Origins Season 2 follows Central District’s Black history, change

Filmmaker Lady Scribe calls on elected officials, Washington expats to reinvest in the historic neighborhood while remaining hopeful for the future.

A crowd sits at the Origins Season 2 Lost at Sea premiere

The crowd at the SIFF Cinema Uptown on March 5, 2024 for the Origins Season 2 premiere Lost at Sea. (Brodrick Aberly/Cascade PBS) 

Tuesday night marked the celebration of eight months of work for a first-time Seattle filmmaker with the premiere of the latest series for Cascade PBS Origins at the historic SIFF Cinema Uptown in Lower Queen Anne. 

An enthusiastic crowd of about 300 nearly filled the largest of the venue’s three theaters to view Lost at Sea. 

The audience saw a nearly 17-minute excerpt from the series, the brainchild of filmmaker Lady Scribe. She centered the story around her experience growing up Black in Seattle against the backdrop of her mother’s Great Migration journey from Louisiana, where her family sent her north for a better life. Lady Scribe weaved in the stories of other Seattleites sharing the beauty and pain of their own origins.

Cascade PBS original productions director Sarah Menzies said the team is already recruiting the next filmmaker to tell their story.  

Lost at Sea highlighted the transformation of Seattle’s Central District, once a hub of Black homeownership and business. Over the years, the Black population there has dwindled amid gentrification, skyrocketing housing costs and economic inequality. Black residents now live largely in other cities in South King County.  

A University of Washington study by Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium analyzed homeownership by race between 1970 and 2022 in Washington, which underscored the steep decline in Black homeownership. According to census data, in 1970 50% of Blacks families owned a home, compared to just 34 % in 2022. For comparison, in 2022 69% of White families owned a home, which has held relatively steady (it was 67% in 1970).  

When asked what she wanted the audience to take from the series, Lady Scribe said “We [Black Seattle natives] want to feel seen and heard.”  

The conversation after the screening included Scribe and a panel of Seattle natives. Musicians and community leaders Taz Dat MC, James Lowe and Tana Yasu explored the series’ most pertinent issues. There was agreement that the current local government could do more to increase and sustain Black homeownership in the Central District. Scribe called for giving “Black families credit”; and former Seattle Women’s Commissioner Yasu went further, saying families deserved what they were owned monetarily after all they endured at the hands of the government.  

One of the discussion’s overarching themes was love for the city – Scribe alluded in some ways that her and other Black families who called 23rd & Jackson home were abandoned – yet rooted under the frustration and disappointment, there remained a hopefulness and longing to reclaim a new vision of the Central District for future generations.   

Submissions for the next Origins grant cycle are open now through April 17. 

PNW filmmakers — want $40K to make a docuseries? Pitch to Origins

We’re looking for a local documentarian to tell regional Washington narratives for season three. You pitch the story, we’ll provide the funds.

audience watching discussion after screening at SIFF theater

Photos from the “Crosscut Origins: Refuge After War” screening at SIFF Uptown on February 28, 2023. (Photos by Michael McClinton/Crosscut)

Submissions for the next season of Cascade PBS’ Origins are now open. This is an opportunity for regional filmmakers to apply for funding to go toward a five-part short-form docuseries. The first season, “Refuge After War,” told the story of the parallel paths and shared experiences of Vietnamese and Afghan refugees resettling in our community. The second season, “Lost at SEA,” centers on the personal stories of growing up Black in Seattle. With submissions now open, we’re looking for season three. 
Each year, the stories told in Origins reflect the makeup of our region from an insider’s perspective: stories grounded in ancestry, connection, culture, influence and rootedness. Stories that reflect our place, values and people. In that spirit, the key requirement is that the filmmaker needs to be part of the community they are documenting (i.e., Indigenous stories told by Indigenous filmmakers, Latinx stories told by Latinx filmmakers, etc.). 
The winning project will be awarded $40,000 toward their production costs. Our Original Productions team will also support the filmmaker through the process. From identifying the project budget and talking through the concept all the way to scripting and editing, we are here to support and advise to ensure the project stays on track. 

This is a call for proposals from filmmakers of all experience levels. Submissions are open from February 14 to April 17, 2024. Whether you’re a budding director early in your career or a seasoned producer with years of experience, we invite all to submit pitches for our panel of judges to consider. We will announce the winner on opening night of the Seattle International Film Festival in May, an exciting way to kick off the project and get the filmmaker some early publicity.  
Join us for a screening of this year’s docuseries, Origins: Lost at SEA, on March 5, followed by a discussion with filmmaker Lady Scribe and key participants who shared their stories this season. 

Crosscut Origins’ season two will tackle Seattle gentrification

Lady Scribe and her family pose for a photo at SIFF

Lady Scribe and her family pose for a photo at SIFF on Sunday, May 21, 2023. (Alli Rico for Crosscut)

The winning filmmaker for the next season of Crosscut Origins will be Lady Scribe, who will create a docuseries telling the story of Black artists, entrepreneurs and elders getting priced out of Seattle. The winner was announced Sunday at the closing ceremony of the Seattle International Film Festival.

Lady Scribe, a self-proclaimed “budding filmmaker” in the Seattle arts community, was one of several dozen directors to apply to work with Cascade Public Media to create a video story that reflects the makeup of our region told from an insider’s perspective. The key requirement for Crosscut Origins was that the filmmaker be part of the community they are documenting.

The project selected to be the second Crosscut Origins series will receive $40,000 in grant funding to cover production costs for the five-part series, as well as technical and editing help, and their work will be broadcast and streamed by Cascade Public Media.

The first season, “Refuge After War,” examines the experiences of Vietnamese and Afghan refugees forced to flee and resettle in Washington after the fall of Saigon in 1975 and Kabul in 2021.

Lady Scribe says her docuseries will be a remembrance of her vibrant Black community and how it’s become unrecognizable and muted over the years. While there are heartbreak and hardships, Scribe will celebrate the triumphs this community has found through the arts.

The docuseries will be released on Cascade Public Media platforms in March 2024.