Wednesday, September 17, 2008

PNA Set to Buy its Home of 27 years

Sept 15, 2008

SEATTLE – Following months of negotiation, the Seattle School Board will soon decide whether or not to accept a purchase and sale agreement that will allow the Phinney Neighborhood Association to buy the former John B. Allen Elementary School for $3,050,000. The agreement is set to be introduced at the Sept. 17 School Board meeting. A final vote is expected on Oct. 1.

Allen Elementary was one of several Seattle schools closed in June of 1981 due to declining enrollment in the district. The PNA has leased the buildings since October 1981, creating the Phinney Neighborhood Center, a unique multi-purpose community center that is operated by the neighborhood rather than the City’s Parks Department.

The Phinney Neighborhood Center is Seattle’s best known community center and has become a model across the nation for how to build community. It serves as the focus of the Phinney-Greenwood neighborhoods with a wide variety of programs, services, events and activities – everything from childcare to beer tastes, a tool lending library to soup kitchens – that attract over 20,000 people each year from throughout the region. Last year, more than 1,000 volunteers donated over 23,000 hours to PNA programs and activities.

Purchasing the site has been a long-term goal for the Association, notes PNA Executive Director Ed Medeiros. “The PNA has been careful stewards of the Allen School for almost three decades, preserving these historic buildings for community use. Ownership will help guarantee that the community continues to determine the future of this valuable neighborhood asset.”

The School District placed the school on its surplus property list in spring 2007 and offered the Association the opportunity to purchase the site. School District staff commissioned a third party appraisal of the property based on a variety of uses. The property was landmarked by the City’s Historic Landmarks Commission in February 2008, limiting some of those uses. PNA and School District representatives have been negotiating since spring 2008 on the details of the purchase and sale agreement.

“We’re happy to have come to an agreement with the School District that we believe represents a win/win for everybody – the district, the Association, and most importantly the community,” Medeiros added.

In anticipation of the sale, the Association earlier this year launched a $12 million capital campaign, Community Begins Here, to finance both purchase and major improvements and renovations to the site.

“Ownership is just the first step,” Medeiros notes. “Over the years, members and neighbors have developed a comprehensive site plan that includes new entryways, new elevators, a new hillside park, and new community gathering spaces. Once we own the buildings, these dreams can finally become reality.”

“And because preservation, sustainability and stewardship have always been part of the PNA’s values, we’re going to insure that those values drive all of the improvements and renovations as well. Our vision is to create a living, sustainable, enduring community space that retains the character and charm of these historic, landmarked buildings for generations to come.”

Last fall, the Seattle City Council and Mayor Greg Nickels appropriated $2.5 million for purchase and improvement of the Phinney Neighborhood Center. The State has also designated $4.5 million to be used to purchase surplussed public schools. That money will be divided among Allen and four other schools.

With additional donations from individuals and foundations, the PNA’s Capital Campaign has so far raised just over $4 million of the $12 million goal.

For additional information about the PNA and the Phinney Neighborhood Center, visit

Contacts: Ed Medeiros, Executive Director, 206-783-2244 (H-206-782-6232)
Ann Bowden, Development Director, 206-783-2244

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Do you see what I see?

As some of you know, I love to take pictures. I have seen a lot of photos by a lot of people, but I have to tell you the show in the Phinney Center Gallery this month stops me in my tracks. When Andrea Huysing shows me what the world looks like through her lens, I just want to BE HER.

. . .it's not so much out of jealousy that every one of her photos is so much more stunning than anything I've ever taken (which they are, but I am so over that). . .

It is more out of an intense yearning to be able to see the beautiful everyday world the way she does: in intricate detail and in vibrant color. Each image is a simple pleasure to explore. If you live in Seattle you will recognize some of these places/objects, but I guarantee you will never have seen them like this before.
The joys of foreground/background, contrast, composition, positive and negative space, light, and texture are all laid out for you in a way that is a joy to experience whether as an art geek, or simply as a being. She shows me intricate everyday subjects, with all the sharp and honest detail of unaltered uncropped photography presented in a very contemporary frameless style, a very simple sensibility that inspires me to say, "Ah ha! I SEE."Come on down and see for yourselves. Opening night for “Life in Color,” the photography of Andrea Huysing is Friday September 12, from 7 - 9 p.m. The show runs through Friday, 26th September 2008. If you need a preview, already missed the show, or if you just prefer to experience life virtually check out her work at >>Back to main blog page

Monday, September 8, 2008

Tool Sale Saturday, Sept. 13

Over the years a large number of tools have been donated to the PNA that are not needed for the Tool Library. Mike Broili, the director of the program, felt it was time to add a new dimension to the activities of the Well Home Program: a Tool Swap Meet!

Asked what types of tools will show up Broili said, “I think it is safe to assume there will be lots of power tools, both electrical and gas powered. There should be a good array of yard tools. I would also expect mechanics tool such as wrenches, meters, pliers, gauges, and so forth. Construction tools such as levels, chisels, drills, and saws are also commonly found at this sort of sale.”

Broili says that, as a collector of old tools, he hopes to see some antique tools, “I’m looking forward to finding a primo wood working plane, or even better, an antique tool that I am totally unfamiliar with and will need to research.”

The Swap Meet will be held in the lower parking lot of the Phinney Neighborhood Center, 6532 Phinney Ave. N. on Saturday, September 13, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Cost for a space is $15 for non-members and $10 for PNA members. Sellers must bring their own tables.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

2008 PNA Garden Tour September 7

This year’s Phinney Neighborhood Association Garden Tour emphasizes diversity and promises to delight. From an elegant hillside garden with a stunning view to a garden incorporating recycled materials, there is something here for everyone.

The self-guided walking tour includes eight gardens, many of them created with little more than great vision and a lot of hard work. The Garden Tour features a contrast of both professionally designed and installed gardens, and those created by resident gardeners. You will notice an amazing array of plants on the tour and many of the gardens have utilized designs for sustainability, some featuring water catchment systems.

One of the gardens began with the owner's desire to have a garden view from every window. Working with professional salvage landscapers from Green Xross Landscaping, the gardener created a sanctuary. Overgrown ivy, rotting apple trees, untidy shrubs, and old railroad ties were replaced by designed rock beds, curved lawns, metal trellis, patchwork brick pathways and old glass; all creatively applied using reclaimed and recycled materials. Lush and varied mixed borders complete this unique and artistic garden.

In addition to the gardens, the Tour includes an opportunity to purchase $1.00 raffle tickets for a chance to win 1,000 lbs of Zoo Doo! (Thank you to Woodland Park Zoo!) Another exciting addition is a sale of local garden art held at the Phinney Neighborhood Center parking lot; ten percent of the proceeds benefit the PNA.

Gardeners and volunteers will be on hand to answer your questions. The Garden Tour is a great learning experience where design ideas abound for both the novice and the experienced gardener. Cameras and notebooks are allowed.

Sponsored by Swanson’s Nursery, the 2008 Garden Tour will be held on Sunday, September 7, rain or shine. Tickets are $10 for PNA members, $15 for the general public and $5 for children ages 2-12. Tickets are available at the Phinney Neighborhood Center, online at or at Swanson’s Nursery.


This article was written by Joanne Fenn. Photos by Elisa Sherman

You can see more photos of the gardens on the tour here

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