The 66-year reign of the Alaskan Way Viaduct has officially come to an end. I can’t say that I’m sad to see it go because it was an ugly, inefficient and unstable piece of Seattle’s infrastructure. But like many other pieces of the city’s history, it creates a small void when it’s suddenly gone. I was one of the 30,000 people who came to say goodbye to the Viaduct and be one of the first to travel in the new replacement tunnel in the Tunnel to Viaduct 8K earlier this month.
I first encountered Plum when I was volunteering at KEXP 90.3 FM: before the radio station’s new home was built at Seattle Center, the major giving offices were located upstairs in the Armory, where the food court is. I stopped by Plum Pantry for pre-made salads and sandwiches on my way to my other job, but at the time I didn’t know it was part of a larger group of restaurants owned by Makini Howell. Today, the Plum brand encompasses a vegan bistro, bakery, food truck, pantry, catering and a cookbook. Although the Plum Pantry food is delicious, I’m excited to try something more elaborate.
On Saturday, January 21, I joined 5 million other people worldwide for the Women’s March. In over 80 countries, on every continent, women and men marched peacefully in solidarity for women’s and LGBTQ right, health care, immigration, the environment and racial justice. Although I’ll try not to contribute overly to a political confirmation-bias echo chamber, it was an incredibly powerful movement to be a part of; Seattle alone had 175,000 attendees of all ages, nationalities and lifestyles. To march with the strong women in my life, my allies, my community and my parents gives me hope. The overwhelming feeling of love, acceptance and courage is exactly what I need right now.
Anyone walking by the Dexter-Denny intersection lately probably won’t notice the large orange and black mural that’s gone up within the last couple of weeks on the sides of 90.3 FM KEXP. In fact, many of the studio’s neighbors don’t know there is a radio station there at all – the gray concrete one-story block, affectionately called the Berlin Wall, looks far too small to house the approximately 80 employees and 200 volunteers they have on rotation to keep the non-profit studio running smoothly.
I got a chance to take a break from preparations for the fall fundraising drive to talk with artist Jonathan Wakuda Fischer as he put the finishing touches on the mural. He has been a longtime listener and donor to KEXP since he moved to Washington from Wisconsin 8 years ago. “I didn’t know I wanted to be an artist before I came to Seattle,” Jonathan says, “I found my creative self here.”