Green My Ballard: Take a step to lessen your footprint
Summer, in large part, bypassed Seattle. I hear from various sources we’re supposed to have a harsh-for-Seattle winter – lots of snow, ice, high winds and general cold and wetness. For those of us not into snow sports, it’s an unpleasant forecast. Even with good rain gear.
Is climate change driving our weird weather patterns? I’m not an expert, so I can’t say for sure. But I believe the scientists when they say the climate is changing, and that we, as humans, are contributing in a big way.
I instinctively know how true this is when I:
- Look at all the cars on the road (and think about all those I can’t see and all the CO2 they’re emitting).
- Recognize all the plastic we use and throw away (and think about what it takes to manufacture that plastic, from water bottles to packaging to electronic components – it’s an endless list).
- Read news articles about the Arctic Sea opening up as a new trade route due to ice melt (and then note visible changes to the snowpack on our local mountains).
There’s water, air, food quality and so much more. How can we possibly sustain this?
But, there’s no point in being gloomy about it. We can do something else. There are a lot of amazing people doing really great work – and each one of us can take steps to make a difference.
That’s what the Global Work Party, 10/10/10, is all about. 10/10/10 is a project of 350.org, an international campaign working to lessen our CO2 emissions to 350 parts-per-million, the top end of what climate scientists say our planet can tolerate. We’ve already exceeded that, but it’s not too late.
Taking steps to make a difference is also Sustainable Ballard’s reason for being, and its upcoming annual festival was scheduled intentionally this year to coincide with 10/10/10.
And, it’s the reason Seattle City Council is prioritizing a climate neutral initiative and inviting neighbors and concerned citizens to get involved.
Global work party, Ballard style
With more than 10 work parties planned, Ballard joins more than 5,000 events in 176 countries to make a global difference at the local level.
At 10 a.m. Oct. 10, 2010, the Sustainable Ballard Festival kicks off at Ballard Commons Park, located at Northwest 57th Street and 22nd Avenue Northwest. Hear from inspirational speakers’ Cecile Andrews, author and simple living/community advocate, and Sustainable Ballard president Jenny Heins. Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien will talk about the city’s climate neutral initiative, and Ballard business members will say a few words.
Then from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., roll up your sleeves, learn a new skill and get to know your neighbors. Workshops and workgroups range from making your own storm windows and solar ovens to restoring habitat at Golden Gardens Park to how to keep your bicycle on the road.
See a complete list of workshops and workgroups here.
Exhibitors at the festival will offer tips to further lessen your footprint, including Seattle Fuel Co-op (biodiesel made locally, from local products), Seattle Farm Co-op (“grow your own” supplies) and Chinook Book, which for me is a great resource for “green” products and information, even though I typically forget to use the coupons.
A community celebration follows back at Ballard Commons Park from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and a city-wide after-party gets rolling in SoDo from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. (21 and over; details here.
The after-party is hosted by the Global Music Project, a nonprofit promoting social justice through music founded by Ballard High grad Peter Fosso.
“We’re joining millions of people around the world today to work to solve the climate crisis,” Heins said. “And in the process, we’re sending a message to politicians that we’re getting to work, and they should, too. Our work today not only improves our environment, but strengthens our community, creates jobs, improves our public health, and makes the world a better place for everyone. ”
Individuals, businesses, and big polluters are encouraged to cut their emissions by 10 percent by the end of 2010. Can we do it?
Carbon neutrality has been on Ballard’s collective mind since 2006, when Sustainable Ballard first announced its intention to help Ballard become the nation’s first carbon neutral community.
Going a step further, the Seattle City Council recently made carbon neutrality one of its 16 priorities, convening work groups focused on key areas: neighborhoods, transportation, land use, energy and food systems, among others. Heins and Sustainable Ballard members Orna Locker, Andrea Faste and Jean Darsie contributed to the Carbon Neutral Neighborhoods group.
Each group met for approximately 10 weeks to vet ideas and come up with possible solutions to some of our pressing challenges. Recommendations in all key areas were made to the city council at a community forum held Sept. 14, which can now be found online at Carbon Neutral Seattle, a city government blog that is surprisingly cool.
There is still much to do, and everyone is invited to participate. Make your footprint lighter and join the fun on Sunday, 10/10/10, and stand by for more information about Seattle’s carbon neutral initiative and what you can do, individually and collectively.
Laura McLeod is a Ballard native who returned 12 years ago. She has a community garden in her yard that was a family garden for more than a century. She's a passionate advocate for sustainable food systems, environmental stewardship, gardening, conscious consumption and cultural difference.