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No “Hungry” or “Homeless” – Just Us
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I recently had a wonderful conversation with one of our guests waiting in line at the Rainier Valley Food Bank on a Saturday morning. The one thing this ebullient senior (“I’m sixteen,” she said, smiling. “We just won’t talk about the other 60 years!”) was really hoping to find that day was cat food, and we just happened to have plenty on hand thanks to our partnership with the Seattle Humane Society. Having established that we both loved animals, we exchanged cat and dog stories for a half hour as she waited to hear her number being called. I even showed her some pictures of my enormous, goofy tuxedo cats on my phone. She regaled me with several tales of times when friends and family had visited her home and inadvertently said something negative about her animal companions. Suffice it to say, those hapless folks never made the same mistake again!

Fall frequently causes me to reflect on the stories we tell ourselves and each other about ourselves and the world around us. Maybe it’s the shorter days, the morning fog, and the cooler breezes. We are immersed in stories both good and bad, joyful and terrible, scary and uplifting....

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Big Chickie Brings Peruvian Chicken to Hillman City
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By Zack Semke

The last few years have brought exciting new development to Hillman City, which has struggled to attract investment in the shadow of its well-known neighbor Columbia City.

The tastiest new development is located at the corner of Rainier Avenue and Findlay Street: quick-service eatery Big Chickie. The new restaurant specializes in pollo a la brasa, Peruvian-style charcoal rotisserie chicken. Owners Matt and Sara Stubbs named the restaurant in honor of Matt’s busy mom and the pollo a la brasa takeout his family loved growing up.

The new restaurant is in the former home of Rudy Hansen’s service station, which served the Hillman City community for over 40 years. To honor their dad’s work, Rudy’s kids decided to continue his legacy of service by revitalizing the parcel. They invested over the past decade in environmental clean up of the land, with City guidance, and then offered the site for lease – with the stipulation that their father’s original building be retained.

The effort to transform the vacant service station into a neighborhood restaurant was a collective one. Restaurateur, property owner, development...

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South Breaks Fundraising Record for Outstanding Programs
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Amid a still struggling economy, the recent Gifts from the Earth event, benefitting the South Seattle Community College Foundation raised over $210,000 for programs to support students, scholarships, internships, emergency funding, tutoring and equipment.

Fifteen celebrity chefs, including six graduates of South’s program, donated time, food, and staff for the event. Along with current students, alumni, and interns, the chefs executed 4-5 course menus serving a sold-out room of over 300 guests. Additionally, throughout the evening nineteen alumni winemakers participated from as near as Cloudlift Cellars in Georgetown, to Bougetz Cellars in Napa, California.Or, perhaps it is exactly due to the struggling economy that the event did so well.

This event highlights two of the school’s most outstanding, and effective, educational programs: the highly ranked Culinary...

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Bike Works Competes in Fast Pitch Social Enterprise Quarterfinal Today
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By: Bryce Merrill

Bike Works, a Rainier Valley non-profit, will compete in the Social Venture Partners (SVP) Fast Pitch quarterfinals today at Seattle University. It is one of 40 organizations and companies which have progressed to this stage of the competition, out of nearly 100. After today’s quarterfinals, there will be 24 semifinalists. Eventually 14 finalists will compete for a share of over $250,000 during the main Fast Pitch event on November 13 at McCaw Hall.

Bike Works is an innovative Southend organization centered around bicycles that combines youth development, community engagement, bicycle recycling and a social enterprise bike shop to help build a sustainable and healthy community. Each year they refurbish over 4000 donated bikes and get each into the hands someone who can use it to commute to school or work, run errands or improve their fitness.

Under the leadership of Executive Director Deb Salls over the past three years, Bike Works has completed a strategic plan, doubled its budget and doubled the number of youth that its works with in the community to over 600. They are now seeking funding...

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Thinking of the Northwest in Times of Disaster
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I recently returned to Rainier Beach after attending an intensive emergency training given by FEMA at their training center in Emmitsburg MD. Seventy Seattleites attended “Community Partners in Disaster Response”, a simulated training exercise designed to test emergency management policies, plans, procedures and resources. All major players from SDOT/METRO/Police and Fire Depts./SPU/CL/SCHOOLS/PARKS/AMTRAK, etc. from our city were represented. I was invited by The City of Seattle’s OEM (Office of Emergency Management) to represent all 40 neighborhood HUBS during our exercise. I was proud to be selected and very excited to learn next to the emergency management experts of our city.

Our exercise situation was a snow storm that would not stop…not unlike the major winter storms that plagued the east coast in 2010. We actually heard about “SNOWMAGEDON” from various emergency managers and survivors from New York, DC, Providence RI, as well as Baltimore MD. Hearing how these diverse cities and municipalities dealt with snow (79″) deep in a 2 week period was very valuable. Many policy decisions have to be made at the executive level, for example should businesses and schools be closed before...

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Women Farmworkers Speak Out Against Violence on 8/24 at New Freeway
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An event to celebrate Women’s Rights Day will be held on Saturday, Aug. 24, featuring female immigrant farmworkers, speaking out against abuse in the fields. The event is being put on by the Seattle branch of Radical Women, a socialist-feminist organization, and will be held at the New Freeway Hall on Rainier Avenue South.

The event, called “Farmworker Women Battle for Workers’ Rights and Dignity,” is being held to celebrate the day in history that women were allowed the right to vote in the U.S. It’s also meant to educate the public about the problems immigrant women face while working in the fields.

“Though there’s been some information about the strikes and also the fight of farmworker women, particularly against sexual assault, this is certainly a topic that can use more discussion,” said Margaret Viggiani, the outreach coordinator for the Women’s Rights Day event.

PBS’s documentary series “Frontline” recently aired a segment titled “Rape...

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Bank of America Awards $200,000 to Rainier Scholars
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Submitted by Christi Gordon, SVP and Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility, Bank of America

Rainier Scholars recently hosted its Senior Class Celebration event at the Space Needle to honor the outstanding achievements of its Cohort V high school seniors who will begin college this fall, and to recognize the tremendous impact of Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders unrestricted, $200,000 grant to help Rainier Scholars continue promoting leadership and academic excellence among low-income students of color. Bank of America is a long-time supporter of Rainier Scholars, and awarded them the grant based on their proven track record of shaping students into tomorrow’s leaders. This year’s graduates are no exception, as they exemplify the potential that can be reached through the Rainier Scholars program. They will be attending prestigious colleges across the country, including Yale, Harvard and University of Washington. This milestone year also celebrates Rainier Scholars first college graduates.

According to the Road...

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Southend 2x Safer than North – But Officers Say to Remain Vigilant
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It may not seem like it, but crime is down in the Southend. In fact, not only are major crimes for each beat trending in a positive direction, the Seattle South Precinct is leading the city in a trend of lower crime. According to the Seattle Police Department, “Through May 2013, three precincts are showing decreases in Major Crimes when compared with the same time period in 2012. They are led by South and West Precincts at -15% each, and followed by East Precincts at -6%. North Precinct is nearly even compared with the same time period in 2012, at +1%. Only Southwest Precinct is posting an increase in Major Crimes so far in 2013, up 8% compared with the first five months of 2012.” Seems unbelievable, right? You can check the stats for yourself, right here:

Now I’m going to really blow your mind. In May (which is the most recent data available), the South precinct reported LESS THAN HALF the number of major crimes than the North Precinct which includes Ballard, Fremont, and the U-district; and almost half the major crimes as the West Precinct which includes downtown, Queen Anne, Capitol Hill and South Lake...

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Video Postcard Exchange in Southeast Seattle
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Community elders at the Southeast Seattle Senior Center got a nice surprise the other day. Students at Aki Kurose Middle School decided to reach out to their neighbors at the senior center. Since they were hard at work on their studies and unable to leave the school, they sent a video postcard!

They asked the seniors at SESSC about themselves, and shared something important with each of the students, such as a favorite food. Volunteer Yvette Avila brought paper cards with greetings from the kids and shared the video with those at the center. The video had the kids doing the “Electric Slide” dance, and showing the seniors how to do it as well. Well, the SESSC seniors have been doing the dance for a while so they sent a return video postcard back to the students demonstrating some pretty smooth moves themselves!

Summer is coming, so there may be a whole new bunch of kids next time, but SESSC is looking forward to the next communication from Aki Kurose, and is so pleased they can participate! Talk about lively intergenerational fun!

SESSC likes to keep it lively and invite you too – check out our next Rainbow Bingo – Western Style! Happening on June 14, from 6-9pm. Prizes, delicious beverages...

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Common Ground Through Gardening
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A few years ago I sat with a couple of neighbors discussing our shared interest in gardening. We talked about how our gardens were evolving and the number of lovely and evolving gardens in our neighborhood. This led to discussing what gardens we would like to peek into. From there we wondered how many other neighbors shared our interest in gardening and peeking into some of the beautiful gardens we passed on our walks. We “organized” and named ourselves the Upper Rainier Beach (URB) Gardeners.

What do we do? We organize two events for our neighborhood, a garden tour and a plant swap.

We are now planning our 4th URB Garden Tour and Neighbor Meet and Greet. Our group of three planners has grown to 7. Our friends and neighbors anticipate the tour. The number of neighbors who agree to share their gardens and help with the tour is amazing. We have a Facebook Page and a Gmail account, Our tour includes six to seven gardens and ends with a reception, food and music from our neighborhood band, The Pilgrim Street Swing. The band includes members who met from the tour. Sometimes the band is a trio and sometimes a quartet. The organizers...

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Bringing Coffee Klatch Back to Community
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The other day as I walked by the Rainier Beach Presbyterian Church, I remembered their once a month, Saturday coffee house. I did not go often, but I did go a couple of times a year. And I know that there were regulars, as the times I did go I saw many of the same faces. It was their coffee klatch. I am probably dating myself, using the term “coffee klatch”, but it is gathering with friends, socializing and drinking coffee. During my college days, coffee houses were for taking a break from college homework. Many had someone sitting in a corner playing a guitar and singing. And tea was as popular as coffee. In my post college days, we had coffee klatches at one another’s homes at least once a month. Those were the days when homemade coffee cake was big and we alternated baking. We spend a morning together, coffee, tea, coffee cake and fruit and maybe a Tupperware or Princess House party. These parties are how we got our “good stuff” and a fun way to stay connected.

A few Sundays ago, I read “Views by Ann Hood, Remember: The Girls”, in Parade Magazine. This is the magazine that comes with the Sunday Seattle Time’s. The author shares the story of her month’s weekly card games with women in the neighborhood....

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Art of Walking Kubota Garden with Mary Magenta
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I just returned from Kubota Garden where I led an Art Walk. I get so happy while being a tour guide at Kubota Garden. I love being with people, and being a Feet First Neighborhood Walking Ambassador in my favorite park allows me to meet and interact with fabulous folks from all over. Really any time I get to spend at the garden thrills me.

I give two art walks or tours a month, and I never know who or if anyone will show up. Sometimes no one comes, sometimes only two folks and other times 20+ show up! I try to tailor the speed and route of the walks based on who is there. For all groups, I particularly love to share my gratitude for the park while telling the stories I’ve heard of the history.

History is really the remembered and the retelling of stories. To briefly relate what I understand of the Fujitaro Kubota family story is a great inspiring treat for me. The six folks who joined me today came to the park for healthy walking; to exercise outside but also they came to exercise a part...

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Walking Taylor Creek Canyon
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Submitted by Kathie Weibel, Rainier Beach Community Club

Deadhorse Canyon, a relatively unknown park in southeast Seattle, was one of the
”stairways” chosen for Seattle’s first stairway walk. The first stairway walk of many, we hope. On February 9th, walkers from all over the area explored Deadhorse Canyon guided by Mary Magenta, the walking ambassador for “Feet First” the group that sponsored the walk and Darrell Dobson from Friends of Deadhorse Canyon. The Deadhorse Canyon trail is a beautiful half mile loop following Taylor Creek through a wooded ravine. It is the home of many species of native plants including Douglas fir, western red cedar and other trees as well as salmon berry, snow berry, Oregon grape and red elderberry just to mention a few.

Taylor Creek is named after the original owners of the property who logged the lumber at least twice since the turn of the century. The lumber mill was at the foot of the hill where Taylor Creek meets Lake Washington. Legend has it that the name “Deadhorse Canyon” is a lumbering term. In the old days horses were used to drag the fallen trees from where they were downed to the...

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Community Input Needed for Orca Playground
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Submitted special to by Melissa Purcell

Southenders, Orca K-8 needs YOUR opinion! We are a group of neighborhood parents with students at Orca K-8, a local alternative public school located on 46th Ave. S. in the old Whitworth Building. We are working to renovate the existing playground and field on the west side of the school. This is an effort to cultivate a community gathering space that nourishes and supports the Orca K-8 School and the surrounding neighborhood. We would like input from the community, as many that do not have students at the school, still use the area as a local park.

Designed originally for an elementary school population, grades K-5, the current outdoor areas do not meet the needs of the present community which now include preschool, middle school, and special needs students.

Please take 5 minutes and complete this online survey to help us with initial input for ideas and design. Kids can take it, so can multiple adults from one household. We need your input now, as we have a grant deadline looming! Survey cut-off is February 24th, so please share with your neighbors.

As you complete this survey, think about the dreams and...

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Green for Green?
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No doubt, Seattle Parks and Recreation has taken care of Rainier Beach lately. As we watch the walls and roof of our new Community Center go up and look forward to getting back our invaluable facility, possibly by the end of the year, new projects keep on coming our way.

Right next door, you may already know about the Learning Garden that has been opening South Shore students’ tastebuds for a couple of years. But that’s not all. The playfields are now being looked at between Dunlap and South Shore, and not only the Tennis courts are getting completely resurfaced, with options for multiple sports on the courts, but a new playground will also be erected to cater to the not so little ones with a zip line and more challenging structures, as well as improved access for all and new picnic areas. Patrick Donohue, Project Manager for Parks, even seemed to be confident that the works could be complete by the time school starts next fall. Just imagine the combination...

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Rethinking Our Values for Happier Holidays
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The holidays are upon us and I just read a recent survey by “Think Finance”, a provider of payday loans and other financial services. It stated that 45% of 1000 people surveyed said they would prefer to skip the upcoming yuletide season. Why, because of pressure on their finances. Is this the Christmas spirit we anticipate? If you agree with that 45%, totally or almost, it is time to rethink your values and how you approach the holidays. Avoid the hype and commercialization and put heart and thought into what you do and give. It becomes easy when you reflect back on what was meaningful to you and what you remember. Many years ago I purchased a stamp that says “The best gifts are tied with heartstrings”. I use this stamp to make tags for my holiday gifts. I am sure it makes folks think about the gift.

Last year, I shared the Christmas memories of my now adult children: Their first bicycle, although over the years they received many, sleepovers with visiting relatives, and the movies, popcorn and board games, opening the gifts in their Christmas stockings-not the big boxes under the tree, walking or driving to see holiday lights or a tree lighting, watching the Christmas...

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Art Walk Rainier Beach II Round-up
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Unlike last year’s cloudy and rainy weather, the 2nd Annual Art Walk Rainier Beach, held on September 15th along Rainier Ave between 51st and 56th Avenues South and at the intersection of South Rose Street, was one of the many unexpected sunny autumn days we’ve been enjoying recently.

Produced by the Rainier Beach Merchant’s Association and SEEDArts, approximately 300 people came out to see art of all sorts, including performances, large scale art projects, exhibits in businesses and arts & craft booths. Folks got to interact with various projects: they painted mural panels; doodled on the world’s largest doodle pad, and made various crafts.

Walking tours of the neighborhood were presented by Touchstones: A Walking Tour of Rainier Beach, using QR technology to highlight various points of interest from one end of the district to the other. Performances by Northwest Tap Connection, Show Brazil quartet and Zambuko Marimba entertained the art-walkers throughout the day, as well as a special appearance...

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Scuola Italiana
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They came down from Beacon Hill, from the Central District, and from the valley floor. Most came by foot with a friend or two. The children came to learn the language of their parents in a small building on Valentine Street behind the New Italian Café in the heart of Garlic Gulch.

The Scuola Italiana Dante Alighieri, its official name, was set up by the Italian community in the 1930s to provide the formal training in Italian that was difficult to provide at home. Many immigrant families continued to speak their regional dialect, if they spoke Italian at all at home. According to Italian-American businessman John Croce:

Mussolini sent a teacher over and this teacher was paid by the Italian government. We kids all spoke dialect Italian at home; at the school we learned how to speak correctly, read and write, pronounce, and all that. We learned how to sing Mussolini songs. We didn’t care. We didn’t care about Mussolini. We learned about the good Italian language, the verbs and all that stuff.

Lucy Colarossi Salle walked the few blocks from her home near Judkins Park with a girlfriend twice a week for the after school sessions. She remembers performing in a Christmas skit for parents:

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Remember Garlic Gulch?
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This summer the Rainier Valley Historical Society is exploring Garlic Gulch, the Italian community that shaped the north end of the valley in the first half of the 20th century and beyond. This collection building project, Remembering Garlic Gulch, aims to fill in gaps in our archive and our understanding of this vibrant ever-changing community. While much of the focus may be on Italian families and businesses, we are interested in the stories of all groups.

In the coming months we will bring you some of the stories, pictures, and treasures we uncover along the way. Watch this space for articles on Garlic Gulch Weddings, Greeks in Garlic Gulch, an Italian-American home, the Garlic Gulch Barber, Father Caramello: God in America, and more!

In the meantime, here’s how you can help!
• Share your memories with us by writing or emailing us at the addresses below.
• Share your family photos. We’d love to see them! We are able to scan and return original photos, so no one loses out.
• Nominate someone for an oral history interview.
• Join our Oral History Task Force and help us conduct taped interviews. Some experience with oral history interviewing preferred.
• Make...

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Moving Forward with Rainier Beach: From Plate of Nation to Food Nation
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A couple of months ago, I experienced my first Plate of Nations. If you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s the second year local restaurants along MLK get together to offer a sample of the Valley’s vast food diversity. Beside a good excuse to eat out it’s also a great opportunity to find out about the delicacies they concoct.

I’m sure you’ve heard from a lot of people, that this is what they like about this neighborhood and why they chose to live here. But how many of us have actually gone out of our ways to venture in these foreign looking stores and taken the time to unveil some of these treasures so well known to others?

If Plate of Nations is one of those times when it’s easy and fun to walk into any restaurant to ask about specialties or try new dishes, it’s not the only opportunity to discover local businesses and services. The MLK Business Association, in partnership with Homesight has been running a number of walks through the neighborhood to give merchants a chance to introduce what they have to offer.

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If not a Community Center, maybe finally a center for our community.
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If not a Community Center, maybe finally a center for our community.

So it’s finally happening. The old Community Center is being torn down. What a relief to rid our neighborhood of this eyesore. The down side to that, as we all know, is that we no longer have the great facility that served us so well for so long. So it’s goodbye to old center and hello to new one! Well, not quite. It’s still a ways away before being built. It’s about time already because the works have been delayed for over a year, and our center has been closed all this time, pretty much for nothing. But now we’re going to have to remain patient until the end of … 2013.

Yet, as the saga goes on, Parks is now looking for partners to operate the new facility!!? I apologize for the excessive punctuation, but there’s just no other way to put it. After having lost the use of our center to support budget cuts, we’re now told there’s simply no money to run it. It sounds like a bad joke, doesn’t it? One could read it as terrible planning or total loss of common sense. This amazing resource is being built in our neighborhood,...

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Learn to Row with Renton Rowing!
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I’ve been interested in getting back into rowing for a while now. It’s a great workout, a beautiful sport and with all of the lakes and rivers around Seattle, it’s a perfect environment to row. I used to row competitively in highschool and college, but that was quite a few years ago! At the end of 2011, I discovered Renton Rowing Club that launches from the Cedar River Trail Park in Renton. Even with the chilly weather, it’s been really fun to be back in a shell again and I look forward to getting stronger, faster and a more proficient rower.

If you’ve ever wanted to try it out, I encourage you to check out the club and take a lesson.

Our experienced, certified coaches teach you the art of sculling, including proper rowing technique and how to handle a boat safely. The initial, six-session lesson set gives you skills to row independently or with teammates. Experienced rowers can brush up sculling technique and perfect sculling skills.

You need no special athletic skills to enjoy rowing. The sport is easy to learn and offers complete, full-body exercise, camaraderie and access to the beauty of Lake Washington. Regular rowing develops strength, flexibility and a high level of physical...

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If Fish could fly… a tale of Christmas not very far away
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If Fish could fly… a tale of Christmas not very far away

There is a land deep in the Valley where a little creek battles to flow.

From marshy land through the strange forest of Deadhorse Canyon, it runs off the hills, jumps over rocks, slips under logs and into culverts before finally reaching the Lake.

Looking at the Creek, a little bear called Espeyu and a big bear called Washdot wait for salmon to fish. (it was soon to be Christmas and the bears needed a fish for dinner).

Washdot, said Espeyu, where are the fish?

Washdot explained that the Creek was bringing a lot of sediments from the hillside, because it had a hard time finding its way to the Lake. And the sediments created a delta that made it difficult for the fish to make their way up the Creek.

Espeyu paused for a moment, if only fish could fly, he said… if only fish could fly.

As they went on to the shores of the Lake, they met old Chinook. Old Chinook, asked Espeyu, where are all the salmon? They are looking for new places to spawn, he answered. Washdot wants to replace the bridge across the Lake and it will disrupt the little ones. Is that true, asked Espeyu surprised, to Washdot? Yes, admitted the...

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Dig that “Disco Fever” Rainbow Bingo at the SE Seattle Senior Center!
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The Southeast Seattle Senior Center, on the corner of Rainier & Holly, has a LOT going on! In addition to their array of services programs, classes (including dancing, yoga and weaving!) the center serves a scratched-cooked down-home lunch and has some pretty lively evening events.

This week the center is hosting Rainbow Bingo “Disco Style,” complete with MC/Drag Queen Entertainer Ms. Sylvia O’Stayformore, jello shots, beer from Columbia City Alehouse and great prizes! This riotous event, Friday, November 18, 2011, from 6-9:30pm at the Southeast Seattle Senior Center, draws in the whole community: young, old, straight, gay, families, EVERYone for a fun, silly, fundraiser. All proceeds go to programs for older adults aging in OUR community. So dig up that spandex and glitter (prizes for best outfits) and get ready to play! It’s win-win for those we love and a fun Friday eve.

This is the third and final Rainbow Bingo event at the SESSC for 2011. The July event featured a Western theme where players saddled up and rode out a night of down-home hijinx.

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Seattle Comprehensive Plan in Action at RB Urban Farm
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The Seattle Comprehensive Plan is not an easy thing to comprehend, especially if you think that the mere portion of the plan dedicated to Rainier Beach is 83 pages long, not including appendixes.

So what’s the point of such a hefty document, besides collecting dust on the shelf in some city office? Well, I had recently the pleasure of seeing the plan applied to a very good cause when I joined in the celebration for the ground breaking of the Rainier Beach Urban Farm.

In this case, the Rainier Beach 2014 Action Plan, as it is also known, did not call for a farm as such. It didn’t bring it in these terms or make it specific, on the contrary to the Community Center for example. But as the various speakers, including Mayor McGinn, Council members Clark and Conlin and

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