Soon, you will cross the narrow threshold at 2501 Elliott Ave, stepping from the weathered smells of saltwater and railroad tracks into the scents of coffee, books, and the stories that have been and are still forming in and around you. The Seattle School is a community of intentional forming and re-forming, and in that way, our building reflects this in form and function. For instance, you’ll notice that furniture moves. Walls roll back to make room for dancing, stretching, or movie viewing. Galleries feature art that may change a dozen times while you’re here. Classrooms become banquet halls and artists’ residences. Other things may remain the same or return to their places in preparation for the next season.

Change is formative. And while the physical space itself reflects this, it also creates places of good holding; structures to lean into; walls, floors, and ceilings with marks that tell so many stories. We invite you to pay attention to how you’ll be formed this year by class assignments, one-on-one conversations, and the practical ways we share care within and for the physicality of this building. Our living prayer of hospitality, labored over each summer, is preparing this building for a new school year as we welcome you—not as guests, but as members of our community, into your own work on pathways to becoming Seattle School alumni—pastors, artists, therapists, leaders, and, as we say, “provocateurs of change.”

Everyone who enters the front door immediately steps into the Commons, our main lounge on the ground floor. This space was named to reflect the shared gift that this beautiful old building remains for us. How we are inside the Commons of these brick walls shapes how we will then move out into Belltown, Seattle, and the world. It means that if I do or do not wash my mug or wipe up my spill, it will directly affect someone else. And we remember—in common—to deeply receive and reciprocate a generous patience with one another in stressful moments. We live this shared care and hospitality by extending ourselves to make another pot of coffee for those that come behind us, washing a few abandoned mugs from those that came before or replacing the chairs we borrowed to join a group conversation. This simple work is as vital to your formation at The Seattle School as the classes you take or the conversations you have. It is this tangible generosity that will continue to serve God and neighbor in the worlds beyond these walls.

The hearts and faces of the Institutional Support Department will be some of the first you encounter in crossing over this first threshold at 2501 Elliott Ave. We are the provocateurs of change that greet every student, staff, faculty, or guest that enter these doors. In collaboration with an excellent Library team, we offer welcome, support, resources, and encouragement to you every day; often marking our calendars for the end of a term by the significant increase of coffee intake in the Commons or Hot Tamales at the front desk. Besides reading the wealth of information available to you on the Matriculate blog, know that as you cross the threshold into these living walls, we are available at the front desk to both reciprocate and receive generosity with you as we each are formed inside these walls and sent beyond them.

Here is a little about the Institutional Support Team at the front desk:

Heather Barnes (MACP ‘14, MDiv ‘15), serves as  Director of Institutional Support in facilitating a variety of support structures, from facilities to the Master Calendar and internal processes. Heather thrives in the ampersand of Theology and Psychology and spends most of her other waking moments outside the school with her Irish Wolfhound, Faergus Morrlach!

In addition, Heather enjoys the support of some of your fellow students, employed to help at the Front Desk as Institutional Support Assistants, including Mandy Poon, Janny Ho, Pamela Brooks, Nicolle Maurer, and Jon Huerta. Please take a moment to greet and thank them for their invaluable contribution to a pleasant daily life here in the building at 2501 Elliott Ave.