All posts in “SAM Goes Green”

Where the Park Meets the Sound

The view from the Olympic Sculpture Park is heavenly. As you sit in one of the vibrant red chairs, you can gaze out on a harbor filled with sailboats, and onto the Olympic Mountains scraping the clouds. The meadow’s colorful flowers bloom and sway with the ocean breezes, and the native foliage is juxtaposed against clean, modernist lines and bold contemporary art to create a visual feast. It’s hard to imagine, with all its runners, dog walkers, and parades of children running through the distinctive Z-path, that this now iconic park was once site to the Union Oil Company of California.

Since it’s birth in 2007, the Olympic Sculpture Park has undergone hefty changes and challenges, but a large portion of the transformation is ongoing. It was World Ocean Day June 8, and there was no better location to celebrate than on the reclaimed rocky shore of the park. As an intern gardener at the park, I work closely with Bobby McCullough, who has been head gardener since the park opened its gravel walkways.  He ensures that water is being used efficiently, and that the naturalized beach area is healthy for park visitors of all kinds, from people to dogs and even harbor seals. Keeping this area in good shape is an important part of the crew’s work: the beach is patrolled for litter almost daily, plants have been placed and cared for to act as a natural buffer, and we even climb the trees to search for troublesome insects. It is safe to say that years after the design implementation, the Olympic Sculpture Park is continually taking efforts to create a clean Puget Sound.

I assist Bobby by hand weeding and performing maintenance, keeping plants healthy and the open space clean and friendly. The park uses organic gardening methods—no pesticides, fertilizers, no harmful chemicals. By using these techniques, it prevents contamination in the soil and on the ground surface, which could then wash into Puget Sound. And what’s even more unique and sustainable than our gardening practices are the plants themselves; they are all native to the Pacific Northwest. Visitors experience four distinct archetypal landscapes at the Olympic Sculpture Park: the valley, the meadows, the grove, and the shore. These series of precincts give the park a sense of regional identity, and reduce water use.  The plants are already adapted to Seattle’s climate, and therefore do not require any additional water. Sprinklers in the park are energy-efficient and only turned on when necessary. Young plants are watered while they become established, but in the future they will require little-to-no watering.

Without a doubt, the sculpture park’s most carefully maintained area is where the park meets the Sound.  The beach features large logs and boulders, perfect for climbing and sitting to admire the harbor. The shore was designed to act as a natural filter, collecting debris that wash up with the tides. Each year after the storm season, usually in February, Bobby organizes a massive clean up to remove trash and treated lumber. Creosote is a substance created through the distillation of tar to preserve wood, and is toxic. It is often used to treat lumber used in structures like boats and docks, and can wash up onto the beach. Each year Bobby removes six to eight tons of this treated wood from the shore to prevent creosote from leaking into the water. This maintenance continues throughout the year, with treated wood removal and daily trash pick-ups.

The shoreline is carefully monitored through a variety of efforts to create safe wildlife habitat. Learn more about the Olympic Sculpture Park and its restoration.

-Stephanie Stroud, Intern Gardener, Olympic Sculpture Park

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Skagit River Ranch

World Environment Day 2013: Think Globally, Eat Locally

When you have, as I do, the privilege of living in a setting as beautiful as the Pacific Northwest, nature’s abundance and magnificence are both too easily and too often taken for granted. More difficult, however, is to acknowledge and pursue the changes that need to be made in order to sustain them.

If you’re at all like me (someone with only a modest understanding of environmental issues) and you love nature’s playground here in Washington State, you’re probably thinking: I want to make a difference, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Well, fear no more! I recently learned that today, June 5, 2013, marks the 41st annual celebration of World Environment Day (WED).

While WED, like Earth Day, promotes worldwide environmental awareness, it advocates for primarily local participation and action. In doing so, WED enables small-scale involvement and activity and large-scale awareness, encouraging people to think globally, but act locally.

As a new intern in the Communications department, and thus a new member of the “SAM fam,” I wanted to learn how SAM’s environmental efforts pertain to this year’s WED theme, Think.Eat.Save. Think.Eat.Save addresses food-waste and food-loss around the globe and its effects on the environment, an issue I’ve come to learn is taken very seriously by the museum’s own TASTE Restaurant. The TASTE team has made it their mission to support the local community, and since May 2007, when the restaurant opened in the newly expanded museum, they have affirmatively implemented a wide variety of strategies to reduce their food print.  In speaking with Executive Chef Craig Hetherington, I was informed that these efforts include recycling, composting (did you know that most of TASTE’s take-away-food packaging is compostable?), buying organic foods, and supporting local farmers and farms, many of which are within 60 miles of the restaurant. According to Chef Hetherington, purchasing locally is both environmentally and economically beneficial. Supporting local farms allows farmers to continue to and more actively farm sustainably, in turn helping to foster the growth of local farms.

Among the numerous local farms incorporated into TASTE’s edible repertoire are:

  • Skagit River Ranch in Sedro Wooley
  • Stokesberry Chicken in Olympia
  • Neuawkum Farms in Olympia
  • Foraged and Found in Seattle
  • Olsen Potatoes
  • Nash’s Organics in Sequim
  • Tonnemakers Fruits
  • Smith Brothers Dairy

The efforts made by TASTE are among those most widely acknowledged and practiced in the anti-food-waste/loss movement, but such efforts can also be quite costly. If you don’t have the time or, like me, are on a college-student’s budget, you can still make a difference!

Here are a few of the less-costly ways to participate and raise awareness this World Environment Day:

  • Visit your local farmers market and get to know a farmer!
  • Create posters about food-waste/loss and other ways to conserve natural resources around the city. Then take a photo and share it: Follow Seattle Art Museum on Instagram (http://instagram.com/seattleartmuseum), then post photos with #seattleartmuseum.
  • Share an article on Facebook about an issue that you’re passionate about, tell your followers on Twitter about WED and how they can get involved, or post a picture on Instagram to show your friends how you’re making a difference!
  • Visit the Seattle Parks and Recreation website to discover ways to make a difference here in Seattle, such as planning a park cleanup!
  • Plant and sustainably cultivate food at home
  • Compost
  • Encourage friends and family to get involved
  • Think before you eat and help save our environment!

With summer in sight there’s no better time to ‘give back’ to this glorious place that we are lucky enough to call home.  Now let’s get out there and make a difference!

 

Facts about Food Waste/Loss

-Caroline Sargent, Communications Intern

TASTE Restaurant’s Executive Chef Craig Hetherington paying a visit to Skagit River Ranch. Photo: Clare Barboza.
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"Banquet Still Life", ca. 1653–55, Abraham van Beyeren, Dutch, ca. 1620/21–1690, oil on canvas, 42 1/8 x 45 1/2 in. (107 x 115.5 cm), Seattle Art Museum, Samuel H. Kress Collection, 61.146, Photo: Eduardo Calderón

Thirteen Ideas For How to Spend Your Earth Hour

Earth Hour is this Saturday night, March 23 from 8:30–9:30 pm. What is Earth Hour as opposed to Earth Day? It is a global, grassroots effort to inspire environmental action and change, by turning off all lights and electronics and give it a rest, already. The earth was here looooong before iPhones and tvs. And Thomas Edison. SAM will be participating by turning off lights and other power sources at our three sites: The Hammering Man will stop hammering; Alexander Calder’s The Eagle, in the Olympic Sculpture Park, will exist only  in the shadows; and the lights glowing inside the beautiful building that houses the Seattle Asian Art Museum will also be dimmed.  The Museum of Flight is even getting in on the action! They will be turning off the lights to the Boeing Red Barn, the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery, Personal Courage Wing and the Pedestrian Bridge. What about you? Please consider participating yourself, among millions of others around the world.

So, what do you do for an hour in the dark, on a Saturday night?

I can’t think of a thing.

Well, okay, if I really put my mind to it, I can come up with a few ideas:

  1. Play Twister. Okay, that one was obvious.
  2. Get all cozy with candles, a fire, a blanket and a glass of wine. And a friend.
  3. Do you remember in art class, you would be blindfolded (no really stay with me here), put your pencil on paper, and then draw an object (hello!) without taking your pencil off the page? Then you would whip off your blindfold and laugh at the silly drawing. Yeah, you could do that. And no blindfold required!
  4. Meditate.
  5. Walk around the neighborhood and notice who has all their lights blazing, casually ignoring that the earth is going to burn up and die unless we do something!!!!
  6. Ring their doorbell and ask them why they are so blatantly insensitive to participate in Earth Hour too.
  7. Go outside and look at the stars.
  8. Remember that scene in the movie Ray where Jamie Foxx, who brilliantly portrayed the blind pianist Ray Charles, was cooking a whole meal in the dark with the lights off?
  9. Create a haunted house for your kids—at your own risk.
  10. Play Spoons. Much harder in the dark, right?
  11. Spoon.
  12. Act out your favorite scenes from Downton Abbey.
  13. Eat an entire pan of brownies. I mean we’re celebrating the beautiful earth, right?

 -Elizabeth Detels, Director of Human Resources

This was obviously painted by someone who attended a fun Earth Hour get together.

Banquet Still Life, ca. 1653–55, Abraham van Beyeren, Dutch, ca. 1620/21–1690, oil on canvas, 42 1/8 x 45 1/2 in. (107 x 115.5 cm), Seattle Art Museum, Samuel H. Kress Collection, 61.146, Photo: Eduardo Calderón
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“GREEN” Eggs and SAM

In the past couple of weeks I’ve heard a lot of talk in the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) offices about an infamous group called The SAM Goes Green Team. The more email notices the Green Team sent out about daily “green” tips or “green” contests between staff members, the more I became curious about who takes part in this coalition, and what it takes to initiate “green” practices at SAM.

 

To investigate further, I decided to interview the head of the Green Team, Liz Stone. Liz holds the title of Operations Assistant/ Digital Media Support Specialist at SAM.  Liz is a spirited, young woman who brings a lot of light to the busy offices here at SAM. When I asked to interview her, she was very excited for the opportunity to represent SAM’s “green” roots and sustainability concerns.

I asked Liz, “When did the Green Team start at SAM?”  She provided the following information:

 

The Green Team was started in 2006, shortly before the Olympic Sculpture Park opened in January 2007. It began with a handful of staff representing different departments who were interested in making a difference. The excitement around Olympic Sculpture Park gave the museum the momentum it needed to develop an environmental face for SAM. Examples of how SAM conducts green operations in many different capacities include:

  • Reduced the museum’s carbon footprint, including cuts in energy use, paper conservation, and waste reduction
  • Switched to 100% recycled copy paper
  • Earned Salmon-Safe certification of land management practices at the Olympic Sculpture Park.
  • Supported SAM’s museum educators in designing art activities that use repurposed, recycled and non-toxic supplies
  • Created a culture of sustainability within SAM, including meeting with departments to identify barriers to “going green”

 

“There have been a few different Green Team leaders at SAM, but I was approached in 2011 and asked if I would take the reins of the Green Team to keep it moving forward,” Liz says.

 

In overseeing the Green Team, Liz presents green tips and activities in media posts and helps maintain sustainability around the offices. Each division at SAM—from IT to Exhibition Design to Engineering—has a representative on the Green Team.

 

SAM is also a Presenting Partner with Seattle Center Foundation and Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas in presenting the performance, red, black, GREEN: a blues. This performance is coming to Seattle Center’s Intiman Theater May 30–June 2 for the Next 50 Festival and brings artists Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Theaster Gates back to Seattle once again! Both artists, as educators and social activists, strive through their work to ignite our collective responsibility towards social and environmental sustainability for every community. This performance shares SAM’s values in combining community engagement with art to work towards a greener, more sustainable community. The Green Team and Liz Stone are working hard to activate everyone’s involvement in “going green”.

 

You can also find more details about SAM’s environmental commitment and the SAM Goes Green initiative, as well as a list of partners joined in this initiative when you visit the SAM website. Some commitments involve joining the City of Seattle’s Seattle Climate Partnership and Seattle Climate Action Now to reduce SAM’s carbon footprint. You can also read more about the SAM Goes Green Team history on previous SAMblog posts, including SAM’s recent participation in the worldwide Earth Hour event.

 

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Happy Earth Day!

If you liked Earth Hour then you’ll love Earth Day (it’s like 24 times better than Earth Hour). While Earth Hour challenged people to make lasting change, Earth Day is a celebration of all that we have achieved and a look forward to differences we can still make.

SAM has already made a number of changes in an effort to be more sustainable. They include:

  • Reduced the museum’s carbon footprint, including cuts in energy use, paper conservation, and waste reduction
  • Switched to 100% recycled copy paper
  • Earned Salmon-Safe certification of land management practices at the Olympic Sculpture Park. (Watch this video of Gardner Bobby McCullough employing one of those practices)
  • Supported SAM’s museum educators in designing art activities that use repurposed, recycled and non-toxic supplies
  • Created a culture of sustainability within SAM, including meeting with departments to identify barriers to “going green”

And now that it’s Earth Day, the SAM Goes Green team isn’t letting this opportunity go by without challenging our coworkers to continue moving forward and establishing more green habits. This week we are asking SAM staff to pledge to make a difference. We’re going to track the changes they make at home and at work and offer incentives for the most actions taken. A little positive reinforcement will hopefully encourage big change!

-Liz Stone, Operations Assistant/Digital Media Support Specialist

Specter, 2011, Gretchen Bennett, American, b. 1960, blown glass, hemp rope, Photo: Robert Wade
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Last Call for Color

Time is running out to bring your collection of lids in to the Olympic Sculpture Park!

In Trenton Doyle Hancock’s wildly fictitious narrative, color is the source of salvation to a race of creatures who are seeking spiritual nourishment. For his installation, A Better Promise, Hancock playfully encourages you to pour color into his work by bringing plastic tops in all colors. The plastic caps add a whole spectrum of light into the installation and, for Hancock they “are in a way the surrogates for the color salvation.” As the artist has said, this installation “has to do with hope, color, connecting with people, connecting with community.” And you all have shown that he’s definitely connected with this community. Continue Reading…

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All Roads Lead to SAM: New and Improved Visitor Information

At the suggestion of one of our customers, SAM’s online visitor information just got tricked out. In an effort to encourage people to use different forms of transportation and to make it easier to find us no matter where you are, we’ve added several links to maps that show people how to bike, bus and even walk to SAM Downtown, the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Olympic Sculpture Park. Some of the exciting new features include:

  • Bike rack information (did you know that there are bike racks at all three locations?) as well as maps that have bike and bus directions.
  • Links to three different public transportation sites with a SAM location already entered as the destination, as well as a link to Metro that lists all the buses that go nearby.

    Continue Reading…

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A Better Promise

A Call to Color

If you haven’t been to the Olympic Sculpture Park lately, you should go. Not only is it summer in the park but Trenton Doyle Hancock’s, A Better Promise—an art installation in the PACCAR Pavilion—is especially mesmerizing and animated when the bright sunshine manages to peek out of the clouds and shine into the pavilion. Ironically, this is partly because of its numerous colorful raindrops but partly it’s because of the giant vitrines full of plastic lids that sit below the installation.

As part of the work, Hancock issues a “call to color” by encouraging visitors to bring their own morsels of color—in the form of plastic bottle caps—to the park and drop them into the work of art. Nine large-scale “earthbound” vitrines have been placed on the floor in front of the hand sculpture. On the face of each of these nine containers, there is a teardrop cut-out where plastic bottle caps can be deposited by color. Visitors are encouraged to bring plastic bottle caps ranging in all shapes and sizes from detergent bottles, to clear water bottles to the black and white caps from drink bottles.

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SAM’s Shrinking Carbon Footprint

As the Environmental Coordinator who has stepped into place here at SAM after our Environmental Steward recently, Jackie White moved on, I am pleased to report that SAM has reduced its carbon emissions by 30% between 2008 and 2009. This is an amazing achievement! I’d have to say the credit goes not only to the SAM Goes Green Program but all of the staff at the museum as well as the volunteers, members, and visitors.

Continue Reading…

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