Friday, April 20, 2018

All About SUN Pocket Park Near Laurelhurst Elementary School

The Sun Park Team, which oversees the upkeep of the small corner pocket park located at the corner of NE 47th Street and 47th Avenue NE, invites the community to Weed and Sweep Brigade work parties held the second Saturday of each month at 10am.

The team said neighbors are welcome to "stop by with a favorite garden tool to keep the park in shape."

Sun Park is located on the corner of NE 47th Street and 47th Avenue NE where originally a large 1920's Bungalow style house was with a large backyard. 

A developer divided the original lot in three parcels and two houses were built on the subdivided lots. The Sun Park group, along with many in the community, attended a meeting along with City representatives, to save the third parcel from being developed and then created a pocket park.

The plot of land was purchased in March 2007 by a group of Laurelhurst neighbors and friends, through donations to the Cascade Land Conservancy, in order to preserve the small open space from development. 

SUN Park group provided this history, also located on a plaque at the park:

Saving Urban Nature
In 2005 the property at the corner of NE 47th St. and 47th Ave. NE was slated for development, but neighborhood residents saw an opportunity to create a community park and native plant garden. They worked with Cascade Land Conservancy (now Forterra) and formed a partnership to acted on this dream. Forterra is a nonprofit 501.c.3 organization whose mission is to conserve great lands and create great communities.  
The property was purchase in 2007 and SUN Park was completed in 2009, all funded by private donations. The Friends of SUN Park continue to partner with Forterra as well as to volunteer to maintain the plantings and enhance the space for neighborhood use.
The garden showcases a diverse collection of trees, shrubs, ferns, perennials, and groundcovers native to Western Washington. Identification markers offer
some information on the plants and the ways in which their use represented the
first ‘grocery store’ and ‘pharmacy’ for local Native American cultures.
SUN Park serves as a demonstration site for those interested in growing native
plants and learning more about the plants indigenous to the region. Gardening
with these plants creates a more nature landscape, promotes wildlife habitats,
and requires less maintenance.

To support SUN Park, contact Dixie Porter ( or 206-383- 0147) or Janice Camp (206-849- 5778).

Go here for more information.

Saturday NE Branch Library FriendShop Pop-Up Sale

Friends of The Seattle Public Library's Pop-up Shop will be at the Northeast Branch (6801 35th Avenue NE) tomorrow from 10-2pm.

There will be used books,  including pre-owned paperbacks and children's books for $, gifts from the FriendShop, including tote bags, mugs, jewelry, literary gifts and more.

Members will receive two free hard cover fiction books as a member benefit.  Renew or join today!

The FriendShop Pop-Up Sale, visits many of the Library branches throughout the year.

The information says:

Purchasing gifts, used books and more at these Pop-up Shops helps the Friends advocate, educate and raise funds on behalf of The Seattle Public Library. 
Your support helps the Friends advocate, educate and raise funds on behalf of The Seattle Public Library. All proceeds benefit The Seattle Public Library.
Go here for more information. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Laurelhurst Elementary School From 1900-Present

Laurelhurst School, Seattle, 1930
Courtesy MOHAI (Image No. MOHAI 83.10.4190)

History Link published this interesting information on the history of Laurelhurst Elementary School, built in 1930.

Laurelhurst School

In 1900, 50 wealthy men bought 54 acres on Webster Point in northeast Seattle and founded the Seattle Golf Club, between what is now NE 35th and NE 40th streets. Developers bought the golf course and adjacent land in 1906 and divided it into house lots for sale. 
To reach this neighborhood, known as Laurelhurst, from downtown Seattle, visitors took a streetcar to Madison Park and, from there, a steamer across the mouth of Union Bay to a dock on the west side of Webster Point (south of NE 35th).  
In 1912, a community dock and public boathouse had been built where the steamers landed. There were 18 houses in the neighborhood, with an additional four in Laurelhurst Heights, site of the former golf course. Local children attended Yesler School, which they reached by walking west across Yesler Creek and the Northern Pacific Railroad tracks. 
In August 1915, Laurelhurst residents urged the Seattle School Board to locate a portable in their neighborhood. The next spring, Laurelhurst Annex opened at 43rd Avenue NE and (N)E 34th Street as an annex to Yesler School, near the old steamer dock. The Yesler School janitor walked over every morning to build a fire in its large stove. This one-room portable held one class for grades 1-3 or 1-4. 
The first teacher, Alice Clayton Mooers, recounted this story of the heavy snowfall of 1916: "I walked all the way from North Broadway to school in spite of the knee-deep snow because I knew some of the children would be there. Two or three were waiting at the door and I sent them home. We kept a weather calendar at that time and there was snow on the ground for six weeks." 
In 1919, a new, larger portable was opened on top of the hill to the north. The former annex was leased to the Episcopal Church for Laurelhurst Mission and its successor, St. Stephen's Mission. In 1925, the district reclaimed the property. After World War I, it became part of the Union Bay Village veterans' housing complex, affiliated with the University of Washington. 
Laurelhurst School opened in October 1, 1919, as an annex to Bryant. It was located on 2.75 acres at (NE) 45th Street & 46th Avenue NE. At first, it had two rooms, one for grades 1-3 and the other for grades 4-6. A large wood stove heated the building and was used to heat soup at noontime, as well as for hot chocolate and coffee. Enrollment grew from 44 in 1920-21 to 117 in 1927-28. 
A permanent school opened on the same site in 1928. The next year Laurelhurst became independent, serving grades 1-8 for the first time. The school paper, the Laurel Leaf, got its start the same year. A lunchroom portable was added in 1930. In 1936-37, the year kindergarten was added, enrollment totaled 450, and portable classrooms were added. 
In 1940, a four-room addition replaced four portables. During World War II, U.S. Army troops occupied the park across the street to the south, living in tents and a permanent barrack. Children had to walk around the perimeter of the installation going to and from school. From the ballfield, anyone hitting a ball into the machine gun nest got an automatic double. 
By 1944, the auditorium was divided into two classrooms and three portables were in use.  
In support of an upcoming school levy, an October 1944 Seattle Times article proclaimed, "Laurelhurst Pupils Must Eat in 'Heats' or They Go Hungry." The 400 children who ate lunch at the school had to go in shifts because the lunchroom portable held only 130 at a time and had only one door for entry and exit. "In order to enable all the pupils to find shelter at noon time, lunch periods [were] staggered in a schedule so complicated it makes a railroad time table look like a primary reader … The time when one group is excused for lunch depend[ed] entirely on how long it [took] their predecessors … To cope with this variable problem, 'runners' or 'spotters' from the classrooms [went] to the lunchroom to carry the word back to the teachers -- like little Paul Reveres." 
Laurelhurst became a K-6 school in 1946-47. An addition to the building was finally built in 1950, with six classrooms, a lunchroom, and an auditorium. At the same time, a gymnasium (the Laurelhurst Fieldhouse) was added, with 67 percent of its funding coming from the Seattle Parks Department, which operated a public playfield in Laurelhurst Park to the south. 
By 1955-56, the 19 classrooms were supplemented by 10 portables on the playground in order to hold the peak enrollment of almost 1,100 pupils. The opening of Sand Point School in 1958 helped relieve enrollment pressure not only at Laurelhurst but at View Ridge and Bryant as well. 
In 1960-61, Laurelhurst served 850 students and required only seven portables. An overpass across NE 45th Street was completed in 1960, linking the school and playfield, as originally proposed by the Laurelhurst Community Club in 1927. 
An Individually Guided Education Program began in September 1970. The same year, Laurelhurst 6th graders moved on to middle school as part of the district's K-5-3-4 program. Teachers received specialized training and organized into teams with an emphasis on individualized instruction. 
In 1993, Laurelhurst became the only school in the district to be accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges. To receive accreditation, the school had to complete a two-year self-study process. Recently, student and adult volunteers created a Peace Garden in honor of Aki Kurose, who taught at Laurelhurst for 25 years (see Kurose). 

Seattle Public Schools, 1862-2000: Laurelhurst School
This People's History of Laurelhurst School is taken from Building for Learning: Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000 by Nile Thompson and Carolyn J. Marr. The book, published in 2002 by Seattle Public Schools, compiled profiles of all the public school buildings that had been used by the school district since its formation around 1862. The profiles from the book are being made available as People's Histories on courtesy of Seattle Public Schools. It should be noted that these essays are from 2000. Some of the buildings profiled are historic, some of recent vintage, and many no longer exist (new names and buildings not included in these profiles from 2000 have been added), but each plays or has played an important role in the education of Seattle's youth.

Aerial view, Laurelhurst School, Seattle, 1960
Courtesy Seattle Public Schools (Image No. 242-1)

Aerial view, Laurelhurst School, Seattle, 1970
Courtesy Seattle Public Schools (Image No. 242-5)

Saturday Center of Urban Horticulture Storytime

Miller Library, located in Laurelhurst at the UW Botanic Gardens (3501 NE 41st Street), is holding a story time on Saturday with the theme of "SpringTime" from 10:30-11:15am.

The information says:
Take a deep breath-spring has sprung! These three stories of springtime adventures in the garden are sure to bring a smile. After the stories, you're welcome to make a blossom picture in the program room.

Books to be read are:
FINDING SPRING by Karin Berger
DU IZ TAK? by Carson Ellis

Story time is geared towards children ages 3 to 8 and celebrate gardens, plants and nature. All ages and their families are invited.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Saturday Learn About Yesler Swamp At Earth Day Event

On Sunday from12-2, several UW Environmental Science student are hosting a free Earth Day event at Yesler Swamp, located near the Center for Urban Horticulture and bordered by NE 41st Street and Surber Drive.

There will be stewardship activities and games tailored towards adults, college and high school students, as well as food.

One of the UW students told the Laurelhurst Blog:
The UW Environmental Science students' senior capstone project focuses on restoring the well-being of two sites within Yesler Swamp. This event serves to celebrate the students and volunteers' work as well as educate the community on ways to help restore local ecosystems. Participants will have the opportunity to the students any questions about the projects and local ecology. 
The event will start with an overview of the capstone projects, followed by an activity at the Yesler South Site for  an activity about tree diameter in regards to carbon sequestration and ecological benefits. Next, participants will proceed to the Yesler North Site to learn about identifying native plants and after a planting demo, have the opportunity to plant something.  
At the end food and coffee will be available.  There may also be trivia, ice breaker games, or board games during this time.  Friends of Yesler Swamp members, who helped with the restoration projects, will also be at the event.
Before the event from 10-noon, there will a mulching work party at the restoration project Yesler North Site.   
Yesler Swamp North is the north site of Yesler Swamp which is an area of swampland located at the former outflow of the Yesler Creek. The site area is about 902 square meters. On the west side is a prairie ecotype, and on the east side is a forest ecotype with a relatively steep slope. Both ecotypes receive full sunlight. Previous planting in the forest ecotype was done to reduce overall sunlight.  
Throughout the site are invasive species that decrease ecosystem health and beneficial species that improve ecosystem health. The plan is to remove the invasive vegetation to make space for beneficial species. Improving trail aesthetics will be a beneficial effect of the restoration.  
The goals, with a $600 project budget and volunteer labor support are:
  • Restore the native plant ecosystem to reduce the current stress on the ecosystem - reduction or elimination of invasive species on site and increasing appropriate native or beneficial species on site.
  • ​Address the slope of the site so that plants can grow successfully - reshaping of the sloped area to promote plant establishment and select appropriate vegetation for growing on sloped areas.
  • ​Increase wildlife biodiversity onsite by creating an appropriate habitat for animals - maintain the established ecotones between the two plant community types, increase coarse woody debris onsite and increase habitat-providing vegetation.
  • ​Ensure that the site is convenient for continued community usage - maintain the well-defined trails and sidewalks bordering the site, maintain the aesthetic appeal of the site and minimize human disturbance on site.

For more information go here

Tomorrow Learn How To Advocate Yourself At Medical Appointments

Tomorrow from 2-3:30, NEST (Northeast Seattle Together) (7737 25th Avenue NE) which supports Northeast Seattle elder neighbors through a network of volunteers and vendors, is having a free talk called "Talking With Doctors: Empowering Yourself ."
The information says:

How can you advocate effectively during a short medical appointment?  
We’ll discuss three domains of medical information, and ways to address each of them: 1) Receiving too much medical care can harm you, which is common and how can you avoid it? 2) How much will treatment cost? Many doctors are reluctant to discuss that 3) What are your end-of-life values?  
David Ansley was a former member  of the health team at Consumer Reports. His specialty is creation and management of web-based consumer health information, such as Choosing Wisely patient resources.  Previously, he has written, edited and published medical information for the BMJ Publishing Group, Web MD, the San Jose Mercury News, and other web and print publications.

NEST is a non-profit grassroots operation serving NE Seattle seniors by creating a "virtual village" to helping them be able to stay in their own homes and neighborhoods they love. Volunteers provide companionship, care, as well as help seniors with a wide range of services, including gardening, computer help and more. to seniors aging in their homes. Ongoing classes (fitness, etc) are also offered, as well as access to events, transportation services, and various services (such as estate planners) who provide their services at a discount to members.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

POD Storage Container Policies In Public Right Of Ways

Image result for pod storage containers seattle

The Laurelhurst Blog has received many inquires about the policies of POD storage containers, found in front of homes or in driveways. 

Neighbors said:

We are concerned about a POD in the neighborhood that is partially blocking oncoming traffic and is hard to drive around when cars are parked on both sides of the street in the neighborhood. We believe it has been there for over 6 months.  It would be great if the POD were removed after such a long time on the street and to provide better safety and visibility for drivers.  
We have done some research on a POD that has been on our street taking up parking and sticking out in the roadway and learned that a storage unit can stay in the street up to 120 days if the person to whom the unit belongs has a street-use permit and that the permit can be renewed for more time with an increase in cost. How do we find out if the resident has a permit and for how long?
There’s been a PODS container between NE 45th and NE 44th for months now - seems like at least six, although we believe longer.  It is tough to drive around it when the street has a lot of cars.   
We are wondering about how the POD process works. There have been several on the streets around us, one for seems like 8 months, blocking oncoming traffic and using up a lot of parking.

The Laurelhurst Blog contacted Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) regarding a particular pod one block off  of NE 45th Street and  SDOT verified that the POD was on the street past the permitted timeframe.  The POD renter did have a permit.

SDOT added:
The permit-holder was issued a Simple Right of Way management permit that typically does not include scheduled inspections because there is no mobility impact to the right of way (as opposed to a Street Improvement/Utility Major Permits project such a large development construction project where a Traffic Control Plan is required when a lane of travel is impacted in the right of way).  
The inspector for the area spoke with permit-holder about issue. The permit-holder indicated they intended to extend the permit, however when the inspector returned the container had been removed.

SDOT added that there is no cost for a permit, which can be issued for 30 days and extended to 120 days, in 10 day increments, with unlimited renewals.

The Seattle City Code SMC15.04 states:
When residential dumpsters or storage containers are placed in the public right of way, a permit is required before delivery and placement.  Be sure to discuss this with any third party involved in arranging for a dumpster or container. You will need a completed permit application as well as a site plan to apply for your permit. Your container must be in a legal parking space, either paid or unpaid, in front of your property. Be sure to consult with your container company to confirm the space needed for delivery.

And here is a detailed document on policies for storage containers and dumpsters.

(photo courtesy)

Tonight Teen Service Learning Opportunity At NE Branch Library

The Northeast branch of the Seattle Public Library (6801 35th Avenue NE) is having a special "Service Learning Interns" meeting for teens from 4-5:30pm today. 

The information says:

Teens age 14 and over who are in high school are invited to earn service learning credit for school and work as a group to support the Library by helping with programs and projects. 
Join the Service Learning Intern group this winter to help the library plan programs and projects. Teens will gain experience with effective communication, project planning, public speaking and teamwork.

Go here for more information.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Bird Activity At Union Bay

Here is a recent post from the Union Bay Watch Blog published by Larry Hubbell, long-time local photographer and birder.

Here also is an in-depth article about Larry and his work.


On a cool September morning, these two female Bushtits huddled together for warmth. Their shared feathers were so interwoven it was hard to tell where one bird started and the other stopped. I suspect they spent the night side by side, each facing in opposite directions. I wonder if the seating arrangement was by design. It certainly would allow them to see danger from every angle.

I was inspired to search for this photo by my friends Dan Pedersen and Craig Johnson. Last week, in Dan's post When the Birds Come Home, he included a number of Craig's delightful videos and photos. My favorite is Craig's wonderful video of young Bushtits huddling close. You can read the post and see the video by Clicking Here.

Craig and Dan not only show the beauty of the birds and their behavior, they also discuss what the birds require to reproduce and survive. Craig explains how having a natural yard meets many avian requirements. Craig's work inspired me to consider, What can we do to make our yards sanctuaries for birds.

One of our most popular birds is the Anna's Hummingbird. A wonderful way to attract hummingbirds to your yard is to allow native plants to flourish. There are a variety of Northwest plants, like evergreen huckleberries, which are attractive to hummingbirds. This Guideprovided by Seattle Audubon will offer you lots of options to consider.

The bird in the photo above, nested in Indian Plum, a native shrub. The nest was about six feet off the ground and yet hidden under the cover of native trees, like Big Leaf Maples and Douglas Fir. Besides having a tree or a shrub in which to nest, hummingbirds also need materials to build their nests. This bird used moss, lichen and spider's silk - to hold it all together. Maples often have horizontal moss-covered branches. It seems to me that the older trees tend to have more lichen. It is interesting how something as small as a hummingbird's nest can be dependent on such a variety of native plants, trees and even tiny creatures, like spiders. 

A Wilson's Warbler is another small beautiful bird which can often be found in Indian Plum and also in our native Salmonberry. It is a migratory bird. It arrives here in the Spring looking intently for food and nesting sites.

An American Robin is far more familiar and yet it also has specific reproductive requirements. They love to eat worms and feed them to their young. In the fall and winter I often see them eating fruit. In addition to food, robins need nesting supplies.

Last year, a robin built her nest on the downspout directly above our back door. She needed long leaves of dry grass and mud to hold it all together. With our lawn mowed regularly I am not sure where the robin found the long pieces of grass. It seems obvious now, that a perfectly trimmed lawn is not part of the optimal backyard sanctuary. Luckily, the robin found everything she needed and her young successfully fledged.

Spotted Towhees look vaguely robin-like and they also build nests of grass. Their nests are smaller so they do not need exceptionally tall grass. Since they spend the bulk of their time scratching through leaf litter looking for food, it makes sense for them to be primarily ground-nesting birds. Their biggest challenge is the fact that hungry animals can easily sniff out their nests. This week, someone suggested putting bells on pets. This sounds logical to me, especially if one is unwilling to keep them indoors. Bells might at least help the avian parents to escape.

This towhee nest in the Arboretum was directly on the ground and easily available to squirrels, raccoons and off-leash pets. I am not sure who or what scooped out the nest but these young birds did not last long. This demonstrates the great value of backyard sanctuaries. In our own fenced yards we should be able to provide better protection for nesting birds.

Dark-eyed Juncos are another grass-using, ground-nesting bird species. As you can see in this photo, they will also eat the seeds from flowering dandelions. Allowing plants in the lawn to go-to-seed is a wonderful plus for the birds. I think Craig implied we might want to let our front yards be for show and our backyard be for the birds. It sure sounds like a good idea to me.

This Dark-eyed Junco nest was located under a strawberry plant in a pot in my neighbor's yard - not quite the optimal location.

I have also seen Dark-eyed Juncos locate their nests on the ground but under leaves so the nests were completely hidden. Junco parents will catch and deliver small insects and worms to their well-hidden young. Leaving leaves under the shrubs in our flower beds not only provides nutrients for our plants, they offer foraging opportunities for the Spotted Towhees and hiding places for Dark-eyed Junco nests.

Brown Creepers generally find their food while creeping up the trunks of mature native trees, like Big Leaf Maples, Douglas Firs and Western Hemlocks.

Creepers often build their nests in openings where the bark has pulled away from the trunk of the tree. Sometimes this happens to living trees but more often it happens after the trees have died. By leaving dead trees standing in our yards, we provide more potential nest sites, and not just for the Brown Creepers.

Red-breasted Nuthatches, like the one in this photo, Black-capped Chickadees, Chestnut-backed Chickadees and others often nest in holes excavated in the soft wood of long dead trees. This particular nest happens to be located in a dead branch of a living and native Pacific Madrone tree.

Downy Woodpeckers also love smaller dead trees for nest sites. Depending on the size of your yard, leaving larger dead trees could provide nest sites for Red-breasted Sapsuckers and Northern Flickers.

The greatest challenge along this line would be housing for Pileated Woodpeckers. So far, all six of the successful pileated nest sites which I have seen near Union Bay have been in large dead or dying Red Alder trees. Crumbling Red Alders may not be considered the ultimate in horticulture, however they could very well be the perfect indicator of a functional wildlife sanctuary.

On the other hand, maybe you are more interested in providing habitat for a colony of highly social tiny little Bushtits. You can see from this long sock-like nest that our local Bushtits require lots of moss and lots of spider silk to hold it all together.

I suspect this bare spot in the moss was created by the Bushtits as they kept returning for additional materials.

Of course, in addition to nest building supplies, Bushtits and all the other birds we have discussed require food, like this lively little worm-like creature.

It may be hard to think of a tiny little Bushtit as a predator bird, but it sure knew how to whip the 'worm' into submission. This brings us to our last major thought concerning creating a backyard wildlife sanctuary. 

If we use pesticides or herbicides in our yard, we will destroy many of the small creatures and plants upon which the birds depend for food. Also, many poisons can bio-accumulate and unintentionally kill creatures much further up the food chain. Natural approaches to pest control are critical to our wildlife sanctuaries.

You can learn even more by visiting our state's Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary program. Click Here for details.

Have a great day on Union Bay...where nature lives in the city!


Going Native:

Without a well-funded Environmental Protection Agency, it falls to each of us to be ever more vigilant in protecting our local environments. Native plants and trees encourage the largest diversity of lifeforms because of their long intertwined history with our local environment and native creatures. I have been told that even the microbes in the soil are native to each local landscape. My hope is that we can inspire ourselves, our neighbors and local businesses to respect native flora and to support native wildlife at every opportunity. I have learned that our most logical approach to native trees and plants (in order of priority) should be to:

1) Learn and leave established native flora undisturbed.
2) Remove invasive species and then wait to see if native plants begin to grow without assistance. (If natives plants start on their own, then these plants or trees are likely the most appropriate flora for the habitat.)
3) Scatter seeds from nearby native plants in a similar habitat.
4) If you feel you must add a new plant then select a native plant while considering how the plant fits with the specific habitat and understanding the plant's logical place in the normal succession of native plants.

My intention in my weekly post is to include at least one photo each week and visually challenge us to know the difference between native and non-native lifeforms.

Do you know this leaf? Is it native to Union Bay?

It is the native tree which our local Pileated Woodpeckers seem to love and adore - once it starts to decompose. It also fixes atmospheric nitrogen to the benefit of others plants. It generally only spreads into locations where the soil has been disturbed. This means if we want Pileated Woodpeckers in the city we need to enable suitable sites for Red Alder trees.