4 to Explore: A Northeast Neighborhoods Newsletter


1 Store to Adore

Audubon Nature Shop in Wedgwood

As cooler air breezes through Northeast Seattle, you may notice flocks of birds migrating South (wishing you could join them), while other birds gather sticks to fortify nests. Winter is Coming. (We could insert a “Three Eyed Raven” joke here, but we don’t think many of our readers watch “Game of Thrones“).

Curious about which local birds are staying and which are going? Explore all of the answers in this season’s “Store to Adore”: SEATTLE AUDUBON NATURE SHOP.

Occupying a quaint building tucked away off 35th Ave NE (just below NE 82nd Street) in the Wedgwood neighborhood, the Seattle Audubon Nature Shop is filled with books and binoculars and, most importantly, knowledgeable staff whose love of birds contagious.

As they say more eloquently on Seattle Audubon’s website, “The Seattle Audubon Nature Shop is your complete source for bird- and nature-related merchandise, providing essential funding through its profits for the activities and programs of Seattle Audubon.” And here’s the mission statement: “Seattle Audubon leads a local community in appreciating, understanding, and protecting birds and their natural habitats.”

You don’t need to be an avid bird watcher to adore this store, just fly in and browse. From here you can walk North to the other winners of our “Store to Adore” contest at the Wedgwood Community Council Picnic: Cafe Javasti, Fiddler’s InnWedgwood Broiler, and Wedgwood Ale House.

But don’t take our word for it; check out their reviews on YELP.

  • LOCATION: 8050 35th Ave NE 98115
  • HOURS: Mon thru Sat 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • To shop Seattle Audubon online: CLICK HERE.

LEARNING:  Seattle Audubon sponsors a lecture for beginning birders called “10 Gateway Birds of Seattle and How to Find Them.” Next lecture is Monday, October 23rd at 7:00 p.m. at Phinney Neighborhood Center. For details, CLICK HERE.

EVENTS:  For other events, such as “The Bird Ball” fundraiser on October 21, CLICK HERE.

ORIGIN:  It’s named after John James Audubon (1785-1851) an ornithologist and painter who first published The Birds of America in 1827. The first statewide Audubon Society was formed in Massachusetts in 1896. The National Audubon Society formed in 1905. And, to answer your next history question, Alfred Hitchcock’s film “The Birds” was released in 1963.

SERIOUSLY: Just when you thought you could escape a “Store to Adore” article without a downer: City Hall’s reckless policy to fuel unfettered real estate development is rapidly endangering our city’s “Tree Canopy,” which is — you guessed it — bad for birds. Endangering our city’s long-cherished, hard-earned tree canopy is worse for many other reasons, including The Environment that politicians say they want to protect. Learn more about the issue by CLICKING HEREHEREHERE, and pages 85-88 of HERE.  For an example of the destruction being repeated all over our city, read the Seattle Times article about City Hall refusing to help a North Seattle neighborhood save a precious 100-year old cedar tree from a developer’s ax: CLICK HERE. The root of the problem: City Hall needs to reign in real estate developers from chopping down trees in order to Build, Baby, Build.

NEIGHBORHOOD:  To explore more of Wedgwood, subscribe to Wedgwood View and the Wedgwood Echo.  We have featured a lot of cool stuff in Wedgwood, including Wedgwood Arts Festival (every July), Veraci Pizza, and the Wedgwood Ale House.  4 to Explore is in Wedgwood a lot (it’s where our P.O. Box is located) so, for the latest on the neighborhood, be sure to “like” 4 to Explore on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. You can also attend the Wedgwood Community Council monthly meetings.

1 Meeting to Connect

The Debates for Seattle Mayor and City Council

And then there were Two.

Our official prediction for November 7:  Finally a female mayor!

After ongoing blasts from my 8-year old daughter for my prediction that we would celebrate a female President last year, we can finally conclude with 100% certainty that “progressive” Seattle will finally overcome its odd track record of all dude mayors for the past 100 years (though I also love Tim Burgess as mayor.)


photo of bulldozer at NE 50th Street & Brooklyn on March 7, 2017


Option #1

  • WHAT: City Council Candidates Debate
  • WHEN: Wednesday, October 18 at 6:00 p.m.
  • WHO: Jon Grant, Teresa Mosqueda, Lorena Gonzalez, Pat Murakami, and you.
  • HOSTED BY: Seattle City Club and Seattle Public Library
  • WHERE: Central Library 1000 Fourth Ave, Seattle, WA (downtown) or in your living room in Northeast Seattle with neighbors.
  • ATTEND: If you want attend the event live, CLICK HERE to register.
  • SUBMIT QUESTIONS: Complete City Club’s online form by CLICKING HERE.

Option #2:

  • WHEN: Saturday, Oct 14 at 9:00 a.m. (with breakfast!)
  • WHO: Jon Grant, Teresa Mosqueda, Pat Murakami, and you. (Gonzalez declined.) Moderated by C.R. Douglas!
  • HOSTED BY: Seattle Neighborhood Coalition
  • WHERE: 500 30th Ave S, Seattle, WA


  • WHAT: Mayoral Debate
  • WHEN: Tuesday, October 24 at 6:30 p.m.
  • WHO: Jenny Durkan, Cary Moon, and you.
  • HOSTED BY: Seattle City Club, KING 5, KUOW, and GeekWire
  • WHERE: Starbucks Support Center 2401 Utah Street South, Seattle, WA or in your living room in Northeast Seattle with neighbors
  • ATTEND: If you want attend the event live, CLICK HERE to register.
  • SUBMIT QUESTIONS: Complete City Club’s online form by CLICKING HERE.

And now for our Wet Blanket Commentary:  We are not thrilled with either mayoral candidate regarding a key issue: managing our city’s growth. It was supremely disappointing when Durkan met privately with for-profit developers just before her announcement (were promises made?) and then instantly embraced the disappointing “Housing and Livability Agenda” (H.A.L.A.). While perplexed in 2014 when Ed Murray thought Affordable Housing could be solved in the same way as the Minimum Wage — by hastily hand-picking interest groups to meet in secret — we greeted it with an open mind when announced in 2015. But HALA has morphed into a bad dream speeding into your neighborhood on a bulldozer. It’s heavy-handed implementation by Rob Johnson is fueling displacement of existing residents while requiring embarrassingly little affordable housing (2% to 12%). The candidates must explain how they will put both the “Affordability” and the “Livability” back into HALA a.s.a.p.

We are troubled that Moon wrapped herself into an extreme “urbanist” top-down, “we know what’s best for communities” dogma. More importantly, Moon lacks the deep government administration experience of Durkan. We supported Nikkita Oliver in the primary mainly because SHE LISTENED to all communities. We hope Durkan (the likely winner) will listen and wake up to boost the community engagement and affordable housing of HALA.

For the official list of all candidates in 2017, CLICK HERE.

To see who is contributing $$$ to each of the candidates, CLICK HERE. Both Durkan and Mosqueda are benefiting MASSIVELY from interest group money through nefarious independent expenditures (I.E.’s). Durkan is benefiting from the Chamber of Commerce, which is dominated by for-profit real estate developers and big corporations. Mosqueda is benefiting from labor union dollars. Because Jon Grant is the only candidate with a bold affordable housing plan that does not steamroll neighborhoods, the Chamber of Commerce is certain to set up an I.E. against him, too.

photo from "The Stranger"

While Jon Grant and I have often agreed on how to preserve and increase affordable housing (including our criticisms of Mayor Ed Murray’s HALA proposals), we did not have any reason to speak when Jon ran against my former boss Tim Burgess in 2015. Now with downtown interest groups lining up like sheep behind Teresa Mosqueda — even though she provides few specifics on how she would govern — I realized I should be open-minded about Jon Grant and hear his vision for Seattle. With many of our neighbors yearning for a “community voice” on the City Council, Jon Grant’s answers pleasantly surprised! For our recent interview of Jon Grant, CLICK HERE.

For non-snarky primers on Seattle’s general election, click HERE and HERE.

Drinking Game? We know our readers are mature and serious; therefore, suggesting that you play a drinking game while hosting a Debate Watching Party in your neighborhood falls short of our substantive approach. But here’s how the game would have worked:

  1. Everyone at the party picks a zesty local government word or phrase, like “Growth Management.
  2. Each time a candidate utters those words, Drink.
  3. Want a hangover? Pick words that you’ll hear a lot: “Equity,” “Density,” “Bike Lanes,” “Climate Change,” “I Will Protect You From Trump,” “No, I Will Protect You from Trump.”
  4. Want to stay sober? Pick words that you’ll never hear: “Budget Savings,” “Utility Bill Savings,” “Potholes,” “Pension Reform”, “I Will Charge Impact Fees Day One”, “No, I Will Charge Impact Fees Day One.

Whatever you do, VOTE. Show City Hall that, together, we have a strong community voice here in Northeast Seattle.

1 Fun to Enjoy

Caspar Babypants Music (in U District)

Dancing kids, smiling parents, fun music.

If you’ve got infants or toddlers in your family, don’t miss a concert by CASPAR BABYPANTS. This beloved band for babies often sings its way through Northeast Seattle — and they’ll be here again this season.

As described on their Facebook page“CASPAR BABYPANTS is Chris Ballew…making high quality intelligent simple acoustic music for kids and their parents to enjoy together.”

“4 to Explore” wrote about Caspar Babypants back in July 2015 as part of the U Village Sounds of Summer concert series. But they are a Fun to Enjoy all by themselves.

But don’t take our word for it; check out a review of their album “Night Night” by Geek Dad (CLICK HERE) and a review of “Sing Along” by Parent Map (CLICK HERE).

  • WHAT: Kids Concert by Caspar Babypants
  • WHEN: Sat, Oct 14 at 3:30 p.m.
  • WHERE: University Heights at 5031 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105 (on “The Ave” at NE 50th St.)
  • PARKING? Yes.
  • COST? Free
  • KID-FRIENDLY EVENT? Yes, that’s what it’s all about!

MORE: If you want to plan way ahead, the next Caspar Babypants concert in Northeast Seattle will be April 28, 2018 at the Neptune Theatre at 1303 NE 45th St, Seattle, WA 98105.

  • To hear Froggie Went a Courtin’ and other music samples (with animation!), CLICK HERE.
  • To explore their newest album “Jump for Joy” released Aug 2017, CLICK HERE.
  • As the holidays approach, enjoy their “Winter Party” CD which includes favorites Deck the Halls and Jingle Bells (CLICK HERE).

photo of bulldozer at NE 50th Street & Brooklyn on March 7, 2017

NEIGHBORHOOD: Learn more about the U District. Stroll through Farmers Market Saturday mornings. Engage the many groups: University District Community Council, the U District Partnership (formerly the Chamber of Commerce), and the City / University Community Advisory Committee (CUCAC). Fill up at the diverse eateries from Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe to Portage Bay Cafe to Shultzy’s Sausage and Beer. Adore the stores like The Trading Musician to Artist & Craftsman Supply.

Families can find other fun events this summer on the websites of Parent MapRed Tricycle, and Seattle’s Child.

1 Issue to Engage

4 Ideas to Make City Hall Listen

As published recently in Crosscut.com


Congratulations to the surviving City Council candidates — and listen up! Residents want to know how you will listen to them — rather than to campaign donors and interest groups — if you win.
Here are four ways you can empower the entire City Council to listen more:

1. Hold City Council Meetings at Night.
Should city residents be required to use a vacation day to tell City Councilmembers their ideas and concerns? Of course not. So why does City Council conduct its meetings from 9 to 5 when most residents are working or taking their children to and from school? Typically the only people able to attend Council meetings are lobbyists or activists spurred by those lobbyists. The “Busy Majority” of residents cannot attend because they cannot be away from their jobs or families.  City Council: please hold your meetings at night — and provide child care so parents and guardians can attend.

2. Activate a 3-1-1 Call Center Available 24/7.

Do what has worked well for more than a decade in cities from San Francisco to Chicago to New York: enable people to dial an easy-to-remember phone number (3-1-1) to request city services and report concerns — from potholes to policies. The City’s Customer Service Bureau is available ONLY on weekdays and Councilmember office hours for constituents are scant or inconsistent. Few can remember the City’s non-emergency phone number and it provides only minimal services. While the “Find It Fix It” technology works for some, a 3-1-1 Call Center open 24/7 will enable residents without access to fancy iPhones to receive the best customer service. A 3-1-1 Call Center will also make our communities safer by reducing the number of non-emergency calls to 9-1-1 operators. City managers and Councilmembers could use the 3-1-1 software system to track responsiveness and results for their constituents.

3. Free Councilmembers to Spend More Time with Neighbors.

What’s the easiest way to carve out time for Councilmembers? Free them from time-consuming research required to vote on frivolous or unnecessary Resolutions. The Council should immediately amend its own rules [Section V (A)(2)] to allow abstentions on most Resolutions, except those needed for the city budget, legislative work plans, and related Ordinances. Enable the “Work Horses” in City Council to ignore the “Show Horses.”

Here’s why abstentions are so important: Certain City Councilmembers love to spend weeks drafting and lobbying their colleagues to support Resolutions that have nothing to do with city government. But City Council’s own rules require Councilmembers to vote Yes or No. Example: international affairs. Will the United Nations really care what the Seattle City Council thinks about treaties with foreign nations? No. Yet Councilmembers are spending precious hours researching them. Let Councilmembers abstain from these distractions so they can spend more time listening to constituents.  Fewer TED Talks, More Sidewalks!

4. Conduct a Poll Every Year and Share it with the Public:

After all of those community meetings, here’s what City Councilmembers really listen to: polls. Unfortunately, politicians conduct polls only when they are trying to get re-elected – whereas they should have been listening to a wide array of residents during the previous four years. They also hog the polling data for themselves. Worst of all, they are beholden to the campaign contributors who pay the pollsters. So, let’s democratize the data.  Conduct official surveys and release results to the public as cities already do in California,  Missouri, and Canada.

Methodically asking residents across the city what they think can help to prioritize funding, assist journalists, and inform community groups. Surveys would not substitute for deeper debate and discussion with neighborhood groups and vulnerable populations, but gathering information from a well-crafted, professionally conducted phone survey of residents will enhance our public discourse.

Engaging with the residents of Seattle should not be a separate chore or box to check when elected officials need something.  Connecting with constituents is the essence of being a Councilmember.

If you agree, send this website link of our Crosscut column to the City Council and to the candidates:

The link:

City Councilmember and candidate e-mail addresses:

Get Results

Find It, Fix It App

For the past year, “4 to Explore” has been reporting graffiti, trash, damaged signs, and other nuisances in an effort to improve our quality of life in Northeast Seattle. Other neighbors have been joining the cause by calling the city’s Customer Service Bureau at 206-684-2489 (which is poorly staffed) or trying the city’s new mobile phone app “Find It, Fix It” (which suffered a slow start last year).

In a positive sign that our city government might finally be getting back to the basics of, well, city government, the new Mayor Ed Murray (1) expanded the phone app to include fixing street lights and illegal dumping and (2) led some of his Department heads in South Seattle on Community Walks using the “Find it, Fix It” app to fix problems and improve safety. Kudos to the thoughtful staff person who originated this idea.  We encourage and welcome these Community Walks in Northeast Seattle, too, but we can also take the initiative with this new tool and clean up our neighborhoods ourselves.

In addition to ad hoc community walks, many cities already have fully staffed 24-hour Call Centers (using the easy to remember 3-1-1). A 3-1-1 Call Center reduces the burden on the 9-1-1 system, provides residents with a single phone number, and enables mayors to track the performance of city staff to keep neighborhoods, parks, and roads clean and safe. (If you’ve ever tried to report graffiti and been bounced around, you would love a 3-1-1 system.) As a city of innovation, Seattle should have a robust 3-1-1 Call Center, too.

Due, in part, to the frustration of not having a point person to Get Results for simple neighborhood problems, voters recently approved a new neighborhood-based method for electing 7 of our 9 City Councilmembers.  Northeast Seattle includes districts #4 and parts of #5. Find your district on the City Clerk’s website. We will select these neighborhood Councilmembers in 2015. The Ravenna Blog will track the contests closely.

For creative ideas on how to engage citizens to reinvent government, check out the 2013 book Citizenville or explore our website: www.4toExplore.org.

Engage More

Read “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Jane Jacobs

As bloggers posing as journalists in Seattle reduce people’s heartfelt views and concerns into tweetable labels like “NIMBY” and “Density Demagogues”, it’s important to take a deep breath and seek to understand all sides.

Jane Jacobs is a lighthouse for me. In her seminal work “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” Jacobs wrote, “To generate exuberant diversity in a city’s streets and districts, four conditions are indispensable”

1. “The Need for Mixed Primary Uses” “These must insure the presence of people who go outdoors on different schedules and are in the place for diffferent purposes.”

2. “The Need for Small Blocks” “That is, streets and opportunities to turn corners must be frequent.”

3. “The Need for Aged Buildings.” “The district must mingle buildings that vary in age and condition, including a good proportion of old ones so that they vary in the economic yield they must produce.” “…Hundreds of ordinary enterprises, necessary to the safety and public life of streets and neighborhoods, and appreciated for their convenience and personal quality, can make out succesfully in old buildings, but are inexorably slain by the high overhead of new construction.”

4. “The Need for Concentration” “This includes dense concentration in the case of people who are there because of residence.” “However, it will not do to jump to the conclusion that all areas of high dwelling density in cities do well. They do not, and to assume that this is ‘the’ answer would be to oversimplify outrageously.” “The reason dwelling densities can begin repressing diversity if they get too high is this: At some point, to accommodate so many dwellings on the land, standardization of the buildings must set in. This is fatal, because great diversity in age and types of buildings has a direct, explicit connection with diversity of population, diversity of enterprises and diversity of scenes.”

“The necessity for these four conditions is the most important point this book has to make…The purpose of explaining them one at a time is purely for convenience of exposition, not because any one — or even any three — of these necessary conditions is valid alone. ALL four in combination are necessary to generate city diversity.”

For a summary of the book from Wikipedia, CLICK HERE.

To order the book from a Northeast Seattle bookstore Third Place Books, CLICK HERE.

Get our free "4 to Explore" newsletter delivered to your inbox every month. Click Here to Subscribe