West Seattle, Washington
It’s an Arbor Heights Swim and Tennis Club tradition – after the pool is closed to people at season’s end, invite the community to bring their dogs to swim, as a fundraiser for AHSTC swim teams. Today was the fifth and final session, and Jamie Kinney shared photos:
Whether the dogs dove from the board, or jumped from the deck, Jamie reports a great time was had by all:
You can see many more of Jamie’s photos from today by going here.
9:13 PM: If you hear/see the Guardian One helicopter, here’s what it’s about, per radio discussion monitored via scanner: Someone called 911 to report hearing what sounded like someone possibly in trouble in the water/on a boat off Beach Drive near SW Atlas [map], and Guardian One just happens to be up on patrol, so it volunteered to go take a look in the area. Police have checked from the shore and say they’re not seeing any sign of trouble, but the helicopter crew is going to take a look anyway.
9:29 PM: Guardian One has moved on, and confirmed its previous assignment via Twitter.
Volunteers of all ages turned out for this morning’s playground cleanup at Highland Park Elementary, reports Connie Wolf of the HPE PTA (who also shared the photo):
What a great turnout for our cleanup! We picked up litter, tended the weeds, refreshed the color, and kicked off preparation measures for our playground construction. Thanks to everyone who gave us their Saturday morning and thanks WSB for helping us get the word out!
7:26 PM: Thanks for the tips about a big police response in Puget Ridge a little while ago – we have talked to police in the area and they tell us it started in Riverview, with an intruder reported in a house near 12th SW and SW Orchard, ending with a suspect being taken into custody at 16th SW and SW Dawson. Subsequent scanner traffic indicates that a vehicle apparently associated with the suspect, at the latter location, will be impounded.
7:34 PM: While the homeowner wasn’t home at the time of the break-in, their dog was, and police have made sure the dog is safe.
Until 9 tonight, there’s a party in Fauntleroy’s Endolyne business district – the grand-opening celebration for Treo Organic Salon. It’s in the 45th SW/SW Wildwood corner space where Salon Fauntleroy closed earlier this year, next to The Original Bakery and two doors down from Endolyne Joe’s (WSB sponsor). Treo’s proprietor is Sarah Griffiths:
Sarah explains, “We are partnered with Green Circle Salons which allows us to recycle used foil, hair clippings, and much more, reducing our waste by 85-95%. We also work with a new charity every year donating a portion of all sales and services to the cause. This year we are working with the White Center Food Bank. We will happily take food donations on their behalf as well.” That includes at tonight’s party.
This is a letter for you, from Sarah, a neighbor whose husband was among those first on the scene when a murderer shot and killed 25-year-old Edixon Velasquez this past week.
To My Dear West Seattle Community,
My husband ushered our children into the back bedroom to finish their movie, unaware in their innocence, as the gunshots cut the air of our neighborhood. A quiet street I’ve only ever known to be full of dog walkers, joggers, and the occasional driver going a tad too quickly down a residential street, now filled with flashing blue lights, yellow tape, and chalk.
Our front window, which still looks out at a row of adorable houses that remind me of a rainbow, now also looks out on the memorial of a young man, our new friend, killed just steps from our front door.
It has been a hard week for us. And here, in West Seattle, as I go to my kids’ school, to work, and talk to our neighbors and friends, it sounds like it’s been a harder season for us as a community in general. We’re growing a lot, so many new people, so much less space, so many more cars.
And it seems as if it the growth is coming with more stories like the one that unfolded outside my dining room window as a life flowed out into a storm drain in the street while the kids obliviously sang along to “let it go.”
There are more stories of people hurt, hurting one another, kids discouraged from walking to school without a grownup – our ideals of safety threatened and somehow suddenly fleeting.
People seem more afraid and it’s coming out as anger; I get honked at more, glared at more, and if I’m honest, I’m honking more, snarkier with the person taking too long (in my opinion) in the checkout line, defenses automatically up when I walk out the door. It just seems we’re all more on edge. The tensions of our world, our city, and our community, stuffed down into raincoats with zippers increasingly too short to hold all the pain and wondering in, and so there are quick glances away if our eyes meet a stranger’s. Friend or foe? We don’t know, and we’re too heart-tired to find out.
But in the wake of the events this week, I’ve thought of our West Seattle community a lot, and I had a few very simple things I wanted to share with you. So, here it goes…
I think a lot about fear. If I’m honest, I can feel a lot of it on a daily basis. I’ve learned over the years how to use it as a catalyst for good, how to be grateful for my constant vigilance, seeing the many ways it has benefited my family, my community, the things I am involved with. Fear is like a yellow light – it’s not a directive to stop or to go, it’s just a sign it’s time to make a decision. And the more information I have about my trajectory, goals, and physical realities, the more likely I am to make a wise choice in response to that yellow light.
My favorite yellow lights are the ones accompanied by an accurate pedestrian crosswalk – that number countdown to the yellow light is what all lights should be, and what I wish life provided: adequate time to know what to expect and how to prepare.
But in real life, which has come way too close to home for us this week, it doesn’t work that way. While the yellow light of fear happens frequently enough, it is very rarely preceded by a gentle warning: “fear is coming soon – just wanted you to have a bit of time to prepare and plan your response.”
Here is what I have learned about fear: if we do not choose how we will respond when it inevitably comes, then in the face of fear what flows out of us is our worst, not our best.
Fear tells us there is a threat, and in the absence of an intentional response to fear, our instinct tells us to turn away, to pull in, to put up higher fences, install bigger security systems, and fortify our defenses. And we do. I do.
But, here is another thing I have learned, having grown up in a city where the literal fences were high, topped with barbed wire, and monitored by dogs and armed guards. The put-up, pull-in, back-off mentality does not bring a greater sense of safety, nor does it diminish an actual threat of risk. Perhaps it does for a moment, but not for long. It is fleeting, and our belief in our own ability to singularly control our individual outcome in the world is like a drug: we need bigger doses of heavier substances to retain our feelings of control.
We are a culture that prides itself on self-reliance and individualism, and a city where politeness is paramount but our internal walls are high and we more easily turn away than towards. Uncomfortably, especially for us, this truth remains: the anecdote to fear is not an exertion of power or a reinforcing of our own walls. The anecdote to fear is togetherness.
This week has been incredibly hard for me and for our neighborhood, but it has been so softened by the fact we already knew our neighbors – even the ones who were the victims in this senseless tragedy. There was instant comfort in knowing that even in the midst of real fear we were surrounded by people who knew us, knew our kids, had us watch their pets, and came over for drinks or bbqs.
We didn’t know our neighbors on accident; there was no roster passed out when we moved onto the block several years back. There was a lovely bottle of wine dropped off, and a couple phone numbers swapped at a Neighbors Night Out. The rest has been slow building. It has meant going on evening walks as a family and stopping to say hi to anyone we see out and about, including getting into or out of their cars (and yes, it’s always awkward, and yes, it’s always met with eventual warmth). We introduce ourselves, say where we live, offer to swap numbers and remind people “we’re close by if you ever need anything.”
It has meant watching when the houses go up for sale, knocking on the doors of folks as they unpack their boxes, passing on the next bottle of wine, swapping numbers, and again saying, “we just live right there…so glad you moved in.” It has meant large group text chains telling neighbors about impromptu BBQs on the first warm Saturday of spring, asking for help managing our chickens while we travel, walking the mail incorrectly delivered to us over to its rightful owner a block away and choosing to knock on the door rather than stuff it in the mailbox.
Building community, which I recently heard described as common unity, does not happen through programs, or private groups. Neighborhood groups on social media help with the transfer of goods and information, but they are no substitute for a handshake, an eye-to-eye smile, or a knock on the door.
I’ve lived in a lot of places, I’ve been close to a lot of pain, and experienced it myself. I’ve had my sense of safety violated more than once, and know it will happen again. As much as some knee jerk part of me wants to do everything I can to gear up for battle, I’ve lived long enough to know the real war isn’t in the moment of fear, it’s in how I’ve prepared my heart, my family, and my community before it comes.
I’m a fighter, through and through; there is no flight in me. But I won’t fight fire with fire or violence with violence for one simple reason: love is much stronger than hate or fear. You see, hate and fear eat a soul alive while love self-repairs and grows stronger each time it’s shown. A community turned toward one another, intentionally woven together, is more safe than a community pulled away from one another in fear and hate.
It’s not up to me to decide what your block is like – that’s up to you. But here on this block, even after the week we’ve had, we’re going to keep turning in. We’re going to keep watching each other’s pets and kids, inviting each other over for warm pies, asking how the day was & waiting to hear the real answer. And the folks at the corner of the block are going to wrap this around the block and across the intersection, and I hope it spreads like the blackberries at EC Hughes until West Seattle is known as the part of town where folks know their neighbors, aren’t afraid of the ways our city is changing, and see the yellow light of fear as an anticipated reality that we get to respond to with choice.
I hope you’ve already planted your own blackberry patch of love and togetherness in your neighborhood. But if you haven’t, that’s ok, just consider this letter a starter clipping from mine. It’s all you need to get started, just drop it in the soil of a knock on a neighbor’s door, water it with a the swap of a phone number, and fertilize with a text when you’re running to Target and just wondered if anyone in the neighborhood needed anything while you were out.
Hate raised its head this week, and it will again, even today. But I’ll raise my head even higher, choose to look in your eyes a little bit longer, fighting for love a little bit fiercer. It’s the very best thing I know how to do, and I really, really hope you’ll join me.
And you know, we live just down the block so if you ever need anything, just holler; and if you’re new, we’re so glad you’re here.
Many times over her seven-plus years of explaining equinoxes and solstices at West Seattle’s Solstice Park, Alice Enevoldsen has had young volunteers from the crowd assist. Last night, her daughter Vera wielded Alice’s legendary globe-on-a-stick last night during the sunset gathering hours after autumn arrived (1:02 pm Friday, if you’re keeping track). Alice is a volunteer NASA Solar System Ambassador, and these events are part of what she does to fulfill that role. Solstice Park – uphill from the tennis courts by north Lincoln Park – is a perfect one-of-a-kind place for this because of its markers and paths that line up with where the sunset should be on those four season-change dates each year. Most of the more than 70 attendees gathered with Alice at the back of the appropriate path at the sunset moment:
Clouds prevented a clear view, but it was a pretty sunset just the same.
Alice also folds in the most-recent skywatching highlights – so this time, that meant some talk about last month’s eclipse, and the recent end of contact with Cassini.
Next seasonal-change sunset watch, meantime, will mark the start of winter – keep watch on Alice’s website in the meantime. And on the sky, which showed some color before event’s end:
Welcome to the first full day of fall! Here are highlights from the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar:
HELP HIGHLAND PARK ELEMENTARY’S PLAYGROUND CLEANUP: 9 am-noon, or any part of that time that you can spend, you are invited to join the Highland Park Elementary PTA in cleaning up the school playground, as previewed here last night. (1012 SW Trenton)
QUILT SHOW AND WINE TASTING: 9 am-4 pm at the Masonic Center in The Junction. $15 admission includes wine tastings and glass, $5 admission without wine/glass. Hand quilting frame to be raffled at 3:30 pm. More info in our calendar listing. (40th SW/SW Edmunds)
CAN YOU GIVE SO OTHERS CAN LIVE? Blood drive today at Westwood Village, 9:30 am-3:30 pm. Details including break time are in our calendar listing. (SW Barton/26th SW)
SOUL SPA: Free and open to the public at Inner Alchemy – but register here first.
10 am Peace Filled Meditation
11 am Calming Inflammation Within
12 pm Kundalini Yoga
1 pm Family Constellations
2 pm Spiritual Empowerment through Technology
3 pm Chocolate and Acupuncture
4 pm Soulprint-exploring your personal brand
5 pm Tibetan & Crystal Bowl Sound Healing
(7354 35th SW)
EDUCATIONAL CARD PROJECT: Come have coffee and check out a new deck of cards with 54 women in the physical sciences, 11 am-3 pm at Uptown Espresso Gameporium in North Delridge. (3845 Delridge Way SW)
LAST CHANCE FOR CANINE SWIMMING: 11 am-1 pm at Arbor Heights Swim and Tennis Club, last chance for your dog to enjoy their post-people-swimming-season swim sessions! Details in our calendar listing. (11003 31st SW)
TALK WITH YOUR SCHOOL BOARD REP: Rescheduled community-conversation meeting with West Seattle/South Park’s rep on the Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors, Leslie Harris. Just drop in. Noon-2:30 pm at Delridge Library. (5423 Delridge Way SW)
WEST SEATTLE HS CLASS OF ’77 REUNION: 6 pm at the Brockey Center at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor), the West Seattle High School Class of 1977 is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Not pre-registered? Get the info here. (6000 16th SW)
OKTOBERFEST AT ELLIOTT BAY BREWING COMPANY: Tonight’s the big night – 6-9 pm. (4720 California SW)
A NIGHT OUT WITH KILLER WHALE TALES: See how West Seattle-based Killer Whale Tales teaches thousands of youth each year about our endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. 7-9 pm at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor), KWT founder Jeff Hogan brings you the interactive presentation that has captivated and educated so many. Free; donations are welcome. Please RSVP. (5612 California SW)
(Rehearsal video added Saturday afternoon, courtesy of Jaroslaw Media)
Enjoy an “evening of Broadway show tunes, jazz standards and other favorites” with instrumentalists and vocalists; see our calendar listing for full details. (6115 SW Hinds)
2:06 AM: Seattle Fire is sending a “heavy rescue” response to 40th SW and SW Thistle [map] on the Gatewood/Fauntleroy line for a report of a box truck hitting a house. We’re on our way to find out more.
2:23 AM: SFD is working to free the driver from the truck.
2:36 AM: Firefighters have cut the driver, a man believed to be in his late 20s, out of the truck. Medic unit will take him to the hospital. SFD says he is in ‘stable’ condition. No one hurt in the house; a neighbor tells us the residents apparently weren’t home.
2:57 AM: Firefighters have patched a spot on the corner of the house where the truck stopped. Some of the SFD units are leaving.
3:15 AM: We just left too – but first, once we were able to get closer, saw more of what happened, a story told by torn-up shrubbery and fencing: The truck appears to have gone onto the wrong side of the road just east of 40th SW….
then westbound across 40th and into/through the side yard, behind shrubs and fencing, of the house east of the one that it finally hit, also crossing an alley in the process:
Via scanner, SFD has just cleared the scene, and when the truck is towed, the Department of Construction and Inspections will have to check the house to see if it’s safe to inhabit.