Open Space Seattle:2100

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Urban Ag is all the Rage

Rich Macdonald, who runs the P-patch program for the City of Seattle, recently emailed us a few links about urban agriculture programs that were shared between the Seattle and Portland p-patch groups including The Diggable City. Check out their website for a report detailing the inventory of publicly-owned land in Portland that could be converted to urban agriculture.

Cleaning Water the Natural Way

In the P-I's home section today, Marty Wingate gives a great primer on rain gardens as an effective urban strategy for dealing with stormwater runoff, including a list of plants that are appropriate for various places within the rain garden.

Walking in the City

We discovered a new website the other day called Pursuing an agenda that might be best described as progressive urbanist, the folks at World Changing have posted several articles touting the ways in which environmental design can contribute to and/or detract from creating liveable, pedestrian-friendly cities.

They note a recent program called Manpo-Kei out of Japan that encourages people who want to lose weight to walk 10,000 paces a day. Referring, as we often do, to Copenhagen, they note a 10 step plan to create cityscapes that encourage walking. And in a post from May 2004, they tout the new "woonerf" streets in, again, Denmark and Holland.

In Seattle, woonerf's are gradually catching on with projects like the original SEA street blocks (which has a great new educational slideshow online) and the Berger Partnership has proposed a similar approach at Terry Avenue in South Lake Union.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Top Seven Reasons to Save Open Colorado

As the New Year approaches there's got to be a good recap of the past year's events. Well the Nature Conservancy has done just that for open space in the state of Colorado. Great idea, but where is Seattle list?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

NW Tree Alliance Board Expansion

Our friends over at the Northwest Tree Alliance are looking to expand their board. If you, or someone you know might be interested, visit their website or contact David Bestock at

Give the Gift of Safe Walking

Our friends over at the Cascadia Scorecard Weblog bring us the important observations that with everyone out in the dark performing their holiday duty as consumers, pedestrian vehicular accidents are more common this time of the year. Everyone be careful out there. For the rest of the year, be sure to support organizations and groups like FeetFirst and The Bicycle Alliance of Washington. Also remember those Critical Mass rides.

Also check out this updated list of pedestrian and vehicular projects for Washington State, here.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Mill River Park Plan - Similar but Different

What does Seattle and the City of Stamford, CT, have in common? Both cities are working with a open space plan that dates back to early 20th century, and both cities are now looking at updating that original plan.

Stamford situation is similar to Seattle, but different. Check it out and see what you think!

Additional info:
Trust for Public Land info:

Mill River Park Collaborative info:

Advocate article:,0,6437689.story?coll=stam-news-local-headlines

Free, and much better, PARK(ing)

Spotted on the Cascadia Scorecard Weblog, a group of open space activists from the San Francisco area who call themselves Rebar paid for two hours of parking, rolled out some sod, a potted tree and a bench and made themselves a park for PARK(ing). Brilliant. For two hours, there were 200 less square feet of impervious soil.

The Big Tech Firm in my Backyard

One of the fringe benefits of having one of the world's largest software firms in your region is that sometimes you get special coverage. I don't know if that is the case for Microsoft's beta release of but this website is pretty darn cool. Zoom in to your Seattle neighborhood and note how you can view the same parcels with oblique aerials from each of the four cardinal directions. Too cool. A great way to see some of those corridors of green that form between our single-family homes.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Eat Your Lawn

No, no, we aren't saying you should make a grass salad. Fritz Haeg has been working to turn the typical American lawn into something else: something less homogenous, something more imaginative, something more. Food.

Check it out at his Garden Lab.

Dream Big(ger) Little Stream

Those little streams that could--you know the ones, with their birds, beavers, salmon and otters--are about to get a little help from the nine folks on the Seattle City Council. To them, we say kudos!

The council did delay their final vote wanting to hear more about the following four points:
  • Whether new fish and wildlife protections would make it difficult for waterfront industries and cargo terminals to operate.
  • When the city should allow pesticide use on public golf courses and areas infested with invasive plants.
  • Why the plan doesn't identify vulnerable areas that could be inundated by tsunamis or volcano eruptions.
  • Whether the city should allow building on top of creeks shunted through underground pipes, removing the chance they'll see daylight again.

  • On this last one, this seems the most important. Streams will never be daylit if there are buildings on them. So go for it, write a letter, express your opinion. You're already writing a number of letters to friends and family during the holiday season. Think of Mr. Rasmussen as your second cousin, Jean Godden, your mom's aunt, and Richard McIver as the joyous, gregarious favorite uncle.

    Houck in the House

    On a cold Monday evening, Mike Houck brought his travelling ministry up the I-5 corridor to testify in front of the faithful (and hopefully a few converts) in the Bertha Landes Room in City Hall.

    In a presentation that can only be described as mind-spinningly rapid fire, Houck walked through 25 years of Portland open space planning and transformation. For the Rose City, it isn't about sports or recreation areas, but is about the places where people can touch nature and about water quality healthy. A significant difference between Portland and Seattle: their streams aren't all buried; you can see, touch and feel them. Brillant! And the city is a cultural bastion in a forest: cayotes ride MAX trains, businessmen catch salmon from off the downtown waterfront, and citizens turn streets into gardens.

    If we could get the elected officials, decision makers and key personnel down to Portland to experience some of these places, it would be conversion in an instant. Any organizations out there wanting to sponsor this?

    Some links to Mr. Houck's work:
    Coalition for a Liveable Future
    Audobon Society Portland

    Monday, December 05, 2005

    NASCAR and Urban Ecosystems? You bet!

    A diverse group of stakeholders, citizens and NGO's recently converged on Charlotte, North Carolina, (one of the nations fastest growing metropolitan areas) to discuss and plan for the future growth in the Carolina Peidmont region.

    “Our goal with this and other work in the coming months is to provide communities with tools to make better use of their assets by designing with nature,” said Gary Moll, AMERICAN FORESTS’ vice president for urban forests and project director.

    Full article here

    Friday, December 02, 2005

    Architecture Really is for the Birds

    When your are presented with a design challenge such as designing the future openspace for Seattle, a few examples are helpful for the mental grist.

    This is a somewhat related article that presents a unique approach to site level details for students (but I think could be a communtiy-based approach as well) to incorporate local species as their clients and biasing their work towards nature.

    Read more here

    image copyright Joanne Connelly, UCBerekely News