UW Today

September 12, 2012

News Digest: Volunteer Saturday at Urban Hort, webcast compares Mars rover and undersea research, book out on floating homes

Volunteer grounds keepingJoin hundreds of volunteers Saturday putting a shine on Center for Urban Horticulture
This Saturday hundreds of volunteers from the ranks of contractors, developers, craft workers and construction-service providers in Western Washington will upgrade and put a shine on parts of the Center for Urban Horticulture on the University of Washington campus.

The event is the major service project this year of the state chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties. The estimated value of the volunteer labor, equipment time and materials donated or provided at cost amounts to $90,000 to $100,000, according to Kathleen Garrity, a volunteer from the local construction community who is on the organizing committee.

UW students and staff, neighbors and other supporters of the UW Botanic Gardens – of which the Center for Urban Horticulture is a part – are welcome to join in.

Volunteers don’t need to sign up in advance and will be assigned to one of 17 projects as they arrive, any time after 7:30 a.m. Work concludes at 4 p.m., but volunteers may work just as long as their schedules allow. Tasks will range from carpentry to pulling invasive plants to helping gravel three-quarters of a mile of trails in the natural area. The association is providing lunch, work gloves and T-shirts. Volunteers can bring their children to work beside them or, if too young, to be entertained in a child-care area.

For the biggest project, association members will create stairs to connect the center’s main courtyard with the expansive lawn below. The two are often used in conjunction and the stairs will create an easy flow between them.

The Center for Urban Horticulture, a part of the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, has 70,000 visitors a year and serves as the meeting place for more than 200 organizations. One reason it was selected was because it provides such a wonderful community facility, said Garrity, who is president of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Washington. That group is among the developers, contractors, service providers, owners and investors of office, industrial and retail real estate in the state chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun and we are going to be sparkling after all the work,” said Sarah Reichard, director of the center and UW Botanic Gardens.

Thursday webcast:  UW oceanographer links Mars rover to undersea research
You’ve seen the Curiosity rover creep along the surface of Mars, snapping spectacular photos of the mysterious surface of the planet. So what does that have in common with the bottom of the ocean? Hear UW oceanographer John Delaney discuss the similarities between the robot on Mars and equipment his team is deploying nearly two miles under water in the Pacific Ocean.

He’s participating in a webcast that is part of a series centered on Mars research hosted at the Exploratorium, a science and art museum in San Francisco. Delaney will answer questions about how scientists conceptualize and explore remote environments like the ocean floor and the surface of Mars that are difficult to access.

He’ll also describe what scientists can learn from a long-term presence in the oceans that will be established by the Ocean Observatories Initiative, an NSF-funded project to collect ocean data from locations that span the Western Hemisphere. The UW is designing and constructing OOI infrastructure in the Pacific Ocean that will send data to shore in real time via underwater fiber-optic cable.

Watch Delaney talk about the project from the Exploratorium in San Francisco Thursday at 1 p.m. A live stream is available online: http://www.exploratorium.edu/mars/ .

Cover of book Floating HomesArchitecture graduate student pens book on Seattle’s floating homes
Erin Feeney says her book “Seattle’s Floating Homes” came from a research paper for a UW architecture course and will lead to an exhibit in 2013 at the Museum of History and Industry.

A graduate student in architecture, Feeney chose to research floating homes under the topic of “vernacular communities”— or those whose architecture reflects their people and lifestyle. The paper brought praise from the area Floating Home Association and the museum accepted Feeney’s proposal for an exhibit in its new space next June. Meanwhile, Feeney turned her paper into a book for Arcadia Press’s Images of America series.

Feeney said the book tells the history of the floating home community, while the planned exhibit will focus on the community today and how it’s changing. The community’s working class roots are “getting lost rather rapidly,” she said.

“Historically, it’s been a very strong community, with people looking out for each other. Now there are large issues with absentee owners and people who rent or just stay for the summer. There’s a loss of community,” she said.