We don’t know what’s next for the Volunteer Park stump tree…

But we like it. We’ve asked Seattle Parks about the cutback tree that has become a “natural” play structure near the Volunteer Park amphitheater but we’re pretty sure they have something better to deal with on a Friday than the latest CHS goose chase. All we know is the tree was clipped weeks ago and we assumed it would be fully removed. It’s still there. We’ll update when we hear more about the park’s strange (and fun) new feature. In the meantime, along with the jade vine and the last few days before a long closure for the Seattle Asian Art Museum, you have a few reasons to gather up a few friends and visit Volunteer Park this weekend.

UPDATE: Yay for Seattle Parks. Here’s what they told us about the tree — and its future:

This is a large cedar tree that was damaged and blown over as part of the snow we recently experienced. Crews will likely leave some of the tree in place, but will probably need to cut some of the tree further back to make it safe for the long term.

Fur-ther? Nice one, Parks.

LGBTQ solidarity rally at Cal Anderson, ‘2-17-17 General Strike’ gathering in Volunteer Park

Some of the signs from a November protest at Cal Anderson Park -- still applicable

Some of the signs from a November protest at Cal Anderson Park — still applicable

Capitol Hill parks continue to play important roles in Seattle’s anti-Trump activities. Saturday, activists have organized a LGBTQ Solidarity Rally Seattle in Cal Anderson:

Trump’s administration has begun an attack on marginalized and oppressed people across the broad spectrum of humanity. We are going to peacefully demonstrate on Saturday, February 11th, at 1030AM as an act of solidarity with those who have been impacted. In his first month in office, Trump has issued executive orders and proposed nominees which stand against fundamental human rights including a Muslim Ban, reallocating federal resources to start construction of a wall with Mexico, and restarting an attack on Oceti Sakowin land for the Dakota Access Pipeline. We have already heard and seen proposals for executive orders which would grant so-called “religious liberty” to discriminate against LGBTQ people and target those seeking abortions and other family planning services. In addition, it is clear there is speculation on national Right to Work legislation destroying our already-under-attack unions.

Saturday will bring an activism double header of sorts, with groups also planning to target the Wells Fargo branch inside the Broadway Market with a “No DAPL” boycott rally.

16402970_1670106883281821_960711515827668356_oMeanwhile, the following weekend will bring more rallying to the Hill as groups are planning to meet at Volunteer Park’s amphitheater as part of a planned nationwide general strike against the Trump administration on Friday, February 17th:

Solidarity Demonstration to #Resist the WA Senate Republican proposal to fund education by undermining collective bargaining rights of Education Workers. All Labor Unions are welcome and encouraged to stand in support of this Legislative attack on Unions. No Right to Work in Washington.

Parks letter calls for ‘project pause’ as Seattle Asian Art Museum prepares for February move-out day


No matter what twists and turns the public process around its $49 million overhaul and expansion take, at the end of February, the treasures of the Seattle Asian Art Museum will be wrapped up, hauled off, and safely packed away leaving the old art deco landmark empty and ready for a much needed construction project to begin. The start of that construction and eventual reopening, however, will be a little further off after a “project pause” requested by Seattle Parks superintendent Jesus Aguirre in a letter sent to Seattle Art Museum director Kim Rorschach:

In response to continuing public scrutiny of the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM) renovation and expansion project at Volunteer Park, we would like to take a “project pause” to enable us to respond to community members and the Board of Park Commissioners on an array of issues that have been raised during the public involvement process. That pause will help Seattle Parks and Recreation better understand some of the project’s driver and more carefully consider park impacts.

“Thank you for your ongoing partnership as we work together to ensure whatever final project is built is in the best interests of Seattle Art Museum and Seattle’s park and recreation system,”

“Don’t say we’re not pausing,” Rorschach told CHS this week. “We are following the city’s directions on this.”

But Rorschach said the museum’s move-out date is set in stone. Continue reading

Does museum expansion plan make Volunteer Park a ‘threatened’ landscape?

An influential Washington D.C. foundation has added Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park to its list of “nationally significant at-risk and threatened” landscapes due to the $49 million planned expansion of the Seattle Asian Art Museum. But a longtime leader of the local group that protects the park says the designation goes too far.

What The Cultural Landscape Foundation is calling for “would be very punishing” Doug Bayley of the Volunteer Park Trust tells CHS.

“A full stop would set everybody back years,” Bayley said. “I think it’s totally salvageable. I see it as an ongoing conversation.” Continue reading

Body found in Volunteer Park identified as Capitol Hill woman


(Image: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)

Friends say the body discovered Monday morning in a Volunteer Park lily pond was 49-year-old Amy Vanderbeck.

A longtime part of Capitol Hill and the Seattle coffee scene, Vanderbeck was a popular Vivace barista and opened Watertown cafe on 12th Ave with two fellow Vivace employees before closing the venue in 2010. Writing about Watertown in 2009, the Seattle Times said Vanderbeck had been pulling shots since 1985, starting at a Nordstrom’s espresso cart “and moving in 1989 to Vivace’s original espresso cart outside Washington Mutual on Broadway.”

Vanderbeck also worked in tech and as an audio engineer and video producer.

In 2016, she began producing the Struggle to Connect podcast. “Spurred by her therapist to leave the house a minimum of 2 hours a day,” the description reads, “Amy Vanderbeck wanders around Seattle visiting her friends and sticking microphones in their faces.” In the most recent episode from November she catches up with an old friend at Vivace. “I define a friend as someone I’ve been in the foxhole with at some point in my life,” she says. “Someone who has been right next to me when something shitty or completely awesome — but mostly shitty — has happened.” Through the episode, the two discuss love, work, sex, and Capitol Hill.

Her body was found Monday morning by a worker in Volunteer Park. Police say there was no indication of foul play.

The King County Medical Examiner is investigating the death. UPDATE 3:33 PM: The medical examiner released information identifying Vanderbeck Tuesday afternoon. The results of the investigation of her death are pending toxicology reports that sometimes take weeks or longer to complete.

UPDATE 1/11/2017: If you or anybody you know needs assistance or is in crisis, call (206) 461-3222 for help.

A Friends of Amy Vanderbeck giving campaign to raise funding for her funeral expenses and a possible memorial has raised more than $17,000 from friends and loved ones.

Her friends and loved ones will gather Friday at Century Ballroom and then walk together to Volunteer Park’s lily pond.

UPDATE 1/13/2017: Vanderbeck’s family has asked CHS to help them reach out anybody who knew and loved Amy about the gathering Friday to remember her and mark her life. “If you knew or loved or met her, come out,” Vanderbeck’s sister Lisa Weir tells CHS. Weir especially hopes to connect with people drawn to the issues of mental illness and loneliness that Vanderbeck spoke about in her Struggle to Connect podcast. “Just because she’s gone, it doesn’t mean they’re less important,” Weir said.

We are gathering to celebrate Amy. Century Ballroom, Friday, January 13. 2pm to 6pm Tell everybody who loved her. That’s why we have a big room. Everyone who loved Amy is welcome – everyone who loves us is welcome. We will march to the pond following the gathering – wear layers. Bring memories, photos, yourself. Please share post with your Amy circle. She touched so  many lives – we can hardly reach wide enough.

Body found in Volunteer Park lily pond

Seattle Police and the county Medical Examiner were at Volunteer Park Monday morning to investigate after a dead body was found in the green space’s south lily pond.

A SPD spokesperson tells CHS that the death does not appear to be suspicious and there were no signs of foul play.

The body was discovered by a parks employee and reported to police and Seattle Fire just before 8 AM. The pond is near the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the park’s iconic water tower.

The body was reported to Seattle Fire as a deceased male. Investigators were at the park as of 9 AM to examine the scene around the submerged body.

The King County Medical Examiner will determine the identity of the victim and investigate the cause of death. Continue reading

A look at all sides in Seattle Asian Art Museum expansion debate

We can work this out. The proposed overhaul and expansion of the 83-year-old Seattle Asian Art Museum has become a bone of contention in the neighborhood around Volunteer Park. Another three dozen citizens had their say on the potential environmental impact of the project — including views and park use — Thursday night, adding to the dozens of letters already received on the project from all sides in the argument. During Thursday night’s proceedings, CHS heard arguments in support of the project and others with hopes of scaling it back. Here is a look at both sides.

The meeting on Thursday drew about 40 commenters on the project. A little more than half spoke in favor of the planned fall 2017 project that would expand the Asian Art Museum 3,600 square feet into the park from the east side of the 1933 historic building. The museum plans to add more display space to represent South Asia and India as well as fix infrastructure issues including a climate control system and seismic upgrades, while making the museum ADA accessible.

Here is what we heard from the proponents Thursday night:

  • The expansion fits in the Olmsted vision and the museum has engaged the community and made changes based on public input. Continue reading

Reminder: Seattle Asian Art Museum overhaul and expansion land use meeting

Another night, another important development meeting for an iconic part of the Capitol Hill landscape. Thursday, City of Seattle officials will hold a meeting to provide an opportunity for citizen comment on the environmental impact of the three-story, 13,650 square-foot project that includes a seismic and systems overhaul of the 83-year-old building home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum and a 3,600 square-foot expansion of the facility.

CHS reported here on the petition that put the public hearing on the schedule. Museum officials say they support the opportunity for more public feedback on the project during its “Master Use Permit” application process.

Seattle Asian Art Museum Land Use Public Meeting

The planned fall 2017 project would expand the Asian Art Museum 3,600 square feet into the park from the east side of the 1933 historic building. The museum plans to add more display space to represent South Asia and India as well as fix infrastructure issues including a climate control system and seismic upgrades, while making the museum ADA accessible. The project has faced a wave of opposition from neighbors but a museum representative said the tide of public feedback received has shifted after a CHS story documented the first letters on the projects from neighbors — a tally late last week, showed 56 letters in support of the project, 43 opposed, and six “other/neutral.”

While the comments collected are important, the final decision won’t be a vote decided by the public. Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections planners must weigh the proposed project’s potential environmental impact including views and recreational use in the landmarks-protected Volunteer Park. In addition to speaking Thursday night, comments can also be sent to PRC@seattle.gov referencing project #3024753.


CHS Pics | Fifth annual Holiday in the Park: hundreds of luminarias, thousands of snowflakes

With hundreds of lanterns lighting the paths and tens of thousands of snowflakes decorating the sky, the Volunteer Park Trust gathered neighbors in front of the Seattle Asian Art Museum Thursday night for the annual Holiday in the Park celebration. Carolers included the The Total Experience Gospel Choir and the Beaconettes, “the all-inclusive Columbia City Community Chorus.”

This weekend brings more holiday celebration to the park at the Volunteer Park Conservatory. The greenhouse hosts Santa by day. By night, ILUM, The Sylvan Series lights the conservatory with illuminated art.

Thursday, along with the free cocoa and “wish boats,” the trust volunteers informed the crowd with a 3D model of the plans for a new Volunteer Park amphitheater. The Holiday in the Park event was created in 2012 to help bring the community together inside the Olmsted-designed park for a celebration of friends and neighbors. You can learn more about the group at volunteerparktrust.org. More pictures from this year’s Holiday in the Park, below. Continue reading

Citizen petition forces meeting on Seattle Asian Art Museum overhaul and expansion

From the project's "geotechnical" report

From the project’s “geotechnical” report

In an effort to drive massive web traffic and create some sexy Facebook clickbait, we are posting about yet another Volunteer Park and Seattle Asian Art Museum expansion meeting. Yes, it’s true. Another meeting on the proposal to improve the 1933-built museum’s climate control system, perform need seismic upgrades, make the museum ADA accessible, and expand the facility by 3,600 square feet will take place next week after the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections was petitioned to hold a public meeting on the pending approval of the project in the city’s land use permit process. Continue reading