Ballard High students designing a ‘social robot’

This coming Saturday, Ballard High School and six other Western Washington schools will present their prototypes for “social robots” that help teens deal with anxiety.

It’s all part of the Social Robot Design Challenge at the University of Washington.

“Social robots are different from a robot you might find in a factory,” explains the UW project site. “The purpose of a social robot is to be a companion, provide support, or gather information from people and their environments. While researchers are studying social robots with children, adults, and seniors, no one has looked closely at teens and social robots. We are trying to change that!”

The Ballard team (in the photo above) is designing a “cute, dog-like” social robot — because what’s a better companion than a dog?

The Social Robot Design Challenge is free and open to the public. It will take place on Saturday, March 24, from 3-5 p.m. in the Husky Union Building on the UW Seattle Campus.

(Photo from @projectemar on Twitter)

Events: Leif to Leif Run, St. Patrick’s Day, Night Out, Blessing of the Fleet and more

There are a lot of events on our Ballard calendar over the next few days, and here are a few of the standouts. Have fun out there, and enjoy the weather!

Thursday, March 15th

BALLARD NIGHT OUT – It’s the third Thursday of the month, and that means it’s time for Ballard Night Out. Artists are showing at several Ballard venues from 6-9 p.m. — including at Verity Credit Union, with live music, from 6-8 p.m. and an afterparty at Substation at 9 p.m.

DAMN YANKEES – The Ballard High School musical kicks off tonight, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at BHS. Adults $15, students $10 — and tickets often sell out for several nights. Performances also scheduled for March 22-24th. Details and ticket info here.

MOISTURE FESTIVAL – It’s back at Hale’s Palladium for the 15th year. Jugglers, chair climbers, musicians, comedians, bubble guys, clowns, burlesque artists, aerialists… it all kicks off tonight and runs through April 8th. Details here.

Friday, March 16th

Both the Damn Yankees musical and Moisture Festival (above) are running tonight.

Saturday, March 17th

LEIF TO LEIF RUN/WALK – The annual tradition kicks off with registration at 8 a.m. at Leif Erikson Hall and the 5K run/walk at 9 a.m. Head down to the other Leif on Shilshole, then back. Norwegian flag and a waffle for participating! Adults $10, kids $5. Proceeds will be shared with the Ballard Senior Center. Registration forms are here (.pdf)

NORWEGIAN HERITAGE DAY – After the run, the Tastes of Norway/Norwegian Cultural and Heritage Day gets underway at 10 a.m. at Leif Erikson Hall. Live music, dance, yummy food, traditional crafts, presentations and more — you can even judge pickled herring. Local genealogy researchers will answer questions about your Norwegian ancestors. The free event runs to 3 p.m.

ST. PATRICKS DAY IN BALLARD – Ballard is known for beer, so naturally this is a big day in the neighborhood. Conor Byrne will feature live music and food trucks all day. Lucky Envelope Brewing, Obec Brewing, Populuxe Brewing, Reuben’s Brews and Stoup Brewing are teaming up for the first annual “St. Pat’s Parade O’ Pints,” with specialty beers, commemorative glassware, t-shirts, food trucks and live entertainment. More details here.

BLOOD DRIVE – Always a good cause, the Bloodworks mobile unit will be parked at Ballard First Lutheran Church (2006 NW 65th Street) from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and again from noon to 3 p.m.

Sunday, March 18th

BLESSING OF THE FLEET – For nine decades, Ballard First Lutheran Church has blessed the men and women who harvest the seas, praying for their safety. The annual Blessing of the Fleet gets underway at 2 p.m. at Fishermen’s Terminal. All are welcome, and a reception follows.

Have an event? Add it to the My Ballard events calendar.

Mike’s Chili to appear on the Travel Channel

One of Ballard’s longest-running institutions, Mike’s Chili Parlor will be featured on the Travel Channel’s Food Paradise this Sunday.

Four generations of the Semandiris family have been operating Mike’s Chili since it opened out of a cart in 1922 to serve workers along the Ship Canal. The restaurant moved to its current location on NW Ballard Way near the Ballard Bridge in 1939.

“This is a great opportunity to share our history and passion with America,” said Mike Semandiris, great grandson of the original Mike who started it all. Many of Mike Chili’s regulars attended the Travel Channel shoot, which Mike said was a “fun experience for everyone involved.”

Phil Semandaris, the 3rd generation owner of Mike’s Chili, said they enjoyed working with the Travel Channel crew. “They are all a part of the Chili family now,” he said.

This episode of Food Paradise, “Bodacious Bowls,” will air on Sunday at 6 p.m. our time, and Mike’s Chili Parlor will be holding a viewing party.

Duke’s files application for Shilshole restaurant

Last May Duke’s Chowder House and the Port of Seattle announced the plan to open a new restaurant at Shilshole Bay Marina. Duke’s was awarded a 20-year lease to build the restaurant and an outdoor seating area overlooking the marina.

Today Duke’s filed the official land use application to get started on the project.

The location of the planned 3-story building is the grassy area in the central plaza area, just to the north of the Leif Erikson statue and south of the marina building (click for larger):

While the project won’t displace any parking spots, the restaurant’s construction — combined with the ongoing upgrade of the marina’s restrooms and a paving project — will disrupt parking at the marina. Restaurant construction is expected to begin around the middle of this year with the Duke’s grand opening slated for mid-2019.

City testing bikeshare parking areas in Ballard

Update: SDOT has published a blog post on the test project. “We’ve selected five ‘sidewalk furniture zone’ locations along NW Market St in Ballard where we’re encouraging bike share users to park their bike share bikes,” explains SDOT’s Norm Mah. The locations are:

– North side of Market just west of Ballard Ave (in front of Shakti Yoga).
– NE corner of Leary and Market (Ballard Beer Company).
– SE corner of Leary and Market (AT&T store).
– SW corner of Tallman and Market (All the Best Pet Care).
– North side of Market just W of Russel (Kangaroo and Kiwi).

SDOT says they’ll monitor the test parking areas and see if they help make the bikes in the area “appear more orderly.”

Earlier: Green, yellow and orange bikes have invaded Seattle over the last year or so, and we’ve all seen them scattered around the neighborhood — some even stacked in piles and occasionally thrown into Green Lake.

These are dockless bikeshare bikes from LimeBike, Ofo and Spin. Unlike cities like NYC — where you’re required to neatly dock your rented bikes — you can park them wherever you please.

A couple days ago, Thatcher Imboden spotted this freshly-painted bike parking area across the street from Matador along Market St. “Not sure if this is official paint, but this looks like a pilot for designated dockless bikeshare parking area in Ballard Seattle. Insight?” he asked on Twitter.

Sure enough, city traffic engineer Dongho Chang responded that it’s indeed a city test.

Will it help clean up the colorful bikeshare mess? Hard to tell, but we’ll keep you updated. Meanwhile, former SDOT chief Scott Kubly — who overaw the launch of dockless bikeshare in Seattle — has taken a job at Limebike.

Ballard High students join Governor Inslee in National School Walkout

Ballard High Principal Keven Wynkoop estimated about 1,000 students attended the walkout, which has now concluded. Our earlier stream-of-event coverage follows below:

Inslee also encouraged students to register to vote. Sen. Reuven Carlyle and Rep. Noel Frame are also in attendance. Passing cars are honking in support.

“Donald Trump may be afraid of the NRA, but I tell you the Ballard Beavers aren’t afraid of the NRA,” said Governor Inslee.

Inslee said he’s the “proud son of a Ballard Beaver.”

“Too many underestimate the power that we as teenagers hold,” says Ally Rice, a Ballard High freshman at the podium. “This time has to be the last time.”

The governor has arrived.

Students are walking out, horns are honking and people are applauding.

Governor Jay Inslee is joining Ballard High students in a walkout at 10 a.m. We’re updating this post with photos from the event.

(Photos from Tom Brew / @thomasbrew)

Gov. Inslee to attend Ballard High walkout

We’re posting updates from the Ballard High School walkout here.

Update: Governor Jay Inslee will be attending Ballard High’s walkout this morning (Wednesday).

We spoke with Ballard High principal Keven Wynkoop, and he said there are two events at 10 a.m.

“The student led walkout (unsanctioned) will be on the corner of 65th and 15th by the stone Ballard sign. They will have 1-2 minutes of silence at 10:00 and then student speeches followed by Governor Inslee,” he said. “We also have a sanctioned event on the track that staff and students can participate in where they will be walking the track quietly for the 17 minutes.”

Governor Inslee has been supportive of students speaking out against gun violence. “I’m glad they’re speaking up,” he said on Tuesday. “I want to thank them for their voices.”

Earlier: Students in dozens of Seattle schools — including in Ballard — plan a walkout on Wednesday as part of a national effort “to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.”

The walkout is planned for 10 a.m. and will last 17 minutes, one minute for each student killed in the shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

While the school district isn’t detailing which schools are expected to participate, a map on the organizers’ website lists Ballard High, Salmon Bay, Whitman Middle and Whittier Heights schools. A week ago, the school board passed a resolution calling on lawmakers to increase gun safety.

Then on March 24th, thousands of Seattleites are expected to participate in March For Our Lives, starting at 10 a.m. at Cal Anderson Park at 10 a.m. and ending at KeyArena. Emilia Allard, a senior at Ballard High School, is helping organize the event.

Neighbors urge measured approach to North Seattle upzoning plan

The city held a meeting on Monday night in Northgate to listen to North Seattle neighbors about proposed legislation — called the Mandatory Housing Affordability plan — to increase housing density in “urban villages, urban village expansion areas and all places with multifamily or commercial zoning.” That includes Central Ballard, the 15th Ave. corridor and parts of Crown Hill.

“I’m shocked to learn that you are proposing a zoning change which would allow as many as four homes up to 40 feet tall to be built on every 5000 square foot lot in my neighborhood,” said Christy Robertson of Ballard, according to KING 5.

Most of the testimony urged a slower, more measured approach to upzoning that preserved neighborhood character and protected on-street parking.

The Mandatory Housing Affordability plan “is coming in with a club; we need a scalpel,” testified Lee Pate of Crown Hill, according to KUOW.

The city council is expected to take up the plan later this year.

Car flips over in crash on 15th Ave.

Medics and firefighters responded to a roll-over crash on 15th Ave. NW at NW 65th St. just before 3 a.m. When they arrived, all the occupants were out of the vehicle.

A KING TV photographer at the scene reported the driver had collided with a building.

No word on the extent of injuries, building damage or cause of the crash.

“If you’re a member of the cross fit gym, I’d call to see if they open today,” wrote Randy in the My Ballard Facebook Group about the crash. “Couldn’t see what the damage was, but 3 officers were searching the parking lot.”

Several alternative routes suggested in Ballard light rail feedback

Now that the “early scoping” public comment period is over, Sound Transit is going through the Ballard and West Seattle light rail feedback, looking for consistent themes. They’ve boiled down their early findings in a deck for a presentation this Wednesday to the stakeholder advisory group.

As we’ve been reporting, several community groups — and Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles — are urging Sound Transit to consider moving the Interbay line from 15th Ave. W to 20th Ave. W, building a tunnel under Salmon Bay and creating an underground Ballard station at Market St. The goal is to limit impact on businesses, avoid taking away traffic lanes on 15th and bypass bridge closures from Ship Canal boat traffic.

But that route isn’t the only one that was proposed. The deck shows three other alternatives, two others to the north of 15th Ave. W and one that veers to the south and comes into Ballard on 14th Ave. NW (above). You can see the deck here (.pdf).

West Seattle residents are proposing lots of alternatives, too.

This is only a preliminary report — a final feedback summary will be available in a few weeks. Then the elected leadership group will propose a preferred alternative to the Sound Transit board early next year. (Via West Seattle Blog.)