Roasted Chestnuts, Special Farmers Market This Thursday

Join Sustainable West Seattle and the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance at Junction Plaza Park this Thursday, December 22, from 5 pm to 8 pm.  We’ll be set up in the park for a special West Seattle Farmers Market event.

SWS will be working with the West Seattle Farmers Market folks to hand out small containers of roasted chestnuts.  We’ve tested several recipes and after a series of kitchen experiments, we now have the right formula to give you an amazing flavorful treat.  Come on down and get your bag of roasted chestnuts, shop the market, enjoy the Junction Christmas Tree, and celebrate the holidays with us.

Sunday, December 25 and January 1 are holidays so the West Seattle Farmers Market will NOT be open and the farmers and vendors will be taking the day off.  Because that’s a long time between fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, cheeses, breads, and the rest of the great items at the market, the Farmers Market Alliance is holding this special event to celebrate the holidays and to give the farmers one last chance to market their produce and foods.

Also, whoo-hoo – December 22, Thursday, is Winter Solstice.  Starting the next day, the days begin to get longer.


Sustainable Ballard Holiday Party @ Stepping Stone

Sustainable Ballard invites you to their annual Holiday Party!!!

The affair is Thursday, December 29, from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm and will be at the Stepping Stone (21 & over), 5903 24th Ave. NW (see map below)

Please join our Ballard colleagues and get the low-down from Sustainable Ballard about what’s up in their neighborhood. Celebrate what they’ve accomplished and what is yet to come!

You can drop by anytime and raise a glass (or two) with your fellow Sustainable Ballardites. Enjoy good food and good company with old friends and new. Give and get ideas for new projects in 2012.

The Stepping Stone has a sustainable menu and decor, and,  a portion of your food and drink purchase will benefit Sustainable Ballard!

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Recycle Old Holiday Lights @ The Farmers Market


Old, broken, holiday lights can sometimes drive you crazy.  If you can’t fix them, or if you upgraded to LEDs this year, feel free to drop all those unwanted strings off at the Sustainable West Seattle’s booth this Sunday at the West Seattle Farmers Market, 10am-2pm, so they can be recycled.  Our booth should be well lit up, as The West Seattle Tool Library will also be busy using its energy monitors to demonstrate the energy usage difference between LEDs and traditional incandescents.

Stop by to drop off your old lights, feel good about your switch to LEDs, and maybe even grab a Tool Library gift membership or two.  As an added bonus, anyone who buys a gift membership to the Tool Library between now and February 4th will automatically be entered in a drawing for 2 Unrestricted, Round Trip Tickets on Alaska Airlines.


Intro to Soap Making @ The Tool Library

Homemade soaps make great gifts!  Join us as we demonstrate the basics of traditional soap making using all-natural herbs and essential oils. These are tried and true, simple methods you will be able to use at home. If there’s enough time, this class will also cover the basics of making bath salts, scrubs, teas, and oils.
Instructor: Vanessa Primer
Cost: $20 plus $5 for materials
Register Here!

Intro to Soap Making  is the final class in the Tool Library’s Homemade for the Holidays series.  All classes are held Tuesday evenings at the West Seattle Tool Library workshop at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW.

For more information on the Homemade for the Holidays series and all other events at the Tool Library, please visit The Tool Library’s Event Calendar.








CoolMom December Meeting & Gift-wrap Swap @ C&P Coffee

Hello fellow West Seattle CoolMoms!

Tonight is the December meeting/wrap-cycling fest! Bring your boxes, tins, scraps of wrapping, fabric, or ribbon and let’s share and swap our reusable wrapping materials.

Don’t forget to bring some gifts to wrap!

While we’re at it, we can share creative ways to reduce packaging and gift wrap waste, and discuss other ideas for greening our holidays. Hope to see you there!

December Meeting Information

  • Topic: Wrap Swap and Green Holidays
  • When: Wednesday, December 14th, 2011
  • Time: 7:00 – 8:30pm
  • Where: C&P Coffee

Bring your boxes, tins, scraps of wrapping, fabric, or ribbon and let’s share and swap our reusable wrapping materials. While we’re at it, we can share creative ways to reduce packaging and gift wrap waste, and discuss other ideas for greening our holidays.


Energy Blog: Superheroes Without Cape: NW Energy Group Ponders Efficiency, Grids

by Andy Silber

Not All Superheroes Wear a Cape:

Energy Wonks in Seattle for NWEC’s Fall Conference

Thirty years ago a group of intrepid energy wonks realized the solution to our energy needs was not building a bunch of expensive nuclear power plants, but to aggressively capture the cost effective energy-efficiency measures available at a fraction of the cost, risk and environmental impact. These champions of truth, justice and the Northwest way continue their struggle. Few know them: they do their work in the meeting spaces of government commissions, utility boardrooms and wherever sound energy policy is being made. Sometimes they even do their work in the meeting rooms of a downtown Seattle Red Lion Inn. This band of super-wonks is known as The NW Energy Coalition, and I attended their meeting last week. Here are some of my thoughts.

A view from inside the regulatory process

The first panel of the conference consisted of members of the regulatory commissions for Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. In addition, there were enough members of the Montana commission in the crowd to meet quorum as well as many other present and past regulators. These commissions are very reactive organizations; they review the plans of the utilities and the comments by groups like the Northwest Energy Coalition and give thumbs up or down. The primary question before them is whether a cost (like investing in energy efficiency or building a new power plant) can be included in rate calculations and what rates a utility can charge its customers. They spoke about their goal to keep costs low and how energy efficiency is the best way for utilities to meet the demands of their customers.

I asked them whether they could internalize the impact of carbon emissions by requiring the utilities to include a high carbon cost for the purpose of planning, since the federal government hasn’t acted. This would change the behavior of the utilities without imposing a politically difficult tax or cap-and-trade system. They all agreed that it was proper for the utilities to include a carbon cost based on expected federal action, but not to internalize environmental costs. In other words, as the probability of federal action decreases so will the assumed cost by northwest utilities. All of the regulators felt that dealing with climate change was someone else’s problem.

Commissioner Jeffery Gotz read the law that governs the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) and it clearly allows them to factor in environmental concerns. And they commonly do. For instance, an Integrated Resource Plan that didn’t consider salmon habitat in dam operations would be rejected.  For some reason the continued survival of salmon is an appropriate concern for the UTC (as it should be), but the survival of human civilization is Someone Else’s Problem.

This discussion also made it clear that continued pressure in DC to create a carbon cost is important, even if it fails. The higher the probability (even if we’re moving from 0 to 20% likelihood) impacts the decisions of organizations across the country.


Both of the regular readers of my blog know that I’d be interested in a panel titled “West by Northwest Energy, transmission and ecosystem challenges”. I’m still convinced that any serious effort in shutting down significant numbers of coal plants will require a modern (i.e. HVDC) grid that is planned and paid for at the federal level. The discussion of the panel focused almost entirely on projects inside the northwest, with a brief mention of upgrading our connection to southern California and the Tres Amigos project, which allows power to be exchanged between the 3 US grids (East, West, Texas). Without more transmission that connects the Northwest to the rest of the country we’ll be seeing more occasions where wind turbines are turned off  to keep us from producing more power than the region can use. If we don’t figure out a way to take advantage of the wind farms we’ve built, it’s unlikely that more will be constructed.

I asked the panel about building a national green superhighway for electricity. The response by Tom Darin of the American Wind Energy Association was interesting. He said that there had been discussions of this idea, but it didn’t go anywhere. Instead the focus was on energy efficiency (which should be a higher priority) and local/regional renewable production and transmission planning. AWEA did not oppose a national grid and no arguments were put forward against it. It is just that inertia ways heavily against tackling this problem at a national level.

If our goal is to continue operating our existing fleet of coal plants while meeting increased electricity demand due to population increases and everyone having more gadgets (aka load growth) then this is a good plan. In other words, we’re following a path that’s bad (i.e. efficiency and local renewables), because it’s a lot better than the alternative (i.e. build more coal plants). Unfortunately, this plan still leads to unacceptable emissions of carbon dioxide. We need a plan that allows us to meet our energy needs while decommissioning all of the nation’s coal powered plants. As I’ve written about already, this is possible with current technology as long as we take a national view, rather than a local one. Unfortunately, national transmission planning is also “Someone Else’s Problem”.

Safeco Field

Now here is a counter example. We were given a tour of Safeco Field and their green initiatives by Scott Jenkins, VP Ballpark Operations. Here is someone who looked at the problem of energy and resource consumption at Safeco and said “This is my problem”. Since 2005 recycling rates have gone from 12 to 81%.  Energy Use Intensity (EUI) has dropped 25% over the same period. This was not done by any heroic effort, but just by someone accepting that it was his problem and working with everyone throughout the organization to make lots of little changes.  The improvements at Safeco weren’t expensive: to the contrary they’ve saved the Mariners about $300,000 per year, or almost enough for a relief pitcher.

In addition to the work greening Safeco, the Mariners are part of the Green Sports Alliance, which works to repeat the successes there at other sports venues. By raising awareness of how easy recycling and energy conservation are to sports fans, these issues move more into the mainstream, aiding adoption of these efforts everywhere.

I believe that what has happened, and is still happening, at Safeco is the model we need to stop the climate catastrophe; everyone saying “This is my problem” and doing whatever they can to solve it.  I don’t mean to be hard on the regulators who aren’t requiring utilities to consider climate change in their planning or renewable energy advocates who focus on local concerns rather than global ones. These jobs are hard enough without taking on the burden of the whole world. But we all need to ask ourselves, “If not me, who. If not now, when”.

Help Plant Bioretention Swales in Georgetown Near Playground

Volunteers of all ages are needed to help plant a series of raingarden “bioretention swales” along South Orcas Street on Saturday, December 10th from 10:00 to 2:00 pm.

We have hundreds of plants to put in the ground, and volunteers will learn about how the swales work and how these types of projects help improve the urban environment.

To help, meet on the corner of S. Orcas Street and South Padilla (one block west of S. Corson St), in Georgetown, near the Georgetown Playground.

Snacks, tools, and instructions provided. Please RSVP to

Project History:

This project began almost a year ago, and is designed to take stormwater off the street into planted swales in the parking strip where the water will be held and filtered during large storm events. This effort will prevent polluted runoff from reaching the Duwamish River through the combined sewage system, increase native plants in the Georgetown neighborhood, beautify the street, and build community through neighborhood stewardship.

The project is a partnership of local Georgetown residents, Georgetown Community Council, SvR Design staff, Seattle Conservation Corps, Merlino Construction, and uses funding from a Puget Soundkeeper Alliance legal settlement.

On-street bioretention swales are needed as part of a larger approach to controlling polluted stormwater, and are part of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition‘s source control strategy to improve the health of the Duwamish River. Learn more about polluted stormwater and the County’s proposed improvements to the Duwamish combined sewage systems here (you can make a comment too!):

The project also is in need of arborists’ woodchips; we need about 12 cubic yards, and ideally donated.

For more information contact Cari Simson, 206-234-5102, or via email

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Full Tilt Ice Cream/White Center Hosts Dub Sea Bike Fixit Event

Last month’s closure of the Alaska Way Viaduct sparked a need for alternative transportation in White Center and West Seattle. Cycling is great cardio exercise, without adding to climate change. It is inexpensive and fun and gives you a chance to interact with the world around you. Cycling builds community and strengthens the retail core. Bicycling provides young people from diverse communities with the means to explore their neighborhoods – and the neighborhoods beyond. Cycling is an enjoyable option, inclusive across generations and ethnicities for exercise, recreation, and transportation.

White Center can become a cycling destination. Relatively flat, with many inviting greenspaces (Steve Cox Park, Roxhill Park, North Shorewood Park), and bakeries (Salvadorean Bakery, 3.14, Seattle Roll Bakery, Del Castillo Pasteleria), this neighborhood has great potential for increasing cycling. New bike parking was installed by King County recently. Cycling is an inexpensive and traditional method of transportation in developing countries.

Is your bike out of commission? Bring it to DubSea Bikes at Full Tilt Ice Cream, 9629 16th Ave SW, downtown White Center, on Sunday, December 11th, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. This free event will focus on minor repairs only to get more bikes on the street in White Center and beyond. More complex jobs may be referred out to a full bike shop.  For more information contact Ellie Weiss, 206-860-1432,

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SWS & The Tool Library Offer Round Trip Airfare Raffle


On February 21st, 2012, Sustainable West Seattle will be giving away 2 roundtrip tickets* good for anywhere Alaska Airlines or Horizon Air fly.  Raffle tickets will be awarded to all those who complete any of the following before the date of the drawing:

Raffle tickets can also be purchased at The West Seattle Tool Library during open hours.  Those who sign up or renew their memberships on the web will automatically be entered in the drawing.  There is no limit to the number of times any individual can enter, through whichever means.  SWS Board Members and their relatives are ineligible to participate.

Sustainable West Seattle and The West Seattle Tool Library sincerely thank Alaska Airlines for this kind donation as well as its continued commitment to advancing environmental responsibility in commercial aviation.  Visit here to learn more about Alaska Airline’s environmental and corporate responsibility commitments.


*These tickets are unrestricted, nonexpiring and valued at up to $1,500. They can be used on a flight anywhere Alaska Airlines or Horizon Air fly. Alaska and Horizon now fly directly to four Hawaiian Islands, several cities in Mexico, Newark, Boston, Wash. DC, Florida, Canada and, of course, almost anywhere in the state of Alaska. See a full route map here.

Walk Score Introduces New Apartment Feature

Introducing Apartment Search from Walk Score.

The local folks who created Walk Score have  launched a new site that helps you find apartments by commute time. Whether you prefer driving, public transit, walking, or biking, Walk Score can help you find a commute that fits your lifestyle.

Visit and enter your work (or school) address, select your preferred mode of transportation, and set the time slider to how long you’re willing to commute.

Apartment listings from craigslist are automatically sorted by estimated commute time and can be further filtered by Walk Score, price and size.  Walk Score is also soliciting feedback at this site: