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Seattle’s newest Tiny Cultural Space is an expansion of Estelita’s Library

The Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) in partnership with Sawhorse Revolution selected Estelita’s Library to be the first ever recipient of a Tiny Cultural Space design and construction project. ARTS and Sawhorse Revolution invited local cultural and community organizations to submit proposals for a new (tiny) cultural structure. Estelita’s Library, a social justice community library and bookstore, brings books, art, culture and community together to heal, uplift and serve communities of color, Queer and LGBT folks, and other oppressed communities of Seattle. The project will be designed and built by Sawhorse Revolution’s all-womxn design/build program for youth.

Estelita’s Library is currently located at 2533 16th Ave South. They are a membership driven organization that has over 250 members. They have a catalog of over 1,500 books, ranging from out-of-print books written by Black authors in the 1800s, to books that provide depth and critical analysis on the topics of race, slavery, indigenous/native languages, sexual identity and gender, politics, history, and law. The new Tiny Cultural Space created by this City program will be an extension of their current library, serving as a dynamic, multi-use space that builds culture, community, and knowledge, focused on the most historically marginalized. A feature of the extension is space to publicly display their collection of Black Panther Party Newspapers, one of the largest collections in the country that speaks to the history of justice and resistance of the Black Panther Party.

“Estelita’s is a space where culture thrives and lives,” says Edwin Lindo, Curator of Estelita’s Library. “We believe that our community’s power resides in our ability to build community and knowledge in a collective way. We are thankful and thrilled for the opportunity to expand this vision and for the community to have a space they can call as their own. To be able to have a dedicated space to exhibit the Black Panther Party Newspapers will foster a connection to our community’s past of resilience and beauty. We welcome the community to our current and future space.”

The board of Estelita’s Library will work closely with Sawhorse Revolution’s all-womxn design/build team. Design mentors from Olson Kundig Architects and LMN Architects will facilitate the youth designing the structure. Then, youth will build the space under the tutelage of professional carpenters. The space will be located on an unused city-owned property suitable for this type of project. Estelita’s Library will have a free five-year lease on the property, after which ownership may be transferred to the organization. After a final design is approved construction will begin in Spring 2019, with a grand opening planned for Summer 2019 depending on construction.

The Tiny Cultural Space construction project was developed through a community process at the Square Feet Seattle 2017 event. This is the first year that this Tiny Cultural Space construction project is being piloted. 

Sawhorse Revolution is a Seattle-based non-profit serving high-school students primarily from Central and South Seattle. Their mission is to foster confident, community-oriented youth through the power of carpentry and craft. They teach teens carpentry and architecture through inspiring community projects.

Images courtesy of Edwin Lindo, Curator of Estelita’s Library.