Tag Archives: Mark Van Streefkerk

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.

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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. 

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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.

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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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