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Wealthy Individuals Bankroll Washington Campaigns

KPLU News - 1 hour 39 min ago

So far this year, business interests have contributed more than $16 million to political campaigns and committees in Washington.

But gifts from individual donors eclipse even that. That’s because a small group of wealthy people are writing large checks.

Autumnal Equinox

KPLU News - 2 hours 13 min ago

  Today marks the mid-point between June's longest day and December's shortest day. We may hardly notice, but ancient cultures closely watched the changes in the sun's daily patterns. One legend from the Andes of South America held that only the giant Andean Condor (like the one pictured here), with its ten-foot wingspan, had the strength to lift the sun each morning and pull it back down each evening. You can learn more about this condor at The Peregrine Fund. Or visit your local Audubon chapter, and find your local birds.

Why These Seattle Artists Are Selling Cans Of Dirt From A Georgetown Brownfield

Quirksee - 6 hours 12 min ago

A trio of Seattle artists has taken a unique approach in an attempt to “undo three-quarters of a century’s worth of polluting”: canning and selling dirt.

The “premium-quality hand-canned dirt,” which are available for $25 a can, are a commentary on how a community can share in the responsibility of cleaning up a contaminated urban site.

The artists’ work focuses on one specific site, a brownfield in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Once home to a gas station, it is now choked with blackberries, littered with drug baggies and covered in contaminated soil.

Artists John Sutton, Ben Beres and Zac Culler want to transform the place into a green space and art venue.

“There’s hundreds of thousands of these sites all across the United States, and we are one of the few people who are actually giving them a creative response,” Beres said.

The site once housed a gas station. (Courtesy of SuttonBeresCuller)

Here’s a more current photo of the Georgetown site. (Courtesy of SuttonBeresCuller)

This artist rendering shows the artists’ vision for the site. (Courtesy of SuttonBeresCuller)

And that’s where the cans of dirt come in.

The artists, who work under the moniker SuttonBeresCuller, scored grant funding to purchase the abandoned property. They waded through mounds of bureaucracy and rounds of environmental testing only to realize it would cost a fortune to clean up and haul out the site’s estimated 106,000 cubic feet of contaminated soil.

The polluted soil would have to be trucked to Oregon for disposal, Beres says. To the artists, the whole notion sounded environmentally wrong and even ridiculous.

“So we thought, ‘Why not can this stuff up ourselves?”’ Beres said.

The result, as told through a campy sales video featuring the trio in hazmat suits, is cans of premium “not non-toxic” dirt. The dirt is from the actual contaminated site and the can label specifies, in detail, the various contaminants identified through environmental testing.

“There are disclaimers all over the cans: ‘not safe for human consumption.’ Not that you would eat dirt anyways,” Beres said.

This 2005 Sears portrait shows artists Ben Beres (left), Zac Culler (center) and John Sutton. (Courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery)

The artists have packed 1,300 cans of dirt, which are available for sale online as well as at the Greg Kucera Gallery as part of a larger SuttonBeresCuller art show. Sales benefit the Georgetown project, which is being called Mini Mart City Park. The artists have calculated all the contaminated soil would fill more than 5.5 million cans. If they sell out their first batch, Beres says, they will make more.

SuttonBeresCuller, who’ve created a host of buzzed-about projects over the years (a floatable island in the middle of Lake Washington, just to name one), first came up with this idea of upending a piece of property back in 2000.

Back then, Seattle was considering extending the monorail line and buying up several parcels of land. SuttonBeresCuller envisioned transforming a convenience store on Crown Hill into some sort of public space. Then voters voted down the monorail proposal.

When they decided to hold onto their concept, they went looking for old gas stations in an urban environment, ideally something retro-looking that was situated in a neighborhood with limited open space.

“We liked the old-timey feel of this station,” Culler said. And the Georgetown neighborhood isn’t teeming with parks.

SuttonBeresCuller formed a nonprofit entity and paid $50,000 for the Mini Mart City Park site. The gas station, which opened in 1926, was owned for decades by the Perovich Brothers. Boeing stored fuel tanks here during World War II, according to the artists.

The artists have already started to remove blackberries and paint parts of the lot, but they acknowledge it will take years to finish the project. But Mini Mart City Park has already played host as a temporary art venue. The site will feature a video installation by Brent Watanabe in October.

Researchers: Keep An Eye Out For Tagged Monarch Butterflies

KPLU News - 6 hours 13 min ago

If you’re lucky enough to spot a lacy monarch butterfly as it heads south for winter, look closely. You might see something unusual on its wing.

In a town in northern California, a young girl noticed a white sticker with an email address on a butterfly’s wing when it landed on her garage door.

“She took note and emailed me, so it proved the system worked,” said Dr. David James, an entomologist at Washington State University.

Why These Seattle Artists Are Selling Cans Of Dirt From A Georgetown Brownfield

KPLU News - 6 hours 13 min ago

A trio of Seattle artists has taken a unique approach in an attempt to “undo three-quarters of a century’s worth of polluting”: canning and selling dirt.

The “premium-quality hand-canned dirt,” which are available for $25 a can, are a commentary on how a community can share in the responsibility of cleaning up a contaminated urban site.

The artists’ work focuses on one specific site, a brownfield in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Once home to a gas station, it is now choked with blackberries, littered with drug baggies and covered in contaminated soil.

Read the full story on our companion site, Quirksee.org >>>

Jazz Northwest For September 21st

KPLU News - Sun, 09/21/2014 - 15:00

It's the last weekend of Summer and we'll feature some songs for the end of Summer with Jessica Williams and Ralph Towner and Denney Goodhew on Jazz Northwest.  We'll also look ahead and sample some of the great live jazz coming up this Fall including the CD release party for Ann Reynolds' Clave Gringa on Monday night at Tula's.  Former Seattle pianist Larry Fuller has a new CD and he'll be back in Seattle next month for three performances.

The Heron And The Snake

KPLU News - Sun, 09/21/2014 - 09:00

  It's a rough world for a young Great Blue Heron. A mere one egg in ten results in an adult heron. Only a little more than 25% of fledglings survive their first year. Michael Hobbs witnessed a battle between a young heron and a snake. Successful foraging takes practice. In a trial-and-error world, how often does an inexperienced bird get a second chance? Fortunately, nearly 75% of yearlings will survive to adulthood.

Mono Lake - Seeking A Balance

KPLU News - Sat, 09/20/2014 - 09:00

  More than 1.5 million Eared Grebes, 30% of the North American population, gather at Mono Lake each fall. But as late as the 1990s, the lake was gravely threatened by the diversion of its water to Los Angeles. After years of court battles, Los Angeles, the lake's advocates, and concerned scientists came to a balanced solution. While the lake will take another twenty years to regain the water level now guaranteed by law, for legions of Eared Grebes and other birds, the story of Mono Lake looks like a conservation success. Learn more at MonoLake.org.

Win Tickets To "Basie Bash: SRJO Celebrates Twenty Years"

KPLU News - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 17:00

Win Tickets To The Helen Sung Quartet

KPLU News - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 17:00

The Pacific Jazz Institute at Dimitiriou's Jazz Alley presents the Helen Sung Quartet for two nights only. Band members are Helen Sung (piano), Hamilton Price (bass), Jamire Williams (drums), and Joshua Johnson (sax). Show time is Tuesday at 7:30pm. Doors open at 5:30pm.

Washington State Employees Negotiate First Pay Raises In 6 Years

KPLU News - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 14:46

Washington state employees have not had a cost-of-living raise in six years. But that could change in the next budget cycle.

A tentative contract deal has been struck between the state and the union representing general government workers.

Providence Hospital Chain: Catholic, Nonprofit...And Venture Capitalists?

KPLU News - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 10:46

The state’s largest nonprofit hospital chain is getting into a new line of business: venture capitalism.

Providence Health & Services, which runs 34 hospitals and hundreds of clinics, wants to be a player in the startup scene. The Catholic-affiliated chain has created a venture capital fund with about $150 million to invest in companies pioneering new health care models, especially ones focused on technology.

Last Blast Of Summer Heat This Weekend Before Fall Returns Next Week

KPLU News - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 10:27

Don’t put away that sunscreen just yet.

Temperatures are expected to shoot back up into the upper 70s and even 80s for the last weekend of summer, topping off what will likely go down as the warmest summer in Seattle history.

Enterovirus Confirmed In Two Kids Hospitalized In Seattle

KPLU News - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 09:30

Health officials have confirmed that two patients treated at Seattle Children’s Hospital have tested positive for Enterovirus D68. That puts Washington in the company of 18 other states with confirmed cases of the virus, which mainly sickens children and is especially dangerous for kids with asthma and other respiratory conditions.

The two Children’s patients were stabilized and discharged, according to a statement by the hospital. One is from King County and the other from Snohomish.

Pirates And Parrots

KPLU News - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 09:00

  Ahoy, Mates! September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day. No doubt the most famous image of a pirate with a parrot is Long John Silver in Treasure Island. During the 1700s, pirates plied the waters of South and Central America, home to many species of parrots, including this Blue and Yellow Macaw.

Today's show's music by the Toucan Pirates. Thanks!

Sounders' Two-Tiered Success: MLS Leaders And 4-Time U.S. Open Cup Champs

KPLU News - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 05:00

The Seattle Sounders won their fourth U.S. Open Cup championship this week. They also have the best record in Major League Soccer right now. KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says the Sounders’ success has come despite several distractions.

Seattle's Erotic Bakery, A Decades-Old Institution, To Close Its Doors

KPLU News - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 05:00

Warning: Some of the language in this story may not be appropriate for young ears.

After 28 years of making people’s bawdy wishes come true with marzipan and cake, a Seattle institution is coming to an end. The Erotic Bakery in the city’s Wallingford neighborhood is taking down its sign and closing its doors at the end of this month.

Proposed Emergency Legislation Aims To Address Starfish Wasting Syndrome

KPLU News - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 17:47

Most people who've grown up in the Northwest can remember walking on the beach as a kid, enjoying tide pools full of brightly-colored starfish. But beachcombing has become less joyful over the past year. An epidemic known as sea star wasting syndrome has devastated huge populations of starfish, especially on the West Coast.

Wash. Marijuana Tax Collections Starting To Roll In, Millions More Expected

KPLU News - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 17:39
In a manner of speaking, millions of dollars of "drug money" are starting to flow into Washington state coffers.

The state's chief economic forecaster updated budget writers Thursday on how much tax money they can expect from recreational marijuana now that the first state licensed stores have opened.