When the Viaduct—Seattle's aging elevated waterfront highway—came down three years ago, it ushered in an intense, five-year redevelopment project on the shores of Elliott Bay, the ancestral home of the Coast Salish people and the historic launching pad for present-day Seattle.
In addition to a new passenger ferry terminal, a tree-lined boulevard with bicycle lanes, and pedestrian bridges from downtown Seattle to the waterfront, the redevelopment includes a 20-acre park and more than a dozen public artworks.
"I see the waterfront as re-imagining what our future is." -- Leonard Garfield, Executive Director, Seattle's Museum of History and Industry
"We really want this [public art] piece to be something that if our ancestors came back...we want them to feel like they recognize some aspect of the waterfront and feel like they're still here and that they can still be protected and welcomed into the place." -- Kimberly Deriana (Mandan / Hidatsa), Architectural designer and artist specializing in sustainable, environmental, Indigenous architecture, housing, and planning.
"Big visions take a lot of perseverance and a willingness to believe." -- Joy Shigaki, Friends of Seattle Waterfront
Co-hosts Vivian Phillips and Marcie Sillman invited an audience to join them at Pier 62, the heart of the new park, for a series of conversations about the waterfront's history, its cultural future, and how the new project could reshape Seattle's identity.
ABOUT THIS EPISODE'S GUESTS
Leonard Garfield is Executive Director of Seattle's Museum of History & Industry, an award-winning history center with a collection of 4 million historic artifacts and a robust schedule of exhibits and programs related to the history of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. Garfield led MOHAI in the move to a new museum at Lake Union Park and a new Resource Center in Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood, both of which opened in 2012.
Before joining the museum, Leonard served as director of the King County Office of Cultural Resources (now 4Culture) from 1993-1999; served as Washington State Architectural Historian from 1985 to 1993; and was Wisconsin State historian from 1978 to 1985. Among other writings, he is co-author of Built in Washington, an architectural history of Washington State published by WSU Press.
Learn more about Leonard and MOHAI here
Kimberly Corinne Deriana is a Mandan and Hidatsa architectural designer and artist who specializes in sustainable, environmental, Indigenous architecture, housing, and planning. Her design methodologies focus on incorporating Indigenous lifestyle practices in relationship to past and present: design for seven generations. Deriana strives to achieve exceptional design by weaving together respect for individuality, honor for cultural identity, and appreciation for contemporary quality, manifested in the shape and structure of sustainable buildings and communities.
You can learn more about Kimberly's upcoming collaborative public art piece here
Joy Shigaki is a fourth-generation Seattleite, returning home after raising $98 million in a campaign for the Presidio Tunnel Tops for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in San Francisco. Before moving to the Bay Area, Joy held several senior fundraising positions, including Director of Development for the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, Episcopal Relief & Development, and for Coro New York Leadership Center. Earlier in her career, she managed the capital campaign to create a permanent home for the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle’s Chinatown International District. All of her work is centered in community for meaningful impact.
Time and again, Joy has demonstrated skill in building and strengthening public-private partnerships to achieve major projects, a dynamic at the heart of Friends of Waterfront Seattle’s work.
Through her life, and over her career, Joy has been deeply grounded in and committed to racial and social justice and has built and strengthened equitable and inclusive organizations. Her collaborative leadership style demonstrates a nuanced understanding of the complexities, value, and opportunities of working with and learning from a full spectrum of community stakeholders.
Learn more about the work happening at Friends of Waterfront here
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (00:00):
Hey, I'm Vivian Phillips.
MARCIE SILLMAN (00:01):
And I'm Marcie Sillman. And, and this is Double
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (00:05):
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (00:15):
DoubleXposure is a podcast where we plumb the deepest depths and the tiniest cracks of our world to understand how culture and creativity shape our lives.
Hello everyone. Welcome to Live Exposure, a live taping for the podcast doubleXposure. I'm Vivian Phillips.
MARCIE SILLMAN (00:43):
And I'm Marcie Sillman. We're recording today from Pier 62 on the Seattle Waterfront. It's one of the first completed sections of the major renovation and reimagining of our city central waterfront. This waterfront stands on the lands and shared waters of the Puget Sound Coast Salish people whose ancestors resided here since time immemorial. With respect and humility, we acknowledge the history of the waterfront, the dispossession of land from the Coast Salish people, and most importantly, the strength and resilience of the native people and their culture, through this history to the present. With gratitude, we honor the land, the water, and its peoples.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (01:24):
This season we've been looking at the many ways that arts and culture help build and sustain communities. And today's show is the final installment of a series of interviews about how that's happening here on the waterfront. Later in this episode, we'll meet the new head of Friends of Waterfront, Joy Shigaki, as well as one of the artists selected to create work here. But first, we thought it would be a good idea to get a little historical background
MARCIE SILLMAN (01:49):
Who could be better at that than Leonard Garfield. He's a longtime Executive Director of Seattle's Museum of History and Industry.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (01:57):
Leonard, we're delighted that you could join us. From where we're sitting, we can see the Port of Seattle's busy cargo shipping port. We see the Big Wheel, the Seattle Aquarium, ferries and cruise ships. So much of this is intact because it's natural, and it really hasn't changed that much. But what has changed is the interaction with the Coast Salish people. How do you think, or can you describe how that's changed over whatever period of time you might think the greatest changes have taken place?
LEONARD GARFIELD (02:30):
You know, let's go back, uh, to the middle of the 19th century when the first non-indigenous people came here in, in the late, very late 17 hundreds, and then through the early, uh, eight, uh, 1800s. When non-native people came here, they survived because the Indigenous community taught them how to survive, how to use the abundance of these natural resources, how to ply these waters, and actually how to settle here and create a community. Shortly after the city of Seattle was incorporated, as many of us know, but too many of us have forgotten, one of the very first ordinances the city passed was to bar, to prohibit native peoples from even being in the city that was named in honor of their elder. Now, that activity, which was really criminal in its effect, has never really been fully acknowledged by the city of Seattle. It's never been apologized for, it’s never really been addressed in a, in a, in a materially substantive way. I think that's the, uh, disruption in, in our historical continuity that creates this great divide between the before and the after of that point of contact. So what was the change when non-native people came? It was a complete change of culture and in a way that was so disruptive to the Indigenous community, that the survival of the Indigenous community is a story of heroism, and there's no other way to describe it.
MARCIE SILLMAN (03:58):
Leonard, we're a young enough city that a lot of our history is documented in photographs. There's a huge collection that MOHAI owns, and I'm curious what kind of record they have or that you've seen of, of what has gone on, in this central waterfront.
LEONARD GARFIELD (04:18):
You know, the development of Seattle. You're so correct to say this, was really coterminous with the development of photography. And sometimes we think of photography now as an art form. I mean, it is an art form. And recently there was a great show at SAM with Imogen Cunningham and a great show at MOHAI with Ansel Adams. But photography began really as a way of recording life. It was documentary, it was journalistic. So as non-native folks came and settled here, they brought cameras with them. And photography really has documented the entire sweep of our recent, our modern, if you will, history. And so, you can see the waterfront change, and it changed every year and in every conceivable way from the physical landscape to the transportation systems, to the faces of the people who came here, the faces of the people who were forced out of here, and all the things that have changed because of that, it's all documented in photographs. That's, that's the great thing. When the waterfront opens in its reimagined way, there's gonna be an interpretive trail, and you're going to see so many photographic insights into what this place was like and how it became what it is today.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (05:23):
So, the city of Seattle was incorporated in, what, 1866? Is that correct? Somewhere around in there?
LEONARD GARFIELD (05:30):
Uh, as the great historian of Seattle, I'm gonna blank on that, but I'm gonna say the minute somebody, somebody look at, Ruri’s here from the city of Seattle. What does the city say? 67? I wanna say, Is it 67? 69? Who knows?
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (05:42):
That wasn't the real question. Okay. What's the question? The real question is the great fire happened in 1889. Correct? That's what that I know. Okay. And so it changed a lot of the topography of the city. How did the city go about redeveloping then from the Great fire?
LEONARD GARFIELD (06:00):
Yeah. Well, picture this waterfront in 1889. It was all wooden. It was wooden t trestles to carry railroads. It was wooden piers where the, these big steam ships and sailing ships would dock. It was wooden structures in warehouses. When the fire began in what's now Pioneer Square or uh, on the edge of Pioneer Square, it literally burned down the entire community. We think of the buildings burning, but some of the greatest destruction was actually the piers going out into the water. So picture Elliot Bay, literally aflame when the fire ended, uh, you know, a day or so later, the city was left in complete ruins. But what the change was, Vivian, was not just the infrastructure, it was the future investment in the city. Money poured into Seattle, people poured into Seattle, architects and builders poured in, and so did rules and regulations, beginning with, you cannot build a flammable building any longer, and we need a professional fire department. All of that traces its roots to 1889. So literally, it again was one of those moments in history where we can say there truly was a before, a dividing line, and then an after. And today, we're really still living in that after period, because if we look south of us a little bit, we still see some of those brick buildings from Pioneer Square. That's very much in conversation with the waterfront. And even more so since the viaduct has been torn down.
MARCIE SILLMAN (07:17):
Absolutely. Well, so I'm curious, uh, I, you hear a lot of places talk about public shoreline. So after that fire were, was it all privately held? Was it, did the city have a vision for what this would be? Or was it really just all that money you talked about?
LEONARD GARFIELD (07:36):
Well, that's a good question. The shoreline was mostly privately held. It was held by the railroad companies and the steamship lines and the great manufacturers who had placed all of their businesses right here on what we consider the public waterfront. And that's why in 1911, the city voters decided to create a Port of Seattle. This was a public agency that was actually going to regulate the waterfront to allow for more public ownership, public activity, and, and a greater sense of equity in how the economic spoils were gonna be divided.
MARCIE SILLMAN (08:06):
Did that happen?
LEONARD GARFIELD (08:07):
Oh, absolutely. And the Port of Seattle has Vivian Center Introductions, one of the largest in the country, I believe it's the second largest on the West Coast. Of course, now it controls our airport and has allowed the facilities here, but it allowed all of the public transportation to take place. It built roadways that were more accessible. Um, and then moving a little bit beyond that, the city then created Pike Place Market in about the same period, as a way to create a more accessible, publicly managed way of, uh, of having residents of the city connect with some of the businesses on the waterfront. But in terms of the real economic power, the waterfront was dominated by the railroads, primarily by the shipping businesses, and then by the large ship builders.
MARCIE SILLMAN (08:48):
How long did that last?
LEONARD GARFIELD (08:50):
All the way up until really, until at least world. I, I would say, to be honest with you, until World War War II, because remember the Washington State Fair system, a public system, It wasn't public. All of our fairies were privately owned, privately run. Um, all of the, all of the railroad, uh, domination before airplanes really took over transportation. All of that was along here. Um, the railroads tried to cooperate with the public sector when the railroads were so noisy. This was called Railroad Avenue out here. They were so disruptive that they did agree to tunnel under the city, we're big on tunnels, to tunnel under the city from Virginia Street to where the depots are now, to get the trains off the street. That was one concession they made to sort of civility. But basically, they, they ran the economy.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (09:34):
And that’s here it comes out at King Street. Right
LEONARD GARFIELD (09:35):
At King Street? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, actually, it's close to Washington Street. They used to say it's the longest tunnel in the world. It starts in Virginia. It ends up in Washington. <laugh>. Okay. I don't write, these jokes
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (09:44):
But not exactly,
LEONARD GARFIELD (09:46):
But not exactly.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (09:46):
A quick question about, you know, the ownership and how, um, this is such a, with such a big ship building town, timber was really also very big. But those were also all privately held, after settlers then came and relegated natives outside of the city.
LEONARD GARFIELD (10:08):
Oh, completely. And don't forget, coal, coal was huge. All of these were basically natural resources, which in any kind of moral consideration of the universe belonged to the humans who inhabit the earth. Right. And certainly, Indigenous culture did not allocate the kind of private property rights that, that were then, uh, assumed when white, uh, industrialists arrived. So, coal was privatized. The great forests were privatized. The water resources were privatized before the public hydroelectric systems came in. And the waterfront itself was. So Seattle really was a classic capitalist city. Uh, econo, a real economic engine. But the first person in line in that, were the investors who owned all that capital. And that's, that shaped our city. It, it also, however, led to some very strong oppositional forces, a sense of civic democracy, of economic democracy that took root here. And it's really the balance between those two forces that's created the dynamism and the excitement of Seattle history.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (11:09):
MARCIE SILLMAN (11:10):
Yeah. Wow. Is right.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (11:12):
I could listen to you all day.
MARCIE SILLMAN (11:13):
I know, me too. It's just
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (11:14):
Fascinating. This history is really fascinating.
MARCIE SILLMAN (11:16):
We're, we're, we're just kind of hop scotching up to the present day, but let's, let's stop at the construction of the viaduct. You know, sitting here, it's not that long since the viaduct came down, but it is, it is almost like a misty memory. So I'm curious who, who thought it would be a great idea to build a double decker highway right here? And and did anybody oppose that plan?
LEONARD GARFIELD (11:41):
I think the people thought it was a great idea with the people who did the Embarcadero in San Francisco. And what was that roadway in or in Portland that they had as well? The notion, I think we have to think back to the forties and fifties. We're, we're not not all <laugh>. We might be.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (11:56):
You go ahead and fade back.
LEONARD GARFIELD (12:00):
The waterfront was not necessarily the place to enjoy recreationally or even to live. The waterfront was about work. We had a working waterfront. It was dirty, it was gritty, it was busy. It was frequently described by contemporary observers as chaotic. The nice places to live would be the Hills, Capitol Hill, and First Hill and Queen Anne Hill. So getting by and through the waterfront in an elevated way was actually a terrific idea because you could speed past all the noise and dirt and debris and you'd have a nice view outward. But from an engineering standpoint, the viaduct was considered an alternative freeway through the city. This predates I-5 and was viewed actually as a great, um, asset to the city because it allowed the freight, uh, transportation, which needed that access right on the street level. It allowed greater, uh, greater flexibility there. I think we discovered, though, you know, not too long afterward that the, you know, the visual, uh, uh, detriments of the viaduct and, and just the way it literally cut off the waterfront physically from city life really was a detriment.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (13:05):
I, I'm really, um, fascinated by how quiet it is over here. You know, I'm, I I, it's that click that had used to happen when you drove across the viaduct. I don't hear it anymore. And it's so good to have that gone.
MARCIE SILLMAN (13:18):
So nobody opposed construction of a highway?
LEONARD GARFIELD (13:20):
No, no. People opposed it. There were, there were small people, but not, not probably in the way you think. It wasn't civic beautification people who opposed it so much. It was people who had different alternative transportation routes that they wanted to advocate for. People knew that I-5 was a possibility coming up cuz the interstate highway system was just being laid out. Um, but, you know, it was considered something of an engineering marvel. And actually a friend of ours, Governor Dan Evans was, started his career as an engineer on the viaduct. And he's justifiably proud from an engineering standpoint. Engineers sometimes are not always the best urban designers.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (13:55):
<laugh>, You think?
LEONARD GARFIELD (13:56):
And this is an engineer city going back to the regrade of the city, to Boeing being a big business, even computer engineers we're a city that loves to solve a problem. And sometimes solving a problem is not always getting you to the most elegant solution.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (14:11):
When you talk about how the viaduct connected, you know, for the freight and delivery and all of that, that was happening, I think at one time, 99 was kind of the only way you could drive to Canada. Yeah. Before I-5 and maybe, um, I don't know what point to the South, but how did having this elevated roadway along Elliott Bay impact the development of downtown Seattle?
LEONARD GARFIELD (14:34):
So, the development of downtown Seattle has almost historically been away from the waterfront. It's been north. So, Pioneer Square spread north, and it's been to the east. So downtown moved to, you know, uh, from Second Avenue, which was the heart of downtown to third, fourth, fifth, eventually sixth and, and Seventh Avenues, uh, the viaduct simply sealed that in. It just basically said, You're not gonna move on to the waterfront. It's gonna be a visual and physical barrier. And then with the completion of I-5, about 10 years later, you suddenly had the downtown very much framed by this narrow corridor of development. And two neighborhoods were really destroyed in the process. As we know, the, the neighborhoods that would've been where I-5 is now, the Cascade neighborhood and East Lake neighborhood and so forth. And then the, the very humble working class neighborhoods in low scale businesses that clustered in and around the working waterfront. Um, those neighborhoods were very severely impacted by having the, uh, viaduct here. So I think one of the hooks with the tearing down the viaduct is that bridging the city, east west. Yeah. It's always been connected north south. Our challenges are let's connect East/West and have a real knitted, uh, community. And, and with the Viaduct gone in the tunnel here, we, we have that opportunity.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (15:46):
We see that happening right now. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>,
MARCIE SILLMAN (15:48):
You know, I have been thinking a lot in doing the waterfront interviews that Vivian and I have been doing about the way that Hollywood documented this part of, of Seattle early on, not in the 21st century. And I'm not talking about Sleepless in Seattle. I'm talking about movies like Cinderella Liberty. Oh, yeah. Which to me, really epitomizes the fleet coming in and it's gritty and I think depicted some of these neighborhoods that you're describing. I mean, there, if, I think there are still preserved cottages that were workers' cottages in Belltown.
LEONARD GARFIELD (16:23):
In Belltown. Just a very few left. Yeah. Um, no, I mean, Hollywood captured it in, in the sixties and seventies. It was a gritty city. We, uh, we invented the term skid road, um, or skid row as it sometimes, you know, been, been, uh, changed in other cities. But we were the city that was characterized by having a rough and tumble place. Yester, which goes all the way to the central waterfront where the original, you know, Yesler Mill was located, uh, became that skid road. And they used to say south of Yesler was the dead zone. It was the Red Light District. It was, it was very openly acknowledged. And, uh, you know, they wouldn't let, um, enlisted folks down onto First Avenue during World War II because they didn't want you going to the, the bars and the house of prostitution and the gay bars. And, but, you know, for people who had an appetite for that sale, had a heck of a lot to offer.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (17:15):
So tell everybody why it was called Skid Row.
LEONARD GARFIELD (17:19):
Well, that was,
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (17:19):
Why Yesler was Skid Row. Why? Yesler.
LEONARD GARFIELD (17:22):
Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Well, Yesler. I looked around. He had a, he had a saw mill. He was gonna cut timber and he needed that timber, those trees cut down and brought to his mill. The trees were at the top of this very high hill, 500 feet or so above the waterfront mill. So they would cut them down and they created a skid, a pathway to slide these logs down right into the mill where they'd be cut. And really, from the very first, uh, months of operation in 1853, they sent them to not just California, which was booming because of the gold rush, but shortly thereafter, all the way across the ocean to the Philippines, uh, even to Australia. Every time there was a natural disaster somewhere in the world, and they had to have a, a building spurge, uh, splurge, they would, uh, you know, Seattle ships would load up with timber.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (18:05):
Isn't that interesting how something that had nothing to do with people necessarily then became negatively associated with folks <laugh>.
LEONARD GARFIELD (18:13):
So it's because who, who
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (18:14):
Worked in there, who worked?
LEONARD GARFIELD (18:16):
Let's, let's be honest about this. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it was mostly, uh, transient people because the world was transient. Yesler. Brought everybody in. He brought indigenous workers. He had Chinese workers, Bill Gross, uh, a Black man set up a restaurant with Yesler. Everybody worked for Yesler. They were mostly men, and many of them were single, and many of them had come from pretty difficult situations elsewhere in the world. So they were, as the community became wealthier and more established in terms of permanence, they looked down on those people, those people, Strat stratifications. They built that economy. And that's why everybody went up to the hill. And the waterfront at the end of that skid became basically the bottom of the social ladder as well.
MARCIE SILLMAN (18:54):
Oh my gosh. That's so fascinating, isn't it?
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (18:56):
It really is. So, Leonard, I've never heard you not be excited about Seattle history. Honestly, I never, But I wanna ask you, what is it that most excites you about the redevelopment of Seattle's Waterfront?
LEONARD GARFIELD (19:10):
I am so excited about this. I had a chance to take a walk with the waterfront, uh, project folks, and oh my gosh, opened my eyes. We have some of them in the audience today. I, I know that regular tours are planned and have been planned. Please go on them. Because, what you see is that natural environment that you asked me what was here 200 years ago mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you begin to see that coming back. But more importantly, you see it link with who we are today. And that intersection of natural resources and human resources, that's this synergy that really leads to sustainability. That's really our future. So, we're talking about the past, but I see the waterfront as reimagine what our future is.
MARCIE SILLMAN (19:49):
Leonard Garfield, you always make me excited about Seattle history. As excited as you are. Leonard is the Executive Director of Seattle's Museum of History and Industry. And some of those photos that we were talking about earlier are part of the collection over there. And some of them you can see.
LEONARD GARFIELD (20:05):
Yep. MOHAI.org. You just hit photo search and you'll see thousands and thousands of historic images.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (20:10):
You can get. You can go down a rabbit hole. Don't do it.
MARCIE SILLMAN (20:12):
Yep. I don't
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (20:13):
<laugh>. Well, I've done it and it's like, oh my God. Five hours past.
MARCIE SILLMAN (20:17):
We wanna thank you so much for joining us on Pier 62, which is the first part of our new waterfront park.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (20:23):
Thank you so much, Leonard. It's always wonderful to connect with you. We'll have to make a visit over to Museum of History and Industry really soon too. Thank you so much.
LEONARD GARFIELD (20:33):
MARCIE SILLMAN (20:34):
We're gonna take a short break now and coming up, a conversation with artist Kimberly Deriana.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (20:55):
Our music is courtesy of Big World Breaks. Many thanks.
MARCIE SILLMAN (21:00):
And this year we welcome our sponsor, LANGSTON Cultivating Black Brilliance from their home at Seattle's Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in the historic Central District.
Welcome back to LiveXposure from Pier 62 on Seattle's beautiful downtown waterfront. We're here with a live audience. I'm Marcie Sillman.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (21:28):
And I'm Vivian Phillips. You know, redevelopment down here at the Central Waterfront has meant a lot of changes. A whole lot of changes. First, we demolish the old double decker viaduct and build an underground tunnel. Imagine that. We're going to see bike lanes, pedestrian walkways that connect the waterfront to the rest of downtown Seattle. Some of that is already being seen. And of course, we're going to see some incredibly amazing public art.
MARCIE SILLMAN (21:56):
And that's where our next guest comes in. Kimberly Deriana is one of about a dozen or so artists who are lending their vision to this new waterfront. She's Mandan / Hidatsa, an architectural designer who specializes in sustainable Indigenous architecture, housing, and planning.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (22:13):
Yay. Hey, Kimberly.
KIMBERLY DERIANA (22:16):
Hi <laugh>. Thanks for having me.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (22:20):
Thank you so much. Thank you so much for being here. For folks who may not know about Kimberly specifically, you may have known about Kimberly's temporary public sculpture “Medicine Sundial,” which was installed on the plaza outside King Street Station in 2019. And I understand it just came down, so you won't have a chance to see that any longer. It's the first Indigenous structure to go up in Seattle since the Treaty of Point Elliot outlawed all Indigenous people in 1855. Kimberly, welcome to the live recording. And you're described as a third generation urban Indian. What does that mean?
KIMBERLY DERIANA (23:02):
Thank you. That's a perfect introductory <laugh> question. So yeah, I'd like to introduce myself in our traditional way, and that means honoring my ancestors before me. So, um, my Mandan and Hidatsa lineage comes from my grandmother, Corrine Deriana, and she, her native name is, “Brings the Medicine.” So that's what the sundial’s named after. That's my father's mother. And our traditional territories are North Dakota, Montana area, and she was born in North Dakota, went to boarding school at Chemawa in Oregon, and, um, ultimately lived in the Montana area. And that's where my dad grew up. She was like the last relative that was born on our traditional lands. I see. Um, even though where I grew up in Bozeman, Montana, that's, um, that's our usual and territory as well. So I'm trying to like reclaim that narrative a little bit.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (24:09):
All right. Urban Indian. Yeah. <laugh>. I love it.
MARCIE SILLMAN (24:11):
We're excited to talk to you about a lot of things, but the reason that we initially extended the invitation is, as I said, you're one of the artists working on commissions and you're actually part of a trio. You have collaborators, so Yes. Who are they? And then after you tell us about them, tell us what you're working
KIMBERLY DERIANA (24:31):
On. I'm very honored that Malynn Foster and Tamela Laclair. They're, um, Malynn’s Squaxin and Skokomish, and then, um, Tamela is Skokomish. So they're from Coast Salish Tribes. Since I'm, my people are not from this territory originally, it's really important that the waterfront work is done by Coast Salish artists. And then they invited me to collaborate because of the, the scale of the piece that we're trying to do. It, um, really lends itself to thinking in like an architectural scale. So,
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (25:09):
And that's where you come in with that architectural background, right?
KIMBERLY DERIANA (25:12):
Yeah. Yeah. And we, that's we're, it's really, I I'm really grateful for our team because, um, each of us brings such a unique perspective, mm-hmm. <affirmative> and just like a really important layer to the work. Um, Malynn’s a master weaver, a traditional knowledge keeper, and so she's really guiding, um, Tamela and I, in terms of her experience, just working through conceptual ideas. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then, um, Tamela is a really multifaceted artist who lives on her traditional territory and practices like her traditional fishing as their main source, her family's main source of income. And so she just has like a really grounded perspective about what it means to be in it, uh, a modern Indigenous, um, matriarch. <laugh>.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (26:09):
Well, you know, it's not lost on us that so much of the public art that we will see here is going to be created by women and the matriarchal impulse, implant, what impression, that's the word I'm really looking for. And I'm just curious, what are you all creating? The three of you have come together, you're carrying this lineage and creating this piece that incorporates all of your skills. Give us a, a a quick overview of what that is.
KIMBERLY DERIANA (26:41):
When we heard Leonard talking about the waterfront and about how it has always been this place for resource gathering and, um, food gathering, we really thought it was important to honor that traditional, um, those traditional practices. And so Malynn as the master weaver suggested that we look at, um, open twined baskets, which are clam gathering baskets. And, um, how that, those methodologies really speak to, the weaving methodologies, really speak to how, um, our women and the utility that we, that we bring to places and how our roles in society and community contribute to our resilience and our, our growth and our health. And so, we really like the idea of that form and that expression. And so we started to think about how can we use this site that's a platform from the Salish Steps to create a space that kind of envelopes and protects and offers refuge from like, you know, the piers a little bit more. You're a little bit more vulnerable out here. And so how can we create a space that speaks to the women's roles, our craft, and how we all, um, people like think about the sacredity of traditional materials and how we can express that in a way that's, that's celebrating the technology of our people and just the way that we, that we care for each other and our systems.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (28:42):
In a, as you're talking, I'm looking at the pillars mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and I'm envisioning how those pillars will hold that symbolism of productivity, of creativity and also just utility. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. That's beautiful.
MARCIE SILLMAN (28:57):
One of the things I'm thinking about is you talk, Kim, is how we heard Leonard talk about acknowledging the fact that the City of Seattle has never apologized for what happened on this waterfront. And I'm wondering, you're not just creating pieces of art or a big piece of art. It seems like you have something more that you are doing with what you make here. And I'm wondering about how that strikes you and your collaborators.
KIMBERLY DERIANA (29:26):
Yeah, I think that's like the core of our work, and that's where this is like heart work and healing work for us. So even though, um, the Coast Salish folks don't get the rec or the reconciliation that they deserve, we can reclaim that ourselves through this work. And we can, you know, use this piece as a, as an opportunity to tell a story that often gets <laugh> overlooked or doesn't, doesn't really get the recognition it deserves. So, one thing that Malynn has said, and it's so poetic and beautiful, but we really want this piece to be something that if our ancestors came back or, you know, they're always here and they're always around, but when they come back, we want them to feel like they recognize some aspect of the waterfront and feel like they're, you know, they're still here and that they can still like, be, you know, be protected and, um, welcomed into the place.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (30:35):
And you, you're kind of answering the question I was gonna ask you about, you know, what that connection might be. But in addition to that, you also talk about the fact that you are not from this area and how important it is and was to have Coast Salish representation in your artistic, uh, team. What are some of the other ways that you all take this Indigenous history into consideration when you're creating a piece like this or creating this piece? Cuz I guess you're doing it as a team for the first time. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.
KIMBERLY DERIANA (31:11):
So something that we, we try to do in all of our pro, in all of our processes and work, um, for using Indigenous methodologies is, you know, looking to our ancestors and the traditional technologies that they bestowed on us, but then also having opportunities for community to like, see the process and engage with us. And obviously we have lots of conversations with our mentors about the work and having that, um, shared ownership is really important because yes, we're like, we're leading this effort, but it's really important that it feels like it belongs to community.
MARCIE SILLMAN (31:55):
So you're leading, how many people are you working with on this? Not just the three of you?
KIMBERLY DERIANA (31:59):
Yeah, so not just the three of us. We have like, obviously our, our parents and our family are huge. Um, you know, they provide us with a lot of inspiration. The three of us are mothers. That's like my favorite new title that I get to have. And so our, our three sons are very in inspirational to the work. Um, and then Malynn's, um, father and mother are really talented artists, and so we, we've worked with him a little bit, but we hope to, um, have some more mentorship from him.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (32:40):
And you all are the lead artists, but you're bringing your entire familial experience into the development. Absolutely. And that's traditional mm-hmm.
KIMBERLY DERIANA (32:49):
MARCIE SILLMAN (32:50):
<affirmative>. We cannot turn back the clock to the time before white settlers landed on these shores. But I'm wondering if you expand beyond your, your particular artwork, what you hope, what's happening, the redevelopment on, of this waterfront can do to help at least change the narrative moving forward. And maybe to educate people who haven't thought about history at all.
KIMBERLY DERIANA (33:20):
We want this piece to be something that our kin and our future ancestors can see and point to and feel inspired to, you know, it doesn't have to be public art, but something that is contributing to community for our resilience and for us to thrive. And so this piece is an opportunity for different generations to feel empowered and confident to continuing the traditions of our, of our ancestors and the, the traditional teachings that are so vital to our cultural, I feel like I keep saying resilience, but our cultural resilience.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (34:05):
Yeah. <laugh>. Well, I think it's really evident though that you're not just doing this for right now, and part of your heritage and tradition is about doing things for future generations and your ancestors. So that's really a beautiful thing to see an urban Indian continue to carry on. Right. I want to tell people when they can expect to see what you and your collaborators are are up to down here on the waterfront. When can we come see it?
KIMBERLY DERIANA (34:31):
Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I believe installation is still up for, um, 2024.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (34:37):
MARCIE SILLMAN (34:39):
Now there's nowhere to install it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we're looking over there and it looks like Rebar. So that's gotta be a, it's gotta be more than Rebar.
KIMBERLY DERIANA (34:48):
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (34:50):
2024 that I can, I can wait, I can wait that long. I think I
MARCIE SILLMAN (34:54):
Was gonna say,
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (34:54):
I'm putting that out in the universe. I can wait that long in
KIMBERLY DERIANA (34:57):
The, in the construction timeline. That feels very soon. So <laugh>
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (35:00):
<laugh>. Well, it's really cool that we are sitting directly across the space from where this will be installed. I had not realized that that's where we would be, nor had I realized that that, um, overlook is really another location for the Seattle Aquarium. So it's all connecting right down here on the waterfront. Artist Kimberly Deriana, I wanna say thank you so much for joining us here on Pier 62. You all come down and see this place. It's beautiful. Oh, it is amazing. For this live recording of doubleXposure Podcast. We love you. Thank you. Thanks for
MARCIE SILLMAN (35:36):
Coming. Thank you. Coming up, we're gonna meet Joy Shigaki. Who is the person who's, I guess the juggling all the balls?
I'm live from Pier 62 on the beautiful downtown Seattle waterfront. This is liveXposure, a live recording of the DoubleXposure Podcast with an live audience sitting here with us, which is very exciting. I'm Marcie Sillman.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (36:18):
And I'm Vivian Phillips. So kind of you all to join us. We're here again, as was said on Pier 62, which is the first completed section of the 20-acre park that will run along Seattle's central waterfront from Pioneer Square all the way north to Belltown. From here it's just a short walk to Seattle's Art Museum, Olympic Sculpture Park. And if you keep walking, you can go up to Myrtle Edwards Park and beyond. This is like a central hub to get around to some beauty in Seattle. So the city of Seattle is overseeing the overall waterfront redevelopment, but the care and tending of the Central Waterfront Park is in the hands of Friends of Waterfront Seattle, a nonprofit that welcomed its new Executive Director, Joy Shigaki. Um, it says earlier this year, but I think it was just like five minutes ago, It feels like seven and a half minutes ago.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (37:14):
Joy joins us and we're so happy you could be with us. Thank you so much.
JOY SHIGAKI (37:18):
Thank you for the invitation.
MARCIE SILLMAN (37:19):
JOY SHIGAKI (37:19):
Delight for being on the pier.
MARCIE SILLMAN (37:21):
This is a treat for us, believe me. And you're hosting us. So for people who maybe have heard that term, Friends of Waterfront Seattle and are like, what is this? What is it?
JOY SHIGAKI (37:31):
So we are the nonprofit partner to the city in really helping to be the organization that helps to fund and steward and activate this place. I was not here during the sort of larger visioning of this waterfront, and I guess I'll back up just a minute if I can. You know, the 2001 Nisqually earthquake created an opportunity as much as it kind of rocked all of us. So I was here during that in a old building in Pioneer Square. But what we didn't realize at that moment is it also created an opportunity because 99 was damaged and the sea wall also had, um, major impact. And so what it did is we created this amazing opportunity to revision the possibility of this waterfront. And so in that vision was, um, one piece, which is this 20 acre park. Um, and the decision with the city and um, the Waterfront Oversight Committee was a need for a non-profit partner to the city, um, to be able to make sure that we can be the organization that cares deeply for this place, but ensure that it's a place for all communities to come and feel a sense of belonging, um, to connect to the waterfront and to larger downtown area.
JOY SHIGAKI (38:31):
So we will be in perpetuity, be the organization that will, um, center our partnership and work here, um, and be bringing hopefully that spirit of, um, connection more deeply into the city and in the region.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (38:41):
Yeah, we said, you know, you just got here, but it's not like you haven't been here before <laugh>. I mean, I just wanna go back and note that part of it because when you mentioned the Nisqually quake at that time you were at Wing Luke.
JOY SHIGAKI (38:53):
Yeah. I was actually working for King County then.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (38:55):
JOY SHIGAKI (38:56):
Right. And then worked for the Wing Luke.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (38:57):
Correct. Okay. All right. So right around that time, earlier this season, we talked with your chief operating officer, Eldon Tam, about the connection between this new park and the wider community. But can you give us your thoughts on who this park is for and how the public can influence what goes on here?
JOY SHIGAKI (39:14):
That's a great question. Um, because I've only been here eight and a half minutes, <laugh>, I mean, I can't take credit for really the work that's been done by the team. Um, the public programs team, the community engagement team, I mean really the staff at Friends who have really elevated in this last 18 months, a really different conversation about what does it mean to center community and place. It's one thing to build a place in a public park and a public space. It's another thing to really center community voice in it if the intention and value around equity and inclusion are really built into the work. And so, on behalf of the team, you know, they really have built around a goal of listening and centering community in that. And what that takes is a willingness to go into community and really ask and to build trust and to listen very differently about, how does a space that one either does or doesn't connect with, even though we know this is like quintessential Seattle, you came to the waterfront, you had an experience, but this is a new place that's being reintroduced to the city in a really different way.
JOY SHIGAKI (40:10):
And for us, I think the commitment that we have, and the program team, um, and the community engagement team is to really ask the question that if we want it to be a place for all communities, especially BIPOC communities and those that maybe have not historically been brought into public space in ways that feel authentic, um, that are deeply connected, that we need to actually build that practice in our work. So it's really been a two year practice of really thinking about how Pier 62, um, could be a place for that in arts and culture, in recreation, in history and education by centering community voice and listening really intently to that and building those trusting relationships.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (40:49):
If I can ask just a, a quick follow up question to that. You know, Leonard Garfield was telling us about the history of the city and the time when indigenous peoples were relegated to outside of the city. So when you start talking about making connections with BIPOC communities, I'm going to guess it's really a long and intentional process that has to take place. Correct?
JOY SHIGAKI (41:10):
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think part of it is the question of how do we really intentionally try to build that authentic trust in a, in a time that stories haven't been elevated. So Kimberly's work as a piece of that, is how do we build representation that's authentic to, to people in this place because place making and building a sense of connection to place is part of building that trust and safety, um, and belief that um, that is a commitment that's not just what's right in front of us, but a commitment to the long term experience to a sense of place and belonging. And it will be, I mean, I think that the team will say there's many lessons learned. Um, it's important to be innovative and be flexible. It's important to be willing to admit and maybe things we didn't do right. Um, because that's also building at the center of it is the relationship, right. Of listening and saying maybe we need to course correct cuz something has to be different. But what we know is there are stories of the waterfront that we know and then stories that haven't been surfaced either, Right. Um, both in the past and contemporary. Right. So we have this space that's unique, that's this, this kind of once in a history moment for Seattle to create something that's very different that we haven't seen and haven't had.
MARCIE SILLMAN (42:16):
I'm gonna ask a dumb question first. You, are you a Seattle native?
JOY SHIGAKI (42:20):
MARCIE SILLMAN (42:20):
So you left and you've worked in lots of places around the country most recently, I think you were in the Bay Area. Correct. And, and so what about this particular work brought you back north?
JOY SHIGAKI (42:32):
No, it's a great question, In some ways that I lived in New York for about a decade and it wasn't until I left that I realized how much I had been kind of born and raised and spending a lot of time in Seattle parks. So, Seward Park and Lincoln Park and Rainier Playfield and you know, playing basketball and tennis and all these places and connecting to a place that has like appreciates beauty and connection. Then you go to New York and you feel like where is the green space? Where, where are the parks? But what also occurred to me is you also have extraordinary parks in New York because they're invested in, and it's a recognition that it's the place that you can both find respite. So you can find your pocket park when I worked in the city, to get away and have a really quiet moment to myself, but I could also go to Prospect Park and go to concerts, free concerts in the park and go to see dance and other things with like a, a slice of the community that represented everyone.
JOY SHIGAKI (43:21):
And it didn't just happen, it happened because there was intention to build an investment in public space that believed there should be democratic access for everyone. And it really changed my thinking a lot about, um, good cities have a lot of interesting things, but one of the things they actually fundamentally need to have is open space and public space, and parks are at the center of that for an experience to really connect people to that. So when I worked on this park in, um, in San Francisco, the Presidio Tunnel Tops, which was a reclaimed sort of tunnel over a set of highways, it was again the reminder that something extraordinary can happen when you envision something differently. And many people had said, Oh, just rebuild the highway. Don't create this park over the tunnels. It's too much work. But big projects take a lot of vision. Um, and so I'd heard about the project, I mean, knew about Bertha getting stuck and all the construction, the sea wall, all the things.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (44:13):
So you waited until after that was done. I know, right?
JOY SHIGAKI (44:15):
I know it kinda came with the sweet spot <laugh>. Um, but it's an honor to be part of that because it is about so many people at a bigger vision for what the possibility was for Seattle. Yeah. And um, and in some ways in life things kind of come in ways that align sometimes in life. So it's, it's a joy to be part of this with many, many players, the many partners with the staff and the board and the the city because it's gonna take many hands to make this work continue to be flourishing. Yeah. Um, and to be a place that really feels like it belongs to everybody.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (44:46):
So you mentioned the Presidio uh, project and that's like a reclamation of space. You also talked a little bit about the Highline, which I hope everyone has had an opportunity to experience in New York City where it's essentially the reclamation of a overhead railway that's been open to a a public to become a public park. There seems to be a lot of that movement going on in the country right now. And James Comer's name keeps coming up over and over again. He was involved in the Presidio project as well, right? Yes. What do you think is behind this whole movement to reclaim industrial spaces for public use almost everywhere in the country right now?
JOY SHIGAKI (45:26):
Yeah. No, it's a great question. I think that there's a different vision for what cities need to offer people who live here and um, to create this texture of a city that allows for really the best of a city sort of assets to be able to be available to everyone. So, I love the waterfront and I came here despite, you know, the fact there was a big highway running through it, right? Yeah. We remember you parked underneath it 99 and then major way to the Curiosity Shop, and Ivar’s and did the whole thing. But what it meant for all the neighborhoods that were disconnected and what it meant in Seattle now is to be able to create a connection to downtown, particularly after Covid, which so many downtowns have taken such a significant hit. Yeah. Is this moment of, again, larger vision in cities to say for prop industrial spaces that maybe had never been in re-envisioned for something extraordinary like a park, that there actually is vision and possibility behind it through public private partnership.
JOY SHIGAKI (46:14):
And I think it's a movement that we're seeing in cities to also in some ways also address the fact that many neighborhoods didn't, never had access to good parks. Right? So that assumes there already was access to green space and quality parks in all parts of all cities. But we know that actually isn't true given the history of, um, urban design in cities and how it was really racialized, Right. Based on neighborhoods and zip codes. And I think it's these once in a moment opportunities to say if we decide to rebuild, like there's a lot of opportunities with earthquakes and other things, um, and a re-imagination. I think that gives us the opportunity to say that investing in our cultural institutions matter, but investing in public space is incredibly important because it is really democratic.
JOY SHIGAKI (47:03):
It does create the opportunity to be able to bring people together in a way that we maybe didn't have the opportunity to do. Um, and so there's been a lot of foresight, I think in cities to do it. They've been hard roads. I don't think they've ever been really clear, Easy paths is the truth, right? Yeah. Um, but I recognize that big visions take a lot. It takes a lot of perseverance and a willingness to believe even with the naysayers. And I mean that's just, I mean life, you know, can get bumpy. Um, but big visions like this take a lot of wherewithal and, um, commitment, um, political will and you have to do it in partnership with cities like city government and local government is the important player along with, you know, public investment communities and nonprofits and so forth.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (47:44):
You mentioned the Nisqually quake and it just made me think about the fact that yeah, aren't we on a fault line? Isn't this part of the the fault line? And, and you know, kind of my question is gonna be what's the, what is the tsunami preparedness for the waterfront? I, you don't have to answer the question. If you don't know the answer.
JOY SHIGAKI (48:03):
I'll say I don't know the answer to that.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (48:04):
MARCIE SILLMAN (48:04):
We'll come back to you in a <laugh>. One thing joy that strikes me, and we've noticed this cuz we're facing some giant cranes. Sure. We see the work, Yeah. That is going on. So every so often I, but it is a little bit hard for me to get my head around it. I'm wondering what you're most excited about when you sit in your office and think about, aha, this 20-acre park on the waterfront is gonna have what?
JOY SHIGAKI (48:33):
Yeah, so we're sitting, we're sitting right here on Pier 62. So we're looking across what is, you know, Alaskan Way. The real kind of magic spot I think really is the overlook walk, which will be sitting on top of the new, um, aquarium. And that will be a 80 foot drop from the Pike Place Market. You'll have the opportunity to gradually come down onto meandering paths with beautiful kind of points of view to be able to sit and really position yourself to what is so beautiful, which is, you know, the Salish Sea and the mountains and the views. Um, there will be play areas and then you'll gradually move into what is the overlook walk, which is nearly, I don't know, I don't know if it's like a 0.75 acre area that extends over, um, the ocean pavilion and then will gradually open up, um, into the, um, Salish Stairs all the way down to this open space here on Pier 62 and adjacent and down the, and sort of down the way is Pier 58, which I was not here for when it fell into the Sound.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (49:31):
Um, I told you waited for all the,
JOY SHIGAKI (49:33):
I know all the things,
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (49:34):
JOY SHIGAKI (49:34):
I was like, what did happen to that pier? Okay. Um, it will be rebuilt and that whole opening area will be a nine-acre area that'll be activated with open space for, um, public programming and concerts and movies, another play area. Um, very open space for a sitting, you know, people to sit and really enjoy the views. There'll be a number of public art pieces in that area. And then it's just the fact that you can have this really seamless experience on the promenade walking all the way down from the stadium through Pioneer Square all the way up to Belltown, which we haven't really be able to do seamlessly with a wide promenade surrounded by sort of both a combination of native plants and other plantings that'll block the sound of the noise of traffic, um, with a designated, additional designated pedestrian walkway surrounded by beautiful plants.
JOY SHIGAKI (50:24):
Um, and then a designated two lanes of bikes to really allow people to have easy access. I think it's gonna be a place that's gonna be special for families. Yeah. Um, special for visitors and for any of us who want to come and grab a cup of coffee and walk down and have a private experience, but also be able to kind of walk up the side sort of east-west connections, um, back up downtown, which finally will have these easier points of connection than this really steep right stairwell to Pike Place Market. Yeah. Which, you know, hey, if you have good knees, that's great <laugh>. Um, but if you don't, it's kind of challenging. So it is this really, how do we create this sense of ease for people to come down here and have an experience alone or in community and then when it's time to also have a programmatic experience to really experience arts and culture through local artist experience and, um, experiences and, um, through their points of view, um, to bring people to feel that sense of connection to place.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (51:17):
I know for those of us who've been around for a long time, there's some frustration with how the city changes and has changed. But I have to say I'm very inspired by the vision and what's in progress around the redevelopment of Seattle's waterfront. So I just think everybody should come down and take it in. This is why we live here. Yes. You know, no matter how frustrated you get on Fourth Avenue, um, <laugh>, this is a place where you can come and really be reinspired. I just wanna say many, many thanks to you, Joy Shigaki, Executive Director, brand new Executive Director of Friends of Waterfront Seattle for joining us today. And we wish you all the best in your new position.
JOY SHIGAKI (52:02):
MARCIE SILLMAN (52:03):
We also, yeah. Well deserved. We also wanna thank Yoon Kang O'Higgins and Mark Meuter of Friends of the Waterfront plus their staff for their help in making this live podcasting recording a reality.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (52:17):
And we wanna thank all of you, our live audience who chose to come sit in the sun this afternoon and join us. Thank you so much. And come visit this completed section of Seattle's Waterfront. We're at Pier 62. Saying it one more time. Pier Pier 62.
JOY SHIGAKI (52:37):
Come on down!
MARCIE SILLMAN (52:51):
DoubleXposure Executive producers are me, Marcie Sillman,
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (52:54):
And me Vivian Phillips. We get production support from Hilary Northcraft, Randy Engstrom and Calandra Childers.
MARCIE SILLMAN (53:02):
Support for doubleXposure comes from Pyramid Communications.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (53:05):
And we're especially proud to support Crosscut Media's Black Arts Legacies Project, highlighting the role of Black artists and arts organizations throughout our cultural landscape.
MARCIE SILLMAN (53:18):
If you like what you're hearing on this episode of DoubleXposure, be sure to follow us on your favorite podcast app and check out our website, doubleXposurepod.com.
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