Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I redraw your congressional districts so you don't have to (Olympia is the center of the universe, no?)

I know I said I'd avoid politics on this blog from now on, but this really isn't politics as much as its playing around with cool maps. It all starts with this cool tool by Dave Bradlee that lets you manually redraw congressional lines. Its a bit clunky at first, but as soon as you get a handle on how it works, it is pretty awesome.

First, consensus is that Washington is getting an additional district after the census is done.  Dick Morrill up at the UW makes a pretty good argument that the new district would be centered on Olympia (hey, have to be happy about that, right?).

What he doesn't really do is show you how that Olympia-centric district would shift all the other districts around. So, after about an hour or so of tinkering, here's what I came up with.


Puget Sound detail

New 10th detail

Where I fudged the most, between Yakima and the Tri-Cities, using the population out there to balance out three districts.

A handful of thoughts on the work the redistricting commission has to undertake to actually redraw the districts next year.

Also, the here's the actual file that you can upload to the tool above to really see the detail of the work I did. Its certainly not perfect, there are some unassigned areas still and likely some islands.

1. Morrill understates the impact the new district will have on the west side of the state. I used up all of Mason, Grays and Pacific counties, including all of Thurston and a lot of Pierce to get the new district.

I did take his advice and moved the 3rd across the Cascade Curtain towards Yakima and the Tri-Cities. But, I didn't really need to take up much of those urban areas to balance out the 3rd. 

The real impact came when I started balancing out impacts to the 6th and 9th made by the new 10th. I made up most of those eventually with the 8th, which in turn I made up by again crossing the Cascade Curtain into the Cle Elum and Ellensburg areas.

2. So, in the end, I solidified Republican seats in the 8th and 3rd by crossing over the cascades. Both east side districts were way over, so taking from them was easy. But, what I'm not sure of is whether a Washington congressional district has ever crossed the Cascades.

Will having two members of the federal caucus working for both sides of the Cascade Curtain help bring that division down?

3. On the other hand, I think I created a pretty safe Democratic 10th. Even though it seems pretty rural, except for Pierce and Thurston counties, the three rural counties mostly elect Democrats to the state legislature.

4. And, yes, I balanced this out by playing fast and loose with the area between Yakima and the Tri-Cities. Since I have the 9th CD currently breathing down my neck a few miles away, I don't feel too bad about the crowded Interstate 82 corridor.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Notes and links for "Olympia Journalism Club"

Over at Olyblog, a question from Chad Akins seemed to have reignited the hyperlocal journalism fire with some of us. At least to the point of some folks getting together next Sunday afternoon.

I've been pondering the creation of something like this proto-group for a few months now, thinking about the examples from Clay Shirky's "Cognitive Surplus," about how local groups (Dogtown for example) can help sharpen skills and projects.

Not sure I can make the actual meeting yet, but I at least wanted to put together some thoughts and notes:

  • Thad Curtz has always talked about putting together a wiki on local issues. This core group would seem like a natural starting point for a project like that. It would take a long while to get going, but I think we'd eventually fill it out and keep it updated.
  • The Leeds Community News hub seems like an interesting project to emulated. Interesting, though, they seem to have some institutional support from the Guardian. 
  • Lakewood United and North Mason County Voice are groups that bring speakers in to talk about local issues. Seems like an interesting model to emulate, if we could do it. Especially if we made it a podcast as well.
  • Here's my old list of "beats" that I posted on Olyblog almost three years ago (three years to the day this group will be meeting). Still pretty relevant, should be adding things to the list.
  • Here's a small side project I've been working on, the Briggs Villager, a neighborhood based project for where I live now. Haven't really launched it yet, but I'm getting there and just thought I'd share the link.

Skills, skills, skills. The more I think about it, the more I think that this group should be about sharing tips and tricks for people who want to do this sort of thing, but don't have the chops. Little trainings on how to record and set up a podcast, how to find the information you're looking for, how to conduct an interview or write a decent post.

So, in my mind, the group would have two purposes: teach skills and provide a place for collaboration and sharing.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Couple of thoughts on finding ourselves in Centralia on Veterans (Armistice) Day

Based on that I've never been to Berry Fields (love their blueberry jam, favorite jam ever) and that we had an open morning Thursday, we found ourselves in Centralia.

It was on purpose that we went, but it was accidently that we found ourselves on that particular day, 91 years after the Centralia Massacre, when six people died in a riot between American Legionaries and Wobblies.

The events leading up to and following the massacre (riot) are well documented, the UW library even has an extensive digital library, so I'm not going to recount the larger universe around 1919 in Centralia

But, just a couple of thoughts:

1. Less than 8,000 people lived in Centralia at the time, a pretty small town. Funny note, Olympia was about the same size at the time.

Anyway, everyone who participated in the massacre knew each other and had some history between them. The two main characters of the massacre were lawyers who apparently had a decent personal relationship.

Even though there were meta-issues at play (radical labor unions vs. conservative veterans), it was the personal relationships that I think color the history. This made me think about the current debate inside the Olympia Co-op community over divestment.

2. One of my weirdest experiences as a reporter was running into a lady that was in Montesano to research one of her relatives that had (apparently) either participated in or died in the massacre. She hung out at the newspaper office for an afternoon looking through our archives and then showed up at a city council meeting in Elma later that night. The police chief realized she was a transient and gave her a bus pass to Olympia.

I hadn't realized until she showed up at the meeting that she had no place to go and was literally living out of a backpack. She was originally from the Southwest (Arizona?) and traveled up here to simply research her relative's connection to the Centralia massacre.

Its a pretty big thing that would drag someone up with no money from Arizona to Grays Harbor County.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What should Evergreen do with its athletic program?

Thanks to @downwithpants for the conversation to kick this off.
Dave Weber's seat was barely cold before his successor, Sarah Works is also heading out the door.

Weber left after eight years, because when push came to shove, the vision above him wasn't the same as his vision for the program:

"It came to a point where my boss’ vision wasn’t mine,” Weber said.
There is a push toward recreation sports, intramural sports and outdoor recreation at Evergreen. Yet there are no regrets, just differences of opinion.


“We had good support in the sense that most faculty and staff want the teams to do well,” Weber said. “But when it came to stepping to the forefront and truly advocating for a more prominent role for our department, most of that does come from within the athletics and rec staff."

Weber's resignation and Works appointment and eventual resignation seems to indicate a flux in terms of what athletics at Evergreen are supposed to be. I remember growing up, when there were no varsity sports at Evergreen. My uncle played for the Geoducks soccer team, but at that point was a glorified club team playing locally.

Bounce that against the Quincy Wilder led Geoducks, packing the gym seemingly every night. If Evergreen wasn't a good place for competitive intercollegiate athletics, why did it seem that that team (plus any other successful Geoduck team) was popular at the school?

The tin-pot band (anyone remember that?) made up of male 19 year old students came to the basketball games back then because the team was good and fun to watch.

Even though (we know the old tale of why the Geoduck was chosen) Evergreen was founded as a school that would never embrace big time college athletics, playing in the NAIA seems to be a way to a nice middle territory between Seattle University-esque small college striving and just not trying at all.

Weber did a great job for years towing this middle ground between "Undefeated since 1967" attitude and trading in being a college for being a sports franchise. I don't think the Geoducks will ever sell out the way some schools have, but there is something to be said for putting some effort into it.

Another note: There is another model out there, just not one that many have used. The BYU Mens soccer team is essentially a club team and does not participate at the collegiate level. But, they've found a way to still participate at a higher level:

Paralleling their efforts to increase the level of competition , Brigham Young University Soccer left the Collegiate Club division of soccer, and purchased a Premier Development League franchise, where they began play in May of 2003. Part of the United Soccer Leagues, this league provides the year round competition necessary to develop individual and team skills that in hand will better prepare them for success in their international travels. We are the only University sponsored soccer program to ever purchase a franchise and that competes at a level considered higher than NCAA soccer in the pyramid of U.S. soccer development.

Is there some future in that model for Evergreen? Creating a side non-profit organization that receives grants from the school to offer athletic opportunities for students. But, can be separate from the school and be able to raise its own funds as well. And, by looking for opportunities to compete at a high level in non-college venues (PDL, WCCL or IBL), it could still play at a high level.

And, just another thing: Don't you think an institution with its own blog farm could put up a simple RSS feed for its athletic department?

Monday, November 01, 2010

Olympia Time reborn! (and, did you notice the new header??)

Well, maybe not so strong as that. But, back to blogging on a regular basis here at my home blog.

I'll try not to take such a long break next time, but 2010 has been sort of busy, and its not like I haven't been blogging, just not over here so much.

The time off did help me refocus on what I want to do over here. In short, here is how I'll refocus myself:

1. Politics, eh, not so much. Unless something is really interesting, I'll not write about politics much here.

2. Deep map of Olympia. PrairyErth is one of my favorite books. Not because of the particular topic (Kansas, eh...) but of how the topic is treated. Williams Least Heat Moon drills down into each little portion of a Kansas County, exploring it from the inside out. That kind of treatment of a particular place interests me, so I'm going to try to write more history here.

By the way, the new header is a detail from a Sanborn Map of Olympia in the late 1800s. The detail is of a gulch that used to stab deep into the current capitol campus. The old greenhouse and sunken gardens are now on top of that now filled gulch.

Sanborn maps are pretty cool, and you usually have to pay to see them. But, the Timberland Regional Library grants you access to all of the maps for Washington.

3. A zine. Olympia Time, the Zine. This is more of a promise to myself than a goal, but since I've been getting involved with the library, I've fallen in love with the zine format. So, I'm going to start doing four zines a year based on things I've written about on this blog. Promise. I have an editorial schedule and everything. So, hopefully the first one will come out within a month.

4. Local sports. I have this concept inside my own head called "real sports," which is the shadow land of competitive sports in between youth (including high school) and the kind of stuff you see on television (including affiliated minor league baseball). So, anything like small college sports, independent minor league baseball, or high level amateur soccer. So, now there are two examples of this (beyond the local colleges) around her: the Puget Sound Collegiate League and Capitol City FC. Hopefully, I'll try to write more about these organizations.