Family starts ‘Owen’s List’ to pick up recyclable items from neighbors

It all began last summer when 6-year-old Owen and his dad Ryan wanted to dispose of old batteries without sending them to a landfill.

Owen was curious how recycling worked, and it took three phone calls before Ryan found a spot to drop off the batteries. And that led to an idea: what if they created a free service to pick up and recycle or reuse items that their neighbors typically throw in the trash?

They started picking up batteries from their neighbors in Queen Anne. As they found more items in their own home to recycle, they expanded to styrofoam, plastic bags, clothes hangers, light bulbs — even extra Halloween candy (which they donated to Birthday Dreams, a group that plans birthday parties for homeless kids.)

They started to grow outside their neighborhood, and they created an email list to coordinate the expanding pickups. Suddenly Owen’s List was born.

It’s been particularly busy after the holidays. For example, Ryan and Owen just picked up more than 700 pounds of styrofoam (above) and 224 pounds of dead holiday lights.

“I had no idea until just recently that old Christmas lights had a use,” Ryan said. “It was fun to teach him about the different materials that recyclers can collect from them.”

How does it work? Once you’re signed up to Owen’s List, you’ll receive a periodic email offering to pick up a specific type of item (“prepare to be surprised,” Ryan says.) Once you respond, they coordinate pickup locations based on factors like their available time, the size of the items and the population density of a given area.

“People leave these items out on their porch and we come by and get it and take their stuff along with ours,” he said.

Some of these pickups have started to expand to Ballard. “We live close to Ballard so it’s relatively easy,” Ryan told us.

After they pick up the items, Ryan and Owen follow up with an email explaining where they dropped them off, helping educate neighbors how they can do this on their own.

“Hard to say where this goes in a year,” Ryan said when we asked him about the future of Owen’s List. “One goal I have is for people to start giving us ideas that we can research and then share with the community. We’ve seen a little of that so far and expect more as the size of the list grows.”

Want to join Owen’s List? Thought you might. Here’s the link right here.

(Thank you Kady for the tip!)

New fitness studio opening in Ballard

Updated: The first FIT36 franchise to be located in Seattle, FIT36 Ballard is holding its grand opening this Saturday morning after several weeks of getting up to speed.

As its name suggests, FIT36 is a 36-minute, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. The Ballard studio, located at 5601 24th Ave. NW, is run by Alejandro and Madalyn Crisafi.

“Madalyn and I have always dreamed about becoming business owners,” said Alejandro Crisafi. “It was our desire to invest in a business model that helped others.”

This Saturday’s grand opening will feature three morning classes (schedule), and the studio is offering two weeks of complimentary classes from Jan. 13th to the 26th. For each new member sign-up during the next two weeks, FIT36 will donate $10 of food to the Ballard Food Bank.

The addition of FIT36 sets up a bit of fitness studio showdown: Fitness 19 is located across the street, at the opposite end of the same block.

School board to discuss boundaries this evening

The school boundary task force will be discussing its two mapping options with the school board in a working session this evening (Wednesday).

As we’ve reported before, both options are similar for Ballard, drawing the line for Ballard High School at 85th St. to the north and 48th St. to the south.

“Staff will use the feedback from the board to create a boundary change proposal that will be included in the Board Action Report for introduction on January 17,” the agenda explains.
In advance of the meeting, the district released this packet of materials (big .PDF file) with the two proposed maps and supporting data.

No final decisions will be made at the meeting — the final vote is scheduled for January 31st — although changes to the existing options could be made. The agenda does not show any time for feedback from the public. The meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. in the board auditorium of the John Stanford Center, 2445 3rd. Ave. S.

Fire attack survivor making steady progress in recovery, suspect still sought

The man who barely survived a vicious attack last November is enduring a difficult recovery, and doctors told him he’s fortunate to have lived through it.

Kasey Busch was doused with gasoline and lit on fire at 4500 Leary Way on the night of November 7th. He talked to KOMO TV last night, his first interview since the attack.

“He said, ‘what’s up,’ threw a Big Gulp cup of gasoline on me and, I’m like standing there thinking, ‘what the (*expletive*) is going on?” said Busch.

Seattle Police have identified the suspect as 31-year-old Christopher Burrus (pictured), a man who is known to frequent the Ballard area. Busch told KOMO TV he had a heated argument over stolen tools with Burrus’ ex-girlfriend.

Doctors told Busch that he flat-lined in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, and his burns were so severe, only 5% of patients typically survive them.

Burrus is still at large. If you happen to see him in the neighborhood, call 911. If you have information about the case, contact the Seattle Police Homicide Hotline at 206-233-5000.

One year after surviving a shooting, Le Merde owner re-opening in Ballard

If you’ve seen that pink photo of the white cat in the window at 2607 NW Market St. — next to the new Nordic Museum — that marks the spot of Le Merde, a Phinney Ridge shop that’s moving to Ballard and will re-open this weekend.

Owner Debi Boyette describes the shop as a “curated concept store” with vintage collections and works from indie designers and local artists.

“It’s pretty perfect because I live a few blocks away, so I will be closer to my friends and family,” she told My Ballard. “I’m feeling hopeful about 2018.”

That’s because 2017 was a tough year. Boyette was attending a concert at Crocodile Cafe in Belltown with her son last January when she was wounded in a drive-by shooting. Two others were shot, but fortunately her son escaped unharmed. She spent two weeks in the hospital.

“My recovery was hard,” she said. “I really couldn’t walk much, but I moved around in a wheelchair or a walker.” To complicate things further, she said she clashed with her landlords after an adjacent shop closed, leaving her bills to pay for both spaces.

“I don’t want to be fearful of getting back into life,” she told Vanguard Seattle two months after the shooting. “Life is so short, and there are so many things I want to do.”

Ballard is Boyette’s fresh start. She’s opening Le Merde this Saturday, and she’ll celebrate the grand re-opening on the 18th on Art Walk — one day before the first anniversary of the shooting.

Vacant house demolished on 17th Ave. to make room for apartment building

Demolition crews tore down the large brown house at the corner of 56th St. and 17th Ave. today to make room for a new 7-story apartment complex.

The new apartments will feature 85 small efficiency dwelling units (called SEDUs), ground level retail and bike parking. No car parking is proposed (see our earlier story on the proposed “parking flexibility areas” in Ballard and Crown Hill.)

It’s right across the street from the new Valdok development and next door to the Keelson.

“The project aims to create a strong urban edge and a marker at the corner for people traveling in Ballard,” explains Greenbuild Development.

(Thank you Silver for the photo!)

Equal Exchange Coffee is coming back

Thanks to a tip in the My Ballard Facebook Group, we reached out to Equal Exchange Coffee to see if they have any plans of reopening after closing their Ballard Market location last year.

And the answer is… yes. They’re planning to open a new cafe next year in the new office building under construction at 15th and Market, just a stone’s throw from Ballard Market.

After 10 years, Equal Exchange closed in January of last year to give Ballard Market room for “more prepared foods and in-market seating.”

Equal Exchange is a co-op that supports small farmers, and it operates other cafes in Boston, Cleveland and Bannockburn, IL. (Thanks, Silver for the tip!)

Lots of dumpsters still in dangerous spots around Ballard area

Update Tuesday AM: No new fires overnight.

Earlier: The dumpster arsonist(s) may be taking the day off after a string of 21 fires — no new fires so far since last night — but the danger is still very real for Ballard and surrounding neighborhoods.

This photo above of Sunday night’s fire behind the Hi Life in Ballard illustrates how big these fires can get (photo shared by @curtisdickie), putting nearby buildings at risk of catching fire. Saturday night’s blaze on 85th ignited the side of the building shared by Stacia’s Pizza and Taqueria Tequila, and a few other buildings have been scorched by the fires.

But even with the risk, it doesn’t take long driving around the neighborhood to see lots of dumpsters still pushed up against buildings and under overhangs and even apartment decks. Here are a couple examples from Ballard and Fremont:

Seattle Fire is urging neighbors to pull dumpsters at least 5 feet away from buildings and overhangs and lock them up. If your apartment manager hasn’t done it, then contact them. If that doesn’t work, you may want to consider re-positioning the dumpster yourself.

Because it’s only a matter of time before one of these small fires turns into a big fire, endangering the lives of those inside.

We’re continuing to monitor Seattle Fire dispatch for new fires, and we’re posting more frequent updates on Twitter. If you see a fire — or hear lots of sirens — please send us a tip at or ping @myballard on Twitter.

Here’s Seattle Fire’s full list of precautions:

  • Locate dumpsters and containers at least five feet away from walls and roof eave lines. Use only metal or metal-lined receptacles.
  • Place locks on commercial dumpsters or keep in secured area. Locks may be available through your contracted service provider.
  • Secure business and garage areas by locking doors and windows.
  • Clean up wastepaper, grasses, weeds, litter, or anything that can burn from around buildings. Clear carport areas of all combustibles.
  • Trim shrubbery from doors and windows to improve visibility.
  • Install motion-sensor exterior lights.
  • Test fire and life safety systems, including fire extinguishers, to ensure they are working and in compliance with codes.
  • Develop and practice a fire response plan.
  • Keep exit ways clear of items which could slow evacuation efforts.

If you see a fire or even suspicious circumstances, call 911. If you have any information related to one of the previous fires, call SPD investigators at 206-684-8980. You can also contact the Arson Alarm Foundation Hotline at 1-800-55-ARSON or An award may be provided, and you can remain anonymous.

If he can get the permits, here’s Diagon Alley creator’s next project

With the Diagon Alley Project shutting down on January 20th, creator Jon Chambers needed some peace and quiet at home — and a new challenge.

For those Harry Potter fans out there, you’ll recognize the Burrow, the magical family home of the Weasley family (above). Along with the Edith Macefield-inspired “Up” house, the Burrow is one of the most iconic movie homes of all time.

“I can’t share a whole lot just yet,” Chambers told My Ballard. “I can say we are in the early planning phase for building a life-size replica of the Burrow in the Snoqualmie Valley on a non-profit farm that centers around agricultural conservation and education.”

And here’s the sketch he shared on Instagram over the weekend:

Whoa, that does look like a challenge.

You see, the Weasley home is held up by magic, but to build a real home, you’ll need… permits.

“That’s going to be a major hurdle,” he admits. “With all the planning and approvals we have to go through, construction won’t start until 2019, if approved.”

The Burrow Project, if it becomes a reality, would dwarf Chambers’ driveway-sized Diagon Alley Project. As he told us, “Stay tuned.”

Passionate about Ballard light rail? Sound Transit needs volunteers

There’s no better way to get involved in the huge Ballard light rail project than apply to join Sound Transit’s advisory group.

Sound Transit needs five volunteers to serve as community members of the Ballard and West Seattle Link Extensions Stakeholder Advisory Group. Their specific focus will be “to help refine project alternatives for further study in the environmental review phase of the project.”

That’s a big job, and Sound Transit has a selection process. Candidates need to be knowledgeable about public transit, reflect the diversity of the corridor and “be able to provide a balance of neighborhood and community interests.”

Oh, and applicants “must be able to work collaboratively with other group members who hold diverse opinions and perspectives.” Yes, this is going to be a complicated, controversial undertaking — the plan is to build a new movable bridge across Salmon Bay and drill new tunnels in South Lake and downtown — so Sound Transit wants to avoid people who like to pick fights with each other.

Interested? Go represent Ballard and apply right here.