Hoboes and Homelessness

Hobo signs in encaustic by Shaun Doll

Hobo signs in encaustic by Shaun Doll

by Elizabeth P. Stewart

What could art possibly have to tell us about homelessness? With history as the nexus between art and current events, an exhibit of work by artist Shaun Doll at the Issaquah Depot Museum creates the opportunity for us to consider homelessness in all its dimensions, from the romantic hobo “riding the rails” to today’s pernicious stereotypes of all homeless people as lazy or mentally ill.

Good neighbors build great gates

scbg Gate I

by James Daly and Greg Bartol

If you are one who recognizes great organizations when you see them, then you know that two of them are near each other on Lea Hill in Auburn. Naturally, when Soos Creek Botanical Garden (SCBG) needed a gate to span their large entry, they should turn to their neighbors at Green River College (GRC) Welding Technologies program.

“Not a standard rail-style gate,” said SCBG Director Jim Daly. “This gate should be unique, and be what ‘represents’ us. We are a 20 acre botanical garden of unique trees, plants and more.”

County council designates County Maritime Heritage Area

DMAC-semaphore

Des Moines Beach Park is included in the new County Maritime Heritage Area.

The Metropolitan King County Council has voted unanimously to recognize the historic, recreational and economic value of the region’s waterways by designating certain county shorelines as “County Maritime Heritage Area.” The ordinance is intended to encourage the State Legislature to designate saltwater shorelines statewide as a maritime heritage area, and ultimately, to prompt the U.S. Congress to take steps to designate a National Maritime Heritage Area in our region.

“We have worked to build vibrant communities and a growing economy on Puget Sound for decades,” said King Countyt Council Chair Larry Phillips. “We are defined by our waters and shorelines and our interaction with them over time, and that story should be highlighted and celebrated.”

Auburn PAC to get long-needed upgrades

by Pam L. Smith, managing director, Auburn School District Theatres

AuburnPACbathroomsOne of South King County’s busiest performance halls is shutting its doors – but only temporarily. Hosting over 300 events a year, the 1100-seat Auburn Performing Arts Center, located on the campus of Auburn High School, has been a veritable cultural workhorse. Since it opened in 1981, it has served all of the Auburn School District as well as numerous local and regional groups, including the City of Auburn’s BRAVO Series, the Auburn Symphony Orchestra, and Pacific Ballroom Dance.

But over the years, some challenges have become apparent – from the PAC’s inadequate parking and delivery areas, to worn out theater seats. The theatre’s heating and air conditioning equipment is wearing out and the lighting and sound systems are in need of an upgrade. The building does not meet current structural codes and ADA regulations, and it also falls short in providing common sense amenities – there are only five stalls in the women’s restroom!

Duwamish pioneer served in Civil War militia

Henry Van Asselt – Image Credit: MOHAI, 1967.4236.1

by Pat Brodin, Tukwila Historical Society

Although the Civil War was under way on the eastern side of the nation which seemed far away from the Pacific Northwest, the conflict had coursed its way through the Washington Territory. Vast numbers of military personnel throughout the West were sent through San Francisco on their way to eastern battlegrounds and with their departures, the territorial forts were left vacant. Acting Gov. Henry McGill delivered a proclamation to form local militia, which was prompted by the May 3, 1861, presidential proclamation from Abraham Lincoln calling for 42,000 additional volunteers to serve for three years.

Jefferson Davis – unlikely champion for the Pacific Northwest

by Karen Meador

JeffersonDavisFor most people, the phrase Jefferson Davis and the Pacific Northwest sounds like the ultimate historical paradox. But before he became President of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, Davis had had a long career of public service to the United States as a West Point graduate and Army officer, Congressman, Senator, Secretary of War and closest adviser to President Franklin Pierce. Matters concerning the Pacific Northwest commanded his close attention.

As an ardent expansionist, Jefferson Davis was a great supporter of creating a continental nation. From the time he entered Congress in 1845, through his final term in the Senate as Chairman of Military Affairs, he sponsored numerous bills and secured appropriations to promote American settlement of the West. In the 1840s, many in government discounted the value of the remote Oregon Country. Yet, in his first congressional speech, Davis addressed the boundary dispute with Great Britain, calling for the U.S. to assert its claims to the region. Expanding the Army presence along the Oregon Trail and throughout the Northwest, as well as sponsoring numerous surveys, topographical expeditions and scientific studies were among his top priorities.

Real life desperado inspires site-specific play

by Keri Healey, playwright

There’s an interesting story that happened on Auburn’s Mary Olson Farm 110 years ago, and it’s a story I might never have heard until Charlie Rathbun and Eric Taylor of 4Culture (King County’s cultural services agency) clued me into the tale of Harry Tracy, the notorious criminal who cut a treacherous path through Washington State on the way to his final act in Eastern Washington.

Trace Des Moines history via heritage trail

by Barbara McMichael, SoCoCulture administrator
Historical photographs provided courtesy of Des Moines Historical Society 

The Des Moines Beach Park Heritage Trail is a stroll back through time. The Des Moines Historical Society, with support from 4Culture, has erected several informative markers throughout the Des Moines Marina and Des Moines Beach Park so that people can get a sense of the lives of those who came before.

Federal Way pieces together Seattle’s neglected history

by Dick Caster

The Historical Society of Federal Way recently completed its restoration of the historic David T. Denny Cabin.  Historical Society secretary Dick Caster has written a detailed monograph about the Denny Cabin. Below is an excerpt.

As early as 1870 David Denny had expanded his real estate holdings and by the 1880s he owned over 1000 acres and in partnership with others controlled much of the land on southern Queen Anne Hill from Lake Union to Puget Sound as well as some land on the north slope of Queen Anne Hills as far as the Fremont District. In the 1880s David Denny formed a real estate company, D.T. Denny and Son, to market and develop his land holdings. He platted several sub divisions.

MaST tells the poignant real-life tale of a whale

by Barbara McMichael

If you haven’t yet had a chance to visit MaST, Highline Community College’s Marine Science and Technology Center, this spring is the time to do it. For the last several years, this state-of-the-art marine laboratory at Redondo Beach has welcomed the public (free admission!) every Saturday from 10 AM to 2 PM, to visit. The lab includes 3,000 gallons’ worth of flow-through saltwater tanks, holding over a hundred species of local marine life. If you’ve never touched a sea urchin or seastar, or seen a wolf eel up close (and chances are you haven’t, because wolf eels are very shy) this is the place to get acquainted.

Museums and students – changing minds together

by Elizabeth P. Stewart

How connected do young people feel to the past? That was one of the things we set out to learn when we began planning for our current exhibit, Two By Two: Students Reinterpret Renton History. Thanks to our partnership with Renton High Language Arts teacher Derek Smith, in fall 2011 we were able to invite 58 Honors English students in to explore the Renton History Museum’s collection. Their task was to select historic objects and photos, research them, then compare and contrast them to their own meaningful objects and photos.

Ground penetrating radar at the Saar Pioneer Cemetery

Story and photos by Karen Bouton, SKCGS Saar Cemetery Project Coordinator

In late 2004, the Saar Pioneer  Cemetery was dark, gloomy, and horribly overgrown with blackberries and ivy.  One could barely determine it was a burial place for many of the Kent area pioneers. The South King County Genealogical Society (SKCGS) took on the monumental task of getting it cleaned up, and through countless volunteer labor hours and several generous grants the cemetery is now a well-maintained place of reverence.

Reflections on 9/11

by Barbara McMichael, SoCoCulture administrator

The ripple effects of 9/11/2001 have extended across the miles and through time.  This point was driven home to me last week as I listened to a flight attendant recount her memories of that terrible day a decade ago when terrorists flew passenger jets into the Pentagon and New York’s World Trade Center.  Even ten years later, her tears flowed freely as she remembered where she was and how she felt, and reflected on how it has affected her work ever since that day.

School Outreach: It’s Worth the Work

by Ronda Billerbeck, City of Kent Cultural Programs Manager

His name was Luka,
He lived on the second floor,
He lived upstairs from her,
Yes, she got his mail all the time . . .

A bit of a deviation from how the song goes, but that’s how the real story went. I know because I heard it straight from Suzanne Vega herself. She told the story of “Luka,” her celebrated and heartbreaking song about child abuse, to a group of high school students in Kent, Washington.