4 to Explore: A Northeast Neighborhoods Newsletter


1 Store to Adore

Gargoyles Statuary

Did you know that “Seattle’s source of gargoyles and gothic statuary” is here in Northeast Seattle? When we visited this magically cozy store on the Ave, the owner Gayle Nowicki was beaming positive energy, helping customers find what they needed — from gargoyle statues to otherworldly lamps, incense, paintings, and postcards. She made sure I knew they host funky art shows periodically in the back of their store, such as the “Spooked Hearts” art show (featured earlier on our Facebook page).

This season’s “Store to Adore” is GARGOYLES STATUARY on The Ave in the U District neighborhood.

As they say more eloquently on their website, “Gargoyles Statuary offers images and accoutrements rooted in antiquity and imagination — unseen things brought to light, to beautify, serve and protect — sacred, profane, whimsical or wicked, always with an eye to excellence.”

What are Gargoyles and why should we care? Gargoyles are protectors in both practical and mystical ways. Medieval architects often designed them as fantastical rain gutters to divert rain water away from buildings, thereby delaying deterioration. The good condition of Notre Dame in Paris, for example, is thanks in part to the many hollowed-out gargoyles jutting from the walls of the cherished building’s exterior. They may look scary, but many believe they serve as loyal guardians of your home, place of worship, or other important building. Therefore, their scary expressions are meant to scare away evil forces!

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

  • LOCATION: 4550 University Way NE (“The Ave), Seattle, WA 98105
    Across the street from the Starbucks on The Ave, near NE 47th Street. Look for the single story building with an historic facade.
  • HOURS: Open 7 days a week from 12:00 noon to 7:00 p.m.

For a Q&A with the owner on Crave, CLICK HERE.

Gargoyles is featured on the “Only In Seattle” website, which is ironic because that initiative to “support” local, small businesses is run by our City’s Office of Economic Development — the same city government whose reckless upzones incentivize landlords to raise rents through the roof or sell out to for-profit developers, who then tear down buildings to make room for luxury studios and chain stores. Since they cannot rely on their own city officials to advocate for them (or even to represent them), perhaps the Stores to Adore and the naturally occurring affordable housing at risk in the U District will soon resort to installing gargoyles to ward off those destructive forces.

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 the Portage Bay Cafe. Adore stores like The Trading Musician to Artist & Craftsman Supply as well as the Henry Museum and Burke Museum.

1 Meeting to Connect

Follow on Facebook and Twitter for Spring Meetings

For the Spring Season this year, the best way to learn of “Meetings to Connect” is to follow 4 to Explore on Facebook or Twitter. Follow the 3 easy steps below and enjoy exploring.


  1. Go to www.facebook.com
  2. Search for AlexPedersenSeattle
  3. Click Like/Follow Page.


  1. Go to www.twitter.com.
  2. Type our “handle” into Search box: @alexpedersensea .
  3. Then click “Follow.”

Some of the best meetings occurred already such as the “Save the Ave” fundraiser March 31, 2017 for small, neighborhood businesses under duress from City Hall’s pro-developer policies. To “Save the Ave,” CLICK HERE.

Also, shaking up the race for mayor of Seattle, Nikkita Oliver launched her bid on April 2, 2017.  Could Nikkita Oliver become the first woman mayor in 100 years? Washington Hall was packed with people from across the city, including from Northeast Seattle. Nikkita Oliver is nicknamed “K.O.” like “Knock-Out”.  She earned her law degree from the University of Washington. She had clearly done her homework on the issues. In her speech, Nikkita Oliver said a lot for neighborhoods to cheer:

  • “We must stop giving developers a free ride…We have to counteract displacement…including our seniors — we have to take care of our seniors…Input must be included in a meaningful way…”  
  • Ms. Oliver also advocated strongly for permanent and humane solutions to homelessness like the best practice Housing First, rather than encampments.

For all of the candidates running for Mayor, CLICK HERE. Nikkita Oliver seems to be the only challenger of Ed Murray with real potential, thus far. Meanwhile, Mayor Murray has raised a considerable war chest. Hopefully there will be a mayoral debate in Northeast Seattle so that we can engage in a meaningful discussion about the future of our neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, many Meetings to Connect on the horizon this Spring in Northeast Seattle are sponsored by City Hall and designed to spoon-feed City Hall propaganda, such as the HALA “Open Houses“.

There is at least one upcoming AND meaningful Meeting to Connect: the Seattle Neighborhood Coalition meeting on Saturday, April 8, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. at “The Central” at 500 30th Avenue South. While the SNC meeting is not held in Northeast Seattle, Bill Bradburd is conducting training for neighborhood groups across the city on how to stay informed and engaged as City Hall attempts to implement its profit-fueled HALA upzones. All are welcome. For a map to the event, CLICK HERE.

When meaningful community-driven Meetings to Connect emerge in Northeast Seattle during the Spring months, we’ll post them on Facebook and Twitter for you. That’s why you should connect with us on Facebook and Twitter today.

For our “Meetings to Connect” over the past 3 years, CLICK HERE.

Enjoy Exploring!

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1 Fun to Enjoy

Magic Mondays at Ravenna Third Place Books

Abracadabra!  Now you see it, now you don’t.  With all of the change in Seattle, we can say that about our city. But let’s have some fun and — while hard to believe — let’s have fun on a Monday. That’s right, MAGIC MONDAYS AT RAVENNA THIRD PLACE BOOKS. Free evening performances on the 2nd Monday of every month.

As described by Seattle’s Child magazine, “…Each show features the Pacific Northwest’s finest magicians performing feats of mystery, wonder and the bizarre. With its origins in the theaters of London and New York, Magic Monday is a cabaret of conjuring in the intimate setting of our bookstore.” 

  • WHAT: Magic Mondays at Ravenna Third Place Books
  • WHEN: 2nd Mondays each month 7:00 p.m. This spring that’s
  • Monday, April 10,
  • Monday, May 8,
  • Monday, June 12.
  • For regular hours of the bookstore, CLICK HERE. (It’s open every day and night).
  • WHERE: Ravenna Third Place Books, 6504 20th Ave NE at NE 65th St., Seattle, WA 98115.
  • PARKING? Yes, in back.
  • COST: Free, but bring money to buy books.
  • CAFE on site? Yes, Vios:  CLICK HERE.

One of our first “Store to Adore” articles (in Sept 2013) featured the tender trifecta of Ravenna Third Place Books, Vios restaurant & cafe, and Third Place Pub. For that original article, CLICK HERE.

For the books recommended by the well-read Third Place staff, CLICK HERE. This month’s “Staff Picks” include “Evicted: Poverty & Profit in the American City.”

For video showing the magic coin-bending trick, CLICK HERE.
For lots of magic tricks for kids, CLICK HERE.

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

NEIGHBORHOOD:  To explore more of Ravenna and Bryant, subscribe to the Ravenna Blog, “like” 4 to Explore on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. You can also attend the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association (RCBA). The RBCA is among the many community councils that serve on our Northeast District Council (NEDC).


Easter Egg Hunts at Northeast Seattle Parks.

  • Ravenna:
  • Where: Ravenna Eckstein Community Center.
  • When: Saturday, April 15 at 9:45 a.m., Rain or Shine.
  • Laurelhurst:
  • Where: Laurelhurst Community Center
  • When: Saturday, April 15 at 9:45 a.m., Rain or Shine.
  • Other locations in Northeast Seattle, CLICK HERE.

1 Issue to Engage

Straightening Out A Councilman’s Twisted Truth

Do you recognize this bulldozer? It’s hard to tell because there are so many rumbling in Northeast Seattle these days. (It’s the one on NE 50th and Brooklyn).

Seattle leaders should prevent demolitions and displacement. Instead, our local government officials — led by Councilmember Rob Johnson — have been spending an enormous amount of time and taxpayer resources to quickly implement polices that will benefit their for-profit developer campaign donors and intensify demolitions and displacement.

Councilmember Rob Johnson’s recent Op Ed entitled “U District leads the way in citywide rezone effort” was misleading and irresponsible. Johnson, who was elected to represent Northeast Seattle in “District 4”, was not only celebrating his efforts to enact a law massively upzoning the U District but also giving notice to the rest of the city that he plans to upzone their neighborhoods, too. Disturbingly, many of his statements lauding the upzones were false.

In this troubling era of government officials spreading alternative facts to push their agendas and confuse communities, COUNCILMEMBER ROB JOHNSON’S TWISTING OF THE TRUTH MUST BE CORRECTED.

Misleading Statement #1: Rob Johnson wrote, “for the first time in Seattle’s history we will require affordable housing as we grow.”

Reality:  The U District and other neighborhoods in Seattle already had “Incentive Zoning” that required contributions to affordable housing (and child care and parks) if for-profit developers wanted to build higher. While the new mandatory approach could have been better, Johnson blocked amendments that would have increased affordable housing from just 9% to 10%. Without showing his math, Johnson claimed it would hurt for-profit developers. “The Urbanist” organization pointed out that other, bolder cities set-aside 20% for affordable housing. Unfortunately, the upzone enacted by City Hall may actually reduce affordable housing, as noted by the Seattle Times in their recent piece entitled “Build-Baby-Build Frenzy Leaves Affordability in the Dust.”

Misleading Statement #2: Rob Johnson wrote that the upzones are “living our values as a welcoming, sustainable and inclusive city”

Reality:  Rob Johnson gave for-profit developers a loophole:  they can write a check rather than housing low income people in their buildings. Not requiring affordable housing onsite is the opposite of inclusive.

Misleading Statement #3: Rob Johnson wrote, “We required developers to provide more open space”

Reality: Rob Johnson dismissed an ongoing, grass-roots effort to create a public square above the light rail station.

Misleading Statement #4: Rob Johnson wrote, “By investing in citywide assets like…schools…we encourage more people to live in high-amenity areas.” 

Reality:  Rob Johnson did nothing for schools. In fact, he had a once-in-a-generation opportunity to charge developer’s Impact Fees by which developers would finally to pay their fair share of growth as they do throughout the country. State law specifically allows impact fees to pay for schools, parks, and fire stations. Schools in Northeast Seattle are bursting at the seams, but Johnson ignored community requests for impact fees.  What Johnson did NOT mention in his editorial is that his election campaign was funded richly by for-profit developers. (CLICK HERE and HERE).

Misleading Statement #5: Rob Johnson wrote that the upzones are “contributing to stable neighborhoods, businesses, and schools”

Reality:  Borrowing the term from legendary urban thinker Jane Jacobs (who wrote The Death and Life of Great American Cities), Rob Johnson’s massive and rapid upzone is “cataclysmic” and therefore the opposite of stable:  it will de-stabilize the neighborhoods and the small, local businesses we cherish.  Demolishing existing buildings to construct more expensive units that require higher rents will push people out and economically gentrify neighborhoods.

Misleading Statement #6: Rob Johnson wrote that upzones will “continue to lower our greenhouse gas emissions”

Reality:  Rob Johnson’s upzone is an environmental shell game:  by pushing people of modest means out of the U District as wealthy tech workers snatch up the expensive new buildings, the former residents will need to commute longer distances in their cars, thereby doing nothing to curb emissions

Misleading Statement #7: Rob Johnson wrote “we delayed zoning changes along a stretch of the Ave so a study on the potential impacts on small businesses could be completed.”

Reality: This “delay” was a cynical tactic to allow passage of the larger upzone everywhere else in the neighborhood. Because Rob Johnson is the Councilmember representing the Ave, it’s like having the “fox in the hen house”.  He has shown no intention of letting any “study” stop him from upzoning the rest of the Ave to benefit his developer donors. It seems he and the bureaucracy are simply waiting out the neighborhood, hoping they tire of fighting City Hall. Fortunately, there is a growing movement to Save the Ave (see end of this column).

Misleading Statement #8: Rob Johnson wrote, “This legislation includes changes made in direct response to feedback”

Reality: As shown above, Rob Johnson constantly ignored feedback from community members.  In fact, he shoved several more blocks into the upzone at the last minute, ignoring pleas to preserve the affordable housing there.

Sadly, Rob Johnson stooped to a new low by comparing concerned communities to Trump for challenging his bulldozer approach to city planning.  Reality: The people in the neighborhoods wanted more affordable housing whereas Johnson pushed for less.  Trump is a developer and developers funded Johnson’s campaign.  Trump abuses the reins of government by spreading fake news to confuse communities. We see that cynical tactic coming from City Hall, not from communities trying to have a say in their future.

We expect our government officials to listen and lead, not to spout misinformation and mislead. Thankfully, residents are not letting the U District upzone get them down and are still turning up the volume on City Hall.

What can you do?  Engage. Fight Back. City Hall is coming to develop your neighborhood whether you like it or not. Why? Because most of City Hall is representing the moneyed-interests, not the public interest. While they complain about “wealthy” homeowners (many of whom are seniors on fixed incomes), our elected officials take money and direction from local billionaires.

Save the Ave:  There is a new and growing effort to preserve the funky, small businesses on The Ave (University Way NE). Many of these have been featured as “Stores to Adore” on www.4toExplore.org, such as Scarecrow Video and Gargoyle Statuary.

  • For the small businesses devoted to preserving the Ave, CLICK HERE.
  • For the “Save the Ave” website, CLICK HERE.

Support Councilmember Lisa Herbold: Make the 1% pay more than 2% !! Make downtown developers pay their fair share for the cost of growth and congestion. Write council@seattle.gov today to reach all 9 City Councilmembers. Ask them to support Lisa Herbold’s amendments to increase the affordable housing obligations for developers in downtown and South Lake Union. Since Rob Johnson blocked neighborhood requests to increase affordability in the U District, making the Council increase affordability for downtown will set a better precedent as City Hall plots to redevelop other neighborhoods.

Need Inspiration?  For news footage of neighbors banding together recently to protest City Hall’s top-down, pro-developer policies, CLICK HERE.

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.

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