day : 20/03/2013 13 results

First sunset of spring, seen while shivering at Solstice Park

A small but hardy group of skywatchers gathered at Solstice Park this evening for Alice Enevoldsen‘s quarterly equinox/sunset viewing, part of her public event schedule as a NASA Solar System Ambassador. A biting wind swept over the slope – that’s Alice, bundled up in blue – but the sun remained in view:

In addition to the globe she totes to explain the meaning of equinox or solstice, whichever applies, this time Alice brought a book she’s written:

This is the one and only copy of the book she’s written for young children, including her own daughter – but she’s looking for a publisher (any suggestions? you can reach her through her website

After sunset, she was off to Lincoln Park to comet-watch, and reported via Twitter that PanSTARRS was visible again!

West Seattle development: South Delridge project site for sale

Just noticed this new commercial real-estate listing: The 16,000-square-foot South Delridge site approved for 45 apartments and live-work units at 20th and Barton is up for sale, listed at $850,000. The two vacant, graffiti-covered homes that had been on the site were demolished some weeks back, and the listing points out that the land-use permit has been granted, “building permit in process.” The project required three design-review meetings last year because the concept changed between the first and second meetings. But it drew no controversy along the way – as noted in our October report, your editor here was the only person at the last design review meeting besides board members, project team, and the city planner assigned to the project.

‘Mr. Toilet’ tackles sanitation issues during World Water Week at Chief Sealth IHS

Story and photos by Jason Grotelueschen
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

People call him “Mr. Toilet,” and for Jack Sim, nothing could make him more proud.

Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organization, flew from Singapore to deliver the keynote presentation of World Water Week at Chief Sealth International High School on Tuesday night. It’s the school’s third annual WWW, billed as a “local ideas festival.” This year’s theme, according to student leaders, is centered around toilets, sanitation and health – a truly global issue with truly local connotations.

Sealth students worked tirelessly to plan this week’s events, along with social studies teacher Noah Zeichner, who serves as faculty leader for the project.

(Sealth teacher Noah Zeichner, left, with Jack Sim and an audience member.)

Tuesday’s night’s events kicked off with a Water and Health Resource Fair, featuring a jam-packed hallway of research projects and presentations from Sealth 9th-graders:

In an adjacent hallway, representatives from a variety of organizations like King County,, and Friendly Water for the World were on-hand to talk to visitors. We also spotted “Diver Laura” James from Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and the campaign:

After the resource fair, a big crowd gathered in the Sealth auditorium for a brief awards ceremony and a few remarks from event organizers, before Sim took the stage for his keynote address about toilets, sanitation and public health.

As Sim explained, the global statistics are staggering:

  • 2.6 billion people lack access to a toilet and to basic sanitation (40% of the world’s population)
  • 4.1 billion people live in areas with no wastewater/excreta treatment
  • 1.5 million kids under the age of 5 die from diarrhea each year

Without proper sanitation and disposal, human waste ends up out in the open or in the rivers and groundwater, further spreading disease. For Sim, who achieved success as a young businessman in Singapore but has now made public health his life’s work for 13 years, his goal is simple but lofty — “I want everybody on planet Earth to have access to clean toilets, any day, any time.” He believes that improved sanitation on a global scale is a goal that can be achieved in 15-20 years with the proper support, and he’s pleased to see people around the world start to rally behind the cause.

To get people talking about such a taboo topic, Sim said he’s worked hard to use humor and a close partnership with the media.  The results have been impressive — Sim’s efforts are supported by big names like Bill Gates and Bill Clinton, and by world leaders and government officials everywhere. The Gates Foundation estimates that the outreach efforts have reached 3.3 billion people, and is starting to truly change the conversation.

“When we first started doing this,” Sim said, “no politicians wanted to have their picture taken next to a toilet. Now, they compete!”

Sim showed a series of photos of global “sit-ins” (essentially, huge groups of people sitting on toilets or assuming a “squat” pose in public), holding signs and talking about the issue, along with speeches and stand-up comedy events all designed to erase the stigma and talk about the problems. Social media has been a powerful tool as well, according to Sim. He recalled that on World Toilet Day (November 19) in 2010, the movie release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” fell on the same day — “we saw that toilets were trending on Twitter, one spot behind Harry Potter, and we beat Justin Bieber!”

In addition to increasing public support for dealing with sanitation issues, Sim emphasized the importance of education when it comes to the recipients of that support. In some very poor areas of the world, the usage of toilets is a totally unfamiliar concept. “When you give someone water, they know exactly what to do with it,” Sim said. “But if you give them a toilet, they may not know what to do.” Sim added that in some parts of the world, people avoid using what few toilets may be available, either because the facilities are unsanitary or because they’re located in areas that are unsafe or violent.

Next up for Sim? He headed to New York City today to meet with United Nations officials to discuss making World Toilet Day a “UN Official Day” worldwide. “Wish me luck!” he said.

Sim closed his presentation by showing two videos previously mentioned by WSB, featuring celebrity Matt Damon’s personal “strike” against global sanitation issues (saying that the toilet has “saved more lives than any invention in human history,”) and Sealth students’ creative response to that campaign. Sim praised the efforts of Sealth students and teachers in raising awareness and getting involved, and encouraged them to keep it up.

Sim’s appearance was co-sponsored by Town Hall Seattle. You can support Sealth students’ efforts by visiting their fundraising page, and learn more about Sim’s work in the video below:

What you’ll get for your money: Parks Levy Opportunity Fund updates – from Round 2 to West Seattle’s Round 1

March 20, 2013 4:32 pm
|    Comments Off on What you’ll get for your money: Parks Levy Opportunity Fund updates – from Round 2 to West Seattle’s Round 1
 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle parks

When Seattle voters approved the Parks and Green Spaces Levy in 2008, it not only came with a list of “named projects” to fund, it also came with a provision to pay for to-be-identified Opportunity Fund projects – to be proposed by the community, and reviewed by a volunteer committee before the City Council had the final say.

One West Seattle project funded in the first Opportunity Fund round is finally becoming reality: After long, bumpy negotiations, the city has just made a deal to buy a piece of property at 18th and Brandon so it can become a food-growing oasis known as Puget Ridge Edible Park.

Longtime PREP proponent Stu Hennessey is thrilled. It’s been in the works for several years – including two and a half years since he pitched the project to the levy’s Oversight Committee, and almost exactly two years since the City Council finalized the half-million-dollar levy allocation. (We took a closer look at PREP right after that, in March 2011.)

(2011 photo courtesy Stu Hennessey)
Seattle Parks acquisitions planner Chip Nevins confirms to WSB, “We do finally have a signed deal on the property. This has been a long negotiation and the community has been patient. The agreement gives us some time to perform our due diligence on the property. The next step is get an environmental site assessment for the property (which we have started) to make sure it is clean. I cannot give out the purchase price until it closes, which should be on or before June 30, 2013.”

Hennessey tells WSB work parties probably won’t start before fall, because of the aforementioned process, as well as demolition of the house on the PREP site.

While that Opportunity Fund project is finally moving closer to reality, the next round is getting closer to approval, and Oversight Committee chair Pete Spalding of Pigeon Point tells WSB that the draft list has two projects from the Southwest region – weatherization of cabins at Camp Long “so they can be rented all year long,” and the purchase of the South Park Plaza site, to create a park as the new bridge comes online. If those projects do win final approval, Spalding says this area will get $1.4 million of the $7.2 million to be spent in this Opportunity Fund route.

Another project, purchasing some open space on 48th SW on Genesee Hill, had a fair amount of committee support, according to Spalding, but didn’t make the current cut for this funding for a variety of reasons, including the possibility it will be eligible for a different type of funding, and the fact it’s not currently for sale.

Next step: A public hearing at Miller Community Center on Capitol Hill on April 22nd, at which project supporters are welcome to make pitches even if their proposals did not make this cut – the committee could make some changes, if there are compelling reasons. Hearing details are here.

Graffiti demystified @ West Seattle Crime Prevention Council

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

He’s one of a kind.

Det. Christopher Young, the Seattle Police Department‘s lone graffiti detective, made a guest appearance at last night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting, debunking graffiti myths and sharing case histories with more than two dozen people, who identified themselves as being from all over the peninsula, plus White Center. (The detective, for his part, said he’s a former West Seattleite.)

He began with the “top 4 graffiti myths.”

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‘Spring Into Bed’ to help West Seattle families grow food

Spend this Saturday gardening, to help financially challenged families grow their own food! Seattle Tilth‘s Just Garden Project is hoping for more than 100 volunteers to join the “Spring Into Bed!” work party at more than a dozen backyards and community centers in High Point. The official announcement says this is meant to “empower families to become self-sufficient, grow their own food and make healthier food choices.” Just show up at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center, 6400 Sylvan Way SW, for garden-building 10 am-2 pm and a celebration afterward. RSVP by e-mailing – and find out more at

Fauntleroy Community Association celebrates membership, leadership, and – ahead – Lincoln Park

March 20, 2013 11:50 am
|    Comments Off on Fauntleroy Community Association celebrates membership, leadership, and – ahead – Lincoln Park
 |   Fauntleroy | West Seattle news

A gift for outgoing Fauntleroy Community Association president Bruce Butterfield last night, at FCA’s annual membership meeting/Food Fest – a cheery plaque (presented by Gordon Wiehler, left) for a yacht club with a name resembling Butterfield’s. With new officers elected, it was time for the changing of the guard – David Haggerty is the new president, following Butterfield’s 12 years in that role – the new president is third from left in our group photo of the FCA board:

Also big last night: Dates/times are confirmed for the upcoming FCA-hosted two-day celebration of Lincoln Park: Come to The Hall at Fauntleroy to learn about the park’s history, ecology, and wildlife, 6:30 pm Tuesday, April 23rd; then four days later, a guided tour of the forest and low-tide walk at 10:30 am Saturday, April 27th.

Fauntleroy’s abundance of nature was celebrated on this night, too – check out Judy Pickens‘ hat:

The clematis vine was a reminder of the Kilbourne Ravine restoration project, involving the Fauntleroy Watershed Council, with which Judy is active. Read about it in the FCA “Neighbors” newsletter.

Ahead – more scenes from the event, which featured FCA membership renewals as well as officer elections and local restaurants offering free tastes:

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Firefly Café and Crêperie: Welcome, new WSB sponsor

(8/14 note: To check whether a business is still a current WSB sponsor, please go here)

Today we welcome one of WSB’s newest sponsors, Firefly Café and Crêperie on the north end of The Junction:

What proprietor Charell Estby hears most often from Firefly customers is: “Finally! We really needed a new/good breakfast place!” The promise of a clean, cozy café where delighting our customers is our #1 goal, with mouth-watering crepes and amazing coffee, keeps them coming back! Additionally, at Firefly we recognize and can appreciate the diverse dietary needs of our community. We believe everyone who goes out to eat should be able to find something fabulous on the menu, no matter what their diet calls for. Options are good! We’ve got ’em. For Paleo, Vegan, Gluten-Free, as well as your average Carnivore! We’re playing with recipes and delighting our customers with new treats all the time. Don’t be surprised if we ask you to test out our crepe-o-the-day, or our soups, or muffins … the list goes on … (Here’s the menu, by the way.)

Firefly has a monthly volunteer-event program which we are just kicking off this month. Each month Firefly will sponsor and our employees will participate in a volunteer event. For March we are volunteering at the Food Lifeline in SODO. We became involved with Food Lifeline from the day we opened our doors back in November. Since then, we have donated hundreds of pounds of food & coffee. Our donations have benefited programs within the White Center Salvation Army, providing food for various dietary needs (vegan, gluten-free, meat products), regular and decaffeinated coffees, hot cereal, and many dairy products as well. It seemed a natural next step to choose Food Lifeline for our very first Firefly Café-sponsored Volunteer Event.

Firefly Café and Crêperie – now open 7 days a week – is at 4160 California SW (corner of SW Genesee), online at, and on Facebook here (where you’ll see updates on daily specials). And you can now TEXT your order – 206-455-6321here’s how it works.

**Check out the WSB coupon! Half off your second sweet or savory crepe**

We thank Firefly Café and Crêperie for sponsoring independent, community-collaborative neighborhood news via WSB; find our current sponsor team listed in directory format here, and find info on joining the team by going here.

Wanted: New home for Arbor Heights Cooperative Preschool

Arbor Heights Cooperative Preschool is officially looking for a new home, and parent educator Judy Hall hopes you have a suggestion:

Arbor Heights Cooperative Preschool, one of five West Seattle cooperative preschools sponsored by South Seattle Community College, is currently seeking a new location. After sixteen years of operating out of Hillcrest Presbyterian Church, Arbor Heights Cooperative is actively looking for a new site in the area.

The site search committee is seeking a new location, ideally sited on the grounds of a church or other nonprofit organization, that would provide the school with approximately 1500 to 3000 square feet. The current location at Hillcrest Church offers two classrooms, a storage area, and access to an outdoor area, and the reasonable rent offered by the church has enabled the co-op to keep tuition affordable for local families, and provide scholarship assistance to those who need it. Arbor Heights Cooperative preschool serves children between the ages of two and five, and operates preschool classes in the mornings and afternoons Monday-Thursday from 9:00–3:00, and Friday mornings from 9:15–11:30.

Affiliated with community and technical colleges, which provide a crucial parent education component, the cooperative preschools offer both parents and children a rich and stimulating developmentally appropriate environment in which to learn together during the early learning years.

If you have a lead on a new site that would fit the Arbor Heights Cooperative Preschool’s needs, please contact Judy Hall at 206-938-2278 or

As first reported here last November, the church where the preschool has been housed is selling its campus to Westside School (WSB sponsor), which plans extensive renovations. At recent community meetings about the campus’s future, Hillcrest Presbyterian’s pastor explained that its congregation just doesn’t need that much space any more and is moving to a new, smaller location.

West Seattle Wednesday: Spring’s blustery beginning

(Seattle Chinese Garden photo by Amy Converse)
Spring arrived before dawn – so we’re marking the change of seasons with the plum blossoms at the Seattle Chinese Garden (open Saturdays 11:30 am-3:30 pm) on Puget Ridge. Stormy day in store – including a wind advisory that just took effect; here are the highlights for today/tonight from the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar (and beyond):

LIVING WITH ANIMALS: 11 am-12:30 pm, you can talk with a wildlife expert about backyard wildlife and domestic animals – coyotes to chickens, and more – during a drop-in event at Neighborhood House‘s High Point Center. Details here.

TELEPHONE TOWN HALL: Local state legislators Sen. Sharon Nelson, Rep. Eileen Cody, and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon are having their annual Town Hall meeting over the phone this time around. If your phone rings around 6 pm, it might be them – you’ll be prompted how to join. You can also call in if you don’t get a call – our calendar listing has the details.

DELRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL: 7 pm at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW), the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meets, with an agenda including “visioning” for the north half of Delridge Way (the bridge to Orchard) and what you’d like to see it become.

BACKYARD COTTAGES/’STAY AT HOME’ STRATEGIES FOR SENIORS: West Seattle-headquartered NCompass Cottage Company (WSB sponsor) is presenting this workshop tonight – off-peninsula, but hot topics! – at the Phinney Neighborhood Center HQ (6532 Phinney Avenue N.), 7 pm. Details in our calendar listing.

34TH DISTRICT REPUBLICANS: Every so often when we’re mentioning the area’s largest political group, the 34th District Democrats, somebody asks, what about the 34th District Republicans? And we reply, if they let us know about their meetings, and/or put up online announcements as do the 34th DDs, we’d be happy to mention them too. Now they have! We received e-mail announcing the 34th District Republicans are meeting tonight and every third Wednesday, 7 pm, at Round Table Pizza in Burien (15730 1st Ave South). Tonight’s program includes a discussion of the Seattle petition drive for electing City Councilmembers by district.

SPRING EQUINOX SUNSET WATCH: If the weather isn’t too bad, 7:13-ish tonight is when Alice Enevoldsen will be at Solstice Park (upslope from the tennis courts at Fauntleroy Way/Lincoln Park Way) for her 16th quarterly Equinox/Solstice Sunset Watch. We’ll check in with her late in the day for the official word. Details are on her website.

‘NEXT FALL,’ WEEK TWO: ArtsWest‘s acclaimed drama starts its second week, 7:30 pm.

LIVE JAZZ: We were asked the other day on Twitter about live jazz in West Seattle. We do have some calendar listings for it – including this one from Duos Lounge in Luna Park, 7:30-9:30 pm tonight with Jazz Connection.

That’s just a bit of what’s going on today/tonight – full list here!

West Seattle wildlife: Be on the lookout for seal pup Shamrock

From Robin Lindsey at Seal Sitters:

We have a little seal pup who is on the move in West Seattle and hope that the community will be on the lookout for her. She is nicknamed Shamrock and first came ashore on St. Patrick’s Day at Jack Block Park. Monday she was in two locations and Tuesday was further around the peninsula at Emma Schmitz Viewpoint (see photo). Shamrock appeared thinner (Tuesday) and we encourage waterfront owners to please give our hotline a call @ 206-905-7325 (SEAL) if you have a pup on your beach. She may well end up at Lowman Beach or Lincoln Park over the next day or so. (More on Blubberblog.)

Meantime, “Rehab Ruby” is still enjoying the safe haven of Jack Block Park – a truly great story that shows how caring our West Seattle residents are. She seems to have found a new friend, so we are encouraged that she has learned to socialize and integrate with other seals. You can read about Ruby here.

Shamrock’s visit to Emma Schmitz Viewpoint is also featured on Beach Drive Blog.

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Wednesday updates; Delridge detour change

March 20, 2013 6:43 am
|    Comments Off on TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Wednesday updates; Delridge detour change
 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle traffic alerts

(Live view from the east-facing WS Bridge camera; see other cameras on the WSB Traffic page)
6:43 AM: Spring has technically arrived, but it’s expected to make a stormy debut – the National Weather Service renewed its wind advisory overnight, 9 am-11 pm in our area, with gusts possibly up to 50 mph. SDOT is scheduled to start its work on Phase 2 of the Delridge repaving project today – we’ll check to see if the weather changes those plans, but for now, that means the work zone switches to Delridge between Thistle and Trenton, with the detour changing as announced last week – here’s the map:

Also a reminder for the weekend: Friday night through Monday morning, the I-5 Spokane St. Interchange Special Bridge Repair Project closes the ramps from the West Seattle Bridge to Beacon Hill and to northbound I-5 (plus a few others that don’t directly affect to/from-WS travel).

11:18 AM: If you’re driving/riding in the SODO area right now or any time soon, fire crews are dealing with a gas leak in the Occidental/Holgate vicinity (map).

West Seattleite Dave Nichols receives President’s Volunteer Service Award for ShelterBox work

Front and center in that photo is Dave Nichols, a West Seattleite who has just been honored with The President’s Volunteer Service Award. He was photographed with colleagues from ShelterBox USA – the work for which he was honored. ShelterBox is an international disaster-relief organization that helps in the aftermath of disasters both natural and human-caused, delivering green boxes with “emergency tented shelter and other lifesaving supplies,” as the organization describes it. Dave works to raise awareness and money, which helped ShelterBox assist people caught up in more than 30 disasters in 23 countries last year alone – “providing families with disaster-relief tents, cook stoves, water purification units, blankets, mosquito nets, children’s packs, and other essential equipment.” P.S. You can assist ShelterBox’s mission through online donations at