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Leave it to the folks at Forterra to bring the outdoors in. Every table at the conservation nonprofit’s 18th annual awards banquet the other day was topped with a ready-to-plant sapling for the taking.

It was a nice reminder of all the organization has done to keep things green, giving us all places to explore and escape to and breathe clean air.

Former U.S. Rep.
Norm Dickswas there to receive the Frank Pritchard Lifetime Achievement Award for his work, and got a standing ovation.

“That sounded like the Skagit River bridge going down,” he said when the chairs stopped scraping the floor. “We’ve got to take care of our infrastructure!”

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Always the politician.

Of course, he could still tap into the 8-year-old he once was, fishing with his father at Neah Bay. Just last week, Dicks told me, he caught an 11-pound chinook salmon during a Salmon Recovery Board trip to Port Angeles.

“It’s called a winter blackmouth,” Dicks beamed.

Mayor Mike McGinnwas there on behalf of the city of Seattle, which received the Innovation Conservation Award for managing the development of South Lake Union. (Um. No comment.)

Hizzoner asked why I didn’t mention in last week’s column that he had biked to the Seattle International Film Festival opening gala.

Really? OK: Mayor McGinn rode his bike to the SIFF gala. Because that’s how he rolls.

Happy now, Mr. Mayor?

That face

Wait a second. I know that guy. Didn’t he drive an ambulance on the TV?

You watch him talking on the curb outside the Uptown theater, listen to him tease someone “smoking” an electric cigarette, and then he turns, gives you a glance and walks down the sidewalk with two giant guys and a lot of tattoos.

Michael Beach,” the guy next to you says. “ ‘Sons of Anarchy,’ ‘The Abyss,’ ‘Third Watch’ …”

“Third Watch”! That’s where I know him. But wait a second. I know you, too.

He hands me a card. On one side, his long face, the near-twin of the classic comedy mask, and on the back, this: “Basil Harris
. I’m that guy you met.”

Not just met. For years, I watched Harris in productions all over town, most memorably as Yellow Dog in Seattle Children’s Theatre production of “Go Dog, Go!” A triumph.

Harris is Beach’s co-star in the film “Scrapper,” which just screened as part of the Seattle International Film Festival.

Harris has also had parts in Lynn Shelton’sfirst two films, and just booked a day-player role in her new project, “Laggies,” in which Keira Knightley has a crisis of identity — in and around Seattle Center. (Don’t we all?)

And he has just finished the pilot for a Web series called “Rocket Men,” which will be released next spring.

Good for you, I said, as we stood there, watching them roll out the red carpet for the next show.

Oh my, I said, and my new friend Basil let out a little tsk:

“Don’t they ever vacuum that thing?”

From the heart

There are plenty of tough nights at Gilda’s Club in Seattle, where those touched by cancer — patients, survivors and their families and friends — are able to share the worst of it.

But nothing compares to the tear-fest that is the “It’s Always Something” Teen Writing Contest. The other night, eight of this year’s 12 winning essays were read by the high-school students who wrote them (

The contest was started by “Well Read” host and former Seattle Times editor Terry Tazioliin honor of his sister, Kai Leamer, who died of breast cancer. The $1,000 award each winner receives comes from The Kai Leamer Fund and the Lucky Seven Foundation.

Aron Daw wrote about his sister’s cancer fight, and how she returned to running and school just four months out of chemotherapy. He described her as “a tree that lost its leaves in the winter, but budded anew in the spring.” Lovely.

Annika Dybevikwrote about being diagnosed at 13, calling cancer “the ultimate identity theft.”

Caitlyn Koester’s
piece urged people to truly listen to those fighting the disease; Kristin Thomas wrote lovingly of her stepfather, Steve, who adopted her in the middle of his treatment.

Tsehainesh Tilahun wrote about a neighbor in her homeland of Ethiopia who has inspired her to study medicine.

Lauren Brigolinbrought her “Grammie” with her to read the story of the Nordstrom cosmetics salesman who accidentally knocked the older woman’s wig off while applying makeup. Laughter is indeed the best medicine.

Thanh Troungwrote of staying right beside his “friend and brother,” Jack, on his cancer journey; and Rachel Clarkof finally dealing with the loss of her mother 10 years after, and concluding, “It’s time to move forward.”

Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Sunday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or

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