Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Hip Hop class series explores its influence into every country of globe

By Spyridon “Spin” Nicon
“How did we get here?” pondered class participant Andy McCone at Phinney Neighborhood Association’s new series titled “Comprehending Hip Hop.”

A very insightful and somewhat esoteric question: not necessarily asking how did we come to exist on planet earth, or even how did we ultimately end up enrolling in this engaging course offered by the PNA, but rather, how did hip hop get to this point?

Hip hop has racked up less than half a century of history, yet its ever-present force, full of incredible influence, wiggles its way into every corner of the globe. Hip hop unfurls a wide-open landscape for many and varied discussion topics.

You name it, hip hop can take you there–innovation, social trends, gentrification, intellectual property, perseverance, cultural appropriation, positivity in the face of inequality, and life expressed through the unheard voices of America.

I spend a fair amount of time thinking about how hip hop got to this point.

At the beginning of the school year, I commented on my neighbor Lauren Campbell’s fresh new kicks. Lauren’s school requires a uniform, so, of course, a definitive method of self-expression is one’s footwear. And what was Lauren sporting, you ask? Shell Toe Adidas.

Also known as “Superstars,” these are the same Adidas that the pioneering Queens trio RUN-DMC rapped about in 1986. The same Adidas that I bought at Chubby & Tubby on Aurora when I was in eighth grade. The same Adidas that became an iconic staple in hip hop fashion. Is it any coincidence that Lauren sought out these specific shoes as her generation embraces a resurgence of the late 80s and early 90s? Nope. Hip hop sets trends–trends that inspire for decades. 

Photo by Paige Campbell—older sister of Lauren, senior at Ballard High, young thespian and budding photographer

 At Comprehending Hip Hop’s fifth and final fall session–an interactive rap analysis and discussion of the MC –class member Pierson Brooks passed along his appreciation by saying, “It was so refreshing to discuss hip hop in such an open and multigenerational setting.” I agree. We all had a blast, and we look forward to more of these stimulating conversations.

Register for the upcoming class series!

Mondays, 7-9 pm
February 13-March 20  
Learn more & Register »

Follow me on Instagram @comprehendinghiphop.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Meat and Potatoes at Olsen Farms

by Dick Gillett

Checking out the Olsen Farms stall at Friday’s Phinney Farmers Market, you see two things: a large and varied row of potatoes on one table, and an array of deep-freeze foot lockers on two other tables. Not very picturesque compared to the displays of other stalls—but the proof is in the eating!

Brent and Kira Olsen’s family farm, located near Colville in northeast Washington, comprises about 300 acres plus additional leased land nearby. According to Kira, Brent started farming in the mid-1990s with a vegetable crop, then switched to growing potatoes, then tried hay. Sticking with the potatoes and the hay fields, he then got interested in raising livestock.

Today their cattle are raised on green grass pastures and are fed hay and potatoes in the winter. “We feed the cows only what we grow on the farm, no outside food sources or animal by-products,” affirms the farm’s website. “Our pigs are fed barley grown just across the road from where they live and our lambs are moved throughout the region to remain on pasture for as much of the year as possible.” The farm’s animals are naturally raised without the use of hormones or antibiotics.

Kira Olsen is one of those multitaskers: farmer’s wife, mother, and office worker (including at the farm’s USDA-certified meat processing facility nearby). For Kira, there’s a personal connection to our farmer’s market: she managed it in 2009, then met her husband through that connection. The couple have two daughters, 15 months and 2 ½ years.

Oh yes, about those potatoes…the farm’s huge selection of flavorful and colorful varieties inspire tasty recipes—like “Lena’s Big, Fluffy Viking Purple Potato” and “Ruth’s Breakfast Binjte Potatoes”—which can be found on their helpful website: www.olsenfarms.com.

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Heads up: there are only two more Fridays left for the Market this season! Hope to see you this Friday at the Phinney Center, 3:30-7:30 pm.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Comprehending Hip Hop

 Workshop explores new American art form

By Spyridon “Spin” Nicon
In March, when a gas explosion rocked Greenwood, buildings shook and windows were shattered. The community exemplified strength, compassion and the power of people coming together. Plywood went up where windows once were. And soon these sheets of plywood became canvases. Canvases where graffiti writers and street artists created visual statements of support. As color exited cans, something dull and grim and became bright and beautiful.

Graffiti—and its many mutations, now often called street art—is one of the four elements of hip hop culture.

Now held in high esteem, showcased in museums and fetching million dollars price tags at auctions houses, graffiti was not always welcome. In the mid-to- late 1970's a battle waged between the NYC subway system and graffiti writers.

Without the aerosol art that fleetingly transformed the trains of New York City, there would be no street art as we know it today, no bidding wars over a Banksy. And the blank sheets of plywood that temporarily mended business windows, would have been simply that. Instead, we witnessed a vivid visual expression that blossomed as part of a larger youth movement called hip hop.

What is hip hop? Why does it matter? Hip hop is a vibrant culture that came to life in New York City in the 1970's, and is comprised of four elements—DJs (disc jockeys), MCs (rappers) and B-Boys (breakdancers) and Graffiti Writers (street artists).

DJs amassed records, spun tracks, isolated breaks, manipulated elements, produced new sounds, and kept the party jumping.

MCs honed skills, rhymed effortlessly, verbally dazzled, and spoke from and for the streets of New York, America and beyond.

B-Boys rocked to the breaks, innovated moves, defied gravity, entertained the party, and integrated new style.

Graffiti writers shook cans, released aerosol, created controversy, and communicated visually, laying the groundwork for street artists around the globe.

Now embedded in popular culture, hip hop is part of our everyday. Hip hop is a great American art form, which is precisely what makes it an infinitely interesting subject for sociological examination and discussion.

Treat yourself to a greater understanding of hip hop culture. During a five week, intergenerational course, embark on a deeper examination of the elements of this great American art form.

The course runs five Thursdays: 9/29, 10/6, 10/13, 10/20 & 10/27
7-9 pm at the Phinney Center Blue Building. Free, suggested donation $10-50 for the series.

Spyridon "Spin" Nicon: Life-long hip hop fan, promoter, connector and translator. Ever exploring this historically rich culture through images and words. Follow him on instagram @comprehendinghiphop.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A place of their own

City proposes property transfer of Greenwood Senior Center to the PNA:
Public comment requested

by Marty Chakoain

Most of us value security, especially the security of a stable home, and a stable home can be just as important to organizations as it is to families.

Since 1979, the Greenwood Senior Center (GSC) has provided essential services to the community from its home on N 85th Street. Those services were bolstered with financial and volunteer resources when the GSC became a PNA program in 2006. But the GSC facility—the building and the land it sits on—is actually owned by the City of Seattle. The City has allowed the GSC to operate rent free in exchange for the services it provides, and for taking care of the building.

Now the next step in the evolution of the GSC is about to happen: the City has proposed giving the GSC property to the PNA to own and operate permanently. A letter of agreement, jointly signed by the City’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services and the PNA, lays out the conditions: the City would transfer ownership of the property to the PNA at no cost other than the usual expenses that go with any real estate transaction, such as title insurance. In return, the PNA would commit to continuing to use the facility to deliver social and health services through the Greenwood Senior Center, and perhaps someday add new programs that could serve the community.

The City has notified neighbors and GSC participants about the proposed ownership change. (Read the letter.) There is a short period to submit comments either for or against the “sale.” You can comment by emailing robert.farrell@seattle.gov or calling 206-684-7154.

Final action, which is not expected until later this year, will depend on a signed agreement between the City and the PNA, and formal approval by the City Council and PNA Board.

Even when that happens, not much will change, at least not right away. The Greenwood Senior Center will continue to do all the important things it does, and the PNA will continue to be responsible for the operation, maintenance, and repair of the building, just as it is today.
But longer term, there are two very important benefits from the title transfer.

First, the Greenwood Senior Center can have the security of knowing that it owns its home, and that no landlord—even a great landlord like the City of Seattle—can ever force it to leave.

Second, the PNA can start thinking about long term investments in the property—adding to, remodeling, or possibly even replacing the building sometime in the future to enable the GSC to better serve its community.

Please show your support for the GSC and PNA and contact the City to provide feedback in this process by emailing robert.farrell@seattle.gov or calling 206-684-7154. Thank you!

We also welcome your input and questions about this exciting new development for the PNA--the next phase in growth and evolution for the Greenwood Senior Center! Please contact GSC Director Cecily Kaplan at cecily@phinneycenter.org or 206.297.0875.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Behind the Scenes at Tonnemaker Hill Farm

by Dick  Gillett
Business was brisk last Friday at the Phinney Farmers Market, with Rainier cherries piled high on the table at the Tonnemaker Farm stall. 

Serving the customers were Kayci and Alana, both from Seattle, but both deeply familiar with operations at the 128 acre farm in Eastern Washington. The farm is big on fruit (including several varieties of cherries, with apricots and peaches coming in early to mid-July) and has 60 acres of orchards. A few of the cherry trees are three generations old and still producing. And speaking of generations: four generations of Tonnemaker farmers have farmed in Eastern Washington.

But fruit isn’t the only product you can find at their booth. In season are veggies from most of the rest of their acreage, including summer squash, tomatoes, rhubarb, zucchini and cucumbers. Friday one table featured a variety of packaged organic peppers. “Our crops are rotated annually for soil preservation and also keep pests to a minimum," said Kayci. 

But who actually picks the cherries off the trees and the peppers from the plants? Amazingly, Tonnemakers are involved. Writes a member of the farm team: "Our current harvest crew consists of 2 generations of Tonnemakers, a couple of local long time year-round employees, local high school and college students on summer break, Japanese Agricultural Exchange Trainees and a seasonally variable number of members of 3 Hispanic families, several of which have helped with the short but intense cherry harvest for more than 20 years. Everyone here from the top down is a picker of one crop or another.

"Hand harvesting crops is hard work and everyone here participates - even 80 year old Gene Tonnemaker insisted on donning a picking bag and pitching in.” Whew! 

But  happily for us customers at Phinney Farmers Market, “Life is just a bowl of cherries.”

Thursday, June 16, 2016

New Vendor is a familiar face to the PNA

Burton Hills Farm Joins Phinney Farmers Market

Long ago, in the fall of 1981, Collin Medeiros would often join his father (the then director and only PNA employee) for lunch at the newly opened Phinney Neighborhood Center. After lunch, young Collin would complete the remainder of his school day at a K-1 class located in Room 2 of the center. This June, Collin returns to the Phinney Center as a new vendor at the weekly Phinney Farmers Market.

Collin and Rebecca Medeiros and their family own and operate Burton Hill Farm, a raw milk dairy and farmstead on nearby Vashon Island. They have been selling their Grade “A” raw goat milk and goat cheese products on Vashon for several years through their farm stand, weekly farmers market and various island stores.

Collin and his family at the Farmers Market

This year they increased production enough to take on another market and have chosen the Phinney Farmers Market as their logical next step. “It’s a no brainer,” says Collin. “I know the community. Many of the people may remember me. And my parents have offered to help at the stand!”

Rebecca and Collin have dreamed of operating a goat dairy from the beginning of their relationship. In 2004, they sold their belongings and travelled with their infant son to Portugal as WWOOF-ers (Willing Workers on Organic Farmers) to live and work on a goat dairy.

It has taken several years to grow their herd, gain their Grade “A” certification and perfect their specialty cheeses. The season will begin with Burton Hill Farm Raw Goat Milk Feta. Aged four to eight months for a creamy and deeply rich but not overly salty flavor, their raw goat milk Feta dresses up any veggie, fruit, or pizza.

Also available will be their St. Benedict’s Blue cheese. Aged from two to four months, with a natural, rustic rind, this full-bodied raw goat milk blue cheese is earthy and sweet, an excellent companion for honey, jam, fruit, and wine.

And, you can always count on fresh Grade “A” raw goats’ milk and goat milk soaps.

Stop by, welcome Collin back to the community and take home some local flavor.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Transforming our bilingual classroom--indoors and out

PCPE, PNA’s Spanish Cooperative Preschool, Awarded a Community Grant from the University District Rotary

On March 18 the University District Rotary Club announced that Phinney Cooperativa Preescolar en EspaƱol (PCPE), PNA’s Spanish Cooperative Preschool, was awarded one of their 2016 Community Grants. The grant will go towards a remodel project that will transform the bilingual preschool classroom with new physical, sensory, and outdoor play spaces. Rotary's investment in PCPE will go towards ensuring high-quality bilingual preschool education for generations to come. Some improvements include a new play structure and a science, inquiry-based space.

The project will begin over the summer break and it is anticipated to be completed by the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, which starts in September 2016.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Kind words from Greenwood businesses

We've received many words of thanks from businesses who have received relief from the community's generosity to the Greenwood Relief Fund, and we wanted to share them with you:

This help will go a long way for the immediate future and the rebuilding process, thanks for being so kind and compassionate during this difficult time.
~ Sammy Arhseed, owner of Mr Gyros

As you know, the last few months have been incredibly difficult for small businesses in the Greenwood area, especially for Tim and the Angry Beaver. With the explosion and the recent break-in, Tim’s been beaten down pretty bad, and struggling financially to keep his bar and his dream alive… I recently saw your letter to Tim and learned of the Phinney Neighborhood Association’s commitment to Tim and the Angry Beaver. I just wanted to reach out and say thank you, and let you know that it damn near brings me to tears to see this good man finally be treated the way he treats others. Tim needs all the help he can get, and the Phinney Neighborhood Association has made a potentially game-changing decision that could save Tim and his business. This type of effort by the PNA makes me proud to be a member of this community, and I just wanted to share with you my sincere appreciation and respect for what you guys are doing. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. This is amazing.
~ Aaron Thompson, Angry Beaver’s attorney

Your efforts along with those of everyone else at PNA to support businesses, employees and residents through the Greenwood Relief Fund is very much appreciated. You are a model in so many ways for the value of a strong community. Thank you for providing assistance to our business. Although our loss was not nearly as great as others’, the help you have offered for our small business is meaningful.

~ Bill Clements, owner of Rosewood Guitar owner

I want to thank you for the funds that was appropriate it for my business, will be a big help to restore some of the funds that the insurance will not cover…I want to thank you for the wonderful work everyone is doing one day soon I will give back!
Eleni Henry, owner of Kouzina and Zoey Catering, 4/14/16

WOW! This is amazing, and not what we expected at all. Thank you so much.

~ Davey Oil, owner of G&O Family Cyclery, 4/20/16

The gang at Angry Beaver brought us flowers when they came to pick up their employee relief checks.
(Razzi's also brought us pizza--twice!)