Observations on the heavenly-earthy Pacific Northwest and life in vivid, quirky Seattle.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The End of the Pink Season

The last of the double-blossomed Japanese Cherry trees are dropping their petals, and blankets of the pink snow are covering the lawns, drifts piling on the edges of trails and roads. We have passed through the gateway to Spring.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Caped Cascadia: Sustainability Superhero

Lover of the great outdoors, Caped Cascadia fights for environmental preservation and animal protection across the Pacific Northwest. She bravely forwards her cause through volunteering, voting, advocating, tithing to the cause, and walking her talk to lead humanity toward a humane, sustainable culture. Her superpower is her ability, through the powers of informed logic and articulate debate, to transform even the most self-indulgent, irresponsible consumers into mindful, conscientious citizens of the earth.

Note her sturdy runners and walking stick for long hikes, all purpose gloves for organic gardening, kayaking or snow shoeing, yoga tights and leotard, “whale pin” donation thank you gift from People for Puget Sound, short-cropped hair for easy care when swimming, camping, and participating in old growth forest sit-ins, the forest twigs that nonetheless got caught in her ‘do when she was sitting up in the ancient Douglas Fir, belt of quarters for riding the bus, and her “big dog” companion Gifford (all Cascadians love big dogs).

Thanks to Becky at “Girl in Short Shorts”, who clued me into the Superhero Creation Tool!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007


To augment the previous post, a few other NIMBY topics:


Obviously, it is an issue AND we do tend to navel-gaze on this topic.

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Monday, April 23, 2007


We folks in the greater Seattle area like to be nice. Generous, caring, proactive… we like to think of ourselves this way and have this ideal reflected in our community: support of a wide range of social safety net services, tolerance of diverse lifestyles, environmentally sound urban planning (e.g. “density”), mass transit. We also, however, like our lives to be nice: pretty, quiet, safe, comfortable… with nooooo threat to our property values.

As a result, we often find these two goals to be mutually exclusive, or at least we perceive them to be. We say (and we vote) that we want such services as housing for chronic alcoholics, methadone treatment centers, domestic violence shelters, and temporary, sanctioned camps for the homeless. But it can be a struggle to find a neighborhood that will welcome such a service with a warm embrace. We don’t want to think of ourselves as prudes, so don’t outright ban strip clubs. But, there is a push to corral all the existing strip clubs into one low income neighborhood. In a misguided effort to protect the delicate sensibilities of the local children, there was even an outcry about the name of a new pet store in the Wallingford neighborhood, called High Maintenance Bitch. (Honestly, if there is any appropriate use of the "B" word, this would be it!)

The zoo (the ZOO, of all non-controversial organizations) is getting severe push back from its neighbors because it wants to build a few outbuildings on its property and a parking garage to prevent parking sprawl into the neighborhood. When the proposed garage was to be on the south end of the park, the neighbors on the north end supported the proposal, but the southern neighbors fought it bitterly. Then, the plan changed for the structure to be on the north end. Well, surprise, surprise… now the north end neighbors are up in arms and the south enders think a garage is a splendid idea.

Granted, it is not as pure and simple as this. But, it is the gist. And it is the hypocritical tradition of this otherwise progressive town. We support all things good as long as our own neighborhood is not impacted. "Not In MY Back Yard!” is the common hew and cry.

Oy. As Popeye used to say, “This is embarrasking.”

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

A P-Patch Post

Winding your way over the hills of Seattle, weaving through the neighborhoods, you will inevitably happen upon a small or large plot of land, sometimes in the most incongruous place, overflowing with dahlias and raspberry canes, bok choy, pea vines, and heirloom tomato plants. This is one of the many P-Patches in the city, small urban farm plots tended by local residents

There are well over 50 community gardens available to all residents and another 15 or so specifically for low income housing residents. Many P-Patchers are first generation immigrants and the produce they raise is a significant source of their families’ food. Community Urban Gardening has been a growing tradition in Seattle for over 40 years.

From Historylink.org on the origin of the P-patch tradition in Seattle:
"In 1922, Italian immigrant Ernesto Picardo bought four of the blocks and began raising vegetables. In 1965, the last Picardo retired from farming. Darlyn Rundberg saw the Picardo farm going unused and she envisioned a community garden. With the help of City Councilman Bruce Chapman, she got the city to lease the land and to pay the outstanding taxes of $688. Three acres were turned over to the Puget Consumers' Cooperative and the plot became the 'P' Patch. By 1971 there were 180 plots being cultivated. The land was purchased by the city in 1973 and the program expanded." In 2001, the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods had 38 P-Patches with 1900 plots and 4,600 gardeners on 12 acres of land.

Each P-patch has a different personality based on its location and gardeners. Some are very tidy, ornamental, and artistic. Some are purely utilitarian agriculture. Some are populated by folks wanting the simple opportunity of digging in the dirt, puttering around. Others are a mix of all the above.

The program is supported by both the City of Seattle which helps manage the sites and recruit/organize gardeners, and a non-profit land trust called
the P-Patch Trust which acquires land for the program and works on community development through the program.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

This Day

This is a day when, sitting on a driftwood log on the beach, heels dug in the rocks or crouched in the garden clearing away the winter weeds, the sun warms your back and the heat sinks deep into your bones. The body responds… a sensuous relaxation, a gratitude and quiet happiness.

Gold is coming back to the sun… no longer that sheer, winter white. Even its color is warming. And what, only two weeks ago, was a fragile lace of green in the trees is now growing lush and luscious. Still fresh and clean… not the worn, dusty olive of August.

These waxing days, like a cat uncurling on a porch banister, are slowly, languidly stretching longer. Cold, dark memories of December continue to dwindle, retreating from the light.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Salmon - The Spokesmodel of the Northwest

If you played the word association game with “Pacific Northwest”, what would come to mind? Rain, green, Space Needle, ocean…. Odds are, that list would include “salmon,” one of the most enduring icons of the Pacific Northwest, and a creature that has sustained the environment and human society in Cascadia throughout history. Images of the Northwest invariably include salmon spawning in the rivers and being eaten by bears or eagles, Native American totems of salmon, fishing boats heading to sea, plates of gourmet prepared salmon steaks, historical photos of Native Americans spear fishing at waterfalls, current photos of catch-and-release fly fishermen wading in rivers.

Above: Salmon passing through the fish ladder at the Chittenden Locks in Seattle. Film by artist Jeff Hull.

To discuss the role of salmon in historical and current day ecosystem, culture and politics is a daunting task. Topics include: A basic primer on salmons’ life cycle and the species; salmon’s integral role in the Pacific NW ecosystem and the impact of environmental change on salmon populations; tribal culture, mythology, and political history; current politics of resource management and conflicting demands (land development and its impact, farming vs hydroelectric energy vs salmon preservation, tribal vs commercial vs recreational fishing rights, and the wild vs farmed salmon debate); culinary topics; and salmon fishing as recreation.

Cascadia Song is embarking on an occasional series touching on all these topics, providing links to informational resources. To start, educational links on the topics of the salmon life cycle and the species native to the Pacific Northwest are listed below.

Salmon Life Cycle:


Species of Pacific Northwest Salmon:


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