Joshua McNichols | KUOW News and Information

Joshua McNichols

Reporter

Year started with KUOW: 2007

Joshua has been the "growing pains" reporter since 2015, documenting the region's growth and change. 

Joshua “took the long way” to radio, working in architecture firms for over a decade before pursuing his passion for public radio in 2007.

By "long way," he means he's also been a writer, bicycle courier, commercial fisherman, bed-and-breakfast cook, carpenter, landscaper and stained glass salesman. He’s detailed animal enclosures to prevent jaguars from escaping the Miami Zoo. Once, while managing a construction site in Athens, Greece, he was given a noogie by an Albanian civil war refugee in his employ. “You do not tell those guys how to place stucco,” he said.

All of which has no doubt made him the story-teller he is today.  

Ways to Connect

Fire Chief James Knisley is one of two paid staffers in his fire department. Volunteers make up the rest of his crew.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

From the top of a mountain in far northeastern King County, the surrounding communities look tiny, just a couple hundred rooftops on a strip of flat land wedged between national forests.

I’m up here with Skykomish Fire Chief James Knisley, who points to U.S. 2 down on the valley floor, where the highway winds its way toward Stevens Pass.

Guards wheel Monfort from the courtroom on Wednesday. Monfort is paralyzed from the waist down.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Closing arguments continue Thursday in the penalty phase of the trial of Christopher Monfort. Monfort ambushed two Seattle police officers in 2009, killing one of them. 

The state wants to see Monfort executed. The defense hopes Monfort gets life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Lauris Bitners, a North Capitol Hill resident who had a sign stolen from in front of his house,  is fighting back using a GoPro camera.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle’s primary election is just weeks away, and campaign signs are sprouting in people’s yards. With so much at stake in this election, you can bet some of those yard signs will get stolen.

That’s what happened to Lauris Bitners. He lives in a fancy neighborhood on North Capitol Hill. It’s not exactly ground zero for the debate on rent control. Bitners jokingly describes his neighborhood as “a bastion of white affluence.”

KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

You’d think the University District would be thriving.

It’s right next to the University of Washington, an institution that takes in around $250 million in state taxes each year and turns that into $12.5 billion in economic impact.

Yet businesses in the U-District have struggled for decades.

Joshua Curtis stands behind a foosball table.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Westlake Park in downtown Seattle has a lot going on. Besides the café tables, the foosball tables and the park rangers, you’ll find free classes almost every day. On Monday at 10 a.m., kids will be building stomp rockets out of paper. Tuesday evening there’s a Yoga class.

But the park is better known for drug dealing than downward dog.

The new activity is part of the city’s efforts to bring more people into downtown public spaces to reclaim them for everybody.

Annette Heide-Jessen's Kaffeeklatsch coffee shop has bet on Lake City Way. A big garage door opens right onto the state highway, which doubles as Lake City's 'main street.' Heide-Jessen sees Lake City as 'the next Columbia City.'
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

North Seattle used to be a place where you could just spread out. People came up north after the great fire of 1889 to escape the crowded tinderbox of downtown Seattle. Later, others came to build malls and for many other reasons.

Tyler Reedus (right) and Joshua Thomas at the Madison Pub in District 3
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

On a map of Seattle's new City Council District 3, one street stands out. That thoroughfare slashes diagonally through the street grid like a samurai sword: East Madison Street.

Decades ago, you could take a streetcar down Madison from downtown to Lake Washington. Today though, we’ll walk.

A view of Mount Rainier from West Seattle, Seattle's new District 1.
Flickr Photo/Chas Redmond (CC by 2.0)

People in West Seattle often complain that no one comes to visit. They say this with some disbelief, because as far as they’re concerned, they live in the best part of the city – and possibly Earth. 

Seattle moms Sarah Weigle and Julia Crouch and their daughter Maya. Although married in Washington state, Crouch chose to adopt their daughter to protect her status as a parent across the U.S.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on gay marriage this month. The high court decision could mark the end of a complicated legal era in which same-sex couples have had to jump through legal hoops to legally protect their family unit.

Nelida Martinez, one of the farmers growing their businesses at Viva Farms, a farm incubator project
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

  Strawberries, beware. Blueberries and raspberries are ripening early this year.

A warm winter has given way to a hot spring, which means berries are ripening early this year in the Pacific Northwest. That’s great for some growers in the short term – and the rest of us hankering for juicy fruit – but it’s also created competition among farmers.

KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Bellevue College wants to partner with Washington State University to expand its slate of four year degrees. It’s a small step in a much bigger transformation.

KUOW’s Joshua McNichols has more.

Db3's Chemist Eric Winterstein measures THC content in recreational marijuana. He has two dreams: bringing science to medical marijuana, and someday enjoying a legal drink made from this mixture of alcohol and THC, a byproduct of his lab.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says all medical marijuana dispensaries in Seattle are illegal. So he wants to shut half of them down, starting with those that opened recently and haven’t been paying taxes. Those left standing, he plans to offer legitimacy through a city license. 

KUOW’s Joshua McNichols was at the announcement and filed this report.

KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Teachers marched in the streets of Seattle Tuesday. It was part of a one-day walkout. They were protesting what they call the state Legislature’s failure to fully fund education. 

Parents had to figure out what to do with their kids. Many of them ended up at Seattle Center.

Student Lorena Guillen shows her support for the UW Board of Regents, which on Thursday voted to purge the UW's endowment fund of investments in "thermal coal," a type of coal used in power plants that's associated with higher pollution levels.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

The University of Washington’s Board of Regents voted Thursday night to sell off its investments in thermal coal -- the kind of coal used to generate power.

It’s only the fourth time the university has “divested” its endowment – the other issues were South Africa, tobacco and Sudan.

Gov. Jay Inslee signs a bill expanding the College Bound program. Behind him, middle schoolers from Mill Creek Middle School in Kent. At far left is Sen. David Frockt, who wrote the bill.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law Tuesday that expands the College Bound Scholarship program. The program places students from low-income families onto a college prep track as they're wrapping up middle school, and it helps pay their college tuition when they graduate from high school.

Christian Cultee, a student at the Northwest Indian College, with a rocket that broke the sound barrier.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

It started out as a joke. 

The students at Northwest Indian College on the Lummi Reservation near Bellingham were launching little rockets made from recycled water bottles as a way to do some hands-on science.

Cindy Jatul teaches biology/biotech at Roosevelt High School in Seattle. She says her first-period students are often too sleepy to learn.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

What time should the school day begin? That’s the question an online survey is asking Seattle parents through this weekend.

To get a sense of what’s at stake, just visit a first-period class at Roosevelt High School in Seattle. At 7:50 a.m., you'll find biology/biotech teacher Cindy Jatul coaxing her students into wakefulness, and having a hard time, too.

KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

In a city known for tech wizards, you might expect parking costs to depend on huge data sets collected electronically in real time. You’d be wrong.

Seattle finds just the right algorithm in the old-fashioned way: It counts cars once a year in a survey.

Garfield High School
Flickr Photo/Don Brubeck (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Eleventh graders in Washington state are saying heck no to the Smarter Balanced Assessment. At Garfield High School in Seattle’s Central Area, 95 percent of kids didn’t show up to the test this week.

At Richland High School in Eastern Washington, 83 percent of juniors didn’t show up on the first day of testing. (Some may have shown up later, but a compliance officer at the school said that was highly unlikely.)

The test is not required to graduate, which is why they’re not showing up.

A police van at Third Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

There’s an open air drug market between Westlake Center and the Pike Place Market. People who live and work downtown are getting tired of dealing with that. So are business owners.

"You’re facing shoplifting multiple times a day, you’re seeing people overdose in your bathroom, you’re cleaning up heroin needles," the Downtown Seattle Association’s Jon Scholes said.

Now the city of Seattle is trying to do something about it.

There have been 95 arrests over the last few days – without a single incident of use of force, Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole says.

Many have wondered what Kshama Sawant's next fight will be, now that Seattle has a $15 minimum wage (to be phased in over several years). At City Hall on Thursday night, she'll make the case for legalizing rent control.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle’s rents are rising fast – San Francisco, San Jose and Denver are the only cities outpacing us, according to real estate research firm Reis.

Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant says there's a way to stop that trend.

“Everywhere I go, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, I hear people talking about the skyrocketing rent," Sawant said. "And when I ask them, 'What do you think we should do about it,' invariably they tell me: ‘We need some sort of rent control.’” 

The Summit Inn on Seattle's Capitol Hill still hums with artists, even after losing many tenants in the wake of the building's sale last December. The remaining tenants expect to be kicked out this fall for renovations.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

On the top floor of the Summit Inn, a run-down building on Capitol Hill where artists live, Philomel Swango, 64, shows off bolts of colorful cloth and talks about the costumes she sews for a living.

"I just did a pirate wedding," she says. "I made the bride’s dress. I made it look like she mugged Marie Antoinette."

Kayakers protesting the arrival of Shell's Polar Pioneer rig in Port Angeles in April
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

It was the kind of David-and-Goliath moment that Greenpeace was looking for: Kayakers paddling out in their tiny craft to meet a mammoth oil drilling rig pulling into Port Angeles.

Shell Oil’s Polar Pioneer arrived aboard the carrier Blue Marlin at dawn Friday, in preparation for inspection before it’s brought to Seattle over the objections of environmentalists.

The Shell Oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer arrives off Port Angeles early Friday aboard the carrier Blue Marlin.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

A Shell Oil drilling rig at the center of environmental protests about oil exploration in the Arctic arrived off Port Angeles at dawn Friday on a trip that will eventually land it on the Seattle waterfront.

Alyne Fortgang of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, didn't sleep well Wednesday night.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Thursday was the first day at Woodland Park Zoo without its elephants. Chai and Bamboo are on their way to Oklahoma City. KUOW’s Joshua McNichols has more.

Here on Capitol Hill, Vicki Lopez says you always have to arrive 30 minutes before a dinner party starts to allow time for parking. Her friend, Koll Carlsteen, half-jokingly suggests the shortage of parking is a racket - designed to earn the city more mon
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

About 12 percent of the apartments built in Seattle since 2012 have been built without parking. They’re being built in neighborhoods like Ballard, Capitol Hill and the University District, where there’s heavy competition for parking and where special zoning allows them.

This county road between Maple Valley and Issaquah may not look like a major traffic corridor. But come rush hour, it's bumper to bumper on county roads like this as commuters seek out alternate routes to shave precious minutes off grueling commutes.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

 

In East King County, a critical piece of infrastructure is falling apart: the county road system. That's 1,500 miles of mostly two-lane roads. Stretched out, they would reach from Canada to Mexico. There’s no money to repair them properly. So the county’s going to have to lower the speed limits and eventually shut some of them down.

Alex Guy stands in the kitchen of her South Lake Union apartment, one of the last affordable apartments in the neighborhood.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle can be a frustrating place to live. There’s the rising rents, and the constant noise from construction sites and traffic. Despite all that, we choose to live here.

Alex Guy is a musician with the band Led To Sea. One of the things that keeps her here is the vibrant music scene.

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KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

It’s the day before state testing, and the Dimpsey and Rasche kids gather for a playdate in Kirkland.

Pearl, a third-grader at Peter Kirk Elementary, won’t take the test. “If people didn’t know it was such a big test then I think they would actually do a better job,” she says.

Garfield Teacher Jesse Hagopian says rising standards + inadequate education funding means minorities lose. Gerald Hankerson of the Seattle King County NAACP waits to speak.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

For the 11th-grade math test in Washington state, there's a version in Spanish. There's also a glossary to translate words into Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Arabic, Punjabi.

Notice anything missing? 

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