Salmon Bay student wins national documentary competition

He’s done it again: for the second year in a row, Salmon Bay 8th grader Leo Pfeifer has scored big at a national documentary contest. Pfeifer’s video, titled “Who Owns Free Speech?” was part of the C-SPAN StudentCam competition. He won first place in the middle school category, earning him a $3,000 check.

“Who Owns Free Speech?” Directed, filmed and edited by Leo Pfeifer

C-SPAN’s video contest asked students in grades 6-12 to make a video with the theme, “The Constitution and You.” Students were asked to select any provision of the U.S. Constitution and create a video illustrating why it’s important. Over 1,200 films were submitted to C-SPAN, and Pfeifer’s is at the top of the 75 winning videos.

Next week, C-SPAN will present Pfeifer with a big check in front of his school. His video will air on C-SPAN on April 25 on Comcast cable TV.

“Microhouse” open house this weekend

Local architecture group Microhouse will host an open house this weekend to showcase their microhouse designs. Microhouses are small detached homes that share a lot with a primary residence. Sunday, April 1, Bruce Parker from Microhouse as well as Carlisle Classic Homes and ANR Landscape Design will be available to answer questions. The open house will be at 3448 36th Ave W (alley side) from 1 – 4 p.m.

Microhouse in Magnolia, photo courtesy Bruce Parker

Parker says the microhouses offer families a basic need: an ability to, “accommodate multi-generational living in a comfortable way that enables both proximity and a degree of separation.” He says that because they are a new construction, they can, “incorporate universal design features that will enable those with mobility impairments to live comfortably.” Parker adds that people who need more space, especially those accommodating extended family, will most benefit from having a microhouse on their property. Although, he says they also get calls from people who would like a place where they can live while renting out their main house.  To learn more about microhouses, or “backyard cottages,” visit the Microhouse site.

Adams team wins ‘Battle of the Books’

Update: Two teams will advance to the next round of the reading challenge: Alki Elementary also emerged as a winner from Seattle’s final round. Adams and Alki will go on to compete against a Canadian team in a video conference competition on Friday, April 13.

Earlier: Out of 360 fourth and fifth grade teams from 45 elementary schools, the Adams Elementary “Lightning Round Readers” have emerged as the city champs in this year’s Global Reading Challenge.

The final round was held Tuesday evening in the Microsoft Auditorium at the downtown Seattle Public Library in front of an overflow crowd. The Adams students scored a perfect 120 points out of a possible 120 points to win the “Battle of the Books.” (Disclosure: The Global Reading Challenge is sponsored by Ballard Rotary, of which I’m a member.)

Cedar Grove hosts neighborhood scavenger hunt

Starting this week, Cedar Grove Composting and Seattle Public Utilities are putting on a city-wide scavenger hunt in order to thank Seattle residents for composting over 125,000 tons of food and yard waste in 2011. The scavenger hunt consists of daily clues on Cedar Grove’s website, which will lead participants to find “Corey the Compostable Apple Core,” posted at 30 different retail and community sites in the city. The contest is called The Big Dig, and goes through April 11.

Cedar Grove says every participant that finds one or more Coreys will win a coupon redeemable for a free bag of Cedar Grove Compost. And, “all participants will be entered into a daily drawing to win a pass to participate in The Big Dig finals on Saturday, April 14 at Seattle Tilth’s Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands.” Then, the finalists will dig through 30 yards of compost to find $6,000 in hidden treasures, including a $3,000 yard makeover.

From Cedar Grove:

There are two Coreys hidden near your neighborhood. Here are their corresponding clues:

  • Uff-da! You’ll find Corey right next door to the library.
  • Touted for great service and great deals, this mineral-based company across from the Ballard Blocks gives your garden an instant makeover.

Fundraiser for “Girls on the Run” next week

Next week, Girls on the Run of Puget Sound will be putting on their annual auction fundraiser. On Thursday, April 5 at 6 p.m., the “No Sweat Event” will be held at at the Shilshole Bay  Beach Club.

Girls on the Run is a youth development program with the mission of, “inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.” The program operates in nearly 30 schools in the county, including North Beach Elementary and Loyal Heights Elementary. Their website says funds from this event have helped, “serve 175% more girls and add 21 school program site over the past year. It has also allowed to continue our tradition of serving girls from families of all income levels, with over 70% of participants receiving full or partial scholarships.” Tickets for the fundraiser can be purchased here.

Crews to work on Burke Gilman Trail this week

Starting Wednesday, March 28, the Burke Gilman will be closed temporarily in small sections while crews from the Seattle Department of Transportation remove 14 bollards between NW 43rd St. and NW 36th St. The work will be done between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. through Thursday, March 29.

From SDOT:

Small sections of the trail will be closed at intersections while the crews remove the bollards and replace them with asphalt. The trail will remain open with only small detours around the work area to minimize impacts on trail users. There will be signed detours in place and flaggers on the trail if they are needed.

The bollards are being removed to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians along the trail. This work is funded by the Bridging the Gap transportation initiative approved by Seattle voters.

Ballard teen writes gluten-free cookbook

A Ballard teenager who was diagnosed with Celiac disease has penned his very own gluten-free cookbook titled, “Eternally Gluten-Free.” Dominick Cura, age 13, started writing the cookbook last summer after experimenting with some recipes in the “Gluten-Free Bible.” Since then, he’s compiled over two dozen recipes for his own book, which he describes as being mostly desserts, breakfasts, and drinks. Cura and his friend Charlie have even made cooking videos, which they call “The Pastried! Cooking Show.”

“The Pastried!” makes a Cassata Cake, which is a Sicilian dessert (Cura’s favorite)

To write the book, Cura worked to figure out how to replicate texture and flavor without adding the gluten. The secret? Xanthan gum. He says when you eliminate gluten from a recipe, xanthan gum helps replace the “stickiness” needed to get the texture and taste right.

Dominick and Charlie’s Struffoli, “a sticky decorative Neapolitan Christmas dessert”

Cura says the experience has been difficult; he’s been working hard to finish the book for an April release. Cura will self-publish through Amazon, where it will be available for purchase. To snag a peek at Cura’s recipes, visit his blog, Eternally Gluten-Free.

36th District Elections: candidates rush in with Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson’s retirement

Update: Two more candidates have joined the list: Evan Clifthorne and Brian Holler. Holler is a Democrat, and “pro-education,” according to this Slog post. Clifthorne, also a Democrat, has been working as a legislative aide to Paull Shin in Olympia.

More information to come on the updated candidate list.

Earlier: When Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson recently announced her plan to retire from her long-held role in the State House, a number of eager candidates have voiced their intent to run for her vacated seat. The 36th District includes Ballard, Queen Anne and Magnolia.

Below is a list of candidates who have announced their bid, compiled by our neighbors at PhinneyWood:

Sahar Fathi is running in the 36th District. She is a first-generation Iranian-American, whose parents fled the Iranian Revolution in 1979. She holds a master’s degree and a law degree from the University of Washington, and has worked for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. She sits on the board of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and ACLU-Washington, and started the Middle Eastern Legal Association. She is currently a legislative aide to Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien.

“I am running to be the next State Representative in the 36th District because we need new energy, fresh ideas and more diverse representation in the State Legislature to solve the challenges we face today. With my personal background and professional experience, I will bring an unwavering commitment to the progressive values this district holds dear.”

“I grew up idolizing people like Shirin Ebadi, the first woman to become a judge in Iran, and Wangari Mathai, the first woman to earn a PhD in all of East and Central Africa. I grew up admiring these women who broke down barriers and stood up for the poor and most vulnerable people in their communities. As the next representative from the 36th District, I pledge to do the same.”

Linde Knighton is also running for the 36th seat. From Knighton’s campaign website:

People forget that the government is not supposed to be some distant, unreachable group of aristocrats. I firmly believe that the will of the people should be the law of the land. I also believe that you should not have to beg your legislators to listen to you. So that’s why I’m not just asking for you to hire me.
You ARE the government. Legislators only represent you.

So, that’s why I’m not just asking for you to vote for me, I’m asking for you to hire me.

I know who my bosses will be. And there is no conflict of interest with either the Republican or Democratic Party. I am a member of the Progressive Party, and I can ignore or work with either party depending on what is best for Washington.

Port of Seattle Commissioner and 36th District candidate Gael Tarleton:

Tarleton says she will run on four key issues: job creation along with protecting women’s health and reproductive rights, higher education and the environment.

“We need to carry the accomplishments and legacy of Rep. Dickerson forward,” Tarleton said. “I have a proven track record of protecting and creating jobs, fighting for women and minority-owned businesses, protecting the environment and championing Washington’s higher-education community.”

We must renew the fight to protect women’s health and reproductive rights, Tarleton said. As a member of the National Women’s Political Caucus and NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, Tarleton said passage of the Reproductive Parity Act is a priority in her campaign. “We have fought hard to secure the basic health and reproductive rights of women. It’s clear our battle to protect women’s health still has a long way to go. The women of today must always fight for our next generation,” Tarleton said.


Also running in the 36th is Noel Frame.

“I believe we can and must change course and re-prioritize public education as our state’s paramount duty,” said Frame.

Frame has an extensive background in progressive politics and education advocacy from her tenure with the Washington State Democrats, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, The Washington Bus, 36th District Democrats, King County Conservation Voters, and her leadership role in the campaign to Approve Referendum 71 — the first LGBT civil rights ballot measure to pass by a vote of the people in the U.S.

In her announcement, Frame described why she is passionate about education: “My family was struggling, and I was worried about how I would get the education I needed when my high school experienced devastating funding cuts following three failed school levies. I took from that experience a message many of our kids still do today – that my community didn’t care enough to invest in my future. I am entering this race because I am compelled to do more – to take on this cause in the State House of Representatives. It is a challenge I welcome. I will never give up on our schools and our kids.”

Phinney Ridge resident Nick Cail previously announced he will run in the 36th District. He works in the Development Office of the 5th Avenue Theatre.

“This election year more than any in recent history, our Seattle delegation needs strong champions for ensuring our local, small businesses thrive; preparing our kids to compete in a global economy; and renewing our commitment to our four-year universities and community colleges,” said Nick Cail.

Mr. Cail worked for Congressman Norm Dicks during the 2002 and 2004 campaign cycles and often cites Congressman Dicks for helping shape his interest in public-private partnerships and commitment to access to eduaion.

“My campaign will not be about our economic struggles of the last several years, but instead focus on our state’s great capacity to invest in our small businesses and public schools over the next several decades. Now is the time to decide what we want Washington state high schools and colleges to look like when today’s kindergardeners are ready to enroll in them.”


Brett Phillips announced last week that he is also running in the 36th District. He is the Sustainability Director for Seattle-based Unico Properties.

“Throughout my professional career I have worked to forge innovative new partnerships between the public and private sectors,” said Phillips. “The slow recovery of our economy has highlighted the need for fresh ideas and new approaches to job growth. Washington has always been a world leader in innovation – we can build on that track record with new leaders focused on great K-12 and colleges fueling a strong economy that sustains our unique quality of life.”

Phillips will focus on education funding, support for the University of Washington, and protecting the rights of women and the vulnerable in Olympia alongside his commitment to environmental protection and development of clean energy technologies.

“I’m the 4th generation of my family to call Seattle home and I know that the strength of our communities are rooted in the strength of our progressive values—from excellent schools to making sure we maintain a safety net for those most at risk. We need revenue solutions in Olympia so we can stop pitting education against human services during bad economic times,” said Phillips. “We need outspoken leaders committed to the rights of women. We need strong Democrats willing to fight for our principles while never losing sight of the need to be effective problem solvers.”