CAPITOL HILL HOUSING BOARD Important decisions and beige rooms always seem to go together.
  • CAPITOL HILL HOUSING BOARD Important decisions and beige rooms always seem to go together.
I just ran over to the meeting room on Seattle U campus where Canterbury employees and patrons were speaking to the Capitol Hill Housing board about the beloved (and beknighted) institution's impending demise. Man, living in a city is hard. Here we have a nonprofit doing some pretty swell things we like, versus a local bar that everyone and their mother loves to drink, kiss, barf, laugh, and shuffleboard at. Fuck!

At this meeting, the board members sat at long tables munching salad, and the public commenters sat on folding chairs looking grim. This is where important work in your city lives and happens, in these meeting rooms and among these normal-looking people. How can we decide the fate of such a crazy and vibrant den of sin and chicken strips in this well-lit, carpeted conference room? But that's how this stuff works.

For 10 minutes or so, four people spoke, pleading the Canterbury's case. A bartender named Jen called it her "second home," and asked the board to consider letting staff or the community "buy it and become a cooperative" or letting the current owners sell it and keep it intact. A man named Matt told the board that in an age of density, with tiny apartments crammed in a neighborhood like Capitol Hill, "people use public space as a living room... We need the kind of space that the Canterbury provides." Two other people spoke of the Canterbury as an essential part of the neighborhood, the kind of place we're running out of, a place for poorer and weirder folks and people who can't afford or don't want to go to the upscale places now dotting the hill. It's a "community gathering space" that just "happens to be a bar," said a self-identified community organizer named Christine.

The board members listened intently, smiling and nodding. They encouraged people who hadn't spoken to submit written comment, to follow up with the organization, to stay after and ask questions. It seems like the decision not to renew this lease isn't up for debate, but what this space becomes certainly is. If you're invested in the ol' knight-hole's future, you should engage with CHH. Their next meeting is in a month, and they always have public comment periods. I'm sure Save Our Canterbury will be doing the same.