End of The Corner Exhibit

I want to let you know that the artists who created The Corner installation at 23rd  Avenue and East Union Street will be dismantling it today and tomorrow.

Recently, I was contacted by a police officer who asked me to remove the installation, saying that he’s received complaints from citizens about it. Jim Mueller, who owns the lot where the installation sits on 23rd and Union, asked that I comply with the officer and I am honoring Jim’s wishes.

If you’ve passed by 23rd and Union anytime in the past year you’ve no doubt seen Inye Wokoma’s larger-than-life photographs of neighbors looking out at you. But perhaps you wonder what the project is about.  

The Corner is first and foremost a collaborative community storytelling project. Last summer, The Corner operated a ‘story hotline.’ Callers heard first-person stories about 23rd and Union, and were invited to respond to essential questions like “Whose corner is this?” and “What do you remember?”  875 callers left more than 200 messages on The Corner‘s hot line. Some of those stories aired on KUOW 94.9 Public Radio, and all are preserved on The Corner’s Web site.

The Corner created a forum – on the phone, on the street, and amongst its Facebook fans – where people with strongly divergent opinions felt welcome to express themselves. It was a platform for a dialogue about challenging issues of race and class. Images and audio collected by The Corner represent the diversity of the Central District, including an older African American woman who still attends church next door to her childhood home but can no longer afford to live in the neighborhood, a white resident who was mugged by a young black man and got involved in anti-racist work as a result, and a former Black Panther who fondly remembers a soul club on the corner.

I want to thank Jim Mueller for generously donating use of his property for the past year. The installation has remained up long beyond my original expectations. I’ve heard from countless people who say that the artwork has inspired them, led them to learn more about the Central District and its history, and have conversations with neighbors. I’m proud to say that we look forward to displaying the artwork – as well as the audio stories – at the Northwest African American Museum in 2011.

I know I will feel sad to see an empty lot where the artwork stood. Jim Mueller has been very receptive to displaying artwork on his property. I would encourage any neighborhood artists or groups who are capable of building and maintaining a large scale, temporary public artwork to consider pitching your idea to him. I’d be happy to offer advice.

Finally, thank you to everyone who worked on this project – from the artists and Web developers, volunteers who distributed postcards and posters, everyone who came to the public barbeque and brought food, and every person who told a story on the Corner’s hotline. I’m grateful beyond words.

To learn more about The Corner please visit our Web site http://23rdandunion.org
Here is an article about the ‘making of’ the Corner: http://transom.org/?p=3894   

– Jenny Asarnow, creator, The Corner

[email protected]

“Have fun. Go deep. Don’t hold back”


The story hotline
We had this crazy idea: create a hotline people can call to share stories about 23rd and Union in Seattle’s Central District.

The idea was to set the stage for a creative and respectful conversation. We wanted the technology to be automated. So messages people leave become outgoing messages other people hear, and show up on our Web site, without us having to lift a finger.

Turns out that was a complicated proposition. But our software engineer Joseph Sheedy and our Web artist Anna Callahan managed to make it into a reality you can experience.

This is all an experiment, and a work in progress, so please let us know if you find bugs or things we can improve!

What to expect when you call
When you call 877-R23-UNION (877-723-8646) you hear a welcome message. Then you’re asked: Are you at the corner of 23rd and E Union right now? Press 1 for yes or 2 for no. (If you want to leave the producers a message press 3).

Now you can start listening to stories.

You’ll be asked to press any number 1-6 to hear a randomly generated story. It might be a story Jenny produced or it might be a message someone just left. It will be 2 minutes or less. And, it’s random. The computer chooses it for you.

When you’re done listening, press 1. Now you’ll hear one of our six questions (depending on which number you pressed before):


  1. What do think of when you think: 23rd and Union?
  2. Whose corner is 23rd and Union?
  3. What stories do you tell about 23rd and Union?
  4. Why is 23rd and Union this way?
  5. What needs to happen on 23rd and Union?
  6. Rap, sing, pray for 23rd and Union.

Listen to the prompt and enter the number it tells you in order to leave your message. (It will be a number between 11-16 or 21-26). Or you can press 3 to listen to ALL the other responses to this question.

If you decide to leave a message
You have 2 minutes. Introduce yourself and then go! It’s an open forum and a chance for you to speak your mind. Have fun. Go deep. Don’t hold back.

Your message will show up on our Web site within a few minutes. It will be integrated into the phone system within the hour. So it might be one of the random messages people hear.

Later on, we might select your message to air on KUOW 94.9 Public Radio or Hollow Earth Radio. We also might share it with other public media outlets in the future. It’s a non-commercial project, which means no one is ever going to profit from the messages you leave here.

What’s on the Web site
When you go to http://23rdandunion.org you’ll see there are six “question” pages that correspond to the six questions in the story line. On each of those pages, you’ll see two kinds of buttons. The pink buttons are stories that have extra content like photos and text. Anna placed them deliberately on the page.

The yellow audio play buttons are dynamically generated. A new one appears every time someone leaves a message. Every time you refresh the page the yellow buttons appear in random places. The computer decides where they go, not us.

Did I mention we love feedback? Email us: [email protected].

And remember to CALL 877-723-8646