Archive for Community

The Piazza Renton Spring Festival

We are wiggling with anticipation for this year’s Family Fair. We have a great lineup of activities, music, and entertainment that kids of all ages will enjoy!

The Rely On Renton Family Fair is part of Piazza Renton’s Spring Festival, a tradition in it’s thirteenth year of celebration of spring in downtown Renton. Piazza Renton is an volunteer organization that organizes seasonal celebrations in our central downtown area park, The Piazza. Other events Piazza Renton helps organize include the Return to Renton Car Show in July, Fall Harvest Festival in October, and the Tree Lighting ceremony in December.

spring festival 2014 poster.v2

Should I write a negative review for a local small business?

In response to several poor decisions I have witnessed recently regarding negative reviews written in poor taste against local businesses, I have created the following flowchart to assist you with decision-making on when and how this is appropriate. Enjoy!

Rentonish – Keeping Our City Unique

Screenshot 2014-01-16 13.06.11It’s been said many times before that no one likes Renton…until they live here. Then they love it! Growing up here, I took it’s charms and convenience for granted, along with the plentiful free parking, beautiful park areas, etc. Leaving to find BIGGER, greener pastures in neighboring Seattle, I never imagined I’d return to my home town. Now that I’ve been back for a few years, I wonder why I ever left. Returning, I saw Renton with new eyes.

Take a moment to think about our city and what sets it apart. What are the key elements that make Renton Rentonish? I think about those places that are like none other anywhere else: our natural features and special places, and of course, our small businesses.

Journey with me into a potential dystopian future, in which all small businesses have closed. Downtown Renton is a long line of boarded up storefronts. You have to go to Starbucks to get coffee, because Liberty Cafe, Common Ground Cupcakes, The Met, and Luther’s Table are closed. I hope you really like Red Robin, Applebee’s, Denny’s, or fast food, because those are your dining choices.

With all the small businesses closed at the Landing, you are left with big box options: no Poggi Bonsi, C’est La Vie, Creative Mom Toys, Eyes On the Landing… <sarcasm> At least the Big Box stores save you money, right? </sarcasm>

In this alternate reality, Renton looks like EVERY OTHER CITY. Having a fancy chain coffee store is not something to brag about, move here for, stay here for, or even remember.

In our reality, small businesses all over our city are struggling to survive, and we, as citizens of Renton, need to take responsibility for the demise of many of our city’s great small business assets (think Happy Delusions). More are on the chopping block if we don’t intervene (Old Renton Book Exchange). We are responsible because we chose to patronize big chains, rather than small businesses.

How bland does Renton have to get before we lose a sense of what “Rentonish” means? If we don’t want a city that looks like every other, it’s time we stood up and fought for it before it’s too late. Fight back by changing your shopping habits. Choose to RelyLocal!


Rely On Renton’s New Three-Way Partnership

Renton Technical College

Renton Technical College, located in the Renton Highlands, was originally a war production school for World War II. When the war ended it was converted to the Technical School it is today.

Rely On Renton is excited to announce a dynamic community partnership between Local Rewards, Renton Technical College Foundation, and Twilight Laptop Repair! The RTC Foundation has created a new membership organization, the RTC Circle of Friends, which allows community members, alumni, students, and faculty to participate in making quality technical education accessible to those who need it most.

Did you know that RTC has over 11,000 matriculating students each year? I have to confess that although I have lived basically my whole life in the Renton area, I had no idea they were this big! If you live in or around Renton, you probably know someone who has attended Renton Technical College, formerly known as Renton Vocational Technical School, or Renton Voc Tech. So many lives have been touched by Renton Tech, that it is no exaggeration to refer to them as a pillar in our community.

A college with a comparatively large share of low income students, RTC students’ stories are particularly poignant. Many RTC students are refugees who came to our country with nothing, but want to be productive members of society. Women who are homemakers without marketable skills and unexpectedly have to provide for their families due to illness look to RTC to provide them with necessary career skills. Unemployed workers in need of career change after economic upheaval ejected them from a job in their chosen profession need a leg up to be able to support themselves and their families.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe RTC Foundation awards scholarships to needy students, helping break the cycle of poverty in our city. Last year the RTC Foundation helped 121 people complete their GED test and provided emergency grant scholarships to 111 people. The foundation also awarded $72,000 to 105 workforce training students in 2012.

Eligible donations to the RTC Circle of Friends* will receive several benefits including a Local Rewards card (valued at $15), which allows cardholders to receive discounts at small local businesses who are RelyLocal members throughout the Renton / Skyway / Newcastle area.

To make your donation to the RTC Circle of Friends, and receive a Local Rewards card immediately, pick up a donation pamphlet and make your donation at Twilight Laptop Repair in the Renton Highlands. The owner of Twilight Laptop Repair, Shade Moon, is an alumnus of a community college himself, and is passionate about community college’s ability to transform lives and create great career opportunities. Shade has generously agreed to be a brick-and-mortar donation location for the RTC Circle of Friends. All donations go directly to the RTC Circle of friends, and are tax deductible as a donation to the Renton Foundation 501c3, EIN#91-1590751.

*Eligible donations begin at the $36/year student & alumni level,$48/year Advisory Committee Level, $60/year Good Neighbors level, and $144/year for Business Partner level, and $300/year (only $25/month) Friends for a Lifetime Level


Spend it Here. Keep it Here.

S 3rd St Renton, WA; Rely On Renton

Spending money at local small businesses keeps more of your money here. For every $100 spent at a small business, about $45 remains in the community, versus $13 spent at a big box or chain store. You CAN make a difference in your community today!

How We Became RelyLocal Renton

Ian and Amanda at the Renton Civic Theatre auction

Ian and Amanda Liddle at the Renton Civic Theatre Auction, March 2013

Sit down and ask a small business owner why they’re in business. I guarantee you’ll hear a story. Behind every small business is a story about people. Sometimes it’s a story about a hobby or passion turned business. Sometimes it’s a story about lifelong dreams or goals. Sometimes it’s a story about job loss and desperation leading to starting or focusing on a business.

Our own story behind starting a RelyLocal campaign is deeply personal. It was born out of personal pain and hardship as well as a passion and drive to benefit our community, and love our neighbors well.

Ian and I grew up in the Renton area. Well, technically now it’s Newcastle, but when we were growing up it was an unincorporated area with a Renton address. We’ve also been small business owners our whole working lives: Ian as an independent contractor selling Cutco cutlery, and I as a piano teacher for 12 years, then as a midwife in independent practice for about 12 years. Between us we have 35 years of small business ownership experience.

We each left the Renton area as adults to find “greener pastures” associated with big city life, intending never to return. Ian interjects: “Well truthfully we left for greyer pastures. We never got farther from home than Seattle.” Nevertheless, as fate would have it, a series of tragic events including death of a loved one, loss of careers, and other similarly disruptive circumstances, led to making the decision to return to our hometown in March 2011.

Big winners at Las Vegas night at Harrington Square Apartments

Big winners at Las Vegas night at Harrington Square Apartments

True to the entrepreneurial spirit we both possess, we “got resourceful” and began to evaluate our options. Stripped of our identities, and newly married, our field of choices were wider than ever before. We considered what our goals as a couple were; top of our list was building community in our geographical area. We began to pray and seek opportunities to be community builders. We found our niche working as a “Community Team” with Community Northwest at Harrington Square Apartments for a little over a year. As a Community Team, we spent about 70 hours a month planning, organizing, and executing events for our neighbors, to encourage them to get to know one another. We put on over fifty events during the year of 2012.

Our heart for small businesses began to shine through in our work at Harrington Square. Recognizing small businesses as important stakeholders in the community, we began to reach out local proprietors to feature them in our events. We found that most of our neighbors chose to live in Renton, not because of it’s attractive features, but because of it’s proximity to Seattle, Bellevue, and other larger cities. They had no idea about the distinct flavor of the city they lived in. We enjoyed introducing residents to great businesses like The Local 907, Santa Fe Mexican GrillCedar River Cellars, Berliner Pub, All Things Wine, The Whole Pet, and others. We saw the importance of The Landing as a reason to go “under I-405″ from the Highlands, and even continue on to the magical land of Downtown Renton

Berliner Pub did a beer tasting for our barbecue at Harrington Square Apartments

Berliner Pub did a beer tasting for our barbecue at Harrington Square Apartments

I’ve heard it said that “No one knows how awesome Renton is, until they live there.” Historically speaking, Renton is not a bedroom community to Seattle. It has it’s own distinct story, flavor, and “scene”. As we offered residents a glimpse at all that Renton has to offer as a standalone community, we watched the shame that residents felt over Renton’s reputation change to pride in their community. We were proud of the work were doing as a Community Team, both bringing people together, as well as highlighting the great small businesses of Renton. And, we found that we were falling in love with Renton in a new way, also.

Encouraged that we could effect positive change working as a part time Community Team we started to look for opportunities beyond the gates of Harrington Square Apartments. We wondered, “What would happen if we were to do this work full time? Could we bring this type of influence to the whole city of Renton?”

We led a series of community meetings discussing action steps to following our screening of "Fixing the Future"

A series of community meetings to discuss action steps after our screening of “Fixing the Future”

Meanwhile, RelyLocal Olympia was doing exactly that in their community. We heard about the Olympia campaign through a friend who is a small businesses owner in Thurston county. She gushed how much it has helped her business, and highlighted how similar it was to the work we were doing with Community Northwest. We knew the moment we heard about RelyLocal that it was a match made in heaven for us. We launched our campaign the very next month, in August of 2012.

A few things that attracted us to this model were:

  • Great Tools. RelyLocal provides vital tools to start a buy-local campaign in the area where you live (it’s required that you live in your territory to start a campaign): web directory, logo, mobile app, etc.
  • Inexpensive. Without a ton of startup capital, there is no way we would be able to replicate the quality of tools we license from RelyLocal.
  • Adaptable. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each territory owner creates a campaign based on the needs of your community. It’s also adaptable in terms of the final product offered to businesses; we have the freedom to make use of our unique skills, passions, and experience in creating our local brand.
  • Potential. RelyLocal is not a scam or get-rich-quick-scheme. It’s a solid, leading-edge concept backed with highly functional tools that a motivated individual or team could implement in such a way as to have 1) a rewarding career that 2) sustains a family 3) while we’re doing good work in our community. Opportunities with all of these three characteristics are rare.
2012-08-25 12.42.23

This photo was taken at the cash mob for Happy Delusions shortly after owner Mary Clymer announced they would be closing. You can’t tell by our faces, but we were brokenhearted.

Since launching our RelyLocal campaign we have been privileged to meet amazing, dedicated leaders who work for our city. We suffered alongside every small business owner we talked to in Renton through a DESOLATE 2012 holiday season. We’ve met tenacious small business owners who haven’t taken home a paycheck in 3-5 years, and yet somehow persevere. We’ve mourned the closure of businesses we’d fallen in love with, while internally wondering if we’re “too late.” We’ve seen new collaborative relationships blossom between Renton businesses. We’ve seen our friends and neighbors begin to promote the spirit of “shopping local,” and get excited about various businesses we promote. We’ve discovered new local treasures that are so much fun to tell people about that it’s hard to stop promoting them when work hours are over. We’re compelled to promote these businesses because they’re just so amazing. And the people behind them are amazing.

In talking to some of our clients, we’re getting the picture that we’re an answer to prayer. We sense a wave of relief when we relate to our clients. They know that they’re not alone, that there’s a team that has their back. We feel so blessed that we can build a business out of not just what we love to do, but that we can see, even in it’s infancy, is good work. This is not a marketing startup with a thin veneer of localism painted on because it’s trendy. We’re a localism movement with a side of marketing on so we don’t have to get boring, meaningless, soul-sucking, dead end jobs. We’re participating in the movement here that is effecting true prosperity and combatting poverty and despair in our city.

Shop Local to Support Children’s Hospital

523571_586941094664576_1874657739_nThere are times in life where winning is a sub-optimal outcome, because it means a worthy party loses. There are also times when one win leads to another win, which leads to a big win-fest around the room. Local Rewards cards, sold as a fundraiser, is one of those things. Small businesses benefit, an important charity benefits, and our local economy benefits. Triple Win!!!

Danielle Gould, owner of Little Quadoo Children’s Consignment, is partnering with RelyLocal Renton, Skyway, Newcastle, to benefit Clare Beckett Guild, a non-profit that covers uncompensated care for Children’s Hospital of Seattle. She is selling the cards at $15 each at her store at 601-A S 3rd St, Renton, WA 98057. A special fundraiser Sidewalk and Bake Sale to benefit the Clare Beckett Guild will be held this Saturday, July 20th, 2013, from 11am-5pm at Little Quadoo Consignment.

Children’s Hospital provides about $100,000,000.00 per year in uncompensated care. The Clare Beckett Guild, founded by two mothers whose children received care at Children’s Hospital, helps to offset some of those costs. Their mission is to see that every child who needs care at Children’s can receive it, regardless of ability to pay.

Local Rewards cards allow you to receive special cardholder-only discounts at your favorite independent, locally owned businesses. For instance, you can use your Local Rewards card to save at Little Quadoo Children’s Consignment, which offers a 20% discount on Wednesdays to Local Rewards cardholders. New Local Rewards offers and discounts at businesses around Renton are being added all the time. In time, your Local Rewards card will only get better!

See for more information about Local Rewards.


Maya’s Partnership with Whistling Train Farm Organic Whole Foods

The Maya community now has a more convenient way to access locally-grown, organic whole foods.

The Maya community now has a more convenient way to access locally-grown, organic whole foods.

By Janet Muniz

Through a new partnership with Whistling Train Farm in Kent, WA, Maya Whole Health Studio is now a drop-site for its Summer Community Supported Agriculture Subscription Program, or CSA. Here’s how it works:

  • Every Tuesday morning starting today through the end of October, owners Mike and Shelley Verdi assemble a tasty, well-balanced assortment of harvested organic foods and deliver the boxes of fresh produce to Maya.
  • Subscribers can pick up their parcels by 7:30 pm on Tuesday, or between 8:30 am and 1:00 pm on Wednesday.

Tuesday mornings are a perfect time for Renton area subscribers to pick up their organic foods, especially if they’d like to supplement with fresh finds from the Renton Farmers Market, which takes place Tuesday afternoons from 3:00 to 7:00 in downtown Renton (through September 24).

Sign up before Tuesday, June 25 and get one extra delivery. Those interested in joining the Summer CSA can learn more by visiting the Farm’s website and completing an application. Three share sizes are offered -Small Shares feed one to three adults, Large Shares feed about three to five and Mini Shares each include five items of your choosing to supplement harvests from your home garden, or to introduce you to the CSA concept.

“The price is extremely reasonable, based on the rave reviews from last year,” Shelley tells us, “and the added bonus for subscribers is having all-you-can-pick flowers and peas available at our Kent farm for no extra cost.” Prices listed are for 18 weeks of delivery, so anyone who signs up before Tuesday, June 25 will get an extra delivery.

061913_MayaWholeHealth_WhistlingTrainFarmLogoHappy Farm-iversary! 2013 marks the 15th anniversary of Whistling Train Farm, a small family farm growing healthy food for the community. To celebrate, the Verdi’s are offering other great perks for subscribers, such as an expanded u-pick area, farm maps for self-guided tours, farm workshops and a late summer farm party!

Click the link to download the Whistling Train Farm 2013 CSA Flyer: 2013 CSA Farm Flyer. If you’re interested in subscribing or if you have questions about the CSA program, send an email to

Originally posted on Maya Whole Health’s blog, “Maya Currents”.

Introducing Local Rewards!

Coming soon! We're gearing up to launch the Local Rewards program here in Renton!

Coming soon!

We’re gearing up to launch the Local Rewards program here in Renton. We’ll be rolling out this program with a contest and giving away FREE Local Rewards cards at participating members’ businesses.

What Is Local Rewards?

Local Rewards is a way for local businesses to say “thanks for choosing local!” by offering discounts, freebies, and extras to cardholders on everything from your daily coffee to a new roof for your house. These rewards can save you a few cents on a car wash or a few hundred dollars on car repairs. And, the best news is – the cards are valid for one full year!

New deals will be added all the time. More businesses are joining our community of small businesses every week. Let your favorite local business know about Local Rewards. Maybe they’ll offer a reward too!

Local Rewards is a YOUR OPPORTUNITY, as citizens of Renton, to “put your money where your house is” and participate in the RelyLocal campaign. As we launch the Local Rewards program, we’ll be selling the cards at a reduced rate of only $15.00. (That is less than $0.04 per day for access to major savings while supporting the local community!) We do anticipate this price to increase soon, so don’t wait, buy early – buy often! They also make fantastic gift cards!

How Can I Get Local Rewards?

You will be able to purchase local rewards cards for $15 from non-profits and resellers around Renton. A hefty portion of the proceeds goes to support local charities.

Stay tuned for details about our LOCAL REWARDS SCAVENGER HUNT CONTEST where we will be giving away many free Local Rewards cards!

If you haven’t already, create a personal account on our RelyLocal site. You’re going to need it! We will announce the official launch of Local Rewards on Facebook, Twitter, this blog, Google + and on our mailing list. Please connect with us on one or more of these platforms so you don’t miss this special opportunity!

Family Fair Follow-up

Here’s a little report on the Rely On Renton Family Fair. In case you missed it, it was awesome! Thirty-four local businesses and nonprofits came together to share their vision for families in our community. It was a chance for families with kids to see what kinds of services are being offered right in their backyard. It was also a great opportunity for small businesses to get some face-to-face contact with people that might not find them otherwise. Win-win!

Many small local businesses and nonprofits were represented at the Rely On Renton Family Fair

We had lots of businesses with things that kids love, like RylieCakes, serving up their gluten-free brownies and cookies!

RylieCakes served up some gluten free goodies for the kiddies

Many of the booths hosted activities for kids. Blossoming Hill Montessori, for instance, made catapults from rubber bands and popsicle sticks. Their projectiles? Neon colored pompoms, of course!

Blossoming Hilll Montessori

Our favorite children’s entertainer, caspar babypants, played to a captivated audience. His silly songs appeal to a wide audience. This is what one grandma had to say about his performance…


caspar babypants packed out the house!

We had other acts on our stage as well, from dancing, to martial arts, to product demos. One highlight of the day was when CryOut stepped up to the stage and brought in a little dubstep to downtown Renton! Way to step it up Renton!!!

CryOut brought some positive urban vibes to our event

The crowd loved CryOut’s addictive urban beats and positive message!

Even the Grandmas got into CryOut's addictive dubstep beats

The best part for me was to see families flocking to downtown Renton, and even the TRANSIT CENTER (what what?) to a fresh, lively, vibrant,family event. Moments like these help us as residents of Renton to balance our concerns for safety of the downtown area with a greater understanding of the potential for good and positive experiences in these beautiful spaces.

Someone's been enjoying RylieCakes!

Think about this for a minute: If you can dream it, it can happen. If you never dream it, how can it ever come about? Change starts with imagination. Positive change starts with imagination AND faith enough to carry through to the end.