Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Shoreline awards neighborhood matching grant for Sunset Park pARTy

by June 29th, 2011

SUMMARY: The Shoreline, Wash. City Council this week approved a mini-grant of $3,942 to the Richmond Highlands Neighborhood Association for a community art project and public event at Sunset School Park. The school has been closed since 2007 and has been vandalized. Combined with complementary funds raised by the association, there will be more than $11,000 to pay for early-phase services and materials to improve the park, including a community artist to lead a September 10 “pARTy at Sunset” community celebration. The event will result in a mural, or fence collage project to boost the property’s public appeal through a five-year period including the school’s demolition. More extensive redevelopment of the site into an open green space and park is expected, under citywide and site-specific parks master plans.

Georgetown, Seattle startup accents mapped, crowd-sourced story lines

by June 29th, 2011

I’ve been using Intersect since last summer to tell stories, personal and professional. It’s a Web and social media start-up company with offices located in the McKinstry Innovation Center south of downtown Seattle where the SoDo district begins to meet the Georgetown neighborhood, home to a piquant farmers market and some serious outdoor sculpture. Using an embed tool the site offers users, here’s a map – at bottom – of my Intersect stories. Once you open an account and add some stories, you can use easy navigation tools to pull up your map and then if you want, zoom in to, say, a continent, and get embed code of your mapped and linked stories for just that swath. Or your whole map of stories, as I’ve done below.

If you’re exploring someone’s story map on Intersect, or your own, approximate stabs at geography lead to incredibly specific geographic drill-downs. Follow prompts – by clicking on “six stories at this intersection,” or “84 stories at this intersection” etc. – then double-click on a story photo icon to survey a contributor’s stories mapped literally at neighborhood street level. Single-click on a given story photo icon to enter the story. Make sure to use the navigation arrows to explore a contributor’s full map of stories across the globe.

A simple place and time search tool on the main page is another handy tool. Seattle, June 2011? Here’s what you get. London 2010? Texas 2010? Once signed up and signed in (it’s free) – the situational zeitgeist has some collective oomph. Play around a bit and you’ll see.

Intersect’s story-mapping is really an intuitive and engaging use of graphic tools to accent blogged and micro-blogged content and photography, with a potentially big crowd-sourcing function layered in as well. Themed story collections are another prominent feature, one well-suited to use by news organizations and others, as Intersect founder and feature writing Pulitzer Prize-winner Peter Rinearson shows in a recent piece at Neiman Reports, published by the Neiman Foundation For Journalism at Harvard University.

A compendium of commonly adopted keywords for searching major story lines would be a welcome addition, given the current, generally sui generis subject-tagging protocol; special, promoted story themes aside.

Intersect is still figuring out how it will become financially sustainable. In the meantime, consider whether it would be a useful tool for your storytelling or that an employer, non-profit organization, or friend you know.

(Disclosure: I am not now and have never been compensated by Intersect, nor do I have any ownership stake. Just a user; fan; and a friend of Mr. Rinearson. My son is an unpaid intern there this summer).

UW gay discrimination case reinstated by appeals court

by June 28th, 2011

SUMMARY:The Washington State Court of Appeals yesterday rescinded an April 2010 King County Superior Court ruling that dismissed a gay discrimination case against the University of Washington and a former supervisor. Debra Loeffelholz alleges UW and her former supervisor, James Lukehart, created a hostile work environment by discriminating against her based on sexual orientation. The appeals court concluded the trial court erred in its ruling that the alleged discriminatory acts against Loeffelholz did not meet the three-year statute of limitations. At the center of the case – which has now been kicked back to the lower court – is whether or not Lukehart’s last alleged hostile act does in fact fall within the statute of limitations.

GAO: Aid contracts to Afghani vendors require stricter review

by June 27th, 2011

SUMMARY: According to a June 2011 United States Government Accountability Office report, nearly 75 percent of all U.S. government aid contracts to non-U.S. organizations in Afghanistan were not evaluated to determine possible criminal affiliations prior to contract approval. Such contracts totaled nearly $11 billion in 2010. The GAO found that the Department of Defense (DOD), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the State Department – the agencies that award aid contracts – have no formal process for vetting potential non-U.S. vendors. As a result of this study, the GAO recommended that all three agencies develop a shared “vetting” process that would examine “available background and intelligence information” to verify a vendor’s likelihood of criminal or terrorist affiliations.


by June 25th, 2011

Leif Hansen graduated from Washington State University with a BA in English and received his MA in Policy Studies from the University of Washington. His recent internships include working for The Defender Association, a non-profit agency providing legal council to Seattle and King County. Starting in summer 2011, he began work as an intern with Public Eye Northwest, the parent non-profit corporation of Public Data Ferret and Social Capital Review, assisting with fundraising research and membership relations.

From skunk cabbage to salmon, learning about traditional tribal foods connects youth to a healthy forest

by June 23rd, 2011

This guest article is authored by Kelly Sprute, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA – Forest Service, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Everett, Wash. office

Eating skunk cabbage leaf salmon or stinging nettle soup doesn’t sound like an entrée at a local restaurant, but Pacific Northwest Native Americans have eaten these foods for centuries.

“I liked the stinging nettle soup but the aftertaste numbed my tongue,” said Samantha James, Ferndale High student and Lummi member. “It felt like my tongue was asleep. I tried to talk but no one understood me,” she said. Samantha learned about nettles and other traditional native foods at the Northwest Indian College in Bellingham, Wash. She enjoyed the salmon wrapped in skunk cabbage, it was juicy and tender, but the leaf stunk.

Samantha James comes across stinging nettles plant while using loppers to clear brush away from Boyd Creek Interpretive Trail/U.S. Forest Service

Samantha’s interest in native foods and heritage led her to participate in the college’s Saturday Science Academy. High school students meet with college students every second Saturday of the month to learn about a science, from physics to astronomy. This month the academy took a trip to Boyd Creek Interpretive Trail on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest to help open the ADA accessible trail.

Here Samantha and the students did trail maintenance: hacking away encroaching shrubs, brushing off winter debris from the boardwalk and cleaning moss-covered signs; but what they took away was more than sore muscles and blisters. They learned about a healthy forest ecosystem and made another connection to their tribal heritage and the land.

Eagan, Minn. and Keyport, Wash. cooperate on $758 million upgrade to Navy war subs

by June 22nd, 2011

The U.S. Department of Defense announced this week that the Eagan, Minn. unit of defense contractor Lockheed Martin has won a contract worth up to $758 million to retrofit Navy submarines with new combat and sonar components. According to the DoD announcement, the Lockheed division in Eagan will design, produce, install and support displays, workstations, processors and network systems on the subs. The contracting agency is the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Keyport, Wash., which tests, evaluates, maintains, prepares and updates Navy war submarines. The DoD announcement states that 99 percent of the work will be done in Eagan, and is expected to be completed by June 2012.

FAA’s air traffic upgrade plan: “fire, ready, aim”

by June 22nd, 2011

SUMMARY: A June 15 U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) report found that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has no clearly defined goals for implementing its proposed Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). NextGen relies largely upon a redesigned System Wide Information Management (SWIM) program, which will improve the quality of air traffic communications, according to the report. However, SWIM is still in the development stages even though it was scheduled to begin as early as 2009.