Three weeks before ballots drop, tensions rise as Sawant and Orion square off in Town Hall debate

“Please do not clap, do not cheer, and certainly do not boo.”

Such was the request from Seattle CityClub, the organizer of last night’s City Council candidate debate for District 3 at a packed Town Hall on First Hill.

It turned out an impossible ask, as supporters applauded and cheered when incumbent Kshama Sawant was welcomed to the stage, and fans of challenger Egan Orion seemingly tried to surpass the decibel levels just moments later.

Applause returned soon when Sawant hit the ground running when she called Orion a “poster child for big business” and took aim at the Amazon and Vulcan-backed Political Action Committees’ expenditures on Orion’s behalf, just moments after he made his first pitch.

Orion had said he would be equipped to serve in public office because he had served his “community” with his work at PrideFest and brought “a collaborative style of leadership” to the table.

“Unity and collaboration and coalitions with whom?” Sawant asked. “We know what corporations like Amazon and chamber of commerce are trying to do. They are trying to flip City Hall to the right.”

The comment set the tone for the rest of the debate — and potentially the rest of the campaign through November 5th — with jabs on both sides, either followed by applause or finger-snapping, one thing the organizers had not explicitly discouraged.  Continue reading

Town Hall reopens after $35 million overhaul of First Hill’s historic venue

When, almost precisely 13 years ago, the 22-year old cellist Joshua Roman stepped onto the stage of Town Hall, he made local music history. It was Roman’s first solo recital after leaving the Seattle Symphony where he’d been the youngest principal cellist ever.

Tuesday night, Roman will make history again. This time, he’s the first performer to fill Town Hall’s Great Hall with music after it has been closed for a 20-month renovation.

The First Hill cultural and civic venue, a Seattle landmark built as a Christian Science Church about a century ago, reopens Tuesday after an extensive renovation, which included a refresh of the glazed terra cotta exterior, a new roof, seismic retrofit, and much-needed accessibility upgrades.

The overhauled Town Hall was initially set to open in 2018 but complications pushed the opening date back to March and then May of this year. The venue’s certificate of occupancy was cleared just last week. When CHS visited, painters were putting finishing touches on the freshly white-painted window frames, and workers were still busy installing lights in the Great Hall.

Though Town Hall had been hosting some events in its downstairs space since April, the entire building opens tonight during what the nonprofit calls a “soft launch.” The official month-long opening festival Homecoming, originally scheduled for this spring, is now planned to run in September.

Roman’s cello concert wasn’t intended to be Town Hall 2.0’s first performance. Somehow, the stars aligned. Continue reading

City Hall vote clears way for large parking garage, new Town Hall plaza in First Hill twin towers development

The Seattle City Council’s transportation committee Tuesday approved making city right of way behind First Hill’s Town Hall available to the developer of twin 32-story apartment towers for construction of a large underground parking facility below the planned development.

In exchange, developer Lennar has proposed providing a public plaza surrounding Town Hall and the coming towers. The committee approved the vacation petition Tuesday, sending it on for a final vote by the full council. Continue reading

Seattle Poetry Slam GRAND SLAM

The power of language shines through in this yearly poetry showcase featuring some of the best slam poets around. Artists come together on a weekly basis for these judged poetry slams, and the top competitors from this year will come together for the Grand Slam at Town Hall. Poets must perform all-original work, stay within a time limit, and refrain from using props or costumes.

Highly entertaining, this diverse array of slammers and topics make this a can’t-miss competition. The winner of this all-ages show will travel with the 2015 Seattle National Poetry Slam Team for a five-day competition in Oakland, California.

This year’s featured poets are Roberto Ascalon and Imani Sims. The Grand Slam will be hosted by Rose McAleese, with music by DJ Whatever.

Tickets are available online: $8 for students, $10 for general admission. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the door: $10 with valid student ID, $15 general admission. Doors at 6:30 pm, show at 8:00 pm. If you are a student and would like to purchase tickets, email seattlepoetryslam@gmail.com for the discount code. Got questions? They can go to seattlepoetryslam@gmail.com as well.