Category Archives: Local Organizations

Hillman City Collaboratory Featured in Real Change

Aaron Burkhalter at Real Change has a nice write-up of the new Hillman City Collaboratory that local pastor John Helmiere and Ben Hunter (executive director of Community Arts Create) have started:

Columbia City has been transformed over the past decade, with new boutique simg_20131210_124759hops, brewpubs and cafes lining either side of Rainier Avenue.

Its neighbor to the south, Hillman City, still boasts its old nail salons and bars and has yet to see the same economic transformation.

A local church and an arts group want to boost the neighborhood, serving existing residents and preserving history. The Hillman City Collaboratory, a storefront on Rainier Avenue South about a half mile south of Columbia City, is home to the two organizations, as well as a mashup of shared office space, a church, a meeting hall, a concert venue and a community garden.

“We want this to become a hub for change makers and a place where people doing good work in isolation find community and shared ideas and cross-pollination,” said John Helmiere, pastor of Valley & Mountain, a United Methodist congregation that started in Columbia City three years ago.

Helmiere and Ben Hunter, executive director of Community Arts Create, started their respective organizations about three years ago. They became friends and began planning an open community space where they could do their work with enough space to host other organizations as well

Be sure to click here to read the whole piece.

On a connected note, Burkhalter has another piece in Real Change covering the Collaboratory’s role in reviving the Catholic Worker Movement and its push for social justice.

Dining Out for Life: Thursday 4/24

The Seattle Lifelong Aids Alliance’s Dining Out for Life 2014 is happening on Thursday:

Raise your fork on Thursday, April 24 and participate in Dining Out For LifeOn this day, more tdininghan 150 restaurants throughout the Seattle metropolitan area will donate over 30% of their proceeds to Lifelong. Join thousands in your community on a single day in April to fight hunger and illnesses such as HIV/AIDS.Learn more.

A number of Columbia City and South-end restaurants are participating:

Columbia City/Beacon Hill

  • Baja Bistro
  • Bananas Grill
  • Bar del Corso
  • Geraldine’s Counter
  • Mioposto Pizzeria
  • Rookies Sports Bar and Grill
  • Safari Njema Restaurant
  • Tutta Bella Neopolitan Pizzeria (Columbia City)

Bridge to Beach Clean Up 4/27

The Rainier Valley Post has all of the details posted for the 6th annual Bridge to Beach Cleanup on Sunday 4/27:

Business and community organizations in Southeast Seattle are again producing the Bridge 2 Beach All Valley Earth Day Clean Up (B2B) on Sun., April 27, for the 6th Annual Clean Up, when residents, business owners and other organizations will create a team, identify a local eyesore and with tender love and care, restore it back to its intended B2B_2012LogoFinalstate.

Clean up teams let their imagination run wild: litter pick up, landscaping and weeding, knock down or build a new structure, or even painting a mural!  Projects have included neglected areas, business node, routine beautification, or creating a whole new function in the neighborhood.

Adding fun to the project, it is also a contest with a wide range of 10 categories.  Some groups win in one category or another every year and others are still working on it.  Eventually, everyone wins a prize and everyone living, working and playing in SE Seattle reaps the benefits.

“We organizers are thrilled that B2B has become a tradition for some of our businesses and neighbors,” said Susan Davis, Executive Director of the Rainier Chamber of Commerce.  “There are teams that tell us their plan for the next year when they drop off their tools from their current project.  The instant rush from making a positive change is infectious!”

Team leads request standard tools that the City of Seattle provides, such as litter pickers, bags, gloves and paint supplies.  Those who can identify a project with at least two months’ notice, can also apply for a Small Sparks Department of Neighborhood grant for up to $1000.

Supplies are picked up at the Rainier Chamber of Commerce office in the morning. Teams get coffee and snacks to take with them.  During the day, organizers and Seattle Police Department visit each site to document each project by hearing stories and taking photos.


Rainier Valley Food Bank Featured on Evening Magazine

PCC’s website has a link to a recent Evening Magazine piece on the Rainier Valley Foodbank:imgres-6

This bustling food bank in Columbia City serves roughly 11,000 people each month. Check out this lovely video to learn how PCC supports these efforts to feed the hungry, by purchasing bulk pantry staples and hosting volunteer teams to repackage what we’ve purchased.

Click for the video

Low-Income Artist Housing At the New Mt. Baker Artist Lofts

The Stranger’s Jen Graves (Pulitzer finalist!has a great piece up on the intense competition for space at the new Mt. Baker Artist Lofts (across from Franklin High School at the Mount Baker Light Rail Station):mt._baker_station_site-20sw-opt5

The crowd that turned up for a shot at low-income artist housing this past weekend set a record—this was the biggest turnout ever for an Artspace project in Seattle, according to VP Cathryn Vandenbrink.

Two reasons were most likely: one, rocketing housing prices are, perhaps, causing people to discover their inner artists; and two, the new lofts are in a neighborhood that’s gentrifying—and artists of color were out in force to keep their neighborhood theirs.

It’s worth reading the whole thing–including some of the initial articles linked to in the post.

Green Eileen Celebrates One Year

Green Eileen, the non-profit connected to Eileen Fisher, is celebrating their first anniversary this weekend. King 5 has a post explaining what they are all about:

Happy Anniversary to Green Eileen, the non-profit arm of fashion designer Eileen Fisher, which accepts and re-sells gently-worn Eileen Fisher designer clothes. This unique store in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood opened one year ago this month, with a promise of giving its proceeds away to nge-logo1on-profits that support women, girls and sustainable living. Over the past year, Green Eileen has donated more than $50,000 to eight different non-profits and given away $4600 worth of beautiful designer clothes to nine additional organizations.

NOTE: This weekend (April 5 & 6), Green Eileen will celebrate its one-year anniversary in Seattle with a sale that benefits Bike Works, a non-profit dedicated to supporting bicycle education for children and teens. Shoppers will enjoy a $20 discount all weekend, but the first fifty customers each day will receive additional gifts. Green Eileen is located at 4860 Rainier Ave. South. Sale hours: Saturday from 10:00am – 7:00pm and Sunday from 10:00am – 5:00pm…

Be sure to click here to read the whole story.

Rainier Valley Greenways Pop Up: Happening Now

Wondering what all the action on Ferdinand is all about (just past Bikeworks)? Rainier Valley Greenways is running a pop-up demo about what they are all about. Swing on by today (11-2) to check it out:

Join Rainier Valley Greenways for a community celebration on the Rainier Valley’s first pop-up greenway! 

A Pop-Up Greenway is a temporary installation of features including faux painted speed humps, way-finding signs, sharrows and intersection improvement suggestions that demonstrate what a greenway could look like.

Our pop-up greenway demonstration project will be on S. Ferdinand St between 35th and 37th Ave S.

Join your neighbors and fellow community members to learn about how greenways can enhance your neighborhood by creating safe, healthy streets for all!

Columbia City Non-Profit Benefits from Lack of NBA Deal

KPLU is reporting that with the NBA deal for the Sonics stalling out, Chris Hansen has “temporarily handed over” his SODO warehouse to Columbia City A PLUS Youth ProgramGirl_Race, an after school non-profit sports and mentoring program:

The move couldn’t come at a better time for the nonprofit, says its founder and executive director Tavio Hobson.

“The space that we’re currently in [in the Columbia City neighborhood] is actually being torn down, so our kids are going to be homeless, for lack of a better term,” Hobson said.

Haobson says Hansen had been interested in helping the organization for more than a year, but they hadn’t figured out exactly how until now.

The A PLUS program will move into the warehouse, located one block south of Safeco Field, in roughly one month. Hobson says the new space has enough room for a basketball court, two classrooms and a few offices for the organization’s 14 full-time staff.

The A PLUS program uses organized sports as a “hook,” Hobson says, to get students engaged with their education.

“We pick the kids up from school. We bring them on site. They get a healthy meal, because we want to make sure that they’re fed. After they get that healthy meal, they get intense academic tutoring,” Hobson said. “The saying in our program goes: ‘No academics, no sports.'”

To find out more about A PLUS and the move, click here to read the rest of the article or here to head to the official A PLUS website.

Rumor: Esmay Building = Scott Staples Restaurant?

Speaking of the Columbia City Review Committee (see post below), there’s been a lot of neighborhood discussion and rumors about what the plan is for the Esmay Building (on Hudson, directly across the street from the Greenhouse Apartments). Retrofitting the building (roof/seismic/etc.) has been an on-again-off-again process for the past couple of years, with no one really talking openly about what the plan for the space actually is.532640_482152555160135_1462361460_n

Talking to construction workers about a year and a half ago, they said they didn’t know what the business was exactly, but that it was some kind of restaurant. By chance, I spoke to the owner of the building about the same time as he was coming out after checking on the construction. He was very hesitant to talk about his tenants, but again, said there were plans for some kind of restaurant. Also, this mysterious Facebook page for Esmay’s Auto Rebuild popped up right around the time the building was beginning to be worked on. It lists the site as a restaurant–my guess is that the Facebook page was created by the same owner I spoke to earlier. On the Esmay’s Facebook page, Blackball Construction is listed as the general contractor. From Blackball’s Facebook page (December 2012) is this hint with a few pictures of the retrofit:

Just started new construction down in Columbia City! Check back in and watch us turn this space into a brewery!

From there, the trail stalls out a bit and perhaps the plans changed. Construction at the Esmay Building has been on hiatus for at least a year with very little action at all. However, digging through the past agendas of the Columbia City Review Committee, there are some strong suggestions that a restaurant may very well still be in the works.

There are earlier agendas and minutes (including this one from 2011 with a number of specific details and comments) on the initial retrofit, but this agenda from August 2013 is promising as it lists Wynn + Associates as the current architects proposing exterior alterations to the building. Around this time, a few neighbors in the know started dropping the names of Scott Staples as the possible tenant. Scott Staples is the chef/owner of Quinn’s Pub and Restaurant Zoe on Capitol Hill and Uneedaburger in Freemont. To back that up, is this agenda from December 2013, which lists a Heather Staples (yup, that’s his wife and partner) as the business owner proposing exterior alterations. Most recently, is this March 2014 agenda which once again lists Stefan Wynn from Wynn + Associates as the architects on the project proposing exterior alterations.

So, does this all mean that we are getting a Uneedaburger Columbia City? Something along the lines of Quinn’s? Something a bit fancier like Zoe? Something else entirely?…I have no idea, but figured it’s a worthwhile rumor to jump into. Feel free to chime in if you’ve got any details about what may be coming.

Bikeworks Featured in Seattle Times

Columbia City’s own Bikeworks was featured in a nice photo essay on the Picture This section of the  Seattle Times website.


Katie Cotteril’s “Getting a fix on how to fix bikes” can be found by clicking here.