On a Capitol Hill campus, a training ground for social justice

Vero Berrera-Kolb at work

Students at Seattle Central College got what they’ve been asking for this school year when the campus inaugurated a degree emphasis in Equity and Social Justice (ESJ).

“Students wanted to get credit for emphasizing on these issues,” said faculty member Vero Barrera-Kolb, who helped create the program. According to the SCC, achieving the emphasis will give students a demonstrated interest in subjects surrounding “human diversity, including race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, religion, and more – with a focus on social justice and change.”

Clarissa Lunday, who was enrolled in LGBTQ studies class taught by Barrera-Kolb, was eager to be part of the new program. “One of my biggest goals is to become a lobbyist for women’s and sexual orientation rights and this emphasis will help with that,” she said. Continue reading

Developer ready to build higher if fight over Madison Valley PCC project drags on

Wednesday, activists are planning to protest outside the opening of New Seasons in Ballard to bring attention, they say, to the private equity investment firm-owned grocery chain’s anti-labor, anti-union activities. In Madison Valley, another grocery chain is facing pushback but the circumstances are much different. A land development deal to build a six-story, mixed-use apartment building, anchored by a new PCC grocery store in the heart of Madison Valley is about to close but opposition from a neighborhood group, if successful, could stop construction from breaking ground any time soon.

Community group Save Madison Valley has opposed the scale of the project since Velmeir Companies agreed to purchased the property currently home to City People’s in 2016. Velmeir expects to receive final approval from the city in the next few weeks to begin work where the garden store currently resides. But a Save Madison Valley appeal could gum up the “master use permit” process.

“The area is ripe for development, but it’s been a development on steroids,” said Melissa Stoker, SMV spokesperson. Continue reading

Charming, safe, green, and clean — What CHS heard at the 15th Ave E design workshop

Ross Kling owner of Rainbow Remedies considers issues of bulk and scale on 15th Ave (Images: CHS)

If 15th Ave E business owners and neighbors really can get their community priorities out in front a coming wave of redevelopment, these are the people who will help get it done.

The scene at Saturday’s design workshop and community input session for 15th Ave E was a veritable cast party of the neighborhood’s major players. Organized by the street’s resident designers at Board and Vellum and Environmental Works, neighbors, business owners, and quite a few architects assembled at the Summit on E Pike — maybe another community priority for 15th Ave E should be a large community meeting space — over the weekend to start the process of making their preferences known and documenting the design priorities ahead of planned development on 15th Ave E.

Board and Vellum’s Brian Baker said a vibrant and active streetscape will help keep the neighborhood safe, but measures should be taken to ensure small businesses won’t be left in the dust of large commercial development.

“I’m working on the Capitol Hill design guidelines and one of the things we are writing is to encourage flexible floorplans at ground level that can be reused, that can be adaptable and allow for smaller spaces for unique businesses to exist,” he said. Baker is also part of the design review guideline program for Capitol Hill. Continue reading

‘Inhumane’ encampments, development as greenhouse polluter, reset on transit: Here’s what Mayor Durkan talked about during weekend Capitol Hill business tour and town hall

Durkan on 15th Ave E doing a little Saturday afternoon shopping (Images: CHS)

Following a low-profile tour of are businesses along the quieter side of Capitol Hill, Mayor Jenny Durkan met a small gathering of the public at the Miller Community Center on Saturday for a community conversation. Introduced as the city’s first female mayor in nearly 100 years, Seattle native Durkan gave a short address and fielded questions from the audience around homelessness, mental health, zoning laws, and the future of public transportation during the hour long event.

Though the Mayor announced millions in investments to reduce homelessness this year with affordable housing and addiction mitigation and City Hall under her watch is pursuing a $75 million-plus plan to create a new employee tax for big businesses, she said Saturday the city is only a cog in a wheel when it comes to its ability to fortify behavioral health services and facilities in within city limits.

“We are trying to get to a point where we can offer services on demand because we have had defunding of mental health services,” she said. “Right now most of the mental health and treatment dollars go from the state to the county, so if we don’t have a regional solution including both, we’ll never get to the point where we’ll have more mental health facilities, short term and long term in the community or state wide. “

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‘Histories of Capitol Hill’ event reveals divides even as community comes together

Sara Galvin (Images: CHS)

Community thought leaders, activists and performers are organizing events around the city as part of Town Hall’s a year-long artists in residence event series. Designer Erik Molano brought together passionate activists for an ambitious undertaking with his first event, Histories of Capitol Hill and What We’ll Build Next. Before an audience at the Summit on E Pike last week they explored the challenge of maintaining the heritage of a community through growth and development.

“A lot of these buildings are being erased and with them the memories and people who inhabited them or gathered in and expressed themselves in those buildings,” said Molano, co-founder of brand agency Photon Factory. For Molano, who moved to Seattle five years ago to work at Microsoft, the demolition of old buildings “is a loss of history.

Following individual poetry readings and a presentation from Capitol Hill Housing at the Summit on Pike, a group of community advocates responded to prompts from Molano in an effort to determine what preserving heritage in a developing city means. The group spoke on a wide range of intersectional issues related to the affordable housing crisis. Continue reading

Your ‘aspirational recycling’ is only part of Seattle’s trash problem — Happy Earth Day, Capitol Hill!

It should come as no surprise that Seattle’s recycling game is among the top 10 of major United States cities but it might be a good time for a refresher considering 15 tons of material put in the recycling bin is rejected each day from the sorting plant.

“The Pacific Northwest is pretty good at recycling overall but it’s important to note, just because you recycle something, doesn’t mean it will be recycled,” said general manager of the local Recology/CleanScapes sorting facility Kevin Kelly. Taking the time to learn and properly stow materials will decrease the risk of those carefully sorted items ending up in the trash.

The stakes for getting the sorting done in your home have risen. The demand for Seattle materials has dropped hugely since 2017, Kelly said, due to losing China’s business which accounted for 50% of sales. China withdrew from international mixed-paper and glass markets with no sign of return after deeming the level of contaminants in recycling exports too high. The ban went into effect January 2018 and has impacted markets all over the world. In a few cases, without a buyer, tons of ready to be recycled goods around King County are being sent to the landfill. Continue reading

‘Community Package’ including affordable housing, park cash gets support in Convention Center expansion hearing

Council member Mike O’Brien (right) views a model of the planned convention center expansion (Image: CHS)

Fine tuning some $83 million in public benefits — and how quickly the cash to pay for them will be delivered — was the theme of the night as neighborhood, transit, and public space advocates came to City Hall Wednesday.

“The sooner we can get more money for affordable housing the better,” said Seattle City Council sustainability and transportation committee chair Mike O’Brien.

Wednesday’s hearing featured mostly speakers in support of the Community Package Coalition formed to create a shared platform of community priorities for a roster of public benefits to be exchanged for the vacation of “Block 33, Block 43, Block 44, Olive Way & Terry Avenue.” The city land is planned to be part of the construction of the estimated $1.6 billion Washington State Convention Center addition and development that will create a massive new exhibition facility across I-5 between Pike and Olive Way.

“Equity and equitable outcomes should be at the forefront of discussions around large real estate projects such as this one,” said McCaela Daffern from Capitol Hill Housing. “I ask that you make note of the significant contributions toward affordable housing secured thanks to advocacy of Capitol Hill housing and the rest of the coalition.” Continue reading

Rising anxiety has made mental health a Capitol Hill area growth industry

Newly opened businesses in the area around Capitol Hill and the Central District might give an indication of one of the growing needs of a booming population.

Mental health care providers have brought their practices to the area to meet the exceeding demand for centrally located counseling services. In 2017, CHS noticed that the City of Seattle recorded counseling offices to be the second highest number of new businesses in District 3.

“I was busy immediately and had as many referrals I could take from the get go,” said psychotherapist Lisa Hake, LMHC GMHS, who moved her practice from Bellevue to Madrona last year.

To be a licensed mental health care practitioner, providers must have a minimum education of masters degree and meet Washington’s licensing requirements. Reported lowered barriers to access and decreased stigmatization has led to overall industry growth, while the rise in business locally is attributed by many we spoke with to a widespread increase of anxiety, spurred by our current socioeconomic and political landscape. “You can’t say to people that this is a safe place anymore, the world. It really wasn’t before, but it’s obvious now that it’s no longer true,” said Jason Franklin, LMHC in Madison Valley. Franklin primarily works with intersectionality. Continue reading

Save the Royvue! Residents rally to thwart sale of Capitol Hill building

A view worth the fight? A look across the Royvue courtyard (Image: Haley Blavka Photograph/Save the Royvue)

Seattle’s endorsement of rapidly adding thousands of efficiency sized housing units to the cityscape has some residents in Capitol Hill unconvinced that one size fits all. Tenant-led group Save the Royvue has escalated its effort to keep the 94-year-old building from succumbing to development plans that would significantly reduce apartment size. The growing assembly of advocates says the Royvue Apartments is fine the way it is and now seeks landmark protections to keep it that way.

Eugenia Woo with Historic Seattle is consulting with the group and shares their worry that “the city is losing its identity.”

“This city has always been known for its character and that distinguishes us. It’s ok to have good new designs but unfortunately most of what’s being built is not so great,” she said. Continue reading

Capitol Hill beer maker Elysian’s summer plans include new Pride party, overhauled brewery

Elysian Brewing Company

(Image: Elysian Brewery)

Capitol Hill’s Elysian Brewery is stepping up with a bigger party during the neighborhood’s annual Pride festivities this summer before taking a brewing break for a major overhaul of its E Pike beer making facility.

A June 23rd Pride Saturday beer garden will join the gardens around Pike/Pine include outside the Wildrose and The Cuff with a portion of proceeds benefitting Seattle Pride.

“We were so excited, we hugged and there were tears,” Elysian’s Beth Goldfinger said about the moment the sponsorship opportunity came together.

June will be a big month for the pub and brewery. On June 1st, Elysian will host a party celebrating its annual “Glitter is Pride Ale” release. Following the June events, Elysian’s E Pike brewery is getting a complete overhaul so the company can level-up production.

Elysian joined what is called the “craft” wing of Anheuser-Busch InBev when they were purchased by the beer giant in 2015. The move that galvanized their share of market in 13 national markets and expanded it to almost all 50 states but according to Elysian co-founder Joe Bisacca, the new ownership moved forward with select companies it could rely on for their expertise and to be autonomous. Last year saw an investment in upgrading the pub and restaurant experience at Elysian. In the meantime, Redhook, another AB InBev acquisition, has focused its production fully on its Capitol Hill home a few blocks away from the Elysian.

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