about the kids, about safety, about fun, about community. And it was incredibly successful. With the generous support of an amazing corporate partnership with Safeway, we all did this together, and we will all do it again.”
Reportage, Culture & Commentary From The Most Eclectic Place on Earth