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.

$15 Now: Seven years later, Seattle’s smallest employers hit minimum wage milestone

Seven years later, $15 Now has raised the minimum wage across the board in Seattle

A marcher at a 2013 rally for the $15 minimum in Seattle (Images: CHS)

The seven-year plan to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 has finally come to fulfillment, and local small businesses, beleaguered by the pandemic, are rising to meet the new benchmark.

Unanimously approved by the Seattle City Council in 2014, Chapter 14.19 required businesses in Seattle to incrementally raise their minimum wage each year until reaching $15 per hour over seven years. At the beginning of this year, Seattle’s minimum wage increased to $16.69 per hour for large employers with more than 500 employees. Small businesses with less than 500 employees are required to pay $15 per hour only if they pay $1.69 per hour towards medical benefits, or the employee earns $1.69 per hour in tips. If neither conditions apply, the small business is required to pay $16.69 per hour. Going forward, minimum wage increases will be in keeping with inflation. Right now, Seattle’s minimum wage is the second-highest in the U.S., just 15 cents behind Emeryville, Calif.

The $15 minimum wage was a central part of Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s campaign in 2013. At this time, Sawant has not replied to CHS’s requests to discuss the milestone.

Mark Rosén, acting president and CEO of the GSBA, pointed out that the wage increase was initially approved in a very different time. No one could have anticipated COVID-19 and the precarious position Capitol Hill retailers and restaurants would endure. Continue reading

Here Lie Ten Suffragists: Capitol Hill’s Lake View Cemetery part of effort to mark history of women’s right to vote

A grassroots movement is honoring the gravesites of Washington suffragists including some right here on Capitol Hill, marking 100 years of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote and providing an important reflection on the past as the first woman to be elected U.S. Vice President prepares to take office.

Washington state won and lost the women’s right to vote four times before the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920, a process that took resilience and determination.

“[Suffragists] had to continually fight these societal norms. As much as they tried to use logic and the constitution, what really won the argument was these women had to demonstrate that . . . just because they got the right to vote doesn’t mean they were going to abandon their domestic duties and their husbands and their children,” ThankHer2020’s organizer Starlyn Nackos explained.

“It’s frustrating, but it’s also fascinating at the same time. The women that were so influential and successful were the ones who used those arguments. The first time women were able to successfully vote was because they hosted a picnic luncheon at the polling station.” Continue reading

For pop-up pizza — and a recipe zine — get Blotto on Broadway

One of Blotto’s pies: Briny Greens, with market greens, taleggio, olives and capers (Image: Blotto)

came from the design world before transitioning to start pizza pop-up Blotto, a word that’s old-fashioned slang for “really drunk” (Image: Blotto)

You’d probably never know it, but hidden at the back of Broadway Alley is a small bakery that hosts Blotto, a pizza pop-up, every Thursday. The “200ish”-square-foot space is a commercial kitchen for Paximadi Co., a local, wholesale Greek bakery, but once a week Jordan Koplowitz rents out the space to make and sell pizzas made with local grains, naturally leavened dough and seasonal ingredients.

The pop-up’s beginning came slightly after the release of a zine in July that featured recipes from Koplowitz’s friends throughout the food and beverage industry. Now sold out, sales from the zine raised $1,030 for the Seattle BIPOC Organic Food Bank

Koplowitz works with partner Christy Wyble, and friend Caleb Hoffmann to debut about four pizza choices every week, along with a salad and dessert option. The weekly menu drops online every Monday at noon for pre-order. Orders are available for pick up at the Broadway Alley bakery Thursday from 5:30 PM to 8 PM. So far, Blotto has been selling out every week. Continue reading

More legal fallout for Seattle’s handling of months of unrest: 50 protesters suing for personal injury, wrongful death, and civil rights violations

The July 4th medical response on I-5 (Image: @nowah_j)

Protesters and family members of Summer Taylor filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle and the state for personal injury, wrongful death, and civil rights violations during Black Lives Matter protests. The lawsuit was filed in September. 50 plaintiffs, including journalists, protesters, and family members of the Capitol Hill activist hit and killed by a speeding driver on I-5 are represented by Stritmatter Kessler Koehler Moore and Cedar Law PLLC. A new claim was filed Thursday on behalf of one of Cedar’s clients who they say was injured by police while protesting in the East Precinct Wednesday night. While being arrested out of a group of protesters on suspicion of a property crime, Kel Murphy-DuFord was slammed to the ground by officers. His attorneys say witnesses heard the crack on impact and saw his head hit the pavement hard. Murphy-DuFord is currently receiving care at Harborview where he is now listed in satisfactory condition according to a hospital spokesperson.

Police say Murphy-DuFord may have suffered a medical episode “related to a substance the subject had ingested prior to police contact” but offered no further details, an account his lawyers say is “designed to turn public attention away from police misconduct and towards a victim who currently is unable to speak or stand up for himself.”

The lawsuit is part of a wave of legal fallout from the City of Seattle’s response to months of Black Lives Matter protests. The largest could be a lawsuit brought by a collection of Capitol Hill real estate developers, property owners, and small businesses suing the city over the CHOP protest zone. In October, CHS reported on a key decision by a federal judge in the case allowing the suit to move forward. The SKKM and Cedar cases could also be costly for the city. Continue reading

At Vito’s, celebrating ten years of a restored First Hill classic

When Lundgren and Scott took over Vito’s in 2010, they found a treasure trove of old menus and photographs in the basement. Here’s a scene from a night at Vito’s. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Scott)

On September 18, First Hill’s iconic nightclub and Italian restaurant Vito’s quietly passed its 10 year anniversary under owners Greg Lundgren and Jeff Scott. A celebratory event wasn’t possible due to COVID-19 restrictions, and Lundgren and Scott were admittedly busy preparing to reopen for reduced dine-in seating on September 30.

“The world’s been so crazy that we never even made an announcement about [the anniversary], which we probably should have. We’ve been so busy trying to keep the lights on,” Lundgren said.

As Lundgren prepares to officially open his latest creation on First Hill with new arts venue the Museum of Museums, it’s time to celebrate a decade of Vito’s.

The last six months of pandemic restrictions have been challenging for the lounge on 9th and Madison, a destination steeped in history and notoriety whose mirrored walls, red leather booths, and (pre-COVID) live music are meant to be experienced in-person. When Lundgren and Scott took on the ambitious task of restoring Vito’s ten years ago, the vision was to resurrect what Vito and Jimmie Santoro started in 1953: a neighborhood lounge where people enjoyed Italian food, cocktails, and live entertainment. Lundgren remembers his father would stop at the lounge when he was working downtown. In the grunge years Scott would hang out with friends at Vito’s after shows, ordering their stiff drinks. Spurred by the success of The Hideout, a speakeasy-style bar a few blocks away they established five years prior, Lundgren and Scott felt inspired to tackle the project of restoring Vito’s in 2010. Continue reading

Building a better Seattle with more artists, First Hill’s Museum of Museums set to open in November

Lundgren at MoM

The Museum of Museums is like many spaces we’ve missed during the COVID-19 era — full of interesting things we can’t quite see just yet. But as venues open again across the city, this new First Hill space of art and creation is also ready for visitors as it prepares to officially open next month.

“Everything around here is like 96% done. There’s a lot of things that need to be kind of massaged into place, but we’re done with construction. Just a lot of little details,” Greg Lundgren says.

Museum founder Lundgren recently gave CHS a tour of MoM, as he simultaneously delegated tasks to volunteers and explained works in progress. Part of MoM’s mission, he says, is building a better Seattle by increasing the artist population and creating spaces for exhibition, fostering collectors and artists, and investing in youth programming. MoM’s non-profit partner is Coyote Central, the Central District’s youth arts organization.

Last June, the co-owner of The Hideout and Vito’s set his sights on repurposing another part of the First Hill neighborhood for something better, transforming a vacant medical building on Broadway and Marion and activating it as a contemporary art museum.

He originally hoped to open the space last August, coinciding with the Seattle Art Fair, but challenges and delays quickly piled up. A massive amount of clean up (the restoration team hauled out 120,000 pounds of construction debris), necessary seismic retrofitting, a frustrating back-and-forth with the city over zoning permissions, and of course a pandemic all contributed to the setback. Now, about a year and five months after Lundgren signed the lease, the Museum of Museums is real. Continue reading

Quarantine is a (virtual) drag: Seattle drag queens, kings, and nonbinary performers take to digital platforms

One Likethenumber

One Likethenumber

Since venues that host long-standing drag shows like R Place, Queer/Bar, and Kremwerk + Timbre Room Complex have temporarily shuttered their doors due to COVID-19, Seattle’s drag performers are quickly mastering a new tool of the trade: online performance.

Drag queen Betty Wetter hosts bingo via Zoom, for example, and Queer/Bar maintains its Sunday Drag Brunch at noon on Twitch. Drag Queens, Kings, and nonbinary peformers are now learning video editing, camera skills, or increased competence with platforms like Vimeo or Twitch.

“That’s the thing about all this, drag is great because it’s a consolidation of a bunch of mediums put together. You have to be good at a bunch of things, but none of those things [before] were video making. So all these queens are now having to learn a bunch of skills they didn’t have,” said One, a Colombian-born, Seattle-based drag performer.

With a background in fine art and performance, One is known for their artsy, conceptual drag looks: their avant-garde makeup and garments designed and constructed themselves. One is couture-inspired, but eschews the typical polish that comes with it for the freedom of clown and camp. Case in point, they are the current Miss Bacon Strip, a drag show known for “it’s mostly campy, gross, Divine-type drag.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill business owner providing some lockdown joy by picking up the tab for donuts, bubbly, and COVID-19 lockdown treats

Zapata and Footprint Wine owner Kenneth Dillon (Image: Christine Zapata)

Isolation and self-quarantine are wearing on everybody right now, but Dr. Christine Zapata wants to brighten your day with a treat from a Capitol Hill business. Some examples so far have been free coffee and donuts from General Porpoise, or a free bottle of champagne from Footprint Wine Tap.

Every Friday through the weeks of Seattle’s lockdown, Zapata has taken to social media and announced a prepaid tab at a local business. We first noticed her in the Capitol Hill Seattle Facebook Group. Just “Put it on Dr. Christine’s tab,” the posts say. The tabs are anywhere from $100 to $150, and they’ve been selling out faster and faster now that the word is out.

“I think because we put it on social media, and because we’ve done it the last few weeks, people are waiting to see when I post, tabs have gone a lot quicker,” Zapata said.

The General Porpoise tab was gone within a few hours, but the $150 prepaid bottles of Treveri Cellars Brut Blanc de Blancs from Footprint were sold within the first ten minutes of the store opening. Continue reading

Celebrate the neighborhood’s arts — and your seventh week of COVID-19 ‘stay home’ — with the Capitol Hill Arts District Streaming Film Festival

Photographic Center NW & CD Forum opens the festival Wednesday night

COVID-19 has taken its toll on Seattle artists and performers — Many rely on Capitol Hill’s thriving nightlife for gigs and income. With live performances and gatherings on hold, many creatives are suddenly out of work. A new streaming film festival is hoped to bring some of that work and energy into homes around Seattle and the world while raising money to help artists make ends meet.

The Capitol Hill Arts District Streaming Film Festival starts Wednesday and runs through May 3rd featuring a dozen Capitol Hill arts organizations. Facilitated by the Northwest Film Forum, the event is free to all, but purchasing sliding scale festival passes are encouraged. All proceeds will go to the COVID-19 Artists Trust Relief Fund.

Capitol Hill Arts District Streaming Festival 2020

“Given all of the circumstances around COVID-19, with artists really being displaced and out of work, and a lot of people having a difficult time with this, we thought this would be just an excellent opportunity to provide that platform for artists to showcase their work, to provide resources for them, and to connect them with engaging audiences,” said Terry Novak, chair of Capitol Hill Arts District and executive director of Photographic Center Northwest. “I’m very proud of the district and the work that we do, and we’re just happy that we have the resources and the talented team to be putting something together like this,” Continue reading

For Capitol Hill’s gyms, COVID-19 restrictions a heavy weight to bear as fitness moves online

Osiris, owner of Urban Fit Studios, has overcome the challenges of a rapidly-developing Capitol Hill, but COVID-19 lockdown might be a weight too heavy to lift. (Image: Courtesy Urban Fit Studios)

COVID-19 shutdowns have hit small businesses hard but many have quickly reinvented themselves. That kind of makeover might not be possible for all of us on “stay home” lockdown but thanks to Capitol Hill gyms finding new ways to connect while trying to stay afloat, you can still get a workout at home.

For Osiris, owner of the membership-based Urban Fit Studios at 1500 Summit, the forced closure is even more agonizing given his history of struggling to stay on the Hill. “The sad thing about this is, years ago I got bumped out of my space because of the development of Capitol Hill,” he said. “I was debt-free prior to that, and then I had to take out another loan to move it to another space. Five years later I’m almost debt-free, but now I’m faced with all these forgivable loans.”

Osiris echoes what most small, independent gym owners on the Hill are going through: It’s hard to navigate the landscape of promised aid. Continue reading