Seattleites can get passionate about the issues that matter most to them. But sometimes people can feel like they don’t have the space to talk about certain issues — like housing, homelessness, police brutality and more — openly.
Edwin Lindo, a University of Washington law school professor and lifelong activist, wants to change that. Last Saturday, he opened Estelita’s Library in Beacon Hill. The small space is home to hundreds of books focusing on social justice issues. Edwin hopes the library will serve as a refuge and resource for locals wanting to talk about challenging topics.
“In this space, I think people know if you’re here, you’re here [with] intention,” he said.
Edwin is so dedicated to creating a space for conversation that Estelita’s doesn’t even have WiFi so people can stay engaged without getting distracted. In the future, Edwin said he hopes the library can host lectures, history lessons, poetry performances, and a book club.
We checked in with Edwin to learn more about the role he hopes his library can play in better connecting Seattleites.
How did you get inspired to create a social justice library?
I’m from San Francisco and there was this place called Radio Habana Social Club. It’s a Cuban hole-in-the-wall, eccentric gathering place. People are drinking wine and having political conversations about everything under the sun. I wanted to create that atmosphere of people engaging with each other.
Why was it important to you to create a space for these conversations?
I’m a law professor and I write on these issues. I get on the front lines for these issues and I wondered, “How do we find a way to decentralize knowledge?” I teach, but only so many people can be in my classes. All of my knowledge came from all of these [books]. And it shouldn’t be my knowledge alone.
Is there a specific book that’s made an impression on you?
Carlos Castaneda’s The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. [Castaneda] becomes conscious of his presence on this earth through this journey. It hit me that we can’t get to solid conversations about political or social conditions until we have a solid understanding of our [personal] politics.
I think a lot of times, there’s a struggle in political organizing because we enter into similar spaces thinking we’re all on the same page without fully understanding what our politics are. So I always ask folks, “What are your politics?”
For anyone who’s curious to learn more about social justice issues, what books would you recommend they check out?
What does a successful conversation around a social justice issue look like to you?
It’s having the grace to say, “I’m not here to try to disprove you.” … I think there is a huge burden on folks of color, particularly women, queer, and trans folks of color to constantly have to verbalize and explain what their life is like so that people can try to understand the consequences of oppression.
I fully understand when someone is like, “I don’t want to talk about this with you.” I think others, like straight men of color, need to step up and say, “They [women, queer, and trans people of color] don’t have to explain it to you — but if they allow me to, I will because I want to make sure you understand what’s going on.”
I’m willing to sit down with someone who is “curious” for an hour or so. That may not be the most comfortable conversation for them, but [the hope is] to know that whatever I’m speaking to you, it’s out of a hope that you are going to develop from this conversation.
Estelita’s Library is open 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Want to learn more about the library? Check out Crosscut’s feature on it here.
‘America’s bus-lovingest town.’ You may have heard that Seattle’s the fastest-growing city in the country — but what does that mean for how people get around? Transit experts crunched the numbers and found that more and more folks are taking the bus. King County Metro reports that, just between 2016 and 2017, their buses gained a whopping 700,000 more rides. Even better: Although Seattle’s population has increased by 12 percent since 2010, that hasn’t meant more cars in the city’s gridlocked areas. In fact, “the number of commuters driving private vehicles downtown has declined by 10 percent since 2010, even as new residents and workers have spiked,” CityLab reports. 🚌
About that head tax… On Monday, the Seattle City Council voted to tax companies earning $20 million a year $275 per employee to help pay for affordable housing and homeless services. Wondering what happened behind the scenes to get it passed? Turns out it was a real nail-biter. (The Seattle Times)
Meet Sikh Captain America. His name is Vishavjit Singh and he’s an IT worker and cartoonist. He started wearing a Captain America costume when a racist terrorist killed six worshippers inside a Sikh temple in Milwaukee in 2012. “When I do this, people drop their apprehensions, suspicions and perceptions about what they see with their eyes,” Vishavjit told a crowd at opening day of The Wing Luke Museum’s newest exhibit. “I think that is the part I really relish the most.” ❤ (The Seattle Globalist)
House-hunting? Mike Rosenberg, a real-estate reporter for The Seattle Times, rounded up all you need to know about buying a home in our city. He takes you through everything from saving for a down payment — the median of which is now $100,000 in King County — to how to make a bid on a house. Hoping to buy a place for less than $600,000? Mike’s poignant takeaway: “If you work in downtown Seattle, you have to commute at least an hour each way to find an area where the median home costs less than $590,000. To get under a $400,000, you have to drive about an hour and a half.” (The Seattle Times)
The Bag Lady is an urgent reckoning. She adorns her Black, queer, female body with trash bags—the accrual of discarded lives—and asks us to listen. Learn More ».
Promote something you ♥ here.
🙏 May 23: Meditate with the help of a brain tracking app at the next Impact Hub Lunch + Learn (Pioneer Square)
📖 May 30: Hear where Seattle stands on immigration policy and how you can welcome immigrants to the city at this Impact Hub Lunch + Learn. (Pioneer Square)
Want to partner on your event with us? Here’s how.
🍿 Watch tons of good flicks at the Seattle International Film Festival — through June 10 (All over)
🎨 Dance to trap music and paint (Capitol Hill)
🍻 Cheers your beers to Bike Everywhere Month (Ballard)
🎟 See an “immersive installation of memory” about fighting erasure (Central District)
💡 Learn about the “adorable and unexpected” ways living things procreate & parent (University District)
🍴 Check out pop-up shops and food carts at a night market (South Lake Union)
🗣 Hear poems from Filipino Seattleites (International District)
🏞 Take a bike tour around the city and munch on doughnuts (Ballard)
🎳 Go bowling with the Seattle Sounders (West Seattle)
🎈 Take the family to play bingo with drag queens (Bitter Lake)
🎈 Hop on your bike to kick off Bicycle Sundays (Seward Park)
🏞 Run or walk a 5K, then splash around at the beach (West Seattle)
Going to one of these?
Have a great weekend, all.
We’ll see ya on Monday. — The Evergrey