South West Stories: Ken Workman

“This we know; The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth.  This we know, all things are connected like the blood which unites one family.  All things are connected”

–Chief Si’ahl, Namesake of the City of Seattle

On Sunday, Aug 21, 2 p.m., Delridge Library hosts Ken Workman, member of Duwamish Tribal Council, and great-great-great-great grandson of Chief Seattle. This event is part of the South West Stories monthly series presenting the history of West Seattle, the Duwamish Peninsula and the Birthplace of Seattle – in collaboration with Southwest Seattle Historical Society. Continue reading “South West Stories: Ken Workman”

Billy Bloch and the Germania Café

~posted by Jade D.

Did you know October is Archives month? In a belated nod to German-American Day (October 6) and the various Oktoberfests (and Booktoberfests) happening this month, we decided to highlight some recent German-flavored additions to our digital collection.

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Now a part of our Seattle Historic Photograph Collection, these photographs depict the life of William Bloch, a German immigrant who came to Seattle in 1889 (arriving just before the Great Fire which destroyed a large portion of downtown). After the dust settled, Bloch opened the Germania Café, a restaurant, bar and social club located at the corner of Second and Seneca which specialized in German delicacies and imported beer. With the advent of the Klondike Gold Rush and Seattle’s booming prosperity, the Germania became a popular spot for both visitors and locals. Bloch himself became a well-known figure on the Seattle scene. Often referred to as “Billy” by friends and customers, he was known for his gregarious nature, jovial hospitality, twinkling eyes and rotund build. In 1908, Bloch used his newfound wealth from the Germania to construct a large family home at 1436 E. Prospect near Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill where he lived with his wife, Minna, and two sons, William Jr. and Frank. Continue reading “Billy Bloch and the Germania Café”

Wide Open Spaces

Far away far away, I want to go far away.

To a new life on a new shore line.

Where the water is blue and the people are new.

To another island, in another life…

(from Far Away by Ingrid Michaelson)

I was lucky to grow up in a DIY environment since the women in my family have all been blessed with something like a “creating” gene. Smells of baking and crocheted projects lying about were just a part of my childhood. My dad was the fixer-upper working in the garage or the garden out back. We had rabbits I took care of and of course my favorite activity – climbing trees! This all took part in the city so urban homesteading has always fascinated me, but getting back to the land calls me too. Continue reading “Wide Open Spaces”

Seattle’s Negro Repertory Program

Ethelmarie Hubbard Collection of the Black Heritage Society of Washington State, Inc.

On Saturday, December 1st, the Douglass-Truth Branch will host a lecture and Q&A session on the Negro Repertory Company in Seattle. The program will be provided by Dr. Barry Witham, emeritus professor of Theatre at the University of Washington.

A federally-funded theater program, the Negro Repertory Company was a project of the Works Progress Administration. The Company offered employment to African-American actors, dancers, musicians and singers during the hard years of the Depression, and entertainment to the citizens of Seattle. Continue reading “Seattle’s Negro Repertory Program”

Infinity Crisis

Author Kate Wilhelm is in town, and will be appearing at the Central Library this Friday, June 29 on her way to the opening night of a new play based on her work, produced byThe Infinty Box Theatre Project. Artistic Director David Mills tells us about it:

What happens when what you watch becomes what you live? Kate Wilhelm explores this question in her short story, “Ladies and Gentlemen, This Is Your Crisis!” First published in Orbit 18 in 1976, it is the story of Lottie and Butcher, who spend an entire weekend immersed in the reality TV show, This Is Your Crisis! As Kate explains it, the story is her response to the hypnotic effect of game shows and the “transformative experience” they produced.

Infinity Box Theatre Project is presenting a world premiere stage adaptation of “Ladies and Gentlemen, This Is Your Crisis!” at the Ethnic Cultural Theater and Kate is in Seattle for opening night, Friday, June 29th.

Infinity Box Theatre Project describes itself as “a research institute in the form of a theater.” We use plays as a way of asking questions as we explore the nature of science and technology and their effects on our lives. The idea of a story about reality TV written in the 1970s is intriguing enough, given the explosion of such shows in recent years. But this little story is ahead of its time even now in its deceptively simple exploration of how such programs can insinuate themselves into our lives. It is a wonderfully typical Wilhelm story. What begins as a simple story of ordinary life turns out to be about something much deeper. It is recognized as a classic short story and has been republished twice recently in 2007 in Dangerous Games (edited by Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann) and again in 2009 in The Secret History of Science Fiction (edited by John Kessel and James P. Kelly)

Putting “Ladies and Gentlemen, This Is Your Crisis!” on stage has been a challenge Find works by Kate Wilhelm in the Seattle Public Library catalog.for Catherine Kettrick, playwright and director – not least because she had to write the entire audio of the “This Is Your Crisis!” reality TV show. Twelve actors recorded contestant interviews, ads, emcee remarks on the contestant’s progress and commentary from the show’s psychologist and physician. Dustin Morache, our Sound Designer, used those recordings, as well as original music by Andrew J. Perez, to design the audio that plays non-stop throughout the play as we watch how Lottie and Butcher become more and more involved in the reality of the contestants’ crises.

We see our production as a compelling piece of theater, but also as a (deceptively simple) stimulus for an audience conversation about the nature of media and its effects on our own daily lives.

Another reason we are pleased to be presenting one of Kate’s stories is that our name, Infinity Box, is taken in part from the title story of one of her short story collections, The Infinity Box.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, This Is Your Crisis!” runs June 29th – July 8th at the Ethnic Cultural Theater. Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets, 800-838-3006. More information on Infinity Box Theatre Project at