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We're back and breezing in with the autumn air! And do we have a lot to catch up on. But first things first: National Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off yesterday, and to celebrate, Intentionalist has a few different ways to support our local Latinx businesses, which you can find here. 

Very much on our minds: The implications of the passage of Senate Bill 8 in Texas for reproductive rights. It sent shockwaves through the U.S., including right here in Washington.

We asked NARAL Pro-Choice Washington's Executive Director Kia Guarino,
who we also interviewed last year, for her thoughts on the matter:

 “The impact of Senate Bill 8 is immediate and devastating. Not only has it created a precedent for vigilante action against people seeking and providing abortion care, but it also established a blueprint for other conservative states that aim to roll back abortion rights. Already, lawmakers in at least half a dozen states, including Idaho, have announced their intention to pursue copycat bans. 

“We are angered and heartbroken by these unacceptable developments. We stand in solidarity with our partners, fellow abortion rights advocates, and all women and men—in Texas and across the country—who believe reproductive rights are a fundamental human right. 

“The passage of Texas Senate Bill 8 is also a rallying cry, shining a light on the slow roll back of reproductive rights that has been happening for many years. We hope people across Washington state and the region will join hands with us against this unconstitutional and unacceptable action by conservative lawmakers.”

Guarino shared a few ways that we here in Washington can support abortion rights in Texas. Read on for those details below.

In this issue, Nia talks with the cofounders of Central Collective about the impact of design on density and affordability—in a city that, these days, seems reluctant to embrace and expand upon those ideas. And Niki finds an excuse to cover one of her favorite topics: women and wine.

Reminder, if you like our work and support our mission of valuing the work that women do, please consider contributing, if you're able. Every little bit boosts our efforts to provide original, quality journalism and helps us grow in order to bring you more voices and stories. Thanks to those who've already pitched in!
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By Design

The women of architecture firm Central Collective walk us through how design and zoning shape Seattle communities—and how they’re hoping to change the industry.  

From left to right, Central Collective cofounders: Mariana Gutheim, Juliette Dubroca, and Erica Bush. “I think that even though we’re all from different places we care a lot about this city," says Bush. "When we lose affordability, we lose creative engine. Our whole city loses out." Photo by Nia Martin at Gutheim's residence.

Equity issues in Seattle’s design landscape were just one of the many pressing matters that brought Juliette Dubroca, Mariana Gutheim, and Erica Bush together to form their architecture firm, Central Collective, in August of last year. A peek at their portfolio reveals projects constructed with salvaged materials, ethical building practices, budget-friendly renovations, and also community-geared projects, such as Tiny House Villages and Justice Bus.

Seattle’s design inequities are perhaps most evident when it comes to housing. For many Seattle residents, the housing market has felt increasingly untenable, to renters and first-time homebuyers alike. With the eviction moratorium set to expire at the end of this month, many tenants will be confronting whether they can afford to continue renting in the city. That reality is at odds with the other image the city has cultivated, of progress and development so rapid that it was dubbed a crane capital in 2016 (and for the next few years), and continues to rank near the top for cities in the U.S. with the most cranes reaching for the sky.

“We are aware of the inequity and we want to act upon it,” says Dubroca. “We feel the generation before us isn’t [acting on it], so it’s on us to try and do something about it.” The trio initially teamed up for a competition held by the City of Seattle in January of 2020 for architects to create backyard cottages, or DADUs, to help create more living spaces in a city that is disproportionately zoned for single-family homes. The competition ultimately chose 10 designs—outlined on city website, ADUniverse—for residents to browse and choose to build—bypassing long permit processes. Their design was not chosen, but the competition was the catalyst for starting a firm together. “That was the first baby seed of Central Collective, without knowing that it would be,” says Gutheim. She and Bush both joined Dubroca full-time this year.

Each Central Collective cofounder came to Seattle from different parts of the world. Dubroca, from France, worked at firms in New York and Paris before coming to Seattle to earn her architectural license; she’s also a lecturer at Cornish College of the Arts and University of Washington. After she was laid off during the pandemic—she worked at a firm that specializes in high-end residential projects—she volunteered her time as a carpenter with the Low Income Housing Institute. That was a formative experience, sparking her desire to create a different type of firm with colleagues that shared a more collaborative and community-centric vision.

Gutheim, from Argentina, had established her own practice in Buenos Aires; she moved to the U.S. to get her MFA at Tufts—and had to start all over again as an intern when she moved to Seattle. She worked on both high-end residential and low-income housing designs before connecting with Dubroca while teaching at the University of Washington.

Bush earned her master’s degree in landscape and urban planning at the University of Washington and connected with Dubroca through an American Institute of Architects committee on homelessness. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Bush worked with the National Park Service and then more locally with the Downtown Seattle Association, helping them start the Parks Activation Program (notable examples of the program’s work are downtown’s Westlake Park and Pioneer Square’s Occidental Park). Recently, she worked with the Urban Planning department doing master plans for smaller communities.

“It was kind of remarkable when we all met up how quickly we realized how in sync we were and what issues were critical to all of us,” says Bush. “And it wasn’t intentional that we were three brunettes of similar age who came together to do this—it just happened that way.”

The seeds of Central Collective were first planted when the three women came together in early 2020 as a team to design this DADU for a City of Seattle competition, which received 160 submissions. Though not selected by the city, the project was a jumping off point to start a firm together that focuses more on community collaboration. Image by Pixel Patch Creative.

Finding affordable and adequate housing is challenging for greater Seattle area residents—and it presents a conundrum for local architects, too. One major uniting factor behind all this friction is the land use code. “There are systems in place at the level of the land use code that make change difficult. Particularly, there are a lot of exclusionary zoning laws,” says Dubroca. “There are a lot of laws that have to do with setbacks and densities on a specific lot that practically make building things other than a single-family house impossible in a lot of Seattle.” The consequences of such restrictions, she explains, produce two dominating scales in the cityscape: “There’s the high, skyrise scale that you find in downtown, or in the now newly upzoned University District, and then there are these low-density single-family neighborhoods. And the kind of middle scale—four, five-story-tall apartment buildings—is ignored or not visible as much,” she says. “So, the land use code, in some sense, really defines typologies of housing that are a little beyond architects’ control.”

In addition to limited options not keeping up with the growing population density of the city, shifts in housing also reflect inequity throughout Seattle’s neighborhoods. “These land use codes have been so restrictive that the areas of Seattle that haven’t changed are the parts of the city that can afford to keep control over what happens to their communities. The parts of Seattle that have changed drastically are in those communities that don’t have the capacity to push for these restrictive policies,” says Bush. “So you’re getting massive adjustment in neighborhoods that aren’t able to be involved equally in those conversations, and you’re not seeing any change in the neighborhoods that have the financial capacity and power over the systems at play to control these land use codes. And that is manifesting itself in where we see adjustment to the landscape and where we don’t.”

Perhaps you’ve noticed more townhomes pop up around your neighborhood and other communities over the past few years. While they do help increase density, Gutheim says that townhomes create housing for a narrow group of people—and leave out a whole lot more. “It does not permit to age in place, it does not permit to have toddlers or kids because there are too many stairs,” explains Gutheim. These issues can also make reselling more difficult.

Other types of housing being developed also segment residents sharply, says Gutheim. “We end up seeing only two different sizes of apartments, condos, or rental houses, which is the studio or the one bedroom. That does not allow for a family to be able to rent a condo and have a more affordable way to live in the city.” This setup favors young, single people with more disposable income while pushing families towards single-family houses, which are also often out of reach. “What is the demographic our city is going to have, and how even more segregated are we going to end up being, if we don’t change that?”

The stark lack of two-bedroom and up options being developed is one thing. But financially feasible starter homes are also very hard to come by in the city. Dubroca explains that Seattle’s large single-family home lots magnify the cost of housing, making starter homes unaffordable. Additionally, in neighborhoods that have been upzoned since HALA—originally laid out by committee in 2015—Dubroca says that “the value of the land has doubled, because all of a sudden from a single-family house you can put two or three townhouses, so a developer will always outbid you.”

The pandemic blew the lid off of disproportionate power dynamics between landlords and renters“Housing here is treated as a financial investment and it’s not seen as a social good. It’s not treated as a right,” says Dubroca. “I see it directly in my neighborhood where a lot of landlords almost have no incentive of keeping [up] maintenance on a building. They consider the lot rather than the physical building, because that’s mainly where the value of the financial investment is. What’s at stake for a landlord is going to be very different than what’s at stake for a resident.”

But there’s a broader social consequence when significant portions of a city’s population can’t afford long-term housing within city limits. “When the children of Boomers start to look for their initial investment or property, people are needing to move to Shoreline or Burien—these outside communities,” says Bush. This creates a brain drain, pushing a diverse, creative population further out from the city proper, changing the overall dynamic and character of the city itself. And when people get pushed out and settle farther away, that pushes residents in those communities even farther out. “It kind of dominoes into this series of inequities that flow from there,” says Bush.

Imbalance in a city’s design, however, are also a reflection of the inequities in who is doing the designing in the first place. In a 2020 report by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, the data (taken from 2017, 2018, and 2019) shows that an increasing number of women are entering architecture. But there is still a disparity between architecture students who identify as women (about 46% of students in accredited programs) and those who go on to become professionals in the field (about 25%). Racial diversity is also sorely lacking, with less than one in five new architects identifying as a person of color according to data from 2018. “As someone who owns more identities than just being a woman in architecture—I’m also queer, I’m also an immigrant—being tokenized has been part of my experience, which is never what you want to be seen as,” says Gutheim. She advocates for more representation in leadership positions, as well as crediting everyone involved in a project once it’s completed—much like in films—instead of just the lead architect, which creates a problematic power hierarchy.

Central Collective cofounder Juliette Dubroca (right) with Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) intern Naomi See in front of a home from the Tiny House Villages project. Dubroca started volunteering with LIHI as a carpenter in 2020. The Collective now works with LIHI to help plan the design of their villages. Photo by Low Income Housing Institute.

“There are anecdotal changes that could be made inside the office and then there are larger systemic changes that could be done on the scale of the profession,” says Dubroca who notes that subconsciously, if a young woman joins a firm with no women at the top, it reinforces a message that she won’t be promoted. Dubroca also explains how the architecture licensing requirement can work against women in the field, as the significant work and examinations it requires often coincides with women’s timelines for becoming pregnant or taking care of children. “Not having a license, unfortunately, can be paralyzing in this profession when you are inside of a firm and all the men of your age are licensed and you’re not,” she says. “Then you take a pay cut, and you don’t get regarded as well in terms of promotions and responsibilities and it also deprives you of the opportunity of starting your own firm and, therefore, the flexibility that any woman with children would dream of having.”

Like many fields, architecture relies heavily on professionals paying their dues via internships and underpaid work. “You’re expected, when you enter the design field, to almost work for nothing for a number of years,” says Bush. “And the fact of the matter is most people can’t afford to do that.” Stack the lack of pay onto student loans and bottom level positions in cities with high costs of living, and it’s not hard to figure out why architecture is still dominated by white men from wealthier backgrounds. “A lot of the people who traditionally are able to succeed in architecture are people who have financial backing from their families and are supported for the first few years out of school. And that’s not the case for the majority of people,” says Bush. “We need to find a way to support people when they first get out of school in a real way.”

Evolving, whether that means more industry inclusivity or updating systems and processes for increasing population density, is essential. And the pandemic has also played a part in revealing needed changes for living in cities that are both practical and considerate of public health. “Historically speaking, a lot of the pandemics from across the world have significantly changed the urban fabric of our cities and the way we think of public spaces,” says Dubroca, who points to the example of Victoria Park in London, proposed, in part, by an epidemiologist to help improve health outcomes for working class families in the East End. In fact, a more European model could be beneficial in cities like Seattle, which have a lot of amenities to work with. “Europe, and specifically Paris, at the beginning of the pandemic, they developed this idea of the 15 Minute City,” says Gutheim, meaning that at every point in the city, a resident should be 15 minutes away from parks, schools, centers for arts and culture, medical care, groceries, etc. “If now you’re 15 minutes away from those things, do you need a car? Can we reclaim some of those things? Can we reclaim the streets for pedestrians and for bikes?” she asks, noting that Seattle has great public spaces and was able to implement some of these more pedestrian-friendly examples successfully at various points during the pandemic. But Gutheim points out that it will take a shift in paradigm and a willingness to heavily invest in structural changes for such a model to become reality throughout the United States.

“I hope that Seattle sort of owns what we’ve learned from the pandemic and goes full force with it,” says Bush. “We can build and design spaces that are open air. And they can be comfortable, they can be beautiful, they can be integrated into their environments. They can be semi-covered, they can be adjustable, because we have the knowledge and the capacity to design spaces that are dual indoor-outdoor.” Bush further advocates for being more creative about utilizing funding for health initiatives and for walkability and urban infrastructure, “but, we have to be open to new things that just haven’t been done before here.”

Sometimes society needs a little push when it comes to what’s good for us—and better design can help be that nudge in the right direction. “So much good of humanity comes from the density and collaboration of us being in spaces together. We do need to find a way to get back to that,” says Bush. “I do worry sometimes that we’re spending so much time in this that we’re losing the memory of how important it is for us to all come together—in space and in real time—and share in these things and experiences and physical environments.” It’s a good reason for why cities should lean towards more community-oriented design—which includes more sidewalks, parks, and transportation options for communities that are being underserved at the level of infrastructure—and resist the urge to further isolate residents, which can increase both physical and ideological barriers.

But the job of architects and designers isn’t just addressing current needs and circumstances, it's also a profession that stakes a lot of hope on society and how things could be—for the better. For Dubroca, part of the job is taking bets on the future: “We propose things that live in our heads that are going to be in the physical presence beyond us. When we die, maybe some of the last things that will have had any significance, that will stay beyond us, are going to be the buildings we produce. And so, in some sense, we’re building for the unborn, for the people who are not there yet.”

It’s this innate desire to imagine a better, more collaborative future that also bonds the members of Central Collective. “I want to change the culture within firms and hope to be doing it by example,” says Gutheim, and each member can point to other local women in the industry that have helped shape their ideas on how to make firms and the industry more progressive. She and Dubroca cite Grace Kim, who sits on the Seattle Planning Commission, as an inspiration with her instrumental work in making the city aware of housing inequities. Susan Jones, says Dubroca,  was key in rewriting international building code to allow for mass timber, which she spent years proving the safety of as a material for tall buildings. Erin Ishizaki, says Bush, pushes equity and health to the forefront of her firm’s projects and she also admires Julie Bassuk’s commitment to serving smaller communities.

Gutheim hopes Central Collective can influence the architecture industry in a big way. “It’s about who we are within, what is our culture, and how we are trying to transform this profession into the new century,” she says. Dubroca agrees. “I’m excited to keep on challenging the existing premises of our profession and see if that has any greater echo in our communities.” Bush is energized by community impact and looks forward to projects in the firm’s pipeline which support smaller businesses and community spaces: “As designers, we are limited in what we can do for a number of people, but if we can then support the people who are supporting more people, I think that’s where a lot of our power exists.” By Nia Martin

"I think, with all the challenges and barriers that we face, starting this firm is the thing I'm most proud of," says Mariana Gutheim (right). She's pictured at her home with her fellow cofounders Erica Bush (center), and Juliette Dubroca (left), as well as her dog. Photo by Nia Martin.

She Made It

Who's behind this fall lineup? Tap for details on the women behind this cozy sipping spot, and where you'll find them opening next...

Take Action for Choice

NARAL Pro-Choice Washington's executive director Kia Guarino offered some direction on what we here in Washington can do to support reproductive rights in Texas and help safeguard them at home.
Donate to Abortion Funds in Texas 
Abortion funds fill gaps in access to care due to financial or geographic barriers. A few key funds and organizations in Texas: Jane’s Due ProcessTexas Equal Access FundFrontera FundTexas ChoiceClinic Access Support NetworkThe Bridge CollectiveThe Lilith Fund, and Whole Woman’s Health
 
Donate to Abortion Funds in the Pacific Northwest
These abortion funds similarly fill essential gaps in our region, including NARAL Pro-Choice Washington partners Northwest Abortion Access Fund (NWAAF).

Donate to Pro-Choice Washington and/or Become a Member Activist in Washington State
“Through long-term grassroots activism, Pro-Choice Washington has built and maintained a pro-choice majority in our state legislature and passed progressive reproductive health legislation, such as state-mandated insurance coverage for abortion and medically accurate sex education,” says Guarino.  
 
"There is still a lot more work to be done to ensure that all people in Washington state have equitable access to abortion care, and we need your help. You can support our state-level activism bdonating here or by joining our membership to learn how to take action in your own community.”
 
Get Involved in Legislative and Electoral Advocacy Where You Live 
“No matter where you live, abortion access is an issue you can help shape through your local ballot. Everyone can and should do their research and contact their local leaders to find out where candidates and elected officials stand on abortion access.  
 
“Leaders, like state legislators and city councilors, determine key factors to reproductive freedom,” says
Guarino, such as, “Funding for family planning; services available to patients; public transportation available to and from clinics; telemedicine access via robust broadband infrastructure; and local law enforcement responses to anti-abortion violence.”  
 
Challenge Abortion Stigma: Talk About Abortion Within Your Community 
“Abortion is fundamental, vital, and life-saving healthcare. Treating it as anything less causes harmful bias and can create barriers for patients seeking life-saving careEquip yourself to have thoughtful and bold conversations on these issues. It is time to speak up for our rights.”

ATTN:

What to see or do this week/end

With Covid-19 variants like Delta still a risk, outdoor large event and indoor masking is in effect in the state of Washington—even if you are vaccinated. Protect the health and lives of your community and get vaccinated if you haven't already. Below, we've highlighted some ways to support and engage with the community.
Niki 

Friends Siena Jeakle and Lianna Holston recently launched “Tossed Popcorn,” offering irreverent takes on classic films from the AFI's “100 Greatest American Movies of All Time” list, weekly—they won iHeart Radio's inaugural “Next Great Podcast” contest last year.

Megan Rapinoe's virtual bookclub “The Call-In” is just getting started. Themes will include racism, immigration, transgender rights, body positivity, and addiction. Rapinoe's first pick? Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement, by Tarana Burke. Join via Literati.

Nancy Nomellini recently opened donation-based Mother Yoga in Chinatown-ID to make yoga more accessible, affordable, and adaptable. Classes are drop-in and online, cost is sliding scale ($10–$25); 100% goes to teachers.
Nia 

Afghanistan has very much been on our minds. If you're looking for a way to help welcome Afghan families to the Seattle area, World Relief Seattle has opportunities for volunteer work, advocacy actions, building welcome kits, and contributions.

Need to stock up on some clean beauty products or book a spa service? Opened late summer in West Seattle, Ennjoili Fleck's Good Sister Shop is the place to get in some self-care and skincare for the changing season—plus the shop highlights women-, BIPOC-, and LGBTQ2+-founded brands. 

Fall is upon us and you know what that means? Time to bake! Pre-order recent high school grad Sahana Vij's new cookbook Bake Away. Bonus? This talented young woman is donating all profits to No Kid Hungry.
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