Monday, December 23, 2013

Beyond Home Renovation: The Tool Library & Closed Circuit
by Todd Shwayder, Tool Library Coordinator

Last week at the PhinneyWood Tool Library, I was visited by a young artist who, with other talented local fashion designers, jewelers, ceramicists, and visionaries, told me she had taken on the daunting task of renovating an old storefront space in Capital Hill and installing a pop-up shop (to run until the end of the year).

Jessica Carter is the Manager / Curator at Love City Love. Being a PNA member herself, she knew that the PhinneyWood Tool Library would be the first place to look for borrowing all the tools they would need for renovation and installation. She came to me with an extensive list of tools. After discussing her possible construction methods and troubleshooting difficult concepts, Jessica drove away with her station wagon packed to the brim with everything they were going to need to get the job done.

I stopped by last night for the opening party. It was beautiful! Seattle Met Magazine called it a sensory experience plus shopping. Closed Circuit will be up through Monday 29th. If you get a chance this weekend, I recommend you check it out. You might get inspired to make renovating a New Year’s resolution, and if you do, the Tool Library will be here to make sure this resolution comes true.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Candace Rowe
Not everything at the PhinneyWood Tool Library is a loud, noisy power tool.  If you poke around, you can find humble tools that you might not even have known you needed. Like a bucket of trowels.
I’d been thinking about trowels lately, mostly when I was in the shower. You can take a nice, relaxing shower with your eyes closed and the steam slowly easing the cold from your bones; or you can take a multi-tasking shower, scrubbing the walls and checking for loose tiles while your conditioner is doing its thing. You can also take a frenzied shower with your dog, trying to shampoo him without getting clawed to ribbons, but that’s a whole other article. It’s that second kind of shower that I usually take, and I’d noticed that some of the shower tiles were cracked and wiggly, and that grout was discolored or even missing in places. Those things aren’t good from an aesthetic point of view, but, as my husband pointed out, water can get under those loose tiles and freeze on very cold nights. Our shower is in the basement. It’s pretty cold down there.

So I had been thinking about trowels, and grout, and all things shower-related. I did a little research and learned that shower grout needs to be resealed every year or two, depending on how much you use the shower. If you notice your grout is harder to clean, or is getting discolored, you need to clean it well and reseal it with a latex-based product. These are available at any hardware store. Our grout is colored, so I ordered grout stain pens in Dark Smoke and spent many painstaking hours coloring in the grout around our itty-bitty octagonal tiles. But before you ever get to that point, you need to clean the shower thoroughly and fix any damaged grout.
I referred to Pinterest (as in all things) and concocted a witch’s brew of blue Dawn and white vinegar, sprayed it on to sit overnight, and in the morning every bit of soap scum wiped right off. I love Pinterest. But I digress. With soap scum and mold vanquished, you’re ready for your trowel.

Trowels come in many shapes and sizes and are used for many different things, from gardening to construction to what we’re about to do in the shower. They consist of a metal blade and a short handle. Some are flat, while others are curved. They are used to spread, dig, scoop, and place. We will be spreading.

There are several trowels used in construction: a brick trowel has a slightly rounded, diamond-shaped blade; a finishing trowel has a large, flat rectangular blade, and a flooring trowel (used to lay concrete) is shaped like a lancet arch and has a pointed front to fit into corners. A gauging trowel has a rounded tip and is used for gauging or mixing quick set plaster. Corner trowels are v-shaped, and do about what you might expect. A pointing trowel is a smaller version of the brick trowel, and is used to separate concrete from the forms it is poured into. A tuck pointing trowel is a long, thin tool that is designed for packing mortar between bricks. There are also trowels used for gardening, and they look like miniature shovels. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and if you ever get bored you might want to explore the Tool Library’s tub of trowels and speculate about the use of each one.

Once the shower was completely dry, I used the smallest trowel from the Tool Library tub of trowels to push the sludge into every nook and cranny, even into cracks in broken tiles around the windowsill. As I’ve said, we have very tiny tiles. If you have bigger tiles, you might want a bigger trowel. There’s a trowel for everyone in that bin. The grout needed to dry for 24 hours, then I used my pens to re-stain it, and it looked like a brand new shower!
So as the holidays wind down and you are making those New Year’s resolutions, don’t forget your shower. Think how much more relaxing it’ll be in there if you know every single tile is safe and sound. Not to mention very, very clean.
The hours of the PhinneyWood Tool Library are Wednesdays from Wednesdays from 3-6:30 pm, Fridays from 5-7 pm, and Saturdays from 9 am-2 pm. Call 206.783.2244, extension 48 to check on availability or to reserve a tool. You do need to be a PNA member to borrow tools, and they ask for a minimal donation.
You can go here for a complete list of what tools they have available:  We’d love to hear about your experiences with our Tool Library. Send them to and you may see them here in future weeks!



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

PNA explores RACE: Are we so different?

As part of our continuing cultural engagement series, PNA will be hosting a community discussion on Thursday, January 16th, 10am-noon at Greenwood Senior Center to explore the profound issues covered by Pacific’s Science Center’s exhibit RACE: Are we so different?  This fascinating workshop will be led by trained facilitators through from the Seattle Race & Social Justice Initiative.

The exhibit itself covers race in a particularly unique fashion. “By deconstructing historical, scientific and social ideas of race, the exhibit helps guests understand what race is and more importantly, what race is not,” states the exhibit’s website.  “It accomplishes this by focusing on three main themes: the everyday experience of race, the history of the idea of race in the United States and the science that is challenging some commonly held ideas about race.”

Though it’s certainly not required, those who are interested in joining the community discussion on January 16th at GSC are encouraged to visit the RACE exhibit beforehand.  To increase the chances of our PNA community visiting the exhibit at the same time, PNA has arranged group visits for the following dates and times:

Wednesday, December 11th, 12:30pm (FREE for Seniors, 65+)*
Saturday, December 14th, 12:30pm, Pacific Science Center

Friday, January 3rd, 3pm, Pacific Science Center

*Those wishing to visit on Wednesday, December 11th may meet at the Greenwood Senior Center at 10:45am and should bring a sack lunch.  Otherwise, you can meet the rest of the group at the exhibit itself at 12:30pm.

To let us know you’ll be joining the group, please contact:
Patrick Dunn,, 206.783.2244.

For more information on the exhibit, please visit:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Candace Rowe

When I married my husband nearly a year ago, I happily relocated to Seattle from the Arizona desert where nothing grows.  I’d never had a garden in my life, a fact that my husband was determined to rectify.  My first effort was a questionable success.  A few tomatoes were made into salsa, a few cukes were sliced into salads, and a whole crop of spinach was included in everything from omelets to soups.

But the vast majority of what I planted was much ado about nothing, leaving us with out-of-control squash vines and a forest of green tomatoes that ended up hidden in shame in the lawn and food bin (also something they don’t have in Arizona.)  I’m not soliciting gardening advice here; I’m pretty sure we’ve figured out where we went wrong.  But we did want to take care of our little garden and prepare it for our better efforts next spring.  

After a perusal of our garage (which houses a motorcycle, a smoker, buckets of seashells and old paint, but very little in the way of heavy duty yard equipment) we decided to check out the PhinneyWood Tool Library.  I’d never been there, but had heard whispers of its existence.  I had trouble marrying the image of musty-vanilla scented bookshelves with power tools, but I’m a fan of worlds colliding. 

I headed to the main PNA office, and they directed me out the door, across the parking lot, down the stairs, through the gate, and into the brick building.  I didn’t even know there was anything PNA back there.  I was wrong.  (There’s also a yoga studio back there, FYI.)  I was pleasantly pleased with the ambience of the little tool library.

I was greeted by Todd, who was helpful and friendly even though I obviously didn’t have a clue what I was doing.  The place itself is charming.  It has a kitschy retro vibe, and everything is very clean, organized, and attractive.  It made me want to fix things.

Todd hooked me up with a Mantis electric tiller and a heavy duty extension cord, and offered to help me get it out to my little red car.  I’d gotten a dose of testosterone just from breathing the tool library air, so I politely declined and hauled the thing up the stairs myself…in heels.  Of course, that tool-infused air was out of my lungs halfway up the stairs and I made a mental note never to refuse chivalry again.

Once I got the tiller (and my husband) home, we went to town on the yard.  The powerful and clean electric motor starts just by plugging the unit in and pulling the trigger.  It’s lightweight and easy to carry and maneuver (unless you’re going up stairs in heels).  The compact design allows the tiller to get in tight spaces and is easy to fit into cars, even small cars like mine.  The reversible tines can be used to till down 10 inches or shallow cultivate the top two to three inches of soil.

Not only did my little garden get tilled and all ready for next spring, but three yards of compost and a rainy Saturday later, our entire yard is literally steaming with nutrients.  I must confess that I agreed to have the tiller back in a week, and it’s now been two and it’s still in my garage.  I haven’t gotten a nasty phone call or even an email, but they do expect patrons to be more responsible than I am. I’m taking it back tonight, I swear.
The hours of the PhinneyWood Tool Library are Wednesdays from Wednesdays from 3-6:30 pm, Fridays from 5-7 pm, and Saturdays from 9 am-2 pm. Call 206.783.2244, extension 48 to check on availability or to reserve a tool.  You do need to be a PNA member to borrow tools, and they ask for a minimal donation.

You can go here for a complete list of what tools they have available:

We’d love to hear about your experiences with our Tool Library. Send them to and you may see them here in future weeks!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Come see Amaranta Ibarra-Sandys at the PNA Dia de los Muertos Festival!

Amaranta Ibarra-Sandys —Sand Painting

Amaranta grew up in Mexico City and moved to Seattle when she was very young. She had moved back and forth from Mexico City to Seattle several times, and now, 20 years later…. is back in Seattle. While she was studying Art and History in Mexico City, she was intertwining with musicians, dancers, and artists—realizing this is the environment she wanted to be a part of.  “Unfortunately, I knew I couldn’t have any support in my hometown and I came back in 2000, right after graduation, with a different perspective”.


Her first attempt at making a living as an artist happened right here in Seattle, selling clay masks at Pike Place Market. At this time, she was working at a restaurant and saving all of her money to pay for her art booth at the market, and was not ending up with any sales—so she quit. “Those were hard times—I knew I could do better than selling pigs and space needles made out of clay, so I then joined the Pottery NW school in Pioneer Square”.


She sold her artwork right outside Occidental Park at that time, with little to no hassle. “For a long time I did my ceramics as a way to make some money and show off my Clay Masks at galleries. A few years later,  I had a newborn at home and I couldn’t really go to work or have the support of a family member—Still I don’t have that luxury”.

After awhile, Amaranta started reaching out for opportunities and says she has been busy every since! “Good news is I took a business class through Washington Cash for Latinos and that really helped me—I opened up my mind even more and started seeing myself in the big picture”.


Some people may hear sand painting and ask, “What is that?”  Sand painting is “the art of pouring colored sands, powdered pigments from minerals or crystals, and pigments from other natural or synthetic sources onto a surface to make a fixed, or unfixed sand painting”.  This is one of the types of art that Amaranta creates and has been in the art world since she was 26 years old.


“I was about 23 when I found that pottery classes were offered at a community center in Mexico City. I was back in Mexico City after having lived in Seattle, and was looking for something fun and wanting to explore my possibilities”.


She has been fortunate to have many different avenues to display and talk about her artwork in the Seattle community. Places like SAM, Seattle Center, Tacoma Art Museum and Whiteman College—all have invited her to collaborate with a group of active and local Latino artists.

“Tapetes de Arena have been taking a rapid interest in Seattle, and I was one of the first female young Latina artists to be a part of it!”


As someone who is not an active artist, I always wonder how long the artists spend on their work—and what goes into that process. So I asked Amaranta—just how long does it take you to create a sand painting?

It really just depends on the size, the number of artists and number of volunteers that help carry in 25 pound bags of  sand. The biggest one was at Tacoma Art Museum, a 20x35 painting—huge!! It was displayed in the main lobby”.


She doesn’t just do sand painting; she has put her hands on multiple types of art. She has created “a hundred of pieces from clay pots, plates, tiles, garden ornaments to recycled media. When I create, I usually have a series and from that, I have one favorite one”.


Amaranta doesn’t just make art to support herself and her family, she has a sincere passion for it and does it recreationally as well. The business class she took helps make her aware of how to market her own work, web sites, e-commerce, etc. “So yes, doing art is my job. But I must say, art is very therapeutic for me”.



            As challenging as it may have been for Amaranta in the beginning, she is finally in a place where she is happy and successful! Not only is the beginning of her own company, a mobile arts school Art-Maranth.

She is producing her own art, a part-time Art Instructor, Spanish Art Teacher, Arts Advocate, a Mixed Media Artist and also volunteers actively for the South Park Arts Group. As an artist, she is currently working on a watercolor/newsprint series called “Angeles, Demonios y Sirenas”.  Her latest artwork will be available for sale at Art Under a $100 in South Park on December 7th.


You can see her Amaranta and her work at the Dia de los Muertos Festival at the Phinney Neighborhood Association on November 1, 2013 from 6:30-9 pm. The event will have a procession from 5:30-6:30 and the festival in the blue building 6:30-9 pm.


Written by:
Volunteer Jennifer Roberts

Saturday, September 14, 2013

PNA Becomes a Partner in Community Capital: Seattle

We’re pleased to announce that Phinney Neighborhood Association is now a Community Partner in the upcoming Community Capital: Seattle workshop series.  Hosted by Seattle Good Business Network (SGBN), this innovative series is designed to spark dialog on the emerging field of community capital and local investment.  

As SGBN points out, “Seattlelites hold about $70 billion in long-term savings but almost none of it is invested in the locally-owned businesses that make up nearly half of our economy. The positive economic, community, and environmental impacts of shifting even a small percentage of that investment into our local economy would be enormous.”

Covering CSAs, crowdfunding, coops, direct public stock offerings and more, the Community Capital series will kick off on September 25th with an all-day workshop by Michael Shuman, acclaimed author of Local Dollars, Local Sense.  Workshops will then be held monthly throughout the fall, winter, and into next spring at HUB Seattle in Pioneer Square.  All PNA members can receive a 15% discount with the discount code GOODBUDDY.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Start of a Seattle Tool Library Network

With the PNA Tool Library currently celebrating its 35th anniversary, we’re always a little surprised when some people still stare at us quizzically and ask “what the heck is a tool library?”  In many ways, our little program has been a bit of a neighborhood secret all these years, highlighted occasionally by the Seattle press but more frequently just going quietly about its business, supplying neighbors with the tools and education they need to take on projects, explore new skills, and save a couple dollars in the process.

Much to our surprise, though, those humble years of reliable community service have recently helped to inspire a whole new wave a tool libraries throughout our city, our region, and even the entire country.  In fact, Seattle now has tool libraries in West Seattle and Northeast Seattle, with projects starting up in Ballard, Capitol Hill, Beacon Hill, and through a couple farm coops as well.  Where once the PNA Tool Library stood alone, it now seems poised to become an exciting part of a burgeoning tool library network.  

An initial celebration of this network is currently on show as part of the Buster Simpson exhibit at the Frye Art Gallery through October 13th.  Through a simple cubby display filled with tools, we’re hoping that the opportunities produced by tool libraries everywhere will continue to inspire and empower neighbors from all communities to come together, share their resources, learn from one another…and hopefully stop asking us ”what the heck is a tool library?”

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Matt Babcock, Sculptor

Krill, kinetic sculpture by Matt Babcock, 2013, Edmonds, WA.

Matt Babcock is a sculptor who lives and works in Seattle. Matt’s goal is to create “complex and changing impressions using simple materials and methods.” He claims inspiration from his love of nature and interest in how things work, and says, “Often I start by trying to distill something interesting from the structure or behavior of an animal or plant.” His goal and inspiration are evident in the piece called Equestrian that he recently installed near the Phinney Neighborhood Center.

Matt has thought of himself as an artist from day one. “I have pursued art as long as I can remember, some times more actively than others. Matt has been creating art as his day job since 2008, and says, “I feel fortunate that my day to day life revolves around art.” If only we could all be so lucky!


When asked about his very first sculpture and the meaning behind it, Matt said, “When I was five my dad set me up with my own workbench and tools. I spent countless hours making things, things that I thought of as functional, even though the function was usually mysterious or imaginary. I’m still making things like that, only bigger. I didn’t think to call them sculptures when I was five, but I do now. For me the meaning is the function or action of the piece, whether or not I can say exactly what the piece is supposed to do.”


It takes Matt a long time to complete a piece. He says that “many spontaneous moments of inspiration get rolled into the process,” but overall he is inclined to be thorough and methodical. Equestrian represents about a month’s worth of full-time work, from design through installation.  


Matt is clearly a dedicated, passionate artist. What words does he have for aspiring artists? “Find the things that make you feel like you’ve been picked up and rung like a bell. Then try to make stuff like that.”


Equestrian will be at the Heart of Phinney Park at N 67th St. on the west side of the Greenwood Ave. N until the end of November. You can see more of his work on his website,, or get in touch with him via email at

Written by: Jennifer Roberts

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dorothy McGuinness

Dorothy McGuinness

  Most of the time, local artists are not able to work on their art as a full time job, instead they make time in the evenings and on the weekends. Dorothy McGuinness is one of those artists, working full time and pursuing her passion in her spare time. Dorothy is a local Contemporary Basketmaker who took her first basket making class in 1987 from the University of Washington Experimental College. During this time, she learned twining, coiling, and diagonal plaiting with natural materials.
            In a recent interview with Dorothy, I learned about what goes into one piece of her art, how many hours, where she finds these hours, and the meaning that goes into them. “A small piece may take 10 or 15 hours, the larger ones 100+, but most are probably between 25-40 hours to finish.” So when does she find these 100+ hours?! “Since I normally work a full time job,  I work on my art in the evenings and weekends. Some weeks it may be only a few hours and other I may work 30-40+ hours.” There are a lot of hours unslept, so Dorothy can do what she loves most.
            Dorothy commented on the influences behind her basket weaving, “for me I think basketry works well with my left brain, I have always been interested in math and science and this interest is translated into my work since I utilize a lot of math and geometry in constructing my pieces.”

            It’s obvious that Dorothy is very talented and makes beautiful pieces of art. So for all of you out there who are aspiring artists, Dorothy has a bit of advice for you. “If you want to be an artist, you just have to keep making art and exploring your craft and your medium. Some of your work may not be that great, but every once in awhile you make something great and the more you work, the better you will get.”

            Dorothy’s art will be displayed at the Phinney Neighborhood Association, the art gallery is located on the top floor. Her art will be displayed from June 16, 2013 to August 2, 2013.

“I’ve made so many lifelong friends through basketry; I’m not sure where I would be without the basketry community.”
Written by Jennifer Roberts

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

For over 30 years, the PNA Tool Library has been sharing tools, referrals, advice, and workshops with all its neighbors throughout North Seattle.  It has also been playing a rather humble role in helping its neighbors save money and take on some great projects. 
Joel Osborne, a new neighbor and tool library member, recently discovered these benefits as he began planning for a new addition to his yard.

“We decided to build a chicken coop. We wanted to do something a little different than traditional coops and I think we nailed it," Joel recounts.  "The agreement was that Elizabeth would design it and plan for the needed lumber and I would acquire the tools and get to use them. We needed a circular saw, miter saw, jig saw, saw horses and C clamps.

Having moved to Seattle (specifically Fremont) from Austin, Texas in September of 2012, and paring down on stuff before the move, we just didn’t have much in the way of tools. I began pricing them on Amazon and at local hardware stores. Then someone recommended the Phinney Tool Library.
It sounded too good to be true and I was worried that I would be fighting over tools with other members, but my first visit to the library proved there is plenty of inventory to serve the tool-less, like myself.  The tool library saved us up to $500!  Mike and the volunteers were so helpful and friendly it was hard to leave. If you need a tool, chances are these guys have it.  Can't wait for my next project!”
The PNA Tool Library is open on Wednesdays, 3-6:30pm, Fridays, 5-7pm, and Saturdays, 9am-2pm.  It has thousands of tools available on a pay-what-you-can basis to all of its neighbors throughout North Seattle.  To use the Tool Library, all you need to do is join the PNA....and then decide where you'd like to put a chicken coop of your very own.   

Monday, March 18, 2013

Phinney Center Gallery Shows

EDGES: Recent work by artists Tamara Stephas and Kristen Scott looks at the boundary between nature and the built environment. Tamara Stephas explores the relationship between humans and nature in an era of rapid environmental change. Her new landscape paintings pay homage to the power and beauty of the Pacific Coast, with a nod to the romantic imagination of the era of manifest destiny. As an architect and artist, Kristen Scott is drawn to edges — the line of how a building meets the sky and the ground, the shadow pattern on a wall, the framed view through a window that separates inside and out. Working in watercolor and often plein-air, she describes the unique qualities of a place, by exploring line, shape and the space between.

In April, Painters Under Pressure, a Seattle print arts salon will be showing their work at the Phinney Center Gallery. Painters Under Pressure Salon is a cohesive group of artists who gather each month to share their art with each other, offer and receive feedback, provide support and discuss challenges of being an artist. They are celebrating their tenth anniversary this year. Join us for the opening reception on Friday, April 12, from 7-9 pm.

Alternative Transport - Options For Neighborhood Travel Expand

By Bill Fenimore

The Phinney Neighborhood Association now has some great new features to help broaden our staff and visitor’s options for getting to the Phinney Center. This is a continuation of the work we started last summer. Both of these new improvements are in the corner of the upper lot next to the new stairs.

We have a beautiful new bike rack/sculpture that was the “peddle-away” winner of the Artistic Bike Rack competition. Designed and fabricated by Bruce Andersen of Andersen Studios, the piece includes options to do minor bike repair. We wanted to make bike riders feel more welcome and this project should accomplish that. Andersen Studios has great public art all over the area. This project was funded by a Department of Neighborhoods matching grant. Learn more about the artist team at

In addition, the Center has installed two new electric vehicle charging stations. Our partner on this project is ECOtality ( The two chargers are linked to the Blink Network via the Internet. This is our contribution to the shift away from carbon fuels for a more sustainable future. The dilemma associated with electric vehicles is to have enough locations for charging even as the conversion to electric begins. Unless we build it they won’t come.

This spring we will be seal coating and re-striping the lots to conform to the City of Seattle’s parking requirements. This will provide more spots and somewhat tighter parking (because the City specifies the size and number of spots). That is good news as the number of visitors for classes and events continues to grow here, but it means that biking, walking and carpooling are more important than ever.

PNA Kids! Summer Camps - REGISTER NOW!

School Age Summer Day Camps
Whittier Kids offers 11 weeks of Summer Day Camps for kids entering grades Kindergarten - 5th grade (ages 5-11) offer a bountiful choice of daily activities including: arts and crafts, swimming, science, drama, dance, cooking, and outdoor recreation…plus a wide array of field trips that take us all over Seattle nearly every day! Check out our Summer Camp flyer to learn more about all the exciting adventures we have planned for this Summer.
Register Now
Submit your Registration, including sunscreen authorization and deposit, to Whittier Kids, PNA or by mail to PNA Kids, 6532 Phinney Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103.

Half Day Preschool Summer Camps
Whittier Kids Preschool offers 8 weeks of summer camp for preschoolers ages 3-5 (must be potty trained). Fun, play-based learning combined with a variety of themes and flexible scheduling. Check out our Preschool Summer Camp flyer to learn more.
Register Now
Submit your Registration, including sunscreen authorization and deposit, to Whittier Kids, PNA or by mail to PNA Kids, 6532 Phinney Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103.

Flyers and Registration forms are also available onsite at Whittier Kids. All children are accepted on a first-come first-served, space available basis but current Whittier Kids families will receive priority enrollment through March 29. Sign up early for best availability!

Walking The Dogs, Linking To Neighbors

By Lee Harper
PNA Executive Director

One of the best things about having dogs is the link they provide to my neighborhood. Walking the dogs gives me an opportunity to chat with my neighbors, stop at Greenwood Hardware for dog treats, take a shortcut through Billy Goat’s Bluff P-Patch, or check out books at one of the many free libraries close by. Working in PhinneyWood - yes, the name is actually beginning to stick - gives me additional insight into the vibrancy and connectivity of our neighborhood.

The PNA has a long history of innovation and creativity, and new projects, programs, events and activities often come into being because of an idea from a community member.  We provide a platform for people and ideas. Working together with members, businesses, volunteers and neighbors, we co-create the future. This manifests itself in many ways, including: supporting local businesses through the PNA Business Membership; creating new events like the PNA Garden Party and Costume Exchange; focusing on sustainability through the Fixer’s Collective; evolving educational opportunities based on what neighbors are interested in; partnering with Solarize Seattle to bring affordable solar to the neighborhood; and providing electric car chargers in the Phinney Center parking lot.

In the mayor’s recent State of the City address, he pointed out the importance of social infrastructure, saying that arts, education and human services are just as important than a good physical infrastructure to knitting a neighborhood together. This is very much in line with what we at the PNA strive for.

Our goal is to always be open and responsive to YOUR ideas. Contact us with ideas, suggestions and feedback. Call 206.783.2244 or email We’re here for you!

Meet Me At The Market

By Ivy Fox

Meet your neighbors, your farmers and new friends this summer at the Phinney Farmers Market.
Starting June 7, from 3-7 pm, your Friday ritual can once again include your unique neighborhood Phinney Farmers Market. We are lining up the tried-and-true offerings, some brand new farms and more prepared food vendors for you as you gather to shop with friends and neighbors. Get a jump start on your weekly shopping, eat dinner while planning seasonally inspired brunch for the weekend, and let’s not forget about keeping picnic supplies at the ready for swimming at Green Lake and attending Zoo Tunes.

Meet new people as you both grab for that flat of perfect juicy berries. Allow time for double takes…wait, did you just see fresh ginger?! Let your kids meet the Washington Farmers that grow your delicious food.

 Phinney Farmers Market is an expression of your community and is reflected in this year’s exciting lineup of vendors and events including the Zucchini Races, the kids’ passport program and cooking and canning demonstrations. We rely on your continued weekly support so we can bring the best local farms straight to your family. 

Love the Market? Adopt an A-Board to put on a street corner near your home or place a “Meet Me at the Market” yard sign in your beautiful yard!  For more information see

Fixers Collective - Friends With Broken Blenders

By Patrick Dunn

Ever had a fancy gadget or kitchen appliance break just as soon as that trusty warrantee expires? It’s a frustrating experience, to be sure, but surprisingly few people actually stop to think whether they can fix the problem themselves.

The reason is simple. When the blender breaks, it’s almost always easier and less expensive to just trash it and head to the store for a replacement. The idea of trying to fix it hardly crosses anyone’s mind. With the advent of fixers collectives, however, and the modern celebration of old-fashioned tinkering, all that may soon be changing.

These groups, which are now popping up all around the world, are taking on this challenge with gusto. By encouraging people to be a little more curious about their otherwise disposable possessions, fixers collectives have introduced whole communities to the amateur tinkerer’s world of curiosity, ingenuity and sustainability. More important, they’ve also allowed folks to have a lot of fun and make friends while playing around with items they would’ve previously just thrown away.  

So, in early February, the PNA decided to join this movement by forming a fixers collective of our own. Its first meet-up took place in February at the PNA Tool Library and concentrated mainly on a broken table saw that desperately needed some tender loving care before it re-entered the Tool Library’s active inventory. After some casual hypothesizing, a couple of crude experiments, and a bit of elbow grease, that same table saw was spruced up and ready to get back to work.

With that initial fix successfully under its belt, this group now invites you and all your broken gadgets and gizmos to our next meeting. You don’t need to know anything about fixing to participate. We’ll help you take them apart, put them back together and – with a little bit of luck – we may even help you fix them!

For more information on The PNA Fixers Collective and future meetings, call the PNA at 206.783.2244, visit the Tool Library’s webpage, or simply email

Yanni’s Fling With Hollywood

By Jan Gray

Friday, March 15, you can tune into Q-13 at 8 pm and see the show that Chef Gordon Ramsay made working with the Avgoustiou family at Yanni’s Restaurant, 7455 Greenwood Ave N. Kitchen Nightmares is wild; it’s scary! It’s pretty good television, but what was it like to live it?

Executive Chef Peter, host Karen and their two daughters have been living and breathing their PhinneyWood icon for 30 years along with Peter’s father Yanni. Crowds waiting for a table outside the door were typical until the “Great Recession” began to wear thin on Seattlites over the past couple of years. Then, as for several great restaurants in PhinneyWood, things got tough.

Even so, when the family first thought about Kitchen Nightmares what they thought was, “Not us!”  They had watched the shows and clips from shows available on the Nightmares website and the drama was high. Gradually, they came to think more about the results. Karen said, “It seemed like a real chance to change things up, to re-energize.” After some serious family discussion, Peter and Karen said, “Yes.”

Late last year, Kitchen Nightmares arrived on Greenwood. “It didn’t take long for the crew to size us up,” Karen noted. “They already expect what they’ll find. Peter was the stubborn one who didn’t want to change. Taryia was the emotional one. Alyse gave as good as she got and I was the calm in the storm.” 

The family was able to set some limits.  The Parthenon and the city of Athens still sit calmly above the bar. They aren’t sure, however, how much in love they are with some details of the new d├ęcor. The new menu is brief, by comparison, but the dishes are delicious (taste-tested by the writer) and a word to the wait staff can sometimes bring an old favorite straight to your table  – in newly speedy time.

Was it worth it?  The Avgoustiou family consensus is, yes. “It feels new,” they agreed, “and it gives us new energy. When we bring that to our customers along with great food, we know we did the right thing.”

A Note from Yanni’s Restaurant:
The Avgoustiou family would like to thank their neighbors for putting up with all the unpleasantness that the production brought with it. Kitchen Nightmares contacted us because they were looking for a “credible famous restaurant in Seattle.” Thanks to Yanni’s, once the show airs nationally, everyone will know where Greenwood is, and we should see much more traffic, which will help our neighborhood businesses.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Energy Minding? Not With Solar!

I got my solar energy system installed last week, and now I can’t stop turning off lights.

Weird, huh? Now that I have free energy, why would I care? Well, because the system came with an ingenious web-based tool: the Energy Minder. Once it got hooked up and I could see my energy use graphed out on the “eGauge” screen, I quickly got the energy-saving bug.

Every time I turned on and off a light, I could see the e-gauge go up and down. And when our 19-year-old refrigerator kicked on – whoa! When we used the clothes dryer – double whoa! This sort of thing really makes you think.

So now I’m replacing my few remaining incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents, and I’ve been looking at the expensive but long-lasting LED lighting, which really sips lightly at the energy tap. We got a Community Power Works energy audit and we’re considering what else we can do – including replacing that refrigerator.

Of course, the coolest thing is seeing how much energy we’re making. The system produced energy – sometimes, as much as I was using – every afternoon last week, for at least a couple of hours when the sun was out. For at least that time, I was a solar-powered worker.

My solar system has me itching for summer too. Not just because we’ll be making energy like crazy. But we’ll be able to hang our clothes outside on the line again, like we’ve been doing for a few years. Gotta keep that dryer silent.

– Bill Thorness Bill is a PNA member and the volunteer outreach coordinator for the Solarize Seattle: Northwest program, which has two more free solar workshops this spring. He will also be on a tour of solar homes, coming in early April. Check back for details or see the program’s website,