Percival Landing Makeover

The city has found some starting money to revamp Percival Landing. All in all they are talking about an 18 million dollar project. I want to see Percival Landing stay operational, but I must admit, hearing those kind of numbers makes me a little queasy.
I just keep thinking, man, just $3 million could put down payments on 60 houses for low-income families. Or that $18 million could be used towards making Budd Inlet a liveable habitat for fish and people. Maybe rotten docks would be sort of cool...
There is just so much money available for building projects, and so little for human need...Or fish need. It makes me feel hopeless.
Even I am tired of hearing myself talk about this. And I know that I know nothing about how these things work, and you can't just take money out of one pot and put in another. But I still keep thinking it whenever I hear about these sort of projects. It just seems so decadent and wrong to spend money this way in this day and age. They say there won't even be a downtown in 30 years if we don't stop global warming. Maybe we should spend our boardwalk revival money on keeping Percival Landing on land...
I guess if we move forward with this thing, my one request is that they make one of those parking lots or green patches into a town pool. If they refuse to clean up the Sound, they could just throw us that one bone. Its getting hot here.


Making Time

I was at the Olympia Eastside Coop yesterday and when I went to check out, there was a new volunteer cashier. She made a minor mistake and accidentally charged me a small amount too much. She quickly got a staff member and he told her how to correct it and went back to his work. But he did not walk her all the way through the process, and she accidentally charged me the amount again, rather than voiding it. Another customer got in line, and she apologized to them, and told them her line would be a bit held up. She wrang for the staff member again. Another customer got in line. Fixing the problem went on for a few minutes, and all the while she seemed to get more and more flustered by the whole situation, and kept apologizing profusely to me, the staff member, and the other customers.
Meanwhile, the staff member kept calmly assuring her that it was fine, and courteously apologizing to other customers. I just kept thinking about how much I value having a worker-member coop, and how much I appreciate people showing consideration and friendliness to one another, which is one of the hallmarks of the coop.
This girl felt so horrible that she dared not know how to do everything perfectly, and that it was taking up an extra five or so minutes of my precious time. Why do we live this way?
My friend recently told me that he thinks the new measure of prestige is not money, but busyness. In our increasingly bureaucratic and corporate society, people have started to measure their value not by results or money, but by how busy they are. What we are busy with is not the issue.
That is why many people do not have time to have a trainee cashier, or a volunteer anything interrupt their most important schedule. If the schedule is interrupted by some poor person on their first week in a service job, they are met with outrage. Slowing up a transaction is tantamount to stealing in this day and age.
I am so much better of a person since I stopped being "busy", i.e. too important for daily life.
I am still busy, of course. Life fills every minute of every day.
But now I value being busy with unbusyness. I am busy being generous with trainee cashiers. I am busy listening to canvassers talk about their issues. I am busy being available for my friends' unanticipated crises. I am busy making time to stop and loan out jumper cables. I am busy having thoughtful, rambling conversations with my child. I am busy checking my blind spot before I merge. I am busy making time for my mistakes, and for compensating for other people's. I am busy taking time to know my husband's daily thoughts. I am busy making time for people who can't make it across the crosswalk before the red hand stops flashing.
The push to cram more and more work into the precious hours of our days is robbing us of courtesy, gratitude, peace, and love for our neighbors. Each time we slide another meeting or shift in another slim column of our day, we are ripping ourselves and the world off. I suggest we take a new approach to time, where quality leads, and we cushion our schedules with time for the spontaneous and untamed, the methodical and painstaking, the contemplative and generous-all the pastimes and qualities that make a life a good one- let's fill our planners with those.


Wednesday Outdoor Ball

I was invited to a kid's party at the interactive fountain today. I forgot- as did the other parents- that the interactive fountain is closed on Wednesdays. I don't know why it is closed Wednesdays. The fountain is closed but the park is still open.
It was a bit of a sad sight, all these kids in their bathing suits on that big, dry, flat surface. But being kids, they were unfazed. They began drawing little designs with sidewalk chalk around all the holes that normally squirt out the water, and blowing bubbles. And getting glammed out in their swimsuits with feather boas and tiaras and cowboy boots and the like. And popping balloons which made a terrific bang with the acoustics down there...Ouch.
I decided that we need to hold a ball periodically at the weekly fountain-turned-outdoor-dance-floor in Heritage Park. There is room for a band. This will be a wonderful opportunity for people in Olympia to get out their neglected formal attire. But it will, of course, be in the Olympia Way. Children may wear tutus. So may adults. People of any gender may wear tuxes or satin gowns or high heels as appropriate. Prints and corduroys and cowboy boots are all acceptable. Homemade or scavenged formal wear is most encouraged. In fact, the only rule is that you MUST wear something that makes you feel most festively and extravagantly yourself. Tiaras for all!


Edible Parks

I walked down our long driveway today and discovered that the blackberries are ripe. I love this time of year. You can find the invasive Himalayan blackberries growing in residential alleys, empty city lots, and clearcuts all over the Pacific Northwest. Any patch of land that is neglected will soon be consumed.
Every yard and wild place is positively dripping with bountiful produce this time of year. Blackberries, (which people pay top-dollar for in other parts of the country) are abundantly available. Plums, cherries, and pears are easy to come by as well.
But why are our parks so barren of these delights?
Sidewalks are covered in bleeding berries grown too soft and heavy for the bush. You can actually smell them everywhere. But not at the park.
I think we ought to allow some areas of Heritage park grow over with blackberries. We could prune walkways into them to make them easy to wander through and pick.
And we should plant fruit trees everywhere.
Silly that anyone should bring a picnic to the park this time of year. Much better to have the picnic await them there!


Public Places to Swim in the Olympia Area

There are a few.

Deschutes River:
(from I-5 and Henderson Blvd.)Drive (or bike) out Henderson Boulevard until you get to Yelm Highway. Stay on Henderson. Pioneer Park entrance is on the right a little ways down. You do have to hike to the river, but its real close to the parking lot. There are lots of spots. Keep hiking until you find the right mixture of seclusion, pooling, and sun-warmed water. Innertubing is fun. Be careful, and watch kids carefully-the current can be strong. There is also a soccer field at Pioneer Park.

Black Lake: (From hwy 101 and Blacklake) Drive out Black Lake a couple miles. Turn left on Blacklake-Belmore Rd. Follow this another 2 miles. Turn right on 66th. 66th will take a sharp left just before the park. Kenneydell park entrance is on the right. There are picnic shelters and ample beach. Usually quite a crowd.

Munn Lake: (Newly discovered!) Follow the directions above to Pioneer Park, but stay on Henderson another 1/2 mile or so until 65th. Turn left on 65th. Park on the street-the lot is for permit-holders. Nothing fancy- a small boat launch and itty bitty gravelly beach. Quiet, pretty warm, and weedy. You can also fish there. If you like hidden spots, this one is for you.

Burfoot Park:
From downtown Olympia, take Plum Street to East Bay Drive, which turns into Boston Harbor Road. Continue six miles. The park is on the left at 6927 Boston Harbor Road. Watch for the park sign. (If you arrive at Boston Harbor, you went too far.) You have to hike down a little ways from the fields and shelters. Its salty and barnacley and sometimes jelly-fishy. But I don't think its sludgy. I really like it there. Good beach for combing, sunbathing, and playing, too. Beautiful Puget Sound!


Chicago Rooftops and the Smallness Revolution

Crenshaw Sepulveda left comments about the Richmond rooftop gardens that resonate with me...Aching to live in a place so humane...
I can relate. As much tenderness as I feel for this little town, there are such depths of the Olympia Way we have yet to experience.
What can we do to encourage this type of growth, beyond planting nasturtiums on our apartment window sills?
When it comes to rooftop gardens, the city of Chicago has a very interesting project. Of course, in Chicago, heat is a big issue. Temperatures in the summer are unbearable, and the city is like a solar oven with all that concrete. So they started using green rooftops as a way to naturally cool the city. They aren't "gardens" in the sense that you can't actually walk around in them. Most of the rooftops are still not accessible to people. (It takes much less structural support to carry just soil and plants without people.)
A side effect of this project which traditional air conditioning lacks is that you can now look out a Chicago highrise window and see a sky meadow beneath you with wildflowers blooming. Isn't that sweet?

Perhaps our city will adopt such a program in the future. But in the meantime, we can begin small.
I believe more and more that smallness is not ineffective. Smallness is flexible, attainable, and efficient. I think that if we ever have a revolution that saves the world from destruction and frees humanity from its plight, it will be a revolution of smallness. Small projects inspiring other small projects, and on and on. Here are instructions from the Journey to Forever website on how to make gardens if you have no soil. Included are instructions on making a vertical garden, as well, if you have very limited space.
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