(October 2010 West Seattle orca sighting; photo courtesy Jeff Hogan)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Want to help make the next “car-free day” on Alki more of a street party than it’s been before? Want to help save the orcas? Opportunities for both factored into Thursday night’s Alki Community Council meeting, with major topics including Alki’s Summer Streets day (just one month away, May 22nd) and imminent West Seattle milestones for The Whale Trail:
SUMMER STREETS, MAY 22: Just a bit more than one month till Alki’s next “car-free day,” part of the city’s Summer Streets series. The ACC is planning to sponsor some programming, potentially including a talent show and pet event, during the second half of the way; the first half of the day – the West Seattle 5K fundraising run/walk (presented again this year by the West Seattle High School PTSA, with co-sponsors again including WSB) – will be over by about 11:30 am.
ACC President Tony Fragada says a presence during Summer Streets day will be a good way to raise awareness about the council’s existence and mission. They’re hoping to partner with local businesses to shoulder the cost of bringing in entertainment and having a stage for it. Fragada also noted that bus routing will be different this year – with no traffic at all between 56th SW and 63rd SW (buses will be routed “around the point,” he said; we’ll be following up with SDOT on the full-route plan). ACC is also looking for vendors and activity providers to table during the afternoon – “any kind of activity vendors,” to enhance the “come out and play in the street” theme, interactive, not passive “come look at what I’m selling” type vendors. There’s space for nonprofits to table for free, too.
What’s planned so far includes games on the lawn east of Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza, and at least two musical groups are under consideration, as well as demonstrations (maybe dancing, martial arts, etc.), plus the aforementioned pet and talent events. After the meeting, event co-chair Sandy Payne provided more information on what they’re seeking for participation:
Local community groups – 501(c) 3
Activity vendors with business license:
‘THE WHALE TRAIL’ UPDATE: “We’re not pointing to anything new – just the connection that has always been there, between whales and humans … and our job is to make sure the whales make it to the next generation,” said The Whale Trail‘s executive director Donna Sandstrom, a West Seattleite, as she reminded the ACC that it’s “make it or break it” time for Puget Sound’s resident orcas. She presented a primer on her organization and its educational/awareness-raising goal, as well as the city grant it received, and the West Seattle-specific milestones that’s about to facilitate (which is why she’s been making the rounds of WS community groups, such as Fauntleroy Community Association last month).
The Whale Trail isn’t just about orcas – it’s a network of 20 sites, mostly the places where you can see other types of whales too, including visiting gray whales, and even other marine mammals – seals, sea lions, dolphins, etc., but also a few educational sites, such as the Seattle Aquarium and Vancouver (B.C.) Aquarium. She told the ACC about a “heart-stopping” experience seeing orcas at one of the ocean-coast Whale Trail sites – LaPush (map) – moments after experiencing the area’s “Welcome the Whales” ceremony yesterday. (Alki has a special home in The Whale Trail’s heart, after a launch event there in 2009 [WSB coverage here] and the September 2010 OrcaFest event [WSB coverage here].) So far, they have installed seven signs since 2010, with information about marine mammals and the area around the sign itself, and have sponsored lectures at the Duwamish Longhouse (WSB coverage here and here). As part of their city Matching Fund grant, they’re going to put up signs at four sites in West Seattle:
*Charles Richey Viewpoint
*Emma Schmitz Memorial Viewpoint
*Point Williams at Lincoln Park (by Colman Pool)
They’re also offering a pilot Orca Steward training program, with a June 11th session planned at Alki Community Center. The Whale Trail’s website – which Sandstrom noted is in the process of relaunching, by May – is at thewhaletrail.org. (You’ll hear a lot about The Whale Trail in June, too, since that’s Orca Month in the city, and the West Seattle sign launch celebration will be June 25th at the Alki Bathhouse!) And separate from events and signs, Sandstrom stressed that the orcas remain on a path to potential extinction within a century – helping them will involve cleaning up Puget Sound, protecting the chinook salmon they need to eat, and protecting them from vessel traffic that is hampering their communication and hunting (promoting land-based whale-watching is a step toward that). P.S. TWT can use help on its planning committee, too – contact them through their website or Facebook page! “I really believe that people want to do the right thing,” Sandstrom concluded. “It’s just a matter of letting them know what ‘the right thing’ is.”
CLEANING UP THE BEACH AND KEEPING IT CLEAN: President Fragada says they’re hoping to get businesses interested in regular cleanup efforts – and they’re interested in educating people to pick up after themselves. With Parks cutbacks, Fragada explained, “We’re not sure what the beach is going to look like this year.” He’s hoping to organize a work party in May to see how it goes. ACC’s David Hutchinson noted that he is part of a small volunteer effort that has been doing some cleanup work – but that’s just a start. Interested in helping? Contact ACC.
STORIES FOR THE ACC NEWSLETTER: Got something to say about Alki? The Beacon newsletter is still being published, and is in need of stories. Something to say about the beach? About living in the Alki area? About new businesses? All the info a prospective contributor could want is here.
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