When we recently announced that Seattle green developer Greg Smith had bought a stake in PubliCola, we promised there would be more announcements coming soon. Today we are making the first of those: The formation of a PubliCola advisory board of high profile players in Seattle's civic and cultural life.
Our new advisory board members are:
Greg Smith – Greg, our new business partner, is the head of Urban Visions (click on the banner at the top of the page to learn more), where he's a leader for sustainable development in Seattle. Smith is responsible for the first LEED standard residential and office buildings in Seattle.
Greg Smith. Urban Visions Principal.
Smith is smart, and succesful, open to new ideas, and a little bit uncoventional (which is why he's willing to team up with us and us him). He has deep Seattle roots, and he's fun to drink with. (Thanks for picking up the tab Greg!)
Mark Matassa – Neither Josh nor I had met Mark before we launched PubliCola (although he and Josh had bickered on the phone when Mark was an editor at the PI and Josh at the Stranger). We were aware of his vaunted reputation as a former top editor at both the PI and the Seattle Times. Soon after we launched PubliCola, he got in touch, and we met for drinks.
Former PI and Seattle Times editor Mark Matassa. We thought he hated us. (Illo by PubliComix)
We were a little wary—daily newspaper editor types tend to be kind of narrow-minded and turf-y about journalism, and thus dismissive of anyone who does it differently from them. But we were wrong about Mark. He was, and is, genuinely interested in what we were trying to do, and we're thrilled to have the benefit of his years of high level journalistic experience. For what it's worth, Mark's traditional journalism credentials are impeccable. These days he is a freelance journalist, but previously he has worked as an editor or reporter at the Seattle P-I, Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Bay Guardian, MSNBC and an online news venture he co-founded in 1999 (with Danny Westneat), called PersonalReader. He lives in West Seattle with his girlfriend and two teenage daughters, and passes part of his time playing poker.
Linda Derschang —Before she became involved in Seattle’s bar and restaurant scene, Linda attended art school, owned a couple of clothing stores, and played in bad punk rock bands. In early 1994, amid the “grunge” music explosion, and backed by Sub Pop Records founders, Jonathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt, Derschang forayed into the bar business and opened Linda’s Tavern.
Owner of Linda's, Linda Derschang. We've given her a lot of money. (Illo by PubliComix)
She has since gone on to open and sell The Capitol Club, The Baltic Room, and Chop Suey. In addition to Linda’s Tavern (where Josh and I have both spent a lot of time—and money) she currently owns King’s Hardware in Ballard (which also ranks high on my list of watering holes), The Rob Roy (formerly The Viceroy), Smith, and Oddfellows Café + Bar. Derschang lives in Capitol Hill with her longtime boyfriend, and keeps an apartment in New York City. She is the proud mother of a college age daughter, Lulu, who is her constant inspiration ... and her Westie Jack who brings in the paper every morning.
Ben Beres —Ben Beres is a highly respected Seattle artist. Raised in Portland, Oregon, he graduated from Cornish College of the Arts in 2000. Ben has received grants from Creative Capital Foundation, the Mayors Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, 4Culture, Artist Trust, One Reel, Allied Arts, and is also the recipient of a Stranger Genius Award. I don't know Ben at all, but Josh raves about him as one of Seattle's most adventurous and intelligent artists.
Ben Beres. Weirdo artist. (Etching by Ben Beres)
One of the things Josh talked about when we went about putting together a board was to think about those people you always run into around town and seem to have these memorable conversations with, but you're not really sure how to follow-up on it. I think, for Josh, that person is Ben Beres, who, coincidentally, landed in Morning Fizz back in February.
Riz Rollins – Over the last two decades, Riz has been a well known authority on–and player in—Seattle’s music scene. He is a longtime KEXP/KCMU DJ who regularly hosts popular club nights and parties around town.
DJ Riz. Ultra Man.
Riz is another one that Josh knows, not me, and Josh reports that one of his favorite nights "EVVVERRRR!!!" in Seattle was dancing while Riz spun at the Backdoor Ultra Lounge.
We wanted people with expertise and accomplishments in business, journalism, nightlife and Seattle's thriving music and arts scenes. And we wanted our advisory board to consist of people who got what we are trying to do with PubliCola. So we spent a lot of time thinking about who we really respected around town, and these people were at the top of our list. We're pretty excited that they were willing to get involved in our little venture, and look forward to bouncing ideas off them (and vice versa) as we gear up. We've got a lot of thinking to do about what direction we want to take PubliCola, and having such talented people as resources is going to be a big help in making sure we get this right.
We've got a couple more announcements in the works. As always, stay tuned.