Last May, inspired by a similar feature in St. Louis Magazine, we posed a question to dozens of our city’s leaders (and to our friends on Facebook and Twitter), asking them this: If you had a blank check with which to do anything to improve our city, what would you do?
Why do we make things that aren’t considered necessary? It’s a mystery of the human condition and one that a new nonprofit arts space on Capitol Hill is actively exploring.
The Project Room, which independent curator Jess Van Nostrand opened in July, is an experimental, blank-slate space that local artists can temporarily make use of for works in progress.
Turns out Google Maps can’t, in fact, do everything. Case in point: It can’t bring the past alive via wonderful illustrated maps—some more than a century old—like the Historical Atlas of Washington and Oregon (University of California Press; $39.95), published this month.
Noted historian Derek Hayes, author of several other historical atlases, packs this big, beautiful book with 550 fascinating maps and illustrations tracing the evolution of the Northwest from scrappy port towns to bustling cities.
If you’ve always contended that you’d love skydiving were it not for that part about leaping out of a plane midflight, the time has come to put your money where your mouth is. Austin–based SkyVenture has constructed an iFLY vertical wind tunnel in Tukwila for anyone (ages 3 and older) who wants to experience the thrill of free-fall without the fear of going splat.
Paging Jamie Oliver! There are chicken nuggets and sausage-on-a-stick on the Seattle Public Schools’ lunch menu. The ravioli comes from a Chef Boyardee can. But like the popular British chef whose U.S. television documentary, Lunch Line, exposes the horrors of school lunchrooms, the Seattle school district’s new head of nutrition services, Eric Boutin, is fighting on the front lines for improvement.
Seems like just yesterday video games were making the clumsy transition from bulky joysticks to sleek, wireless controllers. But youth fades, and the time comes to get a haircut, a real job and contribute something to society. Here in the Northwest, several gaming-inspired projects have done just that by advancing videogames from pixelated playthings to purposeful products with the potential to heal, teach and turn a profit.
Words guaranteed to freeze the blood of any local middle-class parent of a teenager: “The University of Washington is now officially a stretch school.” That’s what a high school counselor recently told the Eastside mother of a rising high school senior—and what more and more students are hearing. By “stretch,” the counselor means, “Most kids don’t have a prayer of becoming a Husky.” In other words, the UW is no longer a “safety school”—a relatively good bet for decent students.
Today, we complain about “Seattle process,” of the dithering, second guessing, making and remaking of every major decision, from the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement and downtown tunnel to the 520 bridge expansion, to the Green Line monorail system. Was there ever a time when we got it right the first time?
On a grayish Sunday afternoon in early spring, 150 or so potential home buyers, real estate agents and others packed the Princessa Ballroom at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown Seattle, where the mood was anything but dreary. With rock ’n’ roll music blaring in the background and an upbeat PowerPoint presentation flashing simultaneously, this was a last-ditch effort by seller Legacy Partners to move languishing real estate inventory.
With its mix of pristine Victorian homes, quaint cafes, and independent shops and restaurants, the small West Galer Street commercial strip on Queen Anne Hill is as pleasant a neighborhood hub as you’re likely to find. At least, it used to be. For months, Galer8, a partially constructed residential development sandwiched between a brick apartment building and a charming pizzeria, has drawn stares and grimaces.
In the 1880s, a brick wall encircled downtown Seattle. A safety measure, the wall was 15 to 20 feet thick, in places rising as high as 200 feet. Inside, zombies ran amok. Or, that’s what we’re told in Boneshaker (2009), local author Cherie Priest’s multiple-award-winning “alternate history” steampunk novel. At 35, Priest is at the top of her game—producing an astonishing amount of addictive, wildly imaginative work.
In case you just emerged from 12 months of living “off the grid,” we’re sorry to be the first to tell you: It’s been a rough year for the arts. (Also: Michael Jackson is dead. Seriously!) Not surprisingly, when the economy takes a dive, so do theater and arts attendance numbers. But it’s not all bad news (don’t go running back to your yurt just yet). Our city remains rich in exciting arts offerings for the fall and beyond.