Best of 2019: Our Favorite Seattleites
In a year full of awful news, the stories of these everyday heroes helped keep the joy alive
By Ariel Shearer & Jorn Peterson
December 19, 2019
Paint the Town
Since launching his “Brighten Up Seattle’s Intersections” public art campaign in West Seattle last year, local artist Desmond Hansen has transformed dozens of traffic signal control boxes with colorful murals celebrating public figures, including local icons such as Jimi Hendrix, Chief Seattle and Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson. Thanks to a successful GoFundMe campaign that raised over $10,000, this year Hansen brought his signature vibrance to new neighborhoods, including Capitol Hill (former President Barack Obama), SoDo (Ken Griffey Jr.) and the Central District (Martin Luther King Jr.). Next year, Hansen aims to bring traffic box murals to Ballard, Eastlake, Greenwood and beyond, and says future portraits will include Sue Bird and Ray Charles, among others.
Tastes Like Teen Spirit
Sadie Suskind says she started cooking before she could walk. The charismatic View Ridge resident was only 12 years old when she began winning hearts (and taste buds) on MasterChef Junior last winter. Even the show’s famously critical Gordon Ramsay praised her sophisticated creations, such as a champagne cake with rose buttercream, and a lobster dish with avocado and pickled onions. Suskind was ousted during the season’s semifinals, but her culinary adventures are just beginning. This summer she led a cooking demo at the Taste of Tacoma and even journeyed to France, where she had the chance to cook in the kitchen of her idol, Julia Child.
Chef-in-training Sadie Suskind. Photo courtesy of Fox
After a video of UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi’s perfect-10 floor routine went viral earlier this year, the Seattle native leveraged her spotlight to fuel conversations about body image and other challenges faced by female athletes. The recent college graduate was featured in ESPN The Magazine’s body issue this September, in which she discussed body shaming and eating disorders she overcame as a young athlete. When her viral performance won ESPY Awards for “best play” and “best viral moment,” she delivered a poetic acceptance speech that shed light on the public scrutiny she’s experienced and conveyed a message of strength for a sports community on the mend.
A Sweet Engagement
Derek Lu and Anh Tran live above Salt & Straw’s Capitol Hill ice cream shop. When Lu proposed to Anh earlier this year, he enlisted the help of their beloved local ice creamery. The “Anh-gagement Menu” of personalized flavors included a coffee-bagel ice cream, a flavor that symbolized how they met on the dating app Coffee Meets Bagel. Flavor combo peanut butter mango smear (a favorite snack and fruit) reflected Anh’s love of bouldering; and finally, there was Soy Will You Marry Me? Lu popped the question, with a celebratory dessert at the ready. Salt & Straw’s Instagram followers went wild.
Couple (and ice cream lovers) Derek Lu and Anh Tran. Photo by @nowah_j
Kevin, affectionately named by the young children who frequent Discovery Park, is a female squirrel who has made a name for herself for her single-minded pursuit of snacks. Kevin is reportedly a fan of Cheetos, Cheez-Its, Goldfish crackers and anything else salty (and apparently orange), and she will conquer strollers, backpacks and Tupperware containers to get to the goods. When offered an apple slice, Kevin reportedly threw it, waiting for a better treat. Kevin returns the favor by letting locals hold her and feed her from their hands, as if to say, “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”
Local ride-sharing driver George Ure puts customers in the driver’s seat with his “Ride Type Menu,” which lets riders choose how they’d like to interact with their driver. Ure’s menu features five different ride experiences, including the Therapy Ride, during which riders can confide their woes; and the Creepy Ride, during which Ure says nothing but continuously looks back at riders in the rearview mirror, comically mimicking an experience many ride-share consumers have had at one time or another.