‘One person can make a difference’: West Seattle Junction ‘stump dump’ transformed

Maybe while you were in The Junction for Sunday’s Harvest Festival – or some other visit to shop and/or dine – you noticed that newly planted mini-garden on the southwest corner of California/Alaska. You might remember when it was mostly just home to a tree stump:

Here’s the person you can thank for the transformation – Elois Gruenhagen:

The retired West Seattle teacher was featured here last June for her beautification work a bit further north, by Red Cup Espresso, whose co-proprietor Breanna Baillie sent along the photos and also this story of what Elois did and why; here’s our transcription:

‘Downtown West Seattle’ says the sign. Below was a stump used as a dump. Elois Gruenhagen has walked by that stump for 6 years hoping that someone would remove it. This spring, Elois vowed that stump would be gone by fall even if she had to sit on a little chair beside it so someone would notice.

She contacted Susan (Melrose, director of the West Seattle Junction Association). The process had begun. Elois says, “It may take many to accomplish a task, but only one to start it.”

A few weeks ago, a former first-grade student, now grown, told Elois that what he remembers about first grade was that he learned to love plants and gardening so he is teaching his daughter. One person can make a difference.

Take a walk by the corner of Alaska and California where the stump used to be and see the difference.

Thank you Elois, Susan, those who furnished plants, and Great Harvest for providing water when needed.


And thank YOU, Elois.

P.S. Thanks also to Kerry, who e-mailed us a few days ago wondering if a “guerrilla gardener” was at work and sharing this photo:

We had just begun to investigate when Elois stopped by during the Harvest Festival to mention the project and promised information would be on the way.

30 Replies to "'One person can make a difference': West Seattle Junction 'stump dump' transformed"

  • DTK October 29, 2013 (11:06 am)

    “KeyCorp (KeyBank) announced Wednesday that it has achieved its goal of saving $200 million by the end of the year.” – bizjournals.com

    Thank you Mrs. Gruenhagen for giving back to the community, unlike some multi-billion dollar corporations I know.

  • KD October 29, 2013 (11:07 am)

    Thank you Elois! This made my day. I look forward to seeing your garden the next time I walk by.

  • AmandaKH October 29, 2013 (11:29 am)

    Elois! What an awesome person you are. Thank you!!

  • KatherineL October 29, 2013 (11:41 am)

    Yay, Elois! Thank you for the mini-garden.

  • r October 29, 2013 (11:48 am)

    omg multi billion contributions. stop it..please

  • Brendan Jackson October 29, 2013 (11:48 am)

    I had Mrs. Gruenhagen as my first grade teacher (some 26+ yrs. ago!) and she was one of the best teachers at Hope!

  • rcl October 29, 2013 (11:53 am)

    Great job, maybe that homeless lady that sits by that everyday can water it & make sure no trash gets in there. Tip her for that –

  • Jill October 29, 2013 (12:02 pm)

    I actually *did* notice this on Sunday, and I’m thrilled to read about how it all came about. Thank you Elois, you are lovely!

  • librarian October 29, 2013 (12:12 pm)

    Elois, you rock.

  • NW October 29, 2013 (12:30 pm)

    Land here in West Seattle that has established gardens and that are being demolished can provide us with many mature and healthy plants and ornamental trees. Just walk down from this very corner to Howdey Kennedy’s old location and you can easily see what I am referring to. This blog provides us with a number of updates weekly of locations where lots are being leveled its my view that these plants which are being hauled way to landfills could be dug up and replanted in areas like this. Who’s interested, I know I am.

  • miws October 29, 2013 (12:36 pm)

    Thank You, Elois!



  • The Junction Assoc. October 29, 2013 (12:37 pm)

    Great story and thank you Elois! One point of clarification. Jack at Menashe and Sons bought the plants for Elois and deserves a thank you too!

  • Karlynn October 29, 2013 (12:53 pm)

    Mrs. Gruenhagen is a true West Seattle gem. Such an amazing woman. She is always out and about around WS, next time you see her say hello and thank you in person! You’ll be glad you did! :-)

  • West Seattle since 1979 October 29, 2013 (1:22 pm)

    Thank you, Elois!

  • Nick G October 29, 2013 (1:26 pm)

    Mrs. Gruenhagen was my 1st grade teacher in 1986!

  • Kara October 29, 2013 (1:46 pm)

    Had her as my 1st grade teacher in 1991! Her and Mrs. Wilke were the best!

  • heather October 29, 2013 (1:47 pm)

    I appreciate these posts. Thank you to the gorilla gardener, the gorilla plant supplier and to WS for being a pretty awesome place to live :)

  • Andrea October 29, 2013 (2:02 pm)

    Yay, Mrs. Gruenhagen! Wonderful job! I too had Mrs. Gruenhagen as my 1st grade teacher at Hope, way back in 1982. What I recall most about her, on top of being a wonderful, caring teacher, is that she loved to garden. She taught us all how to grow and maintain African violets as 1st graders! I loved that. Oh, and you can’t forget learning about Chicken Soup with Rice :).

  • Maggie October 29, 2013 (2:34 pm)

    Yay! Thank you, Elois!

  • Mike October 29, 2013 (2:44 pm)

    Very nice!!!

  • Chris W. October 29, 2013 (2:55 pm)

    I watched Elois plant the flowers in front of Red Cup. She is delightful and I appreciate her beautification of the Junction!

  • CJ October 29, 2013 (3:30 pm)

    I saw her several days ago working on that tiny plot and also thought maybe it was one person’s guerilla movement but it was clear she was doing something for the greater good. I wanted to pull over and give her a hug. Nice to get the details. Thank you Elois, it is much appreciated!

  • JK October 29, 2013 (5:13 pm)

    Noticed and commented to my spouse on Sunday how nice it looked! Thank you to Elois and all who supported this effort!

  • ellenater October 29, 2013 (5:22 pm)

    Thank you for this. I hated that stump too, but you actually did something about it! Rock on!!!

  • shed22 October 29, 2013 (5:47 pm)

    Wonderful story. Such an inspiration. Thank you, Elois, for your lovely contribution.

    “Gorilla Gardener” made me smile. Not a critique just a fun image in my mind when I read the comment.

  • k October 29, 2013 (5:50 pm)

    Thank you Elois! You are magic!

  • Bee October 29, 2013 (6:34 pm)

    I am trying to see if she was able to get the stump out or put flowers in and around it. We have been talking about finding a way to plant a pretty plant or something in a stump in our yard that we are unable to get up. We thought we would see about putting something within it that would be pretty perhaps for the hummingbirds. We are not sure how that would work & thus are asking. Thanks.

  • Sue Bell October 29, 2013 (6:44 pm)

    Elois taught my three sons at Hope Lutheran. I ran into her last Spring and she right away told me she was on a mission to get that plot of land cleaned up and planted. Way to go Elois, it looks beautiful!

  • ttt October 29, 2013 (8:10 pm)

    Thank you Elois!! As a former teacher and a current gardener you would love the children’s book “The Curious Garden”…

  • mike October 29, 2013 (9:08 pm)

    In the background, you can see the lady who recently has been panhandling in front of the bank.

    Strange juxtoposition vs. the scene in the foreground.

Sorry, comment time is over.