What's Tony Thinking

Three Cheers for The City of Seattle and Webinar Update


Over the recent years of pandemic downturn and its related challenges, we read and heard a lot about how bad things are in Seattle. I’ve added my two cents to that occasionally.

Here on a spring day, let’s tell a different story. Across the street from our little condo building is the “60th Street N.W. Viewpoint Park.” It is really just a wide strip of green, with a couple of benches, where people can look out on Shilshole Bay, the Puget Sound and, in the distance, the Olympic Mountains. Probably about 300 to 400 square feet. But I would guess that, per square foot, it gets more traffic — people walking, jogging, dog-walking, taking pictures — than any other park in Seattle.

There’s a lovely Big Leaf Maple tree on one side of the park, just beneath the fencing that keeps people from going over the bank to the water. However, it has been invaded by that hungry scourge, English Ivy, which loves to climb and choke trees. Maybe two weeks ago I sent an email to the Seattle Parks Department and said, “We’re in danger of losing this great tree,” and explained why. I had two responses within a week, one email and one phone call. (Work crew at right, Big Leaf Maple at left, you can see the invasive ivy, dark green).

The last two days there has been a crew of 4 to 6 people working over the whole embankment and clearing the ivy off the tree. It is the first time I’ve seen the tree trunk in years. An amazing response. Linda visited with the crew, thanking them for their work. They told her that usually people are telling them to remove or cut back trees to enhance their view. They were pleased to be part of project to save a great, old tree.

And that’s not all. Linda has been leading a three-year long effort aimed at traffic calming on Seaview Avenue. Just north of us there’s a big straight away into Golden Gardens Park. Back in the day, this was a drag strip for Ballard youth. In front of our place Seaview goes into an “S” curve that crosses the railroad tracks for what locals fondly call “The Ballard Beaver,” an engine that runs rail cars onto a siding while they await further action.

But people hit the “S” curve going way, way more than the 25 mile per hour limit. So we started keeping track of all the accidents, which more often than not involved a drunk driver. There have been a lot, including a fatality (a flipped out motorcycle), and a half dozen times speeding cars and trucks haven’t made the turn, but have plowed into parked cars . . . including our car. Totaled.

Cars coming the other direction, from Ballard, also careen off the roadway. We once had three or four Western Ash trees in front of our building. All have been taken out by cars, again often drunk drivers. We worry about someone plowing into our building.

So Linda started by contacting the City Council offices, and has been working with a group from the neighborhood, along with Council member for our district, Dan Strauss, and the Seattle Department of Transportation. Last night Linda led a community meeting where both Dan and Bill (SDOT guy) updated area residents on what has happened, what will happen and ideas that are under exploration. As Dan said, “the wheels of bureaucracy move slowly,” but they do move. Perhaps the most impactful change will be putting in cameras to clock speeders and send them a ticket for a moving violation. But getting that done requires action by the Seattle City Council and then the State legislature. There is currently a law against speed cameras in Washington State.

The pandemic has been a factor in slowing movement, but now that it is more or less behind us, and supply chains are moving again, things are picking up. At any rate, two stories of the City of Seattle heeding and responding to citizen requests, interest and involvement. Cheers!

One more note on something completely different. The webinar based on my book “What’s Theology Got To Do With It?” begins next Monday, a presentation of the Crackers and Grape Juice podcast site and team. Sessions are about 75 minutes, beginning at 4:00 PDT, 7:00 EDT. Registration is free. If you register you receive video/ audio recordings of the session a couple days later, so you can get it live on Mondays, or listen later when its convenient. Reading for next week is pp. 1 – 30. Probably plenty of used copies on line for cheap.

I had a note from Josh M. yesterday, the talented guy who opens each session with a song. Josh said he’d been reading the book and said it was “damn good.” I told him I hoped he would put on his Tina Turner for the opening session and do “What’s Love Got To Do With It?”

Don’t be intimidated by the title or the word “theology.” We won’t be taking a bath in abstractions. Promise. The point is to look at the core convictions of the Christian faith, what older traditions called “saving truths,” to ask what they really mean, and then ask what they have to do with the life of a church. In the process, participants get a pretty good basic introduction to the Christian faith. So, join the 100 or so people already signed up and listen in as Josh, Jason, Teer and Todd join me to discuss, What’s Theology Got To Do With It?

Last but not least, the Seattle Kraken, our NHL team, opened the playoffs beating the defending champion Colorado Avalanche last night in Colorado. More cheers!

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