Who’s News

November 6, 2012

Issaquah Nursing and Rehabilitation honored

Issaquah Nursing and Rehabilitation received the 2012 Bronze Commitment to Quality award for its dedication to improving quality care.

The award is one of three distinctions possible through the National Quality Award program, presented by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living. The program honors facilities across the nation that demonstrated their commitment to the quality improvement journey.

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Tavon Center Bench-A-Thon / June 26, 2012

July 10, 2012

Foster the People lends a hand to center for disabled adults

July 10, 2012

Volunteer Danielle Kuchler paints a bench’s decorations June 26 at the Tavon Center as part of The Pomegranate Center and Foster the Future’s project. By Lillian Tucker

The sawdust was flying June 26 when the local nonprofit Tavon Center received a helping hand from a rock band, an experimental artist and a whole lot of wet volunteers.

The unlikely group came together on a soggy northwest Tuesday to carve, paint, build and install six benches around the 5 acres at the center, which serves local adults with disabilities.

With not enough room in the workshop for the nearly 50 people that showed up ready to help, volunteers spread out across the property to weed the garden and clear trails.

“This property is so beautiful and big, we just wanted to create more places for them to sit, relax and be social,” Megan Wegner, program director, said of the center’s clients.

A large part of what Tavon offers clients is horticulture therapy.

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Still rethinking public space after 25 years

December 20, 2011

Pomegranate Center designs with openness, inclusion

Pomegranate Center Managing Director Katya Matanovic (left) and founder and Executive Director Milenko Matanovic stand before pictures of past Pomegranate projects on display in their Issaquah headquarters. By Tom Corrigan

While he now describes his work as community building, Milenko Matanovic says he began that work after realizing he was a frustrated artist.

Founder and executive director of the Issaquah-based Pomegranate Center, Matanovic, 64, contends that art lives too much in concert halls, museums and other similar spots.

“They’re all kind of like temples, right?” he said. “My own sense is that art should be infused into our daily lives.”

Marking its 25th anniversary this year, Matanovic’s nonprofit Pomegranate Center has attempted to move art out of the “temples” and into the every day. Doing that is where the idea of community building comes in, Matanovic said.

“Pomegranate isn’t the easiest thing in the world to explain,” admitted Katya Matanovic, one of Milenko’s daughters and Pomegranate’s managing director.

For the most part, with plenty of help required from the community involved, Pomegranate’s efforts are focused on creating parks or commons-like areas and including plenty of artistic touches. Milenko Matanovic seems to have borrowed the idea of the commons from Europe where he said many, if not most, traditional communities have a central, public space.

Locally, the Pomegranate Center is responsible for several projects including, for example, the planning and construction of Ashland Park in the Issaquah Highlands. While he could conceivably be talking about many Pomegranate Center projects, Matanovic said he saw the highlands’ park as “a place where festivals or a fair can happen.”

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Issaquah-based Pomegranate Center earns sustainability honor

December 8, 2011

NEW — 2 p.m. Dec. 8, 2011

Sustainable Seattle, a regional nonprofit organization focused on steps to measure sustainability, honored the Issaquah-based Pomegranate Center on Wednesday.

The organization honored the Pomegranate Center as a Leader in Sustainability in the Personal Environment category. (The other categories included Built Environment, Social Environment and Natural Environment.)

Milenko Matanovic, a community organizer and artist, founded the Pomegranate Center in 1986.

Each category featured a pair of honorees — one nominee recognized for leadership in sustainability and one nominee recognized for innovation in sustainability.

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Pomegranate Center answers call to help carve out a community

August 9, 2011

Bellevue Holy Cross Lutheran Church volunteers Janet Farness (left) and Kimberly Kibby seal stained carvings on a tarp outside Pomegranate Center July 16. By Emily Baer

Issaquah organization assists Bellevue church to build public space

Members of Bellevue Holy Cross Lutheran Church and the Issaquah-based Pomegranate Center cut, carved, sanded and stained wood planks for 12 hours July 16 to raise money for the construction of a communal area open to the South Bellevue community.

In commemoration of its 50th anniversary, Holy Cross appealed to the Pomegranate Center — an international nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering community through the creative process — for help in turning three acres of its property into a public gathering place. Pomegranate held the July 16 carveathon to help raise funds for materials necessary to build the public area.

From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., 30 members and volunteers from the church and nonprofit organization worked together to create 18 stained carvings. The carvers followed order forms designating sizes, themes and color palettes for each piece. Some customers and supporters chose to buy for their own homes, while others donated their orders to the to the soon-to-be public space.

By 6 p.m., variously sized, rectangular slabs of cedar — carved and stained with herons, feathers, pomegranates, fish and deer — lay out on tarps to dry in the sun.

The $6,000 that the carveathon raised will go toward the $70,000 to $80,000 sum Pomegranate Center Executive Director Milenko Matanovic estimates will be necessary to pay for construction materials. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans gave a $2,000 matching donation to the project, increasing the total amount of money collected to $8,000.

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Who’s News

June 21, 2011

Marlena Norwood accepted to UC Berkeley summer program

Eastside Catholic High School junior Marlena Norwood was accepted into the National Student Leadership Conference on Medicine and Health Care at University of California, Berkeley.

In the 10-day conference, students will witness how to suture and perform a craniotomy demonstration, practice drilling into model skulls, participate in simulated clinical rounds and determine the identity of mystery “outbreak” diseases. They’ll also visit with physicians and researchers.

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The Pomegranate Center chooses communities for Gathering Places Project

June 7, 2011

The Pomegranate Center, of Issaquah, recently announced its four projects selected for this year’s Gathering Places Project, its partnership with Tully’s Coffee to spark a movement to create gathering places in communities across the country, where people can meet, linger, chat and celebrate.

The center’s four projects are:

  • Hunter Farm Gathering Place: Transformation of a mostly vacant area in the Wedgewood neighborhood of Seattle into an artistic community space, providing the community with a much-needed recreation area.
  • Mercer Island Library: Creation of an outdoor gathering, learning and nature space that is adjacent to the library.
  • Downtown Sumner Gathering Place: Conversion of a downtown alley into a vibrant, art-filled community-gathering space, a first in the business district of Sumner.
  • Square Park: Redevelopment of an existing and well-loved community park in the Totem Lake neighborhood by adding additional social space.

The Pomegranate Center is an internationally recognized leader in developing neighborhood gathering places and is a leading nonprofit organization devoted to community-generated design and development.

Community organizer Milenko Matanovic founded the Pomegranate Center in 1986 to explore how artists can link art with social and environmental issues to help build better communities.

The center works with communities of all sizes throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the country to provide constructive and inclusive community-based planning; design and creation of meaningful, community-crafted civic spaces; and training programs in community engagement.

Spring is no time to break for Whitman volunteers

April 5, 2011

More than 50 students help Pomegranate Center projects around the United States

During spring break, some students go to Cabo San Lucas, while others go skiing at Lake Tahoe and some go home, bumming around and watching TV.

Whitman College students Ngan Huynh (left), Shannon Morrissey, Sarah Adler, Diana Boesch and Jeremy Kotler use acrylic paints to decorate a Tacoma bus shelter with a Milky Way design at Issaquah’s Pomegranate Center. By Laura Geggel

More than 50 students from Whitman College chose to volunteer, heading to places near and far — from Issaquah to New Orleans — helping communities with local projects.

For the second consecutive year, a group of Whitman students drove about 250 miles from Walla Walla to Issaquah to volunteer at the Pomegranate Center, a nonprofit organization that helps communities create public art and community gathering spaces.

The students said volunteering with the Pomegranate Center exposed them to new ideas.

“Volunteering has allowed me to use art to bring people together,” Jeremy Kotler said.

His classmate, Diana Boesch, said it gave her an excuse to expand her world.

“Volunteering, in general, is a great way to get out of your bubble and get into the community and give back,” she said.

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Business News

August 10, 2010

Ben & Jerry’s opening soon

Mark Mullet, owner of Zeeks Pizza, now plans to bring a taste of Vermont to the Issaquah Highlands. The city councilman will open a Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop next month.

The local branch of the eco-conscious company famous for punny flavors — Cherry Garcia, anyone? — and social activism will open near Caffe Ladro, inside a former home sales center about mid-September. Plans call for about 40 seats spread across 1,300 square feet.

“I think Ben & Jerry’s and Issaquah are a natural fit,” he said.

Before Mullet can start serving scoops of Chubby Hubby and Chunky Monkey, he had to attend Scoop University, the training facility for franchisees in Vermont. There, the former bank executive learned to mix milkshakes and shape waffle cones.

The biggest challenge for Mullet: cursive writing. He said another employee should handle the frosting messages atop ice cream cakes. Read more

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