West Seattle, Washington
Thanks to Fauntleroy Creek steward Judy Pickens for the top photo and report (and headline!):
Today’s salmon release in Fauntleroy Park was the last for retiring fifth-grade teacher Tim Hannah. He’s spent most of his 28-year career at Alki Elementary and initiated the Salmon in the Schools rearing project there in 1992.
(Photo courtesy Karisa MacLachlan)
Alki’s release was No. 13 for Fauntleroy Watershed Council volunteers, with six more to go. By the end of the month, an estimated 750 students will have enriched the creek with about 2,200 coho fry.
After that, the next seasonal touchpoint for Fauntleroy Creek and its salmon happens this fall, when volunteers watch for spawners.
Cathy Phillips from King County Public Health and Julianne Ruffner from the state Ecology Department (below) visited Alki Beach this morning, to sample the water while providing a quick media briefing on the BEACH program, which monitors the water at “high-use saltwater beaches” between Memorial Day and Labor Day. (Here’s the draft list for this year.)
Whether you’re going to Alki or one of the other beaches on the list, their message is to “surf the web before you surf the beach” – check online before you go into the water – look at this map to see if there’s an advisory where you’re going. The BEACH program samples water at its designated beaches every week; Phillips explained that the water is shipped to the lab the same day it’s gathered, and they find out within about 24 hours whether there’s a problem. Be careful after a storm, she warned, because rain can change the water quality even from whatever a previous day’s tests showed. You can help keep the water safe, the program advises – “pick up after your pets, have toddlers wear swim diapers, make sure young children get frequent bathroom breaks, and pick up your trash. Avoid feeding the wildlife.”
In our most recent update on the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control facility across from Lowman Beach Park – now complete after more than three years of construction – King County mentioned that the fences would come down this week and the stairway through the site would be open to the public. We just checked back for the first time in several days, and indeed, it is.
That opens up Puget Sound views from atop the facility – which holds a million-gallon storage tank to prevent/reduce overflows during storms – and from the stairway landings (photo above). You also can get a closer look at artist Robert Horner‘s “rammed-earth” installations:
As mentioned in the last update, a community celebration is planned on June 10th, 10 am-noon.
(Click for full-size PDF version of map)
If you live in the highlighted areas of eastern West Seattle – this is for you. Seattle Public Utilities is launching the Longfellow Creek “natural drainage systems” project – meant to find ways to keep runoff out of the creek, via raingarden-type installations, among other things. Here’s the announcement we received today, including a survey:
Seattle Public Utilities is working to reduce polluted stormwater runoff from entering the Longfellow basin water system. As part of this effort, we are designing and constructing 7 – 10 blocks of Natural Drainage Systems (NDS) in the Longfellow Creek basin.
SPU is currently working to determine where we can partner with other city departments on related projects and which blocks will be technically feasible for NDS placement. While SPU can only build these systems where it is technically feasible, we would like to incorporate community input into the final decision. (Please see the map for our initial analysis of potentially feasible areas in your neighborhood, where input from the community is needed.)
As part of this effort, SPU is sending a mailing (the attached letter, project brochure, and survey) to residents located on these potentially feasible blocks. We need input from folks who live directly on these project blocks to help inform our final NDS siting decisions. The cutoff for the survey (linked here) is May 26, 2017.
Please feel free to contact Luis Ramirez, project manager, at Luis.Ramirez@seattle.gov or 206-684-3660, or April Mills, Line of Business Representative, at April.Mills@seattle.gov or 206-733-9816 for eligibility requirements or our survey outreach approach. Visit our SPU project page for additional information.
As the brochure says, construction is expected to happen in 2019. City and county “natural drainage systems” projects are already in place in other parts of West Seattle including Highland Park, South Delridge, Sunrise Heights, and Westwood.
Until 5 pm, you can visit 4 West Seattle stops on the free Northwest Green Home Tour. Here’s the list, south to north:
9323 31ST PLACE SW: Above, Parie Hines of LD Arch Design (WSB sponsor), architect for two of today’s stops. This one transformed a “typical warbox” with “a family-sized porch & 2-story addition.” The builders were Mighty House Construction, whose Doug Elfline is there talking with visitors, too.
3726 SW AUSTIN: Mighty House also remodeled the kitchen that’s being shown off at this stop.
WEST SEATTLE NURSERY: As noted when it opened, the expansion building here was designed by Hines and built by Ventana Construction (WSB sponsor), whose co-proprietor Anne Higuera was leading a tour when we stopped by:
The tour website explains that while this is a commercial building, “it features many strategies that can be used in green homes.”
While the tour continues tomorrow, the West Seattle stops are today only, until 5 pm.
12:04 PM: The free shredding (and e-cycling) event in The Junction right now is so popular (as noted in comments on today’s West Seattle Saturday preview), Cara Mohammadian from event sponsor Windermere called to say they have a second truck on the way and so they’re extending the time – instead of a 1 pm cutoff, they’ll go until ~3 or until the second truck is full. It’s happening in the Junction parking lot off 42nd SW just south of SW Oregon.
12:46 PM: That was fast – just got another update; the second truck’s full and they’re wrapping up. Anybody else sponsoring a shredding event in the area sometime this year, let us know – obviously a big demand (people had been asking us about this one for months).
Been wondering about the status of the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control facility across from Lowman Beach, with construction crews gone but fences still up? We requested an update yesterday, and received this today:
With restoration work complete, King County’s contractor will remove fencing around the facility site during the first week of May. The public staircase will be open once the fencing is removed. The fencing around Lowman Beach Park will remain in place through the spring until the grass is established.
King County will raise the height of some sections of railing on the facility roof to enhance site security and safety. You may see temporary barriers in place until this update is complete. The staircase will remain open to the public during this work.
SAVE THE DATE!
Community celebration & facility tours
Saturday, June 10
10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Murray Wet Weather Facility
The County will host a community event on Saturday, June 10 to celebrate the completion of the project and to thank you for your continued patience during construction. Please stop by to:
· Take a tour of the facility (tours inside the facility building are limited to those ages nine and up)
· Learn about how the facility and underground storage tank protect water quality and public health
· Share your feedback about the project and construction process
The heart of the facility is a million-gallon underground-storage tank to hold overflows during storms, which previously would have spilled into Puget Sound. It’s been operational since last November. Construction began more than three years earlier, with the demolition of residential buildings that were previously on the site.
With the rain record we’ve just set, it’s almost humorous that there wasn’t a drop in sight when RainWise threw a party today at Peace Lutheran Church in Gatewood, in honor of the “green stormwater infrastructure” that has lessened the load on the combined-sewer system in the area, to reduce the chances of overflows into Puget Sound.
The church is in what King County refers to as the “Barton basin,” where combined-stormwater overflow control has been put into place via projects like this as well as the county-installed raingardens and bioswales in nearby Westwood and Sunrise Heights a short distance to the east.
Here’s a map showing green-stormwater-infrastructure projects around Seattle and King County.
If you dropped off something during Sunday’s Recycle Roundup at Fauntleroy Church, you were part of a BIG turnout, despite the rain! Judy Pickens shares the report:
Sunday’s Recycle Roundup at Fauntleroy Church returned a near-record 20 tons of recyclables to the resource stream, bringing to 180 tons the total since the congregation’s Green Committee initiated this twice-yearly service in 2010. The crew from 1 Green Planet unloaded a record 450 vehicles and will be back to do it again on September 24.
P.S. If you couldn’t get to that event but have electronics to recycle – or something to shred – take note of this event next Saturday in The Junction (10 am-1 pm April 29th).
Outside Fauntleroy Church (9140 California SW), the spring Recycle Roundup is in its second hour, with a steady stream of people dropping off items to be recycled through nonprofit 1 Green Planet. You’re invited to do the same – no charge – until 3 pm today. The friendly folks at the church Green Committee, who coordinate this twice a year, are hoping you can go sooner rather than later, so everyone can be processed as quickly as possible and there’s no last-hour backup.
P.S. Here again is the list of what you can and can’t recycle there today.
Most recent years, Pigeon Point Park near Pathfinder K-8 School has had the biggest volunteer turnout for the multi-site twice-annual Duwamish Alive! events, and so far as we’ve heard, today kept that tradition going. Another tradition – music:
We found Jimmy Knodle on the northwest edge of the work zone – he had just stopped playing his trumpet when we pulled over, but posed for a photo. Elsewhere, Ricky Gene Powell was singing and playing:
That video is courtesy of Michael Oxman, a local arborist and Seattle Green Spaces Coalition board member who was there today. He also shared this photo of Seattle Parks volunteers:
Delridge-headquartered Nature Consortium, which was at the site along with EarthCorps, has long included music and art at its worksites, as part of its mission. But unintended art can be found, too – as in this arrangement of tools:
If you weren’t out at a site volunteering today, watch for word of the fall Duwamish Alive! event – and for work parties many other weekends inbetween; the Nature Consortium’s site will point you to frequent opportunities in West Seattle’s West Duwamish Greenbelt.
If the return of the rain has you feeling like you’d prefer to stay home and read a book … you have until 2 pm to go find one (or more!) at the Tibbetts United Methodist Church (3940 41st SW; WSB sponsor) Earth Day used-book sale. Books for all ages – $1 hardcovers, 50-cent paperbacks.
P.S. We noticed this work party outside the church:
It’s Boy Scout Troop 282, working this weekend next to build some retaining walls for Tibbetts.
FIRST REPORT, 11:30 AM: Duwamish Alive! – two days a year with a long list of work parties along the river and in its watershed – is all about volunteers. At the T-107 Park opening ceremony that concluded a short time ago, four volunteers were honored in the name of another – left to right in our top photo, Liana Beal, daughter of the late Hamm Creek hero John Beal, presented the stewardship awards given annually in his name, to Brenda Sullivan, Tom Reese, and Lisa Parsons (plus Scott Newcombe, who couldn’t be there). The dozens of volunteers who gathered to watch and listen before starting work also heard from Cecile Hansen, chair of the Duwamish Tribe, whose longhouse is across West Marginal Way SW from the park:
She thanked the volunteers, and the environmental-organization leaders who were there, for their work. Other speakers included U.S. Rep Pramila Jayapal, who hailed the years of progress in cleanup and restoration, and warned of what is in danger of being undone:
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) April 22, 2017
Other speakers sounded a similar note. We’re off to a few other sites – if you’re part of Duwamish Alive! today, we also welcome photos – firstname.lastname@example.org – thank you! More coverage to come.
ADDED SATURDAY EVENING: Rep. Jayapal with some of the T-107 volunteers:
We also recorded more of her speech, which included a shoutout to some of West Seattle’s natural wonders:
(As reported in our coverage of this month’s 34th District Democrats meeting, Rep. Jayapal says she is expecting to move to West Seattle, from Columbia City, later this year.) The morning ceremony was emceed by Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition coordinator James Rasmussen, who concluded it by leading volunteers in a rousing round of shouting that they won’t and can’t stop what they’re doing.
They also heard from Puget Soundkeeper‘s Chris Wilke, who said he’s going to Washington, D.C., next week, to see what he can do about the proposals that would ravage federal funding for the environment:
He noted that the most important cleanup that could happen along and in the river would be to get every piece of plastic, whatever its size, adding that a microplastics study was to be done during today’s event. Also speaking during the ceremony: Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie Bowman and Mindy Roberts of the Washington Environmental Council. And stretching into the distance behind them all … the river itself:
Are you ready for the Recycle Roundup? The twice-yearly free dropoff event presented by Fauntleroy Church‘s Green Committee is this Sunday (April 23rd), 9 am-3 pm. So we’re reminding you again, in case you still have sorting to do. Here’s the list of what they will and won’t be accepting this time; here’s a map to the dropoff spot (9140 California SW).
On April 22nd we will be celebrating Earth Day here at Lafayette from 9:00 am-12:00 pm. It is a Saturday morning and we will be having a community clean-up day. We are joining hands with our self-help and Jackson Lewis P.C. We will have at least 25 volunteers. Please bring your child and help clean up/ freshen up Lafayette’s grounds this Earth Day! There will be water, juice, donuts, and coffee.
The school is at California/Lander.
When we published this followup three weeks ago on the status of the East Admiral illegal-tree-cutting, one year after it first came to light, we noted that the city said the investigation remained active. And today, the city has announced that two of the three lawsuits it filed last fall have been settled, while the third is proceeding. Here’s the news release:
The City has settled one of two civil suits against West Seattle homeowners who the City alleged hired people to cut down a swath of a greenbelt in late 2015 or early 2016 to improve the homeowners’ views.
The unpermitted tree cutting near the 3200 block of 35th Ave. SW occurred in environmentally critical areas on a steep slope below the defendants’ homes. In its two lawsuits, the City alleges that two separate groups of people are responsible for cutting two distinct groups of City trees. Between the two groups, about 150 trees of varying sizes, including many big-leaf maples and Scouler’s willows, were felled and left crisscrossing the area.
According to the settlement, two couples – Stanley J. and Mary E. Harrelson and Marty and Karrie Riemer – will together pay the City $440,000 regarding one of the decimated areas. The City’s suit regarding the other area is ongoing, and unaffected by this settlement.
Today the City amended the complaint in that action, which previously named Kostas A. and Linda C. Kyrimis, to add the following defendants: Nancy Despain, Wendy Sweigart, Leroy Bernard, Joyce Bernard, Charles King, Shirley King and Bruce Gross. The Kyrimises were recently given criminal immunity for their statements in the lawsuit regarding the tree cutting by the City and King County in exchange for their full cooperation in discovery, including sharing the identities of their neighbors who are alleged to have shared the cost of tree-cutters with the Kyrimises.
With the first case resolved, the Parks and Recreation Department will use the settlement proceeds from the Harrelson/Riemer suit to begin remediating the slope.
“We have met our three goals – to recover damages and penalties that make the City whole financially and deter future cutting, to hold people accountable for the destruction, and to make the public aware that laying waste to public lands in whatever form will bring consequences,” City Attorney Pete Holmes said.
“All of Seattle was disappointed to learn that hundreds of trees were illegally cut down in West Seattle—this was a violation of code and Seattle’s values,” said Mayor Murray. “With today’s announcement, we can begin to turn this unfortunate event into an opportunity. The settlement will pay for the replanting of the trees and will provide resources for the City to hire youth from West Seattle to help restore the greenbelt, connecting them to the local environment and green jobs.”
“Today, we see that actions result in consequences,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park). “I’m hopeful this settlement — 60% higher per tree than the 2003 case in Mount Baker — will deter future rogue clearcutting. In Seattle, those with financial means can’t count on small settlements to pave the way towards increased views and property values. Trees in our greenbelts are precious natural resources that maintain soil stability, thus lessening the risk of landslides, and maintain air quality by absorbing carbon. We must protect them.”
“I was absolutely outraged last year when I learned someone clearcut an entire hill in one of our public green spaces,” said Councilmember Debora Juarez (District 5, North Seattle), Chair of the Council’s Parks Committee. “I commend the City Attorney’s Office for its vigorous pursuit of just compensation. We will not tolerate the razing of City-owned trees for the sake of an improved view. Not only does the quality of our air depend on trees, but the structural stability of our hillsides does as well.”
“This settlement represents our reasonable, best efforts to hold those responsible for the illegal tree cutting accountable. As stewards of one of the largest parks and recreation systems in the country, our goal is to preserve and protect parkland,” Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesús Aguirre said.
“Trees are not only nice to look at, but they play a crucial role in managing storm water, stabilizing slopes, providing habitat, reducing air pollution, and contributing to neighborhood character,” Aguirre said. “The funds from this settlement will be used to restore the lost trees and damaged land, as well as to support urban forestry restoration at Duwamish Head and programs that engage youth in forest restoration work in West Seattle. Since the beginning, we have been committed to securing the best outcome on behalf of Seattle park users and tax payers. This settlement offer demonstrates our strong commitment to protecting parkland from illegal acts of destruction.”
Parks expects to complete the majority of restoration work on the site in 2017, with work to begin in the next month or two. Holmes said the City appreciates that both sets of homeowners consistently expressed an interest in resolving the issue short of trial, and worked cooperatively with the City towards a fair resolution.
Had the Harrelsons and Riemers not been so cooperative, the City would have sought a greater recovery. On a per tree basis, this recovery is significantly higher than the amount recovered in the City v. Farris matter based on 2003 tree cutting. That case involved 120 trees and settled for $500,000, or $4,166 per tree. This case involved 66 trees, and the settlement amounts to $6,667 per tree.
“We accept responsibility for a portion of the cutting that took place in the area described as ‘Site A’ in the City’s Complaint for damages, as disclosed to the City in early 2016,” the Harrelsons said in a statement.
The Riemers said: “We have taken responsibility for our fraction of the tree cutting from the very beginning and are glad we were able to successfully resolve this with the City.”
As part of the Harrelson-Riemer settlement, the City will assign its rights to pursue the tree cutters, Forrest Bishop and John Russo, to the Riemers and Harrelsons. The tree-cutters hired by the Kyrimises and others remain unknown.
In the two complaints filed last fall, the City sought relief on several grounds, including timber trespass, damage to land, trespass, negligence, environmentally critical areas violations, violations of the parks code and violations of the city’s tree and vegetation management in public places code.
On its damages theories, the City generally alleged that the defendants and/or their agents cut down trees on City property without permission when they should have known better. The extensive tree cutting damaged the trees and the underlying land. On its code violation theories, because the cutting took place on City property and some occurred in City right of way, the cutters or their employers were required to obtain a number of permits before they cut any trees. No permits were issued to authorize the cutting.
We’ve also received documents from the city and will be adding those shortly.
Spring holidays, rain-free weekend … you might finally be ready to accept that the warmer, brighter season is here. And if that has you in spring-cleaning mood/mode, here are three reminders of events ahead:
RECYCLE ROUNDUP, APRIL 23: One week from today – 9 am-3 pm on Sunday, April 23rd – it’s the Fauntleroy Church Green Committee‘s twice-yearly free drive-up/ride-up/walk-up dropoff event. Here’s the newest list of what their partner, 1 Green Planet, will and won’t take this time. (9140 California SW)
SHREDDING, APRIL 29: 10 am-1 pm on Saturday, April 29th, Windermere invites you to bring your shreddables to their free event in The Junction (which also offers e-cycling). The truck will be in the 42nd SW parking lot south of SW Oregon. (This is also the Junction Day of Giving.)
WEST SEATTLE COMMUNITY GARAGE SALE DAY, MAY 13: If your spring cleaning involves downsizing by selling off some stuff, registration is open for another week and a half for the 13th annual West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day. 115+ sales so far – all sizes, all around the peninsula – sale day is Saturday, May 13th, 9 am-3 pm (you can start early and/or end late, but be sure to include that info in the up-to-20-words listing with your registration). If you haven’t registered yours yet, go here when you’re ready!
One week from today, it’s the spring edition of the multi-site work party that does good deeds for the Duwamish River, its watershed, and all that depend on it – including you and your neighbors. Next Saturday (April 22nd) is Duwamish Alive! – this year, coinciding with Earth Day – and it will begin with a 10 am celebration at the T-107 public-access site (4700 W. Marginal Way SW), featuring a welcome by Duwamish Tribe chair Cecile Hansen as well as remarks by Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition coordinator James Rasmussen and U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Adam Smith speaking. This year’s John Beal Environmental Stewardship Volunteer Awards will be presented, too.
T-107 is just one of the dozen-plus work-party locations that are looking for help 10 am-2 pm April 22nd. See the others here – many are in West Seattle; choose one where you’d like to go.
Last weekend, we brought you West Seattle climate activist Aji Piper‘s keynote presentation at the Washington Global Issues Network conference at Chief Sealth International High School. As he told more than 100 student attendees, his activism was galvanized by involvement in Plant for the Planet. The group has now launched monthly meetings in West Seattle, and here’s an announcement of how local youth can get involved, from parent co-coordinator Marco Deppe:
With the growth of Plant for the Planet in Seattle and enough Climate Justice Ambassadors in the South, we have officially kicked off our monthly West Seattle meetings. Every 3rd Friday we’ll meet at 7 PM at the Puget Ridge Co-housing Common House.
So the next West Seattle Plant for the Planet meeting will be on Friday, April 21st at 7 PM. Children who would like to be active to get our planet back to a stable climate and their parents are always welcome to join. Please RSVP by email to email@example.com. Every child who wants to join officially can attend a one day, free academy: One is coming up on April 8th in Marysville [sign up here].
Here’s what the group did during its March meeting. Meantime, as for the April 21st meeting, it’s at 7020 18th SW.
Tonight, salmon are in the spotlight at The Whale Trail‘s Orca Talk. Right now, we have two updates involving local salmon and the people who track them:
Spring is when coho smolts leave Fauntleroy Creek for their two years in saltwater and creek volunteers have documented the first to head for Puget Sound.
Soft trapping of smolts at upper- and lower-creek locations began in mid March and Dennis Hinton found a healthy 4-5 incher on March 20. He and Pete Draughon check both traps daily to count the fish before sending them on their way.
“The number of smolts to survive their year in Fauntleroy Creek tells us a lot about habitat conditions here – the health of the creek,” Dennis said. “Like the number of spawners in the fall, smolt numbers have varied widely over the 14 years we’ve been monitoring, from a high of 157 in 2012 to 19 last year.”
Most of the smolts are likely coho released as fry by students in the Salmon in the Schools program. Creek volunteers will be supporting 19 releases involving about 750 students starting in late April.
Among the schools in that program is West Seattle Elementary, which got a visit earlier this month from biologist Steev Ward – who gave students a close-up look at what’s inside a fish:
Ward’s presentation took about an hour, explaining the fish’s internal systems, how they worked, what’s different from ours. The students asked about topics including the salmon’s digestive and nervous systems, and they learned that a salmon has a small bone in its head that helps it hear.
They asked Ward how many fish he had dissected; he said he’d lost count, maybe in the thousands. What would happen to what’s left of this one, they also asked. It was to be buried at his house, since the possibility of contamination meant the carcass couldn’t just be placed back in a stream.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
One year has now passed since first word of a brazen round of tree-cutting on publicly owned slopes in east Admiral.
On Saturday, March 26, 2016, a stream of visitors made their way to the narrow street ends from which the cut trees could be seen (the photos above are from just north of City View/34th). The night before, The Seattle Times had broken the news, reporting that more than 100 trees had been cut on Parks– and SDOT-owned land, apparently weeks earlier.
Among those who visited the slashed slopes a year ago today were City Attorney Pete Holmes and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. As noted that day in our first followup, she reported being “assured that criminal and civil sanctions are on the table for the responsible parties.”
No criminal cases so far. But you might recall that midway through the past year – six months after the tree-cutting went public – Holmes announced two civil lawsuits on September 20, 2016. One involved “the northern site” (off 35th SW), naming nearby residents Stanley Harrelson and Mary Harrelson and Martin Riemer and Karrie Riemer, as well as Forrest Bishop and John Russo, who the city alleges “were hired by the Harrelsons and Riemers to cut trees on city property located adjacent and/or across from (theirs).” The second suit involved “the southern site” (off City View), naming nearby residents Kostas Kyrimis and Linda Kyrimis. Both lawsuits also mentioned John/Jane Does whose identities the city had not learned yet.
(March 2017 video by Christopher Boffoli)
Since then, we have continued to watch the online files of both lawsuits, which have tentative trial dates in fall 2017. Two months after the filings, we reported last November on some action in both cases: The Kyrimises had sought a stay, saying they “have good cause to believe that one or more criminal charges are potentially going to be brought against them.” They were granted a partial stay. The Harrelsons and Riemers, meantime, filed documents that acknowledged they hired Bishop and Russo for tree-cutting but specifically not admitting to any involvement in the illegal tree-cutting on the city parcels. The Harrelsons’ lawyer acknowledged that a month before the tree-cutting came to light publicly, they had contacted the city — “on February 5, 2016, the Harrelson Defendants sent a letter to the City advising the City of what had occurred on the Parcels and offering to share a remediation plan the Harrelson Defendants had developed with a former arborist for the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation. …”
Since that report, another four months have gone by; we’ve continued to check the files, and nothing else of note has happened in the cases. No criminal charges, either misdemeanor or felony, either. In preparation for this “one year later” update, we checked directly at week’s end with both offices that would be involved with such filings – the City Attorney’s Office (if misdemeanor) and the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (if felony).
KCPAO spokesperson Dan Donohoe said nothing has yet been referred to their office (which would have to happen before prosecutors could prepare felony charges). CAO spokesperson Kimberly Mills told us they have nothing to report yet but affirmed that the investigation is still very much active. So we haven’t heard the end of it, apparently. Stay tuned.
Toward the end of the first day of the Washington Global Issues Network conference at Chief Sealth International High School, West Seattle climate activist Aji Piper, 16, took the stage as a keynoter.
The question he started with was simple: “How did I get involved in the environmental movement and why?”
The answers, complex. We recorded his almost-hour-long speech on video:
Piper spoke about his work, from early participation in Plant for the Planet, to being one of what are now 21 young plaintiffs suing the federal government over its failure to protect their rights to clean air and water.
“Climate change means life as we know it will change,” he declared. And he recounted some life-changing climate events that have rocked the globe already, from 314+ square miles of wildfire damage last year – “more than 152,000 football fields” – to storms like Hurricane Sandy.
“I thought about my home. What did this all mean for the people and places I love? What do I do with this knowledge? … I’m one person in a world of 7 billion people. What am I going to do about this?”
What he has done in the past several years started with planting trees to writing and performing protest songs with a ukulele, as he learned about new issues including oil trains and Arctic drilling. To challenge the latter, he wrote and performed a protest song, with his ukulele, at a Seattle Port Commission meeting (his slide for this featured a framegrab of WSB video from that 2015 meeting). And he joined in the “kayaktivism” off West Seattle’s shore as the Polar Pioneer drilling rig floated in.
He got involved with Earth Guardians.
And then there was the lawsuit, which, he said, hasn’t gone to trial yet, but has had several hearings. (He and his co-plaintiffs have had international publicity because of it.) They’re representing everyone in the U.S., he asserted, saying we all have rights to clean water and air, and “a livable future.”
WAGIN continues Saturday at Sealth, with the ~100 student attendees from all over the state spending the day in workshops and hearing from three more keynote speakers, including Seattle activist and mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver toward day’s end. This is the second time in three years that Sealth has hosted the conference.