Friday, February 25, 2011

Aurora Commons

By Andrew W.E. Carlson

I had my own misgivings about Aurora when I moved to the area. It seemed to me like a highway, or a swiftly moving river without many crossings. But I found myself living on that highway, becoming acquainted with my neighbors and then transformed by those relationships. It turns out a number of other people living on or near Aurora Avenue are experiencing something similar, so we’ve been working to create a neighborhood living room, where we can participate together in a story of community. We’re calling it The Aurora Commons.

A lot of people ask what this place is. There isn’t an easy answer, because in many ways we’re just trying to put a roof over the surprisingly beautiful stuff that is already happening in the neighborhood. A few summers ago, for instance, we initiated a communal garden and weekly BBQs. The rhythm was birthed out of simple curiosity and a desire to know our neighbors, and has become a full-fledged festival resembling one of Tolkien’s secondary worlds. You see home-owning families sharing the table with families from nearby motels, a homeless woman chatting it up with someone visiting from out of town, a hopeless veteran mingling with an optimistic college student.

We want to continue creating these secondary worlds where people from all walks of life are recognizing one another as neighbors. That’s the motivation behind The Aurora Commons. You leave your status at the door.

People are catching wind of the mystery already. Most of the remodeling work has been done by volunteers from the neighborhood. In fact, not long ago a floor specialist named Ray noticed the stacks of hardwood awaiting installation. Fourteen consecutive volunteer days later, and with assistance from people inspired by his generosity, he backed away proudly from a gorgeous floor.

I overheard a conversation between Ray and a pessimistic passer-by. Ray was telling him about the vision, and the guy responded, “Oh, I gotcha, another place for people to get handouts.” Ray was quick to correct him. “It’s not like that here. This is a place for relationships, for everyone to share their lives and stories with one another.”

I recognize that the story of Aurora is not always uplifting. But those of us who have been digging in a little have discovered a wealth of life along the corridor. It is a highway, but there’s always another story. Aurora appears to us like a river. And not just an annoying obstacle between the ridge and the lake, this river’s bank is worth spending time along.

The Aurora Commons is located at 8914 Aurora Avenue. Stop by, have a cup of coffee with one of your neighbors, and check out for more inspiration.


Join Aurora Commons for a free art class, storytelling, a cup of coffee, open-mic night, yoga, conversation, summer BBQs, community and much more.

Interested in volunteering? Check their website at

For more information, contact Launa Steinsdoerfer (Program Coordinator) at

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Call To Action!

Last July we learned that the Washington State Historical Society Advisory Board recommended our Capital Campaign grant request of $995,000 for funding through the Heritage Capital Projects Fund; one of 29 projects that were recommended. Unfortunately, this fund was omitted in the Governor's proposed budget, due to tough choices we all know need to be made. In the case of the Heritage Capital Projects Fund, however, funds would not have been pulled from urgently needed health and human services. The fund is supported by bonds issued by the State.

This funding is critical to help us move forward with the renovation of the Phinney Neighborhood Center's Blue Building, making it accessible with an elevator, new restrooms and other ADA upgrades. Our vision is to create a living, enduring space that allows people of all ages and abilities to gather and share their lives, ideas and experiences.

Furthermore, the Norcliffe Foundation has pledged $500,000 in support of our project if we can have a building permit in place by the end of 2011 to begin construction in early 2012. Without state funding, we may not be able to begin construction and could lose the Norcliffe funding as well.

We need your help to ensure our project receives the funding to move forward.

Click here to find out how you can help.

Seattle Magazine Article: "Sweet Streets: Greenwood Avenue North"

"Sweet Streets: Greenwood Avenue North"
By: Shannon O'Leary

Published in Seattle Magazine's March 2011 edition.

Click here to read the article.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

PNA Wine Taste & Special Event

Don't miss the 21st annual PNA Wine Taste on Saturday, February 26, from 7:30-10 pm. Compare terrific wines while socializing with friends and neighbors. The event includes your choice of ten tastes of wine, fabulous hors d’oeuvres from Bill Drummond Catering and the Wine Taste committee and French jazz/samba music performed by Pourqoui Pas. There will be a wine store during the event giving tasters the opportunity to purchase some of the wines they are tasting.

Click here for more information on the event and to view a list of participating wineries.

Special Event
Stumbling Goat Bar and Bistro is hosting a winemakers dinner featuring four Wall Walla wineries that are participating in the PNA Wine Taste. The dinner is on Sunday, February 27. Doors open at 5:30 pm, Dinner at 6:00 pm, $100 all inclusive including dinner, wine, gratuity and tax.

Stumbling Goat Bar and Bistro is located at 6722 Greenwood Ave N. Seating is limited. For reservations call 206.784.3535.

View the menu in PDF format

Caffe Vita Greenwood Grand Opening Sales Donated to Phinney Neighborhood Association

Click here for more information.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Busy Night at the Phinney Center Gallery

Friday night was a busy night at the Phinney Center Gallery. At our opening reception for Easelstan 5 @ 10, we had a great crowd and fun event. Thank you to everyone who came out to support this wonderful group of artists from our community. If you didn't get a chance to attend the opening reception, the art will be on view in the Phinney Center Gallery until February 25th.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ballard neighbors create an extended family

Check out this great article in today’s Seattle Times! As the founder of Neighbor Appreciation Day 17 years ago, I am delighted to read this kind of “news." Long-time PNA business member and Home Fair exhibitor, Michael Vacirca of LastingNest construction, is featured along with his neighbors. They and their children have created a micro-community centered around Salmon Bay Park. Read the story for more about their neighborliness and some of the great ideas other Ballard folks have for creating lasting connections with the folks close by. Neighbor Appreciation Day is Saturday, February 12. What will you do to get to know your neighbors, lend a helping hand, or express your thanks to the people who share your little corner of Seattle?

Judith Wood
Program Director, Phinney Neighborhood Association

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What Does PNA Mean To You?

The Phinney Neighborhood Association (PNA) can mean many different things to many different people. It can be the beating heart of the neighborhood where classes and programs are offered. It can be the shelter for hurried parents and their precious children in the form of its kids programs. It can be where you can find fresh local produce during the summer. It can be the warm heart of the citizens in the forms of the soup kitchen and the Greenwood Senior Center. It can also be the big blue building next to Red Mills Burger that you drive by everyday on the way to/from work.

I moved into the neighborhood a mere 2 years ago myself with my wife Skye. We used to live at Northgate in a townhouse that is perfect as a place to rest your head at night and store our stuff. What it is not is a place of stability and tranquility. When we started to look for a new house, Phinney Ridge and Greenwood immediately came to mind, and one of the biggest attractions to us about these neighborhoods is PNA and what it represents to the two of us. A gathering place for a real community that is not born out of homogeniality like what one might find in many suburbs, but out of conscious choice, real diversity and shared common values

As the community at large, PNA members, staff and board of directors work to create a vision for the upcoming years, I would love to hear from you as to what is PNA to you.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Would you like to show your work in a gallery?

The Phinney Center Gallery is currently accepting submissions for the 2012 gallery schedule by visual artists working in 2D or 3D media for individual or group shows. Our gallery has 88 linear feet of gallery wall space, as well as display capacity for three-dimensional work in locked glass cases and pedestals. Priority consideration for gallery shows will go to artists working in the Puget Sound area who are not currently represented by a commercial gallery. There is no fee for application. All applications are due March 1, 2011. For more information, see or contact