Monday, January 28, 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008

Geothermal under the Cascades

By Les Blumenthal
McClatchy Newspapers
Jan. 24, 2008

Deep beneath the Cascades Mountains, where molten magma heats the Earth's crust and occasionally bursts through cracks and fractures in violent volcanic eruptions, lurks an energy source that scientists think could be tamed to help power the Northwest.

Though there's been little exploration, and no deep test holes have been drilled, the geothermal potential of the Cascades — which run from Washington state south through Oregon into Northern California — is starting to attract a buzz. In the next 10 or 15 years, some say, commercial-sized power plants could start generating electricity.

"As this area is predicted to contain vast geothermal resources, development plans for the Cascades are becoming an increasingly frequent topic of conversation," said a report late last year for the Department of Energy.

Behind Iceland, which gets more than 26 percent of its electricity from geothermal plants, the United States is a world leader in geothermal development, with plants pro
ducing more than 3,000 megawatts of electricity.

California is No. 1, and resources in such other Western states as Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Oregon are being developed. Nevada has been dubbed the "Saudi Arabia of geothermal."

A recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology study found that the amount of geothermal power that could be recovered from deep drilling would represent almost 3,000 times the amount of energy currently consumed in the United States.

Last year's Energy Department report said the Cascades contained "potentially significant" geothermal resources, but it cautioned that the effort to tap these resources — including drilling miles into volcanoes to tap "supercritical fluids" — won't be easy.

Even so, the hunt is under way, and some energy companies have zeroed in on certain areas.

Near Baker Lake, north of Seattle, an Oregon company is waiting for leases from the Forest Service and considering a 100-megawatt geothermal plant that could provide enough electricity for 100,000 people. The power it would produce would be cheaper than the electricity from a new natural gas-fired generating plant.

"We are very serious about this," said Steven Munson, the chief executive of Vulcan Power Co.

In the rough triangle from Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams in Washington state to Mount Hood, east of Portland, there's enough geothermal potential to develop 1,000 megawatts of electricity, the equivalent of three or four gas-fired generating plants, said Susan Petty, president of AltaRock Energy in Seattle.

The Cascades are part of the so-called "Ring of Fire" of active volcanoes and earthquake faults that surround the Pacific Ocean.

Southeastern Washington, eastern Oregon, southern Idaho, eastern California, Utah and Nevada are in a zone marked by deep fractures in the Earth's crust that tend to be pathways to the deep circulation of hot water.

Though that water is hot enough to run steam turbines, Petty and others said the temperatures of the geothermal water and hot rocks underlying the Cascades might be even better for producing power. And because magma is closer to the surface in the Cascades, the drilling holes there might not have to be as deep.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Honoring Dr. King

From HistoryLink:
On November 8, 1961, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), the great civil rights leader, arrived for his only visit to Seattle. He spoke at the University of Washington and at Temple de Hirsch on Thursday, November 9, and at Garfield High School and the Eagles Auditorium on Friday, November 10, 1961. A reception followed at Plymouth Congregational Church.

In his lectures, the civil rights leader stressed creative protest to break down racial segregation and discrimination, and called on President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) to use the executive order to declare all segregation unconstitutional. All of his talks were inspirational and promoted the concept of brotherhood.

After the last lecture, he requested that McKinney take him to a barbecue restaurant in the Central Area where they spent several hours eating and talking and reminiscing. He left on Saturday, November 11, impressed, according to McKinney, by the progressive attitude he saw in the city, especially in the African American community.

Cascadian MLK Events:
Poetry Reading and Open Mic in Bellingham
Workshops, March and Rally in Seattle
Unity Breakfast in Tacoma
Rally and March in Spokane
March and Rally in Boise
Rosa Parks Monologue in Vancouver
Rally and March in Portland
MLK Health Care Forum in Medford
Buddhist Peace Walk in Salem
Bowl for Beans Benefit in Arcata

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cascadian Eco-Beer

So at work today, enjoying the old Seattle Weekly, I came across Aimee Curl's article on eco-friendliness in the coffee industry. Although there weren't too many surprises (guess what, Starbucks doesn't recycle, aaah!) it's always interesting to see product comparisons with respect to greenness. Originally I thought I would just post a more generally Cascadian version of Curl's article, but then I got to thinking...

Coffee isn't the Cascadian, or even Seattle icon that so many claim it to be. Starbuck's may have started here but its popularity has little to do with coffee and much more to do with service and marketing. This is exactly why they went global and have been just as popular everywhere else. They had an effective business model that they perfected in Seattle and that's about it. Sure we like our caffiene fix everyday but were not a bunch of coffee connoisseurs who can determine the country of origin with just one whiff. In fact, if that were the case, I would expect that Starbucks would have done worse around here because people would realize that Starbucks' Grande Mocha is nothing more than the Big Mac of java.

But Beer. Now that's something that Cascadians truly take seriously. It's common knowledge that microbreweries prosper here like shrooms in a cow patty. In fact, the top five states with the most craft breweries are as follows:

1. California 200+
2. Colorado 101
3. Oregon 91
4. Washington 87
5. Michigan 69

And this is good beer too. As I mentioned in a previous post British Columbia dominated the show at the Canadian Brewing Awards. Likewise, California, Washington, and Oregon are first, third, and fifth respectively in most medals won from the American Brewer's World Beer Cup. Even in international competitions Cascadians show their talent. In the 2005 International Brewing Industry Awards the only winners from the entire North American continent all came out of Cascadia (Bridgeport Brewing, Oregon; Rogue's Brewing, Oregon; Sierra Nevada, Northern Cali; and Pacific Western, BC)

So, with inspiration from Aimee Curl and an added PNW twist, I give you the greenest beers in Cascadia!

If there was an award for greenest brew practices (which there sure as hell should be!) it would most certainly go to Anderson Valley Brewing Company. Based in Boonville, Ca, at the heart of the Emerald Triangle, this brewery is so eco-friendly I don't even know where to begin! Let's see, the company really took off in 1999 when they built their new, three-story, state-of-the-art brewhouse . They situated the building so that only one tree had to be removed, and they planted two more in its stead. The new facility boast a fully solar-powered brewing process as well as a three-pond effluent waste water treatment system. This means that water used to brew the beer is also used for heating and chilling beer, cleaning the facilities, and eventually irrigating all 30 acres of the company's property. The brewery also utilizes and supports its local community. All water used by the brewery is taken from wells on their property. The hops are all certified organic and grown in the Pacific Northwest. In addition, after using the grains for brewing they clean it, then donate it to local livestock owners. They estimate that they give away approximately 2000 tons of nutrient grains a year. These efforts have gotten them numerous awards from California's Waste Reduction Awards Program. In fact, AVBC is so environmentally conscious that they recently acquired four shire horses which they use to haul beer to local stores and pubs in the area (fed with the spent brew grains of course!).

Down in Oregon Country the Full Sail Brewing Company, based in Hood River, has gained recognition for its social responsibility. In 1999 after 12 years of brewing and 47 workers the company became an independent, employee-owned company, dividing the company between all workers. Under this ideology the company has been able to implement a number of innovative practices that have helped them reduce their environmental impact. For example, the company runs 4 10-hour work days which saves 20% on water and power consumption. 85% of hops and 95% of barley used in Full Sail Ales are grown in the Northwest and through various minor fixes they have reduced their water consumption to only 3.45 gallons of water for every gallon of beer (the industry average is between 6 and 8).

While nothing to date can compete with Anderson Valley, Olympia, Washington's Fish Brewing Company has been giving back to the environment since 2002. As their name suggests they try to promote the protection and rehabilitation of salmon habitat's throughout Cascadia. Their three main beers, amber, Pale, and IPA are all certified Organic. Their signature beer the Wild Salmon Pale Ale uses hops from a Yakima, Washington farm which was the first farm to producecomercially organic hops in the United States. A portion of the proceeds from this beer also goes towards salmon restoration and watershed protection. I also must mention the fact that all six-packs of Fish beer contain the proclamation, Brewed in the Republic ofCascadia. You gotta love that!

Of course, lets not leave BC out of this! Crannog's Ales has the dubious title of Canada's only certified organic farm brewery. Crannog's is similar to Anderson Valley, but on a smaller scale. They brew on a 10-acre farm which feeds and sustains the brewers as well as contributes to the brewing process. They also use water from their own wells and reuse grains for livestock feed. They claim to have created a harmonized, zero-waste system. While the brewery pledges to only deliver beer within driving range of the brewery this makes it difficult to secure outside of British Columbia. Nonetheless they deserve credit for standing behind their beliefs.

Juneau's Alaskan Brewing Company is also a committed green brewery. It is their goal to have a zero-net impact on the environment. To this end, in 1998 they were the first craft brewer in the country to install a carbon dioxide recovery system, which captures and reuses the greenhouse gas naturally produced in the fermentation process. Of course, they acknowledge that working in the harsh Alaskan environment they cannot be quite as eco-friendly as other places. Thus, they have pledged a portion of their proceeds to promote the health of the Pacific Ocean via their coastal CODE (Clean Oceans Depend on Everyone) Organization. The company has also recieved numerous awards for its outstanding health and saftey practices among its employees, thereby promoting healthy environments externally as well as internally.

While these five microbreweries have shown tremedous leadership in environmentally friendly beer making, their are many Cascadian craft breweries working to make their companies greener. Check out a full list of Activist Brewing Companies here.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The State of Jefferson

Via Magazine
By Christopher Hall
September 2003

Barreling north on Interstate 5 in the late afternoon, with the Siskiyou Mountains before me slipping into shadow and lofty Mount Shasta glowing orange in my rearview mirror, I suddenly find I'm no longer in California. Not so strange, perhaps, except for one thing: Oregon still lies a good 20 miles ahead.

In a pasture just off the highway, the words STATE OF JEFFERSON appear, painted in eight-foot letters on a barn roof. A few minutes later, I pass a sign confirming that this stretch of road, traversing a 2,500-foot-high valley of hay farms and cattle ranches, is litter free thanks to the State of Jefferson Chamber. On the car radio, an announcer reminds me in his soothing baritone that I am listening to Jefferson Public Radio. Clearly, I have entered some real-life Twilight Zone called Jefferson.

A quick check of the history confirms that Alaska was the 49th state to enter the union. But if events had unfolded a bit differently, the State of Jefferson—carved from the border counties of Siskiyou, Del Norte, and Trinity in California and Curry in Oregon—might have beaten the northern giant to the punch.

Partly serious bid, partly publicity stunt run amok, the Jefferson movement spawned impassioned rallies, highway blockades by a self-appointed border patrol, and the election of a governor who posed for inauguration day photos with a bear named Itchy.

Today in these counties it's unlikely that you'll encounter serious secession sentiment, or even a tame bear. You won't be stopped by the border patrol—only by natural wonders like the rushing jade waters of the Smith, the last major undammed river in California. During my four-day drive through modern Jefferson, I pulled my car over plenty of times. I gawked at soaring bald eagles. I stood in awe before an army of insect-eating, cobra-headed California pitcher plants rising from a misty forest floor. I felt the spray of water where rivers meet ocean surf, and I ate salmon within view of the boat that caught it only hours earlier. And all along the way, I learned about this almost-state that was born in a small Oregon town.

With its peaceful, slightly funky feel, Port Orford, Ore., hardly seems a cradle of revolution, but in 1941 it had Gilbert Gable at the helm. Gable described himself as the "hick mayor of the westernmost city of the United States" when he met Stanton Delaplane, the San Francisco Chronicle reporter who penned a series of Pulitzer Prize-winning stories about the Jefferson movement. Gable was actually a transplanted Philadelphia public relations man who had headed west with a wad of dough and big plans for extracting the region's timber and ore and for transforming his sleepy new hometown into a bustling seaport. One of the things that stood in his way was bad roads, many of which were no more than oiled dirt lanes that turned to sludge in rain and snow.

Perhaps hoping to get a good new road or two, Gable announced in October 1941 that Curry, Josephine, Jackson, and Klamath counties in Oregon might merge with California's Del Norte, Siskiyou, and Modoc counties to form a new state. "It was more publicity stunt than serious secession movement at that point," says Jim Rock, historian and Jefferson expert. "After all, under the U.S. Constitution, they had to get the approval of Congress as well as the legislatures of both states."

Port Orford today has a small fishing fleet and an unusual open-water port, where boats are hoisted out of the ocean rather than tied to a dock. The population is a mix of fishermen, old-time lumbermen and ranchers, and newly arrived retirees. A good number of artists live and work in the area, selling pieces at galleries and gift shops like Port Orford Pottery, which is open "most days" from April to October, "unless the fish are biting."

Drive slowly through town or walk the bluffs in Port Orford Heads State Park to take in the stunning views up and down the coast and you'll see that booming development, as Gable envisioned it, never came. "We get visitors throughout the year, but mostly in the summer," says current Port Orford mayor Gary Doran, who is as low-key as Gable was hard charging.

Visitors come to stroll along sandy Battle Rock Beach, the site of a fierce 1851 fight between pioneers and Rogue Indians, or to explore Rocky Point tide pools that brim with flowerlike anemones and deep purple and bright orange starfish.

Humbug Mountain State Park attracts scuba divers and windsurfers, as well as those who are up to the challenge of a hike through old-growth forest to the mountain's 1,756-foot ocean-side summit.

Full story here.

Learn more about this little rebel state at

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Weekly Alternative

Its that wonderful time of week again. This time let's do South to North.

[The Guardian]: San Fran Politicians have unanimously backed a $185 million parks bond called Proposition A. While many hail this as a uniting environmental pursuit some question the sum of this project. Many argue that the $110 million bond passed in 2000 only helped for repairs and didn't do much for additional green space. As well, a recent analysis identified at least $1.7 billion worth of backlogged park needs which the $185 million could only begin to puncture. The bond needs a 66 percent voter approval in February to pass.

[Editor's note: I just wanted to draw a comparison to Seattle on this issue. While Seattle has about 250,000 people less than San Fran, it passed a $198 million Pro-Parks bond in 2000 and many hope to see that renewed if not increased in the next year or so.]

[The Source]: The City of Bend has seen significant financial troubles as homebuilding in the area continues to slow. Wrestling with a $2.7 million shortfall this year the city decided to lay-off Pat Kliewer, historic preservation planner for the city. Historic properties are abundant in Bend and its neighboring cities and some fear that this could change with Kliewer as a "watchdog".

[Eugene Weekly]: What's better Bus Rapid Trasit or Light Rail? Eugene politicians claim BRT but some citizens aren't buying it.

[Portland Mercury]: While Oregon was suppose to allow same-sex marriages starting January 2, recent events have complicated the process. A number of legal hearings, as well as number of rallies, are now scheduled through February about gay rights issues. In related news, Dan Savage has endorsed Sam Adams for Mayor of Portland.

[The Stranger]: Class issues in Seattle come to the front again as the City of Seattle denies commercial space in Sodo. While the city claims it is protecting industrial companies and, in turn, blue collar jobs, the concentration of industry in South Seattle means a much greater percent of air and water pollution in the area.

[The Inlander]: Apparently news takes a while to get over the mountains because Spokane still seems to think they are immune from the housing slump.

[Boise Weekly]: A nice little preview of 2008 Idaho politics.

[Monday Magazine]: Some Langford residents are upset by a loan taken out by the city from the Province of BC for nearly $25 million to fund a new overpass. Citizens claim that the overpass will only cater to specific upper-class developments, namely Bear Mountain, Totangi Forestry, and Goldstream Heights. Further, people are questioning the city's bylaws which allowed the decision without any public meetings. Activists hope to get enough citizens on board to block the loan and the overpass.

[The Georgia Straight]: Does BC save enough agricultural land? Provincers weigh in.

[Anchorage Press]: A few Anchorage residents are lobbying to get Alaska a law school. Currently it is the only state in the Union without this higher educational facility. As Alaskan oil interest is on the increase, Wally Hickel and Craig Agliatti feel that Alaskans need to be more educated about their state's legal rights, environmental issues, and concerns about native peoples.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ramblin' by Rail

Trains came to Cascadia in the mid-1800's with the first real rail company, Oregon Steam Navigation, beginning in 1861. Throughout the rest of the century railroad barons held huge sway in the Northwest as their decisions could literally make or break a city. This was evident in the later 1800's as Tacoma and Seattle battled who would become the final leg of a short line from Portland that connected them to the transcontinental railroad. After the advent of automobiles trains fell out of favor since they could not provide the freedom of personal transportation. Many railroad companies went out of business and abandoned their rails leaving them to rust in their place (Many were later turned into walking trails, such as Bellingham's Alabama Creek Trail and Seattle's Burke-Gilman). Well, this morning I took the train from Seattle to Bellingham and I believe its time that we bring rail travel back, bigger and better.

Riding the train Northbound from Seattle is a truly relaxing experience. As historical happenstance would have it (or perhaps the fact that locomotives were invented over a century before automobiles) the existing rail lines have by far and away some of the best right-of-ways in all of Cascadia. Unlike I-5 which runs from strip mall to strip mall, the train runs almost directly along the Puget Coast, allowing unhindered views of the San Juans and Olympic Mountains. As the train chugs past Everett it heads inland, meanerding along the Snohomish River and then dropping into the farmlands of the Skagit Valley. Surprise relics pop up along the route as well, such as an old beached tugboat just north of Edmonds or a colorful Welcome to Mt. Vernon sign, tucked under an old 99 bridge.

Of course, the train isn't perfect. The typical journey by rail can take up to almost twice the time of driving and the price is not yet competitive to a car (unless those gas prices keep up their trend). Talking to some fellow Cascadian Independents we decided that Cascadia really needs to take rail travel seriously. Geographically it makes sense as we are much longer North-South, than East-West. As well, demographically, we are almost entirely concentrated on the already existing I-5 corridor, which railways already run the length. By putting in a high speed train, such as the Eurostar connecting London and Paris, we could have service from Vancouver to Portland in under three hours! And this isn't like 3 hours to an airport where you then have to wait for your baggage, wait for a shuttle or taxi, and then spend 15 to 20 minutes driving into town, this is literally downtown to downtown.

Plus, you get the benefits of being eco-friendly. In a recent press release from Eurostar it was approximated that traveling by train emits roughly 10 times less carbon dioxide per passenger than traveling by airplane. Not to mention that high speed trains run on electricity, and thus have the ability to come from renewable sources, opposed to burning jet fuel.

Well, as it turns out my friends and I weren't the only ones to realize how brilliant train travel would be in Cascadia. The Cascadia Center, a project started through the Discovery Institute, has been trying to increase efficiency in regional transportation since 1993. Although the Discovery Institute is continuously harassed (rightly) for their promotion of Intelligent Design, the Cascadia Center has actually worked hard on a few important transportation projects in the past, such as helping negotiate a second train between Vancouver and Seattle. Sure, they aren't always right and they haven't yet promoted a high speed train, but at least the ideas are out there.

So what can the average Cascadian do to help promote better train travel? Well, check out the Cascadia Center's webpage and send them a letter showing your interest for high speed rail. The classic letter's to your congressmen and women is also always good. But most of all get out their and ride the rails! Trains are expensive and there will never be financial support if there isn't any consumer support. So pick a destination, charge up your ipod, and go enjoy the Cascadian landscape from the big windows of the old steel pony.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cascadia in Sports

At the request of a fellow Cascadian living in Virginia Beach, Va I have decided to look at how Cascadia has been utilized in sports. I also feel that since the only Cascadian NFL team sucked it up pretty horribly in the playoffs yesterday, losing to Green Bay, we could use a little sports bolstering. So lets begin:

There are a number of teams who use the Cascadian name but the oldest has to be the Cascadians' hiking and climbing club based in Yakima, Wa. The group was founded in 1920 with 104 members and has been the eastside equivalent of the Seattle-based Mountaineers by popularizing snowshoeing, tobogganing, and skiing for all the outdoor lovers on the eastern slopes. They are currently involved in numerous trail restoration projects throught the Pacific Northwest and play, "an important role in the designation of Forest Service Wilderness Areas".

Another Cascadian team is the Zabinski Racing-Team Cascadia. Although I believe the team ceased after 2001, it was the only West Coast based American LeMans sport racing team. The team was headed by 5 time champion Ed Zabinski and their best overall finish was 4th place in the Sebring competition in 1998.

While maybe not a traditional "sport" (but just as fierce!) is the World Crossword Puzzle Championships. Yes that's right, Cascadian brains teamed up to create a team for this hard fought competition. Their results are here. (If anyone has any ideas on how to make sense of these scores, let me know, thanks.)

There are also a few competitions named in honor of our great region. The most prominent is the Cascadia Cup. This is a season long competition between the three Cascadian First Division Soccer Clubs: the Portland Timbers, the Seattle Sounders, and the Vancouver Whitecaps. Started in 2004 it has been won twice by Vancouver and twice by Seattle (maybe next year Portland).

In 2007 another Cascadia Cup was established in Bellingham, Washington. The competition, hosted by local biking club, Worms, involved nine events and had a premier showing of 35 bikers. They intend to make this a yearly event.

And finally, what Cascadian sports summary could be complete without mentioning the wonderful Cascadian Bike Porn Tour. This group of Porn/Bike Enthusiasts rode from PDX to Van City showing the world the wonders of bicycle porn. Their slogan: "We Intend to Offend". Sigh, only in Cascadia I guess.

Well, unfortunately that about sums it up for Cascadia in the sports world. Perhaps in the future we can get some more teams named after our unqiue region. If you know of a team out there, pee-wee soccer to club water polo, please post a comment and let us know about our Cascadian warriors.

Cascadian Myspace

Thats right, Cascadia has joined the rest of the 13-25 year olds and gotten itself a myspace page. The offical page name is the Cascadian Independence Project (CIP) and was put up by Brandon Letsinger in 2005 as a way to promote his political movement. There was a wonderful article about the CIP in a 2006 edition of the Eugene Weekly, I highly recommend you check it out. The offical CIP site is (Editor's Note: The site is currently down and under repair) If you are a current a myspace user I suggest you befriend this group ASAP!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Most Livable City

A Post to make Seattlites jealous.

Courtesy of NYC's StreetFilms. (If you have the time, check out the feature on Ciclovia, in Bogota. Probably one of the most creative intiatives any city has ever taken.)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Billionaires make Crappy Vids too

You just gotta love local multi-billionaires who makes goofy ameteurish (aside from the ridiculous amount of celeb cameos) videos like these.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Cascadian Mayors

Over half of the world's population resides in cities and this number continues to increase. Many cities are known not only for their large populations, but their high densities of wealth, culture, and diversity. As anyone from a small town knows, there is no experience like going to the city where niche markets flourish; they tend to be the last strongholds for small shops not yet strangled by the ever increasing chainstores. But these places, with so many different groups of ,can certainly be a challenge to oversee. The job of mayor is usually one of constant criticism and slow progress. But important nonetheless. Sometimes, when a mayor is successful in motivating these huge bodies of people, incredible things are achieved. Today I want to take a look at some of the major Cascadian mayors, their histories, achievements, and future agendas. As we continue to fight the federal government for more regional control mayors will become increasingly significant in political spheres. So, let's get to know some of our region's big-wigs.

Sam Sullivan

City: Vancouver
Hometown: Vancouver
Occupation: Non-Profit Organizer
In Office Since: 2006

Probably the most notable thing about Mayor Sullivan is that he has been a quadrapelegic since a skiing accident at age 19. Instead of looking at the accident as a hinderance, Sullivan used it for inspiration to acquire a BA in Business and subsequently start a number of non-profits for disabled people. He was recruited by the political elites and soon won a seat in city council. He won the mayor's chair in hard fought contest in 2005 against Jim Green.

Soon after becoming mayor Sullivan introduced EcoDensity (a term pantented by Sullivan himself). The intiative was designed to increase density in Vancouver through affordable housing, better public transportation, and other methods so that suburban sprawl would not destory the density of the lower mainland. As the Olympics come upon Vancouver Sullivan developed Project Civil City intended to reduce homelessness, panhandling, and open drug use by 50% by 2010. Many of criticized this policy for its lack of substantial help, saying that it is just displacing the impoverished and troubled.

Sullivan is also known for his academic achievments and is the first Vancouver mayor to learn Cantonese as well as Punjabi. There are large Chinese and North Indian populations in the Vancouver area.

Greg Nickels

City: Seattle
Hometown: Chicago/Seattle
Occupation: Politics
In Office Since: 2002

Although born in Chicago, Nickels was raised in Seattle from a young age. He graduated from the University of Washington with a Law degree and quickly became legislative assistant to Councilmember and future mayor, Norm Rice. He was elected to City Council in 1987 where he served until his mayoral stint in 2001. He beat incumbent Paul Schell who was flailing from his mishandling of the 1999 WTO riots.

The two biggest issues for Nickels have been the environment and transportation. He is nationally known for starting the US Mayors Climate Action Agreement which asked US Mayors to adopt the Kyoto Protocol even while the federal government did not. His allegience to public transportation led to the failed monorail scheme in the early part of the century, which wasted millions of taxpayers money for nothing. But, on the flip side, he did manage to start construction on a light rail system from Sea-Tac airport to downtown Seattle, projected to be complete by 2010. He hopes to increase its area by extending through some of the North Seattle districts as well. Another of Nickels' accomplishments includes giving equal rights to Seattle public employees in same-sex relationships.

In recent years Nickels has been criticized for his relationship with Seattle Police Department. He has stood fully behind the SPD in the face of numerous scandals and accounts of police brutality and has even pledged to add over 100 officers to Seattle streets over the next few years.

Tom Potter

City: Portland
Hometown: Bend, Or
Occupation: Police Officer/Chief
In Office Since: 2005

Potter is best known for his role at Police Chief. He worked as an Officer for over 20 years and was Chief for 4. During this time he gained a national repuation for his hard work in building trust between the Police Department and citizens. He was the first Portland officer to join a Neighborhood Association and helped develop a set of trading cards so that children could better recognize their public servants. As Chief he managed to reduce crime while the city of Portland was growing quickly. In addition he took a strong stance against prejuidice and discrimination. He dissuaded a number of African-American officers from filing a lawsuit against the city by starting a "Bias Crimes" unit to investigate hate crimes. He was also the first officer to march in uniform at the gay PRIDE parade in Portland. He was elected mayor in 2004 by an overwhelming majority.

Stemming from his experience in the police department, Potter's mayoral goals have focused on reconnecting city government to its citizens. He initiated Vision PDX which aims to build a 30-year strategic plan for Portland by listening to community and neighborhood input from all areas of Portland. Potter also aims to increase diversity in Portland's public workforce and help open communication for stronger shared goals.

Last year Potter announced that he would not be running for a second term even though his apporval rating remains high. He has not said what he intends on doing in the future.

Gavin Newsom

City: San Francisco
Hometown: San Francisco
Occupation: Restauranteur
In Office Since: 2004

Newsom has had an interesting career in an interesting city. He first grew to prominence after starting a small wine shop that eventually turned into a milti-million dollar company with five restaurants, a Napa Valley winery, a hotel, and two retail stores. In 1996 he was appointed by Mayor Willie Brown to a number of small governmental comissions. He gained public attention by advocating major reform for the city's beleaguered regional rail system, MUNI. He decided to run in 2003 for mayor as a Democrat against Matt Gonzalez of the Green Party. Many people believed Newsom, as a businessman, would be too sympathetic to big business. But with a number of national endorsements he was elected and took office in 2004.

Shortly after assuming office Newsom gained national attention for allowing same-sex marriages in the city of San Francisco. It was subsequently challenged by federal courts but remains a prominent issue in the city and has bolstered the criticism of President Bush. To add to his radicalism, in 2007 Newsom took a very liberal stance on illegal immigration, stating that he would do everything he could to discourage raids in the city. In 2007 he had a sexual scandal with an aide's wife as well as going into treatment for alcoholism but nonetheless, he was reelected for second term.

The 2007 San Francisco mayoral election was one of the most unqiue races in Cascadian history. There were 12 candidates including a nudist activist, a homeless cab driver, Josh Wolf, and the eccentric artist, "Chicken John" Rinaldi.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Weekly (almost) Alternative

Once again, a roundup from the Cascadian alternative newspapers...

[The Georgia Straight]: The Straight chastised a move by the Non-Partisan Association, with the help of the Vancouver City council, to spend public money on a private business program. The Downtown Ambassador's, who have been privately funded in the past, will now receive $872,000 annually for expanded security for downtown businesses. While the vote was close, Mayor Sam Sullivan has been called-out for casting the sixth and final vote needed for the measure to pass.

In other news, a new survey by Britain's Independent ranks Vancouver as the 27th greatest city in the world (fyi: other surveys have given Vancouver more bragging rights) (fyi2: The survey put London as numero uno, hmmm, perhaps not as independent as they claim.)

[Monday Magazine]: A new report that came out in December 2007 shows that pink salmon in Queen Charlotte Strait's Broughton Archipeligo have declined by 80% over the last four years and without any assistance, could be extinct in another four. The problem is sea lice, which can winter-over in fish farms and then be released onto small wild salmon, who don't have scales for protection. Alexandra Morton, co-author of the report says that the solution is easy: self-contained fish farms. Unfortunately, British Columbian politics could prevent this solution from becoming reality.

[Cascadia Weekly]: A dispute has erupted over the use of the "Black Forest Steak House" name as Herb Niemann running the so-named restraunt in Everson has sued his brother Jack Niemann who recently opened up an establishment in Bellingham. The court is currently deciding the legality and ownership of the title. While British Columbia, the home of "Black Forest" Restaurants, operates dozens of places by this name, apparently Whatcom County is too small for more than one.

[Boise Weekly]: This generally red state has something new this election season, a loud and proud Obama presence. Like Ron Paul supporters throughout the rest of the country, Idaho has seen a huge presence of Obama supporters throughout the state, engaging and encouraging people to pick the young black candidate. While Idaho may not be a swing state, Obamania may be a cultural shift for the potato lovers.

[The Inlander]: The Spokane City Hall reopened with the Mayor's office and the City Councillors moved to the same floor. This symbolic act will hopefully make communication better and work more efficient for the eastside city. Affordable housing is one of the major issues for 2008 and Mayor Mary Verner is trying to recruit Gov. Gregoire for the task.

[Seattle Weekly]: Bremerton and Bainbridge Island, while only seperated by a mile of water, are increasingly divided. As Bainbridge becomes a rich suburb of Seattle, with consistent and fast ferry service, Bremerton remains distinctly blue collar, with a sparse and slow ferry to the metropolitan area. A bridge between the two areas could help solve differences but the idea has been constantly rejected and looks to have no chance in sight.

[The Stranger]: Charles Mudede finds blasphemy in the new Bellevue City Hall. Built by SRG Partnership, based in Portland, the building has recieved much admiration and recognition from the American Institute of Architects. At the same time, Seattle's City Hall was a flop. Bellevue, home of shopping malls and chain stores, should never best Seattle in any cultural competition, claims Mudede. Perhaps Bellevue is starting to form its own identity apart from the Emerald City.

[Portland Mercury]: Oregonian righties are trying to prevent a new gay rights bill from becoming law in the new year. The bill, which takes effect this week, will allow gay couples to recieve the same rights as married couples for a mere $60. But a conglomeration of anti-gay activists have petitioned the state to put the bill on the November 2008 ballot with 62,000 signatures. But the Secretary of State determined that only 55,063 of those signatures were valid, 116 shy of the necessary amount.

[Willamette Weekly]: Longtime Portland City Councilmen Eric Sten will resign midterm this year after 11 years of vigilant service. Sten is best known for his accomplishments in affordable housing and decreasing homelessness in the Rose City. Of course, he also had his losses. After many years of battling PGE he failed to acquire PGE for the city, even after it fleeced ratepayers of nearly $1 billion. He did get PGE to agree to two dam demolitions. The first one took place last fall and was the first dam to be demolished in Oregon in over 40 years. Sten has not announced any future plans.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

For Paul

By Tom Paulson
Seattle P-I
May 20, 2005

Listen for the creaky voice, the strong "s" and the "low-back merger."

Most language experts believe the Pacific Northwest has no distinctive voice, no particular style or dialect. But some local linguists think that's wrong -- or at least a long-standing academic prejudice that deserves a good challenge.

Jennifer Ingle, a 27-year-old Ballard native and student of language at the University of Washington, is one of them.

"Language is part of our identity," said Ingle. Just as the Scandinavian heritage of Ballard distinguishes it from the rest of Seattle, she said, the evolution of language in the Northwest has progressed to the point where it can be distinguished from the rest of the country.

The question for the experts now appears to be whether our version of the English language has evolved enough to be considered a separate dialect.

"Linguists have generally assumed that the West is one dialect region," said Alicia Beckford Wassink, a UW professor of linguistics and mentor to Ingle.

"That may have been the case in the 1800s, when the West was being settled and there was a mixing of dialects among all the immigrants," said Wassink. But there's plenty of evidence now, she said, to suggest this region could have its own distinctive dialect.

Northwest speak.

Ingle decided a year ago to study her own neighborhood for evidence of local dialect. To some extent, she said, growing up in Ballard contributed to her interest in language.

"I used to hear people in my neighborhood speaking Norwegian," said Ingle, noting that despite her family's Scottish heritage, one of her favorite foodstuffs is lefse -- a Nordic flatbread made from potatoes.

But Ingle's study of language in Ballard was not aimed at identifying any of the neighborhood's Nordic influences. Participants were not asked to say, "Yah, sure, ya betcha." Rather, Ballard was selected as representative of the region because it is one of the oldest communities in the state, with a well-established population of native speakers.

"All the participants were born in Seattle and grew up in Ballard," said Ingle. She focused just on variation in vowel sounds because that is what most determines the different pronunciations in spoken American English.

Still, it should be noted that when Ingle presented her findings this week, it happened to be on the same day Ballard was celebrating Norwegian Constitution Day, May 17. Her study of Northwest speech in Ballard was presented in Vancouver, B.C., at the annual meeting of the Acoustical Society of America.

Among the findings: Many locals, especially women, speak in what experts call "creaky voice"; we've done away with a particular vowel used by Easterners; we really like to emphasize the "s" in words; we're not Californian and we're not Canadian.

Other determinants of dialect include differences in vocabulary and grammar, added Wassink, which are also being looked at in other linguistic studies at the UW.

"The Northwest is especially interesting because we have had almost nothing but immigration," Wassink said. "And there hasn't been as much racial or ethnic segregation as in the East. For a linguist, it's a very interesting place."

So, why do so many women talk creaky here? What's that mean anyway?

"Bill Clinton is a good example of creaky," said Ingle. Clinton's folksy speech, in which his voice sounds both scratchy and relaxed, is the opposite of "breathy" voicing, she said.

In the Northwest, Ingle's study indicates creaky voicing is popular -- especially among women. Breathy voicing, which in extreme form sounds like Marilyn Monroe's birthday song for JFK, is not big in the Northwest.

Wassink said the local popularity of creaky voicing could be how we compensate for another feature of our speech style. We've stopped using one vowel. Linguists work with 15 vowel sounds to describe spoken American English and we only use 14 of them.

Say "caught" and "cot" out loud. If you're a true Northwest speaker, the words will sound identical. Linguists call this the "low-back merger" because we've merged these two vowel sounds. On much of the East Coast, these same words will sound different. "Creaking is a way of making those distinctions that are being lost," Wassink said. Just as Bostonians tend to compensate in their speech for removing the "r" from many words, she said, we might speak creaky to compensate for refusing to use both vowels.

Another piece of evidence has to do with how Californians do something known as "fronting the vowel," Ingle said. This is considered standard to Western dialect and occurs when a speaker pronounces "rude" as "ri-ood" or "move" as "mi-oove."

"It's pretty funny sounding, actually," said Ingle, perhaps betraying a slight Northwest bias against all things Californian.

Full Article at the PIMC