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Beach House on Lake Union won’t last long but that’s OK

It stands out on South Lake Union Park like some strange temporary construction structure, which it is, but it’s also an art installation that contains and recalls a time before there was any construction on the shores of Lake Union.

As its plaque explains, “Beach House is inspired by early Native American dwellings cross-pollinated by today’s frame-construction houses. The interior structure is made from sticks collected over the last eight years from a Puget Sound beach near my home. Its shadows cast upon the interior walls form negatives, like blueprints or x-rays of the sourced material’s origins.”

Although a Beach House seems perfect here, the lake was not its original site, wrote artist David W. Simpson in an email. “This piece was transported from Westlake Square (now one of the Pronto Bike locations) across from the Westin Hotel about a year ago.” It was intended as a temporary piece, he adds, for one or two months, but surprisingly has not been vandalized in the year or so it’s been at SLU, until recently when a small tag of graffiti appeared. But that may be expected as the house decays.

Says Simpson, “I intended for this to be an ephemeral project, and thus the natural decay of the interior walls (once a bright blue) and the decline of the stick structure inside seem quite appropriate.”

Below are some photos of its construction and installment at Westlake Square. There’s also a slideshow on the artist’s website and a nice write-up in The Seattle Weekly.

4picsX3pics BHouse DAY_2.jpeg

 

 

 

Amazon’s New Digs will be Biospheres

While Amazon is known for occupying a good part of the territory in South Lake Union, its corporate campus is expanding to the edge of downtown (Sixth and Blanchard to be exact). Check out GeekWire for the latest bird’s eye view of its construction.

The kids are all right!

From the Lake Union blog site, Cascadia Planet, the latest on how kids are doing something about climate change: The kids call us out — Filing lawsuits for science-based climate recovery.

Egan House on Tour

Yesterday, the Egan House, that  curious white, wedge-shaped building building on Lakeview Blvd. was open to the public. Historic Seattle owns the house, while the Seattle Parks Department owns the greenbelt. Every few years Historic Seattle will open the house to the public for tours and as a reminder of the building’s architectural significance to Seattle. The rest of the time the house is rented out to tenants to enjoy.

Egan House is a time capsule taking you back to what was breakthrough modern style, inside and out, over a half century ago. Original detailing remains, including a late fifties kitchen ordered from Sears, complete with a refrigerator in the cupboards and the facade of a once working washing machine. Customized pocket doors make efficient use of the modest space; a floating staircase made with Alaskan marble connects the floors.

When it was first build in 1958, the house caused people to stop and gawk. Today it is the youngest building Historic Seattle has preserved and put into reuse. As Historic Seattle notes in its brochure (folded in triangle) about the house, “The striking design represents a shift away from architectural traditionalism, and its preservation illustrates new views of what is worth saving. Part of what makes it so memorable is that the house is isolated from its neighbors by the site’s topography. Adding to the house’s notability is the unique approach to life taken by its designer: in the 1950’s, architect Robert Reichert was a unique character within Seattle’s design community. As other local architects embraced international modernism and helped develop a Pacific Northwest architectural style featuring strong horizontals, overhanging eaves, modular forms and clean lines, Reichert went his own way.”

The living room is at the  top of the house providing the space with dramatic, high ceilings.

The living room is at the top of the house providing the space with dramatic, high ceilings.

 

The other side of the living room, and off this side is a triangular deck with view of Lake Union.

The other side of the living room, and off this side is a triangular deck with view of Lake Union.

Every couple of years, Historic Seattle opens the Egan House up for public tours.

Every couple of years, Historic Seattle opens the Egan House up for public tours.

Cascadia Planet -The Fennica Actions: “Bold, cultural revolution” comes to Portland‏

The same week Pope Francis in his climate encyclical called for “a bold cultural revolution” to win “liberation from the dominant technocratic paradigm,” a group of kayaktavists in Seattle boldly set themselves in front of Shell Oil’s monster oil rig departing to drill in the Arctic.  This past week the revolution came to Portland when kayaktavists and climbers hanging from St. John’s Bridge blocked passage of Shell’s icebreaker Fennica, a vital element of the Arctic drilling fleet.  Lake Union blog, Cascadia Planet, tells the story of the Portland actions and sets them in the global context.

 

 

Photo Caption: Streamers float in the wind under the St. Johns Bridge as activists hung under it in an attempt to prevent the Shell leased icebreaker, MSV Fennica from joining the rest of Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet. According to the latest federal permit, the Fennica must be at Shell’s drill site before Shell can reapply for federal approval to drill deep enough for oil in the Chukchi Sea.

 

 

 

Gov. Inslee orders carbon regulation – Credit to youth lawsuit?

Lake Union blogger, Patrick Mazza, is a climate activist and as things continue to heat up around the world, we’re happy to share some of his writing, especially when it is good news:

Washington Governor Jay Inslee today ordered the state Department of Ecology to place a regulatory cap on carbon emissions.  While a successful youth lawsuit to spur such an action is not being given direct credit, it is hard not to see the connection.

“Carbon pollution and the climate change it causes pose a very real and existential threat to our state,” Inslee said. “Farmers in the Yakima Valley know this. Shellfish growers on the coast know this. Firefighters battling Eastern Washington blazes know this. And children suffering from asthma know this all too well and are right to question why Washington hasn’t acted to protect them.”

Inslee is claiming regulatory authority under the state Clean Air Act. The rulemaking is expected to take a year. The action will provide Inslee a potential opportunity go to the U.N. Paris climate summit in December with a climate initiative of global significance.

In August 2014 a group of eight youths petitioned the state Department of Ecology to start a rulemaking for carbon caps much as the governor ordered today. Ecology rejected the youth petition.  Represented by the Western Environmental Law Center, they took Ecology to court. On June 23 in a decision unprecedented in the United States, King County Superior Court Judge Hollis Hill ordered Ecology to reconsider the petition based on scientific testimony and their own statements.

Of critical importance, the youth petition affirmed that existing laws provide Ecology with all the authority it needs to regulate carbon emissions. The governor today took the same position.

But the governor’s press spokeperson, David Postman said, “As far as I know, this effort is not related to the lawsuit against Ecology.”

Nonetheless it hard to believe that these developments are not connected.  Ecology is under the gun from Hill’s court order.  Andrea Rodgers, lead attorney in their case, has a similar view. “The only ones who asked the governor to do this are those kids. They deserve the credit.”

The eight are Zoe and Stella Foster, Ajia and Adonis Piper, Wren Wagenbach, Lara Fain, Garbriel Mandell and Jenny Zhu.

The youth petition asked the for carbon emissions reductions of four percent a year beginning immediately. This is based on science developed by world-renowned climate scientist James Hansen, who this past week released a new study indicating sea level could rise 10 feet in 50 years if deep emissions reductions do not begin immediately.

What is not clear from the governor’s announcement is how far his order will go to implement science-based goals. The announcement says, “The regulatory cap on carbon emissions would force a significant reduction in air pollution and will be the centerpiece of Inslee’s strategy to make sure the state meets its statutory emission limits set by the Legislature in 2008.” State carbon emission limits are substantially higher than the level required by science.

“We’re going to make sure that whatever Ecology does is based on the best available science,” Rodgers said.  “When we meet with Ecology tomorrow we are going to ask that they heed Judge Hill’s order.”

In her order Hill quoted Ecology’s own December 2014 report to the governor.

“Climate change is not a far off risk.  It is happening now globally and the impacts are worse than previously predicted, and are forecast to worsen . . . If we delay action by even a few years, the rate of reduction needed to stabilize the global climate would be beyond anything achieved historically and would be more costly.”

Ecology itself admitted the 2008 goals fall short: “Washington State’s existing statutory limits should be adjusted to better reflect the current science. The limits need to be more aggressive in order for Washington to do its part to address climate risks and to align our limits with other jurisdictions that are taking responsibility to address these risks.”

Noted Hill, “Despite this urgent call to action, based on science it does not dispute, Ecology’s recommendation in (the December 2014) report is, ‘that no changes be made to the state’s statutory emission limits at this time.’”

Judge Hill wasn’t buying that.  She told Ecology to take its own report and scientific testimony into account and reconsider the youth petition. That is what the agency will have to do.

The regulatory cap will not in itself set a carbon price as would have the governor’s failed carbon bill.  But that could come by future legislative action or a ballot measure. A carbon tax is the center of Initiative 732 being forwarded by Carbon Washington for the November 2016 ballot.

“This is not the comprehensive approach we could have had with legislative action,” Inslee said. “But Senate Republicans and the oil industry have made it clear that they will not accede to any meaningful action on carbon pollution so I will use my authority under the state Clean Air Act to take these meaningful first steps.”

Inslee also announced he would not implement a Clean Fuels Standard because it would have triggered a “poison pill” taking around $2 billion away from transportation alternatives including transit, bicycling and walking.

“In talking about the terrible choice the Senate imposed on the people of Washington – clean air or buses and safe sidewalks – I heard broad agreement that we need both clean transportation and clean air,” Inslee said. “I appreciate the commitment I heard from many to work with me to ensure our state meets its statutory carbon reduction limits.”

(I previously wrote that my gut told me Inslee would swallow the “poison pill.”  In this case I’m glad my gut was wrong.  Clean fuels should not be played against needed alternatives.)

Inslee’s announcement today signifies a tremendous climate victory. Whether or not they are given direct credit I believe can thank eight young people and the adults who backed them up.

 

Dragons on Lake Union all day Saturday, July 25

“Dragons traditionally believed to be the rulers of rivers, lakes and seas” are coming to Lake Union in the form of an all-day festival of Dragon Boat racing. The races benefit Team Survivor Northwest. There will be food trucks, entertainment, and activities for kids. Head down to South Lake Union for the festivities between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Free admission.

It will be a surprise at least for the moment

Artist Jennifer Dixon who’s been hired to create the public art for the Westlake Cycle Track doesn’t know yet what it will be, but if it’s like any of her other art work, it’s sure to be delightful.

The cycle track, which is in no way controversial, ahem, will be a two-way, 1.2 mile path that runs along the walkway near the lake. It will start just after the Fremont Bridge and end at Lake Union Park. It will displace about 10 to 20 percent of the parking along Westlake and will be started this November with completion scheduled for early next year. The artist’s job is to fit the public artwork in along with the construction.

Jen Dixon at MOHAI Meet the Artist Open House

Jen Dixon at MOHAI Meet the Artist Open House

There is public artwork all along Westlake now, Spur Line, by Maggie Smith. Parts of Spur Line will be relocated to make way for the bike path, said Dixon, at an artist reception and open house Tuesday night at MOHAI. That artwork reflects the history of the area and lake she noted, adding, there isn’t a whole of room for her to work with, so she may do something at either end of the path.

Dixon’s past work is whimsical and fun playing off flip books and amusement parks. Will she create something equally quirky to entertain on Westlake? Something that might be an engaging compliment to Spur Line?

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Reflecting on everything the lake represents from native people to the modern day, “The lake is a jewel,” she said, “in the middle of Seattle.”

 

Ideas for High Capacity Transit between Roosevelt and South Lake Union

In case you missed it, the city of Seattle held two open houses this week to get public input on the concept of high capacity transit, either rapid street car or rapid-ride bus service, from Roosevelt to South Lake Union. It would run down Eastlake Ave. The city is also looking at where bicycle routes should go on the segment, as Eastlake may be getting pretty crowded.

The point is to get the HCT in place when Link light rail opens at Roosevelt Station in 2021. That may seem like a ways away, but in transit development time that’s like the blink of an eye.

People

There were no firm plans; the city was just gathering input and with that would develop several concepts and then narrow those down for further public input, likely in November.

Plenty of people were at the open house Tuesday in the U. District. I can only assume that a like number were at the open house in South Lake Union the night before.

The city staff members were taking suggestions, talking to people and encouraging them to write ideas down on post-it notes and place them on a map of the segment.

If you have an idea – bike route, station stops, etc., it’s not too late to let the city know. “There is no firm deadline for public comment at this point,” wrote Alison Townsend, Transit Strategic Advisor, in an email. “But, if you want your ideas considered as we begin developing alternatives, sooner rather than later would be better. We will probably dive into alternatives in about 2 weeks. So, if you could get your ideas in the next few weeks, that would be great.”

Send ideas to:

roosevelttodowntown@seattle.gov

More information:

www.seattle.gov/transportation/roosevelthct.htm

Some open house signage:

Narative

 

Flowchart

 

 

This shook us up

Eric, a writer for the Wallyhood blog gives a good explanation of the three types of earthquakes that could rock Seattle:

Like Nepal, and unlike California, we live in a tectonic plate crumple zone. At a broad level, California and Oregon are shoving us into Canada.

That crumple action means you can expect one of 3 types of earthquakes here. The most frequent and least serious type is like the 2001 Nisqually quake — deep underground, with movement that will knock over brick chimneys, topple TV’s, and maybe collapse aging viaducts or a building in Pioneer Square.

The second type is a magnitude 9 mega quake that will happen when the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the coast moves, similar to what happened in Japan. If that goes you will feel very long lasting and powerful waves from side to side, with most of the danger being to older, taller structures, plus tsunami flood zones along the coast.

Finally, the most dangerous type of quake here in Seattle is a shallow quake nearby, most obviously along the Seattle Fault, with violent shaking leveling older buildings in large numbers.

The Seattle Fault most catastrophically ruptured in AD 900, causing West Seattle to rise up by 20 feet relative to Wallingford and triggering tsunamis in Puget Sound. Regardless of the type of quake, Wallingford is fairly lucky compared to other parts of Seattle. We are not in a slide zone and are not on top of an old lake bed that is likely to liquefy during the quake, so we won’t suffer from the worst amplified shaking.

See the whole post with images on Wallyhood. One person commenting says they’ll be using Green Lake in emergencies as a potable water source (using camping filters). Would Lake Union also work? Not likely according to another commenter, Anna, who experienced the Christchurch Earthquake and has this advice about being prepared:

1. All natural water bodies will be contaminated with raw sewage. If a big quake damages the sewer network, the least worst solution is to pump the overflows into the nearest natural water body (so it doesn’t back up through people’s toilets). IF water has to be trucked in, it will need to be boiled or treated before drinking, so you will be able to use your camping gear then. Just remember – you can’t filter whats not coming out of the tap. Have some bottled water in the house.

2. How will you get home? Multi-story parking garages will be off limits pending structural assements, so your car will be stuck for 2-3 months. Unless the city is training transit workers to be emergency responders, buses will probably stop (as it did in CHCH), trains will have to stop, pending line inspections. Christchurch (pop 400,000) is flat, with a regular grid of streets. Complete gridlock set in within 15 minutes. a half hour drive through the least affected parts of the city took 2-3 hours. Travel times into the worst areas were up to 12 times longer than usual.

3. Who will get the kids (or grandma)? All three million people in the area are going to be trying to check on thier families and friends. Don’t expect to get a dial tones. Texts will probably go through, but with long delays, and may arrive out of order. Have a plan you can implement without talking to your partner.

4. Keep some cash in the house. Even in a really big quake the city will not be uniformly flattened. some buildings will be fine and some will be destroyed. Those shopkeepers who can open, will, but they won’t be able to process plastic.

Finally, a ‘zombie apocalypse’ is funny joke, but it’s a poor model for disaster response. Humans are social animals. connecting with others is how we make sense of what we have experienced. Those who have come through in good shape will want to acknowledge their good fortune by lending a hand, but top-down emergency management organizations are ill-prepared to handle these impulses.

In case you missed it, Mossback’s piece on Crosscut provides a personal and historical look at Seattle’s past earthquakes. And for more unsettling insights, both Mossback and Eric recommend the book Full-Rip 9.0 .