About Zachary Pullin

Zachary Pullin is the President of the Capitol Hill Community Council and serves with many organizations that challenge inequity, and pursue justice and opportunity for marginalized people. He contributes a monthly column highlighting topics of vital interest to our community and neighbors. Twitter @zacharybob and on Facebook @zacharyrpullin

Capitol Hill Community Council | A brief history of community on the Hill (and why you should get involved)

Zachary Pullin is the President of the Capitol Hill Community Council

There is no Capitol Hill Community Council this month but please consider attending Thursday night's Capitol Hill Housing community forum -- Gearshift

There is no Capitol Hill Community Council this month but please consider attending Thursday night’s Capitol Hill Housing community forum — Gearshift
Thu, May 26 at 5pm
The Summit — 420 E Pike
The evening will feature five projects with the potential to increase the resilience of the neighborhood. The five projects:
+ Building leadership and power for renters on Capitol Hill
+ Expansion of the Capitol Hill Business Improvement Area
+ Lidding of a stretch of Interstate-5 at Pike/Pine to create developable land and open space
+Local sharing of meter revenue with the creation of a new Parking Benefit District (also recommended by HALA)
+The creation of a new city program to incentivize developers to build or maintain work or performance space for local artists
On May 26th, five professional urban planners and passionate community organizers will introduce these ambitious projects in a series of rapid-fire presentations followed by an opportunity for each guest to participate in a facilitated discussion about one of the five projects. Presenters include Sierra Hansen of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, Scott Bonjukian of the Pike Pine Urban Neighborhood Council, Alex Brennan from Capitol Hill Housing, Zachary Pullin of the Capitol Hill Community Council and Tonya Lockyer of Velocity Dance Center. Civic leaders (City Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Mike O’Brien are confirmed) will be there to listen and respond to your comments.
Free online tickets are no longer available but you can sign up to enter at the door Thursday night.

Growing up, my family taught me that service is a first priority, and I’ve worked hard to practice that value. Before I was born, my grandfather was the chairman of the tribal council – it’s long been instilled in me that serving the community is one of the truest, most authentic ways to interact with my community. But that doesn’t make sense or work for a lot of people.

It reminds me of when I was ten years old: I coordinated a mock trial day for my class with the help of my mom. What I remember being hardest to grasp at the time was “making a case” because it’s a different way of thinking. Sadly, I believe I’ve done a poor job at making the case for our Capitol Hill Community Council and the “why” because new people are still discovering us as though we’ve been serving quietly.

So, why should you care? Why should you get involved?

First, it’s important to reflect on our history.

The Capitol Hill Community Council – as a neighborhood group – has existed since as early as the 1940s. Back then, it was called the Capitol Hill Community Club and their main motivation for working together was to fight against integrating “their “neighborhood. In concert with redlining and housing covenants, this dedicated group of neighbors used fear, racial prejudice, and an aversion to change to keep black people out of the neighborhood.

In 1972, when queer folks had only recently began moving into the neighborhood, tension was high between long-time residents and queer people because we were seen as “faggots,” instead of as neighbors. Thankfully, a few friends established a gay community center to provide services to queer folks. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Community Council | Questioning? Meet your neighbors

Capitol Hill Community Council Neighborhood Social: Happy Hour at WitnessThursday, March 17th 4:30 to 6:30 PMWitness, 410 Broadway EEvery other month, the Capitol Hill Community Council has committed to hosting neighborhood social events - similar to our Meet Your Neighbor event last year - where we can create a space for neighbors to meet each other (in real life!), connect and engage with folks about topics that important to you and our neighborhood, hear from unique programs and initiatives, and spend a relaxing couple of hours just being in the community. This month, we're inviting King County Metro to share about "In Motion," which is an effort aimed at reducing drive-alone trips and promoting other travel options like biking, walking, or taking transit. Plus, we have a drawing for a gift certificate to another local, neighborhood restaurant! Sign in and you're entered into the drawing.

Capitol Hill Community Council Neighborhood Social: Happy Hour at Witness
Thursday, March 17th 4:30 to 6:30 PM
Witness, 410 Broadway E
Every other month, the Capitol Hill Community Council has committed to hosting neighborhood social events – similar to our Meet Your Neighbor event last year – where we can create a space for neighbors to meet each other (in real life!), connect and engage with folks about topics that important to you and our neighborhood, hear from unique programs and initiatives, and spend a relaxing couple of hours just being in the community. This month, we’re inviting King County Metro to share about “In Motion,” which is an effort aimed at reducing drive-alone trips and promoting other travel options like biking, walking, or taking transit. Plus, we have a drawing for a gift certificate to another local, neighborhood restaurant! Sign in and you’re entered into the drawing.

Questioning in the pursuit of understanding and progress must be valued. Otherwise, we lose the accountability of ideas and the innovation that moves our communities forward.

I was reminded of this just recently when I met with a friend and mentor from our community. She’s a neighborhood activist who has worked on various issues that have shaped Capitol Hill for the last few decades.

There came a moment when I recognized that we both had questions of the others’ ideas and intentions. Unchecked, our conversation may have unfolded in a direction neither one of us would ever have wanted.

So, I waited for the chance to interject and suggested that, in fact, questioning the way things are, in and of itself, is not detrimental to progress. I believe, it is what actually makes our work of creating shared community, stronger. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Community Council | A focus on empowering renters

Capitol Hill Community Council February: Know Your Rights, Grow Your Rights Thursday, February 18th, 6:30 PM 12th Avenue Arts -- 1620 12th Ave

Capitol Hill Community Council February: Know Your Rights, Grow Your Rights
Thursday, February 18th, 6:00 PM
12th Avenue Arts — 1620 12th Ave

The Capitol Hill Community Council continues elevating the issues most meaningful to our neighborhood. This month’s meeting, on Thursday, February 18 (6:00pm at 12th Ave Arts) focuses on empowering renters.

Advocates for tenants will provide helpful information about the rights of renters and the importance of being an informed renter. And guests from the City of Seattle will share opportunities to expand renters’ rights through HALA and the Housing Levy.

This focus speaks to a larger commitment that we’ve made to our community and ourselves: community development that affirms we are all neighbors who deserve the ability to thrive.

Lately, we’ve followed along with the discourse from nearby neighborhoods that continue to fiercely oppose change, that continue to reject the most vulnerable. We’re hoping that this new commitment and a diversity of meeting format helps us to be in community with our neighbors, more wholly. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Community Council | The battle between fish and firm

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Capitol Hill Community Council members Reiny Cohen and Zachary Pullin working with Dylan Cate of Rep. Brady Walkinshaw’s #WorkingTogether project to collect community priorities at the Punk Rock Flea Market.

Attending events across Seattle, particularly organizational fundraisers or campaign events, I connect with a variety of interesting people. Often, local electeds and community leaders attend and I always notice one particular behavior during these interactions.

People either shake my hand with the limp enthusiasm one receives when meeting someone who would rather be elsewhere or the confident, respectful hand-embrace given when greeting someone with whom you are familiar. I describe this as the battle between the fish or the firm.

When I was a kid, my father often let me go with him when visiting his friends around the reservation. Even at six, he would pester me about shaking his friends’ hands with strength and confidence. “It must be firm to show respect, not only for the other person but for yourself, as well,” he’d say. Whereas, a dead fish handshake illustrates that one is uninterested, nervous, and lacks confidence, which often leaves the receiver feeling disrespected.

So after reading a recent post on Seattlish titled Ballard NIMBYs are Not Happy that O’Brien, Murray Actually Care About the Homeless Freezing to Death, I thought about how our service through the Capitol Hill Community Council sometimes feels like an active choice between “the fish” or “the firm.”
Continue reading

Capitol Hill Community Council | The neighbor in all of us

coming and going
Buildings don’t create a neighborhood, the neighbors do.

Creating a neighborhood requires us to work together in pursuit of shared community. The type of community that is distinct, welcoming, accessible, caring, and neighborly and only realized through the unique and diverse people who make it up.

Lately, I’ve thought about what community will mean if the HALA recommendations become official policy. It was after the Mayor announced the “Grand Bargain,” two weeks ago, that I came across a Sightline Institute blog post by Alan Durning, titled, HALA and the $100,000 Question. What struck me were the comments, as those comments and concerns are being raised in discussions of the proposal devised by the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.

One blog commenter, lamented, “I live in Roosevelt/Ravenna so I know about density and welcome it. But…if you throw “rowhouses” up, you will change the neighborhoods. The backbone of this city is our neighborhoods (no matter what developers or downtown interests think). Radically change those neighborhoods and you will not know Capitol Hill from Wallingford.”

And while I recognize that generic rowhouses may transform the lived environment of a neighborhood by limiting potential for expression or distinctiveness of housing, the buildings or houses do not create a neighborhood. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Community Council | Change and homelessness

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The newly invigorated Capitol Hill Community Council officers wanted to take a different approach to our summer programming. This month, we’re asking you to help us raise money to provide much needed items for the people experiencing homelessness in our community. We’re also inviting local homelessness experts and service providers to present critical information, ways we can help, advocacy efforts, and the work still needed from a grassroots level to adequately address homelessness in our neighborhood and city. DONATE HERE

On July 30th, the Capitol Hill Community Council will use the money raised to pay for the supplies and items most requested by area homeless shelters/service providers. At the July 30th meeting, we’ll put together packs to give to the people most in need while listening to guests from DESC, YouthCare, Mary’s Place, Urban Rest Stop, and Chief Seattle Club.

Capitol Hill Community Council July Meeting
Thursday, July 30th — 6:30 PM — Cal Anderson Shelterhouse

A community is not a monument to individual preferences. It is a collective and living organism.

When I was 5 years old I remember attending my cousin/godfather’s high school graduation on the Rocky Boy Reservation in Montana. Watching him walk across that stage into a world unknown scared me, causing me to cry as I couldn’t reconcile the fear and sadness of change.

At such a young age, it was difficult to physically imagine what life would look like for him, for his relationship with his parents, or for our relationship; his graduation felt more like a funeral.

I often reflect on that memory and my feelings about change. Change is intimidating because it challenges the ego in its affirmation of our mortality; they don’t have funerals for change. We find comfort in the idea that in death, though we no longer are physically part of community, our story might live on after we’re gone. We hope that the way we made people feel, the joyful memories created, and our service to each other – components of what it takes to create a legend — might be applied to us. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Community Council | Standing on the shoulders of giants — Election Thursday night

“Hello! My name is X and I’ve lived here for 34 years.”

Recently I commented on a CHS blog post and someone replied with, “How long have you lived on the Hill, Zachary? Do you really think you should be President of the ridiculous-as-it-is Capitol Hill Community Council given how long you have(n’t) been here?” At first, the comment stunned me.

“Hello! My name is Y and I’ve lived here for 15 years.”

This commenter’s sentiment reminded me of an experience earlier this year. After a walk through the neighborhood with the Mayor and representatives from a few Capitol Hill organizations, we sat together at a neighborhood business and the owner expressed that she thought older folks need representation on our council.

“Hello! My name is Z and I’ve lived here for 21 years.”

Continue reading

Capitol Hill Community Council | Reclaiming Power (and creating a Pike/Pine pedestrian zone)

Zachary Pullin, Vice President of the Capitol Hill Community Council, contributes to CHS about community civics and politics on a monthly basis.

Each week, my partner and I have my sister over for dinner. Before she leaves for the drive home, I remind her to be safe, walk with awareness, and text me immediately when she’s home. She’s a smart woman and I have faith she’d fight against violence. So, I was shocked at my becoming numb that foggy, winter morning when someone stole my power.

I did not plan to tell anyone about the sexual assault he inflicted on me three months ago. I self-prescribed a daily treatment of denial and suppression nurtured by a tenacious abundance of sadness, shame, and frustration. Violence and oppression separate us from our self, our bodies, and our communities.

I became a refugee from my own body.

Just three weeks after the assault, a mentor asked me if I sought power, if people like me should want power. I shuddered because, to me, power had become a swear word.  “Power” – much like the words “God,” “Love,” and “Progressive” — needs a reset to eliminate disparate, often conflicting, definitions that arise from deeply held beliefs about their meanings.

The Capitol Hill Community Council’s own history provides examples of power being used to actively lobby against a gay community center in the 1970s to prevent “perverts” and people of that “lifestyle” from ruining the neighborhood, or earlier neighborhood group iterations as active proponents of redlining. Negative illustrations and exercises of power in government, business, and social settings certainly repel me as it does so many progressive Seattleites. Continue reading

Hill Wonk | Among neighbors, our city transforms

Thursday, 2/19 CHCC Agenda This Thursday, February 19, at our monthly general council meeting, we'll share an incredible and exciting announcement (it involves a critical neighborhood partnership between the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and Capitol Hill Housing!) Come to our meeting and hear all of the wonderful details.  Additionally, our agenda includes a vote for our open at-large position (her name is Natalie!); special guests Council member Sawant speaking about an LGBTQ Hate Crimes forum and local neighborhood activist Andrew about progress working to preserve two auto-row buildings; updates from the Champion, Streetcar, 520; and, more! Please see below for our agenda.  We look forward to seeing you this Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. at the Cal Anderson Park Shelter House! Agenda Capitol Hill Community Council General Meeting - February 19, 2015 (the meeting may end early for folks to attend our partners at the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce “State of the Hill” event) 6:30     Welcome: people can add suggestions (updates, announcements, etc) to the “Parking Lot” 6:35     Alex Brennan, Capitol Hill Housing, CHCC Partnership Presentation 6:45     At-Large Candidate [ACTION ITEM: Vote] 6:50     Andrew Haas, Historic Preservation Updates [ACTION ITEM: possible resolution/vote] 6:55    Seattle City Council member Sawant, LGBTQ Hate Crimes Forum Introduction [ACTION ITEM: vote on sponsorship and involvement] 7:05    Tim & Brie, Capitol Hill Champion (Capitol Hill TOD) update 7:10     Community Council member Mike Archambault, 520 Update 7:15     Outstanding Council Updates: Streetcar, RSJI, Vision Zero, etc 7:25     Continuing Subcommittee Conversation and Brainstorm [ACTION ITEM: plan for next steps] 7:45     Announcements [ACTION ITEM: Discuss any “Parking Lot” suggestions]

2/19 CHCC Agenda

 Zachary Pullin, Vice President of the Capitol Hill Community Council, contributes to CHS about community civics and politics on a monthly basis. 

Joe stood confidently next to my family’s car, my young father sat intoxicated in the driver’s seat. Boisterous arguing pierced the flimsy windows that punctuated the walls of my room.

I ran outside to the Pontiac idling under that boundless Montana twilight to help Joe plead with my father to hand over the keys and come inside. Ultimately, my father refused. Joe, having called the sheriff, watched with satisfaction as flickering blue-and-red police lights arrived before my father could escape on the well-worn gravel road in front of our home. In the morning, my father called for a ride home from jail.

My father frequently refers to that night as the night that forever changed his life. He decided to quit drinking to serve as a positive role model for my sister and me, then only three and five years old, respectively.

Reflecting on this memory invites me to more deeply appreciate the fact that my father is still alive when, in all reality, his fate might have been different. Even more though, this memory invites me to more deeply appreciate a neighbor. Continue reading

Hill Wonk | Dreaming big — asking ‘What if?’ — invites us to imagine a shared future

We’ve asked Zachary Pullin, Vice President of the Capitol Hill Community Council, to contribute to CHS about community civics and politics on a monthly basis. If you’re an expert and want to share with the community in a recurring CHS column, we’d like to hear from you.

Martin Luther King Jr. (discoverblackheritage, flickr)

[This is dedicated to a special woman, K. Toering.]

Sitting at the back of the theater — the din of people shuffling in, a lingering aroma of freshly-made popcorn — I waited for the film to begin.

Selma, shown as part of a special community screening for communities of color groups and organizations, portrays one of our country’s most critical chapters in civil rights history. Before it began, she stood at the front of the theater and looked out at all of us, smiling. The type of smile born of confidence in the creation of something that evolves into more than imagined, and she asked, “What if?” Continue reading