Saturday, May 31, 2008

PNA Rates 4.5 of 5 on Yelp

In the last 6 weeks 2 people from Seattle and one from Poulsbo have written reviews of the PNA in Yelp. Here's some of what they say:

"A great neighborhood resource, with community classes in all kinds of things..."

"The PNA is great, ... especially the Tool Rental program!"

"I took a set of evening classes there and loved how alive and diverse the activities were there. Everything from art displays, real estate classes to computer and martial arts. Plus, the wood floors..."

Read the whole thing here... and if you're in the neighborhood, stop by and see the wood floors for yourself. This old school building really is amazing. I have a friend who actually went to school here. If you ask him nice he'll even show you the coat hook where he used to hang his jacket.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Summer Phinney Ridge Review Goes to Printer

If you're wondering about my flurry of posts today, well, it's due to putting the Summer Issue of the Phinney Ridge Review (PRR) to bed this morning and getting the June Member Newsletter (both email and paper versions) out a couple of days ago. (BTW, let me know if you want to help save a tree and discontinue your hard copy member newsletter.) Now I have time to take care of other business... such as posting to the blog! Here's a sneak peak at the contents of the Summer PRR.

Cover: Modern Dog Poster Art. A visit with Robynne Raye who makes the ArtWalk posters written by Molly Manor.

Front Page: To Beer or not to Beer. Summer Beer Taste
Phinney Farmers Market Open Until Oct 3
Summer Bingo/Karaoke at GSC
New Preschool Programs at PNA

Other contents include the President's Report, a new morning walk by our walking correspondent Peter Hendrickson, our food writer A-P Hurd offers a meditation on strawberries, a story about how local "Cool Moms" are helping to mitigate global warming by Divya Krishnan and a round up of new area businesses written by Travis Warren. This last item is something new. We hope to be able to cover more new business by writing a single round up article rather than individual stories. Let us know what you think. In addition to all this there's information about the Greenwood Car Show, the Greenwood Seafair Parade, the Summer class schedule and much, much more in the Summer PRR. Look for hard copy in your mail box (USPS) and in stores and the like all around the neighborhood next week.

Seattle Bound

I came across this blog recently written by a young woman who is moving to our neighborhood from "back East". Those of us here who read her blog felt that Katey's exuberance was infecting and her fresh view point enabled us to take a new view of some things that may seem to have become ordinary or second-nature.

Reproduced below (with Katey's permission) is her first entry about Seattle. You can visit her blog here.

Seattle Bound

So as of 1pm yesterday (west coast time), I am a resident of Washington state.

I now live in the neighborhood community of Phinney Ridge, on 61st street. Well, as of June 1st. But my new landlord was nice enough to give me the key now, anyway. 

Basically what I've discovered is that there are many little "neighborhoods" surrounding Seattle, each with their own character and main street of shops/bars/etc. to explore. You will see from the photos that the neighborhood I'm in is very residential; if you go down the hill about 4 or 5 blocks, you get to this great lake with a huge park around it; if you go up the hill 2 blocks you get to the main street and the bus stop. (10 minutes to downtown and my office!) You wouldn't know that you were only a spit away from downtown. Lucky for me, my dad's friend's cousin lives in Seattle and is a real estate agent, so she was nice enough to drive us around all day and show us the neighborhoods and talk about each one. ALSO luckily, we have had 4 straight days of bright sunshine.

So for now, I have some photos listed on my website. I started a new file for Exploring Seattle, since I am about to be spending all my spare time finding out all the cool stuff there is to do and see in Seattle. Not to be confused with the me & Nate going to Seattle gallery under the 'Notes from the Road' section. You can find all this and more at

I will let everyone know when I am settled and ready to throw a shindig. Of course the 2700 mile commute is a little rough, but we'll figure something out. 

By the way, I did see Kurt Cobain's house, but neglected to sit on his bench and muse about old times. 

I will update more when I can on the trip and all the stuff I'm already finding out about my new town- which I have officially fallen in love with. *sigh*

"We're NOT llamas!"

The alpacas at the Farmers Market last week were a real hit. At least one other blogger picked up on them.

News Item

In case you were wondering what all those choppers were doing overhead yesterday morning or why Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske was having lunch at the Red Mill....

Seattle P-I: Greenwood man gives up after 3-hour standoff

Seattle Times: 3-hour standoff in Greenwood ends with couple in custody

My Ballard: Standoff in Greenwood is over
You may have heard helicopters buzzing the neighborhood this afternoon. King-TV sent its “Skyking” to check out some police activity at the 9000 block of 4th Ave NW.

Note: The PNA blog does not regularly cover neighborhood news such as this item. For "a  news blog for Seattle's Ballard neighborhood and beyond (Fremont and Phinney Ridge)" we recommend My Ballard.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The new PNA blog goes Public today!

We opened the PNA blog "out of town" a couple of weeks ago just to work out the kinks and get up a head of steam and now we are ready to go public.

The email member newsletter went out this afternoon and the paper copies are in the mail so we expect many of you will stop by to get a look at our latest endeavor.

By the way: we really would like to reduce the amount of paper we use so if you haven't asked to be removed from the hard copy mailing list for the monthly member newsletter please consider doing so. To help us save trees just email me and let me know.

We hope you like our blog and come back often as we continue to add contributors and topics.

Tutelage & Twinkies

This happened a week ago, but for posterity, I’d like you all to read this story.

A caveat—nothing is set in stone, these are just proposals, ideas.

Several weeks ago, I’ve been pondering about the role the Education Program plays here at the PNA. Sure, we provide classes, and get neighbors together through a common topic or interest, but is that it? Are we destined to just instruct, instruct, and instruct some more?

A secondary reason I was hired here (correct me if I’m wrong, everyone) is for my experience in event programming and how I want to further my abilities in such a field. Being the Assistant Education Coordinator does provide some sort “event programming”, but on a different medium, a different field.

So, I told Emily one day—“why don’t we do something different? Why don’t we think outside the proverbial box?”

Ok, bad cliché, but you know where we’re heading in this topic.

Emily and I were thinking of creating a “Tutoring Project” for the Education Program. Bringing experts and students together to learn or refine certain skills. Anything from “kung fu” to “preparing for the SATs” to “sustainable living” to “calculus”. I’ll be honest, it’s a grandiose idea, but we needed expert advice to make it more…feasible. Part of the impetus was to give volunteer instructors a chance to contribute their knowledge and skills to the public without the "classroom setting". Also, to bring neighbors together in a smaller, intimate setting. In addition, some topics of education might be too obscure or require one-on-one instruction; thus, teaching such topic in a group setting would be less effective.

Hence, tutoring!

Anyway, we decided to create an imprompteu steering committee/focus group to bounce off our ideas. See what we can do anything realistic with our tutoring program. They consisted of current volunteer instructors and anyone else who showed keen interest to the topic. It was last Monday and the meeting place was set. Room 1 (the “haunted” room, hahaha).

I decided to buy snacks for our steering committee. I just came back from Fred Meyer with a bagful of goodies. I’m cheap and I was hungry, so I ended up buying cheap junk food—chips, cheese dip, and twinkies.

Love twinkies.

Apparently, May 19th is “officially” PNA Twinkie Day, according to Emily (hahaahaha). It’s unprecedented, because she said that no PNA-related meeting involved twinkies. Ever. My boss jokingly says that we should save the leftover twinkies, since they last FOREVER. Well, that’s good, because when the nuclear apocalypse comes (a la Mad Max), and we all don leather, ride motorcycles, and sport Australian accents, we’ll need those everlasting twinkies to help us persevere in that nuclear desert wasteland. Hahahahahah. Just kidding.

It was a good discussion. It was nice to see some of the CTC volunteers show up and give their input. It was also great to see them warm up to this fascinating project. It seemed to me that we might be creating something similar to the PNA’s babysitters’ directory, except it would be a directory of tutors and the topics they offer. It’s a good start. Not all of the kinks have been worked out yet. Still some flaws. Still need to do a formal proposal, I suppose. However, it just might work, after all.

After that meeting, I realized I can create something from scratch within this wonderful organization. As long as I persevere and have the heart to do it, it can become reality. I’m so thankful that people—staff, volunteers, and people in the neighborhood—have shown their support and their belief in this project. So, who knows what will happen next? I hope for the best. Naturally, i'm open to suggestions or comments so as to refine this idea to make it a reality.

“Yes, we can”, I say to myself with a smirk (guess where I got that from?)


“provito in altum”*

* launch forth into the deep

Thursday, May 22, 2008

He's going the distance!

Currently, I'm helping a fellow named Mike with the upcoming "Mystery Week"--a mystery-themed series of activities around Phinney Ridge/Greenwood, which all culminate to the Gumshoe 5K Walk. All proceeds benefit the Greenwood Senior Center. These events are set for August, if I remember correctly.

Check out for more, ha.

Anyway, to promote Mystery Week and the Gumshoe, Mike has recruited me to help film a "promo video/commercial". I won't go into details, but let's just say that involves your fellow neighbors being "conscripted" (hehehehe) to be actors in this commercial. Nothing paid, nothing fancy, nothing complex, just their acting abilities and roughly 2 minutes of their time.

We went all over the neighborhood--Ken's, Red Mill, Starbucks, Metropolis, and the Zoo. Mike was on fire, getting people who were otherwise busy and/or too shy to commit at least 2 minutes of their time as extras in this commercial. I was amazed at his persuasive ability. And in the end, all the actors had a wonderful time participating.

A little FYI: Mike is the husband of one of my coworkers here at the Phinney Center. He's in charge of coordinating Mystery Weeky/Gumshoe and he wants it to be a success. He's charismatic and has a commanding presence, but not bossy.

I am in awe of him. Simply because he knows exactly what he wants and he does what it takes to get it done. He once told me as we were approaching the fire station that in order to get things done one must have…well, since this is a public blog…let’s call it “GUTS”

You gotta have GUTS.

I'm internalizing these lessons, thinking about how it takes GUTS to accomplish the impossible. After all, all success takes some sort of risk, and taking risks requires a certain amount of bravery. And heart.

Mike is doing what he's doing not for self-aggrandizement, bravado or just so that he can make some funny promo videos. Rather, he's doing what he's doing because he knows that it all redounds to fundraising for a worthy cause--the Greenwood Senior Center (c/o PNA). I'm learning a lot from Mike and learning about being driven, about being proactive instead of reactive...or worse, passive. It resonates with me because it's an inspiration to get things done at my end, at my work here at the Phinney Center and the things I want to see happen for the benefit of the neighborhood.


Aut viam inveniam aut faciam*
* "either I shall find a way, or I shall make one"

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Bus Chick" Digs Green My Ride

Thanks to Carla Saulter (aka "Bus Chick") over at the Seattle P-I's Reader Blogs for her exuberant post about the recent Green My Ride event that took place here at the PNA. She writes:

"A couple of weeks ago, I spent a sunny Saturday afternoon at Green My Ride, that alternative transportation fair in Phinney I told you about. It was a great event, and not just because there were two different booths selling cookies the size of my face. It was well-planned, informative, and fun, with tons of information and encouragement to help people change their transportation habits. My favorite part of the fair was the Environmental Jeopardy (pun intended, I assume) game at the Seattle Parks booth..."

You can read the entire post here.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Missing Market Found!

Thank you to Rebekah Denn, P-I food writer, for her lovely entry on the opening day of the Phinney Farmers Market. You can read it here.

While I'm at it ... thanks to our friends at My Ballard for this item a couple of days ago.

Meanwhile, I finally found the listing of the Phinney Farmers Market the Times says they've added in lieu of the fact that they did not include us in their Summer Guide. The hard copies of the Summer Guide will forever lack our Farmers Market but the Times has, indeed, made sure we are in their list of "Today's Events." We are number 110 on a list of 162 for the date of the next Market, Friday, May 23.  Now, you may think that's a mighty long list to scroll through and you'd be right. I suppose you could just search the Times' web site for Phinney Farmers Market, but then of course, you'd need to know it exists in the first place. All in all, I suppose being 110th is better than nothing. Could be worse.... could be raining.

[Read the previous post on this subject here]

Fresh Fotos From Farmers Festival

Ok, so it's a Farmers Market... so sue me!

Anyway, here are a few shots I took at yesterday's opening day of the Phinney Farmers Market. I saw at least one other person there who's been invited to contribute to this blog and is known for her photography. Hopefully, she had her camera with her and will share her photos with us soon. For now, here's mine:

Friday, May 16, 2008

Missing Market Update

I’ve followed all the leads and taken up the loose ends and now I can tell you exactly why the Phinney Farmers Market was the only one not on the list in the Seattle Times’ Summer Guide. The answer is: "No one knows!"

The folks at the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance say they turned over the complete list to the Times and the person at the Times who compiled the piece says she has "no idea" how it might have happened. She also said that she has received (so far) at least one email about it and that she has fixed it on line. Perhaps I’m looking in the wrong place but I don’t see it yet. Hard to imagine how one name might have slipped off a list, but there you have it!

Ah well, you, at least, already know the Phinney Farmers Market opens today… in about an hour actually. See you there!

[This is a follow-up to a post earlier this morning. Read the original post here]

A Survey About the Community Technology Center

Please take a moment to fill out this brief survey from the Community Technology Center. We want to know what kind of computer/internet topics you want taught in the Fall Quarter and how our CTC can better serve you! Please click here to take the survey

So far this is what we got up our sleeves (not finalized, btw):

* Online Investment
* Intro to Photoshop Elements
* Intermediate MS Word
* Intro to OpenSource
* Intro to Linux
* Alternatives to Mainstream Software (a.k.a. "Linux Alternative Project")

Ok, so what exactly is a CTC?

As I stated in my first post, I run the CTC at the Phinney Center. CTC stands for Community Technology Center, which is under the jurisdiction of the Education Program of the PNA. Yes, you could technically call it a "computer lab", but it also a site for members of the community to connect with others through technology. It allows those with computer skills to give back to the neighborhood by teaching others such skills. Essentially, it helps reduce the "digital divide" between certain demographics.


Oh, I can go an and on and on about the digital divide, but the shortened version is this:

Simply put, the power of computers and the internet have a profound effect in our lives, affecting our decision-making, politics, purchases, education, and entertainment. Not everyone has access to computers. Therefore, many community centers, libraries and non-profit organizations have developed CTCs to give such access so that EVERYONE can benefit in this Age of Information.


"Homines, dum docent, discunt. "*
*While men teach, they learn

2008 Greenwood/Phinney ArtWalk

I was fortunate enough to be juried into the 2008 Greenwood/Phinney ArtWalk.

I am a professional artist and I exhibit locally and nationally. I'm not saying this to brag, but to put into context what I'm going to say next. I've been working as an artist for over 20 years, and in the ten years I've lived in Greenwood, I usually send in my application to the neighborhood's art walk. I do this for three reasons. First, it's an event in the neighborhood I've chosen to live in. Second, the jurors are frequently arts professionals whom I want to see my work. Third, it's an exercise in the subjective nature of juried art competitions.

What I mean by the third reason is that my being a professional and established artist in no way guarantees I'll be juried into any art event. It is a competition and a humble reminder that jurors have tastes of their own, and their taste rarely cares about what might matter to the artist under consideration.

There have been plenty of years that I didn't get juried into the Greenwood/Phinney ArtWalk. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Having said that, I was grateful to be in this year, and it was fun. I was placed at Johnson & Johnson Antiques. Owner Marjie Johnson has participated in the art walk for as many years as it's existed, and each year she provides live music and things to nibble and sip. Friday night was packed with people strolling from store to store, and Saturday was a little more leisurely. Two very different experiences between Friday night and Saturday day.

Thanks to the Greenwood Arts Council and its supporters for a great community event.

Seattle Times Summer Guide lacks PNA Farmers Market

The Summer Guide of the Seattle Times came out yesterday. In it was a list of Farmers Markets in and around Seattle. I don't know if you noticed but the Phinney Farmers Market was not on that list! I compared the list in the Times with the list at the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance web site where I discovered that ours was the ONLY ONE MISSING from the Times story! I'll look into this and report back.

Meanwhile, the Phinney Farmers Market does indeed open today, complete with predicted record high temperatures!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Connections (through volunteering)

Last Friday, I went downstairs in the Phinney Center to help out running the "open lab" of our Community Technology Center.

For the uninitiated, the CTC is our computer lab at the Phinney Center, and "open lab" is a 2 hour block of time in which anyone can stop by to use the lab for all of their computer and internet needs--high speed interent, printing, scanning, and a smorgasbord of other programs (both Microsoft AND Linux). And it's free and completely open to the public.

Anyway, I was downstairs at the CTC, observing one of my volunteers helping out an elderly patron in using the printer. And it wasn't done with condescenion or impatience. My volunteer was doing his job with utmost care and professionalism. I thought that my CTC volunteer could handle it from there so I decided to go back upstairs back to my office.

It warmed my heart knowing that these two gentlemen were brought together through technology--one wanting to learn and one knowing and willing to teach. Of course, they are some obvious "mercenary" benefits--service learning hours, networking opportunities, enhancment of resumes, etc.--but that's beside the point. In addition, I was touched seeing that people are willing to give themselves--their knowledge, their energy, their time--in helping others simply because it's the right thing to do and that they want to give back to their community. I'm grateful for those who see the intrinsic mutuality between community member and the community itself...and that those who see it act upon to ensure its continued existence and beneficence.

Despite the obstacles and challenges that we face on the job, just seeing that interaction made my day. Knowing that we as neighbors and fellow citizens are willing to reach out to others, differences nonwithstanding. Seeing what I saw at the CTC reminded me that, all in all, i'm just trying to do my best to build community.

That's what it all boils down to, yes?


mobilis in mobili
* "moving in a moving thing"

Sunday, May 11, 2008

PNA Vegetated Roof Workshop

What’s green, laid at an angle, and filled with Armeria maritime? The new Farmers’ Market shed at the Phinney Neighborhood Center.

I've been a member of the PNA for several years and frequently participate in PNA related events. One Saturday last March I joined with about 10 other community members for a work party that was disguised as a workshop. PNA Well Home Program Coordinator Michael Broili led the workshop, and started out with a presentation on integrated storm water management and the natural hydrological cycle of the planet. He told us about how, as a result of impervious surfaces in cities, towns and communities, this cycle has been broken and the natural environment suffers.

The workshop was a literally hands-on learning experience. The shed had been constructed, but the preparation of the roof had not. The intent was to provide a roof environment that would take water from a sink outside the shed through a sump pump system and divert it back up to the roof. The sump pump will be solar-powered.

One of Mike's points during his presentation was that each house in Seattle could provide all its greywater needs by capturing the runoff from rains that hit residential and commercial roofs and building sides. Greywater, he explained, is any water that has already been through one domestic usage, but is not sewage.

We learned how this can be done by diverting water from surfaces into a storage system, instead of into downspouts and sewers. Greywater storage systems can be above ground or below ground, and capacity can range from a few gallons to thousands. The stored water can then be used in a variety of way, from watering in the yard to laundry to flushing toilets.

During the workshop, we students were actively engaged in the development of the vegetated roof. A conveyer belt was used to move pea gravel, compost and pumice from the parking lot onto the roof of the shed. we laid a membrane layer between the pea gravel and the other materials, and laid PVC to distribute the greywater. And finally, we transplanted various plants (including the Armeria maritime) to establish themselves and benefit from the closed loop of water reclamation and distribution.

As I read more and more about how water and water rights are becoming increasingly politicized, this workshop educated me and the others who took part about the historic role of water in natural ecosystems, and how those of us who live in the city can recreate a natural hydrological cycle in their own homes.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Life’s a Beach

The annual PNA auction, this year titled “Life’s a Beach,” was last Saturday. Every year all the stops are pulled out to make a gigantic event that’s fun for all as well as a big fundraiser for the PNA.

Things are still getting back to normal as the flotsam & jetsam of a Big Beach Party (in the rain, I might add!) settles down.

I took a few pictures of the event but, even though I was warned about the lousy lighting for photos under the Big Top where the live auction took place, I still wasn’t prepared for how difficult it truly was to get some good shots. Next year I’ll bring a tripod!

Here are a couple of shots that turned out a bit better than most:

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Hello! I'm another contributor!

I remember attending a training seminar (sponsored by the Washington Service Corps) in Yakima about the very broad concept of "communication". I remember our instructor telling all of us:

"Say, 'Hello, my name is [insert name here] and I am a contribution!'"

It's funny that I remember that mantra because I'm doing exactly that--being a this blog, that is.

My name is Rex Dulay and I'm the PNA's AmeriCorps Volunteer, serving as their Assistant Education Coordinator. As a part of the Education Program, my tasks include creating community education classes with a focus on computer/internet literacy, running the two Community Technology Centers (CTC) under the PNA, recruiting volunteers for said CTC, and be of assistance in the daily operations here at the Phinney Center.

I love what I do :)

I'll be posting news items and what not from time to time, helping my coworker and friend Stu with this blog. If you're reading this, please spread the word to your friends about this blog!

Please take care


Vive ut vivas*
*"live so that you may live"


Welcome to the blog of the Phinney Neighborhood Association. My name’s Stu Witmer. I’ve lived in Seattle since 1974 and in the Phinney/Greenwood area since 1999. Since the end of January this year I’ve been the PNA’s Marketing Director.

The PNA is many things to many people. Even those who are familiar with us are surprised to learn of all the things we do. To list just a few there’s child-care, computer training, home tours, book clubs, folk music concerts, Spanish language classes, classes in sustainable living, an art gallery,a tool exchange, a soup kitchen a Farmers Market and more. Often when people begin to explain what the PNA is the parable of the blind people and the elephant often comes up. Each of us easily describes the parts we are closest to, but few can describe the whole. Hopefully, this blog, through the insights of everyone involved, will help describe the entire animal. It’s my hope that with this blog we will be able to share a good deal of that cornucopia with you. I say “we” because I anticipate having other regular contributors adding their unique insight to the mix.

In the last three months I’ve noticed a number of interesting items about our neighborhood and the PNA that haven’t fit in the established communications channels such as the quarterly Phinney Ridge Review newspaper and the monthly member newsletter. (By the way: if you’re a member and interested in receiving the newsletter electronically, let me know). I hope for this blog to be a place to share that sort of information and more. I would like to see some lively discussions in this blog, not just about the PNA, but also about anything that is part of the life and expectations of the people who live and work in this community.

Yesterday I made the inaugural entry with a post of the PNA Mission and Values statement. It seems like a very good place to begin.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Phinney Neighborhood Association Mission and Values

Leadership, Partnership & Teamwork
We are responsive to our community’s needs through the relationships we build with our members, our neighbors and other organizations.

Honesty, Respect & Integrity
We value the worth of every person in our community and treat each other in a genuine and straightforward manner.

Effective, Responsible & Sustainable
We value thoughtful stewardship of all our resources, and we operate in a fiscally and socially responsible manner in order to keep our organization a vibrant and successful member of the community

Sharing, Caring & Service
We share resources, skills and knowledge in a compassionate and supportive way. This is how we serve our community and how we provide opportunities for our community to serve as well.

Joy, Laughter & Fun
We believe the best way to build community is through smiles, with
humor, and just having a darn good time!