While sustainability may seem like a buzz word that wound its way into pertinence to some, the concept has largely ruled supreme for communities like Woodinville. The land is still as bountiful— yet maybe not as plentiful—as it once was. The soil is soft and fertile. The blossoms continue to bloom. With the boom of wineries and other beverage producers that occupy the city’s tourist district, it has been in vogue to tout the benefits of producing the finest, most organic products possible. Before many of the shops had ground their way into one of Washington’s most tantalizing microclimates, the search for a new Woodinville Farmers’ Market occupied the minds of a few at the end of the ‘90s. By 2005, a 21-acre parcel had been purchased. The following year, the organization and site were officially named 21 Acres.
In December of 1976, a little boy named Craig wrote a heart-wrenching letter to Santa Claus. The little boy’s letter said that he and his sisters’ mother told them that Santa had become lost last year when he was trying to deliver Christmas presents to the family’s house. Craig ensured Santa that he and his little sisters had been good all year, but their mother told them that Santa was going to get lost trying to find their family’s house again. To help Santa find his way, Craig drew a map. Craig signed off his letter affectionately before writing, “P.S. Don’t leave anything for dad because he isn’t here anymore.”
The letter did not make its way to the North Pole but somehow landed in a Seattle restaurant ran by a man named Dick Francisco. Francisco was so touched by the letter he started The Forgotten Children’s Fund (FCF). FCF is a grassroots organization that is ran exclusively by volunteers and donors who give both their time and money to make it so kids who face tough circumstances can still have the warm, merry, and special Christmas they deserve. In 1976, FCF managed to bring Christmas joy to 285 kids in 81 families. Now, the wonderful organization has grown large enough to bring cheer to over 800 families, totaling more than 2,900 children at the end of December.
The families are each carefully selected by FCF. FCF then makes sure they have complete knowledge of each family they assist from the names and ages of the kids, to their clothing sizes and any special needs a family might have. Sometimes, FCF gifts things like donations of groceries or even aids with basic payments on things like electricity or water bills. The FCF currently operates in King County, Lewis County, North Counties (including Skagit, Island, Snohomish and Whatcom Counties) and Chelan Counties of Washington State.
The count of breweries, distilleries, and wineries in Woodinville long ago tipped into the triple digits. While many of these establishments have origin stories that intrigue and inspire, one similar shop opened its doors in 2015 to sell the spike of apples. That same year two of its founding members learned their young daughter Lucy was born with an incurable brain condition.
Lucy was born with hydrocephalus, a condition caused by an abnormal accumulation of fluid that pushes immense pressure on the brain. Hydrocephalus is a life-threatening condition. As of 2018, Lucy had undergone four brain surgeries for her condition, making it so she had experienced more brain surgeries than she had years of life. “Lucy is tough. Every child I’ve met with this condition is tough,” said Lucy’s father and founder of Locust Cider Jason Spears.
In the digital age we live, it is more frequently that the youth of our future generations wipe the grime from their handheld screens than from their own faces. With technology at the epicenter of advancement, it figures that kids with the accessibility to systems, programs, and technology are geared, purposefully, towards a more fulfilling future. Wherein tech seems to simply educate, nature nurtures. The children of tomorrow still need to run through the parks and haphazardly toss themselves down the soft hills. They need to simply play outside.
From Tchaikovsky’s ballet, The Nutcracker Suite, premiered in St. Petersburg in 1892, to the GI’s who visited Germany’s “open aire markets” and saw the Steinbach nutcrackers. The soldiers brought the tokens home to “ward off evil”.
Today, nutcrackers are a holiday symbol in the United States, and not any more so than at Scott LeRoy’s home on Hollywood Hill. When walking into this home, you cannot help but be enchanted with the season. There is beauty, humor and not an ounce of discrimination. The nutcrackers of all sizes, ethnicities, creatures and even a Santa mouse nutcracker.