West Seattle people – West Seattle Blog… http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Wed, 21 Feb 2018 21:58:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 Who will YOU nominate for West Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Westside Awards? http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/who-will-you-nominate-for-west-seattle-chamber-of-commerces-2018-westside-awards/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/who-will-you-nominate-for-west-seattle-chamber-of-commerces-2018-westside-awards/#comments Wed, 21 Feb 2018 00:52:21 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=909558 It’s Westside Awards nomination time! Just announced:

Each year the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce requests the West Seattle community to nominate outstanding businesses and persons for the Westside Awards.

Business of the Year
Emerging Business of the Year
Not-for-Profit of the Year
Westsider of the Year

What makes this award special is the nominations come from the West Seattle community and the nominees are judged based on specific criteria. Criteria for the awards include:

-Nominees will have made a major or visible contribution in the past year that reflects commercial growth and achievement, innovation, creativity or community involvement.

-Contributes and promotes the economic growth, stability and improvement of West Seattle.

-Gives generously of themselves and/or staff in time and resources to community activities.

-Consistently excels in customer service and business conduct.

Please note that a nominee does not have to be a member of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

Here’s the nomination form. You have until March 9th to get your nomination(s) in. Past winners are listed here; this year’s winners will be honored at the annual Westside Awards breakfast on May 1st.

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UPDATE: Missing woman found http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/missing-in-west-seattle-have-you-seen-karen/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/missing-in-west-seattle-have-you-seen-karen/#comments Tue, 20 Feb 2018 20:03:17 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=909523 EARLY WEDNESDAY MORNING: Seattle Police say Karen has been found.


Via Seattle Police’s twitter account:

“MISSING: Karen Elizabeth Jacobs, age 55. Last seen 2/18 near 2900 block of SW Avalon Way. She is 5/7 & weighs 150 lbs. She becomes gravely disabled without her medication. If you see her, please call 911.”

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HAPPY HUNDREDTH BIRTHDAY! Wes Jensen celebrates a century today http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/happy-hundredth-birthday-wes-jensen-celebrates-a-century-today/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/happy-hundredth-birthday-wes-jensen-celebrates-a-century-today/#comments Tue, 06 Feb 2018 18:17:24 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=908170 West Seattle has a new centenarian today: Wes Jensen. The announcement is from his family:

Family & friends are celebrating the 100th birthday of Wes Jensen. Born in Montana on February 6, 1918, one of 7 children; his family moved to Medina when he was young. He played football for Bellevue HS and basketball for Garfield HS, where he graduated. Wes served in the Army in World War II; after the war, he met and married his wife Helen, and they raised 3 children in West Seattle.

He worked for and retired from ADT. Wes is a member of the Elks and loved to fish and golf- he played into his 80s and is extremely proud of his hole-in-one! After his wife Helen passed away, Wes moved to Ballard, then to Shoreline – he moved back to West Seattle 3 years ago and now resides at Homecomings.

Wes enjoys watching the Mariners and Seahawks and usually has a thing or two to say about current politics! Above all, Wes is a kind & loving family man, and his 3 children, 6 grandchildren, and 8 (#9 is due in April) great-grandchildren are blessed beyond measure to be able to celebrate his wonderful life.

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SATURDAY: Want to help cook up a ‘dinner club’ for West Seattle? http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/saturday-want-to-help-cook-up-a-dinner-club-for-west-seattle/ Fri, 26 Jan 2018 23:01:40 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=907309 Interested in helping launch a neighborhood dinner club in West Seattle? Lee Kellett is leading a kickoff meeting tomorrow and you’re invited. Don’t bring food – this is just about talking through the idea, and signing up if you’re interested after hearing about the proposed format. 4-5:30 pm Saturday (January 27th) in the Rotary Room next to the entrance of the West Seattle YMCA (3622 SW Snoqualmie; WSB sponsor). You’re also welcome to bring ideas for the club’s name as well as “a copy of a favorite recipe that we might include in a future menu” – optional, not mandatory.

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How many people are homeless in King County? The answer’s being tallied after Count Us In 2018 http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/how-many-people-are-homeless-in-king-county-the-answers-being-tallied-after-count-us-in-2018/ Fri, 26 Jan 2018 17:52:43 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=907277 Early this morning, hundreds of volunteers were out working to find out the annual answer to the question of how many people are homeless in King County. Here’s the news release:

This morning, between 2 and 6 a.m., nearly 1,000 volunteers spanned across King County for Count Us In 2018, the annual Point in Time Count of individuals experiencing homelessness, coordinated annually by All Home. The unsheltered street count was conducted as a full canvass of all 398 census tracts in King County. Count teams included guides with current or prior experience of homelessness, who were compensated for their time and expertise with their assigned count area.

“Homelessness is a local and national emergency,” said United States Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. “Walking block by block through streets booming with construction but then under the freeway in areas peppered with tents was a stark reminder of the deep inequities of wealth and income in our city. We can and must do better. The fact that we see thousands of people living unsheltered, in the streets and in cars, is a moral and institutional failure. I will do everything I can at the federal level to build the affordable housing we need, provide the support systems necessary for people to live and fix a broken tax system that benefits only the few. Solving this crisis will require all of us —government, business, nonprofits and communities — to share responsibility for real solutions. Count Us In is a crucial part of those efforts – I want to thank the dedicated volunteers who canvassed every part of King County and I am grateful to be a part of and to represent a community that cares so deeply about the vulnerable.”

Continuing with the nationally recognized methodology introduced at last year’s Count, the full range of count activities includes a street count of people living unsheltered, a count of people living in shelter or transitional housing, a qualitative survey of people experiencing homelessness, and specialized approaches to counting subpopulations, including youth/young adults, families, and those living in vehicles. Local advocates, service providers and Applied Survey Research (ASR), a Bay-area research firm contracted to help conduct the Count, have all been active and valued partners in the planning and implementation of Count Us In 2018.

“The fact that nearly one thousand volunteers joined us for tonight’s count demonstrates that our community is coming together to confront the homelessness crisis,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “It is that shared purpose and commitment that inspires the work we are doing with partners to ensure that everyone in King County has a safe, warm place to sleep at night.”

While the Count’s core purpose is to collect data on the needs of people experiencing homelessness, it also provides an excellent opportunity to increase awareness and spark action. A successful and accurate Count is an essential component to informing local strategies to address homelessness and to making homelessness rare, brief and one-time.

“The Count is a great example of what can be accomplished when our neighbors, housed and unhoused, come together,” said Kira Zylstra, Acting Director of All Home. “Achieving our vision of ending racial disparities and making homelessness rare, brief and one-time will require the whole community engaging in solutions.”

A comprehensive report of Count Us In findings, including data on youth, vehicle residents, chronic homelessness and other specialized populations will be available in May of 2018. Point In Time counts are a requirement for communities that receive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Data collected from Point In Time counts across the nation are published on the HUD Exchange website and provided annually to Congress as part of the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR).

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FOLLOWUP: Providence Mount St. Vincent reopening to visitors Thursday http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/followup-providence-mount-st-vincent-reopening-to-visitors-thursday/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/followup-providence-mount-st-vincent-reopening-to-visitors-thursday/#comments Wed, 24 Jan 2018 22:33:12 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=907118 One week ago, we reported that Providence Mount St. Vincent was temporarily not allowing visitors, so it could be “vigilant” in keeping its vulnerable residents safe from this year’s particularly nasty flu. Today, The Mount notified families and others that it will be open to visitors again starting tomorrow. Spokesperson Susan Clark shared a copy of the announcement sent by administrator Charlene Boyd:

We are delighted to report that The Mount will be open to visitors, effective Thursday, Jan. 25th — tomorrow! Thank you so much for your patience during this challenging time.

However, we continue to ask for your support and cooperation as we get back to normal operations. You may visit if you are well. You must wash or sanitize your hands upon entering and leaving The Mount. Sanitized hands are some of our best defenses for preventing flu.

You may not enter The Mount if you are ill. No fever, cough, sore throat, diarrhea, or vomiting in the last 48 hours prior to visiting The Mount.

We will be resuming house-wide activities gradually over the next few days.

Again, we thank your for your cooperation and patience, and we look forward to seeing you soon.

The Mount is an assisted-living and skilled-nursing-care facility and also home to an intergenerational preschool, which has continued operating but had suspended visits between the kids and seniors while flu concern was peaking.

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FLU: Providence Mount St. Vincent bars visitors, to be ‘vigilant’ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/flu-providence-mount-st-vincent-bars-visitors-to-be-vigilant/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/flu-providence-mount-st-vincent-bars-visitors-to-be-vigilant/#comments Wed, 17 Jan 2018 01:01:57 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=906451 In the past few days, several readers with family members at Providence Mount St. Vincent have e-mailed to let us know the center is currently barring visitors because of the flu. One wondered how this was affecting its renowned intergenerational preschool. We checked today with The Mount spokesperson Susan Clark to find out more. Her response:

Like the entire country, Providence Mount St. Vincent is experiencing flu among our residents in both our assisted living apartments and our skilled nursing neighborhoods. There have been no cases of the flu among the children from our Intergenerational Learning Center.

Because the average age of our residents is 94 years, we have a vigilant approach when it comes to protecting this vulnerable population. At this time, we are not allowing visitors, including our volunteers, unless it is an emergency. We are taking additional infection control measures to prevent the spread of flu at The Mount, such as canceling social activities including visits with the children.

Here’s general state Department of Health info about flu.

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West Seattleite Claudia Castro Luna, city’s first Civic Poet, prepares to become state’s next Poet Laureate http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/west-seattleite-claudia-castro-luna-citys-first-civic-poet-prepares-to-become-states-next-poet-laureate/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/west-seattleite-claudia-castro-luna-citys-first-civic-poet-prepares-to-become-states-next-poet-laureate/#comments Tue, 16 Jan 2018 04:10:52 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=906250 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

West Seattle poet Claudia Castro Luna has just concluded a huge week, and her two-year term as Washington State Poet Laureate hasn’t even officially begun yet.

Consider last Monday: She read two poems at the inauguration ceremony for four citywide elected officials, including West Seattle-residing City Councilmember Lorena González (click the image to see and hear via YouTube):

That same day, she started her fourth year working at Denny International Middle School, teaching poetry to Spanish-immersion students, a four-week series in conjunction with the Jack Straw Cultural Center, where the students will record their poems at the end of the series. Some will be set to music this year, with the help of a guitarist.

The next day – this past Tuesday – she was at Seattle University, teaching a composition class.

Next Wednesday (January 20th), she’ll be at Elliott Bay Book Company, for a reading from her new book “Killing Marias: A Poem for Multiple Voices,” with a classical guitarist who has set eight of her poems to music: “I was floored by what she did – it’s incredible.”

But of all the events on her busy schedule, the biggest will be at 7 pm January 31st, when she officially becomes our state’s new Poet Laureate, succeeding Tod Marshall (who himself followed West Seattleite Elizabeth Austen), in a “passing of the laurels” ceremony during a reading event at the Central Library downtown.

This comes close behind the conclusion of her term as Seattle’s first Civic Poet.

Castro Luna lives with her husband and their three children in Gatewood, not far from where we sat down recently to talk over coffee. She acknowledged she’s receiving many invitations and working to fit them into her calendar. “There’s not a moment to waste … When I was Civic Poet, I always worked from the motto that I always try to say yes … (but) it will become harder, since (as Poet Laureate) it’s the whole state.” That will be a big change from traveling to what seemed like the far corners of the city. “West Seattle is … such a complete community in a way, it felt like going to Lake City (or elsewhere) was far away. It’s all putting it in perspective.”

Almost six years ago, she and her family chose West Seattle as their home after he got a job in Tukwila. Their children, a tween and two teens, attend West Seattle public schools.

She adds that “I’m from El Salvador … I love being close to the Salvadorean Bakery” in White Center, “and South Park,” with resources about which she rhapsodizes, from the library to the Duwamish Rowing Club.

Castro Luna’s identity “as a woman and an immigrant” factored heavily into her decision to apply for the Poet Laureate position. Two years ago, at North Delridge-based Southwest Youth and Family Services, we recorded her telling her story of coming to the U.S. as a teenager:

While on one hand, she says, the Poet Laureate role will demand a lot of time and travel, and she wanted to be certain she could do that, “in the end, I thought, when you consider the legacy of the people who have occupied the position, it’s daunting … (I was) thinking of, what can I bring, what can I offer, can I offer something of substance?” And she realized that “in the historical moment we are living,” in a time when “immigrants are being considered in all sorts of light that is not necessarily the most flattering and engaging … I’m proof that we are people who contribute to society – in many ways, not just economically, but also in art making.”

(We should note, our conversation happened before the President’s recent slur against regions and nations including El Salvador.)

She continued, “This is the most esoteric thing you could be doing … a working poet … we have all these ways to contribute … this is a moment, something i could offer through my life story and my dedication to the art, to offer a new viewpoint and to open ways of thinking about immigrants and people of color.”

That art, Castro Luna declares, is “more important than ever.” Not that poetry “has ever gone out of style – it’s as important as it has always been, one of the oldest art forms that we have.” But – “in terms of breadth and variety and expression of voices, I don’t think we’ve had such a rich time.”

This is not just an urban passion or indulgence. She notes a visit to Mount Vernon in Skagit County, where she asked a bookstore owner “do you have a poetry section?” and he replied that he “can’t keep the books in stock, they sell so fast.”

And the readers start young – “kids love poems” because they hear so much that rhymes, and “they love rhyme.” Middle-schoolers, the ages of the students with whom she works at Denny IMS, work to express their feelings through poetry. Denny, for example, has an annual poetry slam for 8th graders. The number of participants “impressed” Castro Luna, who adds that she is “floored by where the kids want to go as writers, to talk about their lives.” In addition to schools, other organizations are involved too – she mentions The Boot, the publication of work by youth in an intensive writing workshop at SWYFS (read the 2017 edition here).

She reads for young audiences, too, recalling a Civic Poet presentation at Fairmount Park Elementary, saying she had “never been so nervous” as she was, in the cafeteria there, reading to the 4th- and 5th-grade classes. “Everybody was so quiet, and I could not read any expression – I thought maybe I had made a mistake” (in what she chose to read) – “I finished reading and the teacher asked for questions, and there were so many! (Questions) about process – how do you write, how do you come up with ideas – I realized they were so quiet because they were hanging onto every word – they were so focused!”

Castro Luna did not start her own writing early. She began in college but “never took myself seriously about my writing … but everywhere, everything I did, turned to writing.” She earned an MA in urban planning and a teaching degree. Then after the birth of her second daughter, she “got creative” and took a community-college class. “Then another, and another … I said to my husband, ‘I need to do this’.” She pursued an MFA degree, and was on the writing path from thereon out.

And now, as she looks ahead to her two years as Poet Laureate – a position sponsored by both Humanities Washington and Arts Washington – she also has a concurrent project, as artist in residence at the School of Visual Concepts. (Words are part of SVC’s emphasis – Castro Luna explains that they do a lot of printing and typesetting.) The residency involves coming up with a project. She “decided to write a series of poems that explore stories of arrival in this state – it is a very young state … I want to explore that, not just people, the natural world (too) – when did species come to Washington state? This whole idea of arriving …I’m thinking of the geography and topography of the state,” including its “far isolated corners.”

Not only will she write the poems, she will “publish a book that I will make myself” with the typesetting and printing equipment at the school. To start the residency, there was a “passing of the apron” – a printer’s apron – from her predecessor in the role. “What attracted me is something new to explore, the link of poetry to printing, the power of the printed word.”

And there is power in the handwritten word – that’s how Castro Luna writes her poems, she told us.

Now, she gets to lead our state in celebrating, enjoying, and practicing her chosen art. “It is such a huge thing to be awarded the title – sometimes I can’t believe it.”

(The public is welcome at her upcoming events, mentioned above, and she keeps a calendar online.)

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GRATITUDE: Words of thanks for everyone who helped catch dog on the run http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/gratitude-words-of-thanks-for-everyone-who-helped-catch-dog-on-the-run/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/gratitude-words-of-thanks-for-everyone-who-helped-catch-dog-on-the-run/#comments Mon, 15 Jan 2018 02:32:42 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=906285

That’s Murphy. He was on the loose for a while today until some helpful people rescued him, and his person Gina wanted to go wide with the words of thanks:

We would just like to thank everyone in the Junction and those on the West Seattle Bridge around 2 pm today who helped catch our dog, Murphy. He was spooked by another dog and got away.

I’m so thankful for everyone who assisted in some way.

Gina explained in response to our followup question that Murphy ran all the way from the Junction Starbucks to the bridge!

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MLK DAY CELEBRATION: West Seattle HS student Noah Charleston co-MCing downtown rally; plus, other local involvement http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/mlk-day-celebration-west-seattle-hs-student-noah-charleston-co-mcing-downtown-rally-plus-other-local-involvement/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/mlk-day-celebration-west-seattle-hs-student-noah-charleston-co-mcing-downtown-rally-plus-other-local-involvement/#comments Sun, 14 Jan 2018 23:01:33 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=906155 If you are still planning your Monday – we’ve learned of West Seattle involvement in the 36th annual official daylong Seattle celebration in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The official overview:

Celebration starts at Garfield High School, 400 23rd Ave at E Jefferson, Seattle
Opportunity fair in the Commons 8:30-11:30 a.m.
Workshops in classrooms 9:30-10:50 a.m.
Morning rally in gymnasium 10:40-12:20
March 12:30 p.m.
Afternoon rally downtown, Westlake Park [~1:30 pm] shared meal back at Garfield High School, Commons

The afternoon rally at Westlake will be co-emceed/moderated by West Seattle High School freshman Noah A. Charleston (right), whose proud dad Lemuel Charleston e-mailed us to be sure that West Seattle Blog readers are aware. He says Noah is co-emceeing after being “voted in by the MLK Jr. Celebrations committee.” (Here’s the program.)

Noah has long been active in the community, he explains: “My family, my wife, and many of our friends and I have been involved with the Seattle community in the way of ministry, feeding the homeless, advocating for civil rights, and seeking to do our small part in making Seattle the best place in the world to live. We have involved our children in as many of these aspects as we can.”

The morning gathering at Garfield High School, meantime, includes 28 workshops, all free and open to the public. At least four include West Seattleites. There will be a session of Bystander Intervention Training, with Admiral UCC pastor Rev. Andrew Conley-Holcom and leaders from Anti-Hate Alaska Junction, Susan Oatis and Jane Westergaard-Nimocks. (They’ve done local workshops, as featured here on WSB.) Also, a workshop preparing for the launch of a new anti-racist coalition will include Chief Sealth International High School student Khaim Vassar-Fontenot and WSHS student Makhari Dysart. And there is local involvement in two other youth-led workshops – one on intersectionality, with Chief Sealth student Maya Garzelli presenting, and another about activism features Olivia Goss, a West Seattle resident who is a Garfield student.

More info about the MLK Day events is here.

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CONGRATULATIONS! Local student writers’ success in VFW essay competition http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/congratulations-local-student-writers-success-in-vfw-essay-competition/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/congratulations-local-student-writers-success-in-vfw-essay-competition/#comments Wed, 10 Jan 2018 17:37:45 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=905977 Back in September, we published an invitation for entries in a student essay contest presented by the VFW. Among the local students who responded and participated, there are winners in subsequent rounds of judging, and two going on to state competition! VFW Post 2713 in The Triangle shares the news:

Congratulations to the 22 student winners of the Youth Essay contests from the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 2713 in West Seattle. The student winners came from Arbor Heights Elementary School, Holy Family School, Madison Middle School, and Our Lady of Guadalupe School. A total of $770 was given to the winners, according to Bill Dwyer, Post 2713 Senior Vice Commander and Chairman of the Youth Essay Scholarship program.

Five of the 22 student winners from VFW Post 2713 also went on to the District 2 competition. On January 6, the District 2 meeting was held at VFW Rainier Post. Here are the results of the competition:

Liam Stampe won 2nd place for 4th grade from Our Lady of Guadalupe School.
Malik Dawson won 1st place for 5th grade from Holy Family School. Malik now competes at State Level.
Danika Ronda won 1st place for 6th grade from Madison Middle School. Danika now competes at State level.
Roxanne Elder won 3rd place for 7th grade from Madison Middle School.
Miles Dawson won 3rd place for 8th grade from Holy Family School.

Congratulations to the District 2 winners (there are 15 Districts in the state). The State winners will be awarded January 20.

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FOLLOWUP: Celebration for and with Swedish Automotive, West Seattle Autoworks owners http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/happening-now-celebration-for-and-with-swedish-automotive-west-seattle-autoworks-owners/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/happening-now-celebration-for-and-with-swedish-automotive-west-seattle-autoworks-owners/#comments Tue, 09 Jan 2018 02:30:13 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=905864

As previewed in our West Seattle Monday highlights list: You’re invited to stop by Tap Station (southeast corner of 35th/Kenyon) before 8 pm for an open house/celebration of new beginnings for the founders and new owners of Swedish Automotive across the street and West Seattle Autoworks a few blocks north on 35th (both WSB sponsors). As we reported the week after Christmas, Swedish Automotive founders Dave Winters and Sandra Wanstall are retiring:

They have sold their business to Todd Ainsworth and Chris Christensen, who founded WS Autoworks in 2010 in the space Swedish vacated to move to its then-new, bigger, greener location (right across 35th from the site of tonight’s celebration). Chris will continue to co-own WS Autoworks, but now with its lead tech Nathen Huie, who has long worked with Chris and Todd. Everyone’s welcome to stop by and join tonight’s open-house-style celebration.

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LISTEN: From farm family to Pearl Jam, West Seattle’s Jeff Ament tells his story http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/listen-from-farm-family-to-pearl-jam-west-seattles-jeff-ament-tells-his-story/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/listen-from-farm-family-to-pearl-jam-west-seattles-jeff-ament-tells-his-story/#comments Tue, 02 Jan 2018 06:26:58 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=905184

Jeff Ament is known for being the bassist for Pearl Jam, but his story goes much deeper than that. He doesn’t do many interviews, and none go this deep.” That’s how podcaster Mike Powell introduces his brand-new audio interview with fellow West Seattleite Ament. As noted when we featured Powell’s podcast with another well-known West Seattleite last Labor Day, he usually focuses on action sports, but on occasion there’s synergy with people best known as leaders in other industries, and so it went in this case – though their conversation turned to skiing and snowboarding among other things. You can listen via the embedded player above, or by going to this page on Powell’s website.

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SEEKING AN ‘ANGEL’: Another search for someone who helped Christmas crash victims http://westseattleblog.com/2017/12/seeking-an-angel-another-search-for-someone-who-helped-christmas-crash-victims/ Sun, 31 Dec 2017 23:54:41 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=905040 From the WSB inbox, another case of someone seeking the person who helped them after a crash during our snowy Christmas. From Mercedes:

On December 25th, we were in an accident. It was around 10:00 pm and we were crossing the intersection between SW Morgan St and 41st. I would like to find the Good Samaritan that helped us. I remember a young man going to my side and checking on us. Please, if anyone saw or knows this angel, let me know, I would like to thank him personally. If anyone else who was there reads this, please feel free to contact me so we can thank you.

If you’re the person Mercedes is looking for – or if you know him – please e-mail us at editor@westseattleblog.com so we can connect you.

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After almost a decade, Dinah Brein says farewell to the Admiral Theater http://westseattleblog.com/2017/12/after-almost-a-decade-dinah-brein-says-farewell-to-the-admiral-theater/ http://westseattleblog.com/2017/12/after-almost-a-decade-dinah-brein-says-farewell-to-the-admiral-theater/#comments Thu, 28 Dec 2017 20:30:49 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=904769 (Dinah Brein, photographed by WSB’s Patrick Sand on opening night for Star Wars Episode VIII)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

In the Admiral Theater‘s long and storied history, the curtain is about to fall on another episode.

This one has spanned almost a decade, including the latest incidence of West Seattle’s moviehouse being brought back from the brink. You might subtitle it “Return of the First-Runs,” though that’s just part of the story.

What’s happening is that next week will bring the departure of The Admiral’s longtime manager Dinah Brein. She says simply, “It’s time.” Her brother, Jeff Brein, is co-proprietor of Far Away Entertainment, an independent regional chain of community movie theaters including The Admiral, and Dinah’s been working for him since 2004, four years before she came to The Admiral, originally doing public-relations work for his PR firm on Bainbridge Island.

After Dinah and her husband Larry McClellan bought a house in West Seattle in 2006, that started to become a somewhat onerous commute. When her brother took over The Admiral, an opportunity arose for her to work much closer to home.

But at first, she wasn’t running the theater.

Keep in mind, it was at the time second-run, two-auditorium theater, sorely in need of work, and her challenge was to focus on promotion and special events, to keep The Admiral a vital part of the community. More than 15 years had elapsed since the theater – saved by a community campaign – reopened in 1992 after a three-year shutdown.

Music was part of what Dinah brought – something she’s very familiar with, with roots as a successful songwriter in entertainment-focused cities including Nashville – but special film events were, too. In 2008, the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival had screenings at The Admiral. That’s also the year the Crow’s Nest Lounge debuted – our report detailed a long list of planned special events, from a concert headlined by The Admiral District’s own Brent Amaker (with The Rodeo) to a celebration of West Seattle-rooted movie star Frances Farmer.

(The Crow’s Nest, in fact, overlooking The Admiral’s lobby from its second level, is where we sat down for this interview.)

Eventually, Dinah wound up in charge of the entire Admiral operation. And that led to some new skills – in leading a team that kept it running despite the challenge of aging equipment.

“I had never before built a film,” she recalls. The term refers to prepping a film for projection – and it really was film, before The Admiral went digital – here’s a WSB photo from 2014:

Sometimes, a film would burn – while being screened. As second-run, film-projecting theaters like The Admiral (was) became fewer and far between, there was nothing they could do but try to keep going.

And – present more special events.

(WSB photo, 2009)
Even the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) had screenings at The Admiral.

But Dinah’s favorite remains: “The wedding.” The March 2009 extravaganza was part film screening, part live event. As part of a contest, John and Melodie, whose on-and-off love story spanned 40 years, got married onstage before a screening of “Mamma Mia“:

(WSB photo, 2009)
Dinah fondly recalls securing donations from a variety of local businesses to make it a wedding package to remember. The bride and groom weren’t even from West Seattle – but “although nobody knew anybody … they said this was the most magical thing, to be surrounded by such love and support.”

The Admiral itself, as a city landmark with a history going back a century (to its opening as the Portola in 1919), has been surrounded by love and support too. But the road to renovation wasn’t an easy one. The “waiting game” for a new lease, in order to pave the way for the transformation, was particularly tough. The breakthrough came almost three years ago. During that “waiting game,” Dinah said, she wondered sometimes why she was staying – maybe out of loyalty to her brother, but also, “people SO wanted this thing to work.” It was all so close to not working – in summer 2014, they were in danger of no longer receiving movies to show, because they were still using film projection, and most theaters weren’t. While it was something of a cliffhanger at the time, Dinah also recalls working “to be creative enough to keep it open.”

That creativity stretched into the renovation work, “when it was decided to stay open while doing one (auditorium) at a time.” With little storage space, they had to find somewhere to store chairs – in boxes in one auditorium where “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” was being shown a year ago, leading one patron to loudly berate the staff for “trash all over the theater.”

“I said, ‘these are our boxes of our new (seats),” Dinah recalled. And while the patron continued his rant, she said, other patrons were yelling at him, asking him to respect the fact that “they’re keeping this theater open!”

Meantime, while the renovations were much-publicized, she says, some people are still showing up surprised to see the changes, and “brand-new everything.”

Her parting words weren’t all memories. She also spoke of gratitude for the staff. Tony Phan has been chosen to succeed her as manager. She has warm words for him and so many who have worked there – “without them, this theater wouldn’t have stayed open” – workers she declares have “busted their butts.”

And this episode of the Admiral’s transformation saga isn’t over. Restoration of the historic sea-themed mural is pending the results of a fundraising campaign led by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, which has been a partner going back well before Dinah’s time, though her near-decade has included memorable events like the June 2016 “Group Hug”:

2016 06-03 Group Hug for the Admiral Theater lowresJS
(June 2016 photo by Jean Sherrard, courtesy Southwest Seattle Historical Society; click here to see full-size version on SWSHS website)

The “Group Hug” was one of more than a few events during Dinah’s tenure that were orchestrated by then-SWSHS executive director Clay Eals, who was also deeply involved in the 1980s/1990s effort to save the theater. She refers to him as her “guardian angel”; in addition to one-of-a-kind music and film events from the Pete Seeger celebration to the “Legends of the Road” screening, he also was right there by her side – literally – during The Admiral’s “Grand Reopening” party this past March:

(March 2017 WSB photo by Patrick Sand)

And now, Dinah’s near-decade at the historic moviehouse will become another chapter of its history. So what’s next for her?

A somewhat slower schedule, for starters. On the day we talked, she had started with toast at 7 am – then nothing to eat until some cake at 5 pm (an employee brought leftover birthday cake from a party), right when we arrived for the interview. In her initial weeks and months post-Admiral, she’ll be getting some rest and taking care of personal business: “I’m going to do some serious decompression” and figure out what’s next. “I miss music more than anything – I’ll be able to go back to LA, Nashville, and do some writing.” Maybe voiceovers, too – if you’ve ever met Dinah, you know she has a versatile voice that could easily span a wide range of personalities.

She also loves animals and can envision volunteer work; in her Nashville days, she was part of a task force that helped overhaul a troubled shelter. And a few years down the line, she foresees some travel with her husband.

But first, the last week of work – she expects next Thursday (January 4th) to be her last day – and final reflections. She says she realized the mission at The Admiral was not just to entertain, but also “to create a welcoming space … I hope I get remembered for that.”

P.S. Since our interview, Dinah has shared a detailed farewell and list of acknowledgments here.

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