April 2018: 50th Anniversary of Seattle Black Panther Party

This April marks the 50th Anniversary of the Seattle Chapter of the Black Panther Party (SBPP). Throughout the month, there are many events scheduled in the neighborhood to celebrate the history of the SBPP and its future goal: "to cement the legacy, history and accomplishments of the Seattle chapter of the BPP in the hearts and minds of the people of Seattle as an example of effective struggle for future revolutionaries."

Founded in April 1968, The Seattle Chapter of the Black Panther Party was founded by a collection of Seattle activists including brothers Aaron and Elmer Dixon, following a series of events that included the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the murder of Bobby Hutton days later.  Hutton was the first member of the Black Panther Party to die at the hands of Oakland police; along with a series of frustrating, angering and racially motivated acts against Blacks in Seattle.   At one point, the Seattle Chapter membership approached 300.  The Chapter founding raised the level of struggle, resistance, and Black consciousness in Seattle. 

During its most formative period, the Seattle Chapter sponsored free breakfast programs for all children, education programs, and established the first free medical clinic in Seattle’s Black community, originally named the Sydney Miller Free Medical Clinic, after a fallen Seattle Panther, and later known as the Carolyn Downs Family Medical Clinic, still in operation today at the corner of E Yesler & 21st Ave!

Among numerous events throughout April, the celebration culminates the weekend of April 26-27-28 with the 50th Anniversary Conference & Celebration with events at Washington Hall, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute and the Northwest African American Museum. Check out the website for an entire listing of events and information: https://www.seattlebpp50.com/


New Seasons Market Planned for 23rd & Union, But is it the Right Choice?

Developer Lake Union Partners recently announced that Portland-based grocery chain New Seasons Market will open a store at the northwest corner of 23rd & Union in 2019. Many local residents are upset that New Seasons was chosen without community input and despite controversy around the company’s labor practices and business ties. 

At a public meeting last October, Monisha Harrell challenged Lake Union Partners, saying that New Seasons is “exactly the opposite of what we said would benefit this community and this is what you’re trying to sell us.” Harrell had previously helped to identify community needs at 23rd and Union as a consultant for the City of Seattle.

In an interview with ARCADE magazine last year, Lake Union Partners’ Patrick Foley more or less admitted that New Seasons is not what the community wanted: “With our East Union project, the community was worried we were going to put in a high-end grocery store that the average citizen cannot afford. That’s challenging for us because we … we can’t be the ones setting the store’s prices.” A recent price comparison revealed that New Seasons is up to twice as expensive as Safeway for many products. 

Some fear that New Seasons will escalate gentrification and displacement. According to the Oregonian, New Season’s former Chief Development Officer, Jerry Chevassus said “(New Seasons) targets neighborhoods in the process of gentrification...Often, the addition of a New Seasons will push rents and home values higher, adding to that process.”

There is also concern about one of New Seasons’ investors, the Murdock Charitable Trust. Murdock has contributed millions of dollars to anti-LGBTQ, anti-worker, and anti-choice organizations. New Seasons’ expansion in Seattle could ultimately send profits to the Murdock Trust and help fund extremist organizations that actively undermine our shared values.

Meanwhile, hundreds of workers across Portland have been organizing for living wages, safe staffing, a reasonable sick leave policy, and a voice on the job. Tyhler Williams has worked in New Seasons’ Central Kitchen for over 3 years and still makes the company’s minimum wage. Under the company’s sick leave policy, some workers say they feel pressured to work sick -- or risk being fired. Instead of meeting with workers to discuss their concerns, the company hired Cruz and Associates, a self-proclaimed “union avoidance firm” with a record of contracting with workers’ rights violators like the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. Nonetheless, Portland New Seasons workers have continued to organize for improvements in their stores. 

Here in Seattle, over 30 community groups, electeds, and faith-based organizations have come together to form the Good Jobs Coalition. The coalition is demanding that New Seasons respect workers’ rights and work with Lake Union Partners to address the community’s concerns about gentrification and affordable food.

To learn more about the Good Jobs Coalition in the Central District, visit http://GoodJobsCoalition.com.


Bike Share ~ 9 months in…

They’re multiplying, yellow, green and orange bikes are everywhere! Bike Share is fast approaching the one-year of service. There are now about 5,000 bikes – wow!

Bike share lets you borrow a bike for a quick errand, a trip to Link light rail, an all-day adventure, and everything in between. You pick up the bikeshare bike closest to you, ride it to where you want to go, and leave the bike for the next person to ride.

Because the bikes are equipped with GPS, riders can find the nearest available bike on each company’s smartphone app. You can find a bike in any neighborhood and leave it where it’s most convenient for you.

Bike share companies obtain a permit, supply the bikes, and compete for your business. There are three bike share companies:

Ofo(yellow bikes): 884-289-9747; cs_us@ofo.combased out of Beijing China $1.00 for 60 minutes.

Spin(orange bikes): 1-888-262-5189; support@spin.pmbased out of San Francisco, CA –$1.00 for 30 minutes.

LimeBike(green bikes): 1-888-LIME-345; based out of San Mateo, CA –$1.00 for 30 minutes

LimeBikehas introduced electric power assist bikes, they cost $2.20 for 30 minutes.

These bikes still require users to pedal, they just make Seattle’s challenging topography a little more manageable. Please note that riding electric assist bikes on sidewalks or park paths is not allowed.

To use bike share, download the company’s smartphone app which will show you a map with all the bikes closest to you. Scan the QR code on the bike to unlock it and start your trip. Check with each company for current prices and ways to rent a bike without a smartphone. After you’ve registered you can go find a bike with the GIS mapping and give it a try, remember to bring your own helmet!  When you find a bike, scan a digital code on the bike with your smart phone, this unlocks it, and you’re ready to roll. The bikes are multi speed, and easy to use, and they have lights that come on automatically. 

The bikes are very useful to fill transportation gaps, for instance there is not a bus from Capitol Hill to many parts of the Central District.  Do you spend 10-20 minutes or more waiting for a bus plus the ride, or jump on a bike and probably be at your doorstep in 10 minutes?

When you’re done, find a safe spot to park the bike off the sidewalk, or at a bike rack.  Do not block sidewalks and create hazards for pedestrians.  When done, you engage the lock manually and walk away.

Some important guidelines for parking:

You can park the bike in the landscaping/furniture zone of sidewalks (the part of the sidewalk with trees, poles, and other fixtures), if that space is more than three feet wide.

Leave at least six feet clear for pedestrians to pass. Do not park on corners, driveways, or curb ramps. Do not block access to buildings, benches, parking pay stations, bus stops, hydrants, etc.

Park the bike upright. Be courteous to others—don’t park in somebody else’s way.

What’s the current status of the pilot? SDOT collected bike share data July through December 2017 and is now in the process of evaluating the information. Currently, existing operators continue to operate under their existing permits until the expected Spring 2018 decisions are made regarding an ongoing bike share program.

Whom do I contact with questions or comments? If you have other questions or feedback, please contact bike share program manager Joel Miller at joel.miller@seattle.gov.




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