West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Madeline Ostrander wants you to know her newly published first book is not a work of “doom.”
If the subject of climate change makes you uncomfortable, that might be an important distinction.
Ostrander, a longtime science journalist, says “At Home on an Unruly Planet” is the result of about a decade of work – particularly the past three years, since she signed a contract for it. Now it’s in bookstores and online (as audio), and she’ll be talking about it at an event downtown tomorrow night (Friday, August 5). More on that later. First, about the book.
The second word in the title, “home,” is key. (Hers is on Pigeon Point, where she sets this scene: “In the distance, the groaning undersong of the highway and the port nearby and its sounds, a train whistle, metal shipping containers cracking loudly against one another in the distance, the moan of a cargo boat, the roar of a jet plane above.”) In her book, Ostrander tells the story of four communities facing change because of the climate crisis – again, not in the “impending doom” sense, but in what they’re doing, how they’re reacting, how they’re talking about it.
One of those communities – Richmond, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area – is seen in the context of conversations about how to evolve from being a community built around an oil refinery. Talking to environmental-justice activists there gave her the idea for the book. The other three communities span the country from Alaska to Florida. The sense of “home” she addresses isn’t simply about geography, but about the way you feel when and where you’re at home. – and the way you feel when things change, things out of your control. It’s addressed in “At Home on an Unruly Planet” as “solastalgia,” which Ostrander observes is evoked by this: “Even if we stay, we experience a kind of homesickness because (home) changes … (it) helps to name this kind of feeling. That can be really powerful, (such as) collective anger, like the BLM movement, struggle and loss and anger …. if people come together and talk about it.”
She hopes that she’s helping people talk about climate change in a fresh way. “The way it’s often talked about is not that empowering,” including “when we talk about, ‘what can you do’,” too often it’s just “push back against politicians.” Or else potential action is described at the “very micro-individual level,” recycle one more can, burn one less gallon of gas. “That’s still not very empowering” – it doesn’t get to the question of “how do we protect the places that we care about?” That’s something you can address on a neighborhood level, she says. “It just seemed much more real to me, a much more useful way of talking about climate change. It’s being talked about as this big global existential crisis – which it is – but talking about it in this way helps people feel” less hopeless.
That also brings inspiration for others. “Sometimes I feel like what I see in small communities (is that) the whole discussion isn’t so siloed off … that’s kind of powerful.” Big cities – ours included – have more money for adaptation; smaller communities have harder choices to make. “You can see it in the book when I compare St. Augustine, Florida … with centuries of history … they’re going to be more impacted … to Miami (where they have) a budget to lift streets.”
A different crisis presented a challenge after Ostrander got the contract to finish and publish her book: The pandemic. She had gone to Alaska in fall of 2019, but in 2020 and 2021, travel was not always an option. Ostrander said she managed to arrange a few trips “when it was possible to take enough safety precautions.” The featured community she mentions the most is St. Augustine, Florida, where “lessons from the past (frame its) longterm future … we need to think about that and not always look away.”
History is referenced elsewhere in her book, even the century-long history of her Pigeon Point home. The prologue and epilogue of “At Home on an Unruly Planet” reference her own home. She notes toward the end of the book, “And while many of the problems we face are global, some of the most imaginative, powerful, passionate solutions come from home.”
Ostrander doesn’t have any promotional events scheduled in West Seattle yet, but says she’s working on it. Meantime, if you happen to be – or can get to – downtown tomorrow, her book launch/signing event is at 7 pm, outdoors at The Collective (400 Dexter Ave. N.) with KUOW’s John Ryan, presented by the Northwest Science Writers Association. She also has an event 7 pm August 12 at Brick & Mortar Books in Redmond, in conversation with former broadcast meteorologist Jeff Renner.
Besides looking for the book at your favorite local bookstore, it’s also available online as audio – go here. If you want to read an excerpt first, here’s one published by The Atlantic, and another published by High Country News.
Four weeks ago, we noted the Pencil Me In For Kids school-supply drive was collecting donations. The item collection is over, but there’s still a way you can help. Here’s an update from Pencil Me In For Kids volunteers:
Fourth-grade teacher Angela de Ita knows that her students at Sanislo Elementary will be happy to have their share of the supplies collected during West Seattle Rotary‘s annual Pencil Me In For Kids drive. The project endeavors to equip every student in area elementary schools with the supplies needed for success – an especially challenging goal this year as families cope with record inflation.
(Photo by Phil Sweetland: Fauntleroy Church member Judy Pickens led the effort to collect this truckload of school supplies in her neighborhood, all destined for West Seattle American Legion Post 160’s Pershing Hall for sorting out to schools)
Fauntleroy Church spearheaded the drive in its neighborhood, with the West Seattle & Fauntleroy YMCA, Canine Casa, Treo Organic Salon, Wildwood Market, and Keller Williams Seattle also hosting donation boxes. The drive continues to welcome cash donations (here) to purchase high-demand items in bulk.
Thanks to Kersti Muul for the tip. She says transient orcas have just emerged from Colvos Passage along the west side of Vashon Island and are close to Southworth, visible (with binoculars) from central west-facing West Seattle, heading northbound. Let us know if you see them!
Thanks to Kate for the tip, via a question about a big circle in the intersection of 21st and Genesee on Pigeon Point – too big to signal a future traffic mural, as she described it. SDOT tells us they’re planning to repaint the mural that community members painted in that intersection in 2015 (WSB coverage here), with “durable, long-lasting paint.” SDOT says they “got in contact with the original artist and have been working with her to design a refreshed version of the artwork that can be installed with more durable paint that will last for years to come.” Here’s that design:
The repainting is expected to happen within the next month or so; some prep work will be done this Sunday – grinding the road to “create a smooth surface for the plastic-based paints to stick to.” As noted in this flyer for the project, which is on the Delridge-Highland Park Greenway, they also plan some paving work, “filling cracked pavement,” and “improved trail lighting” along the greenway.
4:05 PM: That’s Seattle’s chief librarian Tom Fay, and he’s at High Point Library (3411 SW Raymond) for a conversation with whoever shows up. It’s the first in a series of “Community Conversations” around the city with the Seattle Public Library‘s new chief. You have until 5 pm to stop in and speak up. You can also answer an online survey to share your thoughts about SPL’s future.
5:47 PM: A few notes from the conversation, for which about a dozen people showed up: The Southwest Branch, one of two in West Seattle that had closures last week because of the heat, will be fully air conditioned by next summer. The afterschool homework-help program is expected to come back this fall. In a discussion of how libraries and users dealt with the pandemic, an attendee noted that the curbside service was greatly appreciated – as were ebooks.
C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor) is throwing a garden party Labor Day weekend and you’re invited! The occasion: To raise money for the West Seattle Food Bank (which helps people stay housed as well as fed) – C & P co-proprietor Cameron Moores says they’re hoping to make it an annual fundraiser, but the pandemic got in the way the past two years. The “We (Heart) West Seattle” party is exactly one month from today – 3 pm to 6 pm Sunday, September 4th – but tickets are available now. $45 gets you a sandwich from food truck Now Make Me A Sandwich plus a drink. Live music too! You can go here to get your ticket(s).
The return of rain today is a reminder that summer won’t last forever. Heavy rains in other seasons sometimes bring sewer overflows into local waterways. As we’ve been reporting, another big storage tank is planned for West Seattle to reduce overflows into the Duwamish River. A 1,250,000-gallon underground storage tank is at the heart of what’s now being called the West Duwamish Wet Weather Storage Facility. As shown on the map above, it will be west of the 1st Avenue South Bridge (on land currently owned by the port), with other components of the project nearby. The planning process has now arrived at the next phase of public comments, with an online open house and survey now available. The King County Wastewater Treatment District‘s announcement explains, “This project will not only protect the future health of the Duwamish River, but can also benefit the neighborhood through creative design elements – and you can help us decide what elements to include on site. Additionally, our team will seek opportunities to support community-driven initiatives in the nearby neighborhoods. Help us design a facility and support local projects that are true to your values.” Info about the project is in the online open house; the survey is here. If the planning process proceeds as currently scheduled, construction would start in 2025.
P.S. You can also talk with KCWTD reps about the project at this Saturday’s Duwamish River Festival, noon-5 pm at the new Duwamish River People’s Park (8700 Dallas Ave. S., South Park).
10:42 AM: SDOT has just acknowledged the “mechanical issues” that have kept the West Seattle low bridge closed to surface traffic for more than half an hour. Above is the latest webcam image. Updates to come.
10:56 AM: Metro has officially rerouted buses, according to alerts just sent. As for the low bridge, after a tip (thank you!) we watched the webcam for a few moments, and the problem appeared to prevent the bridge leaves from completely rejoining – they swung partly open and tried to close a second time, and then came SDOT’s confirmation. A similar problem happened July 9th and kept the low bridge out of service for more than two hours; that problem was eventually deemed “electrical.” That’s also what was blamed for an hourlong closure in May.
11:01 AM: And the low bridge has just reopened.
2:21 PM: We asked SDOT if these “issues” were related to the ones that caused the May and July closures. Spokesperson Mariam Ali says no: “Today’s issue is different from the problems in July and May. Today, crews were doing preventative maintenance work around the far side pier. During the cleanup work, a rusted coupler (a device for engaging and disengaging the interlocking connection between the shore and a movable bridge span) for one of the conduits containing wires to one of the sensors separated and damaged the wire. The damaged wire was unknown until the bridge had cycled through an opening request and was going back to a closed position. At that time, an alarm had sounded noting that the computer was not receiving a signal, due to the damaged wire, from the sensor. The electricians were able to pinpoint the issue quickly and replace the broken wire.”
Here’s what’s happening for the rest of today/tonight – there’s even more on our West Seattle Event Calendar:
BLOCK DROP DIY CLEANUP SUPPLIES: Until 6 pm, today’s Block Drop is at Henderson/Barton, for Fauntleroy Park.
WADING POOLS CLOSED, SPRAYPARK OPEN: Cloudy and cooler today, so the city will NOT open the wading pools. Highland Park Spraypark at 1100 SW Cloverdale will be open as usual, though – 11 am-8 pm.
BLUE ANGELS PRACTICE: Various time windows 11 am-4 pm, per the schedule in our report on their arrival.
COLMAN POOL OPEN: Noon-7 pm, go swimming in the saltwater pool on the shore at Lincoln Park (8011 Fauntleroy Way SW).
LIBRARY CONVERSATION: Meet Seattle’s chief librarian Tom Fay for a conversation at High Point Library (3411 SW Raymond), 4-5 pm.
DESIGN REVIEW: Online meeting of the Southwest Design Review Board, taking another look at the mixed-use development planned for 4448 California SW, 5 pm. Public-comment period included.
ULTIMATE AT FAIRMOUNT: 6 pm, Thursday night summertime Ultimate pickup games are back at Fairmount Playfield (5400 Fauntleroy Way SW).
PIANO MUSIC: Solo piano at Otter on the Rocks (4210 SW Admiral Way), starting at 7 pm.
WARTUX: West Seattle-based Wartux is on a triple bill at Drunky Two Shoes (98th and 16th in White Center), doors 7 pm, music 8 pm.
BENBOW GOES COUNTRY: Thursday “Nashville Nights“ continue at the Benbow Room (4210 SW Admiral Way), 9 pm. 21+.
Have something to add to our calendar? Email info to firstname.lastname@example.org – thank you!
Family and friends will gather August 28 to celebrate the life of Kathleen Mackanzie-Fortney. Here’s the remembrance they’re sharing:
Kathleen Mary Mackanzie-Fortney left us on July 2, 2022 at the age of 69.
Kathy was born in Oklahoma but grew up in West Seattle, graduating from West Seattle High School in 1971. Kathy spent some of her adult life working with disabled children, which she found very fulfilling. She was also very crafty, always trying new art forms to share as gifts with family. Kathy was passionate about her family, her kids, and her dogs.
Kathy passed away at home surrounded by husband Don and youngest son Aaron, who were her round-the-clock caretakers until the end.
Kathy is survived by husband Don Fortney; mother Patricia Smith; sister Shannon Zimmerman; children Jon Morin, Kelly Barnett, & Aaron Fortney; and grandchildren Matthew Morin, Kaleb Barnett, Maali Morin, Jake Barnett & Emma Barnett. She was preceded in death by her father Roger Mackanzie.
To honor Kathleen Mary Mackanzie-Fortney’s memory, we are holding an open house to celebrate her life on August 28th from 1 pm-4 pm. Please email us at jon.erika@gmail to RSVP and for location. We invite anyone who knew her to attend and remember her wonderful life. We ask attendees to wear bright colors.
(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries and memorial announcements by request, free of charge. Please email the text, and a photo if available, to email@example.com)
10:35 AM: The low bridge seems to be having trouble – it’s been closed to surface traffic for more than half an hour and the webcamera suggests repeated tries at closing it. We’re checking with SDOT.
10:50 AM: Confirmed – the low bridge is out of service at the moment with “mechanical issues.” We’re updating separately.
11:05 AM: Back in service.
6:03 AM: Good morning! It’s Thursday, August 4th.
Today’s forecast is for clouds and possibly some rain, high might not even make it to 70.
FERRIES, BUSES, WATER TAXI
Ferries: WSF is on the 2-boat schedule for Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth. Check here for alerts/updates.
Metro buses are on their regular weekday schedules; watch @kcmetroalerts for word of reroutes/trip cancellations.
The West Seattle Water Taxi is on its regular schedule.
BRIDGES AND DETOUR ROUTES
865th morning without the West Seattle Bridge. 38 days until the week SDOT hopes to reopen it.
Low Bridge: Automated enforcement cameras remain in use; restrictions are in effect 5 am-9 pm daily – except weekends; the bridge is open to all until 8 am Saturday and Sunday mornings. (Access applications are available here for some categories of drivers.)
1st Avenue South Bridge:
South Park Bridge – camera malfunctioning, as are a few others in eastern West Seattle (they’ve been reported to SDOT, still no estimate on when they’ll be fixed)
Highland Park Way/2nd SW (one of four recently installed cameras):
The 5-way intersection (Spokane/West Marginal/Delridge/Chelan):
Trouble on the roads/paths/water? Please text or call us (when you can do so safely) – 206-293-6302.