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A Ray of Hope

On Sunday, the New York Times printed this thoughtful article about why we have to have hope that we can still effect change.

From NYT: There's Still Hope for the Planet

By David Leonhardt

YOU don’t have to be a climate scientist these days to know that the climate has problems. You just have to step outside.

The United States is now enduring its warmest year on record, and the 13 warmest years for the entire planet have all occurred since 1998, according to data that stretches back to 1880. No one day’s weather can be tied to global warming, of course, but more than a decade’s worth of changing weather surely can be, scientists say. Meanwhile, the country often seems to be moving further away from doing something about climate change, with the issue having all but fallen out of the national debate.

Behind the scenes, however, a somewhat different story is starting to emerge — one that offers reason for optimism to anyone worried about the planet. The world’s largest economies may now be in the process of creating a climate-change response that does not depend on the politically painful process of raising the price of dirty energy. The response is not guaranteed to work, given the scale of the problem. But the early successes have been notable.

Read full article here.

Planet: Home Festival July 21st

Get your green on! July 21st is the date for Sustainable Northeast Seattle's 3rd annual Planet Home sustainable living festival, an urban country fair!

This year we'll be featuring some great local bands playing live music, tasty local food, fun games for kids and adults, and interactive learning opportunities.
Come meet more of your neighbors and play with your family and friends.

More information available here.

Some specific things you can look forward to experiencing and learning about:

DIY solar hot water systems

Produce and plant swap (Bring home-made or home-grown items to barter)

Leave-One-Take-One share table (bring items for gifting)

Tool sharpening (bring your dull tools)

"Stone soup" salad and fruit salad (bring potluck salad and/or fruit items to share. We'll keep adding ingredients as they show up!)

Tool donation station for the new NE Seattle Tool Library (bring electric or hand-powered tools you'd like to share)

Sustainable food prepared by Outside the Box / Cata Catering food company (Paleo beef chili, curry chicken/curry veg and coconut cardamom cauliflower rice)

Alternative currencies / Fourth Corner Exchange

Sun jam demonstration

Local watershed model


Materials salvaging and repurposing

Seed bombs

Healing salve for cuts, scrapes, and burns workshop

Cargo bikes

Emergency Preparedness

Cake Walk

Home-made goods

Tug-o-war and bag toss games, sack races

Cedar lotion bars workshop


DIY weatherization and insulation

Polyhedra building with magnets

Energy retrofit home tour

Slow motion pie-eating contest

Gardening Q&A booth

Electric cars

Art projects table for kids

Radical Mycology

Cascadian Edible Landscapes

Live local music from Klez Chaos, Podorythmie, and Leo Brodie!

and much more!


Scheduled activities (other events run all day or we're still deciding exact times):

11-12, 2-3 DIY Affordable and trouble free solar hot water systems

11-12 Rain Gardens with Loralee Wenger

12-1 Remodeling for Resilience: Learn from a case-study example by the homeowner how to remodel your home for efficiency, health and resilience. Tour included.

1-2 Cedar Lotion Bars workshop

3-4 Mushroom Symbiosis with Radical Mycology

4-5 Healing Salve from Common Plants workshop

1-2 Musical entertainment by Leo Brodie

2-3 Klezmer music by Klez Chaos

3-4 French Canadian steps and tunes by Podorythmie

Check back here closer to the date for more details. We will update this page as we finalize our schedule.

Insurance for Cyclists

The Better World Club, which offers perks like the AAA but without the constant lobbying for cars and highways, now has a plan for cyclists. Read their press release here!

PORTLAND, Ore., Jul 05, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The nation's bicycle community is growing rapidly, and as more cyclists share the road with cars, trucks and other cyclists, there is greater likelihood of an accident. As a result, the demand for bicycle insurance has never been higher. Today Better World Club (BWC), America's only environmentally friendly auto club, announces that it has partnered with Gales Creek Insurance Services (GCIS) of Portland, Oregon, a division of JD Fulwiler, so that its members can receive GCIS's BIKEon, the first nationwide, comprehensive, and affordable accident and liability insurance for bicyclists.

Offered exclusively to members enrolled in Better World Club's industry-leading bicycle roadside assistance program, BIKEon provides accident insurance for the cyclist providing up to $100,000 to reimburse him for his bills, and liability payment of up to $1 million for each occurrence in the event of an accident that is caused by the bicyclist and results in injuries to other people or damage to property. Cyclists who ride standard road bikes, mountain bikes or electric bikes will be covered under this new policy.

Because comprehensive BIKEon Accident and Liability Insurance policy is included in its $39.95 bicycle roadside assistance program at no additional charge for the primary member, it is available with or without Better World Club's auto club memberships. Bicycle Associates can be added for $17.00 each which includes both roadside assistance and the insurance.

"Because there's been such an increase in the number of cyclists on the roads, there's also a higher chance that they'll get into an accident and incur huge medical bills or be sued. As a result, we keep getting more and more calls asking for insurance coverage to cover cyclists comparable to the benefits drivers enjoy," said Mitch Rofsky, President of Better World Club. "GCIS's accident and liability insurance coverage gives riders peace of mind in knowing that their expenses will be taken care of in the event of an accident, and that they are not taking a financial risk by getting out of their cars and onto their bikes."

"Cyclists are an integral part of the larger American movement to wean our society off polluting fossil fuels, and deserve adequate protection while on the roadways," said Jeffrey M. Lang, head of research and New Product Development at Gales Creek Insurance Services. "BIKEon fills the crucial need for Accident and Liability Insurance protection, and is an aid to achieving our sustainability goals. We are proud to launch this highly affordable program with America's only eco-friendly roadside assistance organization, The Better World Club."

Over 10 years of research went into the new BIKEon product developed by Gales Creek Insurance Services who listened to individuals, leading organizations in the cycling community and public policy experts focused on the promotion of alternative transportation in America. Gales Creek also studied similar cycling programs available to consumer groups and clubs in other nations including Australia, Holland and Great Britain, so that American's who bike to work or for recreation could get affordably priced cycle insurance. BIKEon was designed to deliver on this promise of a low coast but comprehensive people's bike insurance program.

BIKEon insurance does not cover riders of BMX bikes or bikes used for commercial purposes.

About Better World Club

Better World Club, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is the nation's only eco-friendly, socially-conscious roadside assistance, insurance, and travel club for cars and bicycles. Better World Club pioneered bicycle roadside assistance--and still offers the only nationwide bicycle roadside assistance. Membership includes eco-travel services, access to auto and bicycle insurance, free maps, auto maintenance discounts and much more. By donating one percent of annual revenues toward environmental cleanup and advocacy and being the first travel company to offer carbon offsets, Better World Club is changing more than just tires. For more information or to join the 30,000 socially-responsible members, visit , call 1.866.238.1137, or join Better World Club on Facebook at .

About Gales Creek Insurance Services (GCIS)

Founded in 1980 by Margaret Payton and Jeffrey Lang, Gales Creek Insurance Services is a division of JD Fulwiler & Company. GCIS is an innovator and developer of specialty Insurance and Risk Transfer products for associations, political subdivisions, non-profits and underserved-disenfranchised groups and communities nationally. Through careful analysis, GCIS delivers custom insurance products that solve problems for their unique, professional customers. JD Fulwiler is licensed in all states plus affiliate relationships in Europe and the Middle East. GCIS is a founding member of Co-Op America now called Green America and is committed to building a more just, equitable and sustainable economy through ethical business-to-business transactions. For more information, visit or call 1.800.755-1575.

SOURCE: Better World Club

Coal Train Derails in Tri-Cities

Can you imagine if this had happened at Carkeek Park? Or downtown by the stadiums? Or on the trestle bridge crossing over the Ballard Locks? We must continue to say "no" to coal exports!

From the Seattle Times:

PASCO — A coal train that derailed and spilled 31 cars of the black, dusty fuel caused little more than a big mess and a day's delay in rail traffic in the Eastern Washington town of Mesa, but opponents of increased coal shipments through the Northwest say it's an example of a serious risk.

No one was injured and no buildings damaged Monday evening when the train derailed, said Franklin County sheriff's Lt. Ronelle Nelson.

About 50 workers using heavy equipment worked through the night to clear the BNSF Railway track, said spokesman Gus Melonas.

They were able to put one car back on the track, but 30 were too badly damaged. Those cars were pushed aside and will have to be cut up and removed in a salvage operation, Melonas said.

About 30 trains a day roll through the area, 20 miles north of the Tri-Cities. About four a day are coal trains, the state has said.

The cause of the derailment is under investigation.

The 125-car train with four locomotives was carrying coal from the Powder Basin in Wyoming to an export terminal at Delta, B.C.

With a growing demand for coal in Asia, there are a half-dozen proposals for new coal-export terminals in Washington and Oregon. They are at Cherry Point, Whatcom County; Longview; and Port of Grays Harbor in Washington, as well as Coos Bay in Oregon and two sites on the Columbia River.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington Department of Ecology have asked the Army Corps of Engineers to thoroughly review cumulative impacts of exporting large amounts of coal from Wyoming and Montana to Asia.

Environmental groups oppose the shipments.

They cite congestion and dust pollution and say regulators also should consider the effect on climate change from burning North American coal in Asia.

"As more trains come through, the risks of accidents go up," said Shannon Wright, executive director with Communitywise Bellingham, a group that wants studies of the local impacts of a proposed coal-export terminal at Cherry Point.

Derailments are a serious risk, said Krista Collard, with the Sierra Club's Northwest Beyond Coal Campaign.

"This is a perfect example of why," she said. "We've been calling for the corps to do a full evaluation of all six proposals from mine to rail and port to plant in Asia."

Plastic Bag Ban Starts Today

Seattle's ban on single-use plastic bags goes into effect today!
Plastic Bag Ban Starts Today

Tote bags...a small change that makes a big difference!


If you aren't already in the habit, it's time to create a new routine! Seattle's ban on single-use plastic bags at retail shops begins today. So slip a small tote into your purse or backpack, another into the bottom of your stroller, and a few bigger ones into the trunk of your car so that you can be prepared.

Seattle Public Utilities has information about the ban if you need it, including this insight as to what to do if you find a store that is still using plastic bags:

A call to SPU's customer service line, (206) 684-3000, will forward store names to outreach staff who will visit the location. Note that small stores – those without branches outside Seattle where they can send their existing stock of bags – are allowed some time to use up inventory. Also, strong plastic bags (2.25 mils thick or greater) are considered reusable and some stores such as department stores and book stores will be using them. You may also call this number if you see a store not charging for large, recyclable paper bags. (No charge is required for small paper bags.)