Bellamy Pailthorp

Environment Reporter

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat from the Seattle offices of KPLU Public Radio News, where she has worked since 1999. She holds a Masters in journalism from New York's Columbia University, where she completed the Knight-Bagehot fellowship in business reporting in 2006 mid-career during her stint on KPLU’s Business and Labor Beat from 2000-2012.

From 1989-98 she lived in Berlin, Germany freelancing for NPR and working as a bi-lingual producer for Deutsche Welle TV after receiving a Fulbright scholarship in 1989 for a project on theater studies and communist history. She holds a Bachelors’ degree in German language and literature from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. (Yes, she is fluent in German.)

She strives to tell memorable stories about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Character-driven narratives of exploration and innovation excite her. 

Outside work, she practices and instructs yoga, walks half marathons with friends, backpacks with her husband and extended family, reads and watches fiction with nieces, enjoys tasting new foods and admiring all kinds of animals -- especially her two house cats, who often remind her she should spend more time sitting on the couch with them.

Ways To Connect

One of the world's best-known thinkers about global climate change is Australian writer Tim Flannery. He's not only a best-selling author, he's also his country's first Chief Commissioner for Climate Change.

His latest book, Here on Earth: a Natural History of the Planet, paints a hopeful picture of the future of human life on earth. He recently gave a talk in Seattle, where he said his message of optimism seemed to have trouble getting through to his audience.

KPLU's Bellamy Pailthorp caught up with him for an interview.

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

The forecast is for sunny skies this weekend and some of the warmest temps we've seen all year. 

But when it rains a lot – as it has been lately – the runoff from city streets and houses pours toxins straight into Puget Sound. 

How homeowners can address that kind of water pollution is the subject of a series of neighborhood tours put on throughout the region this summer.  The first one is this weekend in Seattle.

 

Investors in Bellevue-based drugstore.com gather Thursday for their annual shareholder meeting. It's likely the last time they'll meet there. 

The online-retailer is being acquired by its biggest brick and mortar competitor: Illinois-based Walgreens. 

Courtesy of Quiring Monuments

The process of burying the dead hasn't changed much over the centuries, but now their gravestones can provide a digital link to their life stories.

A Seattle-based company is creating burial markers that include a scannable, stamp-like image called a "quick read" — or QR code.

Photo by Atomic Taco / Flickr

Shiny burgundy buses equipped with automated pay stations, three doors each, low-riding chassis and accelerated time tables started serving south King County last fall. They're called RapidRide and they're funded by the Transit Now ballot measure that voters approved in 2006. 

A second route is slated to start serving Bellevue and Redmond in October. The King County Council votes on exactly where they'll go on Tuesday afternoon

Courtesy of Chinese Expulsion Remembrance Project

Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike has issued a formal apology to the Chinese community for the expulsion of their people,125 years ago.

Pike says the apology is meant to make it clear: authorities now see the racist actions by regional governments and their supporters more than a century ago were wrong.

In 1885 and 1886, thousands of Chinese immigrants were driven out of Puget Sound towns during an economic downturn. Civic leaders and town newspapers argued the new residents were taking jobs away from white people.

The apology and related events this week in Bellingham are part of a year-long Chinese Expulsion Remembrance Project. Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia and Mount Vernon are also taking part. The project also has a Facebook page.

Photo by MïK / Flickr

Grays Harbor Paper has shut down its mill in Hoquiam, putting a dour end to what had been a success story for 18 years. 

240 workers are losing their jobs. Many were shocked by the announcement, according to King-5 news.

“I thought this place was going to be in for the long haul,” said Tony Harris, who had worked for Grays Harbor Paper for two years.

Washington State University photo

A new industry is emerging in the Pacific Northwest – for development, production and distribution of aviation biofuels.

A consortium called Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest has just spent ten months producing an exhaustive study.  They've identified the four-state region of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana as a serious contender in the race to produce environmentally friendly jet fuels.

urbanvillages.com

Unless a lawsuit derails the process, a new 520 bridge will soon be built across Lake Washington. 

A company in Aberdeen is already constructing the huge pontoons that will keep the new, 6-lane structure afloat.

And the state is widening the highway on the east side of the lake. 

But exactly what the project will look like on the Seattle side is still being worked out.

Seattle's Board of Park Commissioners will get a briefing on impacts to the Washington Park Arboretum tomorrow night (Thursday).

Seattle voters will have a chance to chime in again on the planned deep-bore tunnel that's supposed to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. 

That's the word from Judge Laura Middaugh who this afternoon sided with the supporters of a referendum, saying  her goal is to make sure that the voices of the people are heard when a policy decision is made.  She said she had not been able to find any precedents in case law to support her stance.

Image by James Corner Field Operations, courtesy of the City of Seattle, 2011

Hundreds of people packed into a waterfront auditorium last night (Thurs.) in Seattle. They came to see concepts of what the city might look like, once the Alaskan Way Viaduct comes down.

CBP Photography / Flickr

The famous "battle in Seattle" more than a decade ago put the letters "W-T-O" into the collective consciousness. Now most people have at least a vague idea about the role the World Trade Organization plays in regulating international commerce. 

But what about the letters W-C-O?

Florangela Davila / KPLU

It's another banner year for Seattle-area high school jazz bands. 

Ensembles from Roosevelt and Mountlake Terrace High Schools are once again at Lincoln center in New York, NY - competing in what many critics regard as the nation's top bout for young jazz artists, the Essentially Ellington competition.

The Seattle Times is covering the event and has this note in today's print copy of the  paper:

"On Friday, the competition runs from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with Roosevelt appearing last. There are two segments on Saturday, 7 to 8:30 a.m., with Mountlake Terrace playing last, and 10 a.m. to noon. The three top bands will be announced on the live stream at 1 p. m. (All times PST.)"

Photo by Annie Laurie Malarkey / Courtesy of the Technology Alliance

There are 25 assistant advisors in the White House who report directly to President Obama.  One of them is the President's Chief Technology Officer. Anish Chopra has been in Seattle this week, meeting with all kinds of players - in everything from energy and education to global health. 

Image courtesy of voipnovatos.es

Microsoft's biggest acquisition ever might have people in the region worrying about layoffs. Often when companies merge, redundant workers get pink slips.

But it sounds like employees of the Redmond tech giant don't have much cause for concern with Microsoft's $8.5-billion purchase of Skype.

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp

Update: On Monday, May 9, the Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners approved a 20% permanent service reduction scheduled to start June 12. But the board rejected the proposed plan for the final 15% reduction scheduled for October, and instead directed staff to develop a modified plan that focuses on maximizing ridership.

The next time you're stuck in traffic, frustrated by the length of your commute time, take a moment to consider how long your trip would be if you couldn't drive to your workplace, your doctors office, or your church. 

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

A gigantic bridge-shaped piñata spewed more than four hundred pounds of candy last night in south Seattle. It was part of the Cinco de Mayo celebration going on in the city's South Park neighborhood. 

Earlier in the day, officials broke ground on a new $130-million-dollar bridge that's going to re-connect that community to major highways.

Ben Margot / AP

"Initial Public Offering," or I-P-O, is a buzz term that was talked about a lot in the boom years of the late 1990s – especially in Seattle, where lots of high-tech startup companies were thriving at that time.  They've been pretty scarce lately.  But they may be coming back.

AP photo

Insiders from many of Seattle's most recognizable big businesses are gathering today at the Washington State Convention Center downtown.

Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks, REI, and The Mariners have all been invited to give interactive presentations meant to inspire others in the region to follow in their footsteps. The topic? Going Green.

File photo

Despite the massive fraud that has emerged as the U.S. tries to dig itself out of the foreclosure mess at the heart of the great recession, there are still huge numbers of honest folks working in the real estate business. 

That's according to professional appraisers in Washington state, dozens of whom have signed an on-line petition. 

Emergency measures in a new law go into effect immediately, creating the infrastructure needed to get more housing counselors working with banks and preventing people from losing their homes.

A new law that would legalize medical-marijuana dispensaries and growers in Washington has already passed both chambers of the legislature in Olympia.  But it looks like it won't ever take effect.

That's because the state's top federal prosecutors have threatened to crack down if it goes forward.

In a letter to Governor Chris Gregoire, U.S. Attorneys Jenny Durkan of Seattle and Michael Ormsby of Spokane write that the bill would undermine drug enforcement

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

It's a day of disappointment in the northwest for fans of US space exploration. 

Seattle's Museum of Flight got official word this morning that it will not be home to one of the three space shuttles NASA is retiring.  And it won't get the prototype Enterprise (which was only used for test flights and never reached space) either.

The shuttles are going to:

Graphic courtesy of Museum of Flight.

The odds are about one in seven.  That's the skinny on Seattle's bid to become a host site for one of NASA's retiring space shuttles. 

Seattle Times writer Jack Broom sums up the situation nicely in that paper's latest story on the question. Broom notes the Museum of Flight's chances were diminished slightly last week:

Still image courtesy of Anzamarch (Junko) / YouTube

Clean it up or close it down – that's the choice for the new owner of a vacant property in South Seattle that's become notorious for noisy raves. 

Police have declared The Citadel a chronic nuisance. The boxy warehouse building was turned into a music venue by owner Steve Rauf, who says the dance parties have brought in much-needed revenue. 

Courtesy Washington OSPI

If you listen to the numbers, there's no need for any change in the way teachers and principals are evaluated in public schools here in Washington State. 

Data is in from a first-ever statewide survey about their performance. It says very few teachers are a problem: not even 500 were rated unsatisfactory in all of Washington.

That's less than three quarters of one percent (.75%) of the state's public school teachers.  And even fewer principals – only 41 of nearly 3,000 – got a bad write up.

Flickr, @photo

A surprisingly solid March – that's the consensus about last month's retail sales.  Despite cold weather and climbing gas prices, shoppers spent a lot more money last month than they did in March a year ago.

Costco and Nordstrom are among the local companies that are benefiting.

Photo by MACLEOD PAPPIDAS / THE DAILY WORLD

Seventeen years after his death, legendary Pacific Northwest grunge guitarist Kurt Cobain is finally being fully embraced by his former home town. 

A concrete sculpture replicating one of his guitars is now installed in a city park in Aberdeen.  Steven Friederich, a news reporter with the Aberdeen Daily World, who has a story on the unveiling on the site today, says for years, Aberdeen rejected Cobain as a drug addict. 

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

"We have nothing to hide" – those were the words of Seattle's chief of police yesterday.  The department is under fire. 

The questions stem from a federal review of the fatal shooting of a first nation's wood carver last August, as well as what many people perceive as a prior pattern of  abusive violence against minority groups.

Ted S. Warren / AP

A "...boatload of loans, sitting in foreclosure," or on the verge of being taken back by the banks. Those are the words of one economist, talking about what's happening in the real estate markets of major cities, nation-wide. The greater Seattle area is no exception.

The numbers come from the Case-Schiller index and they're not pretty.

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