About Margo Vansynghel

Margo Vansynghel is a journalist and photographer based in Seattle. She covers news, human interest, business, art and lifestyle for newspapers and magazines and makes documentary photography series.

Born on Capitol Hill, Tenant Rights Bootcamps training renters for change in Seattle

(Image: Be:Seattle)

Devin Silvernail always starts with the basics: Read your lease, and know exactly what’s in it before you sign it. Document everything. Do everything in writing (and no, texting does not count). That’s the “tenant rights 101” many of us know.

But did you know that there’s a ban on source of income discrimination in Seattle? Or that landlords are prohibited by law to screen tenants based on criminal convictions? Or that there’s a cap on move-in fees for renters can be charged? That you can organize in a renters union in your building?

In the grand scheme of things, not that many people do. Silvernail, who organizes Tenant Rights Bootcamps all around Seattle, thinks they should. That’s why he’s made informing renters of their rights part of his life’s work. “Knowing your rights is a really powerful tool,” he says. “You can recognize when a situation isn’t good when you’re unjustly evicted or taken advantage of, or owed relocation assistance.”

When we get Silvernail on the phone, he’s out walking around Capitol Hill — where renters, including Silvernail himself, are the majority — posting bright yellow flyers up for an upcoming Tenant Rights Bootcamp this Wednesday, March 6 at Capitol Hill’s Wildrose bar. The event, geared towards the LGBTQ+ community, is co-organized with the Gender Justice League, the Tenants Union of Washington and Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant who is running for reelection this year.

LGBTQ Community Tenant Rights Bootcamp

“A lot of LGBTQ+ folks wonder about background checks. If folks haven’t had the same name their whole lives, how does that affect them? Can their landlord refuse them? We can quell fears around that, as well as around discrimination and protected classes,” Silvernail says while the stapler clicks punctuate his words.

“Still, 99% of the workshop will apply to anyone, and open to everyone who wants to come.” Continue reading

A first for Seattle Public Schools: coming to the people — ‘We’ll have some tough conversations’

Even a 137-year old institution has to try something new once in a while. For the first time, a Seattle Public Schools Board meeting is coming to the people. Instead of meeting at their regular locale in SODO, School Board members will hold March’s monthly work session at Garfield High School during a special community board meeting Wednesday at 4.30 PM.

Seattle School Board Community Work Session

Usually, these meetings, whether they are regular board meetings or more topic-related ‘Work Sessions’, take place at SODO’s John Stanford Center.

“If you are a student or a working parent, it’s hard to make your way down there,” says Zachary DeWolf, District 5 Director for Seattle Public Schools. With his election to the board in 2017, DeWolf, a program manager with All Home, and a citizen of Chippewa Cree nation, made the board considerably younger, queerer and more diverse. He’s also hoping to make it more accessible.

Bringing these types of meetings “to the community”, helps create more trust and transparency, DeWolf says. “With such a big institution sometimes people don’t know what’s under the hood.” Continue reading

On the List | Linda’s Tavern turns 25, CatVideoFest, Seattle Cocktail Week

Firefighters at Fire Fridays, feline fun and fungi: the first days of March fulfill all alliteration needs. Celebrate Linda’s 25th birthday this Wednesday evening and find more things to do below and on the CHS Calendar.

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 27: Pike/Pine constant Linda’s Tavern turns 25 with 1994 prices and DJ sets from “Linda’s finest” — Lisa Prank and Bree McKenna of Tacocat. Five years ago, CHS talked with Linda Derschang about the tavern’s birth: Linda’s opened its doors February 16th, 1994. The intention wasn’t to open a dive bar, necessarily. As Derschang noted, “a bar has to grow into its diveyness.” Happy 25th birthday to Linda’s. Many more. Linda’s Tavern, 9 PM – 2 AM (21+)

Linda’s Tavern 25th Anniversary Party

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What’s next for Melrose Market under new owners? Tenants say maybe a breath of fresh air

A Melrose Market view (Image: Sitka and Spruce)

In Seattle, everything’s for sale.

With every new announcement of a longtime business or building selling or making way for apartment buildings, the sense heightens that nothing is sacred.

So it was no wonder that after CHS reported that iconic Capitol Hill property Melrose Market sold to Regency Centers, a Florida-based real estate investment trust, for $15.5 million, many feared the worst for the preservation and locavore focused retail development home to Sitka and Spruce and Terra Plata.

“I got so many texts, it wasn’t funny,” says Terra Plata chef/owner Tamara Murphy, who says she’s had to calm down many people. Murphy’s not stressed, she says. “They’re not going to turn into a shopping center, at least not in ten years,” Murphy noted that the tenants in the building are safe until their leases run out. Many of the building’s tenants have long-term leases with renewal provisions. “They can’t turn around and say we’re out.”

No, Melrose Market won’t be razed to make way for a new condo building, said Craig Ramey, Regency’s managing director for the Pacific Northwest, Northern California and Colorado. “That’s not anywhere in anyone’s plans. [Regency’s] core business is retail.”
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Japanese rice balls and natural wine at Sankaku and Marseille a match made in Melrose Market

Brandin Myett and Rie Otsuka at Melrose Market (Image: Margo Vansynghel)

Strings of red paper lanterns, some emblazoned with golden Chinese characters, hang from the ceiling. In the distance, a harmonica tune floats through the late-lunch atmosphere at Melrose Market, the indoor food and design mart also home to Sitka and Spruce and Glasswing. On the white marble countertop of Marseille, a wine bar and eatery named after the French port city, three carefully crafted onigiri Japanese rice balls sit under a bell glass.

Sure, we’ve heard of fusion before, but what is going on here?

“A coincidence,” says Brandin Myett, owner of Marseille. “A Lunar New Year office party planned for February 5th got rescheduled because of the snow. We decided to leave the lanterns up in the meantime.”

Myett opened his new natural wine bar and eatery last spring. The name, he says, is just a reference to something beautiful but rough-around-the-edges, like Marseille. “The French connection is not that important.” Continue reading

The Honda finches of Boren need a new home

(Image: Will Schlough)

It depends on what kind of person you are, but a batch of three giant plywood goldfinches might just be an offer you cannot refuse. The bright yellow birds, who once graced the exterior of the former Honda of Seattle dealership on Boren, need a new home. And according to artist Will Schlough and Urban ArtWorks, a local nonprofit that works with adjudicated youth and co-produced the work, that could be anyone with enough exterior wall space.

The Goldfinches were retrieved last year from the building before it was razed to make way for Washington State Convention Center’s more than $1.6 billion expansion. Local artist Will Schlough made the work in 2016. He covered the electric-blue building with images of three American Goldfinches pulling bright red ribbon that snaked around the building. Continue reading

On the List | Capitol Hill Oscars parties, Jayapal town hall, Rihanna tribute party

Waxie Moon and Rebecca Mmmm Davis host the Academy Awards party at the Century Ballroom (Image: Priya Alahan/Century Ballroom)

Now that the snow is finally melted (mostly) the city seems to thaw again too. This week, there’s an abundance of things to do, such as celebrations for Outer Planet Craft Brewing’s 4th anniversary, the world premiere of new folk-roots musical The Devil and Sarah Blackwater at Annex Theatre, Tint Dance Festival 2019 at Erickson Theatre and the Seattle Asian American Film Festival on the Hill and in the Central District. Find much more stuff to do on the list below or on the CHS Calendar.

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 20: Monday night in front of hundreds in Volunteer Park, Rep. Pramila Jayapal only scratched the surface of her plans for helping Congress stand up to Donald Trump. Wednesday night, go in depth with Jayapal as our WA-07 D.C. Rep. holds a town hall on First Hill. Seattle First Baptist Church, 1111 Harvard Ave, 6:30 PM

THURSDAY, Feb. 21: Whether she’s minding her own business smoking a blunt by the pool, rolling her eyes at a TMZ photographer or turning up at the MET gala in what can only be described as an ‘omelet’ dress, Grammy-winning pop star Rihanna is IDGAF-ness in the living flesh. It’s just one of the reasons fans ‘stan’ The Caribbean Queen, who turns 31 this week. Over at tribute party Good Boiz Gone Bad: A Rihanna Party, superfan DJ Thumper honors RiRi by ‘remixing, layering and reimagining’ her hits while performers such as Kimber Shade, Kaleena Markos, and HotPink Shade grace the stage from 10 to 1.  Fred Wildlife Refuge, 9PM – 2AM (21+) Continue reading

‘The Intimate Values of Inside Space’ — Of course an art show mixed with a townhome open house is happening on Capitol Hill

At first glance, “The Intimate Values of Inside Space” sounds like your quintessential Capitol Hill Art Walk Valentine’s Day show.

The one-night exhibition, opening this Thursday during the monthly art walk at the new construction at 1532 15th Ave E, checks many of the typical boxes. It is curated by two local artists, Gabriel Molinaro and Alexander Keyes. And it groups together a group of great local artists, such as Jennifer Zwick, Philippe Hyojung Kim, Natasha Marin and local bands like Cumulus and Mahal. It also name-checks a French philosopher (Gaston Bachelard) along with a fancy-sounding concept (topoanalysis, in this case).

The Intimate Values of Inside Space

What’s peculiar, however, is its setting: six new construction townhouses. Hosted by Keyes, artist-turned-real-estate-agent, and real estate developers and investor company Build with Style, ‘The Intimate Values of Inside Space’ is also a real estate open house. Continue reading

On the List | Valentine’s Capitol Hill Art Walk, Noir City, Capitol Hill Dandy Flea Market

Sure, we’ve seen the Snowpocalypse or Snowmageddon hashtags, but here at CHS, it is all about “Snowbruary.” Find stuff to do during the second week of this month of snow and ice on the CHS Calendar (but please check on social media or by phone about cancellations and closures), or find a list of things that will warm up your soul, and perhaps your Valentine, below.

THURSDAY, Feb. 14: Whether you’re looking to escape V-day or planning on taking date night to new, artsy levels, this month’s Capitol Hill Art Walk is the place to be with a slew of promising art openings. Over at Cupcake Royale, check out I Am Andy Warhol by Seattle artist Blake Blanco, who exhibits a series of portraits painted using Andy Warhols’ Polaroids. Find heartbreak, love, bananas, and ponies at The Factory and burgers plus a concert by Tarsier Eyes during Requiem for Burgerland over at the FoodArt Collection. Various locations Continue reading

On the List | Tamari Bar birthday, F*** Fest #3, Love City Love ‘Winter Warehouse Sale’

Happy birthday, Tamari Bar

It’s February, which apparently means snow on Capitol Hill, an uptick in seasonal depression, and corporations peddling pink-hued crap for Valentine’s day. Luckily, there’s all-day happy hour plus sushi and whiskey cocktails over at Tamari Bar, Aphrodisiac-tincture making at Ada’s on 15th and sunny indie-pop at Chop Suey to distract us all. Find this and much more here below or on the CHS Calendar. And if you need more to do, jump on the streetcar and celebrate the Lunar New Year at Hing Hay Park in the ID on Saturday.

THROUGH THURSDAY, Feb. 14: A year ago, the brand-new Tamari Bar arose between Summit Avenue and East Pine (or, as CHS put it then, “where World of Beers and the ghosts of old Pike/Pine once reigned”). The informal, new-style Izakaya has not lost any of its attraction, thanks to a steady stream of excellent cocktails (such as the Toki-tory Saburo highball), omakase, sushi, noodles and much more. Tamari Bar now wishes itself a Happy Birthday during a ten-day Happy Birthday Tamari Bar (1st Anniversary!) fest of all-day happy hour, special dishes and an Insta-contest to win gift certificates and T-shirts. In case you missed it: that’s happy hour. All day. For ten days. Kanpai! Tamari Bar Continue reading