Monday, December 30, 2013

Bright lights, bad advice and things about the muck (Olyblogosphere for December 30, 2013)

1. Dig through the muck, find the history (from ArchaeOlygy):
Rip into it with heavy machinery, as happened when Mission Creek was restored this Fall, and the stratigraphy makes the depositional history that much clearer. The modern beach has been accumulating atop the slumping clay fill of the road that dammed the creek a couple or three generations ago. The yellow clay beneath the asphalt calved off and melted away over the years after the road was built, spreading itself thinner down the beach, taken by the very tides and waves that bring the gift of gravel, sand, and shell from the north (including quit a few Olympia Oyster shells, which  probably died decades ago in polluted Budd Inlet).

2. The Yodelling Lama wonders about freshwater otters and shellfish. Maybe they're freshwater shellfish.

3. Holy cats. Ask on r/olympia what you should know before moving to Olympia? Brace yourself.

You will have a tough time making friends because it's a college town with a transient population. Locals figure you're going to split in a year or two so they don't bother trying to get to know you. #1 rule: stay out of the drug culture. Heroin is huge here. It is everywhere. You may out of loneliness and desperation for interaction be drawn in. Every year some Greener freshman turns on and falls in and the army of undead living in the woods grows. On every corner holding a piece of cardboard is some asshole that I can say "Damn, I remember when she was new and cute." It's really sad.

4. Marcus and family heads over to the Lights at Ken Lake. Hey, by the way, thank the sponsors this year (Eastside Big Tom and A+ Services). Another awesome Olympia light display is Olympialightstravaganza!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cascadian politics and how we vote in a primary around here

What I can point to is a point when political parties in Washington tried to force greater political allegiance and were bucked by the voters. About 15 years ago the Republican and Democratic parties sued and were able to get Washington's old open primary law tossed by the courts. In the old version, Washington voters did not register by party and were able to vote for any candidate in a primary. The top vote getter from each party would advance.

After the courts threw out that version (because the parties said that by not controlling who voted in their primaries violated their rights to association) the state instituted a more closed primary. Each voter would get a series ballots with only a certain party's candidates on each. You'd turn in one ballot, forcing you to participate in only one primary.

This was similar to Oregon's current primary law in which parties have the ability to open their primaries to non-registered voters.

The Washington voters quickly rejected the more closed primary system, opting instead for a Top Two primary, which actually just works as a qualifying election. Instead of the original primary system that sought to break down the walls that guarded parties by opening up their nomination processes to the general public, the Top Two makes that meaningless. The Top Two passes along the top vote getters, even if both say they're Democrats or Republicans.

A similar election system was rejected by more than a 10 percent margin in Oregon, giving argument to the point that maybe Oregon and Washington aren't that alike in political cultures. But, an analysis after Measure 65 went down in flames said the loss had more to do with the explanation of the measure than anything else.

That Oregon voters were used to their current system and Washington voters had a new system foisted on them by the courts and the parties was probably the best way to explain the difference in the two initiative results.

The most important thing to think about in terms of the possibility of a Top Two system in Oregon is that the idea itself in 2008 came from the political center of the state political culture. Rather than some quixotic political dreamer, Measure 65 was proposed by two former Oregon secretaries of state and supported by a popular former (and now again current) governor. And, now its coming back again.

So, the idea of voting systems that ignore the institutional power of parties likely have some home in the Cascadian political culture. Rather than a large group or band centered politics, like religion, politics are grown from much smaller groups and from the person themselves. It is important to participate, the civic good is worth promoting. But, no large organization or institution is going to tell the average Cascadian voter what to do.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Political party affiliation in Cascadia

I'm not sure what I expected to find when I was looking for some data on party affiliation broken down by state. I thought it would mirror religious affiliation. Strong groups of affiliated folks along the edges, but also a broad center of non-affiliated folks who didn't feel like they belonged to any particular party.

In a way, I did find that. Both Washington and Oregon have strong numbers (usually a majority) of non-Democratic or Republican voters.

The surprising thing for me was that New England was even independent. New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine (for example) each have strong independent numbers above both Democrats and Republicans. Outside a few other states, this pattern is pretty unique to Cascadia and New England.

So, what I set out to see was that if Cascadia's anti-institutional and independent streak in religion extended to politics. And, maybe that's true. There might also be a connection between religion and politics in New England. If you look at the maps here, you see large swaths of high variety and low allegiance in regions across New England as well.

I think there's something to the way we vote in primaries around here, the actual machinations of voting, but that's for the next post.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Duane Moore and the Black Houses

Black houses of Olympia by Jeremy Quist (via flickr)

People are trying to create a mythology around the Olympia Black Houses that simply doesn't exist. There's no evidence that Duane Stephen Moore is anything but a typical small business owner (in this case a dentist and a rental owner) who has unique atheistic tastes.

So, that's my conclusion. Yesterday I put up a map I'd been working on of all the rental houses that Moore owns throughout town. Olympia's biggest urban legend in recent years has been that there's something sinister about the houses, that if you mapped them, they'd make a pentagram.

I don't know what you can see, but there's no pentagram there for me.

Take away the black paint that seems to touch almost everything (short of the Reef Bar downtown) he owns, Moore seems like a pretty typical entrepreneur. He owns over a dozen rental houses, at least three commercial properties, owns a construction company (to hire sub-contractors to take care of the rentals?) and is an active dentist in Shelton. If the color were blue or yellow (or blue and yellow), I wouldn't be writing this post.

Also, there's nothing in the Olympia code to prevent anyone from painting their house black. So, if the city is fining him for having black houses, I'm not sure why.

I didn't talk directly to Duane (or indirectly) when I was putting this post together. Neither has anyone else that's written about the black houses either. He's been referenced a few times in the local paper, but never directly quoted. That gave me the impression that he's someone that values his privacy.

Also, if I stand by my "regular guy, interesting tastes" position, then I wouldn't call him, because there'd be nothing really to discuss.

Nik Neburn made the movie I linked to above about the Black Houses. He also made an interesting documentary about the Paul Ingram case. Nik quotes Norman Cohn to make a point about the Ingram case that I think applies to the black houses too:

To understand why the stereotype of Devil-worshiping sects emerged at all, one must look not at the beliefs or behavior of heretics [...] but into the minds of the orthodox themselves.
While Olympia hipsters are hardly religious fundamentalists, the stories surrounding the black houses do more to cast Olympia overall as a weird and interesting place than to explain anything about Duane Moore or the houses themselves. Because we want Olympia to be a certain way, we make the houses seems weirder than they actually are. And, if it wasn't the black houses, we'd find something else out there to make up stories about.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Cold logs clattering (Olyblogoshere for December 16, 2012)

1. Icy, icy, coldcoldcold at the Deschutes falls and dams.

2. Log Lugger Loses Load!

3. Now this is a fascinating post. I suggest you read about Allison Dickson's conversation with an unnamed Olympia bookstore. But, it boils down to "we don't want your reading because people can buy the ebook."

4. Camille is trying to coax the light back during the dark Christmas time.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Olympia's first collegiate soccer team and why I don't like PLU

This is some sort of sports team, from the Washington State Historical Society:

But, I really doubt it is a basketball team, as labelled by the WSHS. Mostly because it labelled as being taken in 1885 and James Naismith didn't create the game until six years later. I think its much more likely that what we have here is an actual soccer team.

For one thing, the year is pretty good for the spread of the game. The first nationwide soccer association launched in 1884, the first national cup in 1885 along with the first international friendly. While all three of these events occurred inside the New York/New Jersey area, soccer obviously existed while basketball did not.

You can find some trace evidence of soccer in Washington State in the same era. This 1891 newsclip from Yakima mentions soccer being played.

Now, here's some funny history about the Olympia Collegiate Institute. At different times, appently both the Methodists and Lutherans ran the old OCI, but merged them with Tacoma-area schools at different times. The Methodists absorbed OCI into the University of Puget Sound in the 1880s. The Lutherans restarted OCI (Later the Pacific Lutheran Seminary), absorbing it into Pacific Luthern University in the 1910s.

While Tacoma couldn't end up stealing the capital from Olympia, they did make away with two colleges.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Why does Olympia have a low immunization rate?

A couple of years back I was shocked (shocked!) at the high rate of immunization exemptions in Thurston County and especially the Olympia School District. Back then the state had just passed a law where parent's have to more expressly say why they're exempting from immunization. Apparently that extra social hurdle has worked in Thurston County.

While the countywide trend has gotten back to the statewide average, it looks like Olympia still stands out like a sore thumb in the county. All of my data came from here.

County rates are coming down:

Olympia still out there:

Cascadia is known for its high rates of people who don't like giving their kids shots (for whatever reason), but there's been very little explanation of why. Some people pointed to that in Washington it had been easy to get out of immunization. But, that has changed, and the rates are still pretty high.

What if there is a broader social culprit? I'd say its possibly a cause of how people on the ends of either the left or right liberal slant (traditional political spectrum) don't necessarily feel the social pressure to conform to something getting immunized. The Inlander piece I linked to earlier points out that homeschoolers and religious schools have some of the highest rates of exemptions in 2011. Possibly our social culture of living and let living allows for people to shut themselves off from guarding the public health.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

A quick look into the long history of corporate distrust in Cascadia

From Cascadia PDX:
“The corporate state is not science fiction. Corporate agribusiness is taking over what, how, and who grows food in my community. It has become obvious that the government isn’t going to lift a finger to stop them. It’s clear that the people, in the places where we live, must break the chokehold of a system of law favoring corporations to one that recognizes community rights.”

Dana Allen of Corvallis, Oregon
Dana is not expressing an unpopular sentiment around certain parts of Cascadia. Even outside what most would consider liberal urban enclaves, most people would express at least latent mistrust of big companies.

But, like a lot of things that make up modern Cascadia, this isn't a new thing. Early settlers to Oregon and Washington brought with them a mistrust of the new corporate model. In the creation of both major American Cascadian states, delegates from Appalachia clashed with more corporate friendly New Englanders in how corporations should be handled.

In Oregon in the 1850s:

Many of the delegates entered the convention with a strong mistrust of corporations. They had seen abuses in the Midwest and elsewhere in which unscrupulous corporate operators had left innocent stockholders deep in debt and workers unpaid. Other delegates saw no way for Oregon to move forward without easy access to "the genius of our age to incorporate." Some of the debate would revolve around stereotypes of corporations as large and uncaring machines of the economy that routinely chewed up farmers and workers.
Eventually, they landed on  a sort of homegrown middle ground for corporations:

They looked to the benefits provided by corporations that would enhance rather than threaten the rural character of the agrarian ideal. An example could be viewed only a short walk from the convention where the final work was being completed on the Willamette Woolen Mills the territory's first large factory. This corporate endeavor was home-grown in origin, scope, and benefit. This was proof that, within the proper framework and regulation, corporations could benefit Oregon and free it from the need to import expensive products from far-off factories. Otherwise, Williams warned, "We must pay tribute to Massachusetts and New England all our lives, unless we can devise some way here for the erection of manufacturing establishments in this state."
When Washington got around to drafting a constitution in 1878, a lot of these same discussions went into crafting the document. Washington Territory didn't end up getting statehood in the 1870s (an 1889 constitution was eventually approved by Congress). What was theoretical in Oregon in the 1850s was a practical discussion in Washington during their drafting.

Some of the provisions adopted by the Walla Walla Convention reflected distrust of corporations and railroad. All charter and special privileges that had not been fulfilled in good faith were to be invalidated at the time of the adoption of this constitutions. This provision was apparently directed against the Northern Pacific Railroad whose land policy was unpopular in Washington Territory because it made no real effort to build a line in accordance with its Washington charter until after 1880.
Other provisions including making stockholders individually liable for actions of their company and outlawing banks.

Monday, December 02, 2013

New, secret and undeserving (Olyblogosphere for December 2, 2013)

1. Just when I thought there were no new Olympia blogs, Mojourners launches ArchaeOlygist! Oh my! No new bloggers, but new blogs!

2. No one knows who the secret artist is in Olympia, even Alec Clayton, other than Olympia isn't his home, just his  canvas.

3. Do the folks who got arrested down at the old WDFW shop last spring deserve the Oly 6 name? The Birmingham Six were sentenced to life in prison for something they didn't do. Arrested for trespassing? I don't know.

4. Ken writes about the Ports Lies. I've been reading a lot of environmentalists on the other side of the political spectrum from Ken this week say the same thing. This is exactly how Sue Gunn got elected in the first place.

5. Rebels By Bus is a great blog. Finally they post again.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The time when the King County Arts Commission complained about the cultural insensitivity of the Seahawks logo

Just about a year before the Seahawks finally took the field, they were in a somewhat similar position as the Washington NFL franchise is now. The logo the Seahawks had been handed by NFL designers didn't directly borrow from local tribal design standards. The King County Arts Commission complained that it "fails to accurately depict the art principles of Northwest coastal Indians."

From the Northwest Indian News (a newspaper) in September 1975:
Among the differences found to be inaccurate is the characteristic eye form. The Commission enclosed a suggested correction by Marvin Oliver, Quinault... Oliver depicted regional art principles in the design.
It shouldn't surprise me at all, but the original Seahawks design came from people working out of Los Angeles. I kid you not. I can just imagine the designers in the LA spring, cracking some books on Pacific Coast tribes, copying down ideas.

(Seahawks general manager) Thompson said the NFL firm did refer to some books on Northwest Indian culture. "Our intent was to follow the Northwest Indian culture, but there was no condition placed on them (NFL) in designing."

The Arts Commission further stated, "As with all great art, a full understanding and appreciation does not come quickly. Hence it is not surprising that the new logo fails to depict with adequate sensitivity the arts principles of the Northwest coast Indian peoples."
Since that first season, and the back-and-forth between the commission and the team, the logo (especially in the eyes) has strayed even further from Oliver's suggestions (from From Rain to Shine).

Native Appropriations brings us to the today, nearly 30 years into the Seahawks design. The blogger, a tribal member and law student, is writing about a particular use of the Seahawks logo that incorporates even more tribal designs. She like it, but examines where it fits in culture:
...I question my endorsement after my analysis naturally evolves into larger questions about art, identity, acceptance, and what happens when Native cultures live harmoniously (or at least not so adversely) with others?

Where we start to move away from imagery of a fan’s foam head towards a fan’s headdress or mask is the face: the two green paint lines on the cheek suggest the 12th Man is wearing “war paint” instead of mimicking the black grease or tape the players use on their cheeks to cut down on glare. Now it’s starting to look more like a hipster appropriation and misinterpretation and I wonder – was the inspiration for this design a transformation mask?
I'll link again, because it is worth reading this entire post.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Driving Alone vs. Taking the Bus in Thurston County 2012

I love the data from the American Community Surveys, so much so I wish the Census started doing them in earnest earlier than 2005. So much interesting data, but only back less than a decade.

I started poking around the commuter data this week for Thurston County, and found some interesting comparisons between people who drove alone and people who took the bus (or public transportation in general).

The first comparison on income is pretty obvious. For drivers, it peaks in the middle and drops off at the ends. Nothing too interesting. For bus takers, the peaks are at the ends, with a much larger peak towards lower incomes. There is a pretty interesting spike at $75,000+ for public transportation, not sure how I'd explain that.
This chart I think starts to get into the deeper difference between drivers and bus riders. Again, you see a broad diversity in the drivers, they seem to leave when it is convenient. For bus riders, I think what we're seeing is a hard pipeline of when they have to leave for work, since the buses will only get them there on time at certain times. You also don't see commuters taking the bus early in the morning, since the bus doesn't run that early in the morning.
This last one shows the greatest difference, I think, between the two groups.  Again, general diversity across the drivers. But, no one takes the bus for commutes less than 20 minutes. In fact, if you do take the bus, you're likely taking it for at least an hour.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Olympia Yacht Club is getting their Capitol Lake History wrong

Big surprise, right? Because remember these signs that tried to connect a brackish estuary with bugs that are prevalent in stagnant freshwater?

Anyway, if you head to the section of Percival Landing that crosses the access to the yacht club, you find this sign.

The middle panel confusingly refers to the period of time in Olympia of the "long wharf," when Olympia business interests were trying to defeat the mudflats north of downtown to find access to deeper waters for shipping. Eventually, through a combination of building the port peninsula with fill and dredging a basin, those mudflats were defeated by the 1930s.

It is pretty spurious to connect this era of filling tidelands and building the long pier to building Capitol Lake in the late 1940s.

This is really a story of two parts of Olympia, the section facing north trying to find shipping routes and the part facing south, looking at the capitol. These are really two different discussions. It took until the mudflats north of downtown were defeated in the 1930s for the discussion to build Capitol Lake to really his its stride. The Port of Olympia had been created, a channel and basin had been dug, and downtown Olympia had been filled out to meet it.

Ironically, it was keeping shipping lanes open to Tumwater that slowed down Capitol Lake for a few years. Tumwater city fathers (including the Schmitds of the brewery) didn't think it was a good idea to dam the Deschutes to stop boats from getting to their city. They were eventually won over, but trying to connect shipping concerns with the origins of Capitol Lake is wrong.

But, that isn't to say that the idea of creating a freshwater lake out of part of Budd Inlet didn't have a shipping connection at one point. Strangely enough, in the long tale of where Capitol Lake came from, there was once a freshwater lake solution to the port's mudflat problem.

Back in 1903 (eight years before Wilder and White) W.R. Brown put together a small group to try to create a freshwater harbor in Olympia, along the lines of Lake Union in Seattle. Instead of damming the Deschutes estuary at 4th or 5th Avenue, they would go out to Priest Point and build a massive berm there from shore to shore.

Morning Olympian, January 10, 1903:

Like nearly all pre-Wilder and White damming the Deschutes ideas, they were actually to facilitate commerce. The Schmidts of Olympia Beer actually dreamed a plan near to what the yacht club sign describes in 1895. The beer family thought that by creating a lake, they could ensure steady boat traffic to their brewery. But, those plans faded and by the 1910s, Tumwater and the Schmidts were opposed to any sort of damming, up to the point of roadblocking a 1915 plan.

Anyway, that's a lot of history to unpack. You can read most of the story here at the Deschutes Estuary history page.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Death, renewal, sweet death (Olyblogosphere for November 18, 2013)

1. Diggers Outlast Geoducks? Really? The entire world of clam related humor open to you and you go with Diggers outlast Geoducks?

2. Utah2 on r/Olympia went for a nice walk. I love getting to the tops of those hills. They're small, but man, what a view.

3. Apollo's Pizza used to be a really neat place. Somewhere along the lines, things changed. I sort of agree with welfaretaco on this one, the economy is a bit of an excuse. You changed, not us. Either way, Morty has a couple of posts on the end of the west side place. With one great memory:
One of my best recollections was around 2007 when there was a bad storm and the power went out. Ian had a bicycle helmet headlamp he lent to you guys so you could continue working in the kitchen since the ovens remained hot and we all ate by candlelight. 

4. Not really a blogosphere link, but just in case you were looking for a little deep reading about Olympia, here comes the Community Renewal Area. I'd explain it, but I'm mostly just posting it here to remind myself to read. Also, Walt went to one of their meetings and taped it.

5. A starling died in Mojourner's front yard. Good for you Mr. predator bird, kill that foreign interloper.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Regional subtext to the Boeing special session: Left Coast (Cascadia) vs. Deep South

It seems like we might be in the habit of doing this every decade or so in Washington State, bringing back the legislature to make sure Boeing doesn't leave Puget Sound high and dry. The risk of losing Boeing to some other state is an interesting case of regional tension, especially in how Colin Woodard describes regions in American Nations. 

Right now, at least on their commercial airline business, Boeing is company with deep  Left Coast roots. But, in recent years, Boeing merged with another aerospace company from Great Appalachia (McDonnell Douglas). Since then, they have begun using the political and economic culture of the Deep South to gain concessions from their Left Coast home.

This contrast between their Left Coast origin and Deep South destiny is interesting.

On the surface, the Left Coast (home of Portlandia, hippies and Starbucks) seems like the perfect anti-corporate foil to the open-for-business Deep South. But, as Woodard points out (and the Boeing legislative package illustrates) there is a deep vein of pro-business sentiment in the Left Coast.

The Left Coast was founded in part by New England capitalists, who built the region on large timber empires. This timber baron sentiment led directly to the founding of companies like Boeing. It was also based on a close understanding with civic leaders to do what was needed to keep people at work and business growing.

The other founding group along the Left Coast is the Great Appalachians. They could also be described as pro-business, but as expressed in the founding of Oregon, not exactly pro-big business. So, while companies like Boeing stayed home grown they were happy enough to stay out of their way.

That particular brand of pro-business from the Appalachians of the Left Coast might be turning against Boeing in their post McDonnell Douglas, Chicago headquarters period. The recent legislative session in Olympia was cast in a "David vs. Goliath" light by at least one Republican lawmaker:
“Boeing is vital to our state’s economy,” said Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake. “The thousands of jobs produced by the 777X program will have a positive economic ripple effect throughout our state. The Legislature, however, is being asked to provide special incentives for Boeing. My response is this: If these policies are good for Boeing, then they should be good for all of our employers. Unfortunately, expanding these incentives to help other, smaller businesses survive and thrive is not even on the table right now.”


“If a Goliath multi-billion dollar company and its team of lawyers have difficulty navigating our state’s permitting process, and need the certainty of a four-week permitting timeline, what chance do our Mom-and-Pop businesses have in navigating the same permitting process? If it’s good for Goliath, it’s good for David.”
 But, along with these various pro-business strains in the region, the Left Coast also developed a strong sense of civic mission (at least in urban areas) and environmental protection.

So, where in the country can Boeing get a better deal to build planes than its home region? Well, the Deep South. Remember, if Boeing does end up expanding more in the Deep South, it will be near Charleston, SC (from Business Week):
Beginning from its Charleston beachhead, the Deep South spread apartheid and authoritarianism across the Southern lowlands, eventually encompassing most of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana; western Tennessee; and the southeastern parts of North Carolina, Arkansas and Texas. With its territorial ambitions in Latin America frustrated, it dragged the U.S. into a horrific war in the 1860s in order to form its own nation state, backed by reluctant allies in Tidewater and some corners of Appalachia.

After successfully resisting a Yankee-led occupation, it became the center of the states-rights movement and racial segregation, as well as labor and environmental deregulation. It is also the wellspring of African-American culture in America and, 40 years after it was forced to allow blacks to vote, it remains politically polarized on racial grounds.
For all our pro-business culture (we built Microsoft, Weyerhauser and Boeing), we Left Coasters also have a strong sense of unionism and environmentalism. This is the New England sense of community values expressing themselves in our culture. We also have an Appalachian sense of fair play that is questioning special deals for few large companies.

So, where is a company supposed to go to get away from all Left Coastiness? Well, Charleston, the birthplace of the Deep South!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Darren Mills' and Mike Volz's Olympia

At first blush, I was confused by the election results for the Olympia city council. Across the two contest races, I assumed there would be some difference between the four candidates that ranged across the city's political spectrum. In one race, we had a fairly right candidate (Mike Volz) against a neighborhood based centrist (Julie Hankins). And, in the other, we had downtown business centrist (Cheryl Selby) against downtown business further left (Darren Mills).

Both Selby and Hankins won their races by health margins, showing an overall preference for centrist, I suppose. Even if you look at the precinct level results, both Selby and Hankins both had nearly clean sweeps across the entire city. Mills only won a handful of precincts and Volz didn't win a single one.

What was shocking to me, was that even on the precinct levels, the margins of defeat for Mills and Volz were similar. Meaning, it is possible (though unlikely) that the same voters who chose further right Volz also chose further left Mills. I think this phenomena is more a trick of the numbers. While voters overall went for the centrists, I don't' think there's much cross over between Mills voters and Volz voters.

Here's why.

Take a look at the precincts each did well in across the city. There is a distinct geographic pattern. Mills won precincts (in green) in the upper eastside. While Volz (in light red) didn't win any precincts, he did better than 40 percent in ones along the outer edge of the city. Even in the eastside precincts where he made a point of emphasizing his opposition to a homeless shelter, he did no better than 35 percent.

Here's another way to look at the base of both candidates. I compared how well each one did in each precinct and charted it. Volz beating Mills in on the left, Mills beating Volz on the right.

As you can see, the votes weigh much heavier towards Mills. Across the city, many more voters and neighborhoods chose Mills when they were comparing him with Selby than Mills did against Hankins. So, I doubt there were very many voters that chose Volz and Mills on the same ballot. They just both lost to strong centrist candidates by about the same percentage..

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Sue Gunn reconnected the ends of the Cascadian political spectrum

I've been toying with this idea of there being a special sort of political spectrum in Cascadia. It would be along the lines the circle political spectrums you see from time to time, where the conservative and liberal wings join at the top and bottom, implying there are two political centers.

Flat spectrum:

Circle spectrum:

I'll try to explain this later, but the moderate middle right join would include elements of suburban, government and business friendly themes. Everyone works together to make a happy life.

And, where the ends meet at the bottom, the more extremes of the standard left to right spectrum would join together with elements of traditional Cascadian anti-corporate, anti-oppressive government themes. Anti-corporatism on the left and the right is actually a long held position in Cascadia. It was one of the original fights in founding Oregon.

So, while its fun to sketch out little theories like that, its even better to find real world examples. Right now, Sue Gunn is leading Jeff Davis in a tight Olympia port commission race here in Thurston County. Even though its the Olympia port, the elections is held county wide.

Over the course of the race, some political observers have had a hard time putting their finger on Gunn's position in the political world. If she was a liberal, why is she against a tax supported county-wide port? If she's a conservative, why is she such an environmentalist?

From a letter to the Olympian:

This year, Red Sue is a hardheaded fiscal conservative, preoccupied with lowering taxes and running the Port of Olympia at a profit — or so she says in Works in Progress and on her campaign website.

But on an environmentalist website, she’s Green Sue, claiming that she’ll refuse all timber and proppant contracts because they’re bad for the environment — thus depriving the port of several of its most lucrative sources of revenue. This would cost quite a few jobs and increase our taxes, the very thing Red Sue deplores. But not to worry, Green Sue proposes to close down the marine terminal entirely and turn it into a park.
This certainly would be true if we were on a flat spectrum, but in a round one, Gunn could find a comfortable spot near the bottom, where the libertarian left and right join together.

Coincidentally for us, its also easy to find this mapped out in the early results. The most traditionally conservative (Republican) areas of Thurston County are in the south of the county. The most traditionally liberal (Democratic and left of Democratic) areas are in urban Olympia and the west side.

So, this map showing Gunn winning in both rural south county and urban Olympia illustrates here campaign bringing together these camps. This is not a traditional election map in Thurston County, by the way.

When you zoom in on Olympia, you really see the detail of her victory. You can see a band of Jeff Davis areas surrounding Gunn's urban vote. But, in turn, surrounding those suburban neighborhoods, you see much more conservative rural areas.

In her apparent victory, Gunn was able to move the political center from the typical moderates the lean both left and right on a political spectrum, way to the other side of the circle. Her victory was based on liberals who didn't like the direction of the port using public money to support private interests and conservatives who felt the same way.

Read more here:

Monday, November 04, 2013

Whales and the fall are coming (Olyblogosphere for November 4, 2013)

1. A whale came south to Snazzy Bouquet's inlet.

2. Ken tracks the downward trend of the print Olympian.

3. Calavara writes about what he donated to the OFS charity auction.

4. Before the hammer came down on fall, Camille took the bikes out:
In any case, it was so much fun being out, breathing the fresh air, feeling the wind in my face (even as frozen as it felt to begin with), taking in the scenery in our little faux-rural community … even the burn in my thighs felt good. Invigorating doesn’t quite say it enough. And so hubby says we’re getting up early every morning from now on to do it again and again and again …

Thursday, October 31, 2013

5 places for local online conversation (and trolls) now that the Olympian comment threads are dead

From my Facebook news feed recently:

Sort of funny how, now that you have to pay for access to The Olympian, and they require folks to comment using real FB identities, that there are no almost no comments on the articles whatsoever.

Whatever will the trolls do amuse themselves?

The Olympian put up a bit of a paywall and moved to Facebook comments awhile back. Since then, the comment threads over there went from troll heaven to ghost town. So, where did all the online conversation (and all the trolls) go?

1. Craigslist Rants and Raves

This is the most epically troll heavy place in the world and Olympia. Not sure why anyone ever really posts here, other than self gratification. But, there even seems to be some back and forth.

2. Thurston Blog

Back when the Olympian was trying to make comment threads work on their own, several comment thread regulars broke off to start Thurston Blog. Comments seem to have pretty much dried up there, but its worth pointing out that the exodus from the Olympian comment threads has a bit of a history.

3. Olympia Memes

While engagement over at the Olympian has waned, it has waxed at Olympia Memes. This isn't just a simple local memes site, the admin of the page has raised money for charity and taken on local debates like feeding homeless downtown. Also, making fun of Shelton.

4. Olympia subreddits (r/olympia)

Reddit has a reputation (earned) for being a sort of troll heavy site wide. But, our small corner of reddit here in Olympia is "pretty chill." There are also several other specific local subreddits for Evergreen and jobs in Olympia.

5. Olympian reporters on twitter

Back when I was a young reporter and first thinking about publishing on the web, I thought of comment threads as a way to update stories and engage with reporters. What newspaper comment threads eventually became couldn't be further from that. But, reporters on twitter seem to be bringing that vision to reality. Meg Wochnick and Matt Batcheldor are doing a great job engaging on twitter.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mars Hill, other entrepreneurial Christians and the Cascadian religious landscape (Cascadia Exists)

The seemingly manufactured debate between the Mars Hill Church and Sound Transit on who should own some property in Bellevue seems out of place. When you dig into the debate, it leaves you scratching your head. Why would any organization (a church or whatever) seem to have any case when the rightful owner of a property doesn't want to sell it to them.

But, once you take a step back and see the debate from the point of view of the religious landscape of Cascadia, it makes a bit more sense. Not much, but it helps to understand how churches like Mars Hill fit into the religious world and the broader social landscape in Cascadia.

While Catholics make up the largest single religion, there are almost actually a footnote when you see the larger religious picture here. There are two things to keep in mind when thinking about religion in Cascadia:

1. There is no more universally diverse region in the United States. That means there are more different sorts of active churches or other houses of worship in our region that any other place.

2. The most dominant sort of religious is actually the non-religious. There are more non-adherents in Cascadia than any other part of the country. And, this isn't a new phenomena. It has been noted for at least a century that fewer people attend or are active in churches here.

You can see these trends in my first post on Cascadian religion here.

But, how does that help explain the situation with the Mars Hill Church?

Well, because Cascadia is so unchurched and so religiously diverse at the same time, it is possible for active and growing segments of religion up here (like so called entrepreneurial Christians) to become self sufficient enclaves inside the broader culture. To the point that places like Mars Hill are even more conservative than similar churches in more churches areas (like the South).

In "The None Zone" Patricia Killen explains that instead of bending towards the center left that is Cascadian social life, entrepreneurial Christians around here bend ride. In almost all political scales (aside from gay rights) they are far more conservative than there counterparts outside the unchurched Cascadia.

Because Cascadia is so religiously diverse, it doesn't force small communities of faith to adapt to a larger religious culture. They are allowed to live and let live in their own communities. So, Mars Hill church is left alone among a sea of left leaning, non church going Cascadians, they separate themselves, and become more conservative against against the sea of let-live liberalism.

So, when it comes to a simple debate about a church wanting to buy a piece of land after a public agency buys it a few months before, there is plenty of room for each side talking past each other. Communities like Mars Hill probably and simply don't see eye to eye with the local civic culture. So they're way of trying to buy a piece of property for seem pretty tone deaf.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Why won't those damn kids just obey the will of our Grecian columns?

The most hilarious part of the otherwise troubling piece about street culture downtown by Austin Jenkins was this passage:
On Washington’s Capitol campus in Olympia, sandstone buildings stand as monuments to the rule of law. But just a few blocks away you can find a street culture where young adults and teenagers live by their own rules—sometimes with tragic consequences. 
I mean, for Pete's sake! This is the state capital! While you're within site of our capitol building, please remind yourself not to fall into criminality!

Jenkins eventually reminds us that "It isn't just Olympia," that many other Cascadian cities have the same problems. But, the implication from his lede is that somehow, because of our sandstone buildings, Olympia should have less crime.

As silly as that sounds, it is actually true. Or, at least true from the point of view of the people that originally designed the campus. It is practically impossible to utter a phrase in Olympia about the campus without being reminded of its city beautiful origins.

The city beautiful movement in architecture began in the 1890s as a reaction to the quick and messy growth of American cities during the industrial revolution. When the city beautiful movement came to Olympia in the 1910s, it was hardly a booming metropolis. It was still a fairly common timber town just being carved away from the forest. It wasn't until the 1950s that Olympia would reach its industrial peak, and the campus was well settled by then.

The thinking behind the city beautiful movement was that it would not only literally reform cities themselves, but it would change citizens.

From an essay by architect Pierre De Angelis:
The Cities Beautiful movement exists as an insignificant footnote in the current discourse on urban planning. It stands as a relatively short lived movement which flourished in the 1890’s; a genuine attempt to reform the wretched conditions of inner city poverty. 

However the upper and middle classes continued to travel into the city, to attend to their businesses and participate in leisure activities. Whether out of genuine concern or simply fear for their own safety and the continued viability of their businesses, middle and upper class reformers attempted to relieve the malaise of the city and lower classes. They did so by embracing the concept of beauty as an “effective social control device”... Reformers had no interest in beauty for its own sake but in its ameliorative power which could inspire civic pride and moral rectitude amongst the impoverished and poverty stricken. It is on these principals that the cities beautiful movement was born and on which much of our contemporary thinking on urbanity finds its ancestry.
There are some interesting parallels here between this description and the city beautiful and the Olympia downtown discussion. "(S)imply a fear for their own safety and the continued viability of their businesses..." is attached to the present time with people scared too come downtown. "(I)nspire civic pride and moral rectitude amongst the impoverished and poverty stricken" attached to ending homelessness and getting people off the streets.

We're still having the urban discussions now that we had at the dawn of the "architecture will convince the poor to be good people" ideas behind city beautiful. We're obviously moved beyond the point that we think nice looking buildings will make people better citizen. What Jenkins did was a device to put his particular story in the place he was writing about.

So, if we do end up getting around the corner on how bad downtown really has gotten, it won't be with building nice looking buildings.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Buy my book: Oyster Light (or download it for free or help edit it)

Over the past year or so I've been putting together a few longer than blog post pieces into something that just barely qualifies as book length. You've probably read some of what makes up the book on Olympia Time already, but in "Oyster Light" you can read them in the way that I intended, in their entirety.

There are four major pieces in here covering baseball, murderous settlers, the early lawyering life of E.N. Steele and the capitol campus.

You can certainly pay for a printed or electronic version, but you can also download it for free.

The ebook version is available as a pay-what-you -want version at Smashwords. If you really want a suggestion what you should pay, $3 sounds about right. If you have trouble downloading a clean version, let me know and I'll hook you up over email.

The printed version is available at Lulu for $11.

An editable version is also online since I have a hard time saying this is a good or even final version of this book. Feel free to take a whack at editing a possible future version.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

When the world economy came crashing down on Olympia, WA

Did the world end? Has our economy crashed? If you can read this, leave me a comment below to tell me how it all ended. I'm writing this on Tuesday night, so I'm not sure if we breached the debt limit and America's credit crunch killed the world economic system.

Anyway, if it is alright, let's take another look back at one of the earlier times we crashed into a failing world economy in 1933. I wrote about that last hunger march here, but that remembering was from a pro-marcher point of view.

Lora Weed's retelling here speaks of "*(the marchers') attackers used broom handles to beat the marchers into ending their march." But, this telling by former Olympia mayor E.N. Steele (in his self-published memoir) tells of a more patient and then flabbergasted response to the marchers:
I shall never forget watching them come in. Police met them at the city limits and escorted them to the park. It seemed as though the end would never come. They came in every kind of a conveyance; cars old and new of every vintage, and trucks of all makes and kinds. Many had tents. Those who did not were able to provide in someway. They came in January so it was rather cold, but they soon had fires going.

These people were for the most part good citizens who needed food and comfort. Hunger makes men desperate. Part of them were farmers, but most of them were from Seattle, Tacoma, or other cities where industries had closed down, throwing them out of work. There was no social security in those days, but there are always radicals and at a time like this they stir things up and really make trouble. We did all we could to make them happy.

But, negotiations with the state legislature for some sort of economic relief were slow going and conditions at the park went downhill.

Sanitary conditions were especially bad. As mayor of the city it was up to me to get them out of town. I submitted the matter to the Director for the State Department of Health. He directed a letter to me, stating that they must move at once, in the interests of their own health as well as the entire city, should an epidemic break out. I wrote a letter fixing a date for their departure. It was sent out and served on the leaders. Copies were posted on the trees.

They sent word they would not leave. Some of the most radical made speeches trying to stir them to fight. Rumors were whispered around town indicating real trouble. I called a meeting of the businessmen and others. After advising them of the entire situation, I asked for volunteers to be sworn in as deputy police. Those present volunteered almost to a man. The new police were organized. None were to carry guns. Each of these hundred men were to assemble at 8:00 A.M., at the Chief’s office, each wearing a badge. Each of them was given a short club to be used only in emergency. By 8:30 each was at his assigned post. There was a string of men on each side of the road the trespassers were to follow. At that time the Chief of Police entered the Park. The men and women were standing around in groups but showed no signs of moving out.

They indicated that they were not leaving and tried to get the Chief into an argument. His only comment was that he had a hundred deputies and the State Police at his disposal and that unless they were on the way by nine o’clock he had instructions from higher up to place them all under arrest. Some grumbled but some began to pack, others followed and at the appointed time they were on their way.

I failed to tell you that after a meeting about midnight a State Police Officer came to me and said there might be trouble as several of the visitors had been hanging around all evening. He took me by the arm and we went down a back way that I did not know was in existence, to the garage which is in the basement where I had my car. He rode home with me and to my surprise I found a shadow police had been on guard for the protection of my family.

That was the only time in my life that I have had to be guarded by secret police.
It is striking the difference in tone and perspective between Weed and Steele. Obviously, both are coming at it from different perspectives. But, today, I keep on coming back to the "Lord of the Flies" story on KPLU this week.

It is interesting how perspective is skewing our conversations about the sitting ordinance, the lower barrier shelter and the current nature of downtown. Either the city is too accepting or the city is criminalizing the poor. We can look back into history and find strains of the same debate throughout our history.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Three Olympia local food options that aren't the co-op or the farmers market

Don't like shopping at Safeway or Fred Meyer? Ralphs and Bayview got you down? Tired of shopping at the co-op and the farmers market is never open?

Recently, one local email group I'm part of had a long conversation about the food co-op, whether it really serving the community and if expanding to a larger store downtown (rather than two smaller neighborhood stores) would improve things. That got me thinking about where are the other places that you can buy food around here that don't fall in either the big store or co-cop/farmers market categories.

So, here are three local Olympia food shopping options that you might like.

1. Olympia Seafood. This is my favorite, which is why I put it on top of the list.

When I want to buy something seafoody, his is where I go. All the time. I also tend to buy gift certificates here for other locals as a go to gift. While Olympia Seafood was established less than 20 years ago, it vividly reminds me of another seafood market that I used to go to as a kid. Walking in there, it literally feels like a seafood place. Cold, wet and smells wonderful. The seafood is good too.

411 Columbia St.

2. Spuds Produce Market.

Spud's has only been open for a year? Feels like way longer than that. Anyway, unlike the other two listings here, Spud's has an awesome community feel. Kids from the local school take field trips there, its in a neat old building, and I know for a fact, the food is great.

2828 Capitol Boulevard

3. Farm Fresh Market (Olympia Local Foods)

This is the place I was most fascinated with, because I didn't even realize they had a retail store until I started poking around during the co-op email discussion. I had heard about a few local food delivery services, but Olympia Local Foods recently opened a brick and mortar retail location, sort of out of the way on the westside. But, beyond that, they seem to have a well rounded selection, plus their delivery service is still online.

2010 Black Lake Boulevard
Olympia Local Foods

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Evergreen should play more games not on campus

Here's on thing about Evergreen State College and Olympia that a recent resident here observed: You'd hardly think Olympia was a college town. Now, this guy is from the upper Midwest, went to the University of Wisconsin at Madison. So, maybe he has a different idea of what kind of college town Olympia could be. But, he mentioned Bellingham in the same breath, and I see where he's going.

It could be the culture of Evergreen. No Greek system, a fairly young college and you know, Evergreen. So, maybe we are a college town, its just harder to see because Evergreen is different, therefore its impact on us is different.

That said, I think there's something else to it. Evergreen in a lot of ways isn't in Olympia. Literally a college in the woods.

So, for someone like me, getting to events out at Evergreen can be a pain. Out of site, out of mind. But, that's sad because a lot of cool things happen out at Evergreen. If Evergreen was centered around where we all lived. Like say, in a fit of rewriting history Evergreen was where the Automall ended up, wouldn't we as non-Greener residents be at Evergreen more often, just because it was there?

I know sports is like this for me. I end up going to more high school and St. Martins, South Puget Sound Community Colllege athletic events because they are held nearer to me.

That said, because of field conditions Evergreen soccer was forced to play at South Sound Stadium. I really wish I heard about it earlier or it was on a better night for me, because I would've loved to have gone.

From the Olysports Blog (an effort you should suport, by the way), it even looks like there was a crowd at the game:

I could go on longer, but we could be prouder of Evergreen around here. There are a lot of proud graduated locally, but we should be even prouder. Sports is a big part of how people think about a school, and the easier it is to get to an event, the more fans you might have.

So, that's it. More Geoducks off campus please.

Monday, October 07, 2013

October a day early. Well, that's a surprise (Olyblogosphere for October 7, 2013)

1. On the day before October, October Surprise uploaded Stuff with October.

2. Democracy Wall went downtown to check out the feeding the hungry debate. Very, very much worth reading the entire thing:
The bartender in the 4th Ave. Tavern looked a bit like a pirate, but he didn’t want to be identified any more than the person interviewed at The Reef or, later, the Harlequin Theater staff.  He’d worked at the tavern for over 17 years, he said, including those Thursdays the CFM held their benefit for Olympia’s hungry.  He objected more to the characterization he chose for the beneficiaries than CFM itself.  He, too, had witnessed trash piling up in the tavern’s private dumpster as well as the bed of his pickup truck when he had made the mistake of parking in the lot where the event was held.  He argued many of those attracted to CFM’s hot meals were mentally ill, drug addicts, or miscreants who caused trouble hours after CFM had struck its tents and left for the evening. “When the trouble begins, they’re already long gone,” he said.


It occurred to yours truly, in hindsight, that many businesses were reluctant to openly criticize the feeding of the poor for philosophical as well as political and practical reasons, though the owner of the adjacent quilting supply shop had no such reservations. Some business owners who have openly opposed low barrier shelters for the homeless in their neighborhood have repeatedly had their business vandalized in the wee hours. There is a reluctance to be seen/heard, especially on the record, criticizing efforts to aid or assist the poor/homeless. At the same time, there has been considerable vilification of the poor/homeless. They are genuinely loathed by those business owners who see them as an impediment to having a profitable operation or an obstacle to their customers. Moreover, they are blamed for the vandalism and trash in the City’s streets.


The depths of perfidy vs. necessity came up again during a dinner meal at the Thai food restaurant just down the street a block or two from the artesian on 4th Ave.  The waitress volunteered, when asked, that she believed many of those who took advantage of CFM’s largess weren’t ‘homeless’, or even poor, at all. She felt they were ‘lifestyle homeless’ who simply liked to hangout and had become a blight on the community.

The issue, ultimately, appears to turn on the degree of tolerance Olympia’s residents are willing to afford the less fortunate, and to some extent, the not so less fortunate. Many Olympia residents are willing to be generous, but many are not willing to risk their own safety to do so. The aggressive behavior of a few street denizens has tarred the lot in the minds of some City residents. But CFM’s “sins” are a red herring. There was not a little trash strewn about the City far from where the poor and hungry were being fed. There was even the occasional hypodermic needle on the pavement.

The stretch of 4th Avenue near the artesian has become a tenderloin district after dark. A sense of entitlement has pervaded street elements there to the point of consistently challenging a photojournalist walking through with a camera. A thriving black market in contraband and services can be seen operating there.  It is almost the diametrical opposite of the ambiance surrounding the faith based ministries outreach to the poor, hungry, and homeless through their hot meals event.
3. I'm sure Steven is implying that the Newhouse should really be the poster child of the campus.

4. I guess North Thurston and Timberline played each other last week too. Thurston Problems was having a fun time with it.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Two examples of trying to merge Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater (sort of)

Over direct message on twitter a few days ago, someone asked me if anyone had ever tried to get all three nothern Thurston County cities to join together. Off the top of my head, I could come up with two examples, sort of. As far as I know there's been no wholesale effort to join the cities together, but I found two partial ones:

1. Fire service in 2009. As far as I know, folks just lost interest and this effort just died off.

2. Merging city and county planning in 1990. This idea went down in flames. It was part of the home rule effort that year, and with the rest of the charter, it was voted down.

This entire idea of why the cities should merge is one that comes up every once in awhile. It isn't a bad one on its face, just one I know will never happen, mostly because there are bigger evils that three cities bordering each others.

The reasons the cities won't merge are numerous.

Separate school districts for each city mean people grow up not necessarily crossing city borders socially.

Cities have different histories, interests and trajectories. Tumwater was founded at the base of the Deschutes River before Olympia (on the shores of Budd Inlet), but didn't become a city until much later. Lacey on the other hand, came along almost 100 years later. And, if you look at how far down Martin Way Olympia stretches, you could almost assume Olympia tried to kill Lace at birth.

In the blocks north of North Street, you can see this kind of municipal racing laid out in the checkerboard border between Olympia and Tumwater.

These histories, interests and trajectories have created three different local cultures (political and otherwise). From Matthew Green in OP&L:
This result is no shock. Olympia voters have supported tax levies for a new fire station, the library system, and schools by similar or larger margins. However, it presents a contrast with Tumwater, which approved a public safety levy by just eight votes (50.11%-49.89%), and Lacey, which rejected a fire district levy 47%-53%, both in 2011.

This result is yet another reason (approximately reason #12,000,003) why Olympia, Tumwater, and Lacey should not merge. A few local political leaders pop up once a year or so, like groundhogs, to suggest that the municipalities merge into one city government. They imply that city governance is about just managing a few departments. They pretend that city lines are mere arbitrary administrative boundaries.

In fact, the three cities contain electorates with distinct and often irreconcilable political views. They fundamentally disagree about what is important to their community – in this case, about what public safety measures are important enough to justify raising taxes. None of them is right… well, okay, Olympia is right, but the other cities are entitled to decide for themselves. Rather than stuff three different electorates into one mass, in the name of false efficiency, let each community make its own democratic decisions.
 So, for the time being, any merging will happen under the surface. We already have our sewers all merged and transit. Other things like fire might come along, but we'll likely always have our own cops. And, we'll always have our borders and separate civic identifies.

Hoquiam and Aberdeen should merge. No reason why not.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Let's not forget the bigger problem here (Briggs Village, walkable neighborhoods and urban villages)

 A few weeks ago I was quoted in the Olympian regarding my opinion about the erosion of the ideal Briggs Urban Village. First floor retail, second story office and apartments. Its a great idea, but not one apparently very popular with the people who own most of my neighborhood.

Don't get me wrong, it is absolutely a great idea, and I would have really loved to see it happen. But, I'm okay with it not. Or, I could see myself living in a place where it doesn't happen.

And, that's because, despite it being a shy version of a grand vision, it will still result in some walkable commercial zoning in a part of Olympia that absolutely lacks it.

That said, I'm not satisfied if the Briggs strip mall is the only commercial we end up with out here. Allowing such a large portion of Olympia to develop without any small, walkable commercial or community spaces was one of the biggest mistakes we've made around here. And, Briggs won't help solve that much.

What we really need to do is backtrack to older neighborhoods in the Southeast and encourage in-fill commercial to take over some residential along main roads and open lots. But, I'm not even sure if that's a thing. I haven't found an example yet of a city or county slowly breaking of a decades old expanse of low density single family residential with new commercial areas.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cascadia Exists: Dipping my toe into Cascadian religion

Religion seems to potentially be a deep and rich topic for defining how Cascadia exists. Like many other regions (Methodists in the Midlands and Baptists in Dixie) religion seems to have a defining pull on Cascadia.

But, in a unique way, different (seemingly) than another other region.

But, for now, just a couple of maps to get us going.

Cascadia has the highest level of regional diversity of religion:

Meaning, the marketplace for religion is stronger in Cascadia than any other region. There's more competition here than anywhere else.

Also, like upper New England and the upper Ohio Valley, Cascadia has the lowest rate of adherents of any region.

This is the so-called None Zone.

So, as an opening. Cascadian religious culture is diverse, and in large part, unattached to any particular sect.

Monday, September 23, 2013

I never thought anyone would suggest not rebuilding the Oyster House (Olyblogosphere for September 23, 2013)

1. How do you take a picture of a big tree?

2. A nine year old group of women.

3. And, here's a pretty nice piece from the OP&L on what's going on out at Boston Harbor.

4. And lastly, speaking of the people living near the water. I scoffed at Ken's post a few weeks back questioning whether the Oyster House would have a hard time rebuilding. No one would ever suggest leveling the building deep set in our urbanized downtown for restoration, right. Nope, Janine just did.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Draft of Call it Cascadia Manifesto

Don't call us the Northwest. When you talk about the upper left hand corner of the United States (and possibly the lower left of Canada), go ahead and call us Cascadia.

Here are a few reasons why:

1. The current alternative is "Northwest" or the redundant "Pacific Northwest" (as if we need to distance ourselves from the Northwest of the Midwest) is colorless. It is a direction, not a region.

2. Also, the "direction from where" question is troubling. Northwest of what? Denver? What we call our region should be centered on this place, not on some other part of the world.

3. Cascadia is just a better name. Cascadia is actually where we are. It doesn't look over its shoulder to some other place.

So, what am I missing here?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Walter Wilder shot himself in New Jersey

Prenote: If you're thinking about suicide, talk to someone right this minute. Call 1-800-273-8255 or visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

It had been six years since the Capitol building in Olympia, Washington had been completed. Walter Wilder was in his home in Suffern New York, less than a mile from the New Jersey border.

While much of his life's work was within a day's travel of where he was at that moment, his and his partner's largest work was 3,000 miles away on the the other side of the country. Also there was Florence Tunnard.

Wilder would shoot himself two years after his partnership with Harry White dissolved, after his mental health had spiralled downward and after his wife refused to let him divorce her in favor of Ms. Tunnard.

I wonder how in the day Wilder took his life if his mind wandered back to Olympia. The day the architecture firm got world over 20 years earlier that they'd won a contest for a new state capitol campus that would become their largest project. To the years he spent seeing his drawings come to life on the hill above the town on the edge of Puget Sound. And to Florence, the stenographer working at the state Attorney General's office that he had fallen for.

At least in my part of the world, Harry White and Walter Wilder are most well known for the capitol in Olympia. It is a set of sandstone structures that to the amateur seem to emulate the national capitol in the other Washington. To the only slightly more informed, they are representations of an architectural movement called “City Beautiful.”

The dozens of other projects Wilder and White completed in their lives -- houses, office buildings and college buildings -- dot the New York and New Jersey region. They were successful in their own small way as architects, working consistently until the depression took hold and Wilders’ sanity lost hold.

In the end, the capitol group envisioned by Wilder and White was never built. After the construction of the original three buildings -- the Temple of Justice, the domed legislative building and the insurance building -- the state capitol planners took a break. The legislative building stood in the center of the unfinished group until the the middle of the Great Depression.

The state capitol commission eventually turned its attention to the back of the campus. With ample public money coming from the federal government for public works projects, the commission hired Olympia architect Joseph Wohleb to finish off the Wilder and White campus.

Wohleb is surprisingly similar to Wilder and White. If not for ignoring any contests to design state capitol buildings in eastern cities, Wohleb had a shockingly parallel career to the New York pair. His work is spread almost exclusively throughout the Northwest and mainly in Olympia. But, when it came to competing the last buildings constructed in the 1911 proposal, the state went to their home grown architect.

Wohleb had moved to Olympia just as Wilder and White had finished their original plans. As he put his head down and went on designing over 150 buildings throughout the decades. Surely, he would also look over his shoulder to watch Wilder and White at work.

But, in 1935 with Wilder dead and White still working in the east, those last two buildings were his to design. While it was outside his normal style, the stayed true to the partner’s original, classical style.

After that, the campus would turn west. forgetting the final pieces Wilder and White drew. One last office buliding (a matching pair to the insurance building, which flanks the legislative building on the east) was never built. Also, the once temporary governor’s mansion, (a permanent mansion envisioned by Wilder and White was to overlook Puget Sound on a bluff), is still hidden too far south.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the campus would creep east across Capital Way, further changing the original Wilder and White orientation from a northern facing to east. An entire neighborhood would be lost underneath new campus buildings.

One house that was eventually removed from Capitol Way -- mercifully moved in one piece a mile to the south -- was the Egbert-Ingham house. This house was where Walter Wilder lived when he met Florence Tunnard, the love for whom he would eventually kill himself.

Eventually, his campus would expand beyond his vision to uproot the house to the south. The owner of the house in the 1970s put it up on wheels and put it down where it still is today.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The rise and decline and possible rise again of the Olympia oyster

The history of the Olympia oyster -- as talismanic center of a Puget Sound home grown industry -- is one of the most fascinating stories around here.

It is literally an industry and species wiped out because of industrial pollution which itself doesn't exist because of laws and social concerns that didn't come about until decades later.

For decades dozens of small companies picked and packed these little native oysters and shipped them across the world. People like E.N. Steele, who wrote the book on the Olympia, dedicated large parts of their lives to the industry and the oyster.

The oyster growers feel that the decline has been caused by pulp mill waste from the mill at Shelton.

In conclusion, I must say that The Olympia Oyster industry is very sick. In fact it is, at this writing, on its death bed, unless the knife that is stabbing at its heart can be removed. Those who love the Olympia Oyster, and who grew it still have hope. In nature there is always survival; no such thing as extermination of species by nature. But trade waste is man-produced poison. There must also be progress in industry. But man has been given intelligence to find ways and means to prevent the trade waste from destroying the natural resources so that all may survive and live together.

But, because of pollution from another home grown industry (timber), the Olympia lost its place to the immigrant Pacific oyster. While oystermen were disturbed to see that pollution was taking away the Olympia, they coolly and calmly replaced it with the more hardy Pacific.

But, now, because of impacts of ocean acidification, the tables might be turning on the Pacific. The chemistry of the oceans are slowly changing because we pollute too much. And, because of the way Pacific oysters reproduce, they're apparently at a disadvantage to the Olympias.

From the The World in Coos Bay:
“The short answer is that the native Olympia oysters may be doing OK and recovering in Coos Bay despite ocean acidification,” he said.

Rumrill, currently the director of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shellfish monitoring program, was instrumental in Olympia oyster recovery efforts at the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve near Charleston.

“It may be that the shallow parts of Coos Bay may be able to act sort of as a buffer,” he said.
Oregon State University Professor George Waldbusser said said difference in survivability likely lies in the species’ reproductive practices.

“Olympias are brooders,” he said, referring to the species’ trait of carrying eggs in an internal chamber for several weeks after fertilization.

Pacific oysters, on the other hand, are broadcast spawners, meaning their eggs are fertilized and develop in open water.

Waldbusser said the native species’ reproductive period is on the edge of the coast’s seasonal upwelling cycle, when deep ocean currents force cold water to the surface.

Upwelling is believed to contribute to the acidification process by bringing oxygen-deprived, CO2-rich acidic water to the ocean’s surface.
 We don't dump timber production waste directly into Puget Sound the way we used to. We did it for long enough to put Olympias on their heals and the oyster world moved on to Pacific oysters.

Eventually our laws caught up to timber waste, but it was too late for Olympias. It would be supremely ironic that Olympias would stage a comeback on Pacific oysters because our laws couldn't catch up with ocean acidification.