Harness the sun’s energy to heat your home

When you think of Seattle, solar power might not be the first thing that pops in your mind. But, harnessing the sun’s energy actually does work around here.

This Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon, Sunergy Systems will be holding a “Solar Power 101” course.

  • You’ll learn the energy issues facing our nation today and how solar power plays an integral role in the solution
  • Learn how a solar panel actually converts the abundant light from the sun into usable electric power
  • Find out how well solar power works in the Great Pacific Northwest
  • What’s new for 2010
  • How to take advantage of solar before the start of the “Solar Year”
  • The free seminar will be held at the Sunergy Systems office at 4546 Leary Way NW, Seattle, WA, 98107. Parking available on NW 46th St & 8th Ave NW. Space is limited so if you’re interested, sign up here. (Sunergy Systems is a sponsor of MyBallard.)

    Putt putt for the Boys & Girls Club – and win cash

    The Ballard Kiwanis is hosting the First Annual Yonny Yohnson Putt-Putt Golf Tournament to raise money for the expansion of the Ballard Boys & Girls Club. “We are hoping that enough people will be bored with TV, movies, bars and the mall to want to come out and have a little oddball fun for a really good cause,” Andrew Goodstein tells us.

    The fundraiser is in memory of Johnny Johnson, a long-time Ballard Kiwanian, who ran the club golf tournament for many years before passing away four years ago. Last year they didn’t hold the annual tourney because of lack of interest. “Rather than try and drag the old farts out again, we decided to try something completely different, something that a lot of people could participate in,” Goodstein says. “A putt-putt tourney (with big cash prizes) had some merit, and the ability to raise money for one of our favorite organizations (Kiwanis is about helping kids) only made the idea seem better”

    The Yonny Yohnson Putt Putt Golf Tournament will be held on Friday, Feb. 12 at the Interbay Golf Center (2501 15th Ave W.) The cost is $75 for a 2-person team. Check-In starts at 6:30 p.m. with a shotgun start at 7 p.m. The first place prize is $500, followed by $250 for second, $100 for third and $50 for fourth place.

    They will be serving up warm non-alcoholic drinks and warm food like soup or chili. They’re also looking for a DJ to provide entertainment.

    Thieves hit Whittier Heights neighbor – twice

    Andrew, who lives in the Whittier Heights neighborhood, sent us this email:

    Our house has had a new lawn mower and hot dog machine stolen from behind the house (Long story regarding the hot dog machine – good for BBQ get togethers). This bold move required either driving down a small alleyway and throwing the stuff into a car or just carrying the items away. Either way, this shows an unfortunate amount of confidence on the side of the thieves – they know that there is no police presence in these family neighborhoods in Ballard. They can cruise around in the middle of the night and take big items without fear of being caught.

    We have been worried that they would come back for more and they did last weekend. I came out of my house Saturday morning to see my driver’s side door and trunk open. The thieves had stolen my car stereo and a bunch of clothes from my car. They also did the customary trashing of the papers in my glove box. There wasn’t really much to steal in my car but we worry that these brazen thieves won’t stop at stealing stuff on the outside of the house.

    Andrew asks for an informal survey of readers to see what crime is like where you live. “It’s sad that we have to wake up to find our possessions missing when everything else about this part of the city is so great,” he writes.

    Magnolia author presents ‘The Map as Art’

    Most of us see maps as getting us from here to there, but a Magnolia author is pointing readers in a new direction by using imaginative versions of maps created by various artists.

    Last Thursday, Jan. 21, the Secret Garden Bookshop in Ballard teamed up with the Ballard Library to feature Magnolia author Katharine Harmon. She presented a slide show of her new book, “The Map As Art.”

    “The Map As Art” is a compilation of artwork by artists who use maps as the basis of their vision. For example, one artist painted a picture of all the continents as if they were viewed from space at night. Cities in the United States and parts of Europe were dimly lit and the rest of planet was left in the dark. The artist titled it “The Axis of Evil–Mostly in the Dark.”

    Harmon said her book, “The Map As Art,” was the result of her first book’s success. “I did a book about five years ago called ‘You Are Here: Personal Geographies and other Maps of the Imagination,’” Harmon said. The book contained work by some contemporary artists with historical maps that weren’t meant to be way-finding maps, just creative interpretations.

    Shortly after the book was released, Harmon and her publisher, Princeton Architectural Press, saw the book was getting noticed. “Suddenly, the publisher and I started hearing from lots and lots of people,” Harmon said.

    After she heard from fans of the first book, it wasn’t long before talk of another related book began. But Harmon said she wasn’t interested in doing the same thing, so she followed some advice. “Somebody else actually suggested to me that I do contemporary artists who are using mapping in their work,” Harmon said.

    “The Map As Art,” which was released Nov. 4, 2009, contains 350 illustrations from 160 artists. These include Ed Ruscha, Julian Schnabel, Olafur Eliasson and William Kentridge. The book also contains several essays.

    Harmon said she doesn’t consider herself an art historian; she simply finds maps interesting. She said this was one of the reasons for creating the book.

    It didn’t take long after the book was released to see that Harmon wasn’t the only person who was interested in maps. She said none of the 7,500 books that were printed made it until Christmas.“They sold out in six weeks,” Harmon said. “I was worried about a $45 book in this economic climate, but I’m really happy.”

    Suzanne Perry, events coordinator for the Secret Garden Bookshop, was thrilled to work with Harmon. “She had a new book; I knew that it would be a good fit for our audience,” Perry said. “The audience loves this kind of non-fiction.” Perry said the Secret Garden has been working with the Ballard Library to promote authors for years. “We started our series at the library as soon as they finished this beautiful rebuild of this branch, which was in November 2005,” Perry said. She added that they host four authors per month.

    Christina Olson, a cartographer in attendance, said she was delighted by Harmon’s books and her presentation.
    “I was trained as a professional cartographer in the late ‘60s and worked professionally at that, so to see maps from an artist’s perspective was wonderful,” Olson said.

    Ellen Fitzgerald, librarian for the Ballard Library, said she’s thrilled to be working with Secret Garden Bookshop to bring in authors like Harmon. “For the last four years we’ve had a wonderful collaboration with Secret Garden Bookshop,” Fitzgerald said. “We had probably 100 authors come in the last three years.”

    For more information about Harmon’s books or the Ballard Library’s author program, visit Secret Garden Books.
    (Contributor Chris Mongillo is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.)

    Final 9th Ave NW Park design meeting Thursday

    Thursday evening is the final meeting for the 9th Ave NW Park design process.

    During the last two meetings, held in November and December, community members met with SiteWorkshop and discussed ideas for the 39,000 square foot space. During the last meeting, SiteWorkshop showed neighbors five concepts that they had come up with, from formal gardens to informal playspaces (shown above).

    Tomorrow evening, the design team will be back with their preferred design that the community can help tweak. The meeting will be held in the Whittier Elementary cafeteria (1320 NW 75th St) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

    The 9th Ave NW Park is located on 9th Ave between NW 70th & NW 73rd St. Construction is expected to begin in August of this year, with a completion date sometime in spring of 2011.

    Empty Bowls painting party Saturday

    Grab your paintbrushes! The 2nd annual Empty Bowls fundraiser is just around the corner and organizers are looking for artists to help paint the bowls.

    The painting party is Saturday at the Ballard Community Center (6020 28th Ave NW) from noon until 4 p.m. You don’t need to be a master painter to come, in fact organizers invite everyone from the community to come decorate the bowls. Later next month, the finished bowls will be up for grabs for a minimum suggested donation of $10. (Anything over $10 is tax deductible and available for matching funds from employers.) Plus there will be a silent auction for premium bowls donated by renowned artists such as Kri Kri Studios. (Sneak peek of some finished bowls for the 2010 fundraiser below.)

    Empty Bowls is an international effort to fight hunger, executed at the community level. Money raised here in Ballard will go to the Ballard Food Bank. Unique to Seattle Empty Bowls is the sale of animal bowls. Money from these bowls will go to the Seattle Animal Shelter to buy food for hungry animals.

    The fundraiser will be held on February 27th at the Ballard Community Center from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. When you buy a bowl, Ballard Market has donated meat and vegan soup to fill it and Tall Grass Bakery will provide the bread. Local musicians will be providing the entertainment.

    Last year, the fundraiser brought in more than $5,000 for charity. This year organizers want to double that.

    No more ballot drop box in Ballard

    Next Tuesday, February 9th, when ballots are due for the special election, don’t head down to the Ballard Neighborhood Service Center (5604 22nd Ave NW) to drop off your ballot like in the past (shown below). There will be no drop box.

    Because of the tight budget, drop boxes in all but two locations have been eliminated. “King County had to make some hard choices to balance the 2010 operating budget,” King County Elections Director Sherril Huff said. “This included cuts to all departments in services that citizens want and depend on. As a cost savings measure, Elections was asked to reduce the number of ballot drop boxes as well as the operational hours of accessible voting centers.”

    If you want to drop your ballot off in person, you’ll need to go to the King County Administration Office at 500 4th Ave (shown above) or the King County Elections headquarters at 9010 East Marginal Way S, Tukwila. King County also has three accessible voting locations, one at Union Station (401 S. Jackson St) which will be open Monday, February 8: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Tuesday, February 9: 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.

    A first class stamp will allow you to mail your ballot in, but don’t forget to have it postmarked by Feb. 9th to count. (Here’s the voters’ guide in case you’ve misplaced yours .pdf)

    Rep. Dickerson spearheads ‘safe baby bottle bill’

    36th District Representative Mary Lou Dickerson (D) is the primary sponsor of a bill which calls to ban the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA) from bottles, cups and other containers that young children drink from. It also calls for a ban of BPA from sports bottles, which pregnant women use. (Bill text here. pdf)

    The state house vote was nearly-unanimous yesterday to ban the chemical, moving the bill on to the State Senate. “I’m proud we united 95 to 1 to protect babies and young children from BPA-laced food containers,” said Dickerson (D-Seattle). “The strong support for this bill reflects the overwhelming evidence that kids need to be protected against this very toxic substance.” Representative Bruce Chandler (R-Granger) was the lone nay in the House. Two representatives were excused from the vote.

    After the first reading in the State Senate today, the bill has been referred to Health & Long-Term Care. If this bill passes, Washington state will be the third state to ban BPA, following Minnesota and Connecticut.