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Design Workshop Set for New Westwood P-Patch

Interested in the new P-Patch Community Garden at SW Barton St. and 34th Ave. SW in the Westwood area?

Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is hosting a Community Design Workshop March 1st, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Southwest Community Center, 2801 SW Thistle St.

You are invited to participate in creating the new P-Patch community garden at Barton Street and 34th Avenue SW (near Tony’s Produce). Please attend these meetings to learn more about the new neighborhood project and participate in the design process.

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Parks To Use Random Drawing for Hanger 30 Uses

Due to permit and occupancy issues, Seattle Parks and Recreation is restricted to allowing just one event per quarter in Magnuson Park’s Hangar 30 during 2012.

Because the demand greatly exceeds what can be accommodated, Parks has established a methodology for randomly selecting which events will be permitted in 2012. The intent is to provide equal access to this unique space.

In the interest of fairness, the use of Hangar 30 for events in 2012 will be assigned by random drawing. Only events that are sponsored by non-profit organizations and open to the public, make full use of the space, and are consistent with Magnuson Park’s mission to support arts, recreation, culture and the environment will be considered for the drawing.

To participate in the drawing, you can find the application in the Parks website at Please fill out and return the attached application to the mailing address noted in the application by Monday, February 28, 2011.

An organization can send applications for a maximum of two events – one event in each of two quarters. Each organization selected will only be allowed one event during the quarter for which they have applied.

At this lottery drawing, organizations will be drawing for the following quarters:

  • First quarter: January 1 – March 31, 2012
  • Second quarter: April 1 – June 30, 2012
  • Third Quarter: July 1 – September 30, 2012
  • Fourth Quarter: October 1 – December 31, 2012

The drawing will take place at 6:00 pm on Monday, March 7, 2011 at the Magnuson Park administrative office on the east side of Hangar 30. The address is 6310 NE 74th St., #109E.

If you have questions, please call Charles Ng, Manager of Magnuson Park and Business Resources, at 206-684-8001 or email him at

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Langston Hughes Arts Center Honors Black Heroes & Heroines

To help celebrate Black History Month, the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center presents “People in Parks: Black Heroes and Heroines.” Actors will portray African Americans for whom Seattle parks are named.

One way Seattle Parks and Recreation celebrates Black History Month is to repeat a series of short performances that debuted in 2010, highlighting the lives of African Americans who Seattle has honored by naming parks after them.

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center will present eight performances in eight parks on February 26 and 27. Each event will be approximately 15 minutes in length. These events are free and open to the public, and everyone is invited.

Performances on Saturday, February 26, 2011:

  • 1:00 pm: Dr. Blanche Lavizzo Park, 2100 S Jackson St. Dr. Lavizzo was the first African-American woman pediatrician in the state of Washington. She was the founding medical director of the Central Area’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, whose motto is “Quality Care with Dignity.”
  • 2:00 pm: Edwin T. Pratt Park, 1800 S Main St. Edwin Pratt was a civil rights leader and Seattle Urban League Executive Director. He was killed by a shotgun blast at his Shoreline home in 1969. The crime has never been solved.
  • 3:00 pm: Homer Harris Park, 2401 E Howell St. Dr. Harris was a University of Iowa graduate who wanted to play professional football, but in the 1930s black players were banned from the National Football League. He went on to become Seattle’s “go-to” dermatologist and treated generations of Seattle teens.
  • 4:00 pm: Prentis I. Frazier Park, 401 24th Ave. E. Frazier was a former slave who came to Seattle in 1916. In the 1920s he started and published a newspaper for the black community, the Seattle Enterprise, which later became the Northwest Enterprise. He is remembered as a generous philanthropist and business entrepreneur.

Performances on Sunday, February 27, 2011:

  • 1:00 pm: William Grose Park, 1814 30th Ave. Grose was a pioneer who arrived in Seattle in 1860 after serving in the U.S. Navy. By the 1880s he was Seattle’s wealthiest Black resident.
  • 2:00 pm: Alvin Larkins Park, corner of E Pike St. and 34th Ave. E. Another U.S. Navy man, Larkins was stationed at Sand Point Naval Air Station in 1943 when he became a member of the band the Jive Bombers. He spent the rest of his career as a renowned music teacher and member of the Rainy City Jazz Band.
  • 3:00 pm: Powell Barnett Park, 352 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. Barnett was a prominent community organizer and the first president of the Leschi Improvement Council.
  • 4:00 pm: Flo Ware Park, corner of S Jackson St. and 28th Ave. S. Flo Ware was a tireless education activist and supporter of Head Start and Meals on Wheels. She anchored the King County Economic Opportunity Board in the 1960s and raised 20 foster children.

Please visit Parks website for more information about Seattle Parks and Recreation:  For more information about the events, please call Randy Wiger at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center at 206-684-0775.

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March Spokespeople Ride: Shopping California Avenue

Spokespeople West Seattle invite all cyclists to their monthly ride Sunday, March 6th starting at 11:00 am.  Meet at Alki Bike and Board on California Ave. a few dozen paces south of Admiral Way in the Admiral District.

This month’s ride is themed: Going to California

Going to California Avenue businesses that is. From the Admiral District to the Morgan Junction there are many family owned local businesses along California Ave. within biking distance. The trick is competing with the busy California Ave. traffic while carrying your shopping items.

This ride goes the entire length from the Admiral District to Morgan Junction passing all the cool small businesses on the way without using California Ave. at all. Don’t let those funny bicycle markers (sharrows) take you for a ride. Instead, come ride with us! Bring money and be prepared to safely carry cargo. We will make a stop at the West Seattle Farmers Market and more if needed

Spokespeople is a Cascade Bicycle Club sanctioned ride and is a function of Sustainable West Seattle

Sustainable Ballard Discusses Happiness Index Tonight

Join Sustainable Ballard as we learn more about the Seattle Area Happiness Initiative, February 28th, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm at the Sunset Hill Community Club, 3003 NW 66th St.

  • Potluck: 6:30 pm (please bring a dish to share or $5 to contribute)
  • Program: 7:00 pm

Guest Speaker John deGraaf (Take Back Your Time) will help us understand the weakness of our current national vitality indicator GDP (gross domestic product) and the more holistic and inspirational measurement of GNH (gross national happiness).

Take the survey yourself at

Energy Blog: Let’s Make Evergreen State Coal Free

By Andy Silber

Help Make Washington Coal Free

The Earth’s climate is changing because humans are burning lots of fossil fuels: coal, oil and natural gas. As has been said before, we need to focus on coal for several reasons:

  1. It is the most carbon intensive:
  2. Excluding carbon, it’s the dirtiest fuel around (including nuclear)
  3. It’s the easiest to replace
  4. It is the most plentiful

Below I’m not comparing coal to renewables (which is the direction I believe we can and should go), but with other fossil fuels. When we get to the last point you’ll see why.

Carbon Intensity

This is the most straightforward, it’s just simple chemistry. All fossil fuels contain molecules that release energy during combustion. Coal has more carbon per unit of energy than other fossil fuels, 30% more than oil and 80% more than natural gas. And these numbers assume that the fuel is used in a perfectly efficient plant. The reality is worse; coal plants have a low efficiency (according to one study 31%) compared to 50% at a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine fueled by natural gas. So the electricity generation a typical coal plant (e.g. The TransAlta plant in Centralia) produces creates 3 times the CO2 emission than a state-of-the-art natural gas powered plant produces. We also have a myriad of zero emission options like wind, solar and geothermal.

Coal is the Dirtiest Fuel

Excluding carbon dioxide, coal is still much dirtier than the alternatives. Crude oil comes out of the ground full of muck, but it is refined before we burn it. The mercury and other toxins can be dealt with responsibly. Natural gas comes out of the ground relatively clean (I am comparing it to incredibly toxic stuff, so it’s all relative). It’s also refined before distribution and the results are clean enough to burn in your home with no ill effects.

The scale of the toxins in coal is just much more immense than with other fuels. One example is mercury. Mercury is naturally occurring in coal, which enters the atmosphere when the coal is burnt. Coal powered electric plants are responsible for about 50% of the mercury in the environment. Modern emissions controls can prevent the mercury from going into the air, in which case the mercury ends up in the fly ash, which is OK, unless it isn’t (see below).

Here’s a surprising tidbit, coal plants are more radioactive than nuclear plants.  In addition to the mercury, coal contains uranium and thorium. When the coal is burnt these radioactive elements either go into the air or end up in the fly ash, which sometimes is stored in a haphazard manner, as opposed to the careful containment at nuclear plants. In the best of times the radioactive elements can leach into the ground water. In the worst of times the ash pours into a river after a dike fails.

But wait, there’s more:

And let us not forget the mess we make when we take coal out of the ground. Compare the mess in the Gulf when something went wrong with a normal day in Appalachia.

Coal is the easiest to replace

Currently burning coal generates about half of our electricity, so I’m not saying this is an easy project, but compared to replacing oil, we have lots of alternatives currently available:

  • Efficiency
  • Geothermal
  • Natural Gas
  • Nuclear fission
  • Solar
  • Wind

These are just listed alphabetically and each has their advantages and disadvantages. There are also many technologies on the near horizon (e.g. improved solar, wave and tidal) and distance horizon (e.g. 5th Gen nuclear fission, nuclear fusion) that might help replace coal. One vision on how our region can go coal free is the Bright Future plan, which deals with increasing demand and shutting down all of the regions coal plants mostly through capturing cost-effective efficiency measures. The remainder comes from renewables, predominantly wind, but also biomass, wave/tidal, and geothermal. No significant breakthroughs are assumed, which is a worst-case scenario since vast amounts of R&D money is currently pouring into clean energy technology.

It’s the most plentiful

Though there’s plenty of reason to work to reduce our consumption of oil and natural gas, there isn’t enough of it to really screw-up the atmosphere. This point has been made by others, most notably James Hansen, NASA atmospheric scientist and Columbia University environmental professor. At our current consumption rates we’ll run out of oil in 43 years, natural gas in 167 years, and coal in 417 years.  One can quibble about the exact rates and how big the reserves are, but we’ll start to see a decrease in oil production soon (if we haven’t already) just due to limited supplies (see peak oil). The market will get us off oil, not the climate. Since natural gas has so much lower carbon emissions, it’s less critical that we quickly reduce those emissions. It’s only coal that can cook us.

So it is coal that is King: a horrible despotic, sadistic King that likes to make people suffer. Whether through asthma, mercury poisoning, or climate change, this is one mean King.

So what can we do?

Washington State has one coal plant, the TransAlta plant in Centralia. This plant is the single largest source of pollution in the state. The Coal Free Washington campaign is working to shut this plant down and make Washington “kinda” coal free (PSE is a part owner and customer of the Colstrip Power plant in Montana).

One obvious step is to support the effort to strip the TransAlta plant of millions of dollars of tax breaks. These tax breaks were given to help defray the costs of upgrading the pollution controls on the plant. I’ve never understood these types of tax breaks. If I need to make repairs to my car to meet the emission standards, the state doesn’t pay part of the cost. The plant should stop polluting; either install emission controls or shut it down. The cost of the pollution controls should be included in the cost of the electricity generated, just like it is with wind power (which has no pollution).

The next step is to support the effort to shut down the TransAlta plant. Washington State Representative Marko Liias has submitted a House Bill 1825 to phase out coal by 2015. This is an aggressive timeline, but the recession actually has made it easier by reducing electricity demand. For the short term no replacement is needed.

The most fun step you can take is to join others from West Seattle and elsewhere south of the Alki Bathhouse on Saturday, February 19th from 11 am to 2 pm at the “Washington Paints Past Coal” event. They’ll be music, speakers and even free food (hopefully no mercury contaminated fish). Enjoy the fresh air those downwind of Centralia can’t.

Shutting down Washington’s only coal plant will wipe 10% from our total emissions in one act. That’s what I call a pretty good start.

Burke Museum Hosts Free Dinosaur Lecture

The University of Washington Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture will present “Hunting Dinosaurs on Four Continents” with Dr. Philip Currie, University of Alberta Friday, February 25, 7:00 pm at the University’s Kane Hall, room 130.

Dr. Philip Currie, paleontologist and Canada Research Chair at The University of Alberta, will discuss his travels uncovering dinosaur fossils from the four corners of the globe as he sought to determine how these amazingly diverse animals were so successful.

This lecture is free but registration is required, which you can do here by clicking here.

Sponsored by Nathan Myrhvold and Rosemarie Havranek.

No Driving Range for West Seattle Golf Course

Parks and Rec Will Not Pursue Driving Range @ West Seattle Golf Course

Seattle Parks and Recreation Acting Superintendent Christopher Williams today announced his decision not to proceed with the construction of a driving range at the West Seattle Golf Course, after siting difficulties and public concerns surfaced.

The driving range, the first project to be developed under the 2009 Golf Master Plan began the planning and design phase in mid-2010. The original plan was to place the range west of the clubhouse along 35th Ave. SW. Engineering studies revealed problems with soil conditions at the site, so Parks then attempted to locate it closer to the clubhouse at the fairway for hole #9.

This option would make it necessary to reconfigure the hole and several pathways, which led to opposition from course users. The design team tried to address users’ concerns through three public meetings and additional analysis. After reviewing the design issues, the costs of the design process, the funding for the project, and the input received through the public involvement process, Williams decided not to go ahead with the project.

“It turns out this project, as it can be physically fitted into the course, is not consistent with the course’s historic design,” Williams said “We do not want to go forward with a facility that does not meet golfers’ needs, but we are pleased to be able to take the rest of the budget and apply it to another upcoming Golf Master Plan project.”

Michael Prittie, vice president of the West Seattle Golf Club, said “The club is very happy with this decision. We look forward to working with Parks on the rest of the Golf Master Plan, particularly on projects that will improve the West Seattle Golf Course.”

David Kipness of the Camp Long Advisory Council added, “We appreciate Parks’ willingness to incorporate public opinion in decision-making, and hope this decision will be a catalyst for the golf community, Camp Long, and the general public to work together on future projects.”

This decision enables Parks to take the approximately $579,000 remaining in the $834,000 project planning budget, which comes from 2010 General Obligation Bonds, and redirect it to another priority revenue-generating capital project identified in the Golf Master Plan. Parks will also report on the decision to the City Council Parks and Seattle Center Committee at an upcoming meeting.

CoolMom, Sierra Club Host “Paint Past Coal” @ Alki

Join neighbors from West Seattle and elsewhere at the plaza south of the  Alki Bathhouse on Saturday, February 19th from 11:oo am to 2:00 pm for the “Washington Paints Past Coal” event. This event focuses on closing the only coal-powered power plant in Washington, the TransAlta plant in Centralia, and reducing Washington State’s carbon emissions by 10 percent in one act.

Sierra Club, CoolMom and other like minded folks will be gathering on Alki to raise awareness of the need for a coal-free future in Washington. The “Paint Past Coal” event on February 19th in West Seattle on Alki beach will include music from Michael Caulfield in the morning and the Moongirl band after the presentation, food, speakers and an art mural that community members can paint and which will be presented to Senator Nelson (who serves on the Environment committee). This will give Senator Nelson support to push for good legislation regarding the TransAlta coal plant.

For more information contact Robin Everett, Sierra Club, 206-378-0114.

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