Open-minded: PhinneyWood navigates re-opening
Fearless Ideas students and mentors celebrate the community menu they helped create during a workshop, “Storied Snacks.” This was one of the many in-person summer workshops offered at their locations in Greenwood and Yesler Terrace neighborhoods. Photo by Bryan Wilson.
By Matt Coomer
Opening up is a process. For a time, one could hope that reopening would be like flipping a switch: that a late-June press conference would make life “normal” again. Instead, it’s more like taking small steps. Sometimes forward, sometimes back. While we see a return of safety precautions due to the Delta variant, we look forward with hope to “opening up,” and we asked members of our community what opening up means to them.
Woodland Park Zoo VP of Engagement Rebecca Whitham shared that they’ve seen a renewed openness among their visitors to meeting again. “The more we open and the more people we welcome, the more such reunions we see. People are reconnecting with nature and each other here, and they now value making memories more than ever.” Former PNA Board President Chris Johnson echoed this sentiment, “Being able to reconnect with friends, relatives, and neighbors has made me appreciate the luxury of community and camaraderie that has been so limited for over a year.” As more people explore the community, they’re refilling spaces with their presence and relationships.
Wendy Powell, owner of Childish Things, has felt the return of a community spirit that she’s missed. “Resale is a challenging business, there is a lot of work involved and the community is the fuel for that. It was quite honestly, emotionally devastating this last year to lose that. It is this that is coming back quicker than the sales and while I want sales to get back to normal, the joy, the stories, the connection both between us and customers but between customers that we witness that really represents the difference we see right now from ‘opening up’.”
There is still a lot of uncertainty about when and how best to reopen. It’s important to remember that individuals are coming at it with different understandings and expectations. “Opening up means being honest about our limitations and blind spots, listening and learning from the people around us, and reaching out to the community to help us grow. Opening up means being humbled by the trust our members and guests put into us,” says Gloria Man, co-owner of Half Moon Bouldering. Navigating continued changes sometimes brings positive growth that will remain as well.
For Reverend Andrea Weatherhead at the Center for Spiritual Living, opening up means keeping new forms of service even as congregants can return to the center. “It has meant that we know that we will never be the same Center as we were pre-COVID, we will continue to offer our courses online and in person from now on, and we will also continue streaming our talks and community group meetings as hybrid experiences. For those who do attend in person, we are currently requiring masks for everybody indoors in accordance with the King County Health recommendations.”
The Bureau of Fearless Ideas’ Lead Program Manager Faith Eakin shared that they’re also opening up cautiously and mindfully, “This summer we made the decision to offer both virtual and in-person programming with the focus on reconnecting. ‘Emerge, connect, energize and grow’ is our mantra. It has been so long since we had spent time in-person with our students and families and we wanted to focus on renewing that connection while also finding joy in sharing our stories and feelings together. Opening up continues to be revised each day as we keep a close eye on COVID in our communities.”
Stuart Faris, co-owner of Ridgewood Bottle and Tap, noted that opening up carries with it new ways of doing business. “Some of the seating configurations are permanent now, as are the online ordering and pickup options.” He is excited for more community connections as opening up continues. “We are fortunate to have a great team and very supportive community and hope we can continue supporting great causes and organizations (such as the PNA) with special events and participation in their efforts.”
Many community members share this excitement. Emily Grayson, Adult Services Librarian at the Seattle Public Library Greenwood Branch saw that passion at their reopening. “It’s been so nice to see our neighbors returning to the Library, and everyone has been so enthusiastic – cheering upon first entering the doors was really common when we first reopened!”
Local artist Sandy Nelson has felt similarly excited about seeing their neighborhood reopen, “After such a long time of mostly staying home, it will be delightful to spend time with friends in the neighborhood again. I look forward to in-person events at the PNA — we’ve had a little taste of what’s to come with the Food Trucks Fridays this summer — what a delight!”
The PNA continues to monitor the dynamic situation of COVID-19, and we are moving forward with cautious optimism and adjusting as necessary as we go along. Our team is committed to the safety and health of our neighbors, community, and staff. With that in mind, as we welcome more community members back into our spaces and our events, we’re excited to renew connections and forge new ones, too. PNA member Karla Anderson captured this feeling when she described opening up as, “A chance to start fresh in this world of upset/unrest to a space within us, peace. I for one, look FORWARD.”