2020 was a tough year for everyone. Sustainable Ballard was fortunate to be sustained by lots of volunteer support and a little bit of cushion in the bank. We were fortunate also to have many resourceful people who helped figure out how to keep most of our projects active amid the pandemic. Here is a quick view of how we faired over the past year.
In October, Christine Ingersoll took over the coordinating of the Bakery Gleaning Project from long time coordinator and member Julia Field. There are currently 7- 8 active bakery gleaners picking up bread and baked goods twice a week from Tall Grass bakery and twice a week from Cafe Besalu, and delivering to St. Lukes Edible Hope program the next day. Both bakeries have been extremely generous in their donations resulting in thousands of loaves of bread, pastries and cookies being shared with hungry neighbors over the past year.
The Ballard Knitters crew knit 290 hats, 136 scarves, and 17 lap robes in 2020 that were distributed primarily to the Ballard Urban Rest Stop but also to Urness House and The Bridge Care Center. They have been knitting virtually since July and will continue with virtual meetings in 2021.
In 2020 Ballard Sprouts grew and distributed over 23,000 starts to Seattle gardeners in the Seattle Giving Garden Network. These gardeners donated the produce to food banks around the city.
Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter Protests began in Ballard in early June and have continued every Friday at the corner of 15th and 65th. On June 12th, over 800 people came out to show support for Black Lives Matter – one of many protests across the nation. We have continued to show solidarity each week with 12 to 60 folks showing up regularly.
Board Game and Puzzle Swap
The Board Game and Puzzle Swap has been on hold this year due to COVID so nothing to report. (One swap was held in January.) Shanon Lyon, the project lead, has been quarantining outside of Seattle. She hopes to do a swap of some sort (socially distanced or online) when she’s back in town – date TBA.
Edible Garden Tour
The Edible Garden Tour was able to continue in 2020 with social distancing practices in place. We showed 17 gardens to over 200 guests thanks to a great TV promotion by Gardening with Cisco. (Our registrations doubled overnight!) All tickets were sold online, and we did away with all the activities we normally feature at the info booth.
Free Letters Home
Free Letters Home was put on hold in 2020, due to COVID, though we were able to make a delivery of cards and stamps to Whittier Hts Tiny Village in December.
Little Free Libraries
Little Free Library activity was minimal in 2020. We funded 2 new library registrations and Paula organized a book redistribution drive.
In February, Jill Schleicher took over as project coordinator. This year the gleaners continued collecting extra donated food from the vendors at the Ballard Farmers Market and brought 15,458 pounds of food to the Ballard Food Bank. Despite having to cancel gleaning for almost 2 months this year due to COVID-19, smoke, and heat, our gleaners collected nearly 3 times the amount of food as in 2019. We also worked with the Seattle Farmers Market Association and the Ballard Alliance to collect food through the Farm it Forward program, where people in the community could donate to a fund to pay the market vendors for food that was most needed by the Food Bank. This year, we had more than 15 new volunteers sign up to help out with gleaning, and also had 2 new gleaning leads.
The SB Mask Makers made and distributed over 1300 masks to essential workers in Ballard, the Ballard Food Bank and organizations doing extraordinary work in these trying times such as Mary’s Place, Odessa Brown Children’s Center, the Duwamish Tribe, New Beginnings, Solid Ground, El Centro de la Raza, Children’s Home Society, Jubilee Women’s Center, etc. Given the good availability of masks lately they have stopped production, though they are ready to gear up if/when needed.
Meals with Neighbors
Under the leadership of Camilla Walter, Meals with Neighbors volunteers shifted course this year providing sack lunches and outdoor meals as well as clean bathrooms with COVID safety measures in place. This year, in-person volunteering was down, with about 12 (of 80) volunteers from Sustainable Ballard attending meals programs as in-person volunteers. Meals continued, with partner churches serving roughly 60 portions per week at Sunday dinners. We also began collecting clothing and camping supplies for enduring the weather. Volunteers gave out about 5 tents, 5 tarps, 10 blankets, 300 socks, and several coats, hats, and winter items.
In early 2020 we secured a fantastic partnership in Equal Exchange’s new space for in-person movies and installed our movie screen there. We had scheduled our first movie for February. That location was shut down because of the pandemic and we retrieved our movie screen in June. Instead, we ran monthly virtual Meaningful Movies throughout the summer, and managed to show a total of 6 movies in 2020. When we are able to resume normal activities, we hope to be able to offer hybrid live/virtual events.
RainWise started out strong in 2020 with 2 interns going door-to-door to over 500 houses in January and February, spreading the word about RainWise. All workshops were converted to webinars for the remainder of the year. We did manage to resume Maintenance Check Ups in the summer, visiting over 700 RainWise customers to train them how to maintain their RainWise cisterns and rain gardens. The project will continue similarly in 2021.
In February 2020, the Ballard Tool Library shut its doors to comply with social distancing guidelines. We were able to begin operating again by appointment only in May, when Kimberly Lindbergh took the reins as Tool Library Manager. In the course of doing business, Kimberly has recruited at least 6 new volunteers and found lots of ways for people to contribute (not all contact based) – e.g. repairs/cleaning, tech, catalog. Through her enthusiasm and perseverance she also added 92 new members this year to the Tool Library database. The most popular tools this year were the saws: table, miter, jig and chain. The pole pruner, pressure washer and tamper also scored high on the list.
Lots of tool donations came in from people cleaning out their homes and wanting their tools to mean more than just Goodwill donation. We started tool sales by setting up sale shelves and have had fair success with ongoing tool sales. The tool catalog has a lot more photos & instructions thanks to one of the new volunteers, and we’ve begun an update to the BTL website. We will need to find a new location by Jan 2022 so have begun the search in earnest. Please let us know if you have any ideas.