(This article is co-published in agreement with Rainier Beach Action Coalition’s SE Seattle Freedomnet.)
This is the second in a series of articles drawing from the experiences of the many young adults employed by the Rainier Beach Action Coalition (RBAC) to improve their community. These articles tackle practical issues young adults in our community should have learned about in school, but often leave school without knowing.
Every Saturday, at least a half-hour before the Rainier Beach Action Coalition Farm Stand officially opens, the line of people waiting to get their hands on fresh, organically grown produce stretches from in front of the Community Center all the way toward the entrance of South Shore K–8.
Food insecurity is defined as “the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.”
It’s widely known that Rainier Beach only has one grocery store — but while Safeway is a reliable option for some people, it can be too expensive for people living in low-income households. As a result, people sometimes have to travel outside of the area to find affordable food.
“Freshly brewed green tea with cardamom that was poured in everyone’s cups while waiting for the call to prayer or the call to break fast — smelling cardamom is always soothing to me,” said Nasrin Noori, the founder and owner of Jazze’s, which serves organic and locally sourced Afghani cuisine, when asked what reminded her of Ramadan back home.
Noori, originally from Kabul, arrived in the Seattle area in the 1990s after having lived in Pakistan for six years. She has stayed ever since, raising her family in Kent where she now lives.
“Fresh seafood … fried fish and a porridge, there are certain items that you break fast with, something heating your tummy … you have it to open [you] up,” said Adama Jammeh, co-founder of Afella Jollof Catering. Jammeh grew up in Bakau, The Gambia, which sits near the confluence of the River Gambie and the Atlantic Ocean on the West African coast.
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
Lunar New Year has begun, and we have officially entered the Year of the Ox (and made a much-needed exit from the Year of the Rat).
Lunar New Year is a significant holiday in many cultures across Asia — such as in China, Vietnam, South Korea, and Malaysia — and marks the first new moon of the lunar calendar. The celebration lasts up to 16 days with food, festivities, family, and fortune at the center of it all.
In-person festivities will be limited this year, but that won’t stop us from enjoying some food to ring in the new year. Here are three Intentionalist suggestions on where you should eat to celebrate the Year of the Ox:
I grew up making dumplings with my family — my mother preparing pork, shrimp, tofu, egg, and spinach, all seasoned by soy sauce and sugar, and enlisting my little brother and I to help wrap while my father was stationed by the stove as “the boiler,” watching to make sure the pot had boiled three times.
As a very anxious and socially awkward young person, I often felt like I didn’t belong anywhere — not in school and not in my family. Concentrating on pressing the dumpling skin together over the filling, I got to a humming place where my body and mind worked in concert with each other, each finger moving surely into the next motion.
As a young adult living far from biological family, the thing I missed the most was the family tradition of making food together. I experimented with creating my own traditions for birthdays and other holidays with makeshift kin. I started to host an annual dumpling-making party around my birthday, close to the Lunar New Year. A way to take stock of the community I had gathered or maintained over the past year. An invitation to build in the new year by inviting newer friends to make food with me.
I was born in 1991 on the first day of Lunar New Year in Nagoya, Japan to a Chinese mother and a white American father. My brother, my dad, and I moved to the States when I was 5 and my mom followed a couple years later. Throughout elementary school, we would go back to China to stay with my mom’s family every other summer. We’d spend the whole school break there, almost three months at a time, and come back just in time for school to start in the fall. One year in early elementary school, we landed on the first official day of school, so I started school a day late. The, at the time, 14-hour time difference meant that I was so sleepy that first day back that I fell asleep during class. I’m grateful that my teacher was understanding.
Vietnam is the world’s second largest coffee-producing country, a fact largely unknown to most consumers, though that is changing for those who visit Hello Em Viet Coffee & Roastery. Hello Em is Seattle’s first Vietnamese coffee roastery. Co-owners Yenvy Pham and Nghia Bui carefully oversee every part of the process from sourcing and importing beans from Kon Tum and Buôn Ma Thuột to roasting in house on a Neuhaus Neotec air roaster. The roasted beans make up their signature coffees: the anh roast, a single origin robusta, and em roast, an arabica blend of coffees from Vietnam, Oaxaca, and Ethiopia.
Winter is here. The long, dark days. The cold wind. The wet and freezing rain. And since this is 2020, we can probably add quite a bit of snow to that list. But just beneath the blanket of gray is a golden thread of sunshine — a Seattle cook, born and bred right in this city, hopes to bring a little warmth to the hearts and hearths of this beleaguered town. Veronica Very, the owner of Black’Butta Co., has always cooked but not in any official capacity before the pandemic. She was (and still is) a writer, the wife and business partner of visual artist Hiawatha D., and the founder of Women of Wonder, “a sacred space for Black women and girls.” But the pandemic forced her to get creative about her next business move.
The farm stand hadn’t even opened for business yet, but the socially distant line for Tilth Alliance’s new farm stand was already starting to stretch down the organization’s driveway on the sunny afternoon of June 25.
The nonprofit organic gardening and urban ecology organization is located at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands in partnership with Friends of Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands. Tucked away in a leafy residential area on South Cloverdale Street, this is the city’s largest urban farm. Tilth Alliance officially launched the new farm stand in this outdoor space on June 18. The farm stand is open every Thursday from 2–7 p.m. and is yet another one of Tilth Alliance’s efforts to support South King County residents.
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee said in a press conference on May 28 that the state will be instituting additional protections for agricultural workers, and that his office is looking into the possibility of creating a relief fund for undocumented workers who do not have access to unemployment benefits, despite paying taxes.
The last time Michelle Timson visited the Othello Safeway was when the novel coronavirus pandemic first broke out.
“I won’t go to the Othello Safeway. It’s way too crowded. There’s no social distancing at all being enforced from what I have seen from the one time that I went,” Timson said.
But the lack of social distancing was just the rotting cherry on top of a fermenting sundae for Timson. Like many of her fellow Othellians, the South Seattle resident had had enough of the store, which many in the neighborhood have complained about for years, citing everything from rotting produce, expired packaged food and rat sightings to an overworked, understaffed employee base and an unsafe parking lot. Because of this, Timson and more than 1,500 others have signed a petition started by local activist and 37th District legislative candidate Chukundi Salisbury calling for better store conditions.