Underground Shenanigans

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Underground Shenanigans

Our friends at RAFN construction discovered the remains of Town Hall’s old heating system while digging into the basement level. Makes us glad we’ll be installing our new climate control system somewhere a little less spooky.
It’s a persistent urban legend among our staff that somewhere in the sub-basements of Town Hall there’s a passageway that connects our building to the Seattle underground. The renovation’s foreman told us it’s unlikely—but the team is keeping their eyes peeled just in case![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Stained to Perfection

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Stained to Perfection

The stained glass from our windows in the Great Hall is being removed for refurbishing. It’s unusual to see the Great Hall without those lively panes, but we’re excited to see how they look when they return to us restored! Until the glass returns, these windows will be boarded up with large plywood panels to help weatherproof the room.

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Terra Cotta Scaffold

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Terra Cotta Scaffold

This scaffold sprung up around our building so that our friends at Pioneer Masonry can begin restoration work on our historic terra cotta facade. These tiles reflect light in the rain or snow, giving Town Hall a unique shine in inclement weather. We can’t wait to see them brightened up! [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Not Just Holes in the Floor

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Not Just Holes in the Floor

One of the first stages of the renovation is the groundwork for our seismic stabilization system. They may not look like much now, but these holes are the foundation of a reinforced steel frame that will keep Town Hall anchored to our city for another century. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Downstairs is Getting an Upgrade

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Downstairs is Getting an Upgrade

We’re removing the old Downstairs ramp to make way for mobility improvements like grade-level, accessible restrooms and a brand new elevator. Plus, shallower sills on our northern windows will let in more natural light! We’re also adding a new Downtown-facing street level entrance to this space, which will open up the room to foot traffic.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Protecting the Organ Screen

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Protecting the Organ Screen

The delicate organ screen will be protected by this layer of plywood during the renovation. On June 30, just before the renovation began, we toasted our community of artists and activists, and sounded the wooden pipes of our Austin Organ one last time with a G Major chord, “the People’s key.” Our sendoff marked a transformation for our historic building, and for our organization. We’re excited to bring our programming to stages throughout Seattle during our ambitious upcoming “Inside/Out” year.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Renovation Begins…

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Renovation Begins

The renovation project begins in the Great Hall with our friends at RAFN Construction. The carpet has since been removed to give the concrete floors some love, and the space looks remarkably different. The Great Hall will be getting a scaffold for light and sound, an acoustic reflector, a new green room, and plenty more upgrades over the course of the renovation.

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A Thank You from Wier

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Dear Friends,

What a season, and what a final week—thank you to everyone who came out for Groundbreak! This moment has been a long time coming, and it meant more than I can say to celebrate it surrounded by the community who—through 18 years of dialogue and debate, art and ideas—has made Town Hall into the nationally unique institution it has become.

In the last few months the Town Hall community has stepped up to support this place in unprecedented ways. In June alone, you dug deep to raise more than $215,000 to support our historic renovation. Construction begins next month (expect a lot of hard hat pictures and progress updates) and we’ll re-open in fall 2018 for the 2018-19 season.

But so much more than the impending renovation has this place buzzing. While our home is closed, Town Hall is turning itself “Inside/Out”; that means that all the programs you’ve come to expect from Town Hall will come to life in venues scattered in neighborhoods across Seattle. But beyond the “where” of our programs, we’re transforming the “how.”

We often say Town Hall’s calendar is a reflection of this city, an attempt to tell its story. During Inside/Out, we’ll involve our audience more directly in creating that calendar, to become a more complete mirror and tell a richer story. Many events will be programmed in consultation with Neighborhood Steering Committees; some will be co-created by audience members, in collaboration with Artists and Scholars in Community. If we do this right, Inside/Out will create lasting mechanisms to bring grassroots ideas and community-sourced solutions into broad public consideration—and we’ll welcome a whole new slate of exciting voices back to our renovated home. We’ll share more about Inside/Out over the coming months, and I hope you will join us for this transformative year.

And we’ll reach you in another new venue this year—your phone or laptop. Many of you are already accustomed to our livestreams (subscribe to our YouTube channel to know every time one is scheduled) and have enjoyed our Media Library programming; now we’re expanding our digital presence into podcasting. “Feeds” of our Civics, Science, and Arts and Culture programs will directly offer almost every Town Hall-produced program. And in August, we’ll launch a fourth podcast hosted by Steve Scher, longtime host of KUOW’s Weekday, and Town Hall’s Digital Producer Jini Palmer. Learn more and subscribe here. We’ll be posting new podcasts of Town Hall programs all summer long.

Stay tuned for a lot more, but until then: thank youThank you for an incredible season, thank you for your belief in this place, thank you for bringing Town Hall to life.

Best,

Wier Harman
Executive Director

Staff Spotlight: Katy Sewall, Program Director

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Katy Sewall
Program Director Katy Sewall

How long have you worked at Town Hall?

KS: Since mid-November 2015

What attracted you to working at Town Hall?

KS: I have always been interested in exploration, on-going education, sharing ideas, and performance. In everything I do—whether it be radio reporting, writing or production—this is at the center. I also have an unceasing curiosity about the world and a deep desire to understand the experiences of others. I was attracted to Town Hall because it is a place of learning where our worldview can be tweaked in new directions.

While I was the Lead Producer of KUOW’s Weekday with Steve Scher, I had the privilege of producing two live stage versions of the radio show at Town Hall. It was an unforgettable experience. The staff at Town Hall were so competent and professional. The audience was incredibly engaged. “What a special place,” I remember thinking. Who doesn’t want to work at a special place?

What book could you read over and over again?

KS: Third Wish by Robert Fulghum. It rekindled my sense of play and made me dream of creating a remarkable life for myself.

Who would you most like to see presented at Town Hall?

KS: This is an impossible question for me to answer. There are too many. I find so many people worth listening to. That said, it sure would be fun to have President Obama and his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng on stage together.

When you’re not working, what are you doing?

KS: The radio producer in me can’t shut down the desire to keep radio listeners company. As a result, I spend a lot of time interviewing guests, editing audio and co-hosting a weekly podcast for expats, former expats, travel-lovers and dreamers called The Bittersweet Life . I also write for myself and for Crosscut, fill-in host for KUOW, and read a ton of novels.

What is one thing people may not know about you?

KS: What I look like. After years of being a voice on the radio, a lot of people know my name, but when they meet me they always say: “Wow. You look so different than I thought!” One of the things I love about radio is that listeners create a mental picture of what you look like. That says a lot about our imaginations.

What aspects of your job do you never get tired of?

KS: Meeting amazing, intelligent people and having the opportunity to sit beside them and ask whatever questions I can think of.

Staff Spotlight: Zac Eckstein, Patron Services Manager

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Zac Spotlight Picture
Zac Eckstein, Patron Services Manager

How long have you worked at Town Hall?

ZE: Since November 11, 2015. About five months

What attracted you to working at Town Hall?

ZE: I’ve worked in a nonprofit environment for most of my career, even running a nonprofit for a few years after graduating college. I also have a lot of experience in (and enjoy) the work of running a box office and taking care of patrons. Town Hall is unique in that it produces so many events at such a fast pace that there’s never an opportunity to get bored.

What book could you read over and over again?

ZE: I’m a fiction novel and news junky and don’t read much non-fiction (although I should!). Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon is a book I’ve read multiple times and enjoyed more each time.

What would you most like to see presented at Town Hall?

ZE: I’d love to see someone like Elizabeth Warren or former Mayor Mike McGinn. In general, I’m interested in presentations by people who get things done and aren’t afraid to ruffle feathers in the process.

What do you do when you aren’t working?

ZE: Outside of Town Hall I am a freelance Wordpress developer/designer. I also have an in-home shop where I build furniture (both for people and animals) as well as build other home decor pieces.

What is one thing people may not know about you?

ZE: From 2003 to 2008 I worked as a projectionist at a regular movie theatre and at an IMAX theatre and got to watch most movies that came out the day before they were released.

What aspect of your job do you never get tired of?

ZE: At Town Hall almost everything is $5 or free and it’s always a pleasure to help facilitate access to so many different types of events for such a wide variety of people.

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