If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t eat the lutefisk. But, I did drink the metaphoric Kool-Aid. I fell in love with Ballard almost immediately when I moved here just under six years ago, and it is with a heavy heart that I pack up my laptop and bid this fare neighborhood adieu. I’m moving to Kenya to pursue community journalism in a completely different setting, working to launch Habari Kilifi, a publication that will serve the city of Kilifi on the Kenyan coast.
I’ve been editor of My Ballard just shy of two years; I took over for Kate Bergman (of the Geeky Swedes) in March 2012. It was one of my first major forays into the reporting world, having graduated from the University of Washington journalism school the year prior. Taking the reigns of My Ballard was intimidating at first. My instructions were fairly straightforward: write a handful of stories each day, focusing on stories that are hyper-local. The beauty of neighborhood blogs is in their ability to cover stories that reflect communities on a scale not easily accomplished by larger media companies. From lost pets to sports rundowns and enough development news to make your ears bleed, My Ballard serves this neighborhood in a way that is focused, reflective, and supportive.
Anyone who’s been in Ballard for more than a few years can attest to the massive changes and growth in our neighborhood. When I first moved here, I used to walk to Sunset Bowl for Sunday morning bowling. I, along with most Ballardites, lamented the loss, but now struggle to remember what the corner of 15th and Market looked like when I moved here in 2008. Our neighborhood is changing rapidly, with a shifting demographic and apartment buildings springing up like meerkats while the old haunts are closing their doors.
In the midst of the massive influx of new bars, restaurants, businesses and apartment buildings, Ballard is still the greatest neighborhood in the world. From its salty fishermen getting beers at the Smoke Shop to its young families perusing the Sunday Farmers Market and hip 20-somethings that fill Ballard Ave on any given night, Ballard steals the hearts of people from several walks of life. I’ve had my finger on the pulse of this neighborhood for quite some time, and have covered stories that are heartwarming, hilarious, and haunting.
19 months, 76 weeks, and roughly 1,500 posts: I’m going to hone in on a few stories and themes – issues that have garnered the most attention, and have helped shape the identity of our ‘hood.
The Legend of Edith Macefield
Edith Macefield is arguably one of the most praised and celebrated residents ever to have set foot in this salty town. She’s known for being the woman who refused to sell her house on NW 46th St. when developers offered her $1 million. Edith died in 2008, but her little home still sits among the buildings, as a daily reminder of her stand against development. Having lived there for 56 years, Edith made herself famous by remaining steadfast in her refusal to sell, even as the Ballard Blocks sprung up around her. “I went through World War II, the noise doesn’t bother me,” Macefield told the Seattle PI. “I liked the old Ballard. The new one — you can have it.” Edith’s legend inspired the “Steadfast” movement, in which several staunch supporters had her little home tattooed as a reminder of her strength. Her story moves beyond Ballard; in 2009, her story was the inspiration for Disney’s “Up,” and her home is on an international list of “nail houses.” Edith has been elevated to legend-status is Ballard, and it’s been a pleasure to help tell her story and see how she’s inspired a new generation of Ballard residents.
(Speaking of development news…)
Old Ballard, New Ballard, Red Ballard, Blue Ballard…
If anyone asks me what I typically write about in Ballard, I can’t avoid talking about development. It’s without a doubt that every time I post about a new condo or apartment building, a heated conversation follows in the comment section in which readers talk about Old Ballard’s numbered days. Some would say the nail in the coffin came with The Viking closing. Others would say that ship sailed long ago, and that Ballard is just a shadow of its former self. If the changing skyline of Ballard is any indication, the population of the neighborhood will jump significantly over the next several years. With that, the growing forest of apartment buildings and revolving door of restaurants and bars opening and closing will be ongoing, providing plenty of fodder for the Old/New Ballard debate for years to come.
That time those three guys stopped a man from burgling Tall Grass Bakery
It was a quiet night in July 2012, and a couple guys were having a drink on their deck in an apartment building on 24th Ave NW when they saw a man throw a rock through the window of Tall Grass Bakery. After calling the police, the two men raced downstairs and hid in the doorway of Cafe Besalu until the assailant made his exit. The neighbors then pounced on the robber, pinning him on the sidewalk with help from a passerby until police arrived. The three brave men were Nate, Johnson and Villici, and will be always be remembered as the neighbors who took it upon themselves to protect a local business (and some fine baked goods, I might add).
On that note, Ballard is truly one of the best places in the world to live. We have more restaurants and bar options than we know what to do with, more breweries than our guts can handle, and one of the best beaches in the city at our doorstep. I’ll miss this neighborhood that has become my home, and am grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know this community through My Ballard.