Category Archives: Community

Mother Nature forces us to take a break from work and politics

snow-day

Today Mother Nature gave us a snow day in Seattle. It was a much needed respite from the political havoc that has descended upon this nation since the transition to a Republican administration.

snowmanFor at least a few hours, many Seattleites opted to shun news, social media and work to play in the snow. Instead of turning on the morning news programs, we walked through neighborhoods blanketed with snow. We tuned out the tweets in favor of building snowmen. We took a day off work to sled with our kids.

For those who eschew winter, the snow day was a perfect time to ignore current events and cozy up to a fire. We used the down time to catch up on some reading or finish a knitting project. It was a chance to watch a movie that we added to our Netflix list months ago.

Thanks, Mother Nature. We really needed this break today. Tomorrow will be a new day.

snow-day-2

We are a cultural melting pot. Embrace it.

My mother was an immigrant and I remember some of the challenges she had to overcome as she forged a new life for herself in America.

A native of Japan, my mother grew up during World War II. She lived through hardships, survived air raids and lost family members. During post-war reconstruction, she found work caring for the children of US military officers stationed in Japan. She eventually met and married my father, an enlisted man stationed at the air base she was working. He brought her to the US when he completed his tour of duty.

kokeshi-origamiAs a young child, I remember my mother taking English classes, studying to become a US citizen, learning how to drive a car, and navigating a culture that was different from the one she grew up in. She did all of these things plus care for two little girls and a home!

She was fortunate to have a small circle of Japanese friends that she could turn to for support, companionship and community. They gathered together regularly to talk, eat their favorite Japanese dishes, listen to music from their homeland, and practice traditional crafts.

They often included their children at these get-togethers and this is where I developed my Japanese side. I sampled sushi, tempura, natto, sukiyaki, and more. I listened to Japanese folk tales and learned Japanese songs. I collected and played with kokeshi dolls and learned origami.

somali-basketsThese memories resurfaced recently when I saw some lovely handwoven baskets created by Somali women. My employer, Lutheran Community Services Northwest, offers a Somali basket weaving group to connect refugee women with each other through this traditional craft. The craft group brings the women together to socialize and create baskets while reducing the isolation they can experience living in a new culture. It gives them a sense of community within a larger, less familiar community.

The anti-immigrant and anti-refugee platform embraced by our president-elect is disturbing to me. It dredges up hurtful childhood memories of classmates calling me Jap, Chink and Ho Chi Minh. It causes me to recall the time the father of one of my elementary school friends told me he didn’t like Japanese people. And more.

This open backlash is making many in our country–including children–extremely anxious. An acquaintance recently told my partner how worried her preteen daughter is that her Latino friends will be deported. LCS Northwest immigrant and refugee clients have reported being verbally assaulted by strangers. And more.

America is a melting pot of nationalities. My roots extend to Japan and Ireland and, unless you’re Sioux, Navaho or from another Native American tribe, so do yours. It is that incredible mix of human diversity that makes us a unique and great nation, and it is that mix of diversity that will propel us into the future if we embrace it.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”  – Statue of Liberty inscription

 

There was enough blue sky on Sunday afternoon to knit a cat a pair of britches, so I embraced the day with a bike ride through nearby neighborhoods. I pedaled through South Park and Georgetown, where I made a stop at Oxbow Park.

Nestled in the residential part of the neighborhood, Oxbow Park is home to Georgetown’s P-Patch and the iconic Hat ‘n Boots. The larger-than-life cowboy hat and boots were originally part of an old 1950s gas station until the business closed its doors in 1988. The Georgetown community rallied to rescue Hat ‘n Boots from the wrecking ball and, in 2003, the historic icons were moved to their present day home in Oxbow Park.

More info about the history of Hat ‘n Boots can found on History Link.

West Seattle Community Garage Sale

West Seattle Community Yard Sale signPeople hold garage and yard sales all the time. But what happens when an entire community holds one? It becomes an event.

This certainly holds true for the West Seattle Community Garage Sale. What started as a community project with 100 or so coordinated garage and yard sales in 2005 has evolved into a 2016 event that featured 320+ registered sales scattered across the peninsula. At least 18 of those sales were benefit/fundraisers.

What do the rest of us do? We hit the garage sales! Continue reading

Space-Needle-Glasshouse

The Seattle Center is a community gathering place and the Space Needle, at 605 feet high, stands in the middle of it like a beacon guiding citizens and visitors alike to the center grounds. This unique public space, left over from the 1962 World’s Fair, is a mix of park land, community and commercial events, and experiential venues.

On this particular day, I was visiting the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition at the Seattle Center. I wandered into the Glasshouse and was captivated by the iconic Space Needle from this point of view.

Sharrow-Streetcar-Seattle

Are cyclist mishaps inevitable when streetcar tracks are present?

Clang! Clang! Clang!

I’m fortunate to live in a community that supports public transit. Thanks to biking, walking and transit, I don’t have to drive a car very often. And that’s a good thing since Seattle is plagued by traffic congestion. Continue reading

Take a Book, Return a Book

Little-Free-Library-sign

Seattle’s drippy winter weather and gray days encourage the populace to cuddle up with a book (or reading device) and read. And we Seattleites like to read. Our city consistently makes the short lists of Most Read Cities, Most Literate Cities, etc. We have a top-notch public library system and numerous book stores to feed our reading habit. Many of my friends belong to book clubs. Book Lust author and former librarian Nancy Pearl makes her home in Seattle.

It should come as no surprise then at the popularity of the Little Free Library in our region.

Continue reading