Jul 27, 2008

Seattle Pigeons


After some decidedly unscientific research I'd like to offer the following: Seattle pigeons are not as street-smart as New York City pigeons.

I come to this conclusion after passing by at least 3 road-kill pigeons in Capitol Hill in the last month. I don't remember ever seeing more than one or two smushed pigeon in the years I lived in New York.

This is one man's anecdotal evidence. But I'm sticking with it.

Jun 24, 2008

Zaw vs. Pizza Fusion

Not sure if this is old news, new news or no news, but looks like a place called Zaw is coming to the storefront at 15th & Pine. Zaw makes fresh/organic/healthy/non-NYC pizza. Which is strange because Matt recently announced Pizza Fusion, purveyor of fresh/organic/healthy/non-NYC pizza, will soon arrive just down the street at 12th & Pike.

Me? I'm sticking with Piecora's -- as close to late-night, served-through-a-window, East Village NYC style as you'll find around here.

Jun 8, 2008

Small business = good

logo Last weekend I was driving through SoDo and passed a little warehouse space with a Stella sign out front. I had heard their coffee was great from someone at work so I stopped in to see what I'd find.

I found Rob Wilson, the founder of the coffee company. The space had a lot of equipment from a photo shoot lying around a small coffee bar in the front of the room. Rob welcomed me in and though it didn't look like a working "coffee shop," I asked if they sold drinks. Rob laughed and fixed me up with a latte, free of charge.

I told him I'd love buy beans as 'thanks' but my espresso maker was busted. It's a cheapo machine that hasn't worked in about two years. So Rob asked a bit about the machine, ground up a bag of beans, and told me to try them out. If it still didn't work with those beans, he said, "bring in the machine and I'll fix it." Wow.

After thanking him profusely I walked out the door -- certain it was a mechanical problem and not beans. But he's the pro so I agreed to try them and report back. And what do you know...

2008-06-08 002

This morning I pulled the first great espresso, with crema, out of my maker since moving to Seattle.

Rob was only too happy to send a random guy on his way with a drink, beans, and an offer to fix his junked machine. I'm not a cafe owner and may not even have a working machine to use his beans with! Stella is defining customer service and reminding me why small business is good.

Next time I need beans I'll be heading off the Hill to Stella on 4th Ave S -- check it out and say 'hey' to Rob if you're in the area.

Jun 7, 2008

An Open Letter to the CHCC Officers

Dear Justin, Charlette, Hong and Saunatina:

Our community gathered in a well-attended forum to elect you as the voice and face of the Capitol Hill Community Council -- that includes all of us who live and work on Capitol Hill.

I was lucky to participate in just about every meeting of the new Council and sit on its steering committee. A fascinating, and at times frustrating, process. One with a great result. I applaud you guys and thank each of you for the time and energy you'll contribute.

I want to mention one thing that stuck with me following the election. During candidate speeches someone mentioned "twisting the arm" of the editor of a local paper (Doug Schwartz of the Capitol Hill Times, no?) A former officer of the CHCC pointed out that the editor happened to be sitting in the audience, 10 feet away from the candidate who proposed the arm twisting. Everyone chuckled.

It was clear this former officer knew the editor. On election day I don't expect the same of our new officers, but I encourage you to do the same in the coming months. Sit down with your local news reporters and ask them what stories they see emerging in the community. Have coffee with local business owners. Attend meetings of other Capitol Hill community groups. I'm glad to hear you'll regularly attend the farmer's market -- find more of these venues.

Please make it a priority to get out in the community -- the council itself. The first year will entail lots of formalities, structures and frameworks. Bylaws, board, government filings, oh my! But structure yourself in and around the people you represent. For instance, if you want to speculate on conflicts of interest, take time to get to know the person who you believe represents the conflict over and above vague understandings of "IRS codes."

This council is about people. Relate to them, represent them, rally them!

Thanks again for representing us.


May 12, 2008

Modular houses coming to the hill?


I got this invitation through a Capitol Hill mailing list:

Invitation for the Capitol Hill Neighborhood
Come visit Inhabit prefab modular housing units
May 14th, 4-6PM

Hello All:

This is a special invitation to see a new architectural  concept for multi-family buildings that might be used on Capitol Hill in the fairly near future, and to give feedback while it is still in the conceptual phase.

I am working with Unico Properties to introduce neighborhoods to the concept of  assembling multi-family residential buildings out of factory-built, prefab modules.  It promises to be less disruptive, to provide higher quality at a lower cost, and to to take far less time to complete - all advantages  to neighborhoods.

To  showcase the concept, Unico had two units made and installed them on top of the Rainier Center, one on top of the other.  These are fully furnished living units, designed by Mithun and Hybrid-Seattle architecture firms.

I am inviting you to come downtown next week, Wednesday May 14, 4 PM TO 6 PM to tour the assembled modules and be introduced to the concept.  The attached invitation has interior and exterior photos as well as additional background information.

Unico plans to utilize this concept in multiple neighborhoods.  Although the company has not yet obtained a site in Capitol Hill, it may happen in the future, and their goal is to work with the neighborhood in advance, to build understanding and relationships and to find out what individuals might care about in particular. ( The first actual project is in design review right now and will be built at 1701 Dexter Avenue, near the Dexter Hayes Pub.

Full invite [PDF]

Cigarette butts

img061 There sure are a lot of them on the hill. Judging by my Saturday morning, tobacco companies aren't going out of business anytime soon.

I spent Saturday morning with about 75 motivated neighbors cleaning up 14th and 15th Avenues. The day kicked off with words from the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce (no, not that CHCC), a local SPD officer, and Ed Murray, one of our state senators and neighbor on the hill. The SPD east precinct captain even picked up a broom and mixed it up.

Pizza by Piecora's and a jazz band afterwards wrapped up a morning of do-goodedness. So next time you flick your butt, your karma loss is my gain!

Apr 24, 2008

Swear I didn't steal it










I didn't steal this shot. Snapped it myself yesterday on the 8 headed home.

Everyone sitting on the inside seat on a nearly empty bus.

Why you Seattlites so polite?

OK, I stole that one.

Bonus shot: the same bus in NYC:

Apr 20, 2008

Yougo to Tougo

A buddy just took my wife and me to Tougo Coffee at 18th and Union. How many great coffee places are in this damn city? Super nice folks behind the bar and a play area for kids in the back -- we're looking at you, CHS.

Feb 21, 2008

Learning what we don't know

q We had the first meeting of the steering committee for the revived Capitol Hill Community Council [outdated page].

The 10 folks gathered actually got more done than I expected. You may want to chalk that up to low expectations...

In my mind we discussed two phases of work: developing/updating the framework for the Council (i.e. charter, positions, relationship to city and peer organizations), and creating a good system that will allow the Council to build on that framework (i.e. meetings, online/offline communications, funding).

At this stage I believe we don't really know what we don't know. And that's fair -- we are a new organization and I'd bet most of us have not been involved on Day-1 in a committee with a mandate to steer a larger organization. I know I haven't!

Each step of the way I believe we will uncover the right questions to ask. Tonight they swirled around the status of the existing charter and Council positions. Next meeting, armed with the charter and more information about the existing structure, I believe we will uncover more of the right questions to ask. So on and so forth until we can't help but have some answers!

Feb 11, 2008

No love

A quick conclusion to my recent post about the "If you love it, why not live it" real estate banner at 15th & Denny.

Someone does not love it at all:


[I captured this Saturday morning and the banner has since been removed completely. Yikes.]

Feb 5, 2008

Loving it

bannerThe meaning behind the new real estate marketing banner at 15th & Denny is lost on me. I must be too new to the Hill to get it.

The Christian Science church-condo conversation is next door. Are they marketing for a higher power?

Is 'it' the strip on 15th Ave? I love Safeway and all -- but probably not enough to live it.

EK Real Estate, what is the message?

Jan 31, 2008

Revival at the Library

Community CouncilAbout 30 people met tonight and agreed to bring The Capitol Hill Community Council out of hibernation.

I'm sure others took better notes [update: here too] and will cover it in depth. It was a good first gathering, nice to see diverse viewpoints.

One of the points I walked away with is people tend to think big. Some folks want a venue to rant about high-rise developments. Others wanted to create umbrella orgs that will interface with other city groups.

I see a ton of value in grassroots initiatives that will give a core group of people projects to rally around. Especially early in the life of this group. Those projects will contribute to the quality and character of the neighborhood and give the group an identity.

No matter if we're reviving the previous CHCC or building a new one, this will be a different group of folks with different priorities working in a different environment. It seems to me like we will have to build momentum from a stand-still and a good way to do that is from the ground up.

Jan 17, 2008

First CHCC 2.0 Meeting

Andrew put together a great snapshot of CHCC 2.0 -- looks like lots of enthusiasm for an online and offline forum for action. He is collecting feedback on timing for the first meeting. Either Jan. 30 or 31st at 6-8pm at the Capitol Hill Library.

Jan 9, 2008

Safety Forum

I am guilty of thinking real change comes from only the broadest, highest levels of government. That is not always the case.

My wife attended the Capitol Hill safety forum last night (I was working but learned of the forum on Miller Park.) [Recap by CHS.] She came away enthused about our new community -- in light of a terrible, senseless act -- and impressed by the attention paid by the mayor, SPD and other city officials. My wife even stepped up to the mic to voice her view on poor lighting in the neighborhood -- to a thunderous round of applause and cheers, I'm told! ;)

My wife's comments, among many others, were included in a report by King5 NBC News. Besides being married to a budding TV star, this shows me how change can be enacted at the local level.

Neighbors gather to speak to their officials. Local media broadcasts dialogue. Blogs raise specific, relevant issues. Forums for discussion appear online and off. Community voices emerge.

Jan 2, 2008

Welcome to Capitol Hill

My wife and I lived in East Harlem for three years. Closest thing to violence like what happened to this poor woman on New Years eve in Capitol Hill was a few shootings between gang members and NYPD six blocks away from us -- still close to home but not 10 steps away like this.


Linking to the P-I and Dan Savage's updates and comments (many speculative) in hopes that someone can help piece this story together.

UPDATE: Here's a sketch of the suspect a "person of interest" in Shannon Harps murder. Call SPD tip line at (206) 233-5000 if you have any information.


[P-I and Slog via CHS]