Best 'Totally Seattle' Moments in 2011
Best News for Bikers
Connecting the “Missing Link”
It’s one of the most fought-over stretches of pavement in the city: the so-called “missing link” of the Burke-Gilman Trail. In July, a hearing examiner ruled that the mile and a half of road between 11th Avenue NW and the locks in Ballard can be developed into the final connecting piece of the 18-mile-long bike and pedestrian trail. The link, which is already planned and funded, has been stalled for years by lawsuits and appeals from nearby businesses that claim bikes don’t belong in the industrial area. Bike advocates say the current break in the trail is dangerous for cyclists. Next: A Superior Court judge is expected to review environmental analysis sometime this month. There’s no word yet on when construction will begin.
Best Bike Debate
Bike Speeding Tickets
The small item lit up the West Seattle Blog in July: WSB’s editor and cofounder Tracy Record posted a note about a police officer issuing a speeding ticket to a bicyclist who was going 42 miles an hour on SW Admiral Way. Within hours, there were dozens of comments—from bicyclists saying that speeding is the only way to stay safe if you’re going with the flow of traffic, and from bike skeptics who say speeding bikes are reckless. Like all things bicycle in Seattle, the debate could have become heated, but in fact, the entire comment thread is a fascinating insight into Seattle’s bike culture and one of the most civilized pro/con bike discussions we’ve seen in a long time. westseattleblog.com; search “42 mph”
Bike Invention We’re Waiting For
The YouTurn Glove
Bike-gear geeks are on the edge of their saddles, awaiting the release of the must-have bike accoutrement: the YouTurn glove. The brainchild of Jack O’Neal, a Portland bike nut, veteran and mechanical engineering student who was sick of not being seen by cars, the glove is covered with LED lights that respond to your arm’s position. Stick your arm straight out to signal a left turn and an array lights up in the shape of a left-turn arrow. The bent-arm right-turn signal triggers an array pointing right. You can’t buy it yet—it’s still in development—but keep your eye on the website for a release date. In a city that’s dog-tired of bike-related tragedies, this is one idea that’s time has come. motion-dynamic.com
Best Products for Upscale Urban Farming
Kippen House Chicken Coops and Bee Box People Bee Boxes
Cooped-up city dwellers are releasing their inner Ingalls with the help of a new wave of cool products for upscale urban farming. Our favorites: Bothell’s Kippen House chicken coops (kippenhouse.com) let urbanites get bak-bak to the farm in style, with modern, made-to-order designs that feature rooftop gardens (your chickens provide the fertilizer, natch), from $875. Bee Box People bee boxes (206.274.1522; beeboxpeo ple.com), made of lightweight and fragrant Pacific Northwest Cedar, and starting at $44, take the sting out of urban beekeeping by offering a wireless in-hive thermometer, so you can monitor your hive—from 100 feet away.
Best Sign that We’re Really Going Green
Ubiquitous Electric-Car Charging Stations
Signs of progress in the form of skinny, techie-looking fueling stations are suddenly popping up all over the region. By the end of this year, more than 1,200 electric-vehicle charging stations will be installed in local homes and public hubs, including CenturyLink Field and area Fred Meyer stores. Washington is one of only six states taking part in the federally funded EV Project, which is putting EV-charging stations in 18 cities nationwide, including Seattle. For now, e-fueling is free, but expect that to change in 2012—and watch for new blue signs along I-5 with a picture of a charger and the letters “EV.” Now there’s a sign of the times.
Best Local Ad Campaign We Never Tire of
Pemco’s “You’re One of Us” series
Seattle-based insurance company Pemco hit the nail on the head again this year, rolling out five new tweaks on Northwest stereotypes in its “You’re One of Us” campaign, designed by ad agency DNA Seattle. This year’s batch includes Oblivious Left-Lane Occupant, “Type A” Yoga Girl (“She’s going to find her inner peace. So don’t even consider getting in her way.”), Goosebumped Beach Bum and The Honker (“What kind of maniacal human being would ever do such an awful thing?”). With a seemingly bottomless well of material, these ads just keep getting better—at helping us laugh at ourselves. werealotlikeyou.com
Best Poop-related PR
Dog Doogity PSA
The people at Puget Sound Starts Here are sick of this crap. Dog crap, that is, which contaminates runoff that feeds into local waters. The group—actually a partnership of regional government agencies concerned with water quality—created a rap video parody of Dr. Dre’s “No Diggity” that urges people to pick up after their dogs. The public service announcement, called “Dog Doogity,” is sung by San Francisco rapper Martin Luther, with background barking by a dog named Lola and some pretty fly poop-bagging backup dancing (scooppoop.org).
Photograph by Hayley Young
Most Inspirational Media Role Model
Fans of longtime KOMO-TV anchor Kathi Goertzen were stunned when she first announced she had an aggressive brain tumor more than a decade ago. Since then, she’s been fighting her health battle in a very public way, sharing details of her surgeries and recoveries as the persistent—but benign—tumor has reappeared again and again. That sharing came to something of a peak this past February, when Goertzen decided to post a photo of herself taken after a facial nerve failed. “This turn of events has caused me to think quite a bit about appearances and what really makes us who we are,” she wrote on KOMO’s blog. “It's also caused me to reconsider the way I always used to plan for tomorrow, instead of enjoying the present day.”
Best Local Gazillionaire Gift
Pledges $10 Million to MOHAI
It’s not the size of the gift—we’ve seen local billionaires pledge millions before–it’s the location that has us excited: Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ latest big gift will stay right here in Seattle, to build a Center for Innovation at the Museum of History & Industry’s (MOHAI) new location in South Lake Union. It’s the biggest pile of money ever given to the 59-year-old museum. The new center will be designed to highlight Seattle as a center of innovation—everything from desktop computers to affordable flight to, well, the Kindle.
Best Grassroots Goodness
A little kindness can turn a bad day around. That’s the operating philosophy at Altrooist, a new Seattle-based website that challenges people to do one small and random act of kindness every day. The brainchild of four local developers and designers, Gary Love, Erik Ostrom, Boo Davis and Heather Burgess, the site allows users to record daily good deeds—everything from the big (adopting a stray cat), to the small and simple (smiling at strangers, baking cookies for a friend). Log in; it’s oddly addictive.
Best Use of Social Media
Seattle Foundation’s GiveBig Campaign
There was a tsunami of tweets and a flood of Facebook posts this past June when the Seattle Foundation launched its brilliant one-day fundraising blitz, GiveBig. In just 17 hours, more than $3.5 million in online donations was raised for 900 local charitable organizations. The success startled even the organizers, who say they racked up more than 18,800 donations. With success like that, keep an eye open for a possible GiveBig 2012.
Best Animal Rescue
The Baby Coyote!
Hope was fading for a baby coyote roaming a Rainier Beach neighborhood last July with a giant plastic jar stuck on his head. The 3- or 4-month-old pup hadn’t been able to eat or drink for at least a week; animal control officers and volunteers couldn’t catch him. Finally, two men outside working on their house, Jeff Bryant and Roel Garcia, saved the day. Sneaking through the bushes, they grabbed the pup and pulled its head free of the jar. Reason enough for a celebratory howl.
Most Incredible Public Outpouring
Exceeding Rachel Beckwith’s My Charity: Water Goal
It was terrible news: On July 20, a 9-year-old Bellevue girl was fatally injured in a horrific crash on Interstate 90. But close on the heels of Rachel Beckwith’s death came word of her dream: raising $300 for a clean-water charity before her ninth birthday. Public response was immediate and heartfelt; as word spread, donations poured in from all over the country from people who wanted to honor Rachel’s generous spirit. In all, more than 31,000 people donated more than $1.2 million to My Charity: Water, a group that brings clean water to villages in Africa, Bolivia and Guatemala, via Rachel’s special Web page. “I am in awe of the overwhelming love to take my daughter’s dream and make it a reality,” wrote Rachel’s mother on the page. “I know Rachel is smiling.” mycharitywater.org/rachel