New Seattle School for Boys private middle school opening in the Central District

Seattle School for Boys will open near 23rd and Madison for the 2019-2020 school year, bringing an all-boys private middle school option to the Central District.

“I started my career teaching at an all boys school on the East Coast, and after seeing the impact a single gender environment has on the boys, it made sense for there to be an all-boys middle school in Seattle,” said Nick Creach, head of Seattle School for Boys.

Creach left his position as head of Seattle Academy’s middle school to teach and serve as the head of Seattle School for Boys. Creach co-founded SSB with fellow teacher Jerome Hunter, and Drew Markham who will serve as the school’s board chair.

The partnership behind the school believes fulfilling the need for an all boys middle school option in the Central District was necessary after exploring research on differences in learning and identity development between the sexes in the middle school years.  Continue reading

Sustainability group plans for Volunteer Park include rainwater system for conservatory, recycled water for wading pool

Volunteer Park wading pool, circa 1970s (Image: Seattle Municipal Archives)

A small group has big plans for an environmentally responsible overhaul of Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park including a project to put rainwater to use in the landmark conservatory and a plan that could eventually make the park’s popular wading pool more sustainable.

The Volunteer Park Sustainability Coalition will has been revamping projects geared towards making use of summer weather, rain or shine. The coalition plans to make its Free Effective Rainwater Now (FERN) project an educational experience for the public along with furthering plans to improve the park’s wading pool pump system.

“The rainwater harvesting concept has existed for probably five years at this point, but using it as an educational tool is a much newer aspect that we’re trying to work into the project,” said Sejal Soni, a volunteer with the VPSC. 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

Third time’s the charm for Aria as the salon hopes its new home at 15th and John will be permanent after its latest and ‘final’ Capitol Hill move

(Image: Aria Salon)

In 1998, Bianca Brookman opened Aria Salon at 11th and E Pike. Today, the salon has moved three times in twenty years. Aria has re-opened after its third move, and Brookman hopes the salon’s new home on 15th and John is permanent, proving small businesses and the gayborhood can thrive on the Hill today.

“It’s not the Pike and Pine corridor, but we’re in our 20th year, we have amazing staff, and I’m super excited,” Brookman said. “There’s a lot of good energy up here, and we’re ready for another 20 years.”

Prior to the salon’s move to 15th and John behind Bakery Nouveau, Aria resided on E Pine adjacent to Dingfelder’s Delicatessen. Brookman believed Aria would remain in its home since 2008 for years to come, and she sought to make changes to the salon’s layout. While renegotiating Aria’s lease on the space to ensure the salon’s longevity, Brookman learned she could not extend her lease beyond the duration of a development project set to wrap around the building.

She was also concerned with how the new development’s layout would impact the old building’s appearance and structural integrity, even if Aria could afford to remain in the space once construction was completed. Brookman viewed the situation as an opportunity to find Aria its latest permanent home. Continue reading

A few concerns and a lot of hope for improving Madison at Bus Rapid Transit open house

Neighbors and future riders shared some of their last critiques of the Madison Bus Rapid Transit project at an open house for the project held at Miller Community Center Wednesday night.

“We’re at 90% design, so they’re still not completely a hundred percent finalized yet. We’re coming out tonight and showing people the 90% design and what’s changed from 60%,” said Joshua Shippy, the Madison BRT project manager.

Many open house attendees had been following the Madison BRT’s designs since the project’s early stages.

“I always get concerned that transit projects will be watered down when they have to deal with so many different competing interests,” said Steve Goodreau, an open house attendee. “That was a big concern of mine, especially during the first few phases, but I’m happy to see that the dedicated lane remains throughout pretty much all of First Hill, and so has all the signal priority.”

Continue reading

Zaika hopes to bring a Capitol Hill happy hour take on Indian food to former Tango space

(Image: CHS)

A departure from date nights and tapas, Zaika hopes to bring Indian food and drinks with a modern twist to Tango’s former space and the rest of Capitol Hill’s happy hour scene.

“I want to introduce more Indian drinks to this area, as other Indian restaurants do not focus as much on drinks,” said Nitin Panchal, the owner of Zaika. “We have a sizable bar, and I want people to come, hang out, and have a nice time in addition to enjoying Indian food.”

Zakia will replace Tango Restaurant and Lounge on the corner of Pike and Boren, as the tapas joint closed after its 19-year tenure at the base of the Hill. Panchal plans to get creative, knowing Zaika has big shoes to fill. “This will be an American restaurant serving Indian food,” Panchal said, hoping to adapt a variety of traditional Indian dishes and drinks to happy hour tastes of today.

According to Panchal, introducing Indian food to happy hour will require a significant departure from a typical Indian restaurant’s aesthetic and menu, incorporating traditional recipes and popular spices into cocktails and happy hour bites. Continue reading

More summer fun to come on Capitol Hill: 11th Ave Street Fair, Adult Recess in Cal Anderson, Kinky Boots in the park

A scene from the 2018 11th Ave Street Fair (Image: CHS)

Pride may have passed and another Capitol Hill Block Party is in the books but there are still a few more Capitol Hill summer events to look forward to including art-filled street fairs, a new sports-y event at Cal Anderson, and the return of movies in the park.

11TH AVE STREET FAIR — Sunday, August 25 — 11th Ave between E Pine and E Union — More
Blue Cone Studios
will hold the 11th Avenue Street Fair again this year, hoping to connect and showcase Capitol Hill creatives in a free, wide open event.

“After a huge summer of festivals that cost money I think it’s important to throw something in the neighborhood that’s free to the people and involves community performers, creators, and makers,” said Carolyn Hitt, the founder of Blue Cone Studios.

Residing above Queer/Bar on 11th Ave, Blue Cone Studios is an organization run by a group of Capitol Hill artists and creatives providing like minded individuals with a meeting place, gallery space, and on Tuesday Nights during Capitol Hill art walk, an open art studio. Blue Cone’s mission of providing marginalized artists with a space to connect with other artists while creating and displaying art is twofold. While collaboration between artists evokes a sense of community, Hitt believes experiencing art encourages individuals to find an artform resonating with them.  Continue reading

Capitol Hill Block Party expands free events held beyond festival gates

(Image: Capitol Hill Block Party)

Two blocks of E Pike are home to music, food, and troves of festival goers as Capitol Hill Block Party takes to the streets this weekend. Although increasing artist fees and production costs have raised ticket prices in recent years, CHBP plans to celebrate Capitol Hill beyond festival gates by offering a variety of free events.

“We’re excited about this year’s expansion of free events that will allow people who aren’t attending CHBP to still participate and enjoy the community celebration, while still getting a taste of CHBP,” said Kate Harris, CHBP’s executive producer.

While producers says Block Party attendance has not increased in the past eight years, the festival has continued to cement itself in Seattle’s music and arts scene, attracting big-name headliners across music genres. According to Harris, artist fees have tripled since 2012 and production costs have increased exponentially, resulting in a notable rise in festival ticket prices.

With crowds exceeding 20,000 people, surging ticket prices, and performances from mainstream talent, Block Party has strayed from its roots as a small, neighborhood celebration. According to Harris, this evolution has not gone unnoticed by the festival’s organizers, as CHBP has offered free events co-organized by a variety of local nonprofits, hosted at Cal Anderson Park and nearby businesses in recent years. This year, CHBP will expand upon its free events. Continue reading

In a sea of Capitol Hill poke joints, Aloha Cup Bap’s Hawaiian approach stands out

(Image: Aloha Cup Bap)

Its founders hope Aloha Cup Bap’s traditional Hawaiian poke will separate the shop from the sea of poke joints around Capitol Hill. The poke spot now has two locations around the Hill after it opened its second shop on Broadway this spring.

“Opening our first location a year and a half ago was a difficult job because customers didn’t really know what poke was. Now we have returning customers and wanted to open a second location,” said Tony O, one of Aloha Cup Bap’s owners along with Madelene Phung and Yuree Chong.

With locations on 12th Ave and now Broadway, Aloha Cup Bap is creating an island chain of fresh fish spots through the neighborhood. Continue reading