Friday, December 18, 2009

The latest "challenges" of the Living Building and Site Challenges

I had a few minutes to catch-up with Bill Fenimore today, now that he's back from vacation. Quite a bit is going on!

Jason, a member of our site committee who works for Vulcan, will be meeting with Bill right after Christmas to set-up a performance audit. This will give us a benchmark to work from for energy efficiency. Jason and Jack have also formed a sub-committee for consultation when questions of particular products or methods arise, to vet them for compliance with the LBC/LSC. This will help Bill negotiate his way around the day-to-day work steps he's orchestrating.

The big ongoing project is the slate roof on the Brick Building. The build-back of the roof is close to half done now, but the overall project is well past the halfway mark, since all the removal and prep had to be done first of course. Three workers were roped-up on top today!

Bill gave me a souvenir solid copper nail from the project. I'm still amazed you can hammer a copper nail into that old wooden substructure, but these guys are the experts! (Still, I wonder how many of these they bend!)

The slate on the three sides facing the campus will all be the original ones that were in good condition. Some new ones had to be bought to replace cracked ones, of course, but to minimize the visual impact, these will be blended-in with the originals on the west side where they won't be seen from the rest of campus. All the old vent caps are being re-used, and just needed a fresh powder-coat. Thanks to a local business, Seattle Powdercoat, for the expert work. The powdercoating is so resistant to rust it's rated for below-ground use! So the metal parts up there should last a good, long time.

And speaking of the roof, right underneath it is the attic, which needs insulation! The attic space needs to be kept warm, so the insualtion can't just lie on the attic floor, it has to attach to the underside of the roof, so a soy-based spray-on open-cell foam is the material of choice. Work will start on that when the roof is done, since it covers the underside of the roof and you want the vibration of the work roof to be over when the foam goes on. Puget Sound Energy's stimulus money will pay for about half the cost of insulating the attic, which will save a lot of energy in the long run, of course.

Insulation's an issue up in the blue building too. The exterior walls aren't insulated and that's going to get done over the Holidays, when the building is little-used, if the contractor can do it, and Bill says he thinks they can! Rather than the standard drilling and plugging of large holes in the outside wood siding, like you see done on some older homes, our beloved blue building will be insulated from the inside, with holes high on the interior walls, which can then be patched and never seen again, unlike the fairly obvious plugs in exterior siding, that usually just get more obvious with weathering.

And finally good news on building interior lighting. The Community Hall now has both audience and stage lighting with new LED fixtures. The entire hall can now be lit as well or better than before with the equivalent energy of a couple of 100W incandescent bulbs! The next big thing will be a "Daylighting" project for one of the classrooms, performed in part by the Integrated Design Lab of the UW. This demo project will apply all the methods the Lab recommends and gauge the results in one room, so that if adjustments are needed, the work on the rest of the buildings will encorporate the best practices we determine in the test. We're lucky many of the classrooms have lots of big bright windows so we think with new fixtures and controls and new paint on the ceiling, an ideal lighting arrangement can be found, partly automatic to take account of available daylight, and partly manual based on the occupants' needs.

I'll touch base with Bill again after the first of the year, and I'm sure you'll join me now in wishing him a Happy Holiday and in thanking him for his hard work and diligence in handling the ongoing upgrades in progress! Thanks, Bill!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Join the GSC Board of Directors

The Greenwood Senior Center is seeking individuals to join its Board of Directors. Help set the direction of a dynamic program which directly affects our lives as we age. For more information and to apply contact Cecily Kaplan at or Jeanne Barwick at People of all ages are encouraged to apply.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Taproot Theater Live at NSCC

Christmas often harkens back to the old days. Today, nostalgia for an old fashioned holiday fills the airwaves, sweetened by songs of candy canes and gingerbread men. In the 1940’s the airwaves were also crackling with radio plays, and many families gathered round to listen to the dramas read live on the air.
The most recent production from The Taproot Theater, It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play transforms the theater at North Seattle Community College to a radio station complete with audience applaud signs and actors bustling about as they read their lines. Forced to scramble for a new venue after the recent arson fires in Greenwood, Taproot has worked some holiday magic to bring this production to the stage. Originally Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol had been slated for production during the holiday season. Fortunately, It’s a Wonderful Life lends itself well to a short production period since actors read from their scripts as they naturally would if they were involved in a true radio drama. Solid acting talent by all performers strengthens this performance, particularly Jesse Notehelfer who graces the stage with both her singing voice and thespian skill.
As always, Sarah Burch Gordon outfits the company in both eye catching and historically appropriate costumes. In this instance, the actresses sparkle with festive forties style. The sound effects for the radio play are performed live by Eric Riedmann. He does a fabulous job of making the sounds lively and entertaining to watch.
Younger audiences unfamiliar with the Frank Capra movie, may find it difficult to keep up with the rapid introduction of the assorted characters in the play. However most adults, particularly those with a penchant for A Prairie Home Companion, will find this production high on their list of must sees this season.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Make A Difference This Holiday Season

What signals the arrival of the holiday season to you? A wreath on the door, carols on the radio, sales at the mall? For me it's the Phinney Neighbors in Action Giving Tree project. It's our family tradition to find tags for boys who wish for Legos (even though our son is now in college) and girls who want the things my twin daughters have always liked. After we shop together we go home to wrap our gifts and hope that they will light up a face on Christmas Day.

Each year I work with local agencies to plan how our community can help serve their clients during the holiday season. This year we committed to providing over 400 gifts for adults and children of all ages through six local organizations.

Children ranging in age from infants to teens have requested gifts through Broadview Emergency Shelter, Childhaven Therapeutic Childcare Program, and FamilyWorks Food Bank. Client families make a specific gift request for each child and we make a commitment to fulfilling these wishes. At Whitman Middle School, counselors work to provide gifts for students and their older siblings.

Children have often selected toys from catalogs or parents have asked for practical gifts like clothing. Most requests should fall in the affordable $20-$30 range, although some may be more or less. Most toys are widely available at Fred Meyer or Target or at the Toys R Us at Northgate. If you choose to buy clothes, please get a gift receipt in case an exchange is needed.Many teens request gift cards to Fred Meyer, Target, or local movie theatres. Think back to your own teenage years and I believe you’ll appreciate the need for kids this age to make their own choices; shopping is half the fun! To make it easier, the Phinney Neighborhood Preschool Co-op is selling Fred Meyer gift cards at the reception desk of the Phinney Neighborhood Center (6532 Phinney Ave N). A small portion of the proceeds goes to benefit the preschool AND you can fulfill a wish in one easy trip.

This year we’ve added two new agencies to our list of partners: Dorothy Day House, a permanent supportive housing program for formerly homeless women and the Cate Apartments, a nearby program of the Low Income Housing Institute which provides stability for previously homeless families.

Gift requests for Dorothy Day House residents (adults) are available at the Greenwood Senior Center (525 N 85th St), while all other agency gift tags (primarily for younger children and teens) are on a tree at the Phinney Neighborhood Center (6532 Phinney Ave N). Feel free to visit either location and check out a tag, then make a wish come true.

Please return all gifts by Saturday, December 12th to the location where you picked up the tag.

With your help, we’ll be amazed once more at the generosity expressed in our neighborhood!

by Judith Wood, PNA