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The legendary Phinney Neighborhood Association Community Tool Library is back with expanded hours! It is open on Fridays from 2 pm to 4 pm and Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm. The PNA is also adding a “crafters” section to their offering of tools. To make this expansion possible, they need donations of block and screen-printing tools, leather crafting tools, and stained-glass making tools. You are welcome to drop off tools at the Phinney Center Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. The Tool Library and Community Woodshop need volunteers as well (more details in volunteer section) so 2022 is the perfect time to join this crafty community.

About the Tool Library

Our Tool Library is a community-based program that will continue to provide a valuable service for all with the help of your donations and volunteer hours. You will see that the PNA has made a few changes to the library including rental times, rental fees, and a new rental agreement.

Items can be checked out for one week at a time for a nominal fee ($1 to $50 per tool per week), with the potential for renewal, depending on demand. The inventory is mostly available for viewing online, and the PNA is working to ensure it is up-to-date.

The Tool Library is also the home of the NW Seattle Branch of the King County Seed Lending Library, which can be accessed during the Tool Library’s open hours.

  • Closed since the beginning of the year to give the staff a breather, Oliver’s Twist reopens as of tonight. Not just the pre-pandemic stuffed dates and truffled popcorn, they now sport a vibrant Cambodian takeout menu inspired and executed by chef-owner Karuna Long.
  • Also re-opening from break, The Olive and Grape – open at 4pm every day except Monday
  • Bluebird Ice Cream has reverted to their normal Winter Hours, scooping from 2-9pm on Thursday & Friday and noon-9pm Saturday and Sunday. Hot tip: their vegan ice cream – particularly the horchata – is as great as everything else they do.
  • Luna Azul has not been able to open this year because of roofing issues, which the building owner is hoping to solve soon. Be ready for a GoFundMe that we will be launching this week to help this essential, family-run business make it through a month with no income.

The mostly happy saga of Yonder Bar – a unique neighborhood-based business located on the 1st Ave Safe Street – is coming to a close next month. Forced to close almost a year ago because of a singular complaining neighbor, then reopening a month later due to fast-tracked legislation and community support, Yonder Bar will now shutter permanently on Saturday February 26th.

From founder Caitlin Braam: “As our one-year extension under the ‘Bringing Business Home’ bill comes to an end, we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate this amazing little space than by sharing a pint with those who made Yonder Cider and Yonder Bar possible – all of you!”

From now through February 26, Yonder be offering up six seats inside of Yonder Bar to enjoy a pint and “send our little garage bar off in style”. On the following days, six spots are available for reservation each hour:

  • Wed-Fri 4-8pm
  • Sat 12-8pm
  • Sun 12-6pm

Reservations are $5 each. All reservation fees will generously be donated to the Phinney Neighborhood Association. Pints, merch and to-go product will be purchased separately while at Yonder Bar. Each reservation is for one person. If you are planning on visiting with someone, you must make two separate reservations, as space is limited. All guests inside Yonder Bar must be 21+ and provide proof of vaccination with ID. Reservations are limited to 50 minutes, but you are welcome to book back-to-back reservations if you’d like to stay longer! No bathrooms on site.

Don’t worry, Yonder will still be present in the neighborhood! Local places in Phinneywood that carry these delicious ciders (either draft or package) include: Ken’s Market, Cornuto, Chez Phinney, Ridgewood, The Chicken Supply, The Yard and soon, Sip & Ship.

Also, just down in Ballard, Yonder is collaborating with Bale Breaker to create the BBYC Taproom. Beer and cider drinkers will be able to come together under one roof to enjoy more than 30 taps at a newly renovated taproom. There will be 6,200 square feet of outdoor space, rotating food trucks, outdoor firepits and so much more.

Questions? Contact hello@yondercider.com.

PNA is excited to be partnering with University Heights Center this year to bring focused educational and artistic programming to our communities during Black History Month in February. We are offering spaces, marketing resources and event support to highlight and celebrate Black artists, students, performers, and educators.

Do you know someone who might be interested in participating? Our minds are open to all sorts of different ideas: documentary film screenings w/ group discussions, youth poetry slams, dance performances, lectures, etc…

If you have an idea you’d like to discuss please email Mary Campbell: maryc@phinneycenter.org.

Montessori Garden has been serving preschool aged children and their families in the north end of Seattle for over 30 years.  Housed in the Phinney Neighborhood Association’s John B. Allen School, they provide high-quality childcare and learning for children ages 2 1/2 – 6 years old.  The curriculum is anchored in the Montessori method of education and also incorporates a rich Creative Dramatics program.

Saturday, January 8th is their quarterly open house from 10 – 11:30am, and interested parents are asked to please RSVP for the event here (soon – 30 of 45 slots have been taken as of this writing). This event is adult only.  Come and hear about Montessori Garden’s program, meet the teachers and tour the classrooms.  

Montessori Garden was owned by Kathleen Wilson in 1976.  In a small brick house in Maple Leaf, Kathleen and her crew of dedicated early childhood professionals educated thousands of 3, 4 and 5 year olds. In the late 90’s two of those employees began a long friendship and future partnership.  In 2010 with Kathleen’s mentorship, Amy Jeffries and Megan Menis bought the business and moved to the current location in the brick building at Phinney Center.  

Amy and Megan have held true to Kathleen’s original vision of a traditional Montessori preschool with a Creative Arts focus.  Children at Montessori Garden have the opportunity to learn with seasoned staff in the Montessori and the Creative Dramatics classrooms. Spanish and Creative dance specialists round out the week with a visit every Friday.  The program uses green cleaning products and serves healthful snacks and a catered lunch from Fare Start. Montessori Garden has been open and providing safe care during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Although the pandemic has created many challenges for Amy and Megan’s business, they feel confident that as young children become vaccinated they will slowly move toward more normalcy.  If you have a have a 2 1/2 – 6 years old in need of childcare or a toddler that will need this in the coming years, RSVP and come by on Saturday!

Amy and Megan

Four local eateries – two established, two new – are featured in an article published in today’s Seattle Times by food writer Jackie Varriano. Jackie just moved away from our neighborhood and waxes nostalgic about Coyle’s Bakeshop, Thaiku, Halcyon Brewing, and The Chicken Supply.

She also mentions that she will always seek out the Greenwood Post Office, and we heartily agree here at Phinneywood! Sonja is dedicated to making everyone’s day better that she interacts with.

Photo: Nate Watters

Mirror Stage, marking its 20th Anniversary in 2021, isn’t your typical theater going experience. Its mission is to use the power of storytelling to challenge assumptions, bias, and prejudice, increasing equity and inclusion, while encouraging more thoughtful reflection on today’s issues. The company aims to educate, entertain, and get the entire community talking about some of the most important issues of our time. The theatre’s past productions and events have focused upon topical issues ranging from climate change to immigration.

Managing Artistic Director, and Phinney Ridge neighbor, Suzanne M. Cohen tells us, “Mirror Stage uses theatre to connect people more deeply to perspectives other than their own, while amplifying historically excluded stories, voices, and faces. Our unique artistic approach intensifies audience engagement and empathy.”

Free pre-show lectures and informative lobby displays provide a deeper context for the audience, and moderated post-performance discussions with artists and audience enable everyone to learn from the perspectives and lived experiences of others. Mirror Stage embraces the full range of human experience at all levels: on its stage, in its audience, in its staff, and within its leadership. Over the past 20 years, nearly 50 percent of the artists participating in Mirror Stage productions have been people of color—some, but not all, in ethnically specific stories and roles. Mirror Stage invites a larger population to see themselves and their stories represented onstage.

In addition to their onstage productions, Mirror Stage produces a monthly podcast, exploring the Pacific NW through the stories and experiences of its people and communities. The Mirror Stage Podcast can be found on Spotify, iTunes, and most podcast platforms, as well as on the company’s website at https://mirrorstage.org/podcast.

This spring, Mirror Stage plans to produce the award-winning play, Chagrin Falls by Mia McCullough. Chagrin Falls tells the story of a young Asian-American graduate student, who may not be who she seems. She arrives to interview a death-row inmate in Chagrin Falls, Oklahoma—a working class town whose economy depends on a cattle slaughterhouse and a penitentiary where lethal injection is administered. To live in Chagrin Falls is to be in the killing business. During her stay, she witnesses firsthand the cost of making a living from institutionalized death.

In tandem with Chagrin Falls, Mirror Stage will present Community Forums which will focus on industrial meat production, capital punishment, and PTSD in veterans, as well as pre-show lectures and other related programming. Mirror Stage will partner with local nonprofit organizations such as Asian Counseling and Referral Service and Refugee Women’s Alliance, and Kandelia to conduct community outreach with the local Asian and Vietnamese immigrant communities. It will also work with the Veterans Administration and University of Washington School of Social Work to reach local veterans and those with PTSD.

You can learn more about Chagrin Falls and other future programs, as well as sign up for Mirror Stage’s eNews, by visiting MirrorStage.org

The PNAnimals represent so much of what this community is all about, and we want everyone take these magical animals home for the holidays. Each PNAnimal has its own collector’s card and you can have fun exploring PhinneyWood to collect all six cards. Find all six and you can enter to win a prize! Look in the windows of each participating business (listed below – not ALL businesses) to spot their PNAnimal and learn what card they have inside.  

Once you have collected all 6 cards, click this link and fill out our form. Don’t have internet? Give us a call or stop by the Phinney Center to let us know what cards you have collected and enter to win fantastic prizes: 

  • Everyone who notifies us that they’ve collected all 6 PNAnimal cards will receive 2 free passes to the Woodland Park Zoo
  • There will be a drawing and 3 winners will each receive 4 Woodland Park Zoo passes, a ZooParent Adoption, and pie at A la Mode

PNAnimal collectable cards are at the following PhinneyWood businesses:

By Colleen Steelquist, special to the Phinneywood Blog. Photographs by Brian David Casey.

Every Tuesday evening, the fellowship hall in Seattle’s St. John United Lutheran Church’s basement lives up to its name.

That’s when the Phinney Neighborhood Association offers a free meal to anyone in need. It’s also when a cadre of SPU nursing students practices community health.

The alliance between Seattle Pacific and the PNA began in February 2020, when SPU’s Carol McFarland, nursing instructor and assistant dean of strategic and community partnerships, brought a group of nursing students to visit PNA’s Hot Meal Program.

“It has blossomed into a regular routine of students staying with us for eight weeks and diving deep into building relationships, practicing community health, and bridging the gap between our diners and health care,” said Krissie Dillin, PNA’s program director.

“The nursing students enter the program with quite a bit of anxiety and wide-eyed curiosity,” she said. “They always seem eager to learn but lack experience and exposure. By the end of their clinical, they are all having meaningful conversations with participants, conducting blood pressure checks, assisting the dental clinic, providing foot care, and creating a positive exposure to health care for our participants.”

PNA has hosted these weekly dinners for more than two decades. With funding from the City of Seattle, smaller grants, and individual donations, they provide an average of 150 meals every week. To-go snacks, hygiene supplies, waterproof blankets, new socks and underwear, used clothing and shoes, and a weekly medical clinic are offered, all free of charge. PNA also contracts with Medical Teams International to provide a monthly mobile dental clinic for anyone in need.

“We serve our most marginalized neighbors because we have a sense of responsibility to take care of everyone who lives in our community. We are here to create a safe place for everyone to feel they are worthy,” Dillin said.

For Sofia Struiksma, a third-year SPU nursing student from Los Angeles, the community health practicum taps into her desire to be hands-on and help people. “I’ve felt reassurance that nursing is where God is calling me. I’ve learned to ask, ‘For my learning, can I take your blood pressure?’ They’re usually willing to help,” she said.

“This experience has made me more aware of the marginalized [people] in our community. I pass homeless encampments as I walk to work, and I recognize some of the residents from the dinners,” Struiksma said. “It’s also increased my therapeutic communication skills — how to converse with people sensitively, really listen, and let them know I care.”

“This clinical has taught me that to be a good nurse you have to listen and show empathy toward others in order to provide good care.” — Sophie Skinner, third-year nursing student

Dillin appreciates the students’ ability to engage with the diners in a way that is kind, generous, and genuine. “The diners actually look forward to the weekly visits from the students, because they are so willing to talk with them without judgment,” she said. “The students remember the diners’ names and details that have been shared.”

Sophie Skinner, a third-year nursing student from Temecula, California, has grown close to a mother and son who regularly attend the program. “This parent loves to share about her life and what has led her to where she is now. Talking to her has taught me that a mother will do anything for her child — she would go to any length to protect him and provide for him the best she can. She has faced so much adversity, pain, and trauma in her lifetime, yet she is still such a positive woman.

“This clinical has taught me that to be a good nurse you have to listen and show empathy toward others in order to provide good care. It has shown me that it is not always about providing medicine but being there to listen and provide support for people when they need it,” Skinner said. “This community has become so important to me. I have loved engaging with them every week because it has offered me insight on struggles they are facing and humbled me to become a better nurse.”

As the baked chicken, Swiss chard, and mashed potatoes are served to each table, third-year nursing student Carolina Chirinos chats in Spanish with 65-year-old Carlos, who emigrated from Cuba when he was 21. She laughs as he describes being a mujeriego (“a womanizer”) in his younger days.

Carlos has attended the dinners on and off for nine years. He drove a truck for 35 years until the work took its toll on his body, hurting his back and shoulder. In addition to the meal, he appreciates getting his blood pressure checked and receiving foot care. He rents a room nearby and is on Medicare, but says dental care is hard to access.

Chirinos, a first-generation college student whose father immigrated to the U.S. from South America and whose maternal grandparents are from Mexico, relates to the struggles of the poor and foreign-born.

“The goal is to learn how to connect and develop relationships with marginalized people, because once you [develop] rapport and trust with people, you are also more likely to be able to provide better care for them.” — Tara James

“I’ve gotten to know the guys here who speak Spanish. Many are immigrants. Most don’t have family nearby. They struggle to advocate for themselves because of the language barrier. It’s really touched me. I see a lot of health disparities,” she said. “There are also cultural barriers, such as how one defines pain and a distrust of health care providers.”

Blood pressure checks and well-rounded meals contribute to better health for the diners.

Chirinos is thinking of pursuing a community health career to help improve care. “My brother had chronic asthma. For some of my childhood, my family didn’t have health insurance so I spent hours at free clinics as a child. We’d have to drive far and wait forever.

“This has also given me a different perspective on the homeless population. Many people think, ‘They’re all on drugs,’ but I know from talking with them, they work hard. Sometimes life doesn’t work out. I didn’t expect so much conversation and to form relationships,” she said.

That’s music to the ears of Tara James, an adjunct nursing professor at SPU, who coordinates the community health practicum. “The goal is to learn how to connect and develop relationships with marginalized people because once you [develop] rapport and trust with people, you are also more likely to be able to provide better care for them. Patients are more likely to trust their nurse if they feel they have something in common, or they feel like the nurse cares.”

The “soft” skills of communication and empathy are strengthened as the students play checkers with the diners, make small talk over vegetable soup, and pass out books and rolls of toilet paper. Familiarity paves the way for blood pressure checks and blood glucose screenings, as well as encouragement to visit a doctor or dentist for follow-up.

PNA has contracted with Medical Teams International to bring its mobile dental van — a refurbished RV with two dental suites — to the church parking lot monthly. The clinic offers mainly extractions and cleanings while more complex procedures, such as root canals, are referred to brick-and-mortar dental clinics in case of complications and necessary follow-up care. On this particular day, the mobile clinic is staffed by two dental hygienists and Christopher Delecki, senior attending dentist at Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic.

PNA contracts with Medical Teams International to provide free monthly mobile dental clinics at the church.

“The student nurses do prescreening, which is very helpful,” said Delecki. “They take vitals, do COVID screenings, and record health histories. It’s good for them to understand the role oral health plays in overall health.”
Dillin is grateful for the role the nurses-in-training play in helping her clients know their value. She recalls a younger diner who attends the dinners sporadically due to addiction and homelessness.

“The nursing students were hosting a foot care clinic, and I coaxed him into having his feet cared for,” Dillin said. After his toenails were clipped and his feet were carefully washed, soothed with lotion, and covered in clean socks, she saw him leaving. “I asked him about his experience, and he said, ‘I’ve never had anything like that before. I don’t deserve it.’ I assured him he most definitely deserved it.

“Every person has a story. Each is someone’s son, daughter, brother, sister, father, mother. They are real humans with real struggles and real feelings. They may have made bad choices, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy or deserving of love and respect.”

Colleen Steelquist is contributing editor of Response magazine and a communication specialist at Seattle Pacific since 2013. A former science writer and editor, she worked in cancer research for two decades.