Tag Archives: Mark Van Streefkerk

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. 

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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.

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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.’” 

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‘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.”

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The Beacon Cinema Reopens Tonight With a Kshama Solidarity Fundraiser

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Columbia City’s newest indie movie theater is back! Since halting almost all public screenings last March, The Beacon Cinema reopens tonight with a screening of The New Corporation at 7 p.m. 100% of ticket proceeds will go to the Kshama Solidarity campaign to fight the right-wing recall of socialist City Councilmember Kshama Sawant. The Beacon will also debut a remodeled and freshly repainted lobby and an even more focused lineup of film offerings.

Co-founders and co-owners Tommy Swenson and Casey Moore officially opened The Beacon in July of 2019 at 4405 Rainier Ave South, at what was once an office space with an adjoining yoga studio. Swenson and Moore are both cinephiles with roots in the University District of the 1990s, a time and place rife with cinema culture, including a handful of indie theaters, Scarecrow Video, and the now-closed Cinema Books. Before opening The Beacon, Swenson had been the film programmer for a local theater chain in Austin, Texas, and Moore had established his own film marketing firm, High Council. Swenson and Moore launched The Beacon as an opportunity to screen arthouse, rare, and cult films and as a complimentary theater to Columbia City’s historic Ark Lodge Cinemas

After The Beacon’s official debut in 2019, it was only about eight months before the theater was forced to temporarily close due to the pandemic. “Looking back now, those first eight months were a great testing ground to begin to get a sense of what works for us, who our audience is, and what our programming can look like,” Swenson said. 

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The South End Guide to Reducing Our Carbon Footprint: Recycle and Reuse

by Mark Van Streefkerk


A majority of the waste in our landfills doesn’t need to be there. According to a 2019 King County Waste Characterization and Customer Survey Report, over half of what we throw away could be redirected. “Seventy percent of the material that is going to our landfill could be recycled, composted, or reduced,” explained Heather Trim, executive director of Zero Waste Washington. “The vast result of what’s going to our landfill doesn’t need to be going to our landfill.” 

In August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report showing that the effects of climate change are “widespread, rapid, and intensifying,” and that “strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change.” Greenhouse gasses are responsible for raising the temperature of our planet. A warming planet is also partly responsible for increasing the severity of wildfires on the west coast in the past few decades. Extreme weather events like hurricanes or heat waves have also been linked to climate change, which also affects the most marginalized and socially vulnerable.   

Holding corporations and governments responsible to reduce greenhouse emissions is essential to limit the effects of climate change, and there are also changes we can make in our own lives that are relatively simple — and save money — to help offset our own carbon footprint. 

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Fall Sports Are Back: How to Safely Support Our Local Teams

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Fall sports have returned, but the rules are a little different this time around. For King County schools, sports like football and basketball were canceled for 2020, although a short football season took place in March of this year. Now student athletes are back for the fall season, with mask or testing requirements in some cases. For spectators, a new mandate from Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC) means masking up in the bleachers while you cheer on your favorite teams. 

At this stage in the pandemic, health officials know more about COVID-19 transmission, and over 70% of eligible King County residents have been vaccinated. However, the number of confirmed cases has climbed since July, putting a strain on hospitals. Even outdoor gatherings that were once considered lower-risk activities have been sites for transmission, such as the 108 cases linked to the Northwest Washington Fair

In light of the increase in confirmed cases, PHSKC issued a new mask mandate that requires all people ages 5 and older to wear face coverings at outdoor gatherings of 500 or more, regardless of vaccination status. It’s also strongly recommended that all people wear face coverings at outdoor settings where they can’t maintain a social distance of 6 feet from non-household members. 

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The South End Guide to Reducing Our Carbon Footprint: Making Electricity Carbon-Neutral

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Most people probably don’t think about the fact that they’re burning fossil fuels when they flip on a light switch or plug their phone in to charge, but it’s a fact of life — unless you’re getting electricity from Seattle City Light, that is.

While 60% of electricity in the U.S. is derived from fossil fuels like coal, petroleum, and natural gas, Seattle’s electricity is about 85% hydro-powered. City Light owns seven hydropower plants in Washington that provide green, renewable energy that powers our lights, computers, dishwashers, refrigerators, electric cars, and other household appliances. 

“City Light is engaged in preparing for climate change to ensure that we can continue to provide safe, reliable, affordable, and clean electrical services to our customers,” said Crista Chadwick, City Light’s energy advisor supervisor. 

“In 2005 [we were] the first carbon-neutral utility in the nation. Our power remains carbon-free, primarily because we generate about 85% of our power from hydroelectric dams,” she said. 

That’s a big win for our goal of reducing our carbon footprint. (Curious about where the other 15% of power comes from? 6% is “Unspecified,” meaning it’s not required to identify the generating source in the wholesale power marketplace, 5% is nuclear, 4% is wind, and 1% is biogas.) So if you live in Seattle or get your electricity from Seattle City Light, congrats, you already have a head start toward reducing your carbon footprint!

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The South End Guide to Reducing Our Carbon Footprint: Laundry Day

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Early last week a study released by the United Nations revealed the alarming state of climate change, which is accelerating at a faster rate than we previously thought. The effects of greenhouse gasses are warming up the planet, sea levels around the world are rising (about 8 inches on average between 1901 and 2018), and heat waves and wildfires are becoming increasingly more frequent in areas that historically never had these issues — as anyone living in Seattle in the last few years can attest to. 

In an NPR article, Ko Barrett, the vice chair of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, mentioned a couple of key takeaways from the report: “It is indisputable that human activities are causing climate change,” and “[i]t is still possible to forestall most of the most dire impacts, but it really requires unprecedented, transformational change.”  

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Washington Organizations Are Resettling Afghan Refugees, Here’s How You Can Help

by Mark Van Streefkerk


The U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan has left a chaotic and uncertain path forward for refugees and those with special status seeking to evacuate during the Taliban takeover. Washington-based organizations and resettlement agencies are scrambling to rally resources and funding to welcome people fleeing Afghanistan — U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents (of the U.S.) and their immediate family members, those with Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), as well as refugees. These organizations are anticipating resettling thousands of people over a timeline that will take months, or even a year. 

Afghans with SIVs are typically those that have worked with the U.S. in Afghanistan. Currently, the U.S. Embassy has issued a directive for U.S. citizens to be evacuated, but other at-risk Afghans without special status are also fleeing the country as refugees.

Navid Hamidi, executive director of the Afghan Health Initiative (AHI), explained the current situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control: “Eventually people that worked with the United States Army or western countries, any type of involvement, those people will be targeted and they are in fear of their lives … As the U.S. pulled out and the Taliban took power, they had no strategy and no plan to evacuate all these people.”

“The only thing that people thought was the best option is to go to the Kabul airport. There’s so much chaos going on there right now … they are all in the airport begging for the U.S. and their allies to just evacuate them,” he said. 

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