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.

No schools, no playgrounds — How Seattle single parents are coping with COVID-19

Holly Reichmann Young’s children: Joelle, Jaima, Rhorey, and Jessamyn (Image: Mark Van Streefkerk for CHS)

With schools closed and slowly transitioning to online instruction, Seattle parents, many of whom found themselves suddenly underemployed, also have the added role of educator, among a ton of other things. The strain is all the more taxing on single parents, especially the disproportionately higher number of single mothers.

Holly Reichmann Young, single mother of four, said her life has suddenly shifted into sharper focus. “I don’t give a flying shit if my eyelashes don’t grow,” she admitted. “The silver lining is that it’s really causing me to get my life together. I just can’t come home and assume all these things have been taken care of at school. I now need to know that you’ve exercised, that you’ve had your water, that you’ve read for a half an hour. So we’re setting up schedules. I have a hand in what they’re learning. I’m able to give them tasks that allow them to do things on their own and not be so dependent on me.”

Young lives in Maple Leaf, and is one of many single mothers whose routines have been upended due to school closures.

A former long-time Georgetown resident, Sarah Palmer, director of sales and marketing at Synesso, telecommutes part time, and when she has to go to the office, she takes her seven-year-old Bella with her. “Thankfully there’s a lot of staff who have gone home, so I let her in the office, and that’s her work station while I’m there,” she said. Continue reading

Mixing meals and community, Feed The People grows in the Central District

(Image: Feed the People)

(Image: @arik.abdullah via Instagram)

Amid COVID-19 restaurant restrictions and with people mostly stuck in their homes, Feed The People has emerged in the Central District, combining food and community. The community kitchen now operates within Soulful Dishes at 18th and Yesler, owned by Jimaine Miller, “The Def Chef.” As Feed The People, Miller and a handful of local chefs are offering free meals to anyone in need.

“We just tell people to come knock on the door, and we ask them ‘How many?’ And I just make a box for them and off they go,” said chef Tarik Abdullah.

“All the food we’ve been getting has been donated from various restaurants, and people’s houses. We’ve been getting random stuff like a brisket from Woodshop BBQ. I made my own take on a pretty good sauce. I did a pulled brisket sandwich. I had a whole bunch of greens from Nurturing Roots Farms, and I made Cape Town Malala Sauce. I did stewed greens with that . . . Tomorrow I’m doing watermelon lemonade with a little bit of rosewater in it, and doing something with the beef, and then a chicken dish, and a couple veggie dishes. I’m doing parsnip soup. It’s kind of like Iron Chef, Chopped, for fun, just sitting around making dishes. We offer four dishes a day,” Abdullah said. Continue reading

Hand sanitizer, money, and hope — How to help homeless neighbors and Capitol Hill nonprofits through COVID-19

(Image: Be:Seattle)

If employed and housed people think it’s bad when they can’t buy hand sanitizer in the epicenter of COVID-19, the situation is far worse for unhoused and low-income communities.

“Certainly [houseless people are] at a higher risk because they don’t have access to clean themselves as easily. We’re not getting donations of hand sanitizer . . . but they’re definitely at a higher risk,” Kate Rubin, the new executive director for Be:Seattle, tells CHS.

Be:Seattle is a nonprofit dedicated to empowering renters and people experiencing homelessness. One of the ways they do that is through their Sidewalk Pantry, a program where volunteers hand out essential need items directly to people living outside. Donated items include deodorant, soap, menstrual products, socks, and — usually any time except now — hand sanitizer, arguably more important to people who don’t have access to water for hand washing. While Rubin said Be:Seattle is completely out of hand sanitizer, they still have some hand soap to give out. Continue reading

Celebrating 10 years in the Capitol Hill circus, The Unicorn readies its big top-sized second location

Kaileigh Wilson and Adam Heimstadt

Capitol Hill’s The Unicorn bar celebrated its 10th anniversary in January by signing another 10-year lease at its E Pike location. With a much-anticipated Unicorn White Center slated to open this December, its trademark whimsical gag is only expanding.

“I feel like bars and restaurants these days, to really be successful, you need to do something different and go against the grain a little bit, and really take chances,” founder Adam Heimstadt said. “You need to be a bit of a gambler, so to speak. I put 110% into everything we do. All the stupid details matter, all the small fine details.”

The carnival-themed Unicorn and downstairs brother bar Narwhal are known for decor as sugary sweet as the signature drink Unicorn Jizz, a mango vodka, triple sec, orange juice and sprite creation. The striped walls, salvaged and repainted antique paneling, bedazzled atm, taxidermied wildlife, and video arcade have established the bar as an Anything Goes spectacle for a younger crowd, a concept that Heimstadt and his wife Kaileigh Wilson want to turn into a destination bar in White Center. Continue reading

‘Last vestiges’ — Fred Capitol Hill art space to close

Citing raised rent, and an uncertain future with new property owners, Fred will close its doors March 8. (Image: Bruce Dugdale)

The Capitol Hill venue born as Fred Wildlife Refuge has announced it will be closing in March

“We’re basically priced out. We had no way of making it make financial sense,” said owner Chris Pink in the announcement made Friday.

The two-story event space is a center for art, performance, and LGBTQ+ happenings and has held a unique space among the bars and clubs on the Hill, mainly because it was neither of those.

Kaleb Dameron, Fred’s event coordinator and the founder and creative director of Beauty Boiz said it was that power as an other space that mattered most. Continue reading

Capitol Hill gay bars and performance venues raising funds to help Down Under

Capitol Hill’s gay bars and performance venues are raising funds in celebration of Australia Day to help recovery from the country’s bushfire crisis.

Bush Bash is a fundraiser happening this Saturday, January 25, at four Seattle gay bars. The funds raised that evening go to The Australian Community’s Disaster Relief Fund. R Place, Diesel, Queer/Bar, and White Center’s Lumber Yard are all having special fundraising performances or events to raise money to help people and wildlife affected by the Australian bushfire crisis.

Meanwhile, a 12-hour drag fundraising event will do its part to Save the Koalas Sunday at Capitol Hill’s Fred Wildlife Refuge. Continue reading

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