Neighborhood Kids family fun in bellingham & whatcom county


Wheel It Up with Bellingham Roller Betties

Bellingham Roller Betties Photo courtesy Bellingham Roller Betties

Roller derby wheeled its way into Whatcom County in 2006 with the Bellingham Roller Betties, an all-female flat-track roller derby league. Inspired by a similar league in Seattle, the Betties give local women the chance to engage in a theatrical yet legitimate competitive team sport. With about 50 skaters and a loyal fan base, the Roller Betties continue to showcase tough, athletic women in a positive environment.

Roller derby began in the 1930s, but the sport has made a comeback in the past decade; there are currently more than 200 leagues in the United States.

“I became involved with the Betties when I attended the Zombie Prom fundraiser at Rumors Cabaret,” explains Roller Betty Jennifer DeLuca (aka D’Luca Brassie) in an email interview. When she and her husband were crowned Zombie Prom King and Queen, they won tickets to a Roller Betties bout. Roller derby fascinated Jennifer, so she also attended the 2008 Championship bout and was even inspired to try out for the team. “I love to roller skate and I guess it showed because I was asked to join the Betties at the end of that week,” she says.

Jennifer enjoys roller derby because it allows her to take part in a full-contact sport with other women and to look good while doing it.

Bellingham Roller Betties Photo courtesy
Bellingham Roller Betties

“At a Bellingham Roller Betties bout, you can expect to see tough, athletic women of all shapes and sizes participate in a full-contact sport that is virtually unheard of outside of some high school athletics,” she says.

Bellingham Roller Betty bouts occur once a month from March to July and currently take place at Whatcom Community College. “The bouts usually consist of two games that last an hour each. We have a halftime and breaks between the thirty minute periods,” explains Jennifer, adding that you can buy food from the local vendors at the bouts.

While roller derby may seem a little intense, Jennifer encourages families to attend Roller Betties together. “There are a lot of kids at the Betties’ bouts and many of the skaters are moms,” she notes. Be aware that some skater names reference mature themes, but Jennifer says it’s nothing worse than what they might hear on daytime television.

Oh, yeah, what’s up with the derby names, D’Luca Brassie?

“Every player has a derby name that represents her persona in the game,” Jennifer says. “This tradition started back in the early days of derby (1940s – 1950s) when individual skaters came to be known for their antics and style on the track.”

Bellingham Roller Betties Photo courtesy Bellingham Roller Betties

Some roller derby leagues offer “derby brats” teams so kids can learn derby basics. Although the Betties don’t have a junior league, they do allow youths to volunteer at bouts, which Jennifer says “is a great way to let the Betties learn your name and face” when young ladies are old enough to try out.

Women interested in roller derby who are over the age of 21 and have some basic skating ability can attend an 8-week “Booty Camp” training with the Roller Betties. “If your skills are obvious and your attitude is positive, you just might be asked to join the team!” Jennifer says.

The 2010 Bellingham Roller Betties Championship Bout takes place at WCC on July 17th at 5 PM. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for kids age 6-12, and free for kids age 5 and under. You can purchase them online at Brown Paper Tickets.

And if you just can’t wait for the bout to get your derby fix, meet the Betties at the Fairhaven Outdoor Cinema on June 26th for a viewing of the 2009 film Whip It.

For more information, visit Bellingham Roller Betties.

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Teach Water Conservation with a Rain Barrel

As we enter the dry summer months, demand on Bellingham’s municipal water supply often doubles. According to the City of Bellingham, about 80-90% of the increase is due to the watering of lawns and gardens, and about half of this water is wasted in evaporation loss, run-off, and over-watering. There are a number of simple ways families can help reduce the pressure on our drinking water supply while also learning about the benefits of water conservation.

Teach Water Conservation with a Rain Barrel Rudy and Ana get ready to water the garden.
Photo by Lorraine Wilde

Heather Cullen and Jim Zurcher, parents of three-year-old Rudy and six-year-old Ana, found that introducing a simple barrel to collect rain water has significantly reduced the amount of tap water they use in their home and garden.

Explains Heather, “My sister lives in Australia where water is incredibly scarce and they conserve every drop, even from their shower. Setting up the rain barrel just seemed like common sense to us. We’ve had a simple rain barrel system for two years and this year we’re expanding to account for the new flower bed.”

Heather and Jim connected inexpensive plastic barrels to their existing downspouts. They fill up quickly this time of year, says Heather, “but the girls empty them in July and August when we use them about once a week to water the trees and flower beds.”

The City of Bellingham also recommends using rainwater for other household tasks like washing cars and dogs. Water conservation is more than just good sense. It’s a matter of public safety. Water Conservation Assistant, Andrea Hood, says that “the City can struggle to meet the increased summer need while still reserving enough water for adequate fire protection.”

Teach Water Conservation with a Rain Barrel Watering the garden.
Photo by Lorraine Wilde

The City is currently offering at least two low-cost options for rain barrels. A blue 55-gallon 100% recycled plastic rain barrel (made in the USA) can be purchased for only $25. Each barrel comes already outfitted with spigots and valves for easy installation. If bright blue isn’t for you, the City suggests painting them, or buying a less conspicuous, 65-gallon barrel for only $45 when you sign up for the Voluntary Metering Program. Andrea Hood notes “state law requires that all city residences must be on metered systems (where you pay based on use instead of a flat fee) by 2017. Only about half Bellingham homes are on the metered system.”

Heather’s sister in Australia sent this e-mail message: “You are very lucky in Bellingham where you have water, green trees, and grass…And when it rains at your house, go outside and smile because rain is magic.” Capture the magic with your own your rain barrel this summer and feel good about your own small contribution to water conservation and community safety.

The City of Bellingham’s Water Conservation includes links and information about the many programs offered including the Rain Barrel Programs and installation instructions, the Voluntary Water Metering Program, the Voluntary Watering Schedule, and educational links for students and teachers.

Click here for information on other water conservation programs available through the City of Bellingham. You can check out a rain barrel system while on display in the lobby of City Hall throughout the month of June.

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Survey for the Future of Neighborhood-Kids

In 2008, Mindfly Web Design Studio launched, a free online resource for families in Bellingham and Whatcom County.

Survey for the Future of

As with any service, tangible or online, has numerous operating costs, including web hosting, newsletter distribution, and general website maintenance and updates.

We would like to partner with those who use—event organizers, business owners, community members, and local families—to keep this service available.

We are currently evaluating the best course of action for Your anonymous response will help us define a plan for the website’s future. Please take a few moments to respond to a survey about possible options that could help us sustain

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