Playstreets 2019

This summer Queen Anne Greenways again held two Playstreets, closing a block of 1st Avenue West on Queen Anne, and filling the street with entertainment and education fun for the community.


We shared our booth with one of our sponsors, the Seattle Department of Transportation. SDOT provided some of the funding for the Playstreets this year.


One of our members, Michael Herschensohn, guided a button-works process that combined creative drawing skills with fabrication, in which each person colored a disc of paper that then got turned into a button.


Here’s a multi-step view from a previous event, with Heather Trim handling the button producing mechanics.


We also promoted some concepts that we would like to see developed in support of making streets more friendly and engaged with the community surrounding them.

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In this drawing we highlighted the various civic buildings and spaces that surround the potential Festival Street that would serve as their focus space – and indicated the way in which a Greenway might connect all of them to two nearby neighborhood parks.

SDOT staff Alyse Nelson and Nora Yao brought along materials promoting the Festival Street idea that has already been implemented in a half dozen other Seattle neighborhoods.


This program makes it easier for communities like ours to use public street spaces for a variety of events.


We already run the Playstreets with the cooperation and involvement of two of these organizations – the Queen Anne Community Center and the Queen Anne Farmers Market, two groups that would benefit from the addition of a Festival Street. The weekly Farmers Market draws steady flow of customers every Thursday during the summer.


It’s no accident then that we hold our Playstreets on Thursdays. The market audience overlaps with our audience in many ways.


As the afternoon progresses, many of the market shoppers make their way to the adjacent food court for supper, where a collection of vendors offer a wide variety of flavors to choose from.


It’s pretty amazing to see the level of energy – human and otherwise – involved in a simple, temporary set-up.


At the other end of the festivities, the Queen Anne Community Center staff set up many of their normally indoor activities out in the open, along with their booth, from which they supplied this years balloons.


We work regularly during the spring with the Community Center Director, Gina Saxby, on all the arrangements for games, tables, and chairs for the event;


but that doesn’t keep her from jumping into the middle of things on Playstreet day.

In addition to balloons, her staff helped kids create their own bead-work ideas.


This year they supplied a mountain of Big Blue Blocks.


There seems to be something inherently attractive about over-scaling familiar objects.


It’s also intriguing that they all appear to interlock but that it’s not exactly clear how that should happen – experimenting required !

Near their booth, the Seattle Fire Department put one of their trucks on display.


For some kids – and their parents – it’s a revelation to get up close and personal with all the specialized equipment.


Other adults got a chance to engage with their kids in Foosball, a perennially popular game that normally sits in the lobby of the community center.


In the middle of all this, a traffic jam on the local race track attracts attention.


Something about who has the right of way – and what’s to be done about it.


Other drivers show a bit more courtesy.


And even the speedsters occasionally stay inside the lines.


And what would a racetrack be without a fashion statement, coordinated with the vehicle of course.


This year, Jake Ostrow, son of one of our Greenways members, added a greenway,


though, as in real life in Seattle, it was later taken over by ride-em traffic.

Near our booth, in the center of things, we worked with the Farmer’s Market’s music coordinator, Sara Holt, to add some liveliness to the event. It’s been evident that music helps to “hold together” a space this large with this many different events going on.

In July David Goldberg and his Mud Junket band brought their Roots Rock rhythms to an appreciative audience,


and entertained people seated on the adjacent hillside.


In August, Brian Ernst showed how a one-man band, using pre-recorded background music, could carry the same space.


Nearby, using the music as a backdrop, Cory Lynn Atencio, went through some basic yoga positions with kids wanting to try yoga for a first time. In the top photo she talks in August with a customer who had tried it out in July; and in the bottom photo she responds to a demonstration of a remembered pose from the previous session.


Heather Graham brought her Parasol Painting again this year, helping people create their own designs that they could take home.


It’s definitely a hands-on process, and requires a bit of touch-up at the end.


Wendy Walker from the Audubon Society helped some future birders feel  real (stuffed) birds to get a sense of their bills, feathers, and feet.


She also had a telescope with her to check nearby trees for birds – and luckily was able to sight one.


Amanda Erven from Blue Highway games brought along some quiet games and played cards with some customers,


while others had help from Mom.


Other games were more rambunctious, such as this oversize set of Jenga blocks that tested tower building and team building at the same time.



As the afternoon slid into a pleasant evening, many people settled in with dinner from the Food Court – or their own picnic baskets.

We set up tables and chairs in a casual arrangement so that people could gather in family groups or sit and watch others enjoying the displays. In addition, some chose to make their own arrangements on the grass.

Overlooking everything, Don Cheyette of Seattle Adventure Sports, set up his always-popular climbing wall.

25′ high climbing wall

Each climber gets harnessed up and attached to a safety cable. After that it’s up to them to figure it out. Some are shy about the process; but others are not, and take to it with vigor.

And 25′ later – SUCCESS !

and for Queen Anne Greenways, another Playstreet success as well.


Success, of course, doesn’t happen all by itself. Sometimes it can seem that way, but it actually takes a lot of effort along the way. Here are the folks that helped make it all happen.

Michael Hershensohn (l) and Mark Ostrow (r) were instrumental in obtaining funding, coordinating with SDOT and its Festival Street program, preparing graphics, and, here, sorting out the intricaces of button making.
They are both on the board of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.
Mark Spitzer (l) and Andrew Koved (r) coordinated the set-up and break-down of the canopies, tables and chairs. Bart Gubbels was also instrumental in this effort.
Mark also coordinated the outreach to the various participants and the Queen Anne Community Center and Farmers Market.
In addition to Gina Saxby (noted earlier in the blog above) Queen Anne Community Center staff members Dirk Hallingstad and Mike Davis set up up the QACC booth, assisted by De’Quan Flight-Roberson, Patrick McCallum, Luel Teka II, and Mykhal Williams.

Queen Anne Greenways benefitted from support and media coverage in the community, arranged by QAG members Bryan Quandt and Bridgette Graham. This included articles in the Queen Anne & Magnolia News and inclusion in the calendars of Seattle’s Child, The Stranger, ParentMap, Seattle Bike Blog, and Seattle Weekly. We also couldn’t have been nearly as successful without the support of Matt Kelly and his Queen Anne Farmers Market crew. It was a solid relationship.

And finally, thanks to everyone who came out and had a good time !

QA Greenways October 2016 Meeting

We had an informative meeting in the Aegis on Galer “Pike Market” meeting space.

Queen Anne Greenways

General Meeting Notes – October 25, 2016 

We invited Cathy Tuttle, the Executive and Founding Director of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways (SNG) to present to our group

  • SNG was started 5 years ago
  • Advocates for safe and comfortable streets for all ages, to walk or bike to where they need/want to go.
  • Project type – safe streets for pedestrian and bike that are outside main thoroughfares.
  • Organized through a coalition of local/neighborhood groups. There are 20 neighborhood Greenways.
    • Each neighborhood group brings projects to SNG to support through advocacy. QA Greenways brought the Uptown and SLU connection as a focus to SNG.
    • Organizing model is that each neighborhood group determines their priorities are. SNG supports with mapping, advocacy, advice, support.
  • Focus has expanded to include broader goals beyond just safe byways outside of major thoroughfares to include: signals, crosswalks, and accessible routes across major thoroughfares.

Notes on accomplishments:

  • One of SNG focuses/priorities was the speed limit change, 20mph/25mph for residential/arterial streets. This was a 3-year project.  Next is to now get $$ for engineering to support the 20mph.  Small projects that make big impact on safety (example:  crossing lights, curb bulbs)
  • In past 5 years SNG has influenced $30-40m street funding towards safe streets.
  • Of the 13th projects that were given NSF $ this year, 11 were neighborhood Greenway groups.
  • Bike Master Plan is slow in implementation by SDOT. SNG is advocating that signage happens soon, even if not ready to do road improvements

Questions for Cathy/SNG:

Negative perception of safety improvements interpreted as causing congestion, but doesn’t feel accurate.  Is it?

  • Of the 34 road ‘diets’ implemented and tracked – peak speeds are reduced but metro speed better, traffic flow has improved, injury dropped by ½.

What is Vision Zero?

  • Developed 30 yrs ago in Sweden
  • Streets should be designed for people to use safely so that no one is injured = zero.
  • City has bought into in theory but has not yet allocated $$.

There 20 groups, is the whole city covered or are there gaps?

  • Yes, there are gaps – Magnolia is one; West Seattle has only one group, but the area is too big for one group; Downtown should have one.
  • Cascade Bicycle club is becoming more of an advocacy and was looking at downtown, but now more focused on statewide
  • FeetFirst doesn’t really do advocacy

Strategic Plan?

  • Connected network of safe streets for people of all ages, incomes to get around.
  • We are looking at adding “streets as place”, not just as corridors

What has QA Greenways proposed as our lead projects to SNG?

  • Mark O attends core meetings (monthly, on the 23rd) and communicates these to SNG.
  • QA Greenways need to determine our key projects for 2017.

Available Grants and Events to keep in mind:

  • Laurie Ames reminds us to keep in mind the Neighborhood Matching Fund – including Small Sparks for up to $1000- applications year-round.
  • Safe-routes to School – mini-grant (up to $1000) Paperwork is easy. Need to get school principle support (end April+ end Oct). SNG has lots of ideas of what we can do. Up to $1000.
  • Plan a “Night Out” with a Small Sparks grant – apply by July 1
  • Plan a Parking Day parklet – Sept event

Neighborhood Street Fund update/discussion

  • Queen Anne did not get any applications approved.
  • Discussion – grants rewarded to communities where inclusion (race and social justice), equity are redressed and where there is density.
    • Generally grants appear to address terrible situations in need of improvement. Ours were, maybe, more “nice to have”.
  • We learned a lot from the application process
  • We need to think how our proposals serve citywide needs.
  • Next opportunity will be in three years – 2019.

Play Street meeting for next year

  • Proposed that Shaun and Juliette to run the planning for next year’s Play Street.
  • Considering applying for a Festival Street to make it easier to put on many Play Streets per year. Application needs to be approved by the District Council, the status of which is still unknown.
  • Michael has information about complaint(s) expressed to the QA Farmer’s Market about the Play street. Requires follow-up with Ms College (president of Farmer’s Market board) and market director, Brittany Ryan.

Upper/Lower loops defining

  • Plan to initiate community involvement in designating loops and access at the next General Meeting.
  • Consider inviting Bill’s Magnolia contact, who is working on a bike trail access from the waterfront, to this meeting.
  • TO DO – follow up with Cathy to get big laminated map (Juliette).

Queen Anne Elementary and use of the Boulevard

  • Buses are loading/unloading 8 buses delivering 4 doz students from various parts of the city.
  • There is concern that this use compromises the Boulevard’s park-like quality and adversely affects bike/pedestrian safety.
  • Bus zone was put on the Boulevard without parks approval.
  • Alternatives: Boston or 4th

Next General Meeting:  January 24th.

Playstreet at the Farmers’ Market

As part of its focus on safer streets, Queen Anne Greenways has wanted to explore some of the different ways in which streets can be used in addition to their basic function of moving traffic. Schaun Valdovinos suggested at one of our meetings that it might be interesting to try a kids Play Street in conjunction with one of the already popular Thursday Queen Anne Farmers’ Market days.


Heather Trim and Michael Herschensohn wrote up a convincing proposal to the City of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods and succeeded in getting a $1,000 grant to help defray the expenses of pulling all the parts together. We were on our way.

Working with Brittany Ryan, manager of the Market, Schaun and Juliette Delfs selected Thursday the 28th of July to try it out, and agreed to coordinate the closure of a couple of blocks of 1st Avenue West adjacent to the end of the Market and McClure Middle School and the Queen Anne Community Center. Mark Ostrow and Juliette organized a publicity handout that was distributed on the hill to drum up support.


Mark Spitzer arranged for a banner version to go up at the market a week ahead of time to help create some awareness of the upcoming fun.


Jody Lemke arranged with Gina Saxby at the Queen Anne Community Center to borrow chairs, tables, and a whole variety of kids toys from their collection. Michael Herschensohn added a loan of LEGO large-size blocks through Putter Bert at KidsQuest Children’s Museum in Factoria.

On the 28th we closed 1st West from West Howe to the McClure parking lot. On this warm day things started slowly as we got set up in anticipation of the arrival of families and kids later in the afternoon (view looking north from our booth toward the market).


We relocated the Queen Anne Pool ADA parking to a part of 1st West just off West Howe.


To give us a good overview of all the happenings, we set up our booth in a central location that was also convenient to the market picnic area. Heather Trim (seated) provided folks with a blueberry snack (six varieties from market vendors) and answered questions about the Playstreet and Queen Anne Greenways’ activities in general. Here she’s chatting with Laurie Ames from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, who supported the playstreet and has been a helpful contact within the DON.


Below, Heather explains the ins and outs of selecting blueberries to some new customers.


Heather also exhibited and explained a layout of the ‘Crown of the Hill’ project for public walking safety that the Greenway group is promoting.


The 3+ mile loop follows the crest of the hill, includes some regular streets, some historic boulevard and some undesignated areas. It’s a popular walking and jogging route that is used by tour buses to show off views of downtown and the Olympic Mountains, and each July becomes the route of the Queen Anne Helpline Fun Run.

While we were getting our booth in gear, the Nyamuziwa Marimba Ensemble – – was setting up for a couple of hours of high-energy traditional music from Zimbabwe.


The music worked really well to ‘hold’ the space and activities together; and we have to thank Steve Golovnin (below left) and his musicians for setting a great tone for our playstreet afternoon.


Some of the audience took advantage of the shade trees to take in the show.


Once we had moved the play equipment into place from the Community Center and families started to arrive, the action in the street picked up. One of the most popular areas was the small car / scooter area in front of the QA Pool.


The rules, such as they were, tended towards the informal. We put out the cars and arranged a few cones; and then the drivers took over.





We were able to have a bit of something for everyone, even those kids that weren’t so little – or who liked the feeling of being giants with a kids basketball net.


Other activities were more cerebral and construction oriented, such as at the LEGO table


We were impressed that in addition to the usual towers and cantilevers, a fairly large building got constructed. Now if you could just mount that winged sculpture on the left on top of the building you’d really have something.


Interestingly, there was as much interest in the really large blocks as there was in the small LEGOs – something about the full body experience we think. It would have been fun to have more of these blocks to expand the territory.



For more intense action – up near the band – there was Foosball, first one-on-one with a young man taking on his dad.


and then a mom and her daughter showed it wasn’t just a guy thing


and finally, once the adults were out of the way, group collaboration – sort of.


Scott Cooper of Blue Highways Games brought over a couple different testers for the kids (and some parents) to try out. One combined throwing skills with math strategy. Knocking down the numbered blocks was the easy part. The trick was that you could score the points numbered on the blocks only if you knocked them down one at a time – not so easy.


For the other game, Scott got right in at the table with the kids, a nice example of how things work at his store on QA Avenue.


Brittany, our QA Farmers Market contact also stayed in the mix and helped us to keep things running smoothly by touching base with Schaun periodically during the afternoon.


Our own Greenways group members also checked in as things developed so we could tune our efforts as we went along. Jody and Andrew discuss a couple of options.


In the grassy picnic area things got rolling in a couple of different ways – first the basics,


and then a less structured approach


Gradually the afternoon wound down into dinner time. The McClure Middle School building threw a welcome shadow out into the street, encouraging people to move the tables and chairs where they could be used for eating (pizza always works),


and quieter conversation – and knitting !  We were impressed.


Even the Queen Anne Greenways stalwarts took a break. Is that a yawn ?


All in all a fun day – and for a first time experiment, a success !