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NET ZERO HOUSE TOUR ... Local energy expert Sven Thesen will open his home to the public Saturday, July 9 and describe the adventure of building the first Passive Energy House in Palo Alto. Utilizing the most environmentally responsible and aesthetically pleasing materials, the house meets California's upcoming 2020 requirements for all new construction to have "net zero" energy use. You can also ride in and test drive a number of electric vehicles: a Nissan Leaf, a Chevy Volt and Spark, and a Tesla. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 314 Stanford Avenue, Palo Alto. The cost is free. Please go to to register.

CLAY AND GLASS GALORE ... The 24th Annual Palo Alto Clay & Glass Festival will be held this Saturday, July 9, and Sunday, July 10, at the Palo Alto Art Center. The free event features both fine and functional art, from plates to vases to sculptures made of clay and glass. There will even be an event for children to work with clay. The festival is the largest show of its kind, with 150 juried artists displaying their work. Meet the artists and learn about their art. Enjoy a variety of engaging activities, including hands-on pottery-making and wheel-throwing demonstrations. The Art Center is at 1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto. Go to

CARROTS FOR YOU ... According to Garden Design magazine, carrots are best grown from seed but they are harvestable all year around. Carrot seeds can take a long time to germinate (aka sprout) and then grow to a harvestable size. So, as soon as the soil warms in spring and well before summer ends, it's important to sow seeds thickly into your prepared garden beds. Choose a seeding depth based on the seed packet's recommendations. Water immediately and regularly after sowing. Be patient, it will probably take longer than you think for these seeds to sprout. Once they do emerge from the soil, begin carefully tugging out a few babies here and there to make room for other carrots to mature. After several weeks of thinning repeatedly, you'll eventually be pulling up carrots big enough for a snack. Later, you'll start getting bigger and bigger carrots. Generally speaking, you can sow your final seeds about six to eight weeks before your first fall frost is due to hit. You may miss a germination window here or there if frost continues late into spring or starts up early in autumn, but if you have been seeding regularly in between these times, you might still have plenty of crunchy, sweet carrots to enjoy all the time.

Passive Energy Home & EV Ride'n'Drive

GRASSROOTS NAME CHANGE ... Acterra's Stewardship Program has changed its name to Grassroots Ecology, an independent fiscally-sponsored project under Acterra's 501(c)(3) umbrella. The Acterra board will retain fiduciary oversight but operations and funding will be separate.

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Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

Contest Details