Seaside Stories

Seaside Stories puts young Washingtonians in conversation with members of their diverse communities about their relationships with local waters.

Through a joint project between Sea Potential and the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area, six Seattle-area youth learned about interviewing skills from local experts and recorded conversations between themselves and their elders. Speaking with parents, teachers, and mentors, these talented young people uncovered beautiful stories about our relationships with water and the Salish Sea. Dive into these rich discussions to explore diverse perspectives and personal connections with Washington’s shorelines.

Issa & Namaka

“The water is where, I think it’s the only place I was able to make those memories. Where you’re battling the ocean or the sting of salt in your eyes, slipping on the hard rocks, feeling the seaweed on your legs wrap around your toes… I’m just getting sent right back to those moments where I felt so at peace.”

Through the course of two discussions, Issa (10th grade) asks her teacher Namaka about her strong connections with water—from the shores of her native Hawaii to sprinkler water in Las Vegas and finally to the coasts of her new home in Seattle. Namaka speaks about how, for her, water has long served as a touchstone to memory.

Suniia & George

“Everybody loves water, and it connects all of my kids and their cousins and aunties and uncles.”

In this conversation, Suniia (9th grade) and George discuss their family’s traditions with Washington’s waters, including annual visits to Ocean Shores and memorials at Alki Beach. George explains how her grandmother’s Native heritage has influenced her relationship with water, and how revisiting coasal places year after year has helped to connect multiple generations of her family.

Idalena & Denbigh

“Some significant places that I go to are points of access in Tulalip Tribe, in Lummi Nation, and Nooksack. Those are made accessible by Tribal members who invite other indigenous people like myself to visit and share.”

Over two conversations, Idalena (10th grade) interviews her mother Denbigh about her relationship with water, including growing up at her family’s fish camp on the Shaktoolik River in Alaska and attending First Salmon Ceremonies at the Lummi Nation Stommish Grounds. Denbigh speaks about her knowledge of indigenous foodways, the importance of oral tradition, her experiences on Lummi Bay, and the significance of having access to the shore.

Abigail & Linda

“I spend a lot of time at the water just trying to refocus myself…I see it as a healing thing that should be available to everybody.”

In this conversation, Abigail (10th grade) speaks with her teacher Ms. Lambert about her childhood memories of water, her hopes for increasing accessibility to beaches, and how places like Dash Point State Park have provided peaceful moments on the shoreline during difficult times.

Naomi & Norma

“We love being with the family, visiting all the beaches for example. Alki Beach is one of the walks we do every year with my family.

Norma tells her daughter Naomi (8th grade) about her experiences with water and how places like Pike Place Market and the Duwamish River help her remember similar places from her childhood. Today, Norma likes be near Washington’s shorelines with her family, taking beach walks, riding the ferry, or watching her children play in the water.

Prihensha & Padam

“Water I consider as a source of energy, and it’s a source of life.”

Prihensha asks her father Padam about his thoughts on Washington’s waters and how they compare to the rivers and streams of his childhood in Bhutan. Padam shares stories of his family’s vacations to the Pacific Coast, his dramatic first attempt at swimming, and his experiences taking the ferry to Bremerton and Bainbridge Island.  

Bonus! Ebony & Savannah

“I love tidepooling and seeing all the creatures. We tidepool together a lot as you know and it’s always fun… I bring my family more as I’m getting older, and I always just love seeing the curiosity of youth and others as they get to experience these ‘siblings of the sea.’”—Savannah
“I feel like all of my moments, my happiest moments, my saddest moments, my most fearful moments, a lot of emotions that are evoked are still surrounded by water for me now.”­—Ebony

In this special conversation, Sea Potential co-founders Ebony Welborn and Savannah Smith chat about their relationships with Puget Sound and their current work connecting people with water. Ebony and Savannah discuss their fascination with marine environments throughout their lives, their personal connections to Washington’s shores, and how founding Sea Potential has influenced their relationships with water.

We would like to thank the National Trust for Historic Preservation for funding this project through their Telling the Full History Preservation Fund, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Trust or the National Endowment for the Humanities.