August 9, 2013 at 5:53 PM
I never thought I would ride a Portuguese trolley anywhere but in Lisbon,
where I lived for a few months in the late ’90s.
Sketched July 30, 2013
Some cities love trolleys more than others.
While Seattle has watched its fleet of waterfront streetcars collect dust in a Sodo warehouse, Issaquah has gone as far as Colorado and Iowa to bring a trolley to its downtown corridor.
The idea gained traction after the city restored its historic train depot in 1994. “We wanted to run something on the track, and it couldn’t be a steam engine,” said trolley volunteer Barbara Justice.
Saturday, almost two decades later, an old car (originally from Lisbon, Portugal) that Justice and her team found in Aspen, Colo., and then sent to Iowa for restoration makes its debut as Issaquah’s newest attraction. The trolley line runs on the historic tracks once used for freight and passenger service to Seattle. It is part of the revitalization of the downtown and meant to attract more visitors to Issaquah’s museums.
Though the trolley will travel only half a mile back and forth, Justice said the distance is not the point. “We are in the history business, not the transportation business.”
The Issaquah Valley Trolley will operate on weekends, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., on a “pay as you can” basis.
July 19, 2013 at 6:07 PM
Sketched July 2, 2013
The first thing I had to do when I arrived at Nickelsville was sign in at the security office, a nicely built kiosk staffed at all times and topped with a big American flag.
This level of organization is not what I expected to find at the homeless camp the city wants to dismantle by Sept. 1.
I don’t know why, but I thought I’d encounter a lawless, inhospitable shantytown. Instead, I found a well-kept encampment where people lined up in an orderly fashion for a cheese-sandwich and taco-soup lunch.
The nomadic tent city started in spring 2008 and settled at its current location in West Seattle two years ago. Over time, Nickelodeons, as residents like to call themselves, have established a strict code of conduct and have worked to improve their living conditions by adding 14 “simple and sturdy” sleeping structures, common areas for weekly meetings, and a garden. No running water or electricity means the residents rely on four Honey Buckets and use gas-powered generators to charge their cellphones and light the security office.
Atticus Lee, one of the Nickelodeons I spoke to, said he hasn’t considered himself homeless since he came to Nickelsville with his dog, Duke. “I know where I’ll go to sleep every night,” he said. “It may not be the most comfortable place, but it is a home.”
Operation Sack Lunch, a program run by a local nonprofit, brings a warm meal to the residents of Nickelsville every day. I sketched Linda Biggs, the camp’s kitchen coordinator, as she served lunch to her fellow Nickelodeons.
Life in Nickelsville doesn’t hinder the creativity of its residents. Atticus Lee, who enjoys writing and making jewelry, has personalized the entrance to his sleeping structure with rock sculptures, tree stumps and a flower vase made out of a purple-glass bottle. Recycling is part of the camp’s rules, he said. “It’s like an eco village.”
May 10, 2013 at 6:40 PM
I could have used one of his “cycletrucks” to carry my groceries and one of his heavy-duty bike trailers to haul the little furniture that fit in my apartment.
“Haulin’ Colin,” as he is known in the local bike community, is making a name for himself in Seattle building such clever bike accessories and any kind of bike customization.
The 31-year-old started out as a computer-science major when he moved here from Bandon, Ore., to study at the University of Washington. But his love of bicycles and learning how to weld led him down a different career path.
These days Stevens works full-time creating unique pedal-powered machines and bike parts out of a crammed metal shop at Georgetown’s Equinox Studios, an enclave of “fine and heavy, arts and artisans.” His latest projects include a bookmobile bike trailer and a pedal-powered food processor for a zoo exhibit.
Stevens doesn’t consider himself an artist, but he enjoys the creative aspect of building things with his hands instead of writing software. “It’s more satisfying to make a physical thing,” he said.
Here are more sketches I made at Stevens’ metal shop while he worked on the food-processor bike commissioned by the Woodland Park Zoo.
March 8, 2013 at 9:00 PM
I’m not as crazy about pizza as some, but I appreciate the art of making food, especially if you mix in a bit of spectacle.
The open kitchen at Ballard Pizza Company becomes a stage when the pizzaioli start tossing the dough into the air. The centrifugal force makes the pies perfectly round and spreads the dough evenly, explained Dan Eling, but much of the tossing is also for fun. If the restaurant is really busy, he may not have time to give each pizza a spin.
On Sunday, however, you are guaranteed to see Eling perform from noon to 3 p.m. during a competition billed as the first-ever dough-tossing contest in Seattle. For a suggested $20 donation, customers will get pizza, salad and a scorecard to rank Eling and 11 other local pizzaioli. Awards will be given for speed, style, best pie and high toss, and the proceeds will go to a charity chosen by the winner.
Eling, 26, said he’s been practicing for the competition, but he downplays his dough-spinning talent. “I’m all right,” he said at the start of his 10-hour shift. “I can get it 15 to 20 feet up in the air.”
January 18, 2013 at 7:23 PM
Sketched Jan. 9, 2013
When the Columbia City Cinema closed in 2011, many worried the neighborhood theater was gone for good. But just as the building was about to be leased for storage space, a good guy burst onto the scene to save the day.
In only three months, David McRae has brought the building up to code and replaced old movie reels with new digital projectors. All three screens of the new Ark Lodge Cinemas are now open and screening new releases including “Les Miserables” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”
The “film bug” runs in the family, says McRae, 52. He grew up helping his father run the Cine-Mond theater in Redmond in the ‘70s, before multiplexes became popular, and he spent the past two years doing film-to-digital conversions in theaters throughout the country.
McRae wants Ark Lodge to be a magnet for the diverse community of Columbia City. In addition to box-office hits, he plans to show independent films and even silent movies. And though he took a risk to get the theater up and running again, he says he’s in it “for the long run.”
The historic Ark Lodge, built by the Masons in 1921, still retains most of its character.
McRae has seen the transformation of the movie theater industry first hand. Films that used to be delivered in heavy boxes full of movie reels now come inside a hard-drive that he plugs into the projector. “You push play just like a DVR,” he said. In the sketch, McRae checks the show times programmed for “Promised Land.”
January 4, 2013 at 8:44 PM
Sketched Dec. 19 and 27, 2012
The shelves are filled with circular saws, power drills and more types of hammers than I ever knew existed. But this is no hardware store. I’m in North Ravenna at the city’s newest tool library, where members will be able to check out tools for free after it opens Jan. 19.
The grass-roots project led by Susan Gregory makes a lot of sense. Everyone may own a hammer, she said, but most of us don’t need to own expensive tools that we seldom use, such as a shop vacuum or a chain saw.
Modeled after a similar initiative in West Seattle, the Northeast Seattle Tool Library has already collected more than 600 donated tools. “It’s a good start,” said Gregory, who hopes to keep adding more tools as word spreads. On her wish list: a pressure washer, a sewing machine and a spinning wheel to make yarn from wool.
For details on membership and to check out the inventory, visit neseattletoollibrary.org.
Members will be able to check out tools one week at a time, and Gregory also plans to organize workshops where folks can teach each other how to use the tools. “It’s not just the tools but the expertise people bring,” said Gregory, a professional landscape designer and the daughter of a Boeing engineer.
Tool library member Morgan Redfield has donated some of the most expensive equipment, including this drill press and a table saw that patrons will be able to use on site. The equipment belonged to his dad, John Redfield, who passed away a year ago. Morgan, a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering at the University of Washington, has many fond memories of using the equipment with his mechanical-engineer father and still keeps a treasure chest they built together. When a friend told him about the library, he knew it would be the perfect place for the tools. Morgan, 25, said his dad “would be really happy if he knew his tools are being used by other people.”
This sophisticated set of hammers, which also belonged to Morgan Redfield’s father, rest on a wooden counter reclaimed from the original REI store.
When you are ready to check out some tools, you’ll find the Northeast Seattle Tool library in this humble building at 2415 NE 80th Street. The building, provided by the North Seattle Friends Church, will also house another cool volunteer-run local nonprofit, the Bike Shack, starting Jan. 19. Next time, I’ll sketch them too!
December 21, 2012 at 4:42 PM
The Mayans had supposedly predicted the world would end today. But, hey, it didn’t happen! I went to Westlake Center and saw lots of people doing their holiday shopping and having fun.
To remind us of our good fortune, Edmonds graphic designer Andy Herman was selling $20 t-shirts stamped with his own catchphrase and design: “I survived THE END OF THE WORLD – Dec. 21, 2012.”
The friendly street vendor said all the buzz about the alleged end of the world had inspired him to create the t-shirts. “My target audience is big,” he joked. “I’ve got a good thing here.”
November 23, 2012 at 5:49 PM
Sketched Nov. 14 and 15, 2012
The home of Josh and Cameron Larios in the Lake City neighborhood has unique curb appeal. A recycled newspaper box that they customized and placed by the sidewalk invites passers-by to “Take a book. Return a book.”
The “Little Free Library” is one of nearly 50 that have popped up around Seattle, after a movement that started in 2009 in Wisconsin.
Some of the little libraries are as charming as can be. In the Mount Baker neighborhood, Margaret Opalka’s library is topped by an old sled and a bright yellow croquet ball. In Mountlake Terrace, Vernon and Jen Winters painted their library with beautiful Native American motifs.
Josh and Cameron Larios joined the movement thinking it’d be a good way to get rid of old books, but their little library has come to mean much more. It has brought out a do-it-yourself mentality and spirit of sharing, said Josh Larios. “I feel like I’m more connected to the community.”
November 12, 2012 at 3:52 PM
[Click to see larger version]
The young war veterans I wrote about in my last post were very gracious about being drawn and sharing their stories. While every sketching experience is memorable in its own way, this one is going to stick with me for a long time.
The process of interviewing them and drawing their portraits lasted a couple of hours, more or less, for each. I met the veterans at places that were convenient for them: a college cafeteria, the offices where they work or at their homes, as was the case with Bernard.
Sitting across from them, I just asked that they try to look towards me as I asked questions and slowly built up the portrait, from the initial light pencil marks to the final watercolor details.
As often happens, my interview notes ended up split between my reporter notebook and the actual watercolor sheet where I drew the portrait. Because it’s hard to draw and listen at the same time, I can’t help but write notes on the margins of my sketch when I hear something important.
For publication, I cleaned out all the notes and added one handwritten quote to each portrait in Photoshop, as you can see here and in the print version.
2B pencil, watercolor and watercolor pencils on 9″x12″ Fabriano Hot Press Studio Watercolor 90lb paper.
November 9, 2012 at 10:20 PM
These young war veterans didn’t lose any limbs in combat. They returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan a few years ago all in one piece, but soon began to feel the pain of invisible injuries they didn’t even realize they had.
We hear the names of these injuries more and more these days: PTSD for post-traumatic stress disorder and TBI for traumatic brain injury. Yet it is hard to fully understand the struggles these veterans go through to keep themselves together.
As Veterans Day rolls around Sunday, I will be thinking of these soldiers and the thousands more among us whose wounds cannot be seen but are very real.
After two war tours, Timm Lovitt came back home to Lynnwood in 2005 with one goal in mind: to get his college degree. But the former U.S. Army sergeant quickly found himself at a disadvantage. He couldn’t retain anything he studied would study. “I would read a page and immediately forget what I had just read,” Lovitt, 30, told me over coffee at Edmonds Community College Student Union Hall.
Doctors told him that he had lost his visual retention due to a traumatic brain injury. Lovitt guesses it may have been caused by the shock of a suicide car bomb explosion in Baghdad. He survived the attacked and was back on patrol the next day.
The TBI diagnosis allowed Lovitt to benefit from school exceptions for people with disabilities, like extended time for exams, and access to audiobooks — and found that his memory responded to sound better than images. In 2010, Lovitt graduated with honors from Seattle University.
In Iraq, Air Force Security Forces sergeant Nikki Davis and her eight-person squad provided ground security to Air Force installations. Asked about her worst experience, the self-described tough girl from Tacoma only wants to say this: “We were always fired up and ready to go.”
After her deployment, Davis, 34, quit her eight-year military career and started a new life. She juggled college classes and a job as a Pierce County bus driver.
Eventually, the stress of combat caught up with her. She couldn’t control her anger and felt no empathy for people. “Anything would get me from 2 to 60 in a hearbeat,” said Davis, who still worries someone may sneak up behind her if she has her back to the door.
Davis only started treatment for her PTSD four months ago, but she’s happy she finally sought help. “I need help. It takes a while for a veteran to say those words.”
Jeremy Grisham, a Vashon Island native who is now 37, grew angry and depressed after returning from Iraq in 2003. The Navy medic felt he could have done more to save Iraqi civilians left dead and injured on the roadside during the speedy march to liberate Baghdad.
When he returned to San Diego, where he was stationed with the Marines at Camp Pendleton, Grisham struggled at work. Even the most simple medical procedures became hard to deal with; everything felt like a life-or-death situation. He started cutting himself and had thoughts of suicide.
In 2005 he was diagnosed with PTSD and left the Navy, beginning a slow path to recovery and eventually returning to the Puget Sound area. Grisham has found ways to cope by working on habitat-restoration projects with other veterans and rollerskating with friends. “It’s important not to let the injuries define us.”
A group of Vietnam vets recently helped Bernard Baker move into his new house in the Tacoma area. Baker, a 6-foot-1 guy with the build of a basketball player, was so embarrased to get the help from older guys that he got dizzy and vomited.
Severe vertigo and migraines are just some of the symptoms of his TBI. Too much light can also make him faint and he often wears sunglasses inside the house.
Of his tour of duty in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, the Brooklyn native remembers the adrenaline rush of combat, bullets whizzing by, and an IED hidden in a garbage can that exploded within feet of his Stryker vehicle, knocking him off his seat.
Baker, 36, spends much of his time at doctor appointments now. Life feels like a roller-coaster ride, he said. “If you don’t seek help, your problem gets worse … I just don’t want to be left behind. Don’t forget me.”
What has drawn your attention around Seattle lately? Send me your suggestions of interesting places and people to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend
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