Help King County Prioritize Environmental Goals: Use Online Budget Planner

KCparks viewThe King County Department of Natural Resources would like to hear from you about how you would prioritize King County’s environmental goals to help the county continue to plan for a greener future.

How would you prioritize King County’s environmental goals?

Let’s pretend you have a budget of $100 for King County’s environmental work. How would you spend it on three or more of the County’s environmental goals? Find the environmental goals that you would like King County to prioritize, then allocate a portion of your imaginary $100. Total spending should add up to $100. Click here to give your ideas to make King County greener?  The question will be open for comment until December 24.

OneKingCounty.info is an online platform that provides opportunities for government and citizens to work together to improve our communities and environment through digital civic engagement.

Saturday, November 8, is Green Seattle Day: Help Here in West Seattle!

Green Seattle Partnership logoWest Seattle is near many wonderful green natural spaces.  Some of these include areas with urban forests.  Did you know that urban forests are an intricate and vital part of Seattle’s natural space?  Urban parks and forests also contribute to the health of communities and neighborhoods as a common space shared by all kinds of people.  But, did you also know that your Local Urban Forests need you?

Join the Green Seattle Partnership on Saturday, November 8th, as we kick off planting season and celebrate Seattle’s urban forests and all they do for us with a day of volunteerism in 21 parks throughout the City.

The 9th Annual Green Seattle Day is a perfect time to roll up your sleeves and have a lasting impact on your community that you will be able to watch grow. This volunteer opportunity is a great way to see a physical difference in your community.  Seola parkthe Orchard Street Ravine, and Westcrest Park will all have volunteers out to help restore and conserve our urban forested areas.

This event is Green Seattle’s biggest event of the year.  Green Seattle Day is a great chance for first-time and long-time volunteers to help grow the forest in their own city by planting trees and other plants in city parks.

This year our main site will meet at the Rainier Beach Community Center (lunch included after planting), but there are 17 other locations around the city that need volunteers, so check out the full list here, pick your lucky park, and sign sign up now so that we can plan the best event for everyone.

To join us at the main site, sign up to volunteer at the East Duwamish GreenbeltKubota GardensLakeridge Park, or Rainier Beach Urban Farm & Wetlands, and meet at the Rainier Beach Community Center at 9am.

Green Seattle Day is great for all ages. We’ll bring the gloves, tools, and all of the plants, you bring the helping hands! Coffee and snacks provided at all sites, so register early so that we can have enough for everyone. Please dress for the weather, and wear sturdy shoes that can get wet and a little dirty. This is our biggest party of the year and we want you there! More information available at www.greenseattle.org. Please contact Norah Kates at info@greenseattle.org, or call 206-905-6943 with any questions.

 

Metropolitan Parks District Now Reality: City Seeks Oversight Committee Members, Applications Due October 20

MPD logoThe Seattle City Council and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray are seeking candidates to fill seven positions on the Seattle Park District’s newly created Community Oversight Committee. The Seattle Park District was approved by Seattle voters in August 2014, creating a sustainable and long-term source of funding for the Seattle parks system.

The Community Oversight Committee will provide advice to the Mayor, City Council and the Superintendent of Parks and Recreation, as well as provide oversight of projects, programs and services undertaken by the City and the Seattle Park District. The committee will meet quarterly to:

  • Make recommendations on the allocation of the Major Projects Challenge Fund;
  • Hold public meetings and make recommendations to update the next spending plan;
  • Review the Department of Parks and Recreation Annual Report; and
  • Provide the Mayor, City Council and Superintendent of Parks and Recreation with annual reports on the progress of expenditures and projects.

The Committee will be composed of 15 members, seven members of the public (one from each Seattle district), four Board or Commission members to be recommended by Seattle City Boards & Commissions and four members from the Seattle Board of Park Commissioners.  Each will serve either a one, two or three year term, to be determined during the selection process.

The City seeks to appoint Community Oversight Committee members with a diversity of expertise and perspectives including, but not limited to parks management, public financing, urban horticulture, landscape architecture, contract management and the interests of low-income and communities of color. The Committee’s first official meeting will be held in April 2015, but members should be available to meet before this date, in early 2015.

The Council and the Mayor are committed to promoting diversity in the city’s Committees. Women, persons with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community and persons of color are highly encouraged to apply.

To be considered, please send a letter of interest indicating which district you represent and resume by October 20, 2014 to Councilmember Jean Godden, jean.godden@seattle.gov. Please title subject line: Oversight Committee Application. Electronic submissions are preferred. To send a paper submittal, please address to:

Councilmember Jean Godden
PO Box 34025
Seattle, WA 98124

Pathfinder K-8 School Has New 2500-gallon Cistern for Earth Project Garden

pathfinder cistern

Sustainable West Seattle is excited to announce the completion of a new 2500-gallon rainwater harvesting system at Pathfinder K-8 school that will be used to irrigate its  extensive school garden.  SWS was a significant part of this project, donating volunteer labor through school parent Bill Reiswig and through a small grant from SWS’s storm water project Tox-ick.org.

The newly-installed system harvests rainwater that falls on the metal roof of the school and stores it for future use.  It has a 50+ gallon first-flush feature that removes potential pollutants from the water, and features an irrigation line that runs to a conveniently located hose-bib.  The system is gravity-pressurized at this time, but could be modified in the future with a solar-powered pump.

The rainwater system is an essential piece in the growing Pathfinder school garden.  The garden is designed with ecological principles and this system reflects that.   Water harvested from the roof diverts stormwater from the City of Seattle’s sewer system, saves money and uses local water rather than water moved from a great distance.  Water harvested in the winter and spring by this system can water vegetables grown in Seattle’s dry summers.  The rainwater system represents a great learning opportunity for students in understanding our water cycle, the mathematics of rate and flow, and the ecological principles involved.

This system reflects the work of teachers, parents, and students thru Pathfinders Pathfinder’s K-8 “Earth Project”.  The Earth Project  is a collaboration between local non-profit Nature Consortium and Pathfinder teachers, parents, and greater community.

Bill Reiswig, Bruce Hostedder and Patrick Loderhose (both of EarthSystems NW) by the cistern they installed at Pathfinder School.

Bill Reiswig, Bruce Hostedder and Patrick Loderhose (both of EarthSystems NW) by the cistern they installed at Pathfinder School.

The project was funded through small garden and water grants from BECU, Whole Foods, and from local non-profit Sustainable West Seattle and it’s Tox-ick stormwater project.

The system was designed and installed by EarthSystems NW, who offer innovative and economical ideas for conserving and harnessing our most vital resource: water.

Bill Reiswig, Bruce Hostedder and Patrick Loderhose (both ESNW) installed the sytem in 5 days of work during the past couple of weeks.  It is being recieved with excitement by the school, students and teachers.

Learn Sustainable Garden & Water Management Practices @ UW Botanic Center Classes

UW Botanic GardenLandscape for Life™ demystifies sustainability for home gardeners

The University of Washington Botanic Gardens is hosting four Thursday evening classes on sustainable garden practices and water management.  The classes are on Thursday, September 25  through October 16, and start at 6:30 pm and end at 9:00 pm.

Are you a homeowner who wants to create and maintain your own healthy, sustainable landscape? Through instructor-led presentations, class discussions, and activities, you will deepen your understanding of how to get the most out of water in your garden, how to build healthy soils with minimal outside inputs, how to use native and climate-adapted plants for the Pacific Northwest, and how to find the most environmentally-friendly landscape materials. Students will analyze their own home landscape focusing on soils, water, plants, and use of materials. Landscape for LifeTM was developed by the US Botanical Garden and Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center to the University of Texas in Austin.

There is a cost, $125 before September 19, and $150 after. You can Register Online or call 206-685-8033 to register.

The classes will be taught by instructor Barbara DeCaro, a horticulturist working for Seattle Parks and Recreation. She develops best practices for managing public landscapes and provides training programs in landscape management for parks staff. She is a certified Instructor for Landscape for LifeTM and also develops teaching materials and provides instruction for the landscape industry in the ecoPRO – Sustainable Landscape Professional Program. Barbara is a life-long gardener and life-long learner, with over 40 years working in public gardens and landscapes.[mappress mapid=”539″]

Lowman Beach-Murray CSO Project Update

IMG_1508Crews finished installing the outer wall of the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Control Project storage tank on Wednesday, August 13. The 80-foot deep underground wall is made out of four-foot wide concrete cylinders called secant piles. The secant piles interlock to form a watertight ring that will house the storage tank. Crews began installing the secant piles in late May. The secant pile drill and crane will leave the site by August 22. King County and its contractor know that installing the outer wall was loud and disruptive. Thank you for your patience during this work.

The County contractor will spend the rest of August preparing to dig out the area within the outer wall where the tank will be built. Pumps will be installed to control groundwater inside the ring and excess concrete will be removed from the work area. Platforms for the digging equipment will also be built.

To protect public safety, the eastern side of Beach Drive SW is closed. Pedestrians and bicyclists should use Beach Drive SW’s western sidewalk. Southbound vehicles should use the access road southwest of Lowman Beach Park when turning around to head north on Beach Drive SW.

What to expect:

  • Work from 7 am – 6 pm on weekdays
  • Backhoes, pumps and trucks working on and around the project site
  • Equipment stored within the fenced-off area of Lowman Beach Park
  • Increased noise and activity
  • No parking or access on the eastern side of Beach Drive SW
  • No access to Beach Drive SW’s eastern sidewalk during work hours
  • Limited parking on the western side of Beach Drive SW
  • Continued access to Beach Drive SW and Lowman Beach Park

As always, please let us know if you have any questions. You can email Doug Marsano, KC Wastewater Community Liaison at Doug.Marsano@kingcounty.gov or call the 24-hour construction hotline at 206-205-9186.

Annual SWS Picnic: Eat, Enjoy Community Orchard, Learn, Drink, Socialize, Share

COWs-overviewCome see what were up to. The Sustainable West Seattle annual picnic is Thursday August 21st.

This year the picnic will be held at the Community Orchard of West Seattle.  The Community Orchard is a project of SWS and is located on the South Seattle College campus at the north end adjacent to the Horticulture Center.

Start time for the picnic is 6:00pm and will continue until 9:00 pm.

The address is 6000 16th Ave. SW, use the North Entrance to the college campus and then head east toward the orchard and greenbelt area.  Bus access is through Metro Routes 125 and 128. Buses stop at the central entrance to the college.  You will need to walk to the northern end, which is about a 5 minute walk.

Come tour the orchard, hike through the arboretum, press some apples for cider and blend some smoothies on a pedal powered blender.

Bring chairs, reusable or compostable plates and utensils and a main dish or salad to share or something to throw on the grill. We will provide charcoal grills, tables, drinks and musical entertainment.

This is an after-hours weekday event, we hope to see you there!

Seattle Trees for Neighborhoods: Get Up To 4 Free Trees for Yard or Parking Strip

trees for neighborhoods logoFree Trees for Your Home!

Trees for Neighborhoods helps Seattle residents plant trees around their home. Through the City of Seattle’s Trees for Neighborhoods program, Seattle residents have planted over 4,000 trees since 2009. That’s 4,000 more trees that help clean our air and water, make our streets more walkable, and our neighborhoods safer and healthier. Join the movement this year—plant a tree and help grow Seattle’s urban forest!

The 2014 application season kicks off on Monday, August 4th at 10:00 am. Seattle residents are eligible to apply for up to four free trees to plant in their yards and within their planting strips. Residents who participate also receive free watering bags, training on proper tree planting and care, and workshop opportunities. This year, the program is offering 12 tree species ranging from large native conifers to small deciduous trees appropriate for planting under power lines and along the street. Some favorites this year include Douglas fir, black tupelo, and incense cedar. Check out the complete list and see photos at our website here: http://www.seattle.gov/trees/availabletrees2014.html.

Trees4NeighborhoodsReady to plant a tree? Visit www.seattle.gov/trees for a list of this year’s tree species and a link to the online application, which opens Monday, August 4th. Trees go very quickly, so mark your calendar and apply early!

All questions about the program should be directed to TreesforNeighborhoods@seattle.gov or 206-684-3979. Katie Gibbons is the Seattle reLeaf Project Manager doe Seattle Public Utilities,  Contact her at Katie.Gibbons@Seattle.gov or at the number above.

Delridge Grocery Coop Launches Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Farmstand

DelridgeGroceryWebLogoThe Delridge Grocery Coop has exciting news to announce: The Friday Farmstand launches this week!

Finally – fresh, local, sustainable fruits and vegetables in Delridge.

Come by every Friday all summer from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm at 5435 Delridge Way SW.  This is two doors south of the library, and across the street from Delridge Grocery Coop’s future full-service grocery location.

Celebrate the launch this Friday, July 18th, with free lemonade at the farmstand, and a fun comedy event afterwards from 8-12 at the Skylark Cafe.

  • Want to be more involved? 
  • Volunteer and take home free produce!

Help run the produce stand and take home some leftovers! It’s easy and fun, and we’ll provide training.

Sign up for volunteer shifts online

Join the Canning Club!

Do you like canning pickles and jams to save for the winter? Join Friday Farmstand Canning Club and get first crack and discount prices on bulk quantities of leftover produce!

To sign up, email Farmstand Manager Ariana at taylorstanley@gmail.com with your name and phone number. You must be available to pick-up produce after the farmstand, at 7:30 pm on Fridays.

Need a lesson in canning? Check out offerings from Seattle Tilth or Delridge’s own Little Red Hen Project.

Help the Delridge Grocery Coop Spread the word!

They need lots of word-of-mouth marketing to make this farmstand a success! How you can help:

For more information contact Ariana Taylor-Stanley, Farmstand Manager, at 206-660-8958, or by email at

taylorstanley@gmail.com.

Energy Blog: World of Tomorrow-2047: Earth & Mars On Different Paths

In a Climate Changed World: Chapter 3 – By Andy Silber
August 24th, 2047
ICE3 Station, Greenland

Greenland harborToday the ship has come to pick us up. For over two decades I’ve been here keeping the glaciers from flowing into the ocean. The press release talked about the cost and better ways to spend our resources, but we know the real reason. Once the rains came, it was hopeless. At first we only had to deal with the melting ice and refreeze whatever made it to the ground. That we could do and keep the water from lubricating the glaciers and speeding their path to the ocean. Once a year or so, a pipe would break and need to be replaced. Once the rains came, we could only turn the water to slush, which lubricated the ice and there was nothing we could do to slow the inevitable march to the sea. Now our pipes are breaking every month. It’s just a matter of years, maybe a decade, until Greenland is ice free. It actually doesn’t matter whether the ice melts or not. Once it is floating, rather than resting on land, the seas go up.

It seems like it was a lifetime ago that I was in the NOAA Corp and I told one of the researchers I was interested in glaciers. He suggested I volunteer for the Greenland Ice Dam project. I was here when the power line came in from Iceland, when the drilling started, when the fusion reactor went online. I’m the only one left from those early days. I’ve spent half of the last 20 years on this rock, 10 days on, 10 days off.

[see author’s note at end][Read Chapter 2][read Chapter 4]

After growing up in Akron, who would have imagined I would have spent half my adult life in Greenland and the other half in Iceland. I’m not quite ready to retire, but I’ve been too busy to think about what’s next. Maybe I’ll make up for being away from my wife, Emelía, and stay home and putter in the garden. I could write a book about the history of the ice dams, in the spirit of “My Life in Kenya” by Lionel Hardcastle. Sara is in college in Rejevik and Aron is busy on his aqua farm, so it would be quiet, but not as quiet as Greenland.

When the fish stocks crashed, Iceland was one of the most impacted countries in the world. Only 1% of the country is arable, so much of the food has always come from the sea. Modern sea farming was born in Iceland, out of necessity. Aron loves tending his kelp and sea grass and harvesting the fish who live there. Fishing has become like raising cattle or sheep: tend the land; harvest the animal. One funny thing is Iceland is one of the few places where our accessible land is increasing. Rising sea levels have been compensated by melting glaciers. Of course, none of that land is suitable for farming: it’s just rock that’s scraped clean of anything resembling soil.aquaculture

Maybe the ice dams have bought us enough time. Dikes have been built, people have migrated uphill or inland. The glaciologists estimate that the ice dams bought us at least five years and maybe ten. That sounds like a good investment to me. Now that the glaciers are moving.

At least a boat came to pick us up. When the MEP closed up shop, we left the Martians on Mars. The terraforming is going well, so maybe that’s for the best. Once a week they broadcast a status report and it’s the highlight of my week. I guess I connect with them, since we’re both on a barren, isolated rock. The difference is I get to go home to the “lushness” of Iceland every month. On Mars the algae is doing well, the asteroids continue to bring them water and there’s even a patch of grass thriving in Ylla. You can’t walk around without a rebreather, but they have hope. The population was 8,500 when the Ark stopped coming, now it’s 9,200. Those children are the real Martians; the ones who have never lived on Earth. They’ve even started building things that they can no longer count on getting from Earth. Raw materials will be the easy part: they’ve already sampled the meteorites from the terraforming effort and they’ve got enough metals, including rare-earth metals, to keep them busy for generations.

I can’t help but feel that the closing of MEP is part of a bigger, scarier development. The progress of civilization has been about an expanding sense of Us as opposed to Them. First it was family, then clan, village, town, city, country. The Mars Exploration Program was the ultimate realization of that: every country in the world sent people to Mars, expanding Us to including not only everyone on Earth, but also everyone on Mars. I believe that this was the pinnacle of human civilization. Since then it’s been nothing but contraction. International trade has dropped, since many ports have shut down due to the rising sea level. Travel is less common, both because of cost and fear of spreading diseases. Our focus has turned inward and it seems to become more closed every year.

The harvesting of the northern bogs for fertilizer has reduced the fires and been used to halt the desertification that was happening as rain patterns shifted and the globe heated. It’s slow going, but it has already reduced the fires enough that atmospheric CO2 levels have started to drop for the first time in about 250 years. At this rate, in 30 years we’ll be back down to 400 ppm.

Irish bog farmingOur ship is in port. All of the critical materials have been loaded on board. Most everything is being left behind. The fusion reactors have been decommissioned and we’re running just on the HVDC line from Iceland. Given my veteran status, I’ve been given the dubious honor of throwing the switch that turns everything remaining off. It’s like pulling the plug on the life-support on a loved one: it’s painful, but you know that the time has come and it’s the right thing to do. Good-bye old friend.

I’m trying something different than my previous blog posts here. Rather than describing current technologies or policy questions or what I think we should do, here I’m delving into speculative fiction: what do I think might be in store for us if we continue on our current path. This is definitely not a best case scenario, but I don’t believe it’s the worst case either. On a scale of 1 (your grandchildren are going to live in a world that resembles “The Road” ) and 10 (Technology will save the day and it’s not too late), I’d probably give this a … now that would be a spoiler. 

I’m writing this in installments in the spirit of Dickens and Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles”. Unlike them, I’m not a great writer, so I don’t expect to win a Nobel, Pulitzer, Hugo or a Newbery. But maybe this will be made into a mini-series on SyFy. Also, for fans of classic science fiction, I’ve thrown in some references or out-right theft. 

I hope you enjoy the first piece of fiction that I’ve written that wasn’t assigned in school. – Andy Silber