All Ages Urban Nature Celebration @ Magnuson Park

The Magnuson Community Center and EarthCorps invite everyone to an Urban Nature Celebration at Magnuson Commuity Center on Sunday, April 9, from 10:30 am through 2:00 pm.

Celebrate nature in the city at Urban Nature Day at Magnuson Community Center, 7110 62nd Ave NE, and will feature:

  • A children’s concert by national award winning singer/songwriter Eric Ode
  • Presentations by Knox Cellars Bees, Bats Northwest, Roving Reptiles, and the Woodland Park Zoo
  • Interactive booths and displays, including Insect Safari, the NOAA Marine Mammal Division, and various Magnuson Park organizations
  • Art made from recycled materials
  • Nature activities featuring the new Nature Explorers Laboratory
  • Re-dedication of the Gray Whale Garden
  • A Wetland Wake-Up Walk from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.
  • A nature-themed carnival and prizes

The event is free and open to the public, and everyone is welcome. Sponsors are the Magnuson Community Center and EarthCorps. For more information, please call 206-684-7026.

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EOS Alliance, Americorps Hold Cheesemaking Class @ SU

EOS Alliance and Americorps are offering a Cheesemaking Workshop at Seattle University on Thursday, April 7, from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm.

Learning to make feta will give you the building blocks for making more difficult cheeses like cheddar, gouda, and brie without requiring any special equipment.

Feta is easy enough for beginners to make and complicated enough to be the next step for someone wanting to expand their cheesemaking knowledge. You’ll come away with knowledge of more complicated cheeses, as well as easy recipes for mascarpone, mozzarella and gouda, and a taste of some homemade feta!

About the Instructor: Jessica Dally has been a cheesemaker at Samish Bay Cheeses, is experienced in home cheesemaking, and has extensive experience teaching cheesemaking at the Seattle FreeSchool as well as to various community groups.

This workshop is open to the general public. Children with responsible guardians are very welcome.

Register at the EOS Alliance website and bring a check for the course cost ($20) made out to EOS Alliance.

The class will take place at Seattle University, 901 12th Avenue, in the  Admin building, room 220.

For more information email or visit EOS Alliance’s workshop website.

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Solar Nerd: Community-owned Solar Factory, Why Not?

Meaningful Solar Idea o’ the Day

Because Good Ideas Should Be Freed

I am so tired of having these huge ideas floating around my head and no one to share them with….so here we go. I’m opening my book to you, the sustainable community. Let’s see what happens when I turn on the idea faucet! Who’s got a bucket?

Idea 1:
Non-profit, Community Owned Photovoltaic Factory

Don’t you dare scoff! Read on! The gist is this; you can’t compete with China when it comes to manufacturing anything unless…’re not competing. What if you weren’t in business to make money but rather to make a difference?  Enter the Non-Profit Community Owned Solar Factory. By being organized as a nonprofit, grant money and tax benefits can offset the cost of solar to a point where it could be on par with the imported goods. A solar factory in West Seattle wouldn’t need to necessarily produce goods at a comparable price anyway. Washington State subsidizes local solar goods with some really good incentives that allow higher prices to be charged.

Ok, so it’s theoretically possibly produce lower-than-market-cost solar panels, great. A solar factory must cost 10’s of millions of dollars to create. Not so much. I’ve done the research, and have a quote, for all of the equipment necessary to produce 60,000, 200W solar panels a year. Enough for 4,000 average sized systems. How much is this equipment? $1.8 M. OMG, Gee whiz, holy smokes that’s a lot of money. Not really. Consider the community owned aspect of this idea. 1.8M may be a great deal for an individual to come up with, but a community such as ours….not so farfetched. Do some simple math and you can see 1.8M/$5000 = 360 people putting up $5k. I got 5k on it.

So 360 people putting up $5k gets us the equipment, what about the building? Well, it just so happens that WS has an industrial area in need of some serious rehab. The Duwamish Corridor is an EPA Superfund site. Tell me a better place to plant a cleantech seed! A nonprofit could lease a space for low cost instead of buying. You only need 6,000 square feet for the equipment and maybe another $30k for the electrical and plumbing build out. Not too bad so far.

The biggest cost of manufacturing solar modules comes from procuring the solar cells, solder, framing, glass and backsheets. If you were going to go all out and procure the entire 60,000 panels worth of materials you’d be looking at another $20M or so. Granted, that’s an intimidating amount but you don’t have to get a year’s worth of materials all at once, start smaller. Or, add in some Department of Energy grant money, maybe some Bill and Melinda money, oh heck, how about some Costco, Boeing, and Amazon money while we’re at it (after all, they will be customers of this new entity, right?). Pretty soon, our little $22M dollar community solar factory is accomplishable, likely even. We have the human resources right here in town to make this happen. Toss in some local grant writers, Sustainability group volunteers, a couple politicians, a solar expert or two, and viola! Homegrown solar factory.

The nonprofit can then train solar educators and sponsor events where the community learns about the benefits of having solar, how it works, the incentives, etc. They are introduced to the “new cost” of going solar, the one with the nonprofit profit margin.

The nonprofit can also train solar installers to install and maintain the modules that are being produced. You want to talk about job creation!! Educators, trades people, grant writers, nonprofit leaders…all of the jobs that are in jeopardy in the present day will have useful places in this arena.

Bottom line: The only thing in recession is the old way of making money. A nonprofit can provide meaningful work, health care, and living wages for all those involved instead of just a few on top. It just takes us getting together to make it happen. I’m all for this one, that’s why I’m sharing it. If you are interested in chatting it up, just shoot a call or email.

As always, take care.

Eric Thomas is the proprietor of Solar Epiphany, a West Seattle business specializing in Solar Education, Installation and Advocacy. Find Solar Epiphany online at and at 6016 B California Ave SW, in the Morgan Junction area.

Local Disaster Preparedness Group Starts Training Classes

West Seattle Be Prepared, the West Seattle emergency preparedness organization, is launching a new training an education series with the intent of making West Seattle citizens the most educated, well-trained and most prepared community.

The series kicks off Thursday, April 7, with a presentation and free training by King County Red Cross at 6:00 pm.

  • Deb Ticknor, Red Cross Readiness Manager, will explain how the Red Cross responds to local disasters;
  • David Shannon, Distaster Education Program Manager, has an interactive disaster preparedness presentation for individuals and families;
  • CPR (CardioPulmonary Resuscitation) and First Aid techniques and training will be demonstrated

The training and demonstrations will take place at the Senior Center of West Seattle, on SW Oregon St. around the northeast corner of California Ave. SW, at 4217 SW Oregon St.

Some of the issues the series hopes to help you answer include:

For questions and more information, contact Debora Greer at, or by phone at 206-856-5147.

Metro Hosting West Seattle Transportation Focus Group

King County Metro is hosting a transportation focus group for West Seattle residents this April.

King County Metro is bringing a new program to West Seattle in the Admiral, Alaska, and Morgan Junction neighborhoods. The focus groups are designed to help shape a new program to increase the number of people walking, biking, taking the bus, and carpooling in and out of West Seattle.

The focus group will be hosted on the following days/times:

  • Wednesday April 6th at Gatewood Elementary, 4320 SW Myrtle Street from 6:00pm to 7:30pm

Participants will receive a 2011 Chinook Book a guide to living well and having fun in the Puget Sound good for savings of up to $3,000 at local businesses. Food and beverages will be provided.

Space is limited. Reserve your spot at or by calling Derrick Van Kirk 206-652-2310 or emailing

Barton Basin Sewer Overflow Project Public Meeting

King County Wastewater Treatment Division will be hosting a community meeting for Westwood and Sunrise Heights neighbors to discuss the Barton Basin CSO-GSI Project.

The meeting is Wednesday, April 6, from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm at the Westside School, 7740 34th Avenue SW, the new name for the red-brick school one block east of 35th just south of SW Holden St.

Come  learn more about the proposed Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) project to control combined sewer overflows (CSO) at the Barton Pump Station near the Fauntleroy Ferry Dock.

This is the first of many opportunities for community participation and to learn more details about the project.  Meeting summaries will be posted on the following website – Seattle/BeachCSO/MeetingCalendar.aspx

For more information, special accommodations, or if you are unable to attend the meeting and would like arrange a small group meeting, please contact Maryann Petrocelli 206-263-732

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Tool of the Week: The Power Plane

By Patrick Dunn

There’s a beautiful image that comes to mind when you think of an old woodworker in his shop, shaving off a paper thin slice of red cedar with a jack plane as the wood burning stove in the corner helps heat up a kettle of coffee for break time.

This picturesque scene surely still takes place here in Seattle but often there are a few modern conveniences thrown in to alter that nostalgic vision and maybe add a little noise and dust to the recipe. Among other tools, a power plane is usually one of the key culprits…and with good reason.

The power plane is designed to accomplish the same task as a traditional plane, which is mainly to smooth, flatten, straighten, or square off a wooden workpiece. With its additional muscle, however, it can far outperform a traditional plane in terms of speed and productivity. This performance undoubtedly comes at the cost of a little bit of finesse and woodworking poetry. Once you use a power plane, though, it’ll still be difficult to revert back to the aesthetic beauty of traditional planes.

Unlike a traditional plane with a solid base and an adjustable blade, a power plane has front and rear base plates and a non-adjustable blade drum. Rather than adjusting the blade, a user selects how much material to remove simply by rotating the front handle, which raises or lowers the front plate. The difference between the height of the front plate and the rear plate will then determine the amount of material that the plane removes.

Throughout these adjustments, the power plane’s blades remain fixed on a rotating drum, much like on a jointer. The smooth cutting action that results allows the power plane to handle wavy grain or knots with barely a change in pace.

To the inexperienced user, though, that smoothness can be both a help and hindrance, as it makes it much more difficult to feel the cut and to understand what the tool is actually doing. It’s also sometimes hard to tell when the wood grain of a workpiece suddenly changes direction, a variable that is crucial to fine woodworking. Users who are new to power planes and trying for that pretty look therefore often end up with a little cleanup work to do after they’ve completed the planning process.

Once you get the hang of it, though, the power plane can be a thing of beauty, even to the most hardened and stubborn, traditional woodworker.

The Power Plane is just one of over 1,000 tools currently available at the West Seattle Tool Library, which is free to use and run primarily on user donations. If you or someone you know you would like to be involved in The Tool Library, feel free to drop in on Saturdays from 9am-2pm or Sundays from 1-5pm to explore the Library, meet our community of DIYers, and maybe sign up for a membership. In any case, we look forward to meeting you!

The Tool Library is currently located in the LHO Complex off the North Entrance to South Seattle Community College, 6000 16th Ave SW. In April, however, the Tool Library will complete its move to the Denis Jorum Workshop at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW, and begin full operations at that location.

Follow us on:
Twitter: @WSToolLibrary
and Meetup:

Ground Bird Nesting Season Is Here – Keep Dogs Leashed

Seattle Parks and Recreation wants to remind us all that ground bird nesting season has started and all parks users are asked to be more sensitive than usual to the habitat and environment in parks.

More Importantly: Keep dogs on leashes except in off-leash areas.

Native ground birds around Seattle have begun to nest, and Seattle Parks and Recreation asks that park users show sensitivity to bird habitat by avoiding disturbing habitat and keeping dogs on short, retractable leashes, especially in developed or natural areas with shrub beds, meadows, wetlands, long grass, or thick areas of brush.

At Magnuson Park, for example, native birds such at Mallards, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpipers, Willow Flycatchers, Bewick’s Wrens, Pacific Wrens, Common Yellowthroats, Song Sparrows, Savannah Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, and Spotted Towhees all nest at the park, either on or very near the ground. Some species raise their nestlings and fledglings (baby birds) until their feathers grow enough for them to fly. For most native bird species, nesting season lasts into August.

Disturbances like allowing dogs to run through these areas will flush the birds out of their nests and may cause nest failure or death of the baby birds. Parks asks park users to let dogs off leash only in designated off-leash areas and to avoid areas where birds may be nesting. By ordinance, the shorelines are off limits to dogs with the exception of the off-leash area at Magnuson Park. Information about Seattle’s 11 off-leash areas is available online at

The birds need park users’ help and protection so that they can produce young this season. If park users see a nest or baby bird, Parks asks that they please keep their distance and leave the birds undisturbed.

Parks Selects 2012 Events for Magnuson’s Hangar 30

Parks Department selects results of random drawing for use of Hangar 30 at Magnuson Park for 2012 season.

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; it included a random drawing of organizations that applied for a permit. The intent is to provide equal access to this unique space.

A member of the Board of Park Commissioners, Diana Kincaid, conducted the drawing on Monday, March 7. The results are:

  1. 1st quarter: Seattle Tilth
  2. 2nd quarter: NW Craft Alliance
  3. 3rd quarter: Friends of the Seattle Public Library
  4. 4th quarter: Pancreatic Cancer Walk

Events participating in the drawing had to be sponsored by non-profit organizations and open to the public, had to make full use of the space, and had to be consistent with Magnuson Park’s mission to support arts, recreation, culture and the environment.

Organizations were allowed to send applications for a maximum of two events – one event in each of two quarters, and each organization selected is allowed only one event during the quarter for which they have applied.

The organizations that were not successful in the drawing are Best of the Northwest, the Seattle Gymnastics Booster Club, and the Arboretum Foundation.

For more information, please call Charles Ng, Manager of Magnuson Park and Business Resources, at 206-684-8001 or email him at