PIKE PLACE MARKET IS CONSIDERED one of the great markets of the world — and the lifeblood of Seattle. Thanks to a new partnership with Bloodworks Northwest, those who donate blood between April 1 and 30 can enter to win a one-of-a-kind, interactive experience at this bustling, historic site: A Market to Table Cooking Tour for six with Chef Traci Calderon of the Market’s Atrium Kitchen.
Calderon will lead the group through the Market, sharing the site’s history while exploring her favorite shops and vendors. “Along our tour, we procure fresh ingredients and return to the Atrium Kitchen where guests are greeted with market-sourced beverages and hors d’oeuvres,” she says. “I then give guests a hands-on cooking lesson and we prepare a meal together using delicious ingredients from Pike Place. We gather around the table and share a thoughtfully curated, nourishing meal TOGETHER.”
Winners also receive a one-night stay at The State Hotel for them and their guests (up to 3 rooms), as well as a Pike Place Market gift basket stocked with dozens of products and cards from local businesses, including Chukar Cherries, and a $200 gift card to be used at any Market business. It also includes gems by Market crafters, like a leather journal from No Boundaries Books, handmade gemstone jewelry from Nature’s Twist, and a glass wine stopper from Glassy Productions.
Sue Nixon, Chief Marketing and Engagement Officer at Bloodworks Northwest, explains how this concept came to be. “When we look at partnerships within the community and think about how we can connect more closely to our neighbors, it’s important to understand the passions of the community itself,” she says. “Seattle and Portland are passionate foodie communities, with leaders that understand the value of working together to solve problems.”
In considering how to follow up on the successful music-community campaign, spotlighting the culinary community seemed like the right next move. “Through relationships with chefs, restaurateurs, winery owners, brewers, and more, we’ve built a coalition that continues to grow and help present a message of hope, love, and support,” Nixon says. “And when this community speaks, the public listens with their heart. So with a lot of determination, we’re well on our way to achieving 10,000 new and reengaged blood donors by the end of June, which will save countless lives.”
Amy Wallsmith, Pike Place Market’s Director of Marketing and Program Development, says that in addition to offering the Market’s “amazing April prize,” her team will help spread the word about the Bloodworks campaign across their social media channels and with outreach to their community of businesses, residents, shoppers, and visitors.
“Often referred to as the ‘Soul of Seattle,’ the Market is passionate about supporting and giving back to our community,” Wallsmith says. “The Market is a community of its own with essential social services, residents, small businesses, performers, crafters, and farmers. This internal community wants to support our larger Seattle community by bringing awareness to this cause.”
She continues, “A Market is a place for people to get nourishment for their body and mind to stay healthy. A place for people to connect. This community also understands first-hand the devastation from the pandemic and what it takes to be a community that helps one another and supports our PNW residents and workers.” Nixon agrees that the historical icon is an ideal partner, saying, “It is both fitting and a powerful representation of the coming together of partners to serve our neighbors and our community.”
Calderon gives personal reasons for getting involved, acknowledging that life can change in an instant. “I have had family members who needed life-saving blood donations,” she says. “On a human level, I believe we are all doing life together. Offering our hand to help lift others — whether it be by donating blood or delivering a free meal to those in need — it is about community and fully understanding the power we each have to make life better for others. In the act of giving, we bring people together.”
Wallsmith emphasizes that Traci has an outstanding heart. “During the pandemic,” she says, “[Traci] shifted gears and began preparing and delivering free meals to home-bound seniors and people experiencing living homeless throughout Seattle. Since 2017, her Nourished Neighborhood Community Meal program connected the community by serving hot multi-course meals to people. It is an amazing program!”
Nixon shares her own personal story about becoming involved with Bloodworks Northwest. On Valentine’s Day 2007, she was meant to be singing with her jazz trio at Serafina. When she didn’t show up, they called her sister, who started calling local hospitals. Nixon was in a coma in critical condition at Harborview ICU.
“Earlier that day,” she explains, “I was driving from my home when I had a cardiac arrest and went off the road. It was completely out of the blue. A nurse happened to be driving by (my angel) and saw the accident, so stopped to help. She saw that I was unconscious — not breathing and without a pulse. A postman (another angel), just walking by on his schedule, knew CPR as well so she recruited him to help.” Together, they pulled her from the car and started CPR, which they continued for eight minutes. When the medics arrived, they cut off Nixon’s Dolce & Gabbana jacket (which she holds onto as a precious reminder of the fragility of life) and restarted her heart.
“My life was saved by a caring community, incredible efforts of medical professionals, and later by a blood transfusion into my heart during open-heart surgery that helped me live,” she marvels. “Having been a person whose life was saved, when the opportunity came to join this organization that saves lives every day, I couldn’t imagine a better place to work.”
Nixon explains that, since blood is perishable and patient need is constant, the need never stops. “Yet people’s lives are busy, our collections capacity is still limited, and distraction is high,” she says, “so we’ve been operating at a critical level of inventory since April. It will take time and a steady turnout of donors from the community to return the blood supply to safe and reliable levels. And as hospitals return to higher capacity and restart delayed procedures, the need for blood will continue to increase.”
Wallsmith says the Market is excited to broaden its community outreach with such an important effort. “The Market has always been a place for the downtown community to shop for groceries, visitors to experience the taste of the PNW, and Seattle workers to take their lunch,” she says, “but now we have the opportunity to do so much more through the power of food with this partnership with Bloodworks Northwest.”
“Every day I have the privilege of owning and running a food business in Seattle’s food mecca!” Calderon says. “This campaign is bringing the element of food into a life-saving endeavor. Blood sustains life, just as nourishment does. One does not exist without the other.”
Wallsmith urges using the Market as a place to nourish one’s body before donating blood, or as the first stop to replenish afterward. And Calderon encourages booking their Market to Table tour or a private event, and making a donation to Nourished Neighborhood, their 501(c)(3) non-profit, free community meal program for seniors and people experiencing food insecurity. And for readers located beyond Seattle? Calderon advises: “They can support our business by purchasing one of our shipped meal kits we created in our partnership with Pike Place Fish, or a bottle of our Whiskey Bonnet BBQ sauce I created with Farmer Ras of Herban Farm, a Day stall vendor.”
Nixon believes that, as we emerge from the last couple of years, this campaign’s timing is ideal. “Like a reunion of sorts,” she comments. “We are coming together to share a table, a story, a meal, and to care for one another and our community in this powerful and intimate way through blood donation. On so many levels with this campaign, we are celebrating community, savoring life, and saving lives, together.”