Councilmember Godden left office on January 1, 2016.
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Volunteers (bless them) take the Fifth



The morning after the Fourth, despite gray skies and cool temperatures, a small army of volunteers ringed Lake Union. Their self-assigned task: Clean up trash left behind by Fourth of July celebrants.

The volunteers walked and combed the area around Gas Works and South Lake Union parks. They patrolled dockside on the South shores of the lake and they policed the trails leading to and from the parks, filling bright yellow trash bags with an endless variety of debris: paper, pop cans, candy wrappers, potato chip sacks, paper plates and plastic bags.

Another group of volunteers was skimming the waters of Lake Union. Life-jacketed kayakers were alternating between paddling and scooping up flotsam and jetsam with long-handled nets. I joined the latter group, floating along in my gypsy kayak. The folks at Northwest Outdoor Center on Westlake were supplying the kayaks, rent free, to a crew organized by the Puget Soundkeeper. The Soundkeeper does this work several times a year (check the website for times and places.)

As I paddled along, vigilant for floating debris, I discovered that it isn’t as easy as you might think. It’s difficult to stop a kayak on a dime and I had to back paddle to reach some of the larger pieces of cardboard, the cigarette butts and the stray pieces of cellophane and plastic.

What was that over there? Adrift on the next wave was an interesting pair of flesh-colored mounds. As I drew closer, I was amazed to net a foam-filled, lace-trimmed brassiere, Maidenform, size 32-D.  One hesitates to speculate on how the intimate lingerie came to be floating in Lake Union, not far from the docks where luxury boats (figure a year’s salary or more) are berthed.

That, however, wasn’t the strangest catch of the day. Among the debris scooped into my trash bag was an expensive cigar, a piece of charcoal brickette, a cigarette packet, a dying minnow and a possibly edible (but who would bite) pineapple ring.

As I passed other kayakers, we exchanged stories about our strangest catches. One kayaker held up a can of Hamm’s beer – unopened.  However, when we got to the Northwest Outdoor Center’s finger piers, there were several volunteers about to launch. Said one of them, “We’re always picking up strange objects. Last time it was an athletic supporter.”

Best news, of course, is the willingness of volunteers to give up part of their holiday weekend to keep Seattle parks and waterways trash free.  Thanks also go the Puget Soundkeeper, to the Northwest Outdoor Center, to Starbucks that was delivering  box lunches to the hard-working volunteers, and to Clean Scapes, our local trash collectors who had volunteered to pick up tons of debris.