Thursday, July 02, 2015

Olyblog10: What's on the city council this week (not not this week) and my first blush of Olyblog

I can tell you how exactly I came across Olyblog, and I also can tell you I at least marked it with a post at this very blog. I apparently came across Olyblog on the old tescrier (Evergreen State College) email list that at one point had been public.

And, here is my very first post over at Olyblog, which for some reason disappeared from the Olyblog itself. It was about a dumb topic, so I'm not sure I miss it being there.

Perusing my early posts, I seemed to focus a lot on civic affairs, politics, community wireless, that kind of thing. Mostly the same stuff I write about here. But, I did talk more specifically about certain candidates and people, something I try to stay away from nowadays.

But, eventually (about after six months of Olyblog) I started doing a weekly "What's on the council" rundown. This was a pretty fun exercise. I got into the habit of waiting for the city webmaster to upload the council's packet for the week, and quickly read through it. This reminded me a lot of what being a reporter was like.

It wasn't enough for me to just beat the Olympian reporter doing the same thing, but I usually tried to find some nuance or angle I assumed the Olympian wouldn't cover.

Like anything at Olyblog, I eventually quit writing the updates. Thad Curtz kept up on it for awhile, but seems to have lost energy for it as well.

Which is sad. But, that didn't make me as sad as the idea never really spreading. I hoped that people would pick up other local governments (port, Tumwater, county) and do similar rundowns. But, that never picked up.

It didn't take much skill, just poking through the staff reports and summarizing what was going on.

I can understand why people never did though, it was also pretty tedious doing it week after week. I even now serve on the regional library board and I've tried to keep up with doing just monthly updates. I quit that eventually too.

Ah, well. Blogging is hard, amiright?

Monday, June 29, 2015

How much cross over was there between the OK Boys Ranch and the Paul Ingram's case?

I'm not going to go back and explain the Paul Ingram case. Or, the OK Boys Camp scandal/tragedy.

But, suffice to say that both of those events were insane shocks to the core of the Thurston County power structure about 25 years ago. I'd highly suggest reading the links above, just to get an idea of what I'm talking about.

What I really didn't realize until right now, but that these two seemingly independent events (though similar in content) overlapped a lot.

At the center of this overlap is Ingram himself. Just a note: this is the point that I'm going to start writing as if the reader knows a few details about both Ingram and OK Boys Camp.

As Ingram's life began dissolving toward his eventual guilty plea, the subsequent retraction of that plea, his prosecution and conviction, he also had a front seat to what was going on a the OK Boys Camp. Ingram was a member of the Kiwanis (not a big surprise as a deputy sheriff and former county Republican chair). But, well into 1989, he was on the board of the OK Boys Camp.

Ingram's daughter made her first accusation in August of 1988, he was arrested in late November, and the investigation was in full swing the next spring when Ingram was finally removed from the board in March.

It is odd enough for Olympia to have one odd abuse case, it is another for it to have two. And, also two that in hindsight land fairly well on opposite ends of the the varsity scale. The Thurston County criminal justice system went hard at Ingram and the fantastical tales levelled against him, to the point of digging up his entire back yard looking for the remains of babies. But it took a few more years to catch up with the actual abuse happening at the OK Boys Ranch.

And, the question that keeps rolling around in my brain: how much was known (but not approached) by folks about the horrible conditions at the ranch. And, how much of that community knowledge morphed into the fantastical accusations against Ingram by his daughters? Had they heard about the crimes at the ranch? Had they been to the ranch and heard them first hand from residents?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Downtown is a donut hole filled with subsidized housing (according to the maps). How'd we get to this point?

Here's my donut hole of Olympia population post from a little while back. I observed:
Density is good. People living downtown is good. More people living in a dense neighborhood means fewer cars, more people walking and more services and good things downtown.
There might not be a lot of people living downtown compared to other parts of the city, but take a look at this map that Brian Hovis put together this week:


Hovis writes:
The highest concentration were in downtown Olympia and west Olympia. There are two different reasons. In downtown Olympia there are lots of sites in close proximity. In west Olympia the sites are fewer, but there are more units.

The density in west Olympia may increase soon. A new subsidized housing site is being planned near Yauger Park. The Copper Trails Apartments will add 260 more units to west Olympia, according to data from The Department of Commerce. Also recently reported in The Olympian there are proposals for new subsidized housing for the Drexel House and conversion of the Holly Motel.

Also in flux is whether or not the Boardwalk apartments will continue to be subsidized housing for seniors. The Boardwalk apartments are a big part of the density of subsidized housing downtown. The outcome of that question may change the density of subsidized housing in Olympia.
Brian is pointing out something here that we have pretty much accepted around here as true, but seeing it in maps is really pretty cool.

I'm wondering about the history of this phenomena. If there's anything to understand about the apparent emptying out of downtown as a residential neighborhood. And, if the replacement of what we call market rate housing now with subsidized housing has any particular historical narrative.

Downtown Olympia obviously went through a transition in the late 70s and early 80s. I'm wondering if the mix of housing also shifted during those years and what forces were at hand.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Just four lonely links. No others availed themselves easily this week. And, did not go hunting for more. (Olyblogosphere for June 22, 2015)

1. Rebels by bus is a great blog and a great idea. Now they're having a free summer event!

2. Now, here is a local blog, but a very convoluted post in order to get a gift card?

3. Salish Poet writes about Father's Day. That was yesterday, by the way.

4. Calavara at the Washington Center. He's an artist. Take a look.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Remember Olyblog 2: Proto Olyblog

As my memory serves, and I have no reason to doubt my memory, but our Blog Father Rick brought us Olyblog because he was inspired by this particular episode about Hyperlocal Journalism from Radio Open Source.

The original version of RoS, by the way, was probably one of the most awesome media things I've ever come across. I wasn't a Christopher Lydon fanboy previously, so I'm not a huge fan of the current iteration (it isn't even on my podcast list). But, how RoS flowed in those days (literally a blog with a radio show) was awesome.

Anyway, as I remember, this show inspired Rick to set up Olyblog just a few weeks after it aired.

Its interesting to look at the examples cited in that episode to see how they're doing.

One site, H2Otown is gone. Its founder, Lisa Williams, is still very much involved in journalism, working at the Institute for Nonprofit News. But, H2Otown disapeared while ago. Here's an article on its hiatus in 2008 (which predated its actual death later).

One interesting comment from the hiatus post was this one:
Steve Owens wrote, “What’s amazing to me is that you go away for a year and nothing sprouts up in your place! Goes to show how [irreplaceable] this site is.”
Maybe something should have sprouted up after the founder left. Maybe it wasn't the site that was irreplaceable, but really she was irreplaceable. Maybe that's a lesson for us.

Anyway, the other site featured, Baristanet in New Jersey is still very much alive. And, I mean, really alive. At some point, the blog became an LLC and populated with a series of writers. In this sense, it became like our very familiar hyperlocal examples like West Seattle blog or Capitol Hill.

I suppose the lessons here are that Olyblog needed to move to something more official. Either a non-profit of some sort of business. Depending on the one main guy (Rick) and the rest of us unofficial guys led to the decline over there. 

But, that's for another post.

Monday, June 15, 2015

An Olympia for all who want to vote. And, where they don't vote

From Ray Guerra via Facebook:


Olympia for All is a great idea. A non-partisan slate of candidates pushing progressive ideas will at least make this year's city campaigns interesting. At best, we'll be able to push the city council to be much more engaged about deep civic issues than they've been willing to be in recent years.

But, the "for all" language got me thinking. Specifically, in the "if you don't vote,  you don't matter" sort of way. Because while we'd like to think all elections are the results of a uniformly involved citizenry, they are certainly not. And, this is especially true in low profile city-wide elections.

So, here are the neighborhoods that drop off when Olympia votes on its own leaders (darker blue, more voters):



Basically, the westside generally doesn't show up and the far east towards Lacey doesn't engage. The only part of Olympia that really matters is South Capitol, down across the highway and then north of Ward Lake.

Usually local campaigns try to focus on these sorts of neighborhoods (at least in my experience). And, within precincts, they try to focus their attention on activating voters that have already shown a likelihood of voting and voting the right way.

In this way, if Olympia for All is a typical campaign, it won't really be "for all" because it will need to lean on dependable voters. But, if they are more about Everyone, they'll head out to the light colored dots and try to boost turnout.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Olyblog 10 year anniversary is coming up fast. And the graphical decline of the blog

This graph shows the posts by month created at Olyblog between August 2005 and June 2015.



Right now we're just about two months shy of the 10th anniversary of Rick McKinnon flipping the switch on Olyblog. This particular website for about four years was the hub of everything Olympia for me. It was also pretty important to a handful of very nice people that I don't think I would have met without Olyblog ever existing.

I want to spend some time blogging about that sweet old home of the Olyblogosphere. I sometimes stop by the old farmstead to see what's going on. But, I haven't posted there myself in quite some time. It feels like an old empty house. Or, and old school.

What I'd really like to do is get together with some of the folks from the high water mark of Olyblog and start to deconstruct the awesome experience that Olyblog represented. Anyone out there interested in that?

Olyblog was pretty interesting case study of a local online community. Rick really had a great idea when he launched Olyblog. Olympia wasn't that much different, but the internet sure was. And, if we'd done things differently maybe Olyblog would be healthier now, despite the changes. But, that's a post for a later week.

In the meantime, here are some links to wet your beak:

Here is the first post on Olyblog, of course it is about downtown.

Here are my posts about Olyblog here at Olympia Time. I spent a good chunk of my time writing at Olyblog, but I still found time to blog about Olyblog at Olympia Time.

Here is the old Olyblog docents email list. This list and the docent drama in early 2008 will play into what I'm going to write about later. But, I'll give you a chance to poke your head in first.