Seattle Seed Company finds new space to grow on 12th Ave

Sander Kallshian became interested in gardening and the environment as a kid.

His family had a garden, and he started an environmentalist club with a neighborhood friend. With some humidifiers and forest wallpaper, he transformed his room into a rainforest.

“I was kind of the environmentalist of the family,” Kallshian told CHS.

That interest has now grown into an online and in store wholesale and retail seed and garden business that recently relocated to the retail space below a new microhousing development at 12th and Yesler. Continue reading

LGBTQ poetry festival brings art, ‘Queer Resurgence’ to Capitol Hill

LGBTQ poets are preparing to battle until the best wordsmith emerges in the first Queer Resurgence on Capitol Hill Poetry Festival.

Seattle Poetry Slam is launching the new festival featuring a poetry slam competition, panel discussions, and workshops Sunday through Tuesday.

Ebo Barton, booking and events coordinator for Seattle Poetry Slam, said the festival was born from the effects of Capitol Hill changing and the desire to bring art and an LGBTQ presence back.

Barton told CHS there’s been a lot of positive feedback about the event, and many are looking forward to the workshops.

“Folks are really excited to have these actual conversations while doing art … in a place where we feel as comfortable as we can,” Barton said. Continue reading

Live from Capitol Hill: the Last Week in Trump newsletter

64b84587-e4cb-4bef-9b0c-0546e9395aeeSeattle politics and government have offered plenty for Sol Villarreal to fill his two-year-old weekly newsletter Sol’s Civic Minute. And then Donald Trump got elected.

Capitol Hill resident Villarreal had sprinkled some Trump news into Civic Minute, but decided to test out a second newsletter focused on the president-elect. In early December he published a post on Medium about Trump with a survey asking readers if they would like the info in an email. The answer was “yes” so Last Week in Trump was born.

Since then, he has been refining the newsletter with the help of subscribers. The most popular part of the first post on Medium was the inclusion of the conservative side, providing most Seattleites with views differing from their own. He has continued to do that in his beta test of the letter.

“It’s important, I think, for the political conversations that we have (to consider the other side) because we can address each other more effectively if we are talking to each other instead of over each other,” Villarreal said. Continue reading

HALA Capitol Hill: The dense want it denser — the not so dense, not so much

While the young urbanists of Capitol Hill might be disappointed the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda zoning change proposals for Broadway probably won’t create three-hundred-foot apartment towers, Seattle officials are ready to face opposition in other parts of the neighborhood where even relatively modest height boosts are planned,

Generally speaking, Jesseca Brand with the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods said, residents in already dense areas, especially on Capitol Hill and First Hill are more accepting and see the proposed changes being pounded out through 2017 as a good thing. Areas on Eastern Capitol Hill, to the south, and in the Central District where single-family streets are more common are more apprehensive and are concerned about “cultural and economic displacement.”

“Our hope is that the community feels they can shape this program neighborhood by neighborhood,” Brand said at last week’s HALA open house organized by city planners in a more fun than you would expect for this kind of session venue — Capitol Hill’s Optimism Brewing. Sometimes a drink is required when discussing the future of Seattle’s central neighborhoods. Continue reading

Seattle University RAMPs up Central District with small biz project

Central District businesses can look to Seattle University for help thanks to a program funded by a $500,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase. Many CD businesses owned by minorities, women and immigrants face worries over lost space, high rents, changing markets and construction, according to a press release. Seattle U’s Resource Amplification & Management Program (RAMP), aims to keep businesses in the neighborhood and help them grow.

“The objective is to work with the business owners to create a customized strategic game plan with multiple elements, from marketing to raising capital and more for their long-term success and sustainability,” said the university’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center team executive director Sue Oliver.

Oliver and the IEC team are the grant recipients and have been working on a pilot funded by JPMorgan Chase during the past year.

During the three-year program, the RAMP team will use the grant dollars and school and community resources to more than 200 CD businesses by providing resources, training, coaching and connections.

Student interns and a team of business mentors will spend a year each working with neighborhood business owners to determine their needs and help connect them to resources, including existing civic and private services and Seattle U’s interns, researchers and mentors. Continue reading

Why you might want to sign up for health care during Capitol Hill Art Walk

With Donald Trump and the Republicans calling for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, some might be wondering if the time is now to sign up for health insurance. The simple answer is, yes, sign up tonight, according to Tracy Anderson, of WithinReach, a nonprofit that works to connect people and families to services and organizations to help them be healthy. It’s probably not the first avenue you might think of for getting started but Thursday night’s Capitol Hill Art Walk can help.

“We can’t predict what’s going to happen,” Anderson said about potential changes, but those enrolled for 2017 will be on a contract with their insurance providers for the year. Continue reading

Affordable housing, tenant rights advocate running for council on Seattle Democracy Vouchers

Jon Grant ran for the seat in 2015, and this year he’s going for the same City Council Position 8 with a platform focused on affordable housing and tenant rights — and being one of the first publicly financed candidates ever in Seattle.

Grant, former director of the Tenants Union, announced his bid back in November with a challenge to supporters to raise 400 $10 donations in the city’s new Democracy Voucher program. He exceeded that by getting 560 vouchers averaging $16 to fund his campaign.

“We had a tremendous response,” Grant said. Grant has already received more donations for this campaign than his entire 10-month campaign in 2015.

Here’s how the voucher program works. Earlier this month, registered voters began getting four $25 in vouchers in the mail. Seattle residents who are at least 18 years old and are a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident can apply online for vouchers. Each voucher has the election year, resident’s name, a voucher identification number, and may have a voter ID number and barcode to help with signature verification. All contributions are public information. Continue reading

Community leaders begin efforts toward Capitol Hill ‘sanctuary neighborhood’

img_9967-2-1Elected officials have reaffirmed Seattle as a “sanctuary city” following the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, and now Capitol Hill community leaders want to take actions to further establish the neighborhood as welcoming and safe.

“We’re thinking about … what are some of the tactics that we can be explicit about,” Capitol Hill Community Council President Zachary DeWolf told CHS.

The group’s approach aims to provide sanctuary for people being harassed or discriminated against, educate and activate community members, and raise awareness. Continue reading

Joining Womxn’s March on Seattle, Capitol Hill restaurant hosting Anti-Defamation League fundraiser to mark Trump’s inauguration

Chef Renee Erickson and partners at her company Sea Creatures are stepping up against intolerance with a fundraiser at her Bar Melusine on Donald Trump’s January 20th inauguration day.

“I think we were all feeling, given the current kind of climate in our community, we wanted to do something on inauguration day that would be a little bit more positive and uplifting,” Jeremy Price, Erickson’s partner at Sea Creatures told CHS.

It will be part of a weekend of protest and speaking out in Seattle though the largest planned event will be a silent one.

Thousands are expected to march on downtown on the Saturday following the Inauguration in the Womxn’s March on Seattle:

On January 21st, 2017 we will join forces and unite for the Womxn’s March on Seattle in solidarity with the national Women’s March on Washington D.C. We invite people of all gender identities, ethnicities, ages, abilities, religions, and sexual orientations to come participate in this amazing event. Building on the legacy of the 1963 March on Washington, we continue to hold these difficult discussions surrounding race, since it has consistently played a huge role in the fight for gender equality. It is vital that we continue to incorporate people of color in these discussions, and that we learn from history. By promoting intersectionality within our movement, we hope to elevate the level of understanding for all marginalized groups, as they will be most affected by the Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, classism, racism, and sexism of this new administration. If we do not prioritize the most vulnerable voices, then we will not succeed as a movement.

“Seattle has adopted the name ‘Womxn’s March on Seattle’ to promote intersectionality in our movement,” organizers write. “Intersectionality acknowledges that different forms of discrimination intersect, overlap, and reinforce each other, and takes into account the impact of discrimination based not only on gender but also race, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, faith, class, disability, and other backgrounds.” Continue reading

Board and developers agree, Midtown Center project needs further review

screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-3-58-13-pmIt’s not often that the backers behind a big time project in Seattle ask to be slowed by another review. But the project to redevelop Midtown Center and a city fully city block at 23rd and Union is complicated.

The East Design Review Board agreed Wednesday night that the project planned for 2301 E Union should, indeed, return for a second Early Design Guidance meeting.

Brad Reisinger with Lennar Multifamily Communities, one of the site developers along with Regency Centers, requested a second EDG because the project is complicated due to the block-sized site and the pending agreement with the Africatown nonprofit.

An agreement between developers to sell Africatown about 20% of the 2.4-acre property at 23rd and Union to give the nonprofit an ownership stake is still being finalized. Regency is currently under contract to purchase the block.

CHS looked at the history of the block, its importance in the Black community, and the long road to redevelopment for Midtown here. Capitol Hill Housing, meanwhile, is developing the Liberty Bank Building across the street from Midtown Center under a community agreement with partners including Africatown that will be fully affordable and  is hoped to become a template for inclusive development in Seattle.

Plans from Encore Architects for the Midtown Center project propose two seven-story buildings with 355 units in one and 120 in the other. In the larger building, 10% of the units and a to be determined portion of the units in the second would be affordable. Plans also include a large local grocery store, pharmacy, smaller retail spaces and 482 parking spaces. CHS looked at the design here earlier this week.

“The overall mass and scale seem kind of grotesque in my mind,” one neighbor on 24th Ave said. Many commenters raised similar concerns and the board referred to the proposed development as “massive.” Continue reading

Cal Anderson’s all-gender restrooms part of park’s summer 2017 construction plans

In the summer of 2016, Bobby Morris got a new playfield surface. In 2017, Cal Anderson Park’s notoriously gross restrooms are getting an all-gender, all-ability makeover. Both projects could become models for parks across Seattle.

Plans to redo the park’s bathrooms as an all-gender and mobility-friendly facility have been filed with the city’s Department of Construction and Inspections and are awaiting approval. The project will be paired with infrastructure upgrades for Cal Anderson’s much-loved mountain fountain for another busy summer of construction inside the popular Central Seattle park.

“It’s one of the first ones that we’re doing in the city transforming men’s and women’s restrooms into individual stalls,” Kathleen Conner, planning manager with Seattle Parks and Recreation, told CHS about the bathroom overhaul. Continue reading

$15 now — As workers at Seattle’s biggest chains hit milestone wage, Hill’s small biz owners make 2017 adjustments

The new year means another wage hike for Seattle workers and some workers have finally hit the $15 goal of the phased-in plan. For 2017, employees of businesses with more than 500 workers who don’t pay toward medical benefits now must earn at least $15 per hour, a $2 raise from 2016. While most Capitol Hill small business owners don’t have to worry yet about a Starbucks-level minimum wage, they’re still navigating yet another year of raises in the city’s multi-year phase-in process.

“Our fear is pricing people out of the neighborhood,” Meinert said. “… We don’t want to keep raising prices, but we have to.”

While other large employers who put dollars toward their workers’ medical benefits will be paying $13.50 per hour, a $1 increase from 2016, workers at small businesses — those with 500 or fewer employees — are now guaranteed $13 per hour, up $1 from 2016. Employers will either hit that by paying $13 per hour or by paying $11 hourly and either at least $2 per hour toward medical benefits or ensuring their employees get at least $2 hourly in tips.

That tip credit toward the $15 wage is scheduled to end by 2025. A small number of Seattle restaurants have already moved away from tips to service charges in part because of the rising minimum wage.

Some restaurant owners such as David Meinert, who is part of the ownership at a large family of businesses including Lost Lake Cafe, Comet Tavern, Grim’s and Big Mario’s, have regrets about how Seattle’s wage hike is being phased in. Continue reading