Police investigate gunfire incident near Central District park — UPDATE

Gunfire sent visitors at Powell Barnett Park scrambling after a shooting incident at 29th and Alder Friday afternoon.

According to East Precinct radio updates, witnesses reported eight or nine gunshots and multiple cars leaving the area around 2:40 PM near the MLK Jr. Way park.

Arriving police found bullet hole damage to a vehicle just east of 29th and Alder and began investigating the shooting scene.

It’s not clear if there were any injuries. A Seattle Fire dispatch sent aid units to the scene but there was no reported victim information. Police were headed to area hospitals to look for possible victims. UPDATE: SFD says its dispatch was canceled so no victim was found at the scene.

Gang detectives were called to the scene.

With vision for ‘African American communities and spaces of the future,’ Africatown Plaza will be next to take shape in the Central District

The coming Africatown Plaza at Midtown

23rd and Union’s Africatown mural (Image: Africatown)

Community members met this week for an all-day design symposium at Washington Hall in the Central District to plan “African American communities and spaces of the future” around the Puget Sound.

The event follows a major development in the Central District with the opening of the Liberty Bank Building and comes as the early design process for Africatown Plaza at Midtown, another fully affordable development around the 23rd and Union core, is about to begin.

“Overall, working to make sure that we still have a heart and soul and a place of unity and community,” the Africatown Community Land Trust’s K. Wyking Garrett said Saturday, before giving a shout out to last weekend’s Umoja Fest Parade, a Central Area staple since the 1940s. He wants Africatown, however, to be more than just these major celebrations, but places “where we can experience Black culture, Black music, Black culinary genius from throughout the diaspora.” Continue reading

‘Community preference’ — A new anti-displacement policy could have big impacts for the Central District and Capitol Hill

The Liberty Bank Building in the Central District

Antonesha Jackson still remembers riding bikes near the three-bedroom Central District apartment she shared with her sisters and mother growing up. From there, it was just a brief trip to her grandparents’ house and an even shorter walk to Garfield High School.

But when she tried to return to the neighborhood after 12 years studying and working in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, finding a place to rent in her now-gentrified neighborhood proved nearly impossible. She looked for an affordable apartment for months.

Until acquaintances told her about a then-new affordable housing development right here in her neighborhood: Liberty Bank Building, an equitable development project led by Capitol Hill Housing and Africatown. She moved in this March, finally returning to the area she’d grown up in and now operated a fashion boutique out of.

“A lot of the people that live in my building, I have seen around growing up. [They] are from this community,” Jackson said. “It’s beautiful to me.”  Continue reading

About those Sunday afternoon booms you heard on Capitol Hill…

(Image: @primaseadiva via Flickr)

The booms you heard Sunday afternoon across Capitol Hill and the Central District? That was the central city’s surprisingly robust power grid doing what it needed to do to keep service intact even when faced with the greatest electricity infrastructure scourge known — the mylar balloon.

Seattle City Light said there were no prolonged outages but that many callers reported “mylar balloons in the lines.”

CHS had one report of balloons in the wires on 15th Ave E.

Residents reported loud booms from electrical utility gear throughout the early afternoon. The utility also made a District 3 endorsement — of sorts. City Light says D3 candidate Logan Bowers’s Twitter explanation of what was causing the booms was, ahem, “bang on” — Continue reading

CHS Pics | Umoja Fest parade marches from 23rd and Union

Over the weekend, CHS reported on Wa Na Wari, a single-family style home just blocks from the multitude of change going on around 23rd and Union that has been turned into a center for community and the arts in celebration of Black culture and history in the Central District.

Saturday, a tradition in the Central Area since the 1940s returned to the neighborhood with the annual Umoja Fest Parade marching from 23rd and Union to Judkins Park.  Continue reading

Serious crashes on major arterials in Capitol Hill, Central District and First Hill area up from 2018, long road to Vision Zero, SDOT data shows

In April, a car seriously injured a bicyclist at the intersection of 24th Ave E and E Madison. A few months later, a driver was severely hurt in a crash just a couple of hundred feet up the street, on the intersection of 23rd Ave E and E John St.

The locations of these two crashes don’t just point to the places where lives were wrecked. They also offer a first glimpse into the traffic pain points on Capitol Hill, which have clustered on and near Madison in the first six months of 2019, data from the Seattle Department of Transportation show. The Seattle Times first reported on the data.

The two crashes are among the 98 serious or fatal collisions that happened in the first half of 2019. Ten people were killed in traffic. 88 were seriously injured, of which six on Capitol Hill, four on First Hill and eight in the Central District (including a sliver south of I-90). The dataset showed no fatalities in these neighborhoods in the first half of this year.

One important caveat, per SDOT: The data the department provided are preliminary. Usually, there’s a “pretty rigorous auditing process” in which SDOT works with officials from the Seattle Police Department, Washington State Department of Transportation, Washington State Patrol and hospitals to review and filter out discrepancies for a report that comes out at year-end, SDOT said.

Still, the data provides a glimpse into Seattle’s long road to Vision Zero, its plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030, and problem zones for Capitol Hill, the Central District and First Hill, particularly on or near arterials.

Continue reading

Wa Na Wari: A home for Black art, music, storytelling, and community events in the Central District

(Image: Wa Na Wari)

Wa Na Wari, a space for Black art, music, storytelling, and community events in the Central District was created to acknowledge the neighborhood’s history and culture as the area’s socioeconomic demographics shift.

“It’s a revolutionary act to have a party and to have Black people holding space to celebrate. While it is important, we see a lot of activism in the form of marches, protests, and demonstrations, but it’s also important to celebrate Black joy, creativity, and community,” said Rachel Kessler, one of Wa Na Wari’s executive council members with Inye Wokoma, Jill Freidberg, and Elisheba Johnson.

Wa Na Wari means “our home” in the Kalabari language of Southern Nigeria, where Wokoma’s father’s family is from. Wa Na Wari’s meaning references the past and future of the space, as prior to functioning as an art gallery and community venue, the home belonged to Wokoma’s grandmother since the early 1950s.

When the home on 24th was put on the market, the collective’s members decided the space was ideal for housing their “Living Room” project. According to Kessler, while writing a grant for creative capital for another project in March, the collective decided to instead apply for a grant to purchase Wokoma’s family home. With a mission of reclaiming Black spaces in the Central District, the Living Room project included archival photos between 1930-1990 of four pivotal intersections along 23rd, and narratives from community members discussing the evolution of the CD. The project’s combination of the photographs and stories explored re-establishing the relationship between the CD and its history; a notion the collective’s members recognized as the power of effective story-telling.

“Witnessing someone tell their story is a valuable act in storytelling. We realized the importance of having a space where information and culture can be passed on orally,” Kessler said. “Inye’s thought about it for years in various forms, and when the four of us came together to collaborate on the living room, we recognized we work well together. Inye started sharing this vision, and it made sense with the trajectory of all our respective work in art and activism.” Continue reading

With recommendations from the city and Seattle Police, these Central District neighbors are battling gun violence with a mural and a food truck

Following a deadly shooting at the corner earlier this year, neighbors decided it was time to do more than emphasis patrols and increased policing. Some pundits made fun of a push for better environmental design as part of the answer to gun violence in the Central District. But neighbors are pushing forward. After welcoming the El Costeno food truck, the former Shell gas station parking lot on the corner of Union and 21st is becoming home to a new community mural as part of efforts to make the corner safer for everybody.

“Although it’s not written explicitly, my mural will make the statement that people who live here care about their neighborhood and are making efforts to maintain it,” said Gabrielle Abbott, the artist commissioned for the mural. “The artwork occupies the space so people don’t feel like it’s a space they can use for illegal or unwanted activities.”

Efforts to improve the corner are a result of surrounding area residents’ concerns of illegal activity after multiple instances of gun violence and the deadly shooting. Healthy Youth Central Area Network (HYCAN), a Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative supported by Seattle Public Schools, joined efforts to make positive use of the corner by supporting the mural project. The organization aims to support a community mural on a yearly basis. Continue reading

Sawant brings her City Council committee to CD for meeting on embattled 12th Ave restaurant, gentrification

Council member Kshama Sawant was in the Central District on Monday as the city council committee she chairs discussed gentrification in her district while a local business sits on the frontlines of displacement.

At the center of the fight recently has been Saba, an Ethiopian restaurant on 12th Ave that has served the neighborhood for nearly 20 years. Saba is emblematic of broader change many longtime residents in the Central District see in which small businesses have increasingly been displaced. Organizer KL Shannon, who says she grew up in the area, said that she can’t think of one black-owned business anymore in the Central District due to rapid development.

“We want the kind of development that would allow small businesses of every origin to thrive here and for working families, regardless of income, to find affordable housing in our city because we go to work everyday and we make our cities run,” Sawant said. “We have the right to our city.” Continue reading

The Paoli Mejías Quintet

Carlos Santana’s conga player, Paoli Mejías, is a Latin Grammy nominee, and a distinguished master percussionist from Puerto Rico, ranked among the best in both Latin Jazz and salsa. His charisma and energetic Afro-Caribbean rhythms are notorious for bringing audiences to their feet.

As a bandleader, Paoli fuses straight-ahead jazz with African, Mediterranean and Caribbean folkloric rhythms to create a new dimension of Latin Jazz that is global, energetic and modern. Mejías has performed and recorded with some of the most celebrated artists of Latin Jazz including Carlos Santana, Chick Corea, Marc Anthony, Tito Puente, Luis Enrique, David Sanchez, La India, Seis del Solar, and Eddie Palmieri.

Tickets are $25 for general admission and $35 for front-row seating.