Seattle Wants to Save a Beloved Music Venue. But Is It Too Late? (CityLab)

In 2007, a team of Seattle consultants assessed the historical significance of dozens of buildings in the city’s urban core. Some were deemed meaningful enough that they were nominated as local landmarks. Others weren’t so lucky.

One building in the latter category was the Showbox, a downtown music venue that opened in 1939. Although its walls were virtually dripping with rare memories from nearly every musical genre since the Jazz Age, its physical structure had been altered multiple times. As a result, the consultants deemed that the space wasn’t qualified to be a historic site.

That decision, made in the early days of Seattle’s rapid redevelopment, paved the way for a fierce battle that’s playing out today. The venue’s property has since been upzoned and set to be sold and demolished. That sparked a passionate campaign to save the Showbox, and even prompted the city to take extraordinary measures to protect it in the short term. At stake is the Showbox venue itself, which is set to be replaced by a high-rise apartment building. Also at risk, depending on who you ask, is a key component of the city’s cultural history and the integrity of the city’s management of development. On all sides, it seems the outcome hinges on one question: When is it too late to save a valued institution?

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Crosscut

When houses of prayer become places of shelter (The Economist)

THE GETHSEMANE Lutheran Church, a plain six-storey building in downtown Seattle whose dark red exterior is adorned by a simple cross, offers something more than worship and community gatherings. It also houses one of more than 1,100 religious communities across the United States which are actively committed to succouring vulnerable immigrants who fear deportation.

For a place of worship to join the Sanctuary movement (whose supporters are mostly Christian churches but also include some synagogues and mosques) can mean helping with legal advice or simply providing a space to drop by. In a few cases, churches provide longer-term physical security for people who might otherwise be arrested and expelled.

Gethsemane, for example, has served as a home for the past few months to José Robles, a 43-year-old man from Mexico who trekked across the desert into the United States 18 years ago. Facing a deportation order, he took refuge in the premises with the hope of biding the time needed to secure a U-Visa, a status he claims on the basis of having been the victim of a violent robbery.

Places of worship are regarded by the American Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) as so-called sensitive locations, where they would avoid making arrests.

In the United States, the Sanctuary campaign gathered pace in the 1980s, when civilians fled north from civil wars in Central America. In some cases, after they were sent back home they were murdered by right-wing death squads.

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Could NHL in Seattle spark an amateur hockey boom? (Crosscut)

As members of the Seattle recreational hockey team Trash Pandas prepared for their first game earlier this month, the subject of the National Hockey League came up. This was the first time all 16 players were in the same room, let alone competing together. But in the middle of pulling on their jerseys and reviewing league rules, they started debating what the name of Seattle’s new NHL team should be.

Some excitedly pushed for “The Kraken,” while others suggested that “The Totems” or “The Sockeyes” would be the best choice. It was a normal enough topic for a group of hockey players. But it was especially relevant for this group, given that some of the players had actually joined the coed league in response to the recent announcement that the National Hockey League would be coming to Seattle.

“The news of Seattle, my new home, getting an NHL team brought my love of hockey to a whole new level,” said Reiner Blanco, 42, who is from Manitoba, Canada. Although a longtime hockey fan, he said the announcement spurred him to start playing for the first time in his life.

After a year of planning and deliberating, the NHL Board of Governors officially voted in favor of the Seattle expansion franchise earlier this month, setting a start date of 2021. The decision is momentous for the city, which hasn’t had a professional hockey team in about a century, and for what appears to be a rapidly budding fan base. When NHL was testing the waters earlier this year, it managed to secure 10,000 season ticket deposits in just 12 minutes.

It is also big news for the area’s recreational and youth hockey industry.

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*Photo by mark6mauno