Tag Archives: Mark Van Streefkerk

South End Spots to Check Out for Seattle Restaurant Week

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Seattle Restaurant Week (SRW) is the city’s largest biannual dining promotion celebrating our local restaurant industry and diverse culinary communities. Taking place in the spring and fall, SRW typically features over 200 restaurants, pop-ups, food trucks, caterers, and other small food vendors, all with special curated menus, often at varying price points (from $20 all the way up to $65). Menus feature some of their most popular dishes or some best-kept secrets. 

Continue reading South End Spots to Check Out for Seattle Restaurant Week

House of Constance Will Provide Housing and Services for Queer and Trans BIPOC

Plus: Other Queer and Trans BIPOC Housing Projects Taking Root in Seattle

by Mark Van Streefkerk


When it comes to housing resources for their own communities, queer and trans Black, Indigenous, People of Color (QTBIPOC) are doing it for themselves. Three different Seattle-area QTBIPOC organizations have permanently acquired (or are close to acquiring) buildings that will be used for temporary and semi-permanent housing for QTBIPOC facing housing insecurity. These recent or projected acquisitions for Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network (TWOCSN), Lavender Rights Project (LRP), and Queer the Land (QTL) is the culmination of years of work and advocacy, along with a little boost from the racial reckonings of 2020.

Continue reading House of Constance Will Provide Housing and Services for Queer and Trans BIPOC

Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month at These Events

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month (NHHM), a celebration of Latin American people, histories, and cultures. The monthlong observance starts in the middle of the month to commemorate the Sept. 15 anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. Independence days for Mexico and Chile are Sept. 16 and 18, respectively. 

Seattle and surrounding areas have a number of festivals, author events, live entertainment, and other observances to honor our diverse Latine communities. From SeaMar’s Fiestas Patrias celebrations to the Seattle Latino Film Festival to El Centro de la Raza’s 50th Anniversary, there are many ways to celebrate. 

Explore Latine music through a Spotify playlist curated by the Seattle Theater Group, STG Selecciones Vol. 1, featuring artists from around the world as well as bands from the Pacific Northwest like Tres Leches, Mala Suerte, Acapulco Lips, Sávila, and Wild Wild Mexico. 

For a NHHM kids reading list, author events, and activities, check out the King County Library System’s recent South End Scoop, and the Seattle Public Library’s book list for young readers. 

Read on for a guide to local NHHM celebrations!

Continue reading Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month at These Events

No Judgment Fitness Brings LGBTQ+ and Fat Positive Fitness to White Center

by Mark Van Streefkerk


There’s a new fitness studio in White Center, and it’s doing things a little differently. For starters, the queer- and woman-owned No Judgment Fitness has an unexpected logo: a pink-sprinkle donut with a bite missing. The approximately 900-square-foot fitness space at 11019 10th Ave. SW has no mirrors, no scales, and no weight-loss contests, and it forbids diet talk. It’s also very proudly LGBTQ+ inclusive. At the top of No Judgment Fitness’ website, the words “Welcoming All Trans, Nonbinary and Gender Non-Conforming Bodies. Cis, Too,” are written in all caps. With its grand opening at the beginning of April, No Judgment Fitness aims to be a place for people who want to get into fitness, but don’t feel at home in most gyms.

Continue reading No Judgment Fitness Brings LGBTQ+ and Fat Positive Fitness to White Center

First Annual Kwanzaa Awards Recognizes Black Organizations and Individuals

by Mark Van Streefkerk


The first-ever Kwanzaa Awards took place on Jan. 8 as an online ceremony that celebrated individuals and organizations, nominated by the community, for embodying Kwanzaa principles. The pandemic prevented an in-person gathering, but the spirit of Kwanzaa shone through in prerecorded candle lighting and libation ceremonies and a candid mother-daughter conversation about Kwanzaa. 

Continue reading First Annual Kwanzaa Awards Recognizes Black Organizations and Individuals

Essential Southeast Seattle Collective Fights for Small Businesses in the South End

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Even before the pandemic, small BIPOC-owned businesses and restaurants in the South End faced systemic barriers to success, including lack of access or resources as well as the ever-looming threat of gentrification and displacement. The pandemic only magnified these barriers. The processes of applying for vital loans and grants and pivoting to a greater online presence, all while somehow trying to maintain business as usual, were overwhelming without help. That’s where the Essential Southeast Seattle collective (ESES) comes in.

Continue reading Essential Southeast Seattle Collective Fights for Small Businesses in the South End

South Park’s Multicultural Latino Market Celebrates Mexican Independence Day Saturday

by Mark Van Streefkerk


The South Park Multicultural Latino Market, a recurring weekend pop-up hosted by the South Park Merchants Association (SPMA), will host a special celebration of Mexican Independence Day and Hispanic American Heritage Month on Saturday, Sept. 18, at the South Park Plaza. Fiestas Patrias will feature DJs spinning salsa, cumbia, merengue, banda, and quebradita sonidero music, and vendors will sell authentic Mexican and Latino foods like tacos, empanadas, elotes, specialty non-alcoholic drinks, as well as clothing, jewelry, and collectibles. The celebration starts at 1 p.m. and goes until 5 p.m. or later. RSVP and find out more at the Fiesta Patrias Facebook event page

Mexican Independence Day took place on Sept. 16, but other Central and South American countries celebrate their independence days around the same time, kicking off Hispanic American Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Fiestas Patrias is an inclusive Independence Day celebration for South Park’s diverse Latino community and everyone is welcome. 

Continue reading South Park’s Multicultural Latino Market Celebrates Mexican Independence Day Saturday

Mexican American Family Restaurant — and Only Gay Bar on Beacon Hill — Making a Comeback

by Mark Van Streefkerk 


Baja Bistro is coming back. For almost 25 years it was North Beacon Hill’s longest-running neighborhood Mexican restaurant — and eventually became its one and only gay bar. But Baja was forced to close last summer during the pandemic. Now they’ve secured a new location: the ground floor of the new Colina Apartments. “The ball is rolling,” said owner Oscar Castro.

Continue reading Mexican American Family Restaurant — and Only Gay Bar on Beacon Hill — Making a Comeback

Beacon Hill Restaurants Baja Bistro and CheBogz to Reopen at Colina Apartments

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Family-owned Beacon Hill restaurants Baja Bistro and Kusina Filipina were known for more than just their delicious, authentic recipes. Their customers and neighbors were welcomed like family when they came to dine. That was partly why the loss of both restaurants was so painful. After a change in building ownership led to a rent hike, the Paraiso family closed Kusina in 2017, and Baja shuttered after 25 years in 2020 due to the pandemic. The closures also reflected the decades-long trend of displacement and gentrification in Seattle. With the support of the Beacon Business Alliance (BBA) and a community-minded developer, these two legacy restaurants are planning to reopen in the same neighborhood they were previously forced out of. 

Baja and CheBogz — the latter is owned by Paraiso family sisters Trixia and Paula — are returning to Beacon Hill, splitting a storefront space in the new Colina Apartments

“It’s almost kind of like a fairy-tale story for People of Color,” Trixia said when reflecting on moving the restaurant back to Beacon Hill. “You don’t really get this opportunity to have a landlord say, ‘We want you guys here so that we can keep this community as diverse as it was before.’” 

Continue reading Beacon Hill Restaurants Baja Bistro and CheBogz to Reopen at Colina Apartments

‘Flying Blind!’ Shares the Everyday Experiences of Blind and Visually Impaired Individuals

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Blind or visually impaired (BVI) people navigate a world built for sighted people everyday, but how often do sighted people truly see these individuals or understand their experiences? The audio play Flying Blind! offers a candid look at life for BVI people, with plenty of insights for sighted folks to take note of. Produced by South Seattle-based Anything is Possible Theatre Company (AIP) and written by and with the blind and low-vision community, the play is a series of audio scenes, sounds, original songs, and music that together illustrate some situations BVI people encounter — situations that can be frustrating, misunderstood, or even comical. 

“Please don’t tell me that I’m an inspiration just for getting out the door today. / Can you see that the main obstacle is not what I can’t see, but a society that’s not set up for people like me?” asks the opening song in Flying Blind! 

“Our society is not set up for people who have blind or low vision — or any kind of disability really,” said Kathleen Tracy, composer and music director for Flying Blind! “[BVI] people are amazingly resourceful and can totally live their lives [in spite of] impediments, some of which are hilarious and some of which are infuriating.”

Continue reading ‘Flying Blind!’ Shares the Everyday Experiences of Blind and Visually Impaired Individuals