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Why the Greenwood Explosion matters to First Hill

Seattle firefighters search the rubble where several buildings were flattened from an early morning explosion on Greenwood Avenue North between N 84th Street and North 85th Street. Dozens of Seattle Fire personnel are on the scene of a 1:40 a.m. explosion in Greenwood that flattened multiple buildings in the 8400 block of Greenwood Avenue North.

At around 1:45am last Wednesday morning, I woke suddenly to a loud blast, followed by hours of sirens and then the rumble of helicopters circling our community. Of course, we now know that blast was a gas line exploding in the Greenwood neighborhood, leveling several businesses and damaging 36 more.

I live in neighboring Crown Hill and, like most of Seattle, was devastated when I learned what had happened. As a neighbor, I lost a coffee shop and bike shop and saw the heart of a community I love torn apart. As a Seattleite, I understand how much work it will be for Greenwood to rebuild…again. And as a business owner, I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of loss that those businesses and their employees now face.

Oddly, the explosion has also made me reflect deeply on the importance of Stockbox’s work and the work of all our local vendors and suppliers, especially in the midst of our Celebrate Local campaign. Because, at a time when consumers are faced with a deluge of options and proclamations on food – organic, fair-trade, gluten-free, sustainable – I honestly believe the most important decision you can make when you shop, is to shop local. Whether that means walking to your neighborhood grocery or buying a product that was made in the city, you are supporting the First Hill and the Seattle you want to grow into the future – especially important at a time when many of us are confused about the growth and development happening around us.

Greenwood hurts because those businesses were staples of the community, essential resources for the community, and a space for the community to come together. Greenwood hurts because the identity of that community is wrapped up in the identity of all its businesses. Greenwood hurts because the explosion touches on every single person who lives and shops there.

But, Greenwood also inspires us because it offers a vision for what a strong community can look like. It is a community that is filled with businesses you are proud to patronize – businesses that capture the essence of its neighbors and soul of its neighborhood. Stockbox is still a new business so we still have a lot of room to grow and adapt but, at our core, we are working hard to build a business that represents First Hill and represents Seattle. And, we depend on so many of other small businesses that are also working to make their mark.

At the end of the day, we do this all to be a better neighbor. Thank you to all who have been a good neighbor to us. And thank you to all who have helped us Celebrate Local this month and every month since we’ve opened – you’re building a stronger First Hill, Seattle, and Greenwood every time you shop.

If you want to support your neighbors up north, please consider these options:

Photo courtesy of