The Epic Saga: the Beginning of the End

As early as 2001, after the 6.8-magnitude Nisqually earthquake hit the Puget Sound area, officials have been discussing what to do with the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The double-decker roadway, which separates downtown Seattle from the waterfront of Elliott Bay, has been an integral part of people’s daily SR-99 commutes since it opened in the 1950’s. But the Viaduct sustained significant structural damage during the earthquake, and Seattle residents have been hearing about various plans and budgets to replace the Viaduct for almost 18 years ago. Now that it has been closed permanently to road traffic earlier this month, this officially marks the beginning of the end for the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

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Continuing the Epic Saga

Four years ago, I wrote a post about the ongoing saga of Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct and Big Bertha, the massive drill that would bore her way under our streets to make way for an expensive new tunnel that will be everything that was promised. It was predicted that the project would cost $4.25 billion, that digging would be completed by the fall of 2014, and that the underground roadways would be open in 2015. Oh, my sweet naive child. How very wrong we were. This is not the final verse of the Epic Poem of the Viaduct, merely the next one, continuing on into eternity.

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Healthy Planet: Materials & the Environment

Materials Matter is a five-session series from the AIA Seattle chapter that delivers comprehensive, high-level knowledge and strategies for assessing and selecting healthy, sustainable materials. I had the opportunity to attend the first run of the newly-developed series with many of the local industry leaders who helped create the innovative course materials. AIA Seattle is currently hosting the series for a second time.

The series encompasses everything tied to building materials and how they impact our lives: human health, the tools and data available for assessing and prioritizing materials, and strategies for integrating informed decision-making into projects and practice. Join me as I discover exactly why Materials Matter.

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Girl Power

On Saturday, January 21, I joined 5 million other people worldwide for the Women’s March. In over 80 countries, on every continent, women and men marched peacefully in solidarity for women’s and LGBTQ right, health care, immigration, the environment and racial justice. Although I’ll try not to contribute overly to a political confirmation-bias echo chamber, it was an incredibly powerful movement to be a part of; Seattle alone had 175,000 attendees of all ages, nationalities and lifestyles. To march with the strong women in my life, my allies, my community and my parents gives me hope. The overwhelming feeling of love, acceptance and courage is exactly what I need right now.

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What Are You Drinking?

Seattle is the biggest small city (or the smallest big city, if you prefer) that I’ve ever encountered. I’ve traveled all over the world and seen people and things that connect back to the Pacific Northwest: a bartender in the British Virgin Islands who went to O’Dea High School on First Hill, or the schoolboy in Uganda wearing a Mariner’s baseball cap, or a KEXP t-shirt in a small Irish coastal town. This urban identity of home-grown grown up is presenting an odd comparison of local vs. big business, similar to “green washing” in the building industry – the act of appearing local and independent rather than actually being so.

When you go to the store, you’ll be hard pressed to find a product that is owned by the company on the packaging. Unilever, Nestle, Johnson & Johnson and a small handful of other companies own almost everything on the grocery shelves of national chains. Many local companies in the Seattle area are truly independent; some started that way, then got bought by larger companies but continue to perpetuate their former grass-roots identity. This is especially prevalent in Seattle’s two favorite beverages: coffee and beer.

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Hometown Heroes of Seattle (Part Two)

“Who are Seattle’s hometown heroes? In many ways they are just like you and me. They walk the same city streets, with grand visions and dreams etched in their minds. They put on their shoes one at a time, then inspire us with their giant strides.”

These words adorn a bronze plaque in downtown Seattle, on the side of the flagship Nordstrom store. Growing up in the area, I’ve passed it many times, as well as the footprints of these “giant strides” from iconic Seattle entrepreneurs, politicians and artists – many of whom, like Olympian Apolo Ohno and baseball star Ken Griffey Jr., are pretty well known to people outside the Pacific Northwest. But as someone who has lived in Seattle for nearly my entire life (minus 7 years or so), there were some hometown heroes that even I hadn’t heard of!

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