At 6-feet 5-inches, with fire-hose-thick arms and a barrel chest, Nick Maxwell can nearly fill a room floor to ceiling. His personality is equally commanding. Once at a Seattle City Council hearing concerning a job-assistance bill for former convicts, Nick’s testimony garnered a hearty round of applause. He was subsequently quoted in The Seattle Times. The council passed the bill. 

“It was really exhilarating, man. I think I got my message across,” he said.

Growing up in the Bronx in the 1960s shaped Nick’s gregarious nature. Nick went on to complete two years at Syracuse University. But, he said,“There’s no education that school can teach you [that compares to] the things that I learned in New York.”

While the city was an inspiration in itself, Nick received further influence from inside his own living room. From the first time he saw the sunny skies and palm trees of California projected from his TV screen, Nick knew he wanted to see the West Coast. Similarly, he grew up enamored with actors, especially on film. “I was fascinated with what they did, how they made fantasy become reality.” At 25, with a passion for acting and a lifelong dream to bask in California sunshine, Nick made the cross-country trek from New York to Hollywood and pursued a film career.

He scored a minor role in a Tommy Lee Jones sci-fi flick, “Black Moon Rising,” and worked on other films and game shows as an extra. But the glamour of California soon failed to live up to his expectations. In need of steady work, Nick moved north, eventually finding his way to Seattle in 1987.

Nick found work as a dishwasher and prep cook at restaurants and did manual labor through temp agencies. Every once in a while, he’d notice someone standing on the street, selling a newspaper to passersby. But it wasn’t until 2011 that he approached one of them and inquired as to what they were doing. “The rest is history,” Nick said.

“If I didn’t believe in this paper I wouldn’t sell it, number one. I really consider Real Change a family. I take it as that; I also take this as a job.” And Nick’s customers — or as he calls them, his “public” — await.


Leigh Knowles Metteer’s etchings, lithographs, paintings and drawings are in collections all over the world. Her interests in the figure, landscape and allegory have produced works that solicit both quiet introspection and dynamic revelation. Leigh owns and teaches at Knowles Studio in Poulsbo.