Fix the Perception

If some in Olympia said it made them uncomfortable to walk by Jake's because they don't trust homosexuals, would we call that a safety issue? Would the Olympian post the statistics about how many gay people there are here, and go on to quote the downtown crime statistics without feeling the need to draw any correlation?
Maybe we would propose legislation that targets "nuisance behaviors" such as hitting on straight men, or wearing disruptively flamboyant or sexually suggestive clothing, or maybe we would ask the city to do a study on how much sex is happening in downtown bathrooms, and what we should do to address this problem. Perhaps we would ask the question about how "sanitary" Jake's is. Perhaps we would quote statistics on the number of sexually transmitted diseases in the gay population, and ask whether advertising a bar as being queer-safe presents a public health risk. Perhaps we would consider an ordinance prohibiting the sale of liquour to known homosexuals.
Please don't think that I am taking that scenario lightly. It makes me sick to think about this kind of stuff happening. And its not an imaginary scenario. Such laws used to be commonplace. Gay people have been targeted by city ordinances very similar to the ones Olympia has recently proposed targeting the poor. Some people believe homosexuals to be dirty, sick, perverted, antisocial, a public nuisance and a safety issue. Bigotry is part of the lived experience of people who are gay.
Thankfully, our community has little tolerance for gay-bashing. In fact, councilman Jeff Kingsbury is in office largely because of this. Not because he is gay, but because he has made himself a leader for civil rights. People in Olympia want an official who will stick their neck out for the marginalized in our community.
Of course, there are a few homophobes that stick around this town and complain that Capital City Pride is "intolerant" of their way of life. They are not taken seriously by the majority here. We know that the "nuisance behavior" when it comes to homosexuality is people who find it acceptable to force others into a life of hiding, and harrass homosexuality out of public life just because they don't agree with it. We don't go out of our way to appease homophobic perceptions of safety.
Jeff Kingsbury played on Olympia's commitment to social justice during his campaign. At a forum on poverty issues, I remember him saying "believe me, I will stand up for everyone's civil rights in this community". I think he really meant that.
Now he is one of the two councilmembers advocating laws that are just as bigoted as the ones described above. Like those above, they are designed to target a certain population by banning activities that are a part of that subculture's lifestyle. Merely discussing such ordinances is a way of implying that this population is legitimately sick, criminal, dangerous, and shameful. The worst thing about this is not the ordinances, but the propaganda campaign it creates around an already stereotyped group of people. It is documented that when these sort of ordinances are proposed, hate crimes against the homeless go up.
We should expect this kind of thing from Doug Mah. He has always been a business-backed official, elected to office to serve the interests of the rich. (As the old folktale goes, "You knew I was a snake when you picked me up!")
But I feel betrayed by Jeff. The progressive community has really backed him. We backed him because we trusted him to stand up for humane legislation, and an inclusive community. I don't think he could have been elected without the progressive/leftist vote. Does he think we will accept him talking this way about the homeless?
We won't. Just as we didn't accept the the way religious extremists tried to discredit Jeff during his campaign.
I'm not just angry about the concept of exploring possible ordinances. I am angry at the smear campaign that Doug and Jeff are unleashing on downtown Olympia. I hope that Jeff will soon realize how wrong it is to indulge bigotry and fear in downtown Olympia.
The council admits that what we have is a "perception" problem. You don't go to the optometrist with a depth perception problem in order to have him move all the furniture for you. You pay the optometrist to correct your perception so that it correlates with reality. This is also the duty of city officials when it comes to people's irrational fear and prejudice. Responding to imagined dangers as real threats will not make our community safer.

First they came for the...

I agree completely that the "issues" disguise the real issue which is some kind of culture war against folks who haven't bought into the "get a job" world. Because I value creativity and think the "get a job" world tolerates creativity at best, and stifles it at worst, I value the folks who are stepping out and really living in the world. I don't care if they are homeless or mentally ill or running from abusive families or some kind of street genius, I can share the sidewalk and the downtown and the whole planet with them. If I have to step over their stuff or step around their legs, that's ok. Lots of the people live in very crowded conditions on this planet, like nothing we would imagine, and yet we are offended if we have to share the sidewalk with somebody who needs to sit down for a bit.

I am not a button down type. I look folks in the eye, smile often at the kids with their piercings and tatoos and crazy haircuts and I feel at home with the people downtown. I suppose I could walk around Dupont, but I don't think I would find it very interesting. I don't think it would feed my soul and help me feel like part of a community like downtown Oly does.

I feel a certain fascism goose-stepping out in the world and it usually starts by trying to get rid of the Jews, the homosexuals, the perverts etc. I am working with two Jews and so far they have been making it to work and not experiencing much trouble, though I think they are feeling a little worried. I am keeping in touch with my homosexual friends and they are still all accounted for so far. I plan to stand up for or sit down with the weird folks who frequent the downtown. I enjoy their company and I know that when they are all gone, the knock will be coming to my door next.

Another One Bites the Dust

I'm wandering around in downtown Olympia, as I often do, and notice that the Taco Del Mar across the street from Sylvester Park is closed. Upon further inspection of their front door I notice that there is some legal document on the door demanding the rent, which was way overdue, be paid. Not long ago the Quiznos near B&B went belly up. Never did like Quiznos, and I never set foot in the Taco Del Mar. I'm not really into franchise operations. I guess many that frequent downtown share my views as the Taco Del Mar never seemed to have many diners. I guess some will blame the closure of these two establishments on the homeless, the panhandlers, the young, the smoking ban, or some other reason. I'm thinking that franchise operations are not a good fit for downtown Olympia. If you want franchise food you can go to Lacey or Tumwater. If you want food prepared by the owner, or owner's family, downtown Olympia is your bet.

A Taco Del Mar costs around a quarter of a million dollars to open. Franchise fees, required equipment, required supplies and the like make this one expensive proposition for anyone opening one. I feel bad for those that thought downtown Olympia was a good place for a franchise operation. I would have told them otherwise, and it would only have cost them a cup of coffee.

Perhaps locating the Taco Del Mar closer to the capitol campus would have made it work. The Subway there seems to be doing well, but I suspect it, too, is not long for this world. I only hope Meconi's will find another location when their building comes down. Which brings me to another point, why is the Meconi's building being torn down. From my perspective it is the perfect southern anchor for downtown Olympia. We still have a way to go in reaching that point, but now it seems pointless. Sadly downtown seems to end, at the southern end, at the former Ramada hotel. What an eyesore, not to mention a building filled with transients. Without a doubt we don't need the Ramada, or what ever it is called today. It is one ugly building, to be sure. It could be rehabilitated if it were turned into non-transient housing, but that is the subject of another blog for me.


Pat Tassoni's Guide to Downtown Olympia

(Originally Posted on Olyblog)

This is not meant to be objective -- when you're targeted, you have to have an opinion

I am Pat Tassoni and have been in Olympia for over 30 years, which is longer than most of the transients we call the Olympia City Council, who came in the 80s. I have lived and worked in historical buildings downtown for the past 20 years. I have been fighting city policies that target the poor for nearly 15 years now.

Simple facts:

2000 - Time magazine declares Olympia "Hippest" town in West [because of downtown]

2002 - Downtown business owner's son murders and dismembers frequent transient [his head is still missing!]

2004 - Major insurer declares Olympia 4th safest city in the nation [they set their rates to their word]

2006 - Micro-chain Mcmenamins buys the Spar in downtown for a sizable amount of cash [obviously they aren't worried about the boo-hoos]

Downtown History

When I was a kid, my parents used to bring us downtown to shop -- and there were department stores here -- JC Penney, Mongomery Wards, Sears to name just a few. Where did they go? Well our city officials, the forerunners to the current council, in their grand wisdom pursued a policy of sprawl and allowed the Capital Mall to go in the early 80s. And all the stores left downtown -- in fact the city made it easy for them to leave -- so downtown was pretty empty in the 80s. Me and my friends used to come downtown to skateboard and ride bikes because the streets were empty. Also during this time, affordable housing was being demolished and in some cases buildings were renovated to suit businesses. The city of Olympia was slow to respond and has scarcely replaced the number of units that were lost. And during the late 80s is when the downtown walking patrol was formed -- before that we would see a cop every two hours downtown, and they were mainly confused as to why we were there at all.

Over time businesses and state offices have filled in downtown, but not quick enough and not enough to satisfy those who want to pretend everything in the economy is right. Small businesses still have to compete with the malls and big box stores. The council has been so concerned about downtown that they have passed a number of laws to restrict individual behavior, but haven't yet reversed their decision that caused the problem to begin with -- They need to restrict business behavior and stop sprawl. And local businesses need to support and even lead that movement if they ever want downtown to be an area retail center again. [Capital Mall historically has been the most called for police services of any place -- probably still is. Be afraid of the mall!]

Over and over again, the spectre of 'public safety' has been raised to pass new laws, but it's shooting itself in the foot by constantly bringing up how dangerous downtown is in the hopes to project how safe it is there. And it's been going on for the past 20 years. And each time they promise it will fix everything!

The first wave was targeted at youth and increasingly so at the poor and homeless.


Local History 101
What Your Money Buys In Downtown Olympia

This guide is an attempt to help you spend your dollars wisely in Olympia. As citizens we must realize that one of the realities open to us is to vote with our money and let companies know what you are/are not buying and why. We don't just buy a product with a purchase; we not only support an economic system with it, but we also support the working conditions and the political environment of the company as well. This guide is meant to help connect you with the history of activism that has gone on here and continues to go on throughout the world. Not everything in the world is covered here, and nothing was intentionally left out even though much is left out. There are no easy answers and this is not meant as a substitute for grassroots organizing on behalf of the environment, workers, and other facets of our world and society.

Local stores keep money local, however, promote certain agendas and have taken sides on social issues. Some downtown businesses have formed the Olympia Downtown Association (which is funded in part by the City of Olympia) and have initiated and lobbied the city to enact certain targeted laws (at homeless and\or youth):

* 1986 - Criminalization of Skateboarding Downtown

* 1987 - Outlawing of Teen Dance Clubs Downtown

* 1990 - Criminalization of Loud Car Stereos

* 1991 - Outlawing of Cruising Downtown

* 1993 - Criminalization of "Aggressive Panhandling"

* 1994/5 - Attempted Stop of Transitional Housing for Homeless (Fleetwood)

* 1995 - Proposed Criminalization of Car Camping
- Proposed Outlawing of Fortified Wine Downtown

* 1996 - Outlawing of OAPP Needle Exchange

* 1996/7 - Attempted Banning of Sitting on the Sidewalk Downtown

* 1999/2000 - Criminalization of Graffiti

* 2001/2002 - Proposed Criminalization of Camping
- Proposed Criminalization of Car Camping
- Proposed Outlawing of Fortified Wine Downtown
- Attempted Establishment of Panhandling Zone

* 2005 - Downtown designated 'Business District' and gives extra funding to ODA

Below the good news (+) comes first in each category followed by the names of businesses that have taken bad social justice positions on particular issues (-). Businesses have over time changed ownership from the time of these issue and they are marked by "~" to indicate such:

Businesses in Support of Graffiti Walls

(+) Supporters: ~New Moon Cafe, Dumpster Values, Midnight Sun, Old School Pizzeria, Olympia Film Society, Otto's Bagels, Thekla

(-) Opponents: The ODA

No Sitting On The Sidewalk City Ordinance

(+) Opponents: Always Safe and Lock, Brown & Balsley Sign, Olympia World News, Cascadia Research, Childhood's End, Danger Room Comics, Earth Magic, Five Corners, Fuji Teriyaki, Haut Hats, Jamie Lee & Co., K Records, Kill Rock Stars, Kundalini Coffee, Midnight Sun, Mini Saigon, Old School Pizzeria, Tee's Me, MIXX 96, Whole Earth Imports, Working Systems Inc., YoYo Prod.

(-) Supporters: The Spar, Washington Center, Dean Whitter's, ~King Solomon's, Gold's Gym, Coast Office Supplies

The Fleetwood Low Income Housing Project

(+) Supporters: Traditions Cafe, David Stein & Associates, Thekla, Danger Room Comics, Electric Rose Tattoo, Five Corners, Olympia World News, Fish Brewing, Budd Bay Realty, Radiance, Archibald Sisters, Jamie Lee & Co., Looks Hair Design

(-) Opponents: Applebaum Violin Shop, Audio Northwest, B&B Auto, Bartels, Castle Enterprises, CD Connection, Chattery Down, Coast Office Supplies, Cuda Construction, Deskoba Inc., Especially Made Designs, Hodges Inc., Jinjor, JR Roofing, Key Bank, Koehler's Furniture, Little Richards, Lynch Paint, Olympia Printing, Panowicz, Pizzazz, Salvation Army, Storman's (Bayview and Ralph's Thriftway), ~Urban Onion, US Marine Sales, Walt's Radiator, Washington Center, Washington Travel, ~Wind Up Here

Farmworker Boycott (WA Winery)

(+) Supporters: Ben Moore, Chattery Down, Gardner's, Henry C's, ~Patrick's, ~Urban Onion

(-) Particularly nasty opponents include Budd Bay, Genoas, St. Martin's, Coast Office Supply, Olive Garden

Farmworker Boycott (OR's PCUN Gardenburger)

(+) Supporters: Olympia Food Co-Op, TESC, Budd Bay, ~Darby's, Sara's Kitchen, Pipers Lady

(-) Opponents: ~Urban Onion, Falls Terrace

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgendered Rights

(+) Active Supporters (as advertised in Capital Q): Altered States, Archibald Sisters, Batdorf & Bronson, Darby's Cafe, Hannah's Tavern, Jamie Lee & Co, Mike Cook's Antiques, MIXX 96, Olympia Food Co-Op, S. Don Phelps-Attorney, Radiance, Rainy Day Records, Shakti Cove Cottages, Sigafoos & Witcher, Thekla, Tumwater Travel Service, Wild Grace Arts; (also see Pink Pages)

(-) Anti-Union Establishments: ~Urban Union/Elysse's Potpourri, The Spar, Capital Coachman, Henry C's, Burrito Heaven

(-) Anti-Native Establishments: (with a Smoke-Shop Indian Carving): The Spar, Cigarettes Cheaper

>>> Over 60 business opposed the recent formation of the downtown 'business district'.


Loiterer's Freedom Lobby

There is no activity on God's green earth that I enjoy more than loitering in downtown Olympia.

As I have explained before, downtown Olympia is not only a safe and beautiful place. If you sit on a corner long enough doing nothing, something interesting inevitably happens. Usually it happens in the form of someone talking to you. It might be someone who you see all the time but have never talked to. Or it might be someone you do business with regularly. Or it might be a street person.
Most street people are interesting to talk to, and often they are not accustomed to being listened to for very long. Given the opportunity, they will often talk at some length. I've had conversations with street people about politics, parenting, spirituality, animals, love, money, homelessness, you name it. I couldn't really generalize what these conversations have been like, because they have been various and numerous. Sometimes they have been profound. Sometimes they've been bothersome. Sometimes they have been hilarious. But usually if I converse with anyone I don't know, I find out something interesting about them, and the homeless are no exception to this.
One time I was on the bus and the man across from me kept talking crazy. He kept telling me these vague, grandiose things and I just kept smiling and nodding. He didn't seem to add up, as far as I was concerned. He told me he could tell me how to get a million-dollar education for free. "Oh yeah?" I humored.
"Yep, " he promised. "You can learn from the greatest doctors, scientists, historians, professors, brilliant writers, the greatest minds in the world-all for free. You can learn to write poetry, you can study the universe..." etc., etc.
This went on for fifteen minutes.
"I'm serious," he said. "You want to know the secret?"
"Sure." Let loose with it already...
"The library. All the greatest minds in the world have their knowledge contained in books. You can read these books for free. It is the greatest education available."
I smiled, a little stunned. F-ing brilliant.
Often if you listen long enough, street people will come around to telling you about their troubles, and why it is they are on the streets. I have been brought to tears many times listening to Vietnam vets' tireless rantings, or listening to young teenagers eloquently describe lives too horrific to belong to someone so young. The stories usually involve heartbreak, death, abandonment and/or unspeakable violence. You can learn about all the ugly underside of our society by listening to these stories. You may have never known that there was so much bad fortune in this great country.
These stories are very important. The people who are on the streets can map the ills of our society with perfect clarity. If lawmakers spent more time loitering and taking notes, I have no doubt we'd have a more just, more sane, and more peaceful society.
But instead they want it outlawed. They want to outlaw my right to a pasttime that is sacred to me: My right to sit around in busy places and do nothing. I'll be goddamned if any politician is going to tell me that we have no right to freely assemble and lay idle. Does only busyness belong in downtown? Would they have no haven for meditation, introspection, or shooting the shit?
The city lawmakers responsible say they want quality of life in Olympia, but clearly they have no idea what quality of life looks like. Because loitering is a major player in quality of life. What is a life of quality with no empty hours, no wandering, no picnicking, no daydreaming, no benches?
Loiterers, arise. If there is one time not to loiter, it is this week. Our constituency must take action to protect our way of life. Please come to the city council meeting at city hall this Tuesday at 7pm, and especially make a strong showing at the Town Hall Meeting on Thursday September 28th at 5:30pm at the Olympia Center. (Arrive on time for the free pizza and loitering hour.)


Ode to the Littlest Big City

The town of Olympia, WA is considered by insurance companies to be one of the safest communities in the United States of America. Not only is it safe, it is a pleasant and unique place.
Downtown Olympia is a treasure, home to the highest concentration of local businesses in the region. City planners visit Olympia to learn from our model of a vibrant downtown.
Our locally-run stores vary from funky thrift shops to antique stores to upscale boutiques. We have the Olympia Farmer's Market known throughout our region as being one of the best. We have the Hands-On Children's Museum, a creative and educational place to take the littles when the rainy season hits. We have Fish Tale Brew Pub, where you can bring a jug to be filled with good local ale. Good local-roasted coffee is available almost everywhere (except Starbucks).
But Olympia also has something very special and unique. It is not a store, its a spirit. Olympia's spirit is very unique and creative, which is why we are internationally known for our DIY music and arts scene.
Tourists often comment that Olympia is a small town with an urban feel. I would call Olympia the littlest big city around. (Population: 42,000)
Like all big cities, Olympia has many different types of activities and events going on all the time.
Downtown Olympia is a wonderfully spontaneous place. In addition to our local shops, you will see many underground enterprises in downtown.
You might see the musician in the "will sing for cookies" hat, or Viola, who sells temporary tattoos. Sometimes local farmers will peddle their produce downtown out of the back of a truck or a bicycle basket. You will see creative enterpreneurs doing many unexpected things downtown. You will see the Manium, the black-painted concert venue, owned by Duane, the landlord of over 30 black-painted properties in Olympia. There are even two restaurants that share a space: New Moon Cafe operates for breakfast and lunch, and Quality Burrito uses the same restaurant at night for late-night burritos.
Olympia's economy is far from conventional.
Downtown Olympia is also characterized by generosity. Generosity is expected-its part of our way of life.
Almost every successful business is heavily involved in sharing its prosperity with the community, and citizens in our town donate their time and art prolifically.
Perhaps the best example of this is the Procession of the Species a completely non-commercial parade, where 3000 local residents dance or march as animals and plants in elaborate home-made costumes through downtown, attracting 35,000 spectators. (Pretty good turn-out for a town of 42,000.)
Throughout the year, rain or shine, you will see black-clad punks riding around on bicycles with heavy baggage every evening. This group of community members, called Done and Done (or EGYHOP), collects donations of socks, jackets, sleeping bags, food, and first aid supplies and are on the streets every night distributing them to folks in need. No one funds this organization, and no one "runs" it. It has been operating for five years without funding or formality.
On Columbia Street, across from Olympia Supply hardware store is the Olympia Free School, another volunteer-run organization where community members offer free classes and workshops to anyone who wants to learn a new skill. Classes include cooking, music lessons, foreign language, reading, arts, and more. The Evergreen State College may be our most well-known alternative education institution, but the Free School is the most generous.
Anyway, already I have written a long post trying to describe a little of the flavor of our precious downtown community. I should just begin regularly profiling the great projects and businesses and people who I see around town, as one post could never contain them all.
The reason I want to write this is because recently there has been a lot of local talk about improving downtown, and making it more economically viable. I could not agree more with this plan. We need more flourishing businesses here, and more entry-level jobs, especially living-wage jobs. I think there is much we could do to creatively bring more vibrance to our community.
But sadly, some people (including several of our city council members) have been perpetuating a bad image of downtown, calling it dirty, unsightly, decrepit, and even unsafe.
Politicians have been saying these things, though they are not true, as justification to make expensive deals with out-of-town developers and big business.
If history is any teacher, we know that these kinds of deals will NOT bring economic viability to downtown, though they may line the pockets of developers like Steve Cooper and politicians like Doug Mah.
There is a poster in the window of many retailer windows in Olympia that says: a dollar spent locally generates $5-$15 in the local economy, but when a dollar is spent at a chain store, 80% of it leaves the community immediately.
When I think of flashy corporate business deals being touted as good for our economy, I remember the Olympia Brewery being bought by Miller in 1999. This was supposed to be great for "our" economy, and the cities gave Miller a great deal. They immediately removed the Oly Beer sign, and replaced it with theirs. Three years later the plant closed and every one of its union workers were laid off. Miller said the brewery was too small to generate profit, but it is more likely that the deal was a way to stomp out a union-dominated competitor. Miller made a deal that disallows any company from brewing beer there ever again. Who's economy is that good for?
When it comes to downtown being strong, healthy place where small businesses are successful, no one is a greater advocate for that than the local people who love this place. But one thing we will not accept in regards to our town is slander, especially if that slander is part of a campaign to sell Olympia's spirit right out from under her.
Start telling the truth, Olympia City Council. Downtown is safe, beautiful, inclusive, vibrant, and viable, and thousands of people already know it. Denying it will not bring more dollars into downtown, but declaring it will.



I have never really used the word "permaculture" before. I always used to think of permaculture as being one certain type of thing- trends like cob building and composting toilets. It was only recently that I realized permaculture is about everything that I think and write about. Common sense solutions, win-win situations, workability, and social harmony are all qualities of permaculture.

So my new thing is permaculture websites. I'm not embarrassed about that.

This one had this cool little map of what "permatopia" would look like. I don't really believe in utopias. Things in real life are messier and more complicated than all that. And if there is one thing that I have learned from living and working with people, its that there are many ways of doing things and its seldom you find a group of people who agree on even the most basic of things. So I don't really believe that this little chart is the key to saving the world. But I think ideas like some of these may catch on and save the world little by little.


Olympia's Heart: A Coalition of the Willing

We have choices about how to approach problems in our community. We can look at a thing like crime or homelessness (problems not as synonymous as people think)and decide to place responsibility for it on those responsible. No one can tell you not to blame the guilty, if you want to take that upon yourself. But how do you determine, for instance, who is responsible with regard to homelessness? Many believe that the individual is responsible for their own circumstances, however difficult. I guess I believe that too, on some level. I've seen people be unreasonably decent as often as I've seen the opposite, and I can only chalk it up to free will.
But if you spend much time working with homeless people trying to get off the streets, you find that many of them are stuck in catch-22s. For instance: the state has determined that they are unable to work due to a serious disability, but their monthly disbility income is less than $400 per month, and there is no subsidized housing available.
Or they have been clean from drugs for a year and a half, are attempting to regain custody of their children and right those they have wronged, and a felony drug charge keeps them from getting a job, getting into any apartment in town, or going to school.
Or they are so traumatized from war or abuse, and have been repeatedly retraumatized on the streets, that they have lost all sense of common reality and cannot recognize a single ally in their life. Maybe it seems like they need to just get over it. I have found it very hard to say that to someone who was raped by their parent as a child, or who has seen other humans blown apart in war. I just don't know what it is to live in the aftermath of something like that.
I can no longer approach human beings as either responsible or not. I have had the privilege to know many bad people. Bad people have changed me. I have known and cared about people who were meth dealers, sex offenders, child abusers, schizophrenics, junkies, and "homeless-by-choice".
Perhaps that sounds backwards to some people. I don't condone the bad things people do, or trust everyone I know to do good. But I encourage every person in the world to take on having a deeper look at bad people. Resolve to not see them as bad. I have known some very good bad people. I believe its only when people can be seen as good that they can take on the responsibility for some of the bad things they have done.
Most of us have a side of ourselves that we'd rather not be defined by. It is a wonderful public service to refuse to define others by the worst things they do or have done.
One thing I value about Olympia is that I think a lot of people feel this way. When I am downtown, I know the business owners, baristas, bums, stay-at-home-moms, street kids, police officers, bus drivers, librarians, musicians, even the drug dealers. We say hello to one another. We grow accustomed to our routines together. Someone drives the 47 bus, someone begs on that particular corner, someone opens shop promptly at 10:30, someone drinks coffee and bullshits Sunday mornings, someone always orders the same thing and leaves the same tip. We notice if someone disappears for a while. There is a shared sense among a lot of the Olympia community that we all belong here- that we're part of a whole, and that Olympia would be incomplete without any one of us.
I cannot tell you how much that means to me. I would never want it to be any other way. Everyone should know their neighbors in this capacity. Everyone should know their town crazies by name, and worry when they don't see them for a while. When you are a part of this you have a family that is greater than your bloodlines. It feels amazing to have so many people matter to you.
There is cruelty here, like anywhere. There is pretension, racism, insanity, desperation, loneliness, violence, bad manners. But there is also a huge number of people who choose to allow every imperfect and unlovable person to have a place of some honor in our community. This "coalition of the willing" does not represent every resident of Olympia, but we are, I believe, her heart.


Welcome, Mr. McMenamin!

McMenamins is buying the Spar! Music to our ears. Current owner McWain has been one of the most outspoken jerks in town for quite sometime, and downtown is hungry (as always) for more hangouts than the bars. I think McMenamins is pretty sure to deliver a good show. I know it is not locally run, but I think it will be a tasteful and profitable business that will honor the character of downtown, and this is an endangered species anymore.

If we could just get him to buy Batdorf and Bronson....


B & B, what happened?

Michael Nutter Jeweler (from Vancouver, WA) has moved into the space next to Batdorf and Bronson coffee shop, furthering the gentrification of that block.
The owner has informed B & B that the smoke from out front bothers him, so B & B has obligingly removed all the outdoor seating and thus they suck even more.
Rumor has it that the owner has a beef with the notorious and lovable Long Hair David, a regular in the outdoor/smoking section in front of the coffee shop. He apparently started something with LHD the other day, grabbing Long Hair's bicycle to remove it from the space in front of his shop. When LH objected to this, jeweler turned to him and said, "I know who you are. My brother's a cop."
Sometimes I just fear for the future of our town, when there is not a spot on the marble sidewalk left for any chain-smoking, cranky eccentrics.
It couldn't be that jewelery guy's complaints about the sidewalk-sitters has something to do with his Long Hair Dave vendetta, could it?
The verdict is still out on whether the change is permanent. It will be an interesting test as to what kind of prestige is more powerful in this town...
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