One last song from the piano in Volunteer Park

Monty Banks

Monty Banks

The pianos in the parks are gone, auctioned off to the highest bidders to support public open spaces in King County. In addition to inspiring musical spins around Capitol Hill’s green spaces, the Pianos in the Parks campaign has also inspired some excellent performances. A contest to capture some of the best from around the parks system has wrapped up — the winning video shot down on the waterfront is below. We’ve also included a finalist who chose the Volunteer Park piano for his plinking — check out the performance by Monty Banks after the jump. Continue reading

CHS Pics | First Hill scrabbles for park space — Next: Hopscotch CD returns

IMG_4175Public park space. Consultant. Release. Report. Blah blah blah. Let’s talk giant street Scrabble. Tuesday night, the tri-way intersection of University, Union, and Boylston hosted an oversized Scrabble tournament in the middle of the street smack in between Pike/Pine and First Hill.

Hopscotch CD returns

Hopscotch CD returns

The tournament designed to bring attention to First Hill’s lack of public spaces pitted four two-person teams head to head and attracted onlookers and plenty of second-guessing. City officials are hoping to hold future tournaments in other areas of Seattle in need of a creative though temporary mini-park. Maybe this dude from Portland will come.

For more gaming fun on the streets of Central Seattle, get ready for the second annual Hopscotch CD event on Saturday, August 23rd. The Jackson Commons community event creates 2.9 miles of hopscotch play areas across the Central District. Included in the fun, Centerstone’s parking lot at 722 18th Ave will host the grandmamma of all hopscotch games in an attempt to break a world record.


First Hill initiative seeks to re-imagine ‘parks’ in dense neighborhoods

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 11.13.00 AMFirst Hill community representatives say the neighborhood is in desperate need of more public park space and for ten years Seattle Parks and Recreation has been trying to acquire land to build it. In 2000 and 2008 voters approved levies to fund land acquisitions for new parks on First Hill, but affordable properties are almost non-existant in one of the densest neighborhoods in the state.

Last year Parks reached out to the First Hill Improvement Association and the neighborhood’s burgeoning cadre of civically active residents to talk about alternatives. What the city came up with was the First Hill Public Realm Action Plan.

The plan gathers representatives from the city’s Department of Transportation, Department of Planning and Development, and Parks to explore using parks levy funds to carve out public space from the city’s existing assets — primarily streets, sidewalks, and parking. Continue reading

Murray declares ‘apparent’ victory in Seattle parks vote

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 9.33.55 PMThursday’s final big count of August Primary ballots did nothing to change the outcome that was obvious after Election Night’s first tally. The majority of the city’s voters, supported the mayor’s Seattle Parks District plan to fund parks. Thursday night, Mayor Ed Murray’s office decided it was time to declare victory on the “apparent passage” of the proposition.

“I want to thank Seattle voters for their support of the parks district and commitment to creating a lasting legacy of open space and facilities for generations of Seattleites,” Murray says in the statement sent to media.

“This vote means a sustainable source of funding for our parks system. We will begin work immediately to address our existing maintenance backlog, working diligently to manage the needs of our park system as Seattle continues to grow as a city.”

The plan will give the to-be-formed district power to tax up to $0.75 per $1,000 of assessed property value to pay for the Seattle Parks system. Seattle City Council members who will make up the district board have said they do not plan to tax above $0.33 per $1,000 to fund the current parks budget.

Concierge — complete with patio furniture — comes to Cal Anderson as summer safety issues return

The timing makes it an even easier target. Wednesday, forest green chairs, tables, and umbrellas were added to the cement plaza between Cal Anderson’s community house and its notoriously filthy bathrooms. That night, another in a short string of park muggings and robberies went down during the park’s late night darkness.

But there’s more to the, um, punchline — the patio furniture belongs to the new Cal Anderson concierge, a new, short-term role that Seattle Parks and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce hope might be made permanent with funding from the newly (mostly) approved Seattle Parks District.

Responsible for helping visitors to the park with information, setting out the tables and chairs — and bringing them in again at night — and putting out the park’s new giant chess pieces, the chamber’s director Michael Wells asked CHS readers to think of the new concierge simply as dedicated Cal Anderson staff. Parks tells us the concierge will be on hand seven days a week from noon to 7 PM through mid-September. The new role might not seem like enough to quell the nighttime problems that seem to come to a head every August in the park — and it’s probably not. Seattle Parks also continues to deploy its non-SPD park rangers in Cal Anderson and in other parks through the city but their hours are limited to daytime hours. The rangers can’t make the park 100% safe, either. Continue reading

August 2014 Primary Election: First count shows Seattle Parks District headed to win

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 8.15.38 PMTuesday’s first tally of votes in the August primary showed the Mayor Ed Murray-championed Seattle Parks District on its way to probable victory. The plan, which will give the to-be-formed district power to tax up to $0.75 per $1,000 of assessed property value to pay for the Seattle Parks system, came in with 52.4% in favor of the proposition in the Election Night count. To pass, the “for” vote on the proposition needs a basic 50% or greater majority.

If her early primary results are any indication, Socialist Alternative candidate Jess Spear will have an uphill climb in her battle against incumbent Frank Chopp to represent Capitol Hill and the 43rd District in Olympia. With her quest for rent control and affordability, expect the massive gap to become somewhat less massive in coming counts. However, it would take a miracle for the challenger to come out on top in this one. In 2012, by the way, current City Council member Kshama Sawant switched races after the August primary to set her sights on Chopp on that year’s November ballot. Tuesday night, Spear organizers announced a “Renters Rise Up” campaign to fight for affordability in the city.

Meanwhile, the other incumbents on Capitol Hill ballots either ran mostly unopposed — or found their biggest challenger in perennial candidate GoodSpaceGuy.

You can view these and future updates on the King County Elections site.

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CHS Pics | Vibrations adds wild knot to string of Capitol Hill summer 2014 music fests


Midday Veil (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

IMG_9978Weird and totally DIY, Vibrations Festival brought music and art to the Volunteer Park amphitheater Sunday afternoon and into the evening.

Art projects and light projections joined “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style  installations as bands and DJs took the stage to continue the run of the annual celebration of Capitol Hill culture that got its start back in 2011.

Acts Gazebos, netcat, Wimps, USF, Stickers, DJAO, Midday Veil, and Naomi Punk took the stage.

You can see the roster of participating musicians, DJs, and artists here.

The 2014 edition of the festival from music, art, and fashion concern Cairo pushed forward without a major corporate sponsor with help from a small army of support and lots of blood, sweat, and tears from dedicated producers:

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Continue reading

Beware ‘No on Parks’ robo-call chicanery

Tuesday, ballots are due in the August primary election and Seattle’s vote on the creation of a metropolitan tax district to transition funding of the city’s parks system away from levies.

If you haven’t voted yet — or even if you have — beware of probably illegal shenanigans at play:

If your phone rings today and you see “911-9111″ in the caller ID, don’t worry that it’s a reverse 911 call warning you about a toxic gas leak or an armed fugitive or something in your neighborhood. In fact, don’t pick it up at all. It’s just those lying liars from the “No on Parks” campaign attempting to trick you into listening to their robocall.


CHS Video | Cal Anderson Park Piano Ride — Without Piano, Variation 14

Friday morning, the Pianos in the Parks campaign had planned a performance in Cal Anderson as part of a sunny morning in the busy central park. The piano tuner had even paid a visit Thursday to make sure the upright was in tune. This morning, however, we found a spokesperson for the campaign hanging out to share the sad news: Cal Anderson’s piano was too busted to play and in need of repair. Given recent news, CHS decided to make the best of it in a public space that just can’t seem to get a break.

Please enjoy our possibly nausea-inducing ride around the park. We’ve added Variatio 14 a 2 Clav. by Kimiko Ishizaka from The Open Goldberg Variations to accompany. Go ahead and suggest other possible soundtracks in comments.

Pianos in the Parks organizers said other performances are scheduled around the city in coming weeks — including in Volunteer Park. You can keep track at

CHS Pics | Chamber players, clarinet great take stage in Volunteer Park

IMG_8379IMG_5097In front of a crowd that organizers believed might have been the largest ever for their series, the Seattle Chamber Music Society presented the Volunteer Park episode of its 2014 Summer Festival on Wednesday’s warm and breezy, near-end-of-July night.

With the works of Mozart and Beethoven rolling over the Volunteer Park lawn, Wednesday night’s free performance included clarinet great Ricardo Morales. The festival concludes this weekend with a series of performances at Benaroya Hall.

Unfortunately, there was no collaboration with the chamber players and the upright placed in Volunteer Park as part of the Pianos in the Park promotion.

But another Capitol Hill piano will be put into motion on Friday:

As a part of the on-going Pianos in the Parks program, we are thrilled to announce a performance at Cal Anderson park by Michael Allen Harrison tomorrow at 10 a.m. Michael is a well-known Seattle-based musician whose unique brand of music ranges from movie scores to passionate arrangements for piano in genres like jazz, fusion, smooth jazz, pop, new age, and adult contemporary. Michael has also acted as the company pianist for the Pacific Ballet Theater, Ballet Oregon, and Oregon Ballet Theater.

Meanwhile, Sunday will bring more free music in Volunteer Park as the Vibrations Festival returns.


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Ready for another Capitol Hill music festival? Vibrations returns to Volunteer Park

558273_10151170275526351_935403658_nProrated over the entire slate of Capitol Hill’s summer music festivals, Block Party’s $60 ticket prices are downright reasonable. You can start to achieve that actuarial discount Sunday, August 3rd as the Vibrations festival makes a triumphant return to Volunteer Park.


This spring, CHS told you about festival organizers Cairo reviving the free summer music festival with a crowdfunded version of the event free of corporate sponsorship. While the online drive generated only a fraction of the $10,000 goal, producers have moved ahead with the free day of music, art — and summertime dancing on the Volunteer Park grass. Continue reading

Teenage Dreams, Art Deco Japan part of summer 2014 outdoor movie schedule on Capitol Hill

8446531864_ceacd36e09_oScreen Shot 2014-07-22 at 9.36.04 AMFive weeks of outdoor cinema on Capitol Hill begins Friday night with a special screening in Volunteer Park of a silent Japanese classic accompanied by a live musical score performance. Below, you’ll find the summer 2014 roster of the annual screenings brought to you by the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park and Three Dollar Bill Cinema in Cal Anderson.

July 25
Volunteer Park, 8:30 PM — The Lady and the Beard: Directed by Yasujiro Ozu, 1931, silent, 75 min. A traditional kendo practitioner becomes interesting to a cosmopolitan young woman once he shaves off his beard in this classic comedy. The Aono Jikken Ensemble performs their original score to accompany the film, with live benshi narration (English and Japanese).

August 1
Cal Anderson — Bring it On
Volunteer Park — Osaka Elegy

August 8
Cal Anderson – Dirty Dancing
Volunteer Park — Floating Weeds

August 15
Cal Anderson — Clueless

August 22
Cal Anderson — Teen Witch

Dirty-dancing-coverx-largeThe July 25th screening in Volunteer Park is part of a celebration of the SAAM’s Art Deco roots:

… we are celebrating Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945, the Asian Art Museum’s Art Deco building, and summer in Volunteer Park with Deco Night , 6:30-10:30 pm, hosted by the Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas. Below are details:

Exhibition Viewing and Guest Lecture
Asian Art Museum
6:30–8:30 pm: Short tours of the exhibition, the museum’s Deco architecture, and the park design, plus light refreshments.
7 pm: Textile artist Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada speaks on Japanese Deco textiles and fashion.

Outdoor Music and Film
Volunteer Park Amphitheater

8:30–10:30 pmA short selection of Deco-era music from Japan and the U.S. is followed by the silent film The Lady and the Beard. The Aono Jikken Ensemble performs their original score to accompany the film, with live benshi narration (English and Japanese).

Meanwhile, the connective theme for Three Dollar’s Cal Anderson screenings is “Teenage Dreams” –

Three Dollar Bill Outdoor Cinema returns to Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson Park with TEENAGE DREAMS! Four enchanting films that’ll get your heart racing on Friday nights in August. Come enjoy the summer with FREE outdoor movies. The night is young, and so are we!
Hot popcorn, cold drinks, candy, and other concessions for sale on site.
Limited lawn chair rentals available.

The Cal Anderson shows are free and begin at sunset (around 9 PM) in the southeast corner of the park. You can learn more at

The SAAM screenings at Volunteer Park are also free and take place at the park’s amphitheater adjacent the reservoir. If it rains, the film will be shown in the the nearby museum’s auditorium. You’ll want to arrive around 8:30 PM to find your place on the lawn. Learn more at