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.

Overview_5128_1000

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.

QAG_5036_1000

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.

QAG_5094_1000

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

2018_08_QAG_Buttons_3292_1004

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.

C:UsersMarkDocumentsQueen AnneQA GreenwaysProjects5_Peop

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.

SDOT_5039_1000

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

SDOT_5047_1000

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.

FM_5107_1000

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

FM_5108_1000

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.

FM_5104_1000

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

FM_5102_1000

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.

QACC_5124_1000

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;

QACC_5126_Gina_1000

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.

QACC_5062_1000

This year they supplied a mountain of Big Blue Blocks.

QACC_5056_1000

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

QACC_5057_1000

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.

SFD_4829_1000

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

2018_08_FireTruck_3235_1000

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.

QACC_4834_1000

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

QACC_5013_1000

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

QACC_5015_1000

Other drivers show a bit more courtesy.

QACC_5011_1000

And even the speedsters occasionally stay inside the lines.

QACC_5009_1000

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

QACC_Racetrack_7_1000

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

QAG_5081_1000

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,

MUDJ_4876_1000

and entertained people seated on the adjacent hillside.

MUDJ_4873_1000

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

BrianErnst_5044_1000

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.

Yoga_5088_1000

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

Parasols_5034_1000

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

Parasols_5086_1000

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

Audubon_5050_WendyWalker

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

Audubon_5032_Bird_Scope

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

BlueH_5091_1000

while others had help from Mom.

BlueH_5092_1000

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

BlueH_5067_1000

BlueH_5066_1000

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.

Acknowledgements

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 !

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.

Market_Intro_4907_1000

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.

playstreetflyer

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.

Playstreet_Banner_4824_1000

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).

Playstreet_Market_1000

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

Playstreet_ADAParking_4887_1000

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.

Playstreet_Laurie_Heather_4830_1000

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

Playstreet_Heather_Blueberries_4993_1000

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

Playstreet_GreenwaysMap_4938_1000

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 – http://www.nyamuziwa.com/ – was setting up for a couple of hours of high-energy traditional music from Zimbabwe.

Playstreet_Marimbas_4915_1000

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.

Playstreet_Marimbas_4977_1000

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

Playstreet_Marimbas_4876_1000

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.

Playstreet_Cars_4892_1000

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.

Playstreet_Cars_4942_1000

Playstreet_Bike_4951_1000

Playstreet_Scooter_4968_1000

Playstreet_Bike_5023_1000

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.

Playstreet_Basketball_4890_1000

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

Playstreet_LEGO_4990_1000

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.

Playstreet_LEGO_5014_1000

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.

Playstreet_BigBlocks_4918_1000

 

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

Playstreet_Foosball_4928_1000

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

Playstreet_Foosball_5000_1000

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

Playstreet_Foosball_5012_1000

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.

Playstreet_BlueHighways_4959_1000

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.

Playstreet_BlueHighways_5017_1000

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.

Playstreet_Brittany_Schaun_4877_1000

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.

Playstreet_Jody_Andrew_4831_1000

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

Playstreet_Hulahoops_4950_1000

and then a less structured approach

Playstreet_HulaHoops_4922_1000

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),

Playstreet_Dinner_4966_1000

and quieter conversation – and knitting !  We were impressed.

Playstreet_Dinner_5022_1000

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

Playstreet_MarkO_Jody_Bill_4987_1000

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

QAGPlaystreet_4989_Chalk_1000