Hero Factory: Previewing the December 2012 Issue

Our editor-in-chief reflects on the bigger picture of the latest issue of Seattle magazine.

There’s nothing more unsettling in an editor’s world than sending a big, best-y Best of the Year issue to the printer—complete with adulations of the most influential people of 2012—mere days before a nail-biting election in which we’re voting for a president and a governor, among other things, including a historic piece of civil rights legislation. It has been a lesson in letting go, to say the least.

But one thing we could count on all year: the way our community continues to stand up for what it believes, creatively solves problems, has a victory or two, stumbles, yet keeps on going. This pioneering spirit starts at the neighborhood level, and throughout the years, we’ve celebrated our neighborhoods, recognizing those with great shops, restaurants, real estate values and more. This year, we took our Best of 2012 readers’ poll to the neighborhood level, asking locals to get granular.

Homes, schools, shops—sure, all of these play a part in what makes a great neighborhood, but it really starts with people. As a Ballard resident and parent, I was thrilled to see Mark Hendricks, the beloved longtime executive director of the Ballard Boys & Girls Club, recognized as Ballard’s neighborhood hero in our readers’ poll. Our kids have been active with the club for years now, and the village of extended care and parenting that Mark has fostered over the years has been both assuring and humbling, as many club parents will attest. He has a light about him, a way of reassuring harried parents that everything is going to be OK, even when things look their grimmest. But days after we tallied the readers’ poll, I, along with hundreds of other Ballard parents, was shocked to learn that King County Boys & Girls Club executives had made a decision to transfer Mark to bring his leadership strengths to a Boys & Girls Club in Federal Way.

Our community banded together to keep him in Ballard. We rallied, signed petitions, held meetings, spread the word through Facebook—all in the positive and respectful spirit that the club and Mark embody—yet the decision was final, and in October, he was moved after 25 years of service. We’re heartbroken, but so far the tone that Mark set hasn’t dissipated with his absence. He has instilled it in the staff, kids and parents, and, if there is a positive to this situation, our micro-micro-community may actually grow stronger as a result.

These stories don’t always make big headlines (though you can read more about Mark online at BallardNewsTribune.com and MyBallard.com), but there are hundreds of “Marks” moving mountains in every corner of the city. While we recognize the year’s headline-making legislators, business leaders, artists and tastemakers in this issue, we are also proud to shine the spotlight on the folks making a difference on your block, too.

The December issue of Seattle magazine is available on newsstands. Subscribe now to take advantage of a special Thanksgiving offer: 12 issues for $8 (and if enough people take advantage of the deal, we'll throw in an extra 2 issues for free). Offer expires 11/30/2012.