Daily news blog for Seattle's University District neighborhood

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After the UW Threat, Citizens Question What it Means to Be Alert

November 4th, 2014 by Nico Lund

When stories in the news about threats and scary happenings get too close to home, it’s hard not to feel an emotional response.

"With the Vigilance Committee in the East End: A Suspicious Character" from The Illustrated London News, 13 October 1888

In our schools and public places, we wonder what we can do to be alert and aware without giving into paranoia and fear? With so many more high-profile violence cases in the news these days what should we do to be more prepared?

Since it’s hard to definitively define what a real threat is, it makes it hard to know when to report something as suspicious activity or not. These days threats can come by email, text, forums, craigslist and more. People often question whether or not something is an actual threat or not, or if they do see something that seems out of the ordinary, scary or threatening, they don’t know what to do?

On the SafeCampus website it states:

If you see behavior that makes you or others concerned, report the behavior to SafeCampus by calling 206-685-SAFE (206-685-7233). Behaviors of concern could signal someone is in distress or may be prohibited behaviors as defined by UW policy. Remember to always call 911 if you need assistance from police, fire, or emergency medical personnel.
The bottom line is that it is great to be aware of your surroundings, be mindful of what’s going on and think about safety, but don’t live in fear.

Even though law enforcement can never be 100% successful in preventing tragedies like the one in Marysville, they are getting better at assessing and de-fusing threats.

The SPD lists what suspicious activity may look like, and if you have any information or see anything out of the ordinary please contact law enforcement as soon as possible by dialing 911.

Luckily, the suspect in the most recent threat to UW campus has been arrested. We can only hope that future threats are dealt with as successfully.

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Threat To UW Under Investigation

November 3rd, 2014 by Nico Lund

A non-specific Threat was made to the University of Washington through an online site.

UW Police Chief John Vinson has told the community to “be on the watch” for any unusual or suspicious activity.

Officials have not given out any specific details but want the community to know that they are erring on the side of caution.

If you have any information or see anything out of the ordinary please contact UWPD as soon as possible by dialing 911.

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#Mugshot Monday #11 -Ugly Mug Café: A Beautiful Surprise

November 3rd, 2014 by Nico Lund

Welcome to #MugShotMonday: a caffeine inspired journey to uncover the University district’s Cafés

Some of my favorite music I have ever heard I first heard in a café. It was at the Ugly Mug Café when I was a UW student in 1998 that I first heard and fell in love with Lhasa. To this day, when I hear her beautiful music, I remember this sweet little cafe.

Located on 43rd St in between the Ave and Brooklyn, The Ugly Mug Café currently faces a huge hole in the ground and a picturesque landscape of construction vehicles, a crane and little men in yellow jackets. With the building of the new U-district Light Rail Station, customers must walk past the road-closed and caution signs and find the entrance tucked away up a short flight of stairs.

But don’t let these signs deter you. Once you arrive and close the door behind you the commotion from the machinery is gone. It’s like you’re in a surreal and peaceful room overlooking all the chaos. It’s quite nice, actually — like a sudden shift in perspective.

Established in 1995, it caters to the expected patronage of students, professors, faculty and u-district residents. There have been a few shifts in ownership but Ugly Mug has been owned by a longtime barista of the café since 2010.

The Ugly Mug Café has a great chilled-out neighborhood feel while at the same time offering a serious cup of coffee.

Not only do they take their coffee seriously (see above photo), they also take seriously a commitment to the community by supporting local business with their offerings. They are also now a bonafide roaster of their beans at an off-site roastery.  In regards to their roasting, they emphasize that their focus is on creating not only a good coffee but also in building strong farm to table relations with their suppliers. For now they are offering Espresso, Colombian and Ethiopian Blends.

Another way they are community minded is in their work with Coffee Kids. Coffee Kids is an organization that creates education, health care, economic diversification, food security and capacity building projects in coffee-farming communities in Latin America.

Ugly Mug is a great little spot, and by little I do mean you should be prepared to share your table. While offering many nice nooks to sit in, there is limited seating. But that just adds to the cozy atmosphere of the place. You will enjoy this spot to get some good work done, read a book, meet with a friend or whatever it is you do with your café time.

In addition to scones, muffins and other pastries, they also have a breakfast menu

To add the final touch to my visit, as I was getting ready to leave, one of my favorite songs by the Velvet Underground was playing. Perfect!

Ugly Mug is located at 1309 NE 43rd St. (206) 547-3219

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Safety First Tonight! Motorist’s Beware of ‘Trick-or-Treaters’ & Parents, Dress Kids For Success!

October 31st, 2014 by Nico Lund

Don’t Let the Spookiest Night of The Year Be the Scariest for the Thousands of Kids that will Be going Door to Door for Treats and maybe a little Tricking!

Not only should motorist be mindful of the kids, Parents can help their kids by going over street-safety rules and making sure their child’s costume passes a safety check.

Courtesy of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, this poster illustrates some important tips such as:

  • Make sure costumes are visible to drivers
  • Make sure masks offer large enough holes for seeing and breathing
  • Trim any fabric that might be a hazard for walking stairs
  • Don’t send kids out with open flames (duh!!)
  • Watch out for treats (toys) with choking hazards for small children

But most Importantly, have fun, enjoy the costumes and when it’s all over, brush your teeth double!

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Don’t Miss A Halloween Special at the Grand Illusion Cinema Oct 31, 9pm

October 30th, 2014 by Nico Lund


Grand Illusion Cinema invites you to see the original version of Roger Corman’s ‘Little Shop of Horrors.”

Seriosly folks, this isn’t the musical version that you’ve seen or heard about in the 80’s, this is the black and white 1960 cult classic that even features a small role for a young Jack Nicholson.

Presented in 16 mm for the full experience, ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ tells the dark yet truly comical tale of a florist’s assistant who cultivates a strange plant that feeds on human flesh and blood.

So after you’ve given away your last treat and performed your last trick, this should be a perfect way to end your Halloween Night!

The Grand Illusion Cinema
1403 NE 50th St., Seattle, WA.
Friday, October 31, 9:00 pm
Tickets $9

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#Mugshot Monday #10 -Cafe Allegro: A Brick & Ivy Lined Cafe

October 27th, 2014 by Nico Lund

Welcome to #MugShotMonday: a caffeine inspired journey to uncover the University district’s Cafés

Just around the corner from Magus Books, in the brick and ivy lined alley, is one of Seattle’s Oldest Cafés. Grab a used book and enjoy an old school cafe tradition.

Once a mortuary, Cafe Allegro has been a mecca for students, professors, artist, poets and more for over 40 years. Surviving months of construction across the alley and the highs and lows of the University District’s culture, Cafe Allegro has seen its share of change in the Seattle coffee community. Not one to stay stagnant through it all, Allegro is now in the process of branding their own coffee beans for cafe use and sale.

I wandered in on a brisk yet partly-sunny afternoon. I wasn’t looking forward to being on the not-so-sunny-side of the street, however, I was surprised how much light reflected off the facing wall giving the cafe a nice daylight effect.

The cafe is a wall-to-wall working atmosphere – at least when I was there. Allegro seems to run on a combination of student and mobile-worker energy. Computers, textbooks and notebooks covered every surface. Being a mobile worker myself, I fit right in.

I ordered myself a chai – fortunately they carried the chai I really love, Morning Glory Chai.  Unfortunately, I forgot to ask them to make it spicy so I had to go back to the counter and ask for a little more umph in my drink. The barista was very friendly and added more spice with no problem.

I ended up sitting in the back room and had to share a table with someone. It was all very friendly. We even laughed about the wiggly table. I overheard conversations about classes, assignments and there was even a sweet service dog cuddled up on a jacket on the floor next to me.

This would be a great place to get into that focused mindset that university students get into when they all get together and study. If you want to feel that kind of intellectual vibe, this is the place for you.

Check out their website for update on their upstairs remodel and roaster install.

Cafe Allegro is located at:
4214 The Ave (206) 633-3030
Hours of Operation are:
Monday – Friday 6:30 am – 10:30 pm
Saturday7:30 am – 10:30 pm
Sunday8:00 am – 10:30 pm

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The Experimental College Offers Continued Education For Seattle Residents

October 22nd, 2014 by Nico Lund

Even if you have never been a student or haven’t walk a campus for a very long time, the ASUW’s Experimental College is an opportunity for you to experience UW’s campus with a purpose, learn a new skill or hone in on a current passion.

Begun in 1968, the Experimental College was a vision of some University of Washington Students to offer interesting non-credit classes for current students as well as Seattle-area residents.

All classes are taught by UW students and community members selected by the EC staff. All instructors are chosen for their professional expertise in the subject that they are teaching.

Here is just a Snippet of the kinds of classes you can take this quarter (find more on their online catalog).

Book Making with Bonnie Thomson-Norman

Drawing for the Absolute Beginner with Nils Osmar

Crash Course in Film Making with Nils Osmar

“Learn to Play Guitar in a Day” with Marlene Hutchinson

Sensing Place: Tools for Experiential Ecology with Joanna Wright

There are plenty of evening courses as well as weekend workshops that can fit even the busiest schedule. Because this is not-for-credit, it takes the pressure off to allow you to focus in on your personal passion for your own personal pleasure. There are even classes that can add to your current skill-set and help you move forward in your career.

Let us know if you have taken courses at EC. We would love to here about your experiences in the comments!

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#Mugshot Monday #9 – The Spirit of the Buffalo Thunders at Cafe Solstice

October 21st, 2014 by Nico Lund

Welcome to #MugShotMonday: a caffeine inspired journey to uncover University Ave’s Cafés

The first thing I decide when I’m standing in the ordering line at Cafe Solstice is; if the zombie apocalypse happens I could b-line it here and be happy for a while.

Originally an old school espresso stand started in 1993 on Broadway in Capitol Hill,  Cafe Solstice re-imagined itself in 2002 and has now become one of the U-district’s coolest cafes. As of June of this year, they have even re-united with their roots by opening a second location on Capitol Hill.

I spoke with Sarah Schafer, general manager and long-time employee at Cafe Solstice who filled me in on the significance of the Buffalo in their logo.

It is told that the spirit animal of Cafe Solstice is the buffalo. Being the largest land mammal in North America, it represents the strength of a tribe. The folks at Solstice really feel that what makes this cafe a special place is their commitment to the community.


Walking into the cafe, you are immediately greeted with a shelf of books to read. The counter area is a big open space to accommodate lines so you don’t feel to crunched while waiting to order. There are bottles of San Pellagrino, old school coke and ginger brews chilled and ready to grab. In the cases are a great selection of decently priced sandwiches ($5-$8), gourmet mac-n-cheese ($5.75), granola and greek yogurt options and a whole host of delicious looking sweets.

They serve Lighthouse Coffee, rotating beers on tap (always offering an Elysian brew) and have live music. This place is a go-to place for breakfast, lunch or an evening snack.

Schafer said that they try to support the artists and musicians who are regular clientele and often feature their art on the walls or book them to perform. Artists and musicians can bring in demos and artist submissions in person or through their Facebook page to be a featured artist.

Although conveniently situated close to UW, the patrons are a refreshing mix of students, professors, locals, artsy types and all sorts of people reading, drawing writing, chatting and computer-ing. People should note that Cafe Solstice likes their music, so this is not for the quite-study-corner types. There is plenty of seating, but it is a plus if you are open to sharing your four top if you are by yourself–no one likes a table-hog!

As always, remember to tip your barista and enjoy the good vibes.

Cafe Solstice U-district is Located at:
4116 University Way NE
Seattle, Washington 98105
(206) 675-0850

Cafe Solstice Capitol Hill is Located at:
925 E. Thomas St.
Seattle, Washington 98102

Their Hours Are:

Mon – Thu: 6:30am – 11:00pm
Fri: 6:30am – 9:00pm
Sat: 7:00am – 9:00pm
Sun: 7:00am – 11:00pm

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Inside the Tent City On Ravenna: A Well Organized Effort

October 17th, 2014 by Nico Lund

You might have noticed that a tent city has popped up on Ravenna ave and 8th ave NE. Being a resident of this neighborhood I had some questions. I decided to stop by and get some answers.

A blue tarp circles the encampment. I walked until I found the entrance on the Ravenna side. I was immediately greeted with smiles and directed to the front “office.” I met a volunteer organizer who asked to be called ‘Micky Mouse’ to protect his identity. He told me about the SHARE/WHEEL organization that runs Tent City 3 then he introduced me to resident Tom who gave me a little tour.

SHARE stands for Seattle Housing and Resource Effort and WHEEL is for Women’s Housing, Equality and Enhancement League. As mentioned on their website:

“SHARE and WHEEL are a self-organized, democratic, grassroots organizations of homeless and formally homeless individuals. SHARE was founded in 1990 and WHEEL was founded in 1993.  For 22 years we have been working to eradicate homelessness, educate the community, and empower homeless people.”

Mouse told me that Tent City 3 has be running for 13 years and is a model for tent cities across the nation. They are self-managed to help promote the dignity of the individual members.

People might wonder what kind of people are allowed to be part of this Tent City, how long they will stay in a location and why they are here in the first place. Mouse gave me some of their standards:

To be welcomed into the community one needs to have a current ID and must pass a sex-offender check. Tent City 3 does not allow anyone with a sex-offense in their operation. Mouse said that no level of sex-offense is acceptable for their city.

Stays can run from three to six months, but tend to stay in the three-month time frame. They create a contract with their host or neighborhood and they are very strict about sticking to that contract. This tent city is set to relocate to the Seattle University Campus on Jan 11th 2015.

Also of note is that Tent Cities provide their own trash removal and port-a-potties. Bus tickets are provided to each participant each day so they can get to work or appointments. Each Tent City has a food preparation area and volunteers bring hot meals most evenings while other times area residents kindly bring food donations. Some local construction companies have even stopped by to offer work to able-bodied folks.

Tent City 3 also has their own security-safety patrols. Volunteers work up to 30 hours a week to help maintain the site.

Mouse tells me passionately that the people here are not ‘camping,’ they are ’surviving.’ In the words of a resident from their website:

“People are people are people.  What do we want?  We want our lives back.  We lost our lives for the most part when we lost our jobs, housing, and opportunities to the rough times we are living through right now.”

Tom gave me a tour and showed off his awesome long hair!

Mouse said that tent city gives some of these people a safe way to survive that is a step above some other options available to homeless people in this city.

How can you Help?

Most importantly, Donations are gladly welcomed. On the website, there is a detailed list of wants and needs. Items such as hardware, kitchen, office, camping, health supplies and of course clothing is always needed. I spoke to another resident of Tent City 3, Roger, who said that sometimes neighbors order them pizza’s.

Pictured in front of his Tent, Roger said he was a network engineer before the 'dot bomb'

To some neighbors, it might feel shocking to have a Tent City pop up in your ‘hood. What I found is that taking the time to stop by and meet these people puts a friendly face to an important issue.

As I got in my car and drove away, I felt more at ease knowing that there are great people out there working hard to help people struggling to survive. It was also inspiring, especially knowing there is more I can personally do to help out struggling families in our surrounding areas.

For more information, to volunteer or donate supplies please stop by and talk to the people at Tent City 3, or visit the website.

Online Donations can be made at their PayPals Page.

SHARE is a 501c(3) non-profit registered in the state of Washington and all donations are tax-deductible. WHEEL shares SHARE’s 501c(3).

Tent City 3 is located at:

NE 64th St and 8th Ave NE
Seattle WA 98115

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#Mugshot Monday #8 – Café on The Ave Restores my Faith in Humanity

October 13th, 2014 by Nico Lund

Welcome to #MugShotMonday: a caffeine inspired journey to uncover University Ave’s Cafés

There are some Mondays that just resonate with the quintessential theme that day carries. Today is one of those days for this blogger. From waking up with a headache to forgetting my computer-cord at home and only having  a 1% charge; I wasn’t feeling optimistic about getting anything done today.

Enter (literally) Café on the Ave.

I stepped up to the counter and ordered a 2% latte. I felt a little disoriented for a moment because even though there are plenty of directions on how and where to order, I wasn’t sure I was doing it in the right place. This is probably a throwback from when I used to work here back in the Espresso Roma days. Café on the Ave. wants you to order at the register, not at the espresso machine.

Café on the Ave took over where Espresso Roma café left off about 10 years ago.

They have a full menu (american mixed with a little Korean inspired food), Caffe Vita coffee and they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Café on the Ave. caters to mostly students which is immediately visible with tables strewn with textbooks and computers.

While ordering, the cashier was very friendly and showed me the internet code when I asked if there was wi-fi. I retrieved my latte and looked for a spot to park myself. With plenty of tables, a window bar and a bench seating area, I had no trouble finding space.

Upon pulling out my computer to began work I realized that my computer was out of juice and I didn’t have my cord. I immediately looked around and saw three student types with my style computer and asked one of them for a loaner. That was my first great experience here. The first person I asked was super friendly and didn’t even blink an eye at my request! Alas, my work day was salvaged! However, then I couldn’t seem to get on the free wi-fi. I asked the fellow sitting next to me and he said he had some problems with getting kicked off the internet. Luckily, he had a mobile hot-spot and offered me use of his password without my even asking for it!

These two extremely kind and generous acts really turned around my rough-start Monday.

I am now back on track with my two-week delayed #mugshot Monday post, my headache is gone and my faith in humanity has been upped!

Thanks Café on the Ave!

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