About Lena Friedman -- CHS Intern

Lena Friedman was born and raised in Capitol Hill and studies psychology at Whitman College. She covers news for Whitman’s student paper, The Wire, during the school year and enjoys singing a cappella, running a food instagram @sweetnseattle and reading memoirs during her free time. Find her on Twitter @LenaSFriedman or email her at friedmls@whitman.edu.

11th and Pine had a communal piano for a week — Now it’s gone

As the City of Seattle looks to permanently incorporate some of the art and energy of CHOP in Cal Anderson, one element that appeared in the area after the protest camp faded has gone missing: a communal piano.

The piano, situated in front of the southeast entrance of Bobby Morris Playfield, was reportedly purchased for $22 from 11th and Pike’s Out of the Closet thrift store and then placed on the street corner for public use, according to local resident Teri McClain who first came across it on July 30.

“I bought a piano for the city and someone FIXED IT! A full 88 keys functioning on 11th and Pine,” the reported “owner” of the large musical instrument known as Sundae tweeted.

McClain told CHS she thinks the piano was a positive asset to the community, allowing her to connect with strangers and support them with pizza and chocolate as they played.  Continue reading

RIP Nate’s and its family of good eats at 13th and Jeff

Nate’s in happier times

Nate’s Wings & Waffles, Happy Grillmore, and the Central District Ice Cream Company — a trio of joints co-owned by Darren McGill that made 13th and Jefferson a busy spot for soul food and good eating — are permanently closing up shop as the COVID-19 crisis drags on, adding to the list of Capitol Hill and Central District businesses unable to recover amid the pandemic.

When the coronavirus hit and companies like Amazon and Redfin pulled out of office catering orders, the 13th and Jefferson sister restaurants could no longer stay afloat.

“it was like one thing after another,” McGill said. “It wasn’t just because of COVID — that was the main underlying cause but rent increase, food cost increase, everything was going up and then this happened and it was like the last straw.” Continue reading

In effort to ‘memorialize CHOP’ and improve Cal Anderson, community talks gardens, art, and lighting

(Image: CHS)

Following the central role Cal Anderson Park played in this summer’s Capitol Hill protest zone, Seattle Parks and Recreation is working with design firms to make some long term changes to the park — changes that could include a permanent home for protest art, a community garden program and a revival of CHOP’s “Conversation Cafe” in some form.

Wednesday night marked the first of a series of public meetings held by Seattle Parks in concert with DLR Group and HBB Landscape Architecture to narrow down how the park will change.

“The protests of the past couple months have required that we begin a conversation about how Cal Anderson can better service the community and more firmly speak to our values,” Andy Sheffer of Seattle Parks said at the zoom meeting. “The 2020 Cal Anderson project is about receiving ideas, developing ideas and piloting ideas for new programming elements.”

A second, daytime session is planned for Thursday starting at noon.

The project has a three part process with public meetings and surveys intermixed. While the first and current step is about “setting the stage and collecting ideas” according to Sheffer, September’s part two will focus on testing ‘the viability of ideas based on site constraints, opportunities and interests,” and October’s part three will revolve around “potential implementation of pilot projects and long term strategy around bigger action items.” Sheffer says Seattle Parks plans on designing and rolling out these pilot projects in late October or November.

In the hours after the July 1st police raid and sweep that cleared the protest camp and the area around the East Precinct, Mayor Jenny Durkan said she intended to “memorialize” CHOP with art and permanent features in Cal Anderson.

Although the City of Seattle is facing a $300 million budget deficit this year likely to continue into 2021 and the budgeting process for this project has yet to begin, Seattle Parks spokesperson Rachel Schulkin told CHS that Seattle Parks is “committed to making it work.”

Seattle Parks and the design consultants put forth three initiatives up for preliminary live polling at the meeting: a gardening program in line with the Black Star Farmers garden plots, retaining CHOP artwork, and forming a “conversation corner” reminiscent of CHOP’s “conversation cafe.”

Other things CHS heard at the meeting: Continue reading

Reopening: Capitol Hill’s Office Nomads leads way in figuring out what COVID-era coworking means

(Image: Office Nomads)

The new world of COVID-19 brings drastically changed landscapes for many Capitol Hill businesses. Born on Boylston 13 years ago, “Seattle’s original coworking community” Office Nomads has left its street behind and transitioned online after closing its office space at the end of July.

“The thread that binds all of our members is that they can work from anywhere,” Office Nomads co-owner and founder Susan Dorsch said. “All of our members prefer to work together and to work in a shared workspace, I do as well, but what we’re doing right now is not about preferences. What we’re doing right now is about safety.”

Office Nomads has long served as a hub for remote workers seeking a communal working environment — including students, entrepreneurs and freelancers — at its Boylston Ave spot. Since the business began in 2007, a burgeoning scene of coworking spaces has emerged on the Hill. But coworking’s day appears to have been a short one. COVID-19 has snuffed out thousands of jobs here and sent thousands more into a semi-permanent “working from home” lifestyle. Office space and social distancing just don’t mix. Continue reading

Kaiser Permanente not pulling back on $400M Capitol Hill campus overhaul despite canceled headquarters project

Kaiser Permanente is working on a $400M overhaul of its Capitol Hill campus planned to finish by 2022 even after the company announced its pullback on a $900M Oakland headquarters project.

Not-for-profit healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente began the process of renovating its 15th and John Capitol Hill facilities about two years ago. The campus, formerly known as Group Health, was acquired by the company back in 2017.

CHS spoke with Kaiser Permanente in the fall of 2018 about its plans for remodel, centering around improving out-patient medical care while not expanding the size of the facility. Continue reading

Reopening: Live theater during a pandemic — Some turning to live-stream, others on pause

1984 at 18th and Union (Image: 18th and Union Theater)

When the pandemic shuttered Seattle’s theaters and playhouses in March, the Central District’s 18th & Union was in the middle of an adaption of George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.” By the third week of production, it became clear the venue had to close.

“I think we were lucky that we at least got three solid weekends in before closing,” actor K. Brian Neel said. “I know a lot of theater artists who had to close shows right before opening or right towards the end of the rehearsal process and that would’ve been frustrating.”

According to state reopening guidelines, live entertainment falls under Phase 4 — the final stage — and King County has lingered in Phase 2 for over a month now. As cases rise across the county and Washington rolls back phased reopening, theater companies and accompanying venues are tasked with adapting live theater to an online format or staying closed indefinitely.

And for those planning to reopen in some capacity with live actors, performances will look markedly different.

Theaters reopening or not?
18th & Union is planning to live stream shows out of its space this fall with up to two cast members six feet apart. Producing director David Gassner says the venue has multiple shows — yet to be announced — lined up for September, and the studio is setting up with cameras and other necessary equipment.

“There won’t be any stage combat, there won’t be any kissing, there won’t be any touching — so we’re having to choose the kind of shows that we present knowing that those are the constraints,” Gassner said. Continue reading

Reopening: Retail under quarantine, Drizzle and Shine welcomes Capitol Hill shoppers with comfort

(Image: Drizzle and Shine)

Capitol Hill’s “eco-first” fashion boutique Drizzle and Shine temporarily closed at the end of March in accordance with the state’s COVID-19 response plan. Now the shop has reopened, but with a few changes: contactless payment, limited store occupancy and a 24-hour quarantine of clothing items tried on but not purchased.

Capitol Hill retail shops like Drizzle and Shine began reopening their brick and mortar stores once Phase 1.5 was approved at the beginning of June. Now in Phase 2 of reopening, they can offer in-store retail with maximum 30% customer occupancy.

Drizzle and Shine owner Jean Coburn said adaptability has proven essential to the shop’s continued business over the past few months, as sales transitioned from mostly in-store to entirely online to now a mixture of both. Continue reading

Mayor Durkan talks increased COVID-19 concerns and SPD crowd control in ‘virtual town hall’

Following a weekend of heavy-handed Seattle Police crowd control on Capitol Hill and with COVID-19 numbers rising, Mayor Jenny Durkan held her sixth “virtual town hall” since the start of the pandemic, this time to hear from residents of Southeast and Central Seattle neighborhoods including Capitol Hill and the Central District. City officials responded to citizen questions about the police’s continued use of aggressive crowd control tactics at protests and announced plans to increase coronavirus testing in the coming weeks.

South Seattle and the Central District have seen some of the highest COVID-19 rates in the city, with King County reporting 8.8 positive tests per 1000 residents in South Park and higher numbers extending into South King County.

Tuesday, the Washington State Department of Health released its latest “situational report” showing the outbreak continues to grow in the state and hospitalizations and deaths are now on rise.

“What we do know is that our BIPOC communities, our communities of color, are particularly disproportionately impacted,” said Patty Hayes, director of King County Public Health, on the systemic health and social inequities contributing to BIPOC communities having more “chronic conditions and the inability to work from home.” Continue reading

Weeklong Chilean protest exhibit opens — outside — at Volunteer Park

This image from Sonia Rossel López is part of Chile Woke, an exhibition of documenting protests across Chile

Before the Volunteer Park Amphitheater as we know it gets torn down and upgraded as part of an end-of-summer replacement project, nonprofit organization Chile Woke is using the space for an art exhibition precisely because of its old, slightly dilapidated brick wall. The fresh air and social distancing opportunity of Volunteer Park is also, of course, key.

Rebeca Sanchez and Marcela Soto, two Chileans living in Seattle, formed Chile Woke as a way to showcase the work of artists documenting protests across Chile in response to widespread economic and social inequality.

Starting Sunday, Chile Woke is putting on its first large-scale, free exhibit: The Uprise of Chilean Graphics and Street Photography.

“Our idea is to try to bring the feeling of what is going on in Chile and specifically how posters and messages have been taking over the walls in the streets and becoming kind of like the people’s bulletin board,” Sanchez said. Continue reading

District recommends Seattle schools start with closed campuses, but ‘remote learning is not synonymous with online learning’

Amazon has donated 8,200 laptops for Seattle school kids (Image: Seattle Public Schools)

As its children enjoy a summer break limited by COVID-19 restrictions, Seattle Public Schools announced plans this week for fall classes to begin remotely.

The Seattle School Board has yet to approve the recommendation and the extent to which remote instruction will move online remains up for debate.

On August 12 the board is set to vote on the district’s remote learning recommendation, which also calls for increased professional development for educators, including racial equity training, and “predictable and consistent teaching/learning schedule on common platforms, using up-to-date resources.” Continue reading