Open Space Seattle:2100

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Even the Washington Post Loves High Point

Via the Washington Post (via syndication in the Times) continuing praise for High Point, particularly for the natural drainage system. From columnist Niel Pearce:

But all 34 blocks of the project (eventually 1,600 units) have also been turned into a natural drainage system, the largest in the U.S. The object: to protect Longfellow Creek, Seattle's most productive salmon-spawning stream. In the old neighborhood, gutters and big drainage pipes carried storm water — including spilled oil, pesticides and other pollutants — from the streets directly into the creek.

In the carefully engineered new High Point, streets tilt slightly toward one side, where shallow swales, planted with a variety of native and drought-tolerant shrubs and trees and grasses, mimic traditional sidewalk planting strips. Layered by crews with about three feet of compost, much like the floor of a forest, the swales function as a natural filter for toxins.

High praise for High Point, and for Mithun and the unpraised SvR. This is exactly the kind of thinking, green infrastructure and commitment that Seattle needs to carry it into the future.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Unveiling of Seattle Climate Action Plan

This just in from Seattle's Office of Sustainablity & Environment....

"Mayor Nickels will unveil the Seattle Climate Action Plan at 9:30 a.m. next Wednesday (September 27) in the Bertha Landes Room at City Hall. The Mayor will be joined by Denis Hayes, Bill Ruckelshaus, other members of his Green Ribbon Commission on Climate Protection, and Mayor Dan Coody of Fayetteville, Arkansas, one of the now more than 300 signatories to the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement that Mayor Nickels and nine other mayors launched in February 2005. This Climate Action Plan, the City's first, is the City's response to the recommendations of the Green Ribbon Commission on Climate Protection, delivered to the Mayor back in March. It lays out priority climate protection actions and investments for the next two years; we will report on progress and update the Action Plan biennially, along with the City's budget. This will be another exciting milestone in our community's efforts to help lead the fight against global warming in ways that are improving quality of life here at home; raising awareness and inspiring grassroots action by cities, nonprofit organizations and individuals all across the country; and influencing policy discussions in the national and international arenas as well. Please join us! Be among the first to hear the details! Help us spread the word! Let's fill the Bertha Landes Room with the spirit of enthusiasm, commitment, collaboration and community that we have brought -- and will continue to bring -- to this challenge. "

To see the Green Ribbon Commission report and other related info:

And just so you know, you can calculate your personal greenhouse emissions here:

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Neighborhood Resiliency

Local genius Alex Steffen posts an eloquent essay arguing for neighborhood resiliency. particularly by replacing our "brittle" infrastructures and creating more resilient systems. A fascinating, if quick, read.

Trees Make Streets Safer

In an article New Urban News, Eric Dumbaugh--an assistant TRANSPORTATION professor--asserts that the traditional contention that "a wide travel corridor, free of obstacles, is needed to protect the lives of errant motorists" is utterly incorrect.

To see the original article in JAPA (the Journal of the American Planning Association), click here.

PARK(ing) Day

Rebar, the art collective in San Francisco that pulled off the PARK(ing) event in 2005, has declared today to be PARK(ing) Day. In several sites around San Francisco they built their parks in the street by paying for 2 hours of park space along a city street. Brilliant.

Check out images here.

Defiant Gardens

Not quite green infrastructure related, but interesting nonetheless.

Our friends over at the University of Washington sent this over and asked us to post it, so here it is. I am particularly interested to see how the Japanese American Internment/Concentration Camp gardens are handled, particularly the Kubota Garden in Minidoka, Idaho.




Professor of Landscape Architecture

University of Oregon

Discussion of Professor Helphand's most recent and highly acclaimed book DEFIANT GARDENS

Professor Helphand served, as editor of Landscape Journal, is a fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects and an honorary member of the Israel Association of Landscape Architects. His books include Yard Street Park: Design of Suburban Open Space and Dreaming Gardens: Landscape Architecture and the Making of Modern Israel. In his latest book Helphand examines gardens created during wars, holocausts and in internment camps. This rich history of gardens during wartime documents how gardens have humanized landscapes and human experience under the direst conditions. Please share these moving stories and celebrate this recent publication, a wonderful addition to the texts of landscape architecture.

Defiant Gardens: Professor Kenneth I. Helphand

Monday October 9th, 6:30 p.m.

322 Gould Hall Auditorium

(Gould Hall is located on University Way N.E. and N.E. 40th Street, Seattle WA)

Further information contact:

Daniel Winterbottom

tele: 206 616 1876


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ship Canal Trail, Phase II

Next Tuesday, September 26th, there will be a meeting for the second phase of the Ship Canal Trail. Queen Anne Community Center, 1901 First Ave W.

Meeting 6:30 - 8:30 with a presentation at 7:15.

Email contact:

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Healthy, Ecological Communities

We love High Point here at OSS2100. There are many good reasons to do so: mixed-income community, walkable, non-toxic, etc etc. But what really gets us excited is the natural drainage improvements that have been installed over there. From a permeable concrete street to small bioswales in people's yards, High Point presents a proving ground for a host of open space and green infrastructure typologies.

The Green Living Expo that started this weekend will continue next weekend, but will be even better on Sunday the 24th when, at 1pm and 4pm, SvR will present a great walking tour of the community called: High Point from the Civil Engineer and Landscape Architect's Point of View. Having had the opportunity to walk around the site with Peg Staeheli from SvR many months ago, I have to say that what they and Mithun have done out there is remarkable. Equally as notable, is the collaboration among the bureaucratic agencies that were involved in the redevelopment: Seattle Housing Authority, SDOT, SPU and others. We need more of it!

Yawning at our Lawn

Boring, banal, bourgeois. All could be applied to the American lawn. But what about toxic? Or inefficient? Or expensive?

Check, check and check.

A recent Seattle Times article levels each charge at the lawn, but also offers some great examples of people who are doing their yards differently--to create habitat, grow food and improve their neighborhood. And what thanks do these pioneers of plant biodiversity get in return? Nothing, really. No thanks, no love, no commendations.

What if Seattle were to set up a certified backyard habitat program (like Lake Forest Park has, for example) to encourage property owners to deal with their own parcel's of green infrastructure in a more intelligent, aesthetic and efficient way?


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Organic Urban Gardens - Caracas Style

Caracas is Building & Eatin' Their Green City

Inspired by Havana, Cuba and its ability to provide a majority of the cities food and produce needs from local city farms and gardens, this new government program has similar aspirations but slightly different motivations.

To Verenzuela, the garden represents a shift in the ways that Venezuelans get their food. "People are waking up," she told the press. "We've been dependent on McDonald's and Wendy's for so long. Now people are learning to eat what we can produce ourselves."

Read on here:

Monday, September 11, 2006

2 inches of Green Roofs

Toyota, yes that Toyota, has apparently developed a green roof module that has a 2" profile, reports WorldChanging. This is a huge innovation making green roofs an easy retrofit to many, many more structures. The downside . . . the information about it is all in Japanese so introducing the product to the US marked might take some time.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Repair those Intersections!


yes, this guy made it happen

two little ladybugs . . . and one big one

the proud painters

As previously reported here, this weekend was the weekend for Seattle-ites who want to be Portlandites to come out of their homes and repair their intersections. Open Space did not get a chance to see the Squire Park folks on Saturday, but we were happy to stop by at 49th and Burke to the the Bug-On-Burke intersection repair and feast on some amazing paella and quiche. This is what community should be: food, art, kids and maybe even a beer or two.

Instigated by former UW Landscape Architecture graduate student Eric Higbee, the repair featured a gigantic lady bug on in the middle of the intersection (with some little manholes-cum-ladybugs on the side). The design was developed by combining two drawings done by local elementary school girls and was laid out on Saturday after the streets had been closed off. Then, Sunday, the painting began and at the end of the day the public intersection had truly become a public square. Go visit, it is beautiful.

Hopefully, these pop up all over Seattle next summer. Also, word on the street is that both the Times and the P-I stopped by so look for stories tomorrow.

Great Cities, Great Green: London

In the lineage of great cities, London certainly ranks up there in the Pantheon. Its chaos, the humour of its residents, its extensive tube system, its history all are reasons alone to love the city on the Thames. But along comes another.

Despite the incredible legacy of royal parks in the city, London has recently launched a new initiative to make the green infrastructure in the city center more robust and extraordinary than it was previously.

As reported on by Geoff Manaugh at WorldChanging, London is putting forth it's vision of a Green Grid in the city center that pushes sustainability out of the sole ownership of single buildings and into the public realm by linking parcels to one another:

The concept of the Green Grid is for a green infrastructure within and between built up areas that will link existing and new parks and open spaces. The Green Grid promotes the creation of high quality and multi-functional spaces, maximising opportunities for improving quality of life, footpaths and cyclepaths, biodiversity, leisure, recreation, tidal and fluvial flood risk management, grey water treatment, air quality, biomass, etc. The network will also provide the context for development, building community capacity for change through positive environmental improvements, enhancing land values, and changing the perception of East London as an area of industrial decline and low-quality environments.

This effort, it would seem, is a rich precedent for Seattle to look toward as we consider the future of our green infrastructure.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

This is the weekend to repair those intersections

A technique used by CityRepair down in Portland to build community, create safer neighborhoods and to calm traffic is being brought to Seattle in a two-fer this weekend. Two communities, Squire Park and Wallingford, are taking over, shutting down and revamping their intersections this weekend--making a public intersection a public square.

Squire Park will have their event first, on Saturday. The intersection in question lies at 20th Avenue and E. Marion. The painting and laying out will begin at 10am and will end with a street celebration at 3PM.

But if you missed Saturday's celebration, fear not! Sunday bring the revamping of the intersection at Burke Ave N and 49th Street. A huge lady bug resting on a flower will take over the space. There is a block party afterward, which begins at 4. Looking forward to it--should be very exciting.

Check back here over the weekend for a round up and review of these two intersection repairs.

Sustainable Ballard Festival

The folks over at Sustainable Ballard are so extraordinarily cool. Honestly, hands down, cool. No other word for it. For the geeks among us, and, let's face it, to be blog savvy, you have to be a bit of a geek, the majority of their website is wiki based. What does that mean? It means that the collaborative, free-wheeling, participatory aspects of community building have moved from the person-to-person world to the online world where everyone has a hand (keystroke?) in shaping the virtual space of their website. Wow.

Second, there is the Sustainable Ballard Festival. Held on October 1 at the new Ballard Commons Park (with the ever-so-exciting Ballard Bowl) the festival features a smorgasborg of progressive urbanism. Workshops, exhibitors, speakers, an activity tent, etc. are all there to make people think about how they live and what kind of city they want to create. Should be a blast; see you there.

Urban Forest Master Plan

The big news today, splashed all over the front page of the PI, is the release of the Mayor's urban forest master plan. Huzzah to the Mayor for putting this front and center and to Steve Nicholas for speaking about the infrastructural qualities of trees in the city! We love it.

We also have some admittedly knee-jerk critiques of the plan, but we will read the 87 page report first before commenting--to you, dear reader, and to the Office of Sustainability and the Environment.

But in the meantime, sign up for your free tree!