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Political pub crawl through Ballard: Today So Far

caption: At the Sloop Tavern in Ballard, you can "Sloopersize" your beer order.
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At the Sloop Tavern in Ballard, you can "Sloopersize" your beer order.
David Hyde / KUOW
  • KUOW listens to the talk at Ballard bars as the race for Seattle City Council District 6 emerges.
  • Washington state is carving a new path for local businesses.
  • Remember when Doc Brown traveled through time for Earth Day?

This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for April 21, 2023.

One thing I learned awhile back, as a reporter, is that you should sit in a bar and listen.

You can also sit in a coffee shop, on a bus, or any place where folks get to chit-chatting about local issues. Personally, however, I find that you're dangerously close to spying, eavesdropping, or not-minding-your-own-damn-business in such environments. Plus, you strike up a conversation at a coffee shop in Seattle and folks are likely to awkwardly smile and move to the other side of the room, wondering why a stranger is in their bubble. And I get it — I do that too.

At a bar, though, folks are more likely there to chat and are open to those around them. You're gonna hear their thoughts on the Mariners, that new building down the street, bike lanes, or whatever hot-button issue is trending on social media that day. As a reporter, you run the risk that folks will eventually find you out. A bartender once matched my name to online news she was reading. After that, she really wanted me to know what she thought about "our sh***y council." The point of all this is — it's good for reporters to go outside their own circles, hear from folks who are consuming information, understand how it is being discussed.

This is why I got very intrigued by this story by KUOW's David Hyde, where he tours the bars of Ballard as the local race for Seattle City Council District 6 begins to take shape. He takes a political pub crawl through The Sloop Tavern, on to Hattie's Hat, a taco stand, the Sunset Tavern, etc.

Not everybody here agrees on politics, the causes or solutions to problems, but there are core issues that will influence the District 6 race. Safety is top of the list. For years, vandalism, threats, violence, and theft have plagued nightlife in this corner of the city, and people want something done about it.

“Every day before work we pray that we are safe,” one owner told KUOW.

"It's tough when there's just so much garbage that's thrown around the neighborhood," another owner said.

Check out the full story here.

Washington state is carving a new path for local businesses. KUOW's Monica Nickelsburg reported earlier this week about what some businesses are doing to keep workers. One solution was to convert a business into a type of co-op where employees are also owners. This approach could now be greatly expanded in Washington. Lawmakers just approved a bill that targets support and resources for companies seeking to become employee-owned.

The Washington Employee Ownership Program will set up a loan system to help companies make the conversion to co-op. There will also be tax credits available for such employee-owned co-ops and trusts. It shouldn't come as a surprise that a program like this has come to Washington. Our region is apparently a "hotbed" for worker-owned businesses. Read more here.

Tomorrow, Saturday, is Earth Day.

Earth Day began in 1970 as a way to highlight the environmental needs of our planet. By the time I was in elementary school, Doc Brown had traveled through time to tell us to cut down on waste, turn off the sink between brushing our teeth, and to stop pumping crap into the water. Then Doogie Howser showed up along with Kermit the Frog, and Bette Midler. Murphy Brown reported on it all. When I got older, I wondered if all this was some sort of fever dream that I had as a youth. But it turns out, it all actually happened.

What was I saying? Oh yeah, Earth Day. It became a big deal. And it still is.

This week, Soundside looked into a few local organizations to throw your Earth Day attention into. For example, 21 Acres in Woodinville. It focuses on sustainable agriculture and education. It not only offers volunteer opportunities, it also educates about our food system, which is pretty important. Check out the full segment here.

The Friday Five: News you may have missed this week, and other cool stuff on


caption: Singer songwriter Sarah Aroeste performs for a crowd at "Muestros Artistas" in February 2023.
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Singer songwriter Sarah Aroeste performs for a crowd at "Muestros Artistas" in February 2023.
Meryl Schenker Photography

Singer songwriter Sarah Aroeste performs for a crowd at "Muestros Artistas" in February 2023, which means "Our Artists." It featured six Sephardic artists — a mix of musicians, writers, and painters from all over the U.S. It was the University of Washington’s first Sephardic art symposium, and was likely the first anywhere in the U.S. (Meryl Schenker Photography)


On April 21, 1962, President John F. Kennedy opened the World's Fair in Seattle, aka Century 21. Kennedy was in Palm Beach, Florida, at the time. From there, he delivered an opening speech over the phone, which was heard in Seattle. Kennedy also turned a gold telegraph key, officially kicking off the fair. In 1959, President Eisenhower activated a World's Fair clock, which began counting down to the big day in 1962. When that clock hit zero, President Kennedy was signaled to turn the gold key.

As Crosscut previously reported, Seattle organizers wanted Kennedy to visit the fair. Locals went all out in an effort to woo the president. When Kennedy came to Seattle in November 1961 (to give a speech at UW), the city held a downtown parade in his honor. Organizers gave him a gold ticket to the upcoming fair, which was being built at the time. Kennedy even saw the Space Needle under construction. Kennedy wasn't able to make it to the 184-day event, but he did agree to appear at the fair's closing day. Those plans were snarled, however. Seattle was told he had gotten ill, could not travel, and had to cancel his appearance. That was a cover story. Instead, Kennedy was dealing with the Cuban Missile Crisis.


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