Let’s get today started by switching up the norm and improving Seattle’s streets with today’s locals to know — Yes Segura! They founded Smash the Box, a community-driven urban planning and design firm based out of Beacon Hill. Yes is here to talk to us all about his work centering pedestrians over cars, love of watermelon, adoration of his community and all sorts of ways that Seattleites can shift their lifestyles.
Locals to Know: Yes Segura
Who are you? What do you do?
I’m a transgender man and first generation El Salvadoran from Richmond, VA and I’m the founder of Smash the Box. Smash the Box is a multidisciplinary community-driven urban planning and design firm based in Beacon Hill. Essentially we are all about redesigning streets for people and not cars. I also work as an urban planner, urban designer, cartographer, and artist.
Wax poetic for a minute and tell us: what brings you most alive about this city?
A few things:
- When the flowers start to bloom in the spring and summer.
- Me being able to ride my bike or tan with my shirt off that exposes my top surgery scars.
- Whenever the sun is out. I CANNOT EXPRESS THIS ENOUGH. WHENEVER THE SUN IS OUT.
- Biking with friends and grabbing a beer.
- Meeting and making new friends. I’m an extrovert from the east coast, so I actually commit to hanging out with people.
What’s your favorite Seattle memory?
Hands down it has to be having my first public art mural posted up on 9th & Thomas in SLU, with Future Arts & my teammate Gabriel Bello-Diaz. Not only is ita mural, it’s an Augmented Reality mural!!! Check out the Smash the Box IG or the news section of the Smash the Box website for more information.
If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I think my diet is 80% fruit, so it would actually be any kind of ripe watermelon. I would get it from the Red Apple because it’s local and that’s what’s up.
Outside of the obvious stop above, share your other top three destinations for where you’d go on your perfect Seattle day.
The Station coffee shop in Beacon Hill para un cafecito, the rooftop of my apartment because I can see the most incredible views of Seattle from my building, and the Washington Lake Boulevard to bike and swim when the roads are closed down for Stay Healthy Streets #VisionZero.
An example of how Smash the Box encourages people to get engaged in shaping streets that meet community needs.
What’s your favorite local social media account (Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, or etc.) to follow and why?
I love following new artists on IG and I also follow my transportation nerd friends on both IG and Twitter. Probably my favorite person to follow is Carolyn Hitt, @cmehitt, via IG. She is a Pinay artistic genius that has the most creative mind I’ve ever seen in my life.
If you could give any one piece of advice to locals, what would it be?
I think it’s time we thaw out that Seattle Freeze.
How does Seattle help you do what you do/influence your work?
It’s the community that helps bring the support I need to keep doing my work. There have been times when I’ve experienced being late on rent and having community come through was such a blessing. Those times were not fun, but I can tell you it was a blessing to have community be there for me.
What’s an unpopular opinion you have about the city?
It depends on who the opinion is unpopular to, but I have a few:
- Trade in your car and take transit or other multi-modal transportation options.
- All of the white families that benefited from Seattle Redlining in the 1930’s should give their land back to the indigenous tribes who were here first.
- You can’t just hire one Black or brown person and call it equity/diversity filled quota.
- What if we all adopted an unhoused person and then solved homelessness?
What are you looking forward to this year?
It’s the year of the Tiger, and I am a Fire Tiger. Definitely feeling blessed for everything that is coming my way.