Daily news blog for Seattle's University District neighborhood

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U-district Local Author Has a Best Seller

March 31st, 2015 by Nico Lund

If you are a regular at local coffee joints such as the U-district Herkimer, Cafe Racer and even the cafe at the Burke Museum, you may have been sitting next to a Amazon.com bestselling author.

Stephen C. Merlino must have gotten some sort of inspiration with the last name Merlino (get it…Merlin-O ?). Regardless, his fascination with the fantasy genre seems to have begun at an early age.

As a kid, growing up in our gray and rainy state, he spent the dreary months indoors reading the likes of J.R. Tolkein and other wizard heavy stories. As he grew up, his passions evolved to include Shakespearian drama and Chaucer, which eventually lead him to a trip across England with a backpack.

Merlino finally returned to Seattle after studying Shakespeare at the University of Reading. He now lives close to the UW and teaches teens at Mountlake Terrace High School.

Merlino plans to release books two and three in the series in August and December. “Then the second trilogy begins!” says Merlino. “They call that ‘Aggravated  Trilogy,’ but I don’t apologize. I love series.”

His book — The Jack of Souls — is the story of an outcast rogue who must break a curse laid on his fate, or die on his nineteenth birthday; it’s a story of magic, mischief, and the triumph of tricksters. Along with the roguish protagonist, the novel features strong female characters and a subplot from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Check out this super fun trailer animated by local artist Luke Shea!

You can find the book at your local bookseller such as Third Place Books or find it the eBook on Amazon

Read reviews on Amazon,  Goodreads

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Suddenly Kicked-Out of Home of 25yrs & On Disability: Where is there to go on $660 a month?

March 30th, 2015 by Nico Lund

When one property investor was asked this question he responded with “Oh, there’s lots of places for people on disability to go.”

Image Courtesy of the Seattle Weekly

But is there? One resident decided to investigate if that is really the case. After a longtime resident of her apartment building took his own life after learning that the new owner of their building was kicking him out, she found out what really can happen to the people who fall through the cracks.

As the University District witnesses increasing changes to its housing landscape, it’s now more than ever important to open a dialog about the consequences in the name of progress and improvements.

The Seattle Weekly recently published an open letter to a building investor written by Janice Harper, a resident of a West Seattle apartment building recently sold by its ‘mom & pop’ owners to a property investor.

After reading this article I was moved to approach the Weekly to request permission to share this important letter with the U-district Daily’s readership. It’s a poignant  story that opens up the issue of the disconnect between progress, gentrification and the daily struggles of everyday people trying to carve out a life in our city.

I am sure many of you know someone, or you are someone who struggles to make ends meet day to day, pay the rent and survive. What if the rug beneath your feet was suddenly pulled out from under you without due warning, where would you land?

Here is the first part of Harper’s open letter. For the full story, please go visit the Seattle Weekly and read it!

Beachwood Apartments in West Seattle.Photo by Kyu Han Used here by permission from the Seattle Weekly

Dear Landlord,

Last week they took Bill’s body away. You never knew him. He’d lived here for over 25 years, a quarter-century that saw him slowly decline from an excited young man who loved James Joyce, the Seahawks, and a good bottle of beer to a decrepit old man who hobbled on crutches and still loved James Joyce, the Seahawks, and a cheap case or two of beer.

Bill’s life wasn’t worth much; no one in their right mind would have ever hired him, and few would think to rent to him. He was just this side of homeless, but our landlords, Eve and Charles, couldn’t throw him out. They knew he had no options, so year after year, they let him stay on, even though he couldn’t pay any rent. They’re good-hearted people who had bought the building as an investment, inheriting him from the previous owners, like a quirk in the building you grow to love even if it makes you grumble and groan.

Bill got by on about $660 a month in disability, some food stamps, and the security of his single small room. He was always happy to see his neighbors, always had a small gift to share, whether a poem he had written, a recipe from his mom, or a flower he’d picked on his walk. He drove us crazy, and we drove him places after bus service was cut in our neighborhood. Year by year, Bill lost what little he had—his ability to walk; the bus that took him to museums, parks, and the grocery store; most recently his food stamps. But he always had his little room, so he felt safe and secure in this unsafe and insecure world.

Until the day Eve and Charles told us they were putting the property up for sale. Who could blame them? The building is a century old and so much work went into maintaining it, especially for a couple of people who, also, are aging. But it’s prime real estate, right on the water with a view that would make even Donald Trump drool. So we had a good idea of what would happen after the sale went through. Skyrocketing rents and a landlord we’d never see, much less ever know.

Our fears were fanned by a recent Seattle Times article noting that old “mom and pop” buildings are being bought up by investors who are raising rents in our area by as much as 130 percent. Another article noted that rents in Seattle are increasing faster than almost any other place in the country. In the last five years, rents have gone up 32 percent in Seattle, a trend that places our city second only to New York. That’s good news for you, as a landlord, because it means that investing in buildings like ours will bring you a steady flow of passive income. All you had to do is come up with a down payment and a management company to collect our rents. As our monthly rent checks roll in, we will provide you with the money to pay your mortgage, your taxes, your insurance, and your maintenance, and likely secure a considerable income for you as well.

Read the full Letter by Janice Harper Here.

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Barney Frank @ University Book Store-March 30

March 25th, 2015 by Nico Lund

Come meet Mr. Barney Frank.

Apparently– a source says– he is America’s smartest, feistiest, and funniest politician. Show up and see for yourself.

Frank is described as a “disheveled, intellectually combative gay Jew with a thick New JerseyMassachusetts accent” who has “become one of the most effective politicians of his time?” He has written a book called Frank:A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage. It’s an autobiography.

The book offers a guide to how political change really happens. Frank is the first member of Congress to voluntarily come out as gay and has been a major player in the struggle for personal freedom and economic fairness for more than four decades. This is an opportunity to hear him in conversation with Eric Liu (Citizen University), and rumor has it, the Mayor will be there!

When: March 30, doors open at 6, starts at 7pm
Where: University Temple United Methodist Church
Cost: $27 – each ticket admits 2 and includes a copy of Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage
Tickets can be purchased at Brown Paper Tickets.

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Calling all Compassionate People: You Really Could Save a Life!

March 24th, 2015 by Nico Lund

Plain and Simple, Crisis Clinic is in Need of Volunteers

Sarah Bolton, Crisis Line Volunteer

Crisis Clinic serves as a lifeline for over 250,000 individuals and families in crisis each year.

Crisis Clinic is asking for caring, compassionate and community minded individuals to consider joining their team. By being available to answer calls on the 24-Hour Crisis Line, WA Recovery Help Line, or WA Warm line, you could be saving someone’s life!

“I look forward to coming into my shift each week knowing I will help people feel less lonely, scared, angry, or suicidal,” says Sarah Bolton, a volunteer on the 24-Hour Crisis Line. “I also love the staff and other volunteers I work with. I’m on a shift full of veteran volunteers that have been there for many, many years and each one of them comes in with a smile, a good joke, and a positive outlook. I couldn’t ask to volunteer for a better organization.”

What would you be doing, you might be wondering? Here is a snapshot of what you might be volunteering to do:

  • Answer calls on the 24-Hour Crisis Line, WA Recovery Help Line, or WA Warm Line
  • Respond online via Crisis Chat
  • Supervise youth volunteers with Teen Link
  • Make quality assurance calls for King County 2-1-1

Here’s a short video:Crisis Clinic: 50 Years Helping Lives on the Line

Crisis Clinic: 50 Years Helping Lives on the Line from Crisis Clinic on Vimeo.

Volunteer benefits include:

  • The opportunity to truly make a difference and help save lives
  • Professional training and supervision
  • Variety of schedules to meet your needs
  • Convenient Northgate location with free parking and close proximity to public transit
  • Caring community of Crisis Clinic staff and volunteers to support you!

To learn more, please call Crisis Clinic at (206) 461-3210 ext. 697 or visit their Volunteer page online at: http://www.crisisclinic.org/volunteer.

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Connection, Grief, Loss & the Cosmos: A Performance Installation 2 years in the Making

March 24th, 2015 by Nico Lund

Prepare yourself for a performance that will move from campy sci-fi to the eloquence of the requiem in one evening

Two years in the making, this all-female cast of contemporary ballet dancers explores themes of grief, loss, connection, and re-construction through the imagery of the cosmos.

Using live opera and live, original music accompaniment, this show promises to be a full evening of performance installation, concert dance and aliens.

Coriolis Dance has attempted to create an experience of audience movement,
performance installation, visual art, live music, and concert dance as way to explore space—both metaphorically and physically.

Using  the cosmos as a unifying theme behind this series of vignettes, Coriolis has created a piece “in which audiences encounter sardonically vamped up alien women of sci-fi camp, the detached forces of mass, charge, and rotation that create black holes, and  wili-like preying mantis women who grieve into the void.”

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? I think this might be a must see! But get your tickets now, this might be a sell out performance.

Co-artistic Directors Natascha Greenwalt and Christin Call’s work began in 2012 as Insofar, as the landscopic field report, a duet about two quirky alien researchers who encounter malaise and a deadly virus while discovering an uninhabited planet.

In May of 2014, Insofar was performed to a sold-out audience. Call and Greenwalt have since developed the work into a new piece, still containing part of the original duet.

Here is what you need to know to go!

What: Unfixed Arias

Who: Choreographed by Coriolis Co-artistic Directors Natascha Greenwalt
and Christin Call. Musical direction by Jackie An and original music by
Jackie An, Daniel Brigman, Taylor T. Merisko. Original lighting design by
Amiya Brown, additional lighting by Dani Norberg.  Animations by Stefan

When: April 10-12, 16-19, 2015.  Pre-show performance installations at 7p,
show at 7:30p. No late seating.

Where: Open Flight Studio, 4205 University Way NE – Seattle WA – 98145

Cost: $20 online at brownpapertickets.com, $25 at door.  Limited
seating, advance tickets recommended**

**Pre-show performance installations will open at 7pm, with the show beginning at 7:30pm.  No late admittance and seating will be limited **

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π π π 3.14 is PI day π π π

March 13th, 2015 by Nico Lund

Did you Know that March 14th is actually Pi Day. It’s also Pie Day!

If you are wondering what this Pi day is all about, it perhaps because you fell asleep that hour in your middle school math class.

π is a number represented by the greek symbol you see here–π—

It is is a mathematical constant, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, commonly approximated as 3.14159. . . and often shortened to 3.14.

I tried to find some local bakeries in the U-distict that were having Pi day specials, but alas, we don’t have many places that specialize in pie or π in our hood. However, I did speak to the friendly folks down at Pizza Pi Vegan Pizzeria, and they have a special Pi day menu for you to celebrate this mathy holiday.

Afterwards, you can go run the Pi Day Dash.

Race starts at 9:26 at Magnuson Park in Seattle and will consist of a 3.14 mile run or walk inside the park! Check out There. will. be. Pie. for more details.

So, go on, enjoy π, pie and all other types of circular goodness tomorrow!

Bon Ap-Pi-tit!

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Designer Sale at the Udistrict Goodwill Store

March 13th, 2015 by Nico Lund

In case you hadn’t heard…

I actually just realized today!! There is an amazing Designer Clothing and Accessory Sale at the University District Goodwill. I am sure there are still gems to be found…run over there now!

This sale runs through Mar 14, so if you missed it today, don’t worry, you can spend your Saturday humming along to Macklemore and getting More style for the price of Less!

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Forget about Uber & Lyft, Fill Your Karma Pool by Driving a Senior to the Doc

March 12th, 2015 by Nico Lund

Senior Services Needs Volunteer Drivers to Help Seniors Get to their Doctor Appointments

Geraldine Mensink and Linda Bauer are all smiles as they head off for a ride on a sunny day.

You are someone who has a little wiggle room in your day. Wouldn’t it be rad to get to know some awesome people and help them out at the same time. Be truthful, you were just going to waste time on Facebook anyways? You can still do that, just in the waiting room of a doctors office!

The Senior Services’ Volunteer Transportation driver program is desperately looking for new drivers. They have so many seniors to assist and not enough drivers to do it.

These seniors use the service regularly to get to appointments. Geraldine Mensink says “I love all of the volunteer drivers!  They are wonderful.” She doesn’t know what she would do without them.

Since 1975, volunteer drivers have accumulated “miles and miles” of positive impact throughout King County.  Using their own vehicles, volunteers pick seniors up, take them to their doctors and drive them home again—offering valuable transportation with a personal touch.  Clients of the program often refer to them as their “heroes,” “guardian angels” or “life-savers.”  In a very tangible way, volunteer drivers make a difference in the lives of vulnerable members of our community.

Volunteer Transportation currently faces the grim reality that it cannot serve all seniors in need of rides to important medical care.  More volunteer drivers are needed!  If you have a reliable vehicle, a clean driving record and some weekday availability, this is the role for you.  Visit the program’s blog to read more of its stories; contact Hilary at (206) 748-7588 or hilaryc@seniorservices.org to find out more; or fill out an online volunteer driver application to sign-up.  Help more seniors like Geraldine get “on the road” to improved health and peace of mind!

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Got Something to Say about your District? Town Hall Meeting March 14

March 12th, 2015 by Nico Lund

The 43rd District Legislators would like to invite you to a town hall meeting on March 14

There is no Town Hall Meeting without you, dear Citizens!

Here is the invite just for you:

Come join House Speaker Frank Chopp, Sen. Jamie Pedersen and Rep. Brady Walkinshaw are holding a town hall meeting on Saturday, March 14, from 1 p.m. to2:30 p.m. at the Erickson Theater at Seattle Central College.

When: Sat Mar 14 1-2:30
Where: Erickson Theater — (1524 Harvard Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122) Seattle Central College

The lawmakers are taking a brief pause from the 2015 legislative session in Olympia to hear what’s on the minds of their constituents in the 43rd Legislative District.

The event is free and open to all constituents of the 43rd Legislative District, which includes Capitol Hill, University District, Madison Park, Broadmoor, Montlake, Wallingford, Eastlake, Greenlake and parts of Fremont, Ravenna, South Lake Union and downtown Seattle.

The 2015 legislative session began in January and will continue through late April.

Questions can be directed to any legislator’s office:

House Speaker Frank Chopp, 360.786.7920
Sen. Jamie Pedersen, 360.786.7628
Rep. Brady Walkinshaw, 360.786.7826

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Open Letter From Friends of Chai & Bamboo.

March 10th, 2015 by Nico Lund

Citizens are Outraged by the disregard to the Community’s wishes!

U-district Daily believes these gentle beasts belong in a sanctuary! What do you think? Here is an Open Letter to City Hall from the Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants asking for action on behalf of city-owned elephants.

March 5, 2015

Dear Mayor Murray and City Council Members:

Woodland Park Zoo (WPZ) stands poised to transfer Chai and Bamboo to Oklahoma City Zoo (OCZ) within the next few days or weeks. This decision was taken without regard to the community’s wishes and in arrogant abrogation of your written request to the zoo that it consider a sanctuary option.

WPZ’s actions will condemn our elephants to live out their twilight years in a zoo whose elephant program belongs in the 1950’s. The blatant shortcomings of OCZ are appalling and numerous: a most inhospitable climate, a small and cramped exhibit space that will make effective quarantine difficult if not impossible should its male elephant, who has tested positive for antibodies to TB,  develop the disease http://www.freewpzelephants.org/docs/OKZoo_Lab_Report.pdf, the frequent close confinement of  elephants inside the barn in spaces antithetical to their natural needs, especially during cold weather, the harassment of their elephants through regular performances of circus-style tricks (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6Iro5PjjQc), the close proximity of a loud rock amphitheater adjacent to the elephant exhibit (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HKzFK3Pg7U), and the cruel use of electric prods during the labor and delivery of their most recent elephant calf (http://kfor.com/2014/12/22/oklahoma-city-zoo-welcomes-new-baby-elephant/).

This should not be Chai and Bamboo’s fate.

The City of Seattle reserved powers to itself in the Management Agreement with WPZ to weigh in and take part in all animal disposition decisions. Section 15.3 specifically provides that animal disposition decisions are subject to City policy. Stoel Rives, one of Seattle’s finest law firms and wholly independent of the politics of this controversy, agrees:

Under Section 15.3 of the 2001 Operating and Management Agreement, WPZS may dispose of Zoo Animals, but any such disposition must comply with “existing and any adopted . . . disposition policies approved by the City.” We understand this language as giving the City authority to adopt policies regarding disposition of the elephants that WPZS must follow.

This means that WPZ can go forward with its cruel plan only if you, our elected officials, fail to stop it.

Your constituents have clearly shown they want our elephants retired to a warm spacious sanctuary where management is based entirely upon on the elephants’ needs with no pandering to a controlling zoo industry.

This could be your last opportunity to champion the community’s conscience and the opinions of elephant experts worldwide. Failure to act, when the tools to correct this great injustice are in your hands and when the elephants need you the most, will greatly distress the large Seattle community that has shown how much it cares for Chai and Bamboo and their future.

A draft resolution is attached. We call on you to take all action necessary to exercise your authority under the Management Agreement, to champion our rightful place in the vanguard of progressive cities, and to save our elephants from a cruel end.

Yours sincerely,

Lisa Kane, JD

Alyne Fortgang, Co-founder, Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants







Elephants owned by the City of Seattle

Elephants owned by the City of Seattle

Sri at the St. Louis Zoo                    Chai                     Bamboo in transport crate

Copyright © 2015 Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, All rights reserved.

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