About Mark Van Streefkerk

Mark Van Streefkerk is a freelance writer and social media manager whose work has appeared in Barista Magazine, Fresh Cup Magazine, and Queerspace Magazine. When he's not writing, he's probably biking to his favorite cafe or vegan restaurant. Find out more about him at markvanstreefkerk.com.

Kshama Sawant’s inauguration a battle cry to ‘Tax Amazon’

Making her agenda crystal clear, Kshama Sawant’s Monday night inauguration to her third term on the Seattle City Council was also the launch of a new “Tax Amazon” movement in Seattle.

“We need a clear and fearless message that will inspire working people and community members to come out and get involved,” Sawant said in front of a packed crowd at the Central District’s Washington Hall. “We need a message that will sound as powerful in spirit for working people around the country, hence: Tax Amazon,” Sawant said.

Despite the freezing weather, supporters filled the 14th Ave venue to celebrate the decisive victory of the Socialist Alternative incumbent over Egan Orion in November. Orion was backed by an unprecedented $1.5 million in funding from Amazon, a “blatant attempt to buy City Hall.” The election backlash to the Amazon cash also helped Sawant secure key new allies — her fellow council members as the council’s two citywide representatives — Teresa Mosqueda and Lorena González embraced the Socialist Alternative leader and a slate of progressive candidates.

“Together we defeated the richest man in the world,” one of the emcees Eva Metz, Sawant’s campaign finance director, proudly declared. Continue reading

With R3BAR Training, the Knights of Columbus court is back in action

Michael Knight of R3BAR

Most people don’t know this, but there’s a basketball court on the corner of Harvard and Union.

The court — one of many secrets inside the old Knights of Columbus building — is being put back into motion even as a major redevelopment planned to overhaul the landmark-worthy building and surround it with new apartments looms.

While the building is slated for a massive overhaul including construction of the two new apartment buildings on either side, R3BAR, an athletic training company, has been quietly moving in since last August, taking over the old basketball court and adjoining rooms.

Entering through a key-coded door, trainers and trainees walk through a short hall that opens out to wide space overlooking a maple wood basketball court on the floor below. Continue reading

With studio approaching 20 years on the Hill, new owner stretches out with SweatBox Yoga

Assaf (Image: SweatBox Yoga)

The SweatBox Yoga studio sits in the middle of Pike/Pine where more than a few of the nightlife venues are now owned by tenders, chefs, and managers turned bar and restaurant owners.

Earlier this year, Frani Assaf officially took ownership of SweatBox Yoga  after starting as a student and teacher at the Capitol Hill mainstay since the early 2000s.

“She’s always risen to the occasion. She and I are both from the midwest. We get that mentality and we get each other,” longtime owner Laura Culberg said. “Once I hired a broker and put the SweatBox on the market, I met with a few people who were interested in buying the studio and my gut told me it wasn’t right. I couldn’t imagine selling this living community to a stranger . . . A lot of people think Frani is the owner already, and it seemed like a natural fit… Frani at the helm would be the best for the community.”

Assaf has taught yoga since 2003, and was recently SweatBox’s studio manager. Hailing from Iowa, she trained as a dancer for over twelve years and was introduced to yoga around 1996 when she and a friend started practicing poses from a book in their living rooms. Continue reading

Central District support helps Flowers Just 4 U stave off eviction

Mary Wesley has been serving the Central District for over 35 years, and eventually hopes to train young people in how to make floral arrangements. (Image: Mark Van Streefkerk for CHS)

Last weekend, Flowers Just 4 U was served a 14-day eviction notice. Located in the Central District on the corner of 23rd and Cherry, the florist was asked to pay past-due rent and utilities that totaled around six thousand dollars, or close its doors for good. After getting the word out, with help from WJJ Consulting and Africatown Media, owner Mary Wesley generated enough support to save her business.

“Can you believe this? That’s God,” Wesley beamed when asked about the overwhelming support she has received. “That is how well they love me. Donations and walk-ins, you name it. Whatever they can do to get here to keep me on this corner, they did it, from their hearts.”

At the time of this article, Flowers Just 4 U’s fundraiser campaign has received over twice the goal amount in only a few days. Said to be the only Black-owned florist in the Pacific Northwest, Wesley has done business in the Central District for more than 35 years. Now in her late 70s, Wesley has had to dip into her retirement savings to help the business.

Continue reading