Seattle plans to grow first free food forest

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The city’s new park will be filled with edible plants, and everything from pears to herbs will be free for the taking.

Seattle’s new food forest aims to be an edible wilderness. Seattle’s vision of an urban food oasis is going forward. A seven-acre plot of land in the city’s Beacon Hill neighborhood will be planted with hundreds of different kinds of edibles: walnut and chestnut trees; blueberry and raspberry bushes; fruit trees, including apples and pears; exotics like pineapple, yuzu citrus, guava, persimmons, honeyberries, and lingonberries; herbs; and more. All will be available for public plucking to anyone who wanders into the city’s first food forest.

“This is totally innovative, and has never been done before in a public park,” Margarett Harrison, lead landscape architect for the Beacon Food Forest project. Harrison is working on construction and permit drawings now and expects to break ground this summer.

The concept of a food forest certainly pushes the envelope on urban agriculture and is grounded in the concept of permaculture, which means it will be perennial and self-sustaining, like a forest is in the wild. Not only is this forest Seattle’s first large-scale permaculture project, but it’s also believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.

“The concept means we consider the soils, companion plants, insects, bugs—everything will be mutually beneficial to each other,” says Harrison.

That the plan came together at all is remarkable on its own. What started as a group project for a permaculture design course ended up as a textbook example of community outreach gone right.

“Friends of the Food Forest undertook heroic outreach efforts to secure neighborhood support. The team mailed over 6,000 postcards in five different languages, tabled at events and fairs, and posted fliers,” writes Robert Mellinger for Crosscut.

Neighborhood input was so valued by the organizers, they even used translators to help Chinese residents have a voice in the planning.

So just who gets to harvest all that low-hanging fruit when the time comes?

“Anyone and everyone,” says Harrison. “There was major discussion about it. People worried, ‘What if someone comes and takes all the blueberries? That could very well happen, but maybe someone needed those blueberries. We look at it this way—if we have none at the end of blueberry season, then it means we’re successful.”

http://delightmakers.com/news-bleat/seattles-first-food-forest/

Thanks to Jody Troupe for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

For $2,000, you can take a course in how to live like a homeless person

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For $2,000, you can live like a homeless person. That’s what 62-year-old Mike Momany, who himself is homeless in Seattle, hopes people will do.

After working as a contract programmer for years, he got into financial trouble when business slowed, and he has been experimenting with new ways of making money ever since. One plan is to launch a marijuana tour that would show people around local pot-growing operations, which have recently become legal in Washington state.

But for now, he is offering a three-day tour that he calls a “private course in Applied Homelessness.”

Upset by the growing homeless population in Seattle, which has shot up by 15% since 2007, to more than 9,000 people this year who are living in shelters or on the streets, Momany claims he wants to get people thinking about new ways to solve homelessness. But he wants to make a business of it, too.

Each tour costs $2,000. Momany says his take is $1,500 (for an hourly rate of $19.76). The rest — about $500 — will be donated to shelters and pay for expenses, like the clothes his clients will wear to blend in.

No one has signed up for a tour yet, but he says he’s in talks with a few interested parties.

Momany said he’ll disguise his customers as homeless people, give them a new name and “a simple life script” to use. Tour-goers would stay at a $15-per-night hostel, in the same building as a homeless shelter and only one notch above shelter conditions. (Since it’s divided by gender, the tour isn’t available to women).

They will visit several popular homeless hangouts, like the Seattle Public Library, talk to other homeless people, panhandle, nap on benches and roam the streets at 3 a.m. on one of the nights.

Not surprisingly, Momany’s venture has sparked debate.

“Homeless people are not tourist attractions. They have enough issues without this company profiting off exploiting them as well,” one commenter on a Seattle Post-Intelligencer story about the tour recently wrote.

MJ Kiser, program director at Compass Housing Alliance in Seattle, said Momany’s tour would use up much-needed resources like housing and food, and that his $2,000 fee “could help a homeless family for two months or provide meals for all [220] of the folks in Compass shelters one night.”

Michael Stoops, director of community organizing at the National Coalition for the Homeless, said he thinks Momany’s intentions are in the right place, but he doesn’t think it’s right to charge $2,000 or for Momany to pay himself such a big fee.

If the experience is really about giving people an inside look at homelessness, then it shouldn’t be about turning a profit, Stoops said.

The nonprofit coalition offers a similar program, called the Homeless Challenge: People can spend 48 hours living on the streets of Washington, D.C., with a guide who is either currently or formerly homeless. The organization asks people for a $50 nightly donation to local shelters if they can afford it.

“It’s not a moneymaker,” Stoops said. “We do it to give [people] the experience and to let them interact with other homeless folks.”

That’s where Stoops and Momany agree. “Everyone could benefit from spending some time on the streets as long as it’s done in an ethical, safe manner and homeless people are involved,” said Stoops.

http://money.cnn.com/2013/12/0​2/pf/homel​ess-tour/i​ndex.html?​hpt=hp_t3

Man trying to dribble soccer ball from Seattle to World Cup in Brazil is tragically killed by truck in Oregon

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Richard Swanson, 42, planned to walk, soccer ball at his feet, from Seattle to Sao Paulo, Brazil, to make it in time for next year’s international soccer tournament. But Swanson was mowed down by a pickup truck Tuesday morning south of Lincoln City, Ore., only two weeks and a few hundred miles into his journey.

“It is with a heavy heart to notify you that Richard Swanson passed on this morning,” someone posted on his “Breakaway Brazil” Facebook page used to document the trek. “His team, family, friends, and loved ones will miss him and love him dearly. You made it to Brazil in our hearts, Richard. Team Richard.”

Described as an “avid runner, soccer player, and all-around lover of the Pacific Northwest,” Swanson planned to visit 11 countries during his one-year-plus trip south. Along the way, Swanson planned to dribble an “indestructible” soccer ball to promote the One World Futbol Project, a charity that donates such durable balls to people in disadvantaged communities. The ball was found among his belongings in the crash wreckage on U.S. Highway 101.

A graphic designer and former private investigator, Swanson said he was laid off but wanted to live his dream of attending a World Cup tournament. “All these pieces just started to come together in a way that — it almost felt that, it felt natural, it felt that I was doing what I should be doing, that this was my next leg in my life,” he said in a video about himself before he started.

Swanson was soliciting monetary donations and asking friends and people online to give him a couch to sleep on as he journeyed south. He documented the trek on Facebook and had a map on his website that tracked his movements via GPS. On Monday night, Swanson posted a photo of him relaxing in his Lincoln City host’s hot tub. The next morning, he posted a shot of a bacon, eggs and potatoes breakfast he described as “stick to your ribs … to keep me fueled as I head to Newport.”

The last GPS transmission Tuesday showed him traveling 2.8 miles per hour along the Oregon Coast Highway, about 20 miles north of Newport. Swanson leaves behind two sons, 18 and 22, both of whom posted remembrances to his page.

“We love you dad..with all our hearts!” Devin Swanson wrote. “You are a inspiration to all to continue doing what you love! One day..I will continue your journey in your name!”

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more-sports/man-dribble-soccer-ball-brazil-killed-oregon-article-1.1344242#ixzz2TMwK2J7R

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

Whale sculpture made from recycled bags

Inspired by the stomach contents of a dead gray whale that washed up in Seattle a couple years ago, an art professor has created a baby whale from recycled plastic bags.

Art professor Marie Weichman told the Kitsap Sun (is.gd/a7rz9H) she got the idea for the exhibit after hearing about the debris found in the stomach a dead gray whale that washed ashore in Seattle in 2010.

That debris included sweatpants, a golf ball, surgical gloves, small towels, bits of plastic and more than 20 plastic bags, according to reports at the time.

The sculpture became a project for art, marine-science and design students. It goes on display Thursday in the college’s Art Building.

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2019324170_recycledwhale03.html