West Seattle, Washington
Tomorrow is Mark C. Smith Day in the City of Seattle, honoring the retiring owner of West Seattle Nursery.
The proclamation by Mayor Jenny Durkan was read tonight by one of her predecessors, Greg Nickels, during a retirement celebration for Smith held in the nursery parking lot, just before that vivid pink sunset decorated the sky.
Smith spoke briefly, giving credit to his staff: “I am constantly amazed that people want to give me credit for this nursery. It’s never been me.” The party crowd was full of employees present and past:
Some of them took to the microphone to thank Smith for being the kind of boss who let them express their creativity. “I got to be me,” one said.
We first reported a month ago that Smith planned to retire. His family shared more backstory:
The announcement marked a major transition at a small business that has served the West Seattle community for almost four decades. The Nursery has sold a wide array of annuals and perennials, garden supplies, gifts, Christmas trees and wreaths, and more.
Throughout its history, the Nursery has donated resources to programs for children and youth, as well as local gardening. In 1995, the business founded the West Seattle Garden Tour, originally to benefit a burgeoning community group now known as ArtsWest.
“We were community activists before we launched the Nursery,” said Irene Stewart, who co-founded and operated the business with Smith until 1996. “We made an early commitment to support children and youth, as well as gardening, in West Seattle. After 35 years, the Nursery still works to make this community stronger.”
The Nursery began as a seasonal lot in the spring of 1984. Smith and Stewart set up shop first on SW Barton Street, across from Westwood Village. They moved around West Seattle until 1987, when they opened year round on land that is now a park by Beveridge Place.
In 1990, they moved to the current location at California Ave and SW Brandon St. And in 1992, they received a Mayor’s Small Business Award presented by then Mayor Norm Rice in recognition of their creativity and community reinvestment.
The Nursery has continued to grow in recent years. In 2017, it underwent a major expansion, opening a greenhouse on the adjacent property where Smith had lived for about 15 years. He offered to give his house to anyone who could haul it away (there were no takers).
“This has been an amazing journey. There have been some challenges but many more pleasant surprises,” said Smith. “Ultimately I think the Nursery has become a resource in the West Seattle community, and I am most proud of that achievement.”
Smith says he will miss the customers who enjoy shopping at the Nursery, especially in springtime when the lot overflows with flowers in bloom. He says he will also miss the Nursery’s staff, some of who have worked with him for decades.
“I have asked every manager at the Nursery to hire people who do the job better than me, and they did,” he said. “We have a fantastic team.”
The Nursery will remain open under new ownership to be announced in the coming weeks. For his part, Smith intends to stay active in retirement. Some plans include taking classes at South Seattle College and learning the Chinese martial art tai chi. He also wants to stay engaged.
“This is a new phase,” Smith said. “I look forward to trying new things and also finding new ways to give back to the West Seattle community that helped the business grow.”
P.S. Former Mayor Rice was at tonight’s party, too, so we took a photo of the city’s last two 2-term mayors:
While Smith expressed appreciation tonight for the honor, his warmest words went to his staff and customers: “I am very, very proud of this business … I am proud that the community loves this business.”
What a way to wrap up the first weekend of fall! Thanks to everybody who sent photos.
This view reveals the moon:
— Ethan Owens (@Twixted1) September 30, 2019
And a panorama:
One more closeup:
The National Weather Service says some clear weather is on the way – if the Olympics indeed are in full view, you’ll see fresh snow!
The latest faceoff between the two candidates for Seattle City Council District 1, like the previous one, didn’t yield any major points of disagreement. Both incumbent Lisa Herbold and challenger Phil Tavel said multiple times that they agreed with wht their opponent had just said. The two answered questions for more than an hour Saturday afternoon at Neighborhood House High Point, with an audience of ~20. We have it all on video you can watch above.
District 1 Community Network presented this event, as well as the one two weeks earlier (WSB coverage here); Aley Thompson of the South Park Neighborhood Association welcomed attendees. The questions asked by moderator Greg Kusumi dealt with, in order, transportation, homelessness, the mayor’s report on city-owned golf courses, keeping campaign promises, supporting small businesses, affordable housing, illegal dumping, neighborhood safety, school funding, adult education.
Highlights came in the audience-asked questions that comprised the final third or so of the event. The first one: With 40,000 district voters not casting ballots in the primary, what would the candidates do to change that, “besides doorknocking,” for the general election? Answering first, Herbold noted that primary turnout was better than four years ago, but said going door-to-door is effective. Tavel said he was particularly concerned about young voters’ extremely low turnout and said he was planning an “event” with spoken word, art, and music to encourage them. He also said he was working to meet voters in places such as bars and restaurants.
Other community-asked questions included one about this week’s big transportation controversy, the bus lane returned to NB 99. Herbold said she’d heard from dozens of constituents and is asking SDOT to review the situation, which she said also came up when SDOT presented its budget at a council meeting Friday; Tavel said he would like to see the data that preceded the bus lane’s return.
5:51 PM: SDOT reports West Marginal Way SW is closed both ways in the 4500 block – that’s north of the Duwamish Longhouse – because of a crash. No major injuries are reported but apparently a pole was hit.
6:58 PM: SDOT says the road has reopened.
7:55 PM: Readers say via text and comment that it’s still closed. So for now best to avoid the area.
We’ve received a few questions about what’s up at Camp Long. As noted this same weekend last year, it’s the annual religious gathering Finding of the True Cross, according to the city Special Events Office‘s calendar. (Here are 2016 photos of the gathering by Seattle Times photojournalist Erika Schultz; here are EYM-TV video highlights from 2015.)
West Seattle’s C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor) has been the setting for countless conversations. This one had an audience, as 34th District State Sen. Joe Nguyen hosted State Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Saturday afternoon. Their half-hour chat was a fundraiser for the senator but it wasn’t a rally or pep talk – instead, he interviewed Ferguson, with many questions centered on the attorney general’s dozens of lawsuits against the Trump Administration, including what it was like to file the first one:
Taking on the White House landed Ferguson on TIME‘s 2017 most-influential list. He talked about that too.
They also discussed how the AG’s office interacts from the Legislature, and how there’s more bipartisan work in Olympia than you might think. (Both are Democrats.) We counted about 30 people in attendance:
Among those on hand: Sen. Nguyen’s mom, who prepared food for the occasion:
The senator joked that his mom’s cooking was probably a bigger draw than the chance to watch two elected officials chat.
Back in August, we reported on cross-country athlete and West Seattle High School senior Riley Nachtrieb‘s attempt to run the 138-mile Olympic Discovery Trail. She made it 82 miles before an injury ended her run. Today her 10-minute minidoc has just been published on YouTube – you can watch it above or here.
The countdown begins! Four weeks from today – on Sunday, October 27th – two of West Seattle’s biggest fall events are back to back.
First, 10 am-2 pm, it’s the Junction Harvest Festival, including the traditional 11:30 am costume parade led by the West Seattle High School Marching Band, trick-or-treating at noon, the Chili Cookoff to support the West Seattle Food Bank, and a hot-cider-and-cocoa garden. That’s all concurrent with the West Seattle Farmers’ Market, which stays in its usual block that day, but for the festival, the road-closure footprint expands southward oto the Alaska-to-Edmunds block of California, as well as onto Alaska on both sides of Walk-All-Ways.
Then, 2 pm-5 pm, it’s the Fauntleroy Fall Festival, spanning both sides of the 9100 block of California SW (the church, Y, and schoolhouse, indoors and out) with activities including pumpkin-painting, birdhouse-making, cakewalking, entertainment, and much more.
Got a question or comment about the latest information on West Seattle light-rail planning, the “initial assessments” of two more options that might be added to the first round of environmental studies? (Here’s our coverage from earlier this month.) You can talk with Sound Transit reps right now, as they are boothing at today’s West Seattle Farmers’ Market (until 2 pm). The ST Board will decide next month whether to study either or both, a required step toward any further consideration. Until next Friday (October 4th), you can review the alternatives and comment via this “online open house” – choose the tabs for Yancy/Andover Elevated and Pigeon Point Tunnel.
Saturday ended on a beautiful note – as reflected by the sunset photos we’re featuring – but now, Sunday’s here! Some possibilities from the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar, where you’ll find even more:
HURRICANE DORIAN BENEFIT: Taquitos Feliz is donating today’s proceeds to hurricane survivors. The truck is open 10 am-9 pm. (7413 Fauntleroy Way SW)
BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS, WITH LLAMAS: Alki UCC is having a Blessing of the Animals service at 10 am; all welcome to that and/or a chance afterward – around 11 am – to pet three participants, a congregation member’s llamas, as previewed here. (6115 SW Hinds)
SOUND TRANSIT AT FARMERS’ MARKET: Got questions about the newest info on West Seattle light-rail planning, with less than a week left to comment via the “online open house”? Go see Sound Transit reps at the West Seattle Farmers’ Market, 10 am-2 pm. (California SW between SW Oregon and SW Alaska)
ALL-AGES OPEN MIC: At The Skylark. Signups at 3, performances start at 4. (3803 Delridge Way SW)
ART & MUSIC: 6 pm at Brace Point Pottery. (4208 SW 100th)
BLUEGRASS JAM: All welcome – sing, play, both. 6:30 pm at Parliament Tavern. 21+. (4210 SW Admiral Way)