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questions of place & home

Posts from the ‘Winter’ category

My Seattle: murals in West Seattle

Above/featured: Facing east at The Junction: SW Alaska Street at California Avenue SW. At left (northeast corner) is the red-brick Campbell Building from 1911, oldest in the neighbourhood and a designated City of Seattle historic landmark since 2017.

What: Paintings depicting the history of West Seattle.
Where: In and around West Seattle’s The Junction.
Why: Arts project with community and pride.

Technically, West Seattle is an area consisting of several neighbourhoods within the city of Seattle. Historically, West Seattle feels separate, a peninsula separated from the centre by the flow of water and peoples along the Duwamish river valley. West Seattle had incorporated as its own city in 1902, before agreeing to annexation by Seattle in 1907.

One key to West Seattle is “The Junction”: an intersection of 2 former streetcar lines “West Seattle” and “Fauntleroy”. As expected, commercial activity took root at the intersection and although streetcars have vanished, the nickname has remained as a simple useful designation.

A product of West Seattle, retired businessman Earl Cruzen (1920-2017) launched a local arts and community project in the late-1980s, inspired after visiting other towns in Washington as well as Chemainus on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island. Cruzen promoted the project with support among residents and business owners, generated fundraising efforts, and brought American and Canadian artists into the city to paint wall murals to highlight the history of people along the Duwamish river and the history of West Seattle. A total of 11 murals were painted, dedicated, and unveiled between 1989 and 1993.

Over time, the murals deteriorated and faded without touchup or maintenance. Members of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society engaged the community in 2018 with questions about the murals, and about raising money to support revitalizing the murals. In May 2018, Adah Cruzen honoured her late-husband with a gift of 100-thousand dollars to the West Seattle Junction Association to boost the restoration process.

So, what do the murals mean to the people of West Seattle?


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My Seattle: London Bridge Studio (Pearl Jam, Temple of the Dog)

Pilgrimage is a noun, defined as “a journey to a place of particular interest or significance.”

There are three things you need to know about a personal music pilgrimage.

One, the music that’s stayed with me came about because I was tuned to `70s radio; I learned I liked the sonic combination of guitars and drums.

Two, on a recent visit to Seattle, I decided to spend the morning in a recording studio outside the city.

Three, at the studio’s location, little outside suggests some important music history was made here.

The two-storey building looks like a cross between a warehouse and ordinary office space. The surroundings include a small commercial complex and a storage-unit facility. Within a quarter-mile, there’s a gas station, some fast-food joints, and a shopping mall. This is the modest setting where London Bridge Studio resides in the city of Shoreline, WA, about 14 km north of downtown Seattle.

It’s unassuming and it’s also important to note how out of the way this location is from other popular places to visit. To visit this place of living music history, you’ll have to make a little more effort.

I’m more than curious, but there’s music that’s meant a great deal and stayed with me over the decades. Recorded in this studio are two important albums on personal playlist and timeline: Temple of the Dog’s 1991 self-titled album as tribute to Mother Love Bone’s Andrew Wood; and “Ten”, Pearl Jam’s 1991 debut album. Much of the credit goes to Rakesh “Rick” Parashar: born and raised in Seattle, first owner and co-founder of the studio, and producer for “Ten” and “Temple of the Dog”.


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My Seattle: living elements of the city’s black history

Oh Seattle: how is your black history defined?

With the city’s proximity to Vancouver, my time in or any understanding of Seattle was incomplete without an examination of the city’s non-white communities. I had questions about the black community and in particular why the city remains racially segregated. People of color, including black people, were once forbidden from buying houses in specific neighbourhoods because of their skin colour. The Central District (CD) thrived as a black community in the 2nd-half of the 20th-century, but now, citizens struggle with gentrification, displacement, and economic racism. There’s much more I need to ask and learn, but for now, I describe below a selection of landmarks highlighting contributions by and the historical impact of the black community to city and nation.


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seaplane, Harbour Air, Stanley Park, Burrard Inlet, Salish Sea, North Shore, West Vancouver, Vancouver, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

Seasons: winter (LAPC)

Above/featured: Harbour Air seaplane landing in Burrard Inlet: Vancouver, BC – 6 Dec 2016.

In winter, low-lying areas in the Canadian southwest don’t get snow, but when there’s a dump of at least an inch or two, that’s enough to paralyze the cities’ streets. Drivers are spoiled by the lack of snow, unaccustomed to dealing with the slip and slide. But after a snow event, the day after brings out the sun, almost like clockwork. To that end, I’ve always been fascinated by winter views on snow-capped summits; it’s about the view after all.

In the languages with which I’m familiar, the word “winter” appears as:

  • Chinese: 冬季
  • French: l’hiver
  • German: der Winter
  • Spanish: el invierno

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Black hockey history with NHL mobile museum, in Seattle

When a city receives an expansion team, that immediately drives anticipation for a new pro sports presence and interest for an expected intraregional rivalry. It’s a perfect time for the professional sports league to come into town and speak to the city’s audience.

The new NHL Seattle Kraken ice hockey team will begin play in the 2021-2022 season, and regional bragging rights will begin immediately with an immediate regional rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks, not unlike the decades-old soccer rivalry between the Seattle Sounders and the Vancouver Whitecaps (which I first witnessed in the 1970s in the old original NASL).

But the following questions remain timely: For whom is ice hockey? What is the relationship between the sport and people of colour? What is the history of black people in professional hockey? I hope the following sheds a little bit of light on black hockey history.


NHL Black Hockey History Mobile Museum

In early 2020, a travelling museum exhibition highlighted how black Canadians, black Americans, and their respective communities have made important contributions to the winter sport of ice hockey at both amateur and professional levels.⁣ Presented in conjunction with the American Legacy Network, the NHL Black Hockey History mobile museum made its way throughout North America, stopping in 14 cities: Washington, DC; Detroit, MI; St. Louis, MO; Pittsburgh, PA; Ottawa, ON; Toronto, ON; Newark, NJ; Nashville, TN; Anaheim, CA; Los Angeles, CA; San Jose, CA; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; and Tempe, AZ.

In a continuation of activities associated with Black History Month, Kim Davis, NHL executive vice president, wrote about what Black History Month meant to her, and what players of colour past and present have meant to the game of hockey (28 Feb 2020).

The mobile museum dropped anchor for its 4-day visit in Seattle in early March, with the first stop at Jimi Hendrix Park next to the city’s Northwest African American Museum.


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