The Duwamish River is Seattle’s only river. In 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared the lower Duwamish River a Superfund Site, meaning it is one of the most toxic hazardous waste sites in the nation. In February 2013, the EPA released a proposed cleanup plan that aims to restore the river through dredging (removing) contaminated soil, capping (covering) existing pollution leaving it behind, and natural recovery (not doing anything hoping clean sediment from upriver will eventually cover the pollution).
Unfortunately, this plan falls short of the robust cleanup that this river needs and Seattleites deserve in two major ways.
Firstly, the EPA’s proposed plan fails to protect the health of people who eat fish from the Duwamish River. Numerous subsistence fishermen rely on the river for food and others, such as Tribal members, have cultural ties to the river and its fish. Instead of ensuring edible fish, the EPA plans on using “institutional controls” to educate and discourage people from eating Duwamish River seafood. However, signage and other controls are notoriously ineffective at preventing the consumption of fish from contaminated sources. Fish with toxic levels of contaminants threaten the health and cultural traditions of the communities that rely on the river.
Secondly, the EPA’s plan relies too heavily on “natural recovery” as a method of cleaning up the river. Natural recovery means that the EPA will simply observe areas with relatively low-levels of toxins to see if natural processes are removing the contamination. But this method is risky considering that events like floods, earthquakes, or shipping accidents can re-expose toxic materials left behind. Physically removing (dredging) contaminated soil is a much more certain and permanent solution, but the plan only intends to do this on 20 percent of the Duwamish River.
Fortunately, we have chance to speak up for a truly clean and safe river. But we only have until June 13th to provide our comments, input and concerns regarding the future of the Duwamish River.
Come attend one of six public meetings to ensure a cleanup that is environmentally just and provides A River For All: you, residents of the area, tribal and subsistence fishermen, fish, wildlife, businesses, industries and workers.
1. Multilingual Informational Workshop and Public Meeting
Thursday, May 9, 6:00 PM
Concord International School
723 S Concord Street – English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Somali and more
Food • Art • Child Care • FREE tickets to the Seattle Aquarium!
2. Audiencia Pública Sobre la Limpieza del Río Duwamish (en Español; simultaneous English interpretation available)
Miércoles, 15 de mayo, 5:30 PM
South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenida S.
Comida • Cuidado de niños • Boletos para el Acuario de Seattle GRATIS!
3. The Duwamish in 3-D (a large-scale model of Seattle’s only river built in an indoor beach volleyball court)
Thursday, May 23, 6:00 PM
Sandbox Sports – 5955 Airport Way S
Food • Art • Child Care
4. EPA Public Hearing on Proposed Cleanup Plan for the Duwamish River
Wednesday, May 29, 2:00 & 6:00 PM
Town Hall (downtown Seattle)
1119 Eighth Avenue – Spanish interpretation available
Food • Art • Rally***
***Join us and hundreds of other people to rally for A River For All! Check our website for information and updates:
TODAY –> Tuesday, March 5 @ Reception 5:30 (Arch 250), Lecture @ 6:30 pm – Architecture Hall 147 – Department of Architecture Lecture Series
Douglas Kelbaugh “Landscape Urbanism vs. New Urbanism: the Environmental Paradox of Cities”
Join the Department of Architecture for a lecture by Douglas S. Kelbaugh FAIA, Professor and former Dean of the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, received a B.A. Magna Cum Laude and an M.Arch degree from Princeton University. He was principal in Kelbaugh and Lee from 1977 to 1985, an architecture firm in Princeton, New Jersey that won 15 design awards and competitions. His 1975 passive solar house in Princeton was the first to use a Trombe wall in America and the first of many pioneering solar buildings, which were featured in over 100 books and periodicals. In 1985, he became Chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he was principal in Kelbaugh, Calthorpe and Associates. He has chaired or keynoted many national conferences on energy, architecture and urbanism, organized two dozen design charrettes, and consulted on projects around the world. Editor of the urban design bestseller The Pedestrian Pocket Book and author of Common Place: Toward Neighborhood and Regional Design, his most recent book is Repairing the American Metropolis: Beyond Common Place.
Yesterday, The Seattle Times reported that “the ramps to nowhere” are going away. The unofficial public swimming infrastructure is making way for a new Highway 520 floating bridge. That project has caught the attention of neighbors in Montlake, Madison Park, Laurelhurst, and Capitol Hill who have come together to ask for the replacement project to help reconnect their neighborhoods and “make it safe, comfortable, and convenient for everyone, from an 8-year-old child to his 80-year-old grandmother, to bike and walk” in their neighborhood.
The Cascade Bicycle Club reports overwhelming community support. Nearly 1,200 people wrote the Seattle City Council telling them to “get SR 520 right!” The groundswell has catalyzed a City Council resolution calling for the city to work with WSDOT to improve walking and biking connections in Montlake and to figure out how to build a shared use trail on the new Portage Bay Bridge.
Here is an image of the impact to the Portage Bay Bridge footprint if a few feet were added on each side for non-motorized options:
But wait, it gets better. Councilmember Conlin has introduced an amendment to help ensure the biking and walking improvements work for people of all ages and abilities. This means they’ll build protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways instead of just slapping some paint on the road and calling it good.
For more information about this effort and how you can lend your voice to the call for new non-motorized connections between neighborhoods, check out the Cascade Bicycle Club or Central Seattle Greenways.
I have great summer memories of leaping off the Arboretum’s unfinished freeways. I always marveled at the seemingly limitless appetite of road builders. Let’s hope the city and state jump right into the work of planning other ways for us to get around, building a future of vibrant urbanism that’s less dependent on private automobile ownership and use.
Hear directly from Crosscut Contributor, Historic Preservationist and Architect Patricia Tusa Fels at our upcoming July 12 Brownbag, also featuring Liz Dunn, Dennis Meier of DPD and Great City Board Member and Architect Jeff Reibman. We’ll be taking a look at Development activity in Seattle’s Pike/Pine neighborhood and strategies to retain the dynamic and diverse culture that makes it such a hotspot to live, work, play, and build.
Nearly all talk of the environment in and around Seattle is about the mountains and the sound, rivers and hiking trails. Yet most of us spend a big portion of our time in the urban environment, which has an effect on all of us: our wellbeing, our outlook, our family life, and prospects for our work and leisure. There is a serious disconnect between our collective reverence for the outward “environment,” and our willingness to let the city’s own environment be shaped by developers.
It is especially ironic that Seattle, situated amidst glorious and gloriously complicated ecosystems, leaves the guidance and stewardship of its experiential environment to private developers and their tendencies towards monoculture. It is naïve and irresponsible that we assume their focus is on the overall vitality of the streets and neighborhoods in which their buildings sit.
Instead, the city should be looking creatively and deeply at the land use rules on the books, with an eye towards eliminating or modifying those that don’t foster the complexity of the place. Diversity by design is the key to creating a city that can be seen, experienced, worked and lived in by more of its citizens and visitors… (Continue Reading: Why Seattle needs a new urban environmentalism | Crosscut.com)
TIME’s EcoCentric blog has a cool profile on the astonishingly green Bullitt Center. The building was the first project to apply as part of Seattle’s Living Building Pilot Program.
How can a six-story, 50,000-sq.-ft. office building in downtown Seattle function completely off the grid? The answer involves solar panels for energy, geothermal wells for heat, a giant rain cistern for water and composting toilets for keeping sewage out of everything else. The toilets were just installed at the Bullitt Center, which is set to be completed this fall. “You have to remember to flush before and after,” says Bullitt Foundation president and Earth Day founder Denis Hayes. “But that may be the single largest lifestyle change.”
Hayes’s Seattle-based sustainability-advocacy group is bankrolling the largest multistory project that is trying to meet the superstringent requirements of the Living Building Challenge LBC. Created in 2006 by the Portland, Ore.,-based International Living Futures Institute, LBC calls for buildings to not only have net-zero energy and water systems, but to use half the energy required to get LEED platinum certification which is administered by a fellow nonprofit. LBC won’t certify a building as “living” until it has proven it meets the group’s goals for a full year after people move in. So far LBC has certified only three buildings worldwide, all of them in the U.S. and all exponentially smaller than the Bullitt Center. Another 140 projects in eight countries are vying for the designation.
What makes the Bullitt Center so impressive is its height — or, more accurately, its relatively small rooftop — and its location. While it’s pretty easy in cloudy Seattle to harvest rainwater and treat it via an onsite biofiltration system, getting enough sunlight to power the building required rethinking every aspect of the project, big and small. The builders had to get a variance from the city to let its rooftop solar panels hang out over the sidewalk. But the solar panels won’t do all the work. The building’s design and its tenants have important roles too. To help cut energy consumption to 23 percent the amount of a traditional building its size, natural light will account for 82 percent of all lighting, thanks to oversized windows and higher ceilings that help get light farther inside. And so will air, as the building’s electronic “brain” automatically opens and shuts the windows based on temperature needs, eliminating the need for air-conditioning units… (Continue Reading Seattles Bullitt Center Will Be the Greenest and Most Sustainable Commercial Building in the World | Ecocentric | TIME.com)
Join us on June 28 to hear about the first project for commercial, market-rate tenants to participate in the pilot program, Stone34. Our expert panel including Brooks Sports CEO Jim Weber–who is moving his company’s headquarters to Seattle to occupy that building–will share an update on efforts to improve regulatory conditions to encourage more such ultra-green buildings in Seattle.
Our friends at Futurewise are looking for a few good folks to join in the fight for our future.
Farms, forests and the families who love them will all benefit from the skills you’ll build working with this great organization.
AdvocacyCorps is an intensive ten-week summer bootcamp for aspiring urban & environment advocates. It is organized by Futurewise, Washington State’s premier advocacy group for saving farms and forests, protecting rivers and lakes, and building strong cities and towns for all.
AdvocacyCorps is exclusive to 12 outstanding young leaders between the ages of 19 and 26 who can dedicate their summer to leadership development and political organizing to make a difference for Washington State’s communities and environment.
The 2012 program will run from June 15 to August 24; the last week is optional for students returning to school. Participation is paid in serious experience, not in dollars.
Applications are due by May 15. Review and acceptance of applicants as applications are submitted.
Riddle: Whats the most environmentally friendly way to build a green building?
The answer, according to a recent study published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, may be not to build at all.
“The notion that you need a blank slate in order to make a green building is incorrect,” said Jason McLennan, CEO of Seattle-based Cascadia Green Building Council and one of the partners in the life-cycle analysis study… More via Buildings dont have to be new to be green | Business & Technology | The Seattle Times.
PHOTO: ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES
A recent Grist post notes that communities with women leaders have better environmental policy:
…even when controlling for a variety of measures of “modernization,” world-system position, and democracy, nations where women have higher political status — as indicated by the length of time women have had the right to vote and women’s representation in parliament and ministerial government — tend to have lower CO2 emissions per capita. This ﬁnding suggests that efforts to improve women’s political status around the world, clearly worthy on their own merits, may work synergistically with efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and avert dramatic global climate change. …more via More power for women means less climate pollution | Grist.
We couldn’t agree more. Great City is fortunate to be blessed with awesome women among its leadership!
The following is a post from Cheryl dos Remedios, an artist/advocate and member of the Great City Board. Any opinions expressed here are Cheryl’s, and do not represent Great City. As an organization, Great City has not taken a position on the tunnel, nor do we plan to since that space in our civic dialogue is already well represented. If anyone would like to post any commentary on the tunnel process–regardless of your position–we are happy to make this blog available to you as we believe that honest, fact-based dialogue is important to a strong city. If you would like to contact Cheryl directly, her email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Constructing a tunnel on Seattle’s waterfront will permanently alter the historic character of Pioneer Square. Whether you are pro-tunnel* or anti-tunnel, here is some information that might be new to you:
· The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has identified 13 buildings with historic significance that may be damaged during construction, including several that have direct ties to the Seattle arts community (see list below). This project is incredibly risky. Why? Because this would be the biggest bored tunnel ever.
· Many Seattleites are dreaming of an open waterfront. Please know that the same 4-lane road is being planned along the waterfront with –or- without the tunnel. In fact, the tunnel generates more traffic on the waterfront than the surface street/ transit/I-5 option (that’s the option that the citizen advisory group recommended 2 years ago in consultation with WSDOT before Gregoire, Nickels and Sims pulled plans for a bored tunnel out of a back room)
· The tunnel will more than double traffic in Pioneer Square because there are no exits into downtown. The traffic numbers are 50,000 a day at the southern interchange without tolling, with an additional 40,000 autos once tolls kick in. Currently, autos can exit on and off the viaduct at Seneca, Columbia, Elliot and Western. But once the tunnel is built, Pioneer Square becomes the south portal in-and-out of downtown. Many people will drive through Pioneer Square just to avoid tolls.
· For over a year, WSDOT has been aware that the volume of traffic in Pioneer Square “would not be acceptable” but offers no alternatives. The amount of traffic – combined with the scale of the interchange itself – would permanently alter the character of this historic district. In addition to the giant portal, likely changes include constant streams of traffic on previously quiet streets, no street parking, elimination and damage to trees, damage to buildings from traffic vibration, etc.
· My favorite oxymoron is “value engineering.” This is what happens when the State runs out of money and all of the promises they made regarding aesthetics and other culturally important values get cut. All that’s left is the mega-engineering. This project has a high likelihood of being “value engineered.”
What to do?
There are a handful of historic preservationists who are diligently responding to the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (S-DEIS), but your stories are equally important.
Why do you care about Pioneer Square?
WSDOT and the mayor, SDOT, and the City Council members** need to hear from you. Please write today. Your letter can be as short as “Protect Pioneer Square” or as long as you’d like. Both types of messages are needed.
If you can get your comments in during the public comment period for the SDEIS – that would be great. The deadline of Monday, December 13, 2010 is looming. If this date passes – yet this is the first time you’ve heard about the threat to Pioneer Square – just note that fact in your email.
Want to do more?
Please share this information with other artists, musicians, architects, landscape architects, gallery owners, club owners, theater people, film makers, historic preservationists, etc.
Thanks so very much for your help in getting the word out!
Cheryl dos Remedios
Cheryl dos Remedios is an artist/advocate and member of the Great City Board. Great City has not taken a position on the tunnel.
* If you are pro-tunnel, I’m betting that the tunnel WSDOT has designed is not what you have in mind. Please engage in this process so that we can get a better design at a lower risk.
** If the link doesn’t work, please cut-and-paste these addresses into your email:
awv2010SDEIScomments@wsdot.wa.gov, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Buildings at Risk:
At least twelve buildings that are located within the Pioneer Square Historic District or listed on the National Register for Historic Places may be damaged during tunnel construction:
1 Yesler Building — 1 Yesler Way
Maritime Building — 911 Western Ave
Federal Building — 900 First Ave
National Building — 1000 Western Ave
Alexis Hotel/ Globe Building — 1001 First Ave
Arlington South/ Beebe Building — 1015 First Ave
Arlington North/ Hotel Cecil — 1015 First Ave
Grand Pacific Hotel — 1115 First Ave
Colonial Hotel — 1123 First Ave
Two Bells Tavern — 2313 Fourth Ave
Fire Station #2 — 2334 Fourth Ave
Seattle Housing Authority — 120 Sixth Ave N.
One additional building that is a Seattle landmark but not listed in the NRHP:
Watermark / Colman Building — 1107 First Ave.
The 2 buildings most likely to experience damage (and be torn down):
Polson Building at 61 Columbia
Western Building at 619 Western
Here’s what the Western Building website has to say:
“The Art Building of Seattle – Celebrating 100 years! More than one hundred artists work from studios in this six story building. 619 Western is one of the largest artist studio enclaves on the west coast if not the world. It has been a workspace for artists since 1979.”
And what does the S-DEIS have to say about the Western Building? “Mitigation measures to protect the building may not prevent the need for demolition to avoid the possibility of collapse.”
Even though we won’t win a free trip to Portland for saying this, you should really be reading Sightline Daily. We like the regional round up of sustainability topics they find from all over the region, like this from the Tyee:
Road and stormwater infrastructure often destroys the ecological function of the land that supports it and burdens home buyers and taxpayers through its cost to install, maintain and replace. Since the end of the Second World War, the per dwelling unit cost for providing, maintaining and replacing infrastructure (defined here as the physical means for moving people, goods, energy and liquids through the city) has increased by nearly 400 per cent according to some estimates.
Most of this per capita increase has been the consequence of ever more demanding engineering standards for residential roads, coupled with the gradual increase in per capita land demand over the decades (or at least until the year 2000), a consequence of universally applied sprawl patterns throughout the United States and Canada.
The first costs of these ever more odious engineering standards and ever more exclusive zoning regulations were often invisible to the taxpayer, buried as they were within the costs of the original home purchase. More…
Great City volunteers and sustainable transportation advocates on Capitol Hill have been conspiring and brainstorming together for years. We’ve been thrilled to see the great traction our friends on the Capitol Hill Community Council (CHCC) are getting with their innovative “Complete Streetcar” concept. Here’s an update from the CHCC’s Mike Kent:
On Tuesday, May 4th, more than 50 transit advocates and active community members joined the Capitol Hill Community Council’s Complete Streetcar Campaign at Capitol Hill’s Sole Repair lounge in celebrating the group’s recent successes.
The day before, the Seattle City Council voted into law legislation that brought the proposed First Hill Streetcar closer to completion.
The party honored the group’s success in advocating for an alignment that would run in both directions along Broadway north of Union Street, instead of looping around Cal Anderson park.
The group’s next steps include calling for an extension of the proposed streetcar route beyond Denny Way to the northern end of Broadway near East Aloha Street, as was originally envisioned, and pushing for a streetscape plan that includes, among other things, a separated two-way cycle track.
If you are interested in becoming active with the Complete Streetcar Campaign, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seward Park, 5895 Lake Washington Blvd. S, Seattle, WA 98118
Attendees are encouraged to use less environmentally harmful transportation choices to arrive at the event such as transit, carpools, vanpools, bicycling and walking. Parking will be limited.
Please join us for a Great City event that promises to re-energize how we think about our transportation system. On Saturday, August 22nd a Low Impact Vehicle exhibition (aLIVe) will be at Seward Park from 10am – 3:30pm.
The term “low impact” has a dual meaning describing both the impact of a vehicle on a pedestrian, as well as the environmental impact. The implementation of low impact vehicles would generate a huge range of public benefits, including increased mobility for transit and freight.
A bicycle is a low impact vehicle, but what else can we imagine? Great City board member and artist Cheryl dos Remedios artists, inventors and community members to imagine a transportation system designed around the human body. Everything from poetry to prototypes will be on display!
Vaughn Bell, Susanna Bluhm, Clair Colquitt, Nicole Kistler, Joseph Kochanowski, Brian McAllister, meadow starts with p, Lucas Spivey, Peter Reiquam and Kristin Tollefson
- Sustainable Ballard’s Undriver Licensing Station
- SvR Design’s DIY LIV table and Haiku Project
- People’s Choice Awards
- Opening Ceremony by T’ilibshudub, 10:30am
- Barefoot in the Park by Alex Martin, 1:00pm
4Culture, Cascade Bicycle,greenmuseum.org, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, Seattle Parks & Recreation, Anne McDuffie and SvR Design, in conjunction with “Healthy Parks/Healthy You”
Brought to you by Great City
Organized by Cheryl dos Remédios
Participate at http://seattlegreatcitynetwork.ning.com/group/alive
Weekend of Eco-Art activities in Seattle
August 22 and 23 is a great weekend to vacation in Seattle. There are several exciting grass roots events that promise to be both fun and meaningful. Start with aLIVe on Saturday morning. Join the Rainier Valley Sustainable Garden Tour. Then hook-up with the Bicycle Music Festival in the late afternoon or evening. Attend Arts-In-Nature at Camp Long on Sunday.
Rainier Valley Sustainable Garden Tour
Bicycle Music Festival / Seattle
Various Seattle locations, including:
- 10am at Waterfront Park, 1300 Alaskan Way
- 3pm at Denny Park, 100 Dexter Ave N.
- 7pm at the Seattle Center Mural Amphitheater, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison Street
2009 Arts in Nature Festival
Saturday 11am-9pm and Sunday 11am-6pm
Camp Long, 5200 35th Ave. SW at SW Dawson St, Seattle, WA 98126
Suggested donation: $5 per person
Questions are welcomed! Please contact Cheryl dos Remédios, exhibition organizer email@example.com. This is a volunteer position, so please anticipate a response within 1-3 business days.
We have a tremendous opportunity to support a more bike-friendly future- please submit your comments by Friday to make the right choice for our region.
The Puget Sound Regional Council is updating the current regional transportation plan. Five alternatives have been analyzed, and the choice made will greatly impact how we plan our communities and get around. (You can read the draft environmental impact statement of Transportation 2040 here.)
Out of five alternatives:
- Only Alternative Five makes significant reductions in all harmful pollutants measured.
- Only Alternative Five comes close to meeting the goals established in state law for reducing vehicle miles traveled.
- Only Alternative Five makes significant investments in bicycling for transportation. It would use only one percent more of our transportation funding to build 600 more miles of bicycle trails and other facilities! None of the other options focus on walking, biking or transit to solve congestion and health problems.
Your voice will help create more sustainable communities.
The City of Seattle has announced a revamping of its recycling program starting March 30th. The goal is to make the process simpler and increase the number of individuals who recycle, reducing the amount of garbage to be processed. The new program will allow residents and businesses to reduce, reuse and recycle more than ever before.
The biggest changes are the ability to combine glass, paper, plastic and aluminum all into the same bin rather than separating. Now you can also recycle additional paper, plastic and metal items including plastic cups, deli trays, aluminum foil and plastic plant pots. In the yard-waste bins you will now be able to toss food waste that will be composted rather than thrown away. The yard waste bin will be picked up every week to keep food odors to a minimum.
These changes are possible due to Seattle’s new recycling contract with Rabanco, who will process, sort and market the recyclable materials. The Rabanco Recycling Center is the largest on the West Coast. The combination of the recently added high tech recycling equipment and 40 additional sorters allows more volume and higher quality sorting.
Read the full story at TheGreenNW
For those dismayed that some forgotten areas of our region were overlooked in the last round of revitalizing investments, fear not. Some bold plans are outlined in two articles today on Seattle’s gritty Interbay and the Eastside’s Bel-Red neighborhood. Read more