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.


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.



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 !