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CHS sabbatical: Taking a break

IMG_9814Turns out, managing my own personal breaking news has been extremely difficult. But I do have a story to tell you. Waiting to share as I planned it all out has driven me insane.

I’m excited — and a little sad — to announce that I am taking a break from CHS. There are no time restraints on the decision. This is the right time for me to bring the logistics together to begin the break. There will be a right time to start again.

My plan is to take time off from the site and the business, take care of some things in life that I have been meaning to get to, and keep many appointments that I have put on hold for the past decade.

What does that mean? A list!

  • CHS and our band of amazing contributors will finish out the week just as we always have. I’ll try to keep things as professional as usual. Everybody is getting paid. Every advertiser is getting their money’s worth or a refund. This is a sabbatical not a shuttering.
  • After Sunday, a “gone fishing” message will go up and the site will go into a kind of stasis. Expect some things like the Calendar and Community Posts to poke along. I might even get around to adding a few automagical news features to keep the site busy while I am gone.
  • Our many, many freelancers and contributors might be looking for work and new projects. Drop them a line.
  • Thanks especially to Alex Garland who has been along for so much of the ride and Kaylee Osowski for bringing new enthusiasm to the effort.
  • Our many advertisers are the best kinds of neighborhood organizations and businesses. Give the ads a lookover and make sure to thank them with your patronage.
  • Our 200 or so subscribers have given me hope — and money — to help make CHS continue to work even as the media market shifts and changes. Thanks much for being part of CHS. If you decide now is the time to end your patronage, I understand. If you want to help with ongoing costs around hosting the site and the tech side of things, thanks. It will definitely make this easier to return to after my 2017 walkabout.
  • Some 1.7 million “users” have visited the site in the past year. I look forward to the eventual challenge of winning them back.

While the news is new to you, I have not made this decision lightly. I am lucky to have the opportunity to be so tortured with choice. I am lucky to be able to walk away. And I am — I hope — lucky to have the opportunity to come back to it when the time is right.

Thanks for reading,

UPDATE: I was afraid of this! Thanks for all the messages and goodwill. Thanks for understanding. Now go hire a freelancer in my honor. Meanwhile, thanks for the coverage:

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

95 thoughts on “CHS sabbatical: Taking a break

  1. I guess it’s back to the Seattle Times to complain about property tax and bike lanes :(

    Will miss you source of hyper local daily news and communal analysis.

    Maybe you can deputize someone to keep the wheels spinning ? Keep the franchise going while you go off to interview your grave digger…

    • I’m training your new editor now. Unfortunately, he’s only nine so you’ll have to wait two years until he’s capable of running site.

    • 4:22. Also, I blame 4/1 for making me work another week. I had this plan in place and realized I had to put off until after April Fool’s :(

  2. I am so damn sad to read this. The city needs reporting that isn’t bogged down with agenda, that gives a voice to those who don’t have the money to buy one with the bigger publications. I really hope you come back. I can only imagine you didn’t know your little blog would get this big!! I’m so grateful you gave us what you did and a huge thanks to Alex who is a passionate fighter for human rights. Good luck with your future endeavor! One question, you built a really great place here and it is filled with history of the neighborhood…can you at least leave it so the site is searchable and the stories you’ve posted can still be read?

  3. Thank you, Justin, the CHS blog is terrific, and will be missed. I just told my husband, and his response was, ” oh no! What are we going to do?”
    I wish all the best for you. You are the best!

  4. I have been reading CHS since 2009, before I moved from Spain to live permanently here in CH. Thank you for everything. You have been an integral part to Capitol Hill’s soul. I look forward to your comeback.

  5. You were THE source for cap hill goings on. You are a wonderful newsman Justin and I support your life decision however sad it is to see the site “paused”. Oxox Emerson Salon will always support your work. And thanks for all the love for Seattle Fringe Festival. Sincerely D’Arcy

  6. Wow–I’ve loved this blog (and yes, I contributed some $ to it).
    Thank you for all the great work. I hope you’ll come back and/or that others will find a way to keep it active.

    Good luck with the travels on your unfolding road of life.

  7. I will miss this site. I found it when I was moving to Seattle and continued reading after I moved away. It’s remained my connection to my old neighborhood and actually a lot of what my family knows about Seattle is from reading you! Thank you for all the work that you’ve put into it, and I hope your time away is refreshing and rewarding.

  8. Justin, many thanks for all your work with the blog and best wishes on your sabbatical. For readers, I would just like to say that in the last city wide election only 29% of eligible voters on Capitol Hill voted. This city needs the rest of you who are invested in your community from home ownership to curbside gardening to caring at all about affordability, neighborhood character, and safety to weigh in and be the adults in the room lest you become taxed to death as Seattle politicians play progressive brinkmanship. Best to you all.

  9. Thanks for all the exposure you gave my photography. CHS has been a daily read for me since I moved here and I’ve always felt engaged with the neighborhood because of it. Not sure who can actually replace your food & drink coverage. I’ll be excited for your return, and I hope it’s soon.

  10. This is sad news for Capitol Hill. You’ve been such a steady and prolific source of important local news. Thanks for all that you have contributed these years, and please, come back!

  11. Wow. Best of luck to you “jseattle” in all your endeavors. Please designate some heirs to keep the lights on for you. Your blog is among the best anywhere, should there be ways to continue it while you take sabbatical.

  12. I don’t understand the decision to not explore sharing the site by way of a handoff to other editors and writers who you trust. You have created something of value.

    Had you upon considering taking leave, announced it and offered to do this I suspect you might have some interested parties. There is still a chance

    • You’ll have to trust me a little bit on this one. But imagine the best, most solid reporter CHS has ever had the pleasure of working with. And imagine me offering everything the site could give. And imagine that reporter now working for the county. CHS as we know it has high production value. I don’t think it would be difficult to run a different style site in the style you suggest. But CHS style? I guess somebody can give it a try during my break :)

  13. I started reading this blog when the Central District news went on a “break,” so I hope you’ll forgive a bit of nervousness on my part. That said, I’m going to try to be optimistic!

    I love the work that you do, and this blog makes Capitol Hill a better place to live. I hope you have a wonderful break and I hope you return ready to monitor the blotter, tell us about that Madison Miller meeting that we didn’t want to attend in person, and update us on the glacial progress to develop the light rail station. Safe travels, bud.

    • Pretty sure we knew the end of CDN when we saw it! But time softens the edges… who knows! I think I’ll be back.

  14. Justin, thank you for all your hard work over the years. I begin and end everyday on your blog. Who will I text with my “breaking news”? I don’t like the decision but I get it. Congrats to you and all your future success. Tomorrow holds great things. Thanks you thank you.

  15. Thank you so much for the work you’ve done with CHS – it’s been an essential, everyday read for me for many years and I hope that the sabbatical proves helpful. Sad to have one of my favorite Seattle-centric sites press pause but I hope to see it back in action before too long.

  16. I have loved reading the blog Justin! I can count on it to give me an information based read without most Seattle Times conjecture! I wish you the best in your new endeavors and look forward to your possible return after your sabbatical!

  17. I have been an avid reader for years. Thank you for all your hard work, and I hope you have a great sabbatical. Hopefully we’ll hear more from you again.

  18. Thank you for keeping us current and providing awareness to opportunities where we can be involved as residents of Capitol Hill. I’m very appreciative of your hard work.

    Enjoy your break and hope you’re back soon. You’ll be missed.

  19. Feel like there was a gigantic sink hole that just happened in the neighborhood. :(

    Hope he allows others to post in his absence.

    Wish good things for Justin.


  20. Thank you for all your hard work, I will miss you and hope you come back refreshed and well rested. Years ago I got to email you with a photo and a story of a deer turning up in my back yard in N Capitol Hill. It was fun to feel part of a strange story in the neighborhood.

  21. Thank you so much for everything over the years! I always depended on your coverage – whenever a siren (or bullet) rang out I knew a post from CHS was not far behind.

  22. Wow, it’s so hard to imagine not having CHS. I’m so sad to read this. You’ve been a daily read for me since I moved to Seattle. I’ll never forget when you showed interest in my street style photography and invited me to have a weekly feature. I was beyond thrilled. Thank you for that amazing opportunity all those years ago. I’ve always been so impressed with the amount of work and time you’ve dedicated to CHS. I can’t imagine how all consuming it’s been for you. Thank you for everything you’ve done and good for you taking care of yourself. We’ll all be ready to read if/when you decide to return.

  23. Justin,
    Thank you for your extraordinary contribution to the residents and businesses of Capitol Hill. We’ve all been so fortunate to have enjoyed your relentless energy, integrity and passion. Good luck with “the fishing”, you will need sorely missed!


    and hes going to bring 13 business back with him

  25. Oh, man. Capitol Hill (and even Seattle in general) will be definitely worse-off in this blog’s absence. But you’re human, not a disembodied public service, and I wouldn’t demand you neglect your personal priorities.

    I’ll be looking forward to when circumstances are right for your return, but I wish you well in the meantime too!

  26. You will never know how much your blog enhanced my life in our neighborhood! I became a more active and engaged citizen through reading your posts. Your loyal followers will always be here if you choose to return; we will miss you dearly! Take care.

    PS: Willing to volunteer to help get things going again when you want to! If you need help from the community, just ask. We’re here to support.

  27. I had the opportunity to meet you in person a few times over the years and was always impressed with you as I was with the blog. Thank you for all you’ve done for the Hill. I honestly cant imagine the neighborhood without its trusty news source, but I hope you get a well-deserved break. Thanks for working so hard on behalf of our stories and for championing local projects. You will be missed mightily, Justin.

  28. Justin,

    I’ve really enjoyed this as an incredible source for local news over the years. I hate to see it on sabbatical but I am cheered to know that means it will be back! Thank you so much for putting this together and keeping it going for so long. I hope you have a great rest!

  29. Well, Justin! Since I started reading CHS in 1985, when I was just a teenager, I know better than anyone that you deserve a big ol’ break. Have a great time, get things tidied up, paint the garage, become a judo sensei, whatever you feel like doing. It’ll be nice to have you back when you’re ready. Cheers from Uncle Vinny.

  30. Thanks for running such a valuable local news service. I’ve had CHS in heavy rotation ever since the demise of the Central District News. Appreciate all of your coverage and particular attention to the CD. Best wishes to you on your newsroom hiatus. You will be missed Jseattle!

  31. Noooooo! How will we know what’s happening in the hood? A huge loss! Have also come to rely on you for answers when helicopters buzzing or loud booms or shots are fired! You will be missed

    • Me too–you’re always first with the answers or info. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself and please come back when you are ready. You have a gift.

  32. I wish you well and peace. Your effort will be missed and I am just one of many hoping for your return. Having ‘retired’ a blog of my own I understand the need to step back. Your’s has been such an integral part of my move to Seattle and I will truly miss you efforts.

  33. Justin,
    I can’t THANK YOU enough for your support for my business (Vermillion) and regret not advertising like I always planned to. You’re a pillar of the community who helped us all feel safer and better informed.

    Thank you also for giving a talented photographer (Alex Garland) a platform to develop and in-turn, provide us with eyes where we couldn’t always be present. If anyone can understand the weight of this decision, I can, and I definitely relate to not wanting to hand off your vision to someone else.

    All the best to you and your family! Diana

  34. I appreciate all your hard work, of course, but what I’ll miss most is your snark. That’s irreplaceable, so thanks for not saddling us with an imposter in your absence.

  35. We left Seattle for Europe 4 years ago, but have stayed connected through the house we still own and the clients that give us reasons to visit.

    But, more than anything, CHS has been what keeps me feeling like I still have a place on the hill to return to. The void will be immense.

    Thanks for everything, good luck in all your endeavors, and know that your little crow logo will define the brand of “home” in many people’s hearts.

    • Same story here. Moved to Europe, but still frequent CHS to feel connectoed to the old ‘hood. Will be very much missed.

  36. So sorry to hear this, but glad you’re taking some time for yourself. Will your Twitter handle still be active, or taking a break from that, too? Can’t count the number of times I hear/see something and you’re got a tweet up in less than 15 min!

  37. Justin,
    Thank you, sincerely, for your words and your voice. Both will be missed. I applaud your choice, yet lament it altogether.
    Be well!

  38. I will miss this site. I’ve been a regular reader ever since Central District News ended and have endorsed the site with a monthly subscription since the request. We split our time between WA and TX and I’ve really appreciated being able to stay informed and connected with our Seattle home while we are so often so far away. While disappointed, I understand. All the best.

  39. Lemme guess: CHS is being torn down for condos! Damn this city! :)

    In all seriousness, I will really miss this site. I consider it the best source of local news out there. I will also really miss the articles that delve into the history of Cap Hill. Oh, and the bird articles! There’s gonna be a lot to miss. I really hope you return some day.

    • I’ve always been floored by the craftsmanship and quality and comprehensiveness you’ve delivered for our neighborhood.

      I admit I’ve often wondered what motivated you to go so far beyond the call of duty for our neighborhood, and so reliably.

      Hope you enjoy your time off. I feel guilty for not having contributed (I know, it’s not too late) — but your blog has been a neighborhood treasure.

      • I’ve sometimes wondered the same thing. A story? Went to YMCA camp one summer and first day they told us about “morning activities.” Anybody who attended an activity every morning through camp got an award on the last day. At end of second week of camp was awards day. They got to the “morning activities” part. Mine was the only name called. I didn’t know you didn’t have to do “morning activities” — or, to be more honest, I never thought to ask. Swam in the river several cold mornings in a row. The attending camp counselor probably wondered about my motivation, too. I got a nifty certificate.

    • oops, sorry, that was meant to be a top-level comment.

      And, Justin, don’t forget — once we build 10,000 new overpriced apartments, you’ll have that many more future subscribers!


  40. Ouch. I will feel a true sense of loss for the news and community I find here. I grew into a regular reader when the CD News closed up shop, and appreciate that the site has been a space neighbors beyond the hill.
    Thank you for keeping us connected and informed, it’s been a gift. Best to you on your next steps. We’re here when you’re ready to make a come back!

  41. This just reminds me how lucky we’ve been to have Capitol Hill Seattle so far. I’ll miss it and hope you come back to it and us.

  42. VERY sad to hear of this. CHS has been an important mainstay of Capitol Hill for a long time, and will be greatly missed.

    Best of luck, Justin, and please try to return as soon as possible.

  43. Thank you for the years of thoughtful and even handed coverage. During the last decade- moving from great recession to tech boomtown- you’ve been a reliable source of news. Do take a well deserved break!

  44. You are an amazing journalist in the way you manage to get both a breadth and depth of information about all different topics on and around CH. There’s nothing else that comes close! Thanks for all the effort you’ve put in to being on top of everything, all the time.

  45. So very sad to hear … this has really brought our community together and kept us all so informed, intrigued and delighted for years. I checked in everyday, previewed every single CHS entry because it mattered so much. Thank you Justin for your amazing dedication to CHS. I am sure you have made many personal sacrifices to make CHS so frickin’ excellent. I sincerely hope that you are well, and that you achieve what your heart and soul are yearning for in 2017. I really hope that this is not the end of CHS. I sincerely wish you good Health, much Happiness and Peace of mind. I am forever grateful.

  46. For at least 5 years I’ve been wondering (fearing) how in the world you still run a newspaper that is essentially “on” for 24hrs -where you are the main reporter, but also incorporate/ edit other reporters’ and photographers’ work for both short, long, and quite in depth coverage – while, wait! still reporting/tweeting on the SPD scanner at 2am!!
    I will miss all of this. Thanks, and good luck.

  47. Thanks Justin. You will be missed. Not sure where I’ll get my news now. I just can’t with the Seattle Times.

  48. Thank you for all you do. I’m a long-time reader, and a rare commenter.

    I’m going to wear my CHS Blog teeshirt today in solidarity and gratitude.

  49. Thanks so much for all of your hard work keeping us up to date on everything in the hood, Justin! Checking this blog has become one of the key elements of my daily morning ritual. There’s definitely going to be a big hole in my mornings for a while. Enjoy the sabbatical and don’t stay away too long!

  50. I am truly sad to hear this news. Your site is a daily read for me and I love the way you are able to capture the spirit of our neighborhood so well. Reading your blog and the associated comments, whether I agree or not, gives a wonderful perspective of the goings on in our little corner of the world. You are going to be missed and I hope this IS just “see you soon” and not “goodbye”. I wish you the best in all you do!

  51. Congratulations, Justin, on a well earned sabbatical. Thank you for giving me a chance to write for the blog back in my early years in Seattle. Wishing you the best in whatever lies ahead.

  52. You — and CHS — will be missed.

    I echo all of the previous sentiments about how you (and your team’s) reporting kept us all informed and made us feel connected to a community. This was one of the best community blogs in the city, even besting the much-loved WestSea blog (in part due to the CHS site’s lovely design). No other local news source even compares in covering community news.

    I wish you the best on your walkabout. And may that 9-year old grow into your shoes fast!

  53. Supes bummed about this, but happy that you’ll get some needed rest and take care of needed biz. Best of luck to you!

  54. Thank you Justin. Really sad to see CHS go inactive – your twitter feed & blog have always been my immediate goto when things are going on in the hood. I lived at the top of CH for many years & now in the CD & still find your coverage to be so relevant for local news. A well deserved sabbatical, but know your years of serving our community does not go unnoticed. Cheers to you!

  55. Good luck with your next endeavor! Your​ hard work creating a valuable and reliable neighborhood asset has always been appreciated. Take care of yourself!

  56. Justin, your work at CHS in service of our community is outstanding. Thank you! And we fully support your sabbatical – may you experience rest and joy and renewal. Come hang out and enjoy a cupcake!

  57. JUSTIN,
    What a lose for the hood! More importantly is a big thank you to you and the CHS Team for all the news before its news, objective positioning, constant contact and support of so many of our initiatives !
    CHS has been a leader and BIG contributor to our ever improving Urban Village.. Thank you all.
    Now, please come back ………
    Michael Malone
    Hunters Capital

  58. THANK YOU! I go here a few times a week and enjoy the “up to date” reporting and events page.

    What will you need from us/the universe to come back? More $$, more people helping,,,,,? It appears there are hundreds of people who read this site. I think we can make something work for you. :)

  59. Thank you Justin for everything, and please don’t stay away for too long. It’s an understatement to say that CHS has been a wonderful resource, a source of entertainment, and a connection vital to my beloved but ever changing neighborhood. You will be missed!!

  60. What? !*#k
    terrible news for us , your audience. good for you. Do you need money? Can you get a sub? yes, I do take you for granted and I”m sorry.
    Come back soon and I’ll try and make it up to you,
    one of your many fans.

    • Sorry. I hope to be back soon! The site has been a great small business. Looking forward to idea of building it back up again.

  61. There will be something missing without you. Truly the glue that holds our community together. Thank you for everything you have done for us. I actually feel sad. We hope you will be back soon. I know you will be truly missed. All my very best wishes and thoughts are with you during your time away. Thank you for everything!

  62. Is there any interest keeping this going? Seems like there are other writers, besides Justin, and much interest in the neighborhood to keep a blog going. What are the other writers and neighborhood’s thoughts about forming another blog?