Lake Forest Park names street after sci-fi author Octavia E. Butler
What do an asteroid, a crater on Mars, a school in Pasadena, California, and Lake Forest Park, Wash., have in common? They all have features named after sci-fi author Octavia E. Butler.
"Octavia Butler Avenue" will be located along Lake Forest Park's 37th Avenue, between NE 165th Street and NE 162nd Street. The city will dedicate the honorary street at the intersection of NE 165th Street and 37th Avenue NE, at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 29.
"The City of Lake Forest Park is fortunate to benefit from the wide array of notable and talented people, like Ms. Butler, who found a home in our city, and added to its rich history,” Mayor Jeff Johnson said in a statement.
The idea to honor Butler with a street began in 2020, but the pandemic stalled the effort. Lake Forest Park Councilmember Phillippa Kassover says that's when she was engaging in an online anti-racism group and discovered Butler once lived in the city. That led her to an article by Professor Sheila Liming, which detailed a time during her high school years, living across the street from Butler in Lake Forest Park. It got her thinking.
"For a smaller city like Lake Forest Park to have had a resident who received a Macarthur Genius award is tremendously exciting," Kassover said. "The Black Lives Matter and anti-racism movements helped us understand how important it is to celebrate our African American neighbors of distinction, as they have often been overlooked in the past."
Kassover added, "Honorary street names are a way to remember those who lived there and the history associated with them ... I also grew up in the UK, where plaques and honorary street names are common, and help remind current generations of the history of the area. So the I found idea of an honorary street name to be an obvious way to remember Octavia Butler and honor her as a former member of our community."
Butler was born in California, where she lived most of her life. The author moved to the Seattle suburb in 1999 and lived there until 2006, when she passed away. When she moved to Lake Forest Park, Butler, who did not drive, merely sought an area where she could walk to a grocery store, a book store, and a bus stop. According to Liming's account, Butler wanted access to the city, but didn't want to be in it. Lake Forest Park seemed to fit the bill.
Butler was primarily known as a sci-fi writer. Her first book, "Patternmaster," was published in 1976. "Kindred," perhaps her most well-known novel, was published in 1979. She continued to write and publish books and series until "Fledgling" in 2005, a year before her death.
She garnered a range of awards throughout here literary career, including the Hugo and Nebula awards. Butler was the first sci-fi author to receive a MacArthur "Genius" Grant. After her passing, she was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
With its street designation, the Lake Forest Park joins a handful of other places that honor Butler's name, some of which are out of this world.
In Pasadena, the middle school she attended was renamed Octavia E. Butler Magnet in 2022. Octavia's Bookshelf, a bookstore named in her honor, opened in her hometown this year.
Paris-based International Astronomical Union named a mountain on Pluto's moon Charon "Butler Mons." Asteroid 7052 in the Solar System's asteroid belt is now also known as "Octaviabutler." And when NASA's Perseverance rover landed in Mars' Jezero crater in 2021, the site was called the "Octavia E. Butler Landing."