My name is Christine Haskell and I started People of Pioneer Square (#PeopleofPSQ) to put a face on my neighborhood. Pioneer Square is Seattle’s most popular vice district and the heart of the city (historically and architecturally). The goal is to take 1000 pictures of the neighborhood in a year–and learn something. This project was initially a distraction from my dissertation on cultures of innovation, so updates were as regular as I could make them. 🙂 If you have a question, feel free to contact me.
Vice districts (or red-light districts) are created due to benign neglect of its citizens, and government policy. I want to understand and make my neighborhood more personal for people. I want to know who lives here, what causes the impressions have of one another, and how that develops the space we live in (from both a personal and economic perspective).
Over the last few months, I’ve been taking photographs of Pioneer Square–the people that live here, work here, vacation here, and camp here. The work is ever evolving.
Testify is the phrase I’m assigning to the street photography I do. It is a visual love letter to Pioneer Square, where I currently live. This is my testimony of how I came to see the importance of neighborhood, my connection to place, and observing those around me.
These images are a vignette into my own education of the problem of civic apathy and entitlement; to government bureaucracy and ineffectiveness; to highlighting the things that do work; to learning how neighborhoods really work.
My work attempts to embrace the raw humanity of the people that live here while keeping at arms length the stereotypical images that have tried to define Pioneer Square for decades.
Here are some examples.
“Wait, should I wear my glasses?”
“I work in the basement. Every day at lunch, I stand here and read. I’m almost iconic.”
“What are you protesting?” “Everything.”
“Well…it’s beautiful, and unique. And, I can’t get my parking receipt out. I wonder if they will ticket me.”
“We just got here from LA so we don’t know much about Pioneer Square yet. People seem stressed, maybe bc of all the one way streets. But we think we want to continue on up to Bellingham where everyone is happy.”
“The beauty of it. I walk by the art studios and the glass shops, and it’s all so beautiful to look at. You might see one piece of trash that catches your eye but when it’s broken up in little pieces, it’s confetti …and it’s beautiful. …Thank you for asking me.”
“I just moved here from Denver because I always wanted to check out Seattle… I kept hearing about it. I was a mobility instructor for the blind and the ended up blind in one eye (not related). This is my personal Starbucks. I like to hang here in the morning and get my caffeine.”
“Pioneer Square seems really friendly. There’s a lot of eye contact…but maybe that is because the suns out.”
“Take our picture! Go Hawks!”
“I’m homeless and Pioneer Square is the safest place for me. I sleep in the door wells over there. It’s quiet. ‘Not like Belltown where all the crackheads are. They’ll wait till you go to sleep and take you for everything you’ve got.”
“I wish there was a craft store.”
Seen In Pioneer Square: Lazy Sunday
Seen In Pioneer Square: Girl In Red And Green
“I live and work here. The more time I spend here the more hospitable it is. Wait, let me give you my ‘smart guy’ face.” What a great line!
“It’s a part of town that hasn’t been completely gentrified yet. You still get a bit of everything.”