As the Bainbridge Review has reported, lawyers for both the developer of the proposed Visconsi project on High School Road, and its opponents have submitted motions for reconsideration to Hearing Examiner Stafford Smith, asking him to modify his conditions for approving the project.

Dennis Reynolds, attorney for Visconsi, has asked that the requirement for Visconsi to install two crosswalks as part of the shopping center project be modified to allow the developer the option of installing stop signs at the crosswalks instead of elevated crosswalks.

Islanders for Responsible Development, a group that opposes the project, has also asked for several changes in Smith’s decision. Here is an email from the group today, with an update on the legal status and an explanation of its motion for reconsideration. Continue Reading »

You’ll have another chance to weigh in about marijuana regulation on Bainbridge Island at the April 28 City Council study session at City Hall. At that meeting, the Council will discuss a proposed ordinance governing marijuana growing, processing and retail sale.

Although a majority of the members of the Planning Commission have recommended that marijuana farms and indoor grows be allowed in residential neighborhoods (with significant restrictions, including setbacks, screens and size of plant canopy), a minority of Planning Commission members have filed a dissenting report. That report asked the Council not to allow marijuana growing in residential zones.

Public comment at the April 28 meeting begins at 7 pm. A final public hearing is tentatively scheduled for May 12 at 7 pm. You can email written comments until 4 pm on April 23, to pcd@bainbridgewa.gov. Even if you miss that deadline, you can still submit comments until the final public hearing.

You can read the draft ordinance here: 040714 Att A 4 3 Draft Ordinance 2014-06 MJ Continue Reading »

Oil on water

I wasn’t able to go to Tuesday night’s “Oil on Water” event at Eagle Harbor Congregational Church. Speakers discussed problems with the extraction and transportation of fossil fuels, and offered ways the public can advocate for stronger regulation of this necessary but hazardous industry. Here’s a report from the blog of “Low Carbon Girl.”

The Oil on Water Event, Co-sponsored by Coal-Free Bainbridge, Sustainable Bainbridge and Eagle Harbor Congregational Church was standing room only, with more than 100 people in attendance on Tuesday evening, April 9th including Bainbridge Mayor Anne Blair and City Councilman Val Tollefson.

Erika Shriner of Coal-Free Bainbridge kicks off event.

Erika Shriner of Coal-Free Bainbridgestarted off the evening by giving an overview of some of energy issues we’re facing today and what is slated for the near future. Erika started Coal-Free Bainbridge after being inspired by Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal program, noting that most Bainbridge Islanders don’t realize that 37% of our energy still comes from coal. And, that our coal comes from aptly-named Colstrip, Montana. Erika said Sierra Club’s and other’s efforts, including Governor Jay Inslee, are helping to win the battle against Colstrip. Eric de Place later reiterating that saying he felt the entire coal industry was “on the ropes.”

Next, Eric de Place took the podium and talked about the different types of fossil fuels now in play: fracked oil from North Dakota (aka Bakken shale oil), tar sands oil from Alberta, and natural gas from British Columbia – all with different viscosities, combustibility and environmental hazards. Then Eric dropped a bomb that 17% of the gas in our cars comes from tar sands. I can see where this is going…can’t you? Now, we’ll need to be energy locavores too! Know what is going in your gas tank, home and office. My head is spinning.

Why is Seattle slated to be overrun by oil trains? We, along with California and parts of British Columbia stand between large fossil fuel deposits and “energy-hungery” Asian markets. Continue Reading »

On this second day of spring, I found a jar of poetry and bits in a bush on a neighborhood footpath. I almost left it there without a look. (Scandinavians believe in mind-your-own-business and leave-no-trace. We can take it too far.)

photo-81I picked it up, and investigated by layers. First I read the words I could see through the glass. They were David Whyte words, and beautiful. I knew then, as I had before/life is no passing memory of what has been/nor the remaining pages in a great book/waiting to be read.

I put it back unopened and walked my dog.

On the return, I picked up the jar again, opened it. JAR #15, it said. I removed two slips of paper, and twigs and stones wrapped in string. “This jar is part of an interactive poetry and art installation that started on Bainbridge Island, Washington. If you’ve found this jar you can keep it, hide it somewhere new as it is, or fill it with new words and treasures for another person to discover.”

There is a website, Jars of Words. Islander Rebecca Rockefeller says she started this project as a birthday present to herself. My present to her is Rumi: “She is a letter to everyone. You open it. It says, Live.”

I write about it here because it seems important. I cover local politics on this blog. It is strenuous, not always rewarding, but usually worthwhile. I’ve watched how we do things—people who hold office or work for our government, or express an opinion, or build something, or organize their neighbors. It is often graceless. Always passionate.

Trying to get things done in a town full of opinions involves argument. Meetings. Hearings. Positions taken, grudges held.

To be startled by poetry on a morning walk puts the whole thing in context. People live and work and love. They disagree and take offense and avoid each other. They forget and go on. This is what people do in the markets and coffee houses and streets all over the world, all over time.

The poet Carolyn Forche tells a story about a Central American human rights worker who, upon hearing that the U.S. was sending an ambassador to help in the aftermath of revolution and civil war, asked, “Why send us your bureaucrats? Send us your poets. Send us the soul of your country.”

So Bainbridge Island. Here is the soul of our island, from Jar #15. Continue Reading »

potMy freshman roommate grew a spindly pot plant named Wilbur, which yielded exactly one harsh joint. Every college dorm had its down-low pot growers. People would come by the room, smoke some cheap pot from Mexico (pre-Paraquat), listen to a little Allman Brothers and stare at a wilting plant with its two or three leaf palms. Growing pot was more about the cool than the mellow. These days I know someone who has a medical marijuana-growing business, a long way from the dorm. He has this thing down to a precise science, the seeds, amount of light, nutrients and water, measuring everything so he can produce a smoke in any strength, any medicinal quality, all in a super-energized greenhouse. Growing pot is still not about the mellow.

According to a new article in Mother Jones, the 1970′s hippie, growing marijuana for personal use, has been replaced by big business that’s anything but green. Outdoor grows in California use pesticides, fertilizer and rat poison that harm protected wildlife and consume 50% more water than the city of San Francisco.

Although the article focuses on the massive outdoor grow business in California of the kind Washington has tried to limit, it gives a few startling facts about the environmental impacts of pot growing:

–Four plants growing indoors under lights sucks as much energy as 29 refrigerators.

–Nationwide, electricity used by indoor marijuana grows is enough to power 1.7 million homes. That’s equal to the output of 7 large power plants.

–The energy needed to produce a single joint is equal to the amount needed to produce 18 pints of beer.

–For every pound of pot grown indoors, 4600 pounds of CO2 goes into the atmosphere. Continue Reading »

Today, the New York Times has a story about a report on climate change just released by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest non-governmental general science membership organization.

AAAS convened a task force of climate science experts, economists, community leaders and policy makers for its “What We Know” Initiative, to address the continuing lack of public awareness of the full spectrum of climate risks. Scientists from Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Woods Hole and other research institutions are guiding the effort to educate people about the scientific evidence on climate change, raise the alarm about serious risks and consequences to the planet, and debunk myths and misinformation.

The report contains no new science. Instead, it is clearer and “more accessible than perhaps anything the scientific community has put out to date,” the Times writes. The initiative is intended to cut through public confusion, and identify:

The Reality–Surveys show that the public is somewhat concerned about climate change, but believes there is still significant scientific disagreement about the causes. This is FALSE. According to AAAS, “Based on well-established evidence, about 97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening.”

The Risk–AAAS writes: “Earth’s climate is on a path to warm beyond the range of what has been experienced over the past millions of years. The range of uncertainty for the warming along the current emissions path is wide enough to encompass massively disruptive consequences to societies and ecosystems: as global temperatures rise, there is a real risk, however small, that one or more critical parts of the Earth’s climate system will experience abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes.”

Worst case forecasts include severe food shortages, rising seas that would inundate coastlines, extreme heat waves, droughts and floods, and massive extinction of plants and animals.  Continue Reading »

The world’s environmental problems are so huge and complex it’s hard for most of us to know how to help. Leave it to the experts and hope for the best—Congress is going to stonewall reform efforts anyway, right?

Probably. But right here on Bainbridge Island, you have a golden opportunity to make a real difference for the environment, with one decision on your power bill. And by showing City Hall how much islanders care about clean energy, your efforts could be multiplied a hundredfold!

I’m talking about Puget Sound Energy’s “Green Power” program. I didn’t know it existed until late February when our City Council discussed it.

Chart-copyUnless you participate in the Green Program, over one-third of your electrical power comes from coal, from my home state of Montana. That sparkling, pure water in Montana’s streams, rivers and groundwater for fishing, hiking, wildlife, recreation and drinking water is not so clean and pure in coal country. Continue Reading »


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