The Man on Iron Mountain

July 12, 2018

Charles Pillon, who usually goes by Chuck, has been living on a ten-acre property in unincorporated King County, near Renton, Washington, for decades now. He's built it into a sprawling empire of junk—including trucks, cars, buses, boats, RVs, tires, scrap metal, lumber, cans of paint, and heaps of yard waste mixed with trash. According to Chuck, this isn't junk; it's a place where old stuff can find new life. He says he salvages and recycles a lot of it, creates his own compost, and provides a service to a community that can't afford regular dump fees. According to the state attorney general's office, though, it is an illegal wrecking yard that's leaching all kind of hazardous waste into the soil, air, and water. The AG's office recently convicted Chuck of two felonies and a misdemeanor, but that was hardly his first run-in with the law. This week, in the final episode of Season 2 of Seattleland, reporter Josh Kelety leads us through Chuck's world, and helps peel back the curtain on the kind of guy who would create and hold onto this kind of thing so tightly, for so long. 

Music by Leeni Ramadan and Jahzzar

This week's cover photo is a portrait of Chuck Pillon and was taken by Caean Couto. Josh Kelety is the King County reporter for Sound Publishing and produced a print version of this story in June. 

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Safe Consumption Part III: The Opposite of Addiction

July 5, 2018

As Seattle moves forward with piloting its first supervised consumption site—now likely to be housed in a mobile van, not a building—the fierce debate roars on. Although many people on both sides of the issue are saying the exact same thing, if you listen for a while, there's a fundamental difference that emerges. And it has everything to do with the definition of "success." This week, in the final episode of our three-part series on supervised consumption sites, we hear from family members who've lost loved ones to substance use, and explore perhaps the biggest rift of all between people who support the sites and people who don't. 

Featuring interviews with Jennifer Asplund, Turina James, Joshua Freed, Guy Felicella, and Tim Gautier. 

Music by Kevin MacLeod, Loyalty Freak Music, Jahzzar, and Leeni Ramadan

This week's cover photo is an image of a mural near Insite in Vancouver, B.C., and was taken by Nicole Jennings. 

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Safe Consumption Part II: The Site

June 28, 2018

The closest supervised consumption site to Seattle—and the first one built in North America—is located on the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, British Columbia. It's called Insite, and was created in 2003 in response to an overdose and HIV transmission crisis there in the late 1990s. Because it's the first and the closest, and has about 15 years of operation and data behind it, lots of people in the Seattle area look to Vancouver for an example of what works, or what doesn't—again, depending on whom you ask. This week, in Part Two of a three-part series on supervised consumption sites, Seattleland takes a field trip to Vancouver to tour Insite and speak with people who work there, who use there, and who now work in advocacy near there, to better understand what this practice looks like and what it really means. 

Featuring interviews with Tim Gautier, an Insite participant named Brandi, Shelley Bolton, and Guy Felicella.

Music by Kevin MacLeod, Nctrnm, and Leeni Ramadan

This week's cover photo is an image of a participant entering the front doors of Insite, and was taken by Nicole Jennings. Nicole is a former staff writer at the Issaquah Reporter and she published an article based on this trip in February. 

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Safe Consumption Part I: The Debate

June 21, 2018

In January 2017, Seattle and King County made national headlines: They announced their intentions to build the first two supervised consumption sites in the U.S. as a way to help combat the opioid crisis. The sites, also known as Community Health Engagement Locations (CHELs), safe consumption sites, or heroin injection sites, depending on whom you ask, are places where people can inject or consume illicit drugs legally and under medical supervision. They're designed to prevent the spread of diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C, as well as overdose deaths, and can serve as a way to connect people to treatment and other health and social services. But lots of people and public officials both in and outside of Seattle are vehemently opposed to the idea, and more than a dozen cities in the region have permanently banned them. This is Part One of a three-part series on the heated, emotional, and sometimes bitter debate in the Seattle area around one of the most controversial policy proposals in the country.

Featuring interviews with Turina James, Joshua Freed, Jared Nieuwenhuis, and King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Music by Kevin MacLeod, Kai Engel, Nctrnm, The Insider, and Leeni Ramadan

This week's cover photo is an image of the injection room at Insite, the supervised consumption facility in Vancouver, B.C., and was taken by Nicole Jennings. 

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Dockless in Seattle

June 7, 2018

In summer 2017, thousands of brightly-hued bikes started covering Seattle streets. Unlike Seattle's previous bikeshare program, Pronto, which required users to return the bike to a designated parking station, these don't have a station. You unlock the bike with your smartphone, then leave it at your destination. It's more convenient, so the program has been seeing a lot more use and overall enthusiasm than Pronto ever did. But all that freedom sometimes leads to... well, chaos. The bikes have been hung off of bridges, stop signs, and trees; they've been drowned in lakes, thrown in bushes, and holed up in people's houses; they've been tossed in piles and mangled and tagged. This week, as Seattle releases its initial evaluation of a year with dockless bikeshare, Seattleland's intern Aidan Walker takes stock of all that vandalism and mayhem—and explores what bike companies and city staffers are doing to stem the tide of careless parkers.

Music by Ask AgainKevin MacLeodJahzarr, and Leeni Ramadan

This week's cover photo is an image of a remarkably orderly line of Ofo bikes, taken by Aidan Walker. 

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Without Shelter

May 31, 2018

King County has the third-largest homeless population in the country. And despite Seattle and King County's concerted efforts over the last decade, more and more people are living outside. That means more and more people are dying outside. Anitra Freeman and Qween B King Rios are two members of Women in Black, a group of volunteers that aims to stand in silent vigil for every unsheltered person who dies outside or by violence in the region. Both women have experienced homelessness, and each does this as a form of advocacy—a way to say that homeless lives matter and that keeping the issue in the public eye matters, too. Seattleland sits down this week with Anitra and Qween B to hear their stories, their hopes and fears, and what motivates them to do this work. To learn more, visit homelessremembrance.org and fallenleaves.org.

Music by Natalie Mai Hall, Doctor Turtle, and Leeni Ramadan

This week's cover photo was taken by Sara Bernard and is an image of the leaf made for Anitra's friend Colette Fleming, located in front of the Seattle Justice Center. 

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Faith, Doubt, and Pedro the Lion

May 24, 2018

When Seattle-based musician David Bazan began his career in the mid-1990s, he was Christian. In the beginning, he put his faith—and his doubt about his faith—into his music. But over time, he began to sing less and less about faith, and more and more about doubt. His band, Pedro the Lion, broke up in 2005, and he’s built a solo career since, releasing albums that explore his breakup with Christianity as well as his anger toward corporate power, politics, and patriarchy. In late 2017, Bazan reunited the band, revisiting some of his old work—and his old doubts—through a very of-the-moment exploration of toxic masculinity. Seattleland editorial director Mark Baumgarten leads us on that complicated journey, talking with both Bazan and his fans to probe the depths of personal change made public and the role that faith and doubt can play in art and life.

Featuring interviews with Mark Baumgarten, David Bazan, Nina Maldonado, Steven Heller, Leif Andersen, Nick Foster, Josh Morrison, and Noah Janes.

Music by David Bazan and Leeni Ramadan

This week's cover photo is a portrait of David Bazan, taken by Ebru Yildiz.

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Shifting SIFF

May 17, 2018

This year's edition of the Seattle International Film Festival features more than four hundred films from ninety different countries. It's the largest film festival in the U.S.—and nearly half of the films featured this year were made by women. This is a big deal when compared with the lineups from most every other festival out there, including the SIFF numbers from just a few years ago. What are the organizers at SIFF doing differently? Seattleland sits down with executive director Sarah Wilke and artistic director Beth Barrett to find out. We talk about gender, representation, and power in Hollywood and how much of SIFF's new look is intentional and how much is simply a reflection of an industry that, for a number of reasons, is seeing more work from women come to the big screen. 

Music by Leeni RamadanJesse SpillaneBOPDMystery Mammal, and Kevin MacLeod

This week's cover photo was taken by Amy Kowalenko and is courtesy of SIFF.

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Secret Agent Man

April 12, 2018

At the end of March, following the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in England, the Trump administration expelled 60 Russian diplomats from the U.S. and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle. White House officials said that these weren't necessarily diplomats, though. More likely, they were spies. Seattle resident Naveed Jamali, whose experience working as a double agent for the FBI and Russian intelligence prompted his memoir, How to Catch a Russian Spy, agrees. Although the Cold War ended a few decades ago, he says Russia still views the U.S. as enemy number one.  This week, in the final episode of Season One of Seattleland, we catch up with Naveed to get the inside scoop on how spy movies and TV shows can become real life—seriously, Naveed lived it all, from clandestine meetings to Hollywood-style showdowns—and why Russian espionage might have a nexus in Seattle.

Music by Leeni RamadanBOPD, and Jahzzar

This week's cover photo is an image of the Samuel Hyde mansion in Seattle, home of the Russian Consul General since the 1990s. Photo obtained via Wikimedia Commons. 

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The Backlog

March 29, 2018

The cities throughout the Puget Sound region are home to Amazon, Microsoft, and tons of other tech companies—many of which hire a significant number of their employees on H1B visas. These are temporary work permits designed for foreign workers with specific kinds of skills and expertise. In recent years, a vast majority of those workers have come from India. And when they and their employers apply for permanent residency—something that's legally required after six years on an H1B—that's when they run into problems. Workers and the companies that hire them are insistent that the system needs to change. Their critics, meanwhile, argue that H1B holders are taking jobs away from Americans and that the current system is more than fair. This week, Seattle Weekly staff writer Melissa Hellmann and H1B visa holder Lokesh Marenayakanapalya discuss the gigantic green card backlog for Indians and the impact it is having on the lives and families of thousands of our area's tech workers. 

Featuring interviews with Melissa Hellmann and Lokesh Marenayakanapalya; performance by Mark Siano.

Music by Leeni Ramadan, Jahzzar, and The Insider

This week's cover photo is courtesy GC Reforms and was taken in downtown Bellevue during a rally in late February.

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