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Volunteers Make a Strong Community!

I received an email from the editors of the Madrona News which has not been able to produce the desired 10 issues per year due to lack of volunteers. The editors are working folks and they depend on volunteers to help fill an issue. I remember when I first took over the Leschi News and there were few contributors. I was still working, ostensibly retired and only filling in when someone else was on vacation. My first fill in was for someone who worked full time and was taking a 6-month sabbatical! And here was my first stint as editor! The next 6 months were terribly busy with most of the paper being written by me, a trend I did not appreciate! A community newspaper should be a diversity of voices as the community is made up of many personalities, not just one. It took a while to get others to step forward and commit to monthly contributions. One help was a suggestion by John Barber that we devote a section of the paper to culture and that began the Culture Corner. Susan Platt who is an art critic was delighted to take on the review of new shows and new venues for artists and living in the Central District, she was quite familiar with local artists and smaller venues that don’t get mentioned in the larger publications. Susan has been writing this column for years now and we appreciate her immensely. She does travel but has seen that her column is filled by others in the art world. Her husband, Henry Matthews, is a lover (and former professor, now retired) of architecture, and Esther Ervin, a Madrona artist, is familiar with our local art scene and works closely with local arts groups.

Leschi Market has graciously lent us the voice of Ken Benner, a wine enthusiast, with an extensive background in wine and “wine talk.” I love to eat out and felt that restaurant reviews should be a part of the Seeking Sustenance column. But it has not been easy to get folks to submit their own reviews and there are months when I don’t get out (as much as I had hoped). Karen Daubert has sent us some good reviews; she is appreciative of good food and gets to more Mt. Baker eateries than we do. Susan Platt has also sent us some reviews of Madison Valley restaurants; and she recommended Malcolm Harker to us. Malcolm’s British wit is not to everyone’s taste, but he does know good food and deals when he meets them! We are now receiving not full reviews but tidbits, such as best cookies and best croissants, but of course that does not a meal make so we urge our Leschi neighbors to forward reviews when you eat out and remember it’s not just the food, it’s the whole scene. Could you hear your dinner partner talk or was the noise too great to converse? Was there ample room and comfortable seating? I remember one of my early reviews of Trattoria Mitchelli, a now defunct eatery in Pioneer Square. The tables were close and the floor had a definite slant to it; I was present when a waitperson lost control of his many dinner plates and as one plate tipped, the pasta slowly slid off the plate and down the back of a female diner just one table away. I had many experiences there and it was always an adventure trying to eat there.

We are pleased to have such contributors as Georgia McDade who brings us an African-American voice, although I chose to see it as a voice for justice and equality; Charlie Phillips who has studied climate change and can often explain the anomalies of our curious weather patterns here. We appreciate Benson Funk Wilder for his reports on Leschi School and Selah Brown who keeps us tuned in to the activities at the Senior Center. Jennifer Romo has come forward in recent months to tell us about the Garfield Community Center classes and activities which appeal to youth as well as to Seniors.

We appreciate the voice of Anne Depue, book maven, for her lucid reviews of the most difficult tomes and her recent forays into the flora and fauna of the area. Her daughter Cello Lockwood is our intrepid traveler sending reports back from various spots around the globe in her year-long study of the effect of climate change on hoses.

We appreciate the monthly financial reports from our treasurer who gives us the skinny on the costs of doing what we do and our attempts to make meaningful donations to keep Leschi institutions alive and well. It is a task of the Leschi CC president to write a message to the community each month and Janice Merrill Brown encourages us with positive words in even the bleakest of months.

And of course, we appreciate John Barber, long time Chair of Parks and Greenspace for his close watch on all things green and his careful scrutiny of the budget as far as Parks is concerned. Kudos to Julia Hsieh for keeping our mailing list current and producing the labels each month. Her efforts keep us from the postal fees which occur when you move and don’t let us know and we find out the hard way…ouch! $4.48 per returned newsletter! Thanks to Kirsten Hopperstad who manages to survive the cumbersome changes often required to keep our production costs low as possible and still meet post office requirements. And thanks to Gwen Rench who puts out the sandwich board signs for our general meetings, no matter what the weather!

I appreciate Brandon Macz, Madison Park Times editor, as he is the most active editor I have seen in a long time. He is everywhere and gets the scoop ahead of everyone else. He often fills us in through NextDoor Leschi.

As residents, all of you have a voice and should contribute. We do avoid political discussions due to our non-profit status. Comment on local issues and not personalities. It takes a lot of volunteer work to make a strong community; we wish Madrona the best in their efforts to keep the newsletter going and we encourage Leschi to keep our community strong!

~Diane Snell, Editor

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