May is Older Americans Month

Aging Unbound logoIt’s Older Americans Month! We want to celebrate and honor our elders and challenge the narrative on aging not just in May, but throughout the whole year. Our society tends to view aging in a negative light and it doesn’t have to be that way; aging is beautiful, and it’s an experience that all humans share. During May, reflect on this year’s theme, “Aging Unbound,” and what it can mean for you by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is ageism and how does it affect you? What can you do to be more aware of ageism?
  • If we were living in a world built for all ages, what kinds of things would we see, hear, or feel in our family and in our community?
  • When is the last time you had a meaningful engagement with someone from a different age group?
  • What is your reason for changing the narrative on aging?

You can read the proclamation issued by King County and learn about local resources for older adults on this page. To learn more through books about aging and ageism visit our Older Americans Month book list.

Older Americans Month logo and decorative banner

~ posted by Emily B.

Seattle Reads Turns 25 and We’re Celebrating With Julie Otsuka

Seattle Reads exhibit at the Central Library
The new Seattle Reads 25th anniversary exhibit at the Central Library is open until June 26 at the Level 8 Gallery.

It’s hard to imagine, but back in 1998, citywide book clubs didn’t really exist.

Enter Nancy Pearl and Chris Higashi, who were with the Washington Center for the Book (then affiliated with the Library). They came up with the concept of encouraging readers across a community to read the same book, and discuss it. They envisioned connecting readers, authors and communities, and making books widely accessible (as libraries do).

Seattle Reads — then called “If All of Seattle Read the Same Book” — started in 1998. Russell Banks’ “The Sweet Hereafter,” which chronicled a small town after a devastating school-bus crash, was the first title. Banks was invited to Seattle for community events.

As documented in this 2016 Seattle Times article, a shooting and bus crash that happened in Seattle one week before Banks arrived added poignancy. “It was an intersection of life and literature,” remembered Higashi. “In a sad and wonderful way it launched the program.”

The 1998 poster for Seattle Reads
The debut book selection for Seattle Reads, then called “If All of Seattle Read the Same Book,” was Russell Banks’ “The Sweet Hereafter.”

Twenty-five years later, Seattle Reads is credited with inspiring “one city, one book” programs in all 50 states and all across the world.

Continue reading “Seattle Reads Turns 25 and We’re Celebrating With Julie Otsuka”

Walking, Rolling, and Driving in the Accessible Outdoors

The days are longer, the sun is (somewhat) back, and the weather is taking a turn for the more comfortable. That means it is time to get outside and enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer, be it your neighborhood park, the shores of Lake Washington, or the not-so-distant mountains.

If you are anything like me though, getting outside and moving can be a challenge. I’m not much for long hikes on steep, muddy trails. I can’t keep up with my more active friends. Being disabled can be a huge barrier to feeling I belong in the outdoors. Lucky for us disabled folks, Syren Nagakyrie, founder and director of the nonprofit Disabled Hikers, is working to change the way we think about who belongs outside, and how we connect with nature.

Disabled Hikers is many things: a web portal for resources, an advocacy group, and a community of disabled people who love getting outside. I interviewed Syren about their organization recently, and one of my favorite things was talking about what makes a hike…well, a hike! Syren’s answer was validating: a hike is anything you want it to be, so long as you are outside taking in the nature around you. Even walking to a park bench and sitting to observe the natural world can be a hike.

Continue reading “Walking, Rolling, and Driving in the Accessible Outdoors”

New Additions to our Black Culture and History Collection

In July 2022, the Library began work on a Digital Heritage Grant funded by the Washington State Library to increase the availability of historic digitized materials in our Black Culture and History Collection. This month, we are wrapping up work on the grant and are excited to share some of our new additions!

Thanks to the grant, we were able to add nearly 300 new items and digitize over 1,000 pages of materials which span from the early pioneer days of Washington Territory, World War I, and the Civil Rights Era.

Equality Now! protest sign created by Seattle CORE members, ca. 1964
Equality Now! protest sign created by Seattle CORE members, ca. 1964

Selections from the Maid Adams Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), Seattle Chapter Collection: This collection contains materials gathered by CORE member Jean “Maid” Adams. Materials include documents and ephemera related to CORE’s Equal Employment and Crosstown Bus Campaigns; issues of the Corelator newsletter; and hand-painted protest signs and posters used by the group at local demonstrations and events. In addition to the CORE materials, there are also items from other local groups such as the Central Area Motivation Project (CAMP) and national groups such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Rev. Samuel McKinney at Mt. Zion Baptist Church groundbreaking ceremony, April 29, 1962
Rev. Samuel McKinney at Mt. Zion Baptist Church groundbreaking ceremony, April 29, 1962

Selections from the Reverend Samuel McKinney Collection: Samuel McKinney (1926-2018) was pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church and a major leader in Seattle’s civil rights movement. McKinney served as the pastor at Mt. Zion, one of Seattle’s oldest and most prominent Black churches, for over 40 years. The collection includes biographical materials for Samuel McKinney and his family, as well as Mt. Zion event ephemera and photographs.

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The Soul Pole Celebrates its 50th Anniversary at the Douglass-Truth Branch

MOHAI photo of Soul Pole installation
Historic photo of Raqib Mu’ied (formerly Gregory X) at the Soul Pole’s 1973 installation, shown with permission from MOHAI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, 2000.

If you grew up in Seattle’s Central District, it probably seems like the  Soul Pole — a 21-foot artwork that stands tall on the lawn of the Douglass-Truth Branch at 23rd and E. Yesler — has always been been there.

In fact, the sculpture, has stood there for (almost) exactly 50 years. Carved in the late 1960s from a telephone pole by young members of the Rotary Boys Club to represent 400 years of African American history and injustice, the Soul Pole was given to the branch and then installed on April 24, 1973.

The Soul Pole in 2022, after the conservation project and reinstallation

Over the decades that passed, which saw so many momentous changes in the neighborhood, city and world, the Soul Pole became, as the Black Heritage Society of Washington has said, “a symbol of tenacity, legacy, and pride that anchors the history of Black people to Seattle’s Central District.”

You can learn more about the Soul Pole’s history and legacy at a 50th anniversary celebration at the Douglass-Truth Branch this Saturday, April 29 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Continue reading “The Soul Pole Celebrates its 50th Anniversary at the Douglass-Truth Branch”