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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Servin’ It Up, Tacoma Style—A Cook’s Tour Returns!




My friend Rachael is a doer. And a helper. She does and she helps, no questions; she just works hard, has fun, and grows her heart even bigger. She cares about her community passionately. So, when Rachael gives her rally cry, “…hey this is great, do this!” You listen.

Rachael gives me the inside scoop on some great fundraisers. And it’s not just your usual fundraising; it’s fresh, it’s real, it’s fun, and it’s all about Tacoma. And she’s at it again! Go Rachael go!

Junior League of Tacoma is going for the gusto in their fourth year of “A Cook’s Tour.” Think about this Tacoma lovers and patrons: you get a personal escort to five of Tacoma’s most beautiful homes, you meet local chefs extraordinaire and get the inside scoop on being a Tacoma foodie (and trust me, you can be a foodie in this town with great pride and fervor). Decorating tips and other secrets to being totally fabulous are all within grasp. The best part? Your dollars do good things in supporting the good works of the JLT, with proceeds going to the JLT literacy programs -- Adopt A School, the Family Lecture Series partnering with the Tacoma Public Library and numerous one day projects to support the literacy of children in our community.

For fifty bucks, you aren’t driving, (shuttles deliver you and yours from Annie Wright School at 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM, and 4:00 PM); so you can kick back, be a lookie-loo, ask questions, and dream out loud. Hey, sounds good to me! (Plus, I’ll let you in on a secret: I am volunteering as docent this weekend in one of the MAGNIFICENT homes for the Tacoma Historic Homes Tour—this house is ALSO going to be part of the Cook’s Tour. Ooo La La! Folks, you are going to LOVE this. I’ve decided I’d just live in the kitchen. Seriously. It’s that incredible)!

Tickets are limited and because this event happens soon on May 10th (Mom’s Day alert! Mom’s day alert!), get on it and get your tickets today. Call 383-1030 or visit jlttacoma.org to do your thing.

Cheers!

Coming to the end of poetry month:

Can you believe April is winding-down already? I've spent a lot of my spare moments, this month, writing poetry. A big thanks to Kim for sending me a link to an April "Poem A Day" challenge at the end of March. It's been hair-pulling, squeaking an entry in when most sane people are sleeping marathon...but it's also been a creative joy, especially on those stay-inside days. I thought I'd share this one, prompted by the order to write a poem on an inanimate object. There's still a day and a-half left to Poetry Month...feel free to create in the comments!



The Vase

Ancient samurai of a vase
though this incarnation was
thrown, shaped and baked
just few short years ago,
broad, squat, misshapen warrior
robed for battle in pewter scales,
banded in brown at shoulder and hips
like the leather of belts and sheath,
it was to be broken for the crime of leaning
but, instead, came home with me,
the old soldier to his honourable place
by the door of my inner sanctum,
pushing back at the bookcase as if
guarding all the knowledge within.

Think Tacoma's Cool? Here's How You Can Show It!

Wanna share your Tacoma love and show your civic pride? Think Grit City is totally cool? Well, Tacoma's Chamber of Commerce sure thinks so and wants your inspiration too. Check out the Chamber's Tacoma Is Cool blog right here, right now, by clicking HERE. See the expressions of your neighbors and what they think about Tacoma in words, art, and pictures. You can do this too! It's simple. Obtain one of the special card stock Tacoma is Cool postcards from the Tacoma's Chamber of Commerce or craft your own postcard from card stock following the specifications and measurements noted on the site. Slap on a stamp, toss it in the mail to the Chamber address (also noted on the blog) and see your vision of your beloved home posted on the Tacoma is Cool blog. I scored a couple of postcards and I am eager to have at it. My daughter confiscated one and drew a picture us girls enjoying Tacoma shopping (awww...). I am still working on mine, but I am fairly certain I will be doing a tribute piece to the fine dining scene and or the local blogs that rock our little Tacoma world. And hey, it's not a big deal if you are not artsy. Words, doodles, photos, stickers, collage, and napkin art all work (this is going to be one of the techniques I use, non art type that I am). The big deal is your joy and love for the city and sharing that with other Gritizens. Check out the blog today to see some of the latest submissions. Fun and easy-breezy, all for the cost of a stamp.

Readers and Bloggers: highlight your postcard ideas right here in comments. Share some inspiration or get some inspiration. Come one and come all!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Four years ago...







Four years ago this summer that was our yard. We bought this house knowing what we were walking into. We are the second family to own this house. The gentleman before us was an avid collector of military items. Sort of a local legend to all the older neighbors. Shortly after we moved in we received notice to clean up our yard or we'd be fined. Ever since we cleaned up we still receive thank you's and stories regarding our house.





Four years of hard work and we no longer are stepping on ancient rusty nails that don't belong to us. Now if only we could get the landlord next to us to enjoy the same pride of a clean yard.

IT'S A GREAT GREY DAY!


That's the icon on our homepage this morning... overcast (right now the sun is shining brightly outside my window and this predicting has got me nervous)

The latest AP poll is saying that Clinton would beat McClain in the nationals. And the hurt side of me is saying: "here we go, tossing Obama to the curb... I knew it, I knew it all along..."
Don't ask me how I knew it... too many personal disappointments, too much reading of history, too much self doubt, too much hurt/anger... I don't know... I just don't...

THIS I DO KNOW
The three people in this picture are sincerely speaking to each other


On this overcast day, people are getting up, heading out for work or school or church or some other, hopefully, wonderful adventure...


I wish you the best and I hope my few words are helpful... (any bright/grey thoughts you want to share... please do)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Almost Done

Thursday, I fly back to Tacoma after spending another two months in the Belleville/Trenton area of Ontario. It's been a good trip and as the case last summer, I met a lot of great people and got a chance to renew some friendships from my last trip. I don't know if I'll be back. The Canadian Forces that we are directly assisting are recommending that we be retained for another year because they don't have the training, technical manuals or staff to take over sole responsibility for our equipment. Because if import/export laws, we cannot train them on equipment for which they have not received technical manuals. It's a slow process with road blocks from both the US and Canadian governments. Bureaucracy is a universal headache. So who knows? If Ottawa decides to keep us for another year, I'm sure I'll be back for another two month stint.

In any case, I thought I'd upload a couple of short videos to give you a small idea of what the local area looks like. This first one is taken from on top of Mount Pelion in Trenton. It's actually a big hill. Here is a picture of the sign explaining it's existence.



Essentially, it says that the hill was caused by a receding glacier. It's a type of hill called a "drumlin".

This is the first video. Sorry for the rumbling sound. It was a little windy today.

What I described as a hospital was actually an apartment building. The Hospital is the old brown building below it.

the next video was taken from the middle of the Belleville Bay Bridge pictured below. I walked from where I parked my car (where I was standing when I took this picture) up to the middle of the bridge. Again, it was a little windy so you get the rumble of the wind.

Here is the video:

And here is a shot of the Moira River as it runs through Downtown Belleville.

The level is down from last week. They were afraid it would flood out the northern part of the city. Lat summer when I was here, you could have walked across this river from where I am standing.

Well, I hope you got a little feel of the area. It really is quite beautiful here in the summer.

Stay dry, I'll see you all next Thursday!

VW

Saturday, April 26, 2008

YESTERDAY---TODAY---TOMORROW

When I was young, and like so many, many other children, needing to love and be loved, I spent many happy hours on the front porch of my family's home, holding my dog, feeling safe and warm.

Here's a picture of a little brother joined soul to soul with his dog--- feeling safe and warm.


Today, Saturday, in Portland, Oregon, I, needing to love and be loved, two wonderful little dogs snuggled right up next to me and I felt so safe and warm.

Thanks, little ones, for the comfort you brought me today.



Warm-Safe-Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow

Tacoma: Got Girl Trouble?

Tacoma's own quintessential, nitty, gritty rock icon band, Girl Trouble are still rocking the house with their kitschy, punky, and rockabilly style. Established in 1984 and still goin' strong, the band is well known for giving out awesome trinkets at concerts and for the fab fanzine, "Wig Out" with their famous "surprise" inside the 'zine (like a Cracker Jacks box). Read a current interview with the TNT's Ernest Jasmin here.

Ironically, I saw GT only in Seattle in the early nineties. Their shows were always a kick and I loved 'em, 'cause, they really were from my hometown. And speaking of which, see a classic Girl Trouble video right here, with an old homage to Tacoma with a song, well, about Tacoma. Stand up, Gritizens, and dance it out with Girl Trouble and "My Hometown."

Airing the Laundry


“Are you sure those are going to dry?” asked Ana as she opened the door for me to carry out a load of wash to the back yard this morning.

“No I’m not,” I smiled. “We’ll just have to see.”

All sentient beings mark the turning of the seasons in some way. From the ritual of the ground hog’s shadow to my daughter Amy’s observation of the many phases of Patterson’s, our local fruit and vegetable stand. One of my bench marks for Spring, along with the scent of blooming plants, is the hanging out of the laundry.

Spring here in the Pacific Northwest has been delayed this year. I don’t know where she’s been. We’ve had a couple of glimpses, but she seems to be thumbing her nose at the Vernal Equinox. As recently as last weekend, the middle of April, we’ve been treated to sleet, hail, and snow as Winter appears to be leaving kicking and screaming.

“I never seem to get caught up on the laundry anymore,” observes Ana who does the portion created by my son, their son and her.

“Welcome to motherhood,” I always reply.

Until I can get the family to go along with my idea of “Naked Day” whereby everyone stays home and wears their birthday suit for a complete day so that we get caught up, laundry never seems to take a holiday. This is the time of year when I gamble that the sun will be warm enough and the day long enough for the laundry to dry.

I love hanging out laundry. I always have. Once, when my oldest was a baby and I was visiting my grandmother in the Ozarks she got tickled with me for being inordinately happy over a line of freshly washed diapers (yes, moms, that’s what we used before everyone began stuffing the landfill with “disposable” diapers) hanging in her back yard. They looked beautiful with the yard and neighboring pasture behind them.

Besides being ecological, air dried laundry just smells so good when you bring it in. So with the promise of a dry day including temperatures over 60 degrees I looked out the window and announced that today was the first day I’d attempt it. We don’t have a tremendous amount of line space—just one line between two hug Doug Firs and two folding racks, but I can get a lot out there and seeing the laundry hanging makes me nonsensically happy.

So, we’ll see how today’s batch goes. We are not into reliable laundry hanging weather by any means, but we are easing that way.

The new key

A little while ago I got my own shiny new key for the Community Center. Today I decided to use it for the first time.

We get electric bills for hundreds of dollars in the winter months, and a chronic problem is that the heat is left on. Our heating system consists in part of heating elements built into in the floor, and some overhead heaters. All run on electricity. We can barely afford the electricity.

I had a recent bright idea to replace the thermostats at the Community Center. What a grand story this has been! First I bought a replacement thermostat. Then I noticed that the thermostat had a lockable box that was used to prevent tampering. Then I noticed that there were 2 thermostats! So okay, I took the one I originally bought back and got a 2nd identical one. Plus I got 2 shiny new lockable boxes for the 2 shiny new thermostats. Ready to go.

Today I tried to install them. Of course I shut off the breakers before even trying. For the first thermostat, I found the key to the lockbox and was able to unlock it. That was the best part. A long story short, the thermostat was kind of, uh, fragile, and I broke it getting it out. Even worse, was that when I got the wires exposed, I realized that no Home Depot issue low voltage thermostat was going to do the job. So I buttoned it back up and moved on to the 2nd one. The 2nd one was also inside a lockable box. There was no key for this one. So I drilled holes in the plastic lock box, so i could get a screw driver inserted to remove the screws. All went well until the last drilled hole, which caused some of the plastic to shatter. No problem as I have a replacement on hand. Then I get the thermostat open, to find that while different than the first one, it too was not replacable by a typical Home Depot issued programmable thermostat. Ugh. At least this wasn’t fragile like the first thermostat. Back together it went, except I left the keyless and broken lock box off.

After that I packed up my tools and was getting ready to close up the Center. I was standing in the entry way reading the reader board when I turned toward the outer doors see our local Deputy Sheriff peering in a window right next to the entry doors. He’d evidently saw a truck by the entrance (mine), and was investigating.

Well, here I am, standing not 5 feet away watching him looking in the window. He doesn’t see me. Being a Sheriff, he is armed and there is no way I want to startle him. So I slowly put my hands in front of me, which fortunately were not holding anything and I said “Daaaannnn…..Daaaannnn…..” He heard and looked towards me. The look of recognition on his face got me past the fear of imminent problems. We talked for a while after that. I shared some of my ideas for the Center and he had some great suggestions on how to pursue them.

He left after a while and I returned to the task of transporting my tools back to the truck when I noticed there was, yes there it was, indeed, a 3rd thermostat! This one was in an out of the way place, by the entry way doors. This one was set to an indicated 85 degrees. Yikes! I turned that one off altogether, and already recognized the thermostat’s design, which is identical to the first one, so didn’t try to disassemble it.

Later in the day I spoke with another Council member and he said that he didn’t know where the key was to the 2nd thermostat. Between that and the accumulation of dust and dead bugs inside the lock box, it occurred to me that it’s probably been set at it’s current setting for a long time, which explains some of the high heating bills we’ve been paying.

Well the key to the door works, but the thermostats don’t seem to. Interesting how opening one door always leads to others.

Note: A duplicate of this article is at www.explore-greenwater.com/community where we have a discussion forum.

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Twitter" text message leads to release from Egyption jail

Have you ever wondered about how potentially valuable the blog or text messaging can be?

The following story will make the answer abundantly clear as it did for James Carl Buck, an American college student.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/04/25/twitter.buck/index.html

Fircrest in spring



Thursday, April 24, 2008

A RAINY DAY ON HILLTOP

Here are a few lessons I gleaned from my day at work on Tuesday.
1. If I take my time and move quietly and calmly I can get through places where I cannot see a few feet in front of me.

The driving rain kept me on edge, that's for sure!


2. When I choose to think, speak, and act with love for myself and others, I discover that we live in a beautiful, beautiful world...

Check out our skyline!


3. At the end of the day people all over the world try very hard to quietly and calmly get back home to where they feel known, understood, and loved.

Here's Hilltop, Tacoma, 19th and J, four forty five in the afternoon----

Warning: Document Everything

On 3/26/08 city workers screwed up and I had toilet water spraying all over my bathroom. It took me two weeks to get my 4 yr old daughter to voluntarily use the bathroom again. They were vacuuming the sewer lines when they used too much pressure which forced air through my sewer line and out my bathroom toilet. Water sprayed in every direction. I was told to file my claim through the city and I did as I was told. I also replaced the items that were covered in toilet water. It took me all evening to clean it up because I was caring for a 4 yr old and a newborn, but I only charged them for 2 hrs. Which involved throwing away everything, taking notes of what was covered, and sanitizing the bathroom for my family. The total replacements were around $200. Hair brushes, tooth brushes, and all other items add up. I thought I had done everything right.

Today 4/24/08 I got a response to my claim. To my disappointment it was an offer of $35. Which basically covered labor and tooth brushes. Some of the items they says were not documents by their videos. I didn't know I should have had the guy taking the pictures move items around so he got it all, but maybe he didn't want to touch my pee water saturated items. I know I didn't. So because the city is cheap and didn't take proper pictures and because I didn't force them to I am screwed out of the money that I spent to replace the items. I should have charged them for the distress that it caused my four year old. As well as the distress it caused me when I was home alone with a crying four year old and infant while my toilet was spraying all over the place.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The best HOPE

Last year in April I attended a very inspiring luncheon organized by the YWCA and vowed to make this an annual event for myself. This year I counted the days to attend again and invited several special women friends to join me and share in what I knew would be another wonderful luncheon. And it was ! Over 700 women attended the “YWCA Celebration Luncheon 2008” held today in the Bicentennial Pavilion. Just walking into the lobby you could feel the energy of women excited to see each other, purchasing hand-made jewelry and listening to the rhythm of African drums being played by a unique trio of musicians. “This is a reminder of how many wonderful women we have right here in our community” said my friend Nancy.

Executive Director Miriam Barnett presented a touching story of a women who arrived in a taxi at the shelter this past Saturday with “everything she owned” her child, a diaper bag and one suitcase. Keynote speaker Nontombi Naomi Tuitu spoke about hope and inspiration.

Did you know the YWCA has been assisting women in Tacoma since 1906? This very vital Non-profit assisted more than 12,000 women and children in 2007. Over 4700 calls were answered on the 24-hour domestic violence crisis line. Do we dare believe domestic violence does not exist in our community? The statistics show it does. Let us not forget how important this need is in our community to keep women and children safe. How can you help? Volunteer, make a donation and advocate for women! I support the YWCA and encourage you to as well.

ywcapiercecounty.org

Can Anyone Tell Me?


In between some of the crazy storms, I've been wandering around the garden. I came across what looks like a tiny sapling with silver-grey bark, fuzzy leaves and these clusters of tiny pink flowers. Not a great pic, I know, but could anyone tell me what I have here? Right now it's all in a bit of a tangled mess. Any help from gardening neighbours would be appreciated! Thank you.


Ooh-la...we had such a beautiful double rainbow, after one of those icicle tempests. It ended right in the bay.

Readers Represent: Who is Your Icon?

When people think of Las Vegas, they conjure up certain images or people that are connected with the Vegas lore. Vegas means the Rat Pack, Elvis, showgirls, gamblers, hustlers, Wayne Newton, glitter, flash, fast cash, lost wages, and desert sunshine. On a recent trip to Sin City, I found my very own Vegas icon to add to the list: Rex, the Bally’s Hotel bartender.

My husband and I watched Rex chill the martini glasses perfectly in liquid ice and cascading cylindrical ice cubes until they achieved the perfect luster and icy coolness. He worked quickly, but carefully, and our Hendricks martinis were served with pure and subtle perfection. It’s what you would expect from Rex and then again it wasn’t either. Rex, with his overly smooth, tanned skin, silvery fox, perfectly coiffed hair, snappy Vegas style accessories, and crisp, perfectly pressed uniformed stood for bartending magic. Yet, Rex had a working man, regular guy appeal, too. Built like a former high school wrestler and subtle conversational grammatical errors and casual stance, he was great and easy to talk to. He’s been a bartender at the Bally’s Hotel (formerly the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino) on the strip for 32 years. As a teen he drifted aimlessly and took work that just “happened” along. Due to an error processing his application to be an electrician’s apprentice, he took the gamble and found the bartending opening and thought “why not?” Ah, the essence of Vegas: Why not?

I asked Rex about the horrible 1980 fire that broke out in the casino and 87 people perished when Bally’s was the MGM. He remembered the time well. He wasn’t working that day, but golfing with buddies, because his bartending shift got changed at the last minute that day. The fire changed the face and mood of Vegas—the city of pleasure was in pain. Didn’t last long though—the facility was rebuilt in under a year and Vegas forged on. The hotel also set the benchmark for the rest of the world for fire safety and preparation according to Rex during the aftermath of the tragedy. It also was a turning point for him. He mentioned a “first” wife and a son back then, but you got the sense things changed for him too. I got the vibe that he survived anyway and returned to the job and the city that nurtured him. The people, the sounds, the sights—he embraced them with a sense of adventure. I guess Rex is the kind of guy that would laugh at the city’s foibles and plain goofiness, but would never leave her.

Rex: Vegas Icon.

Who are your local icons? Who is the quintessential person that defines your ‘hood? Your city? Why?

Discuss.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

HOME IS WHERE THE HEARTH IS

I caught an early afternoon plane to Sacramento, California this past Friday. I teamed with three couples there to present a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Retreat. Sorry, no pictures of the folks this time. One of the presenting couples was quite clear... "no pictures should be taken," and, following Rule Six-- Don't Take Yourself Seriously," I put the camera away.

I was speaking a number of times at the Encounter (at least sixteen) and I grew up just a little bit more because I was tired when I got on the plane and I had to plod my way through some tough hours... sharing my hurts and happy moments, listening as others did the same... no easy task, let me tell you.

Still I know that letting people share themselves without questioning or judging, hanging with them until they get it through their knuckleheads that they are loveable and loving (that's hard to accept, isn't it... a wholE crew of us just plain know we have never measured up to some mark and we never shall), and letting them be themselves is an absolutely wonderful and essential way to be with other folks. So, on a scale of one to ten in being supportive, I'm going to give myself a sizzling six.

THE WEATHER
I left Tacoma and the word was rain, thunder, sunshine, mixed with snow. In Sacramento, a balmy seventy two. "Seventy-two," I thought, "ain't going to happen on the West Coast.
I was wrong!!!

Here's a picuture of "Old Town" Sacramento, Friday afternoon... (my oh my)
Great Day for a carriage ride...


And, of course, I did have an opportunity there to catch two wonderful men on film. They were volunteers at the Railroad Museum, dressed to the nines, and they graciously helped many children, their teachers, parents, other adults, and me to meet our needs.


The presenting team, three couples and I, had meals in wonderful resturants when I first got off the plane (lunch- Friday afternoon), then three hours before the retreat began (dinner, Friday evening), and Sunday evening, after the retreat was over.

The three couples had met three times prior to this so that they could see how their talks focused on the themes we intended to present. I did not meet them until Friday afternoon. Then we took time to get to know each other and get comfortable with each other. Here is a sunshiney picture of the entrance of the Friday evening restaurant... great food here, wonderful company and that is one of the great gifts of the Retreat...


ANOTHER GIFT
Folks really watch out for each other. There are couples who, for years, have done everything they can to make sure that the presenting priest and couples know how much they are appreciated.
The picture here is staged... I kind of put the great bed I had been privileged to sleep on Friday and Saturday night, and then made sure you could see that I had a desk (quite executive, thank you very much!!!), and that some loving, naughty, supporters of Marriage Encounter had just put balloons on my bed to let me know that I was very much loved... here's that staged picture (isn't it astounding to see I only brought a backpack and a suitcase to Sacramento!!!)



RETREAT OVER
Stayed overnight in an absolutely mind blowing home in the California mountains. Caught an afternoon plane back to Sea-Tac... loved my ride back to Tacoma on the shuttle, and was glad to be back home, back in the chill and the rain of Tacoma...

My Oh My--- from 72 to this... BACK HOME... ( a littler wiser, a lot more humble, and definitely , so glad to have the opportunity to love and be loved) How was Monday evening in your part of "Our Neighborhood?"

HAPPY EARTH DAY TO EVERYONE.... (ISN'T IT GREAT TO BE GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE THIS WORLD A BETTER PLACE FOR MANY, MANY GENERATIONS)

Check out what I was experiencing from the balcony of Orton Hall:

Monday, April 21, 2008

EARTH DAY, AN EVERY DAY COMMITMENT


Earth Day comes once a year, but preserving our big blue marble ought to be a daily practice, year ‘round. In order to bring the environment back from the brink of disaster and ensure a planet for our grandchildren fit to live on, we must have a paradigm shift in how we live. As the world’s largest consumer of resources and goods, the United States must lead the way in creating new communities based on sustainability and livability that in turn will benefit not only their citizens, but the entire world.

There is no one panacea that will fix the environment and end hunger. The solution will require the thought of our best scientists, civil engineers, and sociologists and the cooperation of individual citizens engaging in less selfishness, if not outright selflessness. We all need to view our existence on this planet in a new way. While we may have a legal right to continue business as usual—and to save ourselves we may need to change that—we have a moral obligation to be able to look back and say we have done all we can to create a livable environment for our offspring and theirs. We must wean ourselves from oil.

Use of a variety of alternative energy forms is our best weapon against global warming and terrorism. Reduction of use of oil will improve the environment and take away the main weapon from those who seek to destroy us. Our use of alternative energy must be balanced. The current effort to create more ethanol is bringing about hunger. We cannot simply grow our way out of our current energy crisis, importing corn from the bellies of third world peoples. Not only do we need to burn alternative fuels in our vehicles, we need to change our driving habits and our means of transportation. We need to if not divorce ourselves from our automobiles, at least try a separation.

Many Americans consider it their God-given right to drive wherever they want with no thought to the cost not only to their individual pocketbook, but to the environment in which we all must live. As gas prices inch toward $4 some people are beginning to plan their trips in their automobiles, making each trip count. Perhaps the government should have instituted gasoline rationing following 9/11, thus forcing Americans to be frugal with the commodity that is a component of the conflict in the Middle East. Americans managed to ration all manner of things during WWII, but the current administration would like us to believe that we may continue our oil-gluttonous lives with no inconvenience. Now Americans need to climb out of their cars and into buses.

Besides finding alternative energy sources, Americans must shift their view of community. City planners and civil engineers need to create communities within cities whereby citizens can live, work, and shop within a smaller radius than that which came into vogue following WWII. Affordable housing must be within a reasonable distance of peoples’ employment coupled with mass transportation. Where in the past realtors have told potential buyers to drive until they found a home they could afford, Americans need to shift their mindset from the suburbs to urban areas and be willing to possibly live with less square footage in order to avail themselves of public transportation and being within walking distance of shops and services. Americans must demand to live closer to work and services.

While changing their notions about transportation and living arrangements, Americans need to shift their thinking about food. People should be encouraged to support small local farmers and eat in season. While it is impractical today to believe that anyone can totally live within a hundred mile radius of their home, attempting to eat in season and support local sustainable farming will go a long way to improving the environment and community. Americans must make more conscious choices at the grocery store and let their money be their vote for better food.

In the process of becoming more selfless, the need to purchase “things” that ultimately winds up in the landfill declines. Through thoughtful purchases and recycling we can minimize our carbon imprint on the earth. Washington is one of the greenest states when it comes to recycling, a fact Washingtonians can be proud of.

If we want to maintain “the American way of life” we need to change what it is. As five percent of the world’s population, we do not possess a God-given or constitutional right to thirty percent of the world’s resources. The daily behaviors of each of us can make a difference to the environment and the earth.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Red Ferarri vs. shuttle bus for the disabled: Gravelly Lake Drive fatalities





My brother is dying from end-stage liver disease and was denied a liver transplant, because he is too weak, medically too fragile to have any hope of surviving the rigors of transplant surgery. He has been denied shuttle service from Pierce Transit for months and is effectively house-bound unless he can find a good-hearted neighbor who will drive him to the grocery store or to church. We take him to as many appointments as we can and we go out to see him as often as possible.

April 2 while stepping off of a Pierce Transit bus (regular bus, not a shuttle for the disabled) the bus was too far from the curb and as my brother stepped down, his knees buckled and he fell, landing on his head on the concrete sidewalk also injuring his right shoulder and both knees. We have been working ever since to get Pierce Transit to reconsider their denial of shuttle service for him: bad enough that he is dying from liver failure, diabetes, and congestive heart failure, but then to land on his head on concrete could have hastened his death.

I baked a penne pasta dish in our Auntie Mae's old Corningware lasagna pan late this morning to take to my brother's home for a shared Sunday dinner today.

As we neared his home a few blocks off of Gravelly Lake Drive at about 1:15 p.m., we encountered an accident scene and a roadblock that forced us to detour off Gravelly Lake Drive. When we emerged south of the accident, we could see part of the crash scene: a shuttle bus for the disabled had been involved in the crash; it was off the roadway and into a hedge on the east side of Gravelly Lake Drive, not far from the entrance to Lakewold Gardens. Police were on the scene. There were no fewer than six other vehicles (mostly what appeared to be supervisors' vans) from Pierce Transit and TransPro at the scene.

We eventually worked our way around the side streets to find my brother's house over by American Lake and didn't think about the accident scene again until after we had left his home 4 and 1/2 hours later at 5:30 and we once again encountered the roadblocks and utility crews cleaning up after the accident scene; all the Pierce Transit vehicles were gone then.

I got out of the car and asked one of the workers who was cleaning up the crash site what exactly had happened. He related that a young man who lived in one of the lovely homes along Gravelly Lake Drive decided to take his red Ferarri out for a spin and wind it up to see how fast it would go. He said that a shuttle bus had been T-boned by the racing Ferarri and two people were killed. He described seeing the aftermath, and described the carnage as "...horrific. You just can't imagine."

I felt numb with shock and saddened by the loss of life while simultaneously feeling relief that my brother had not been aboard that shuttle bus today.

Art Galleries, Art Walk Meet Monthly Fix


Above: Brightly colored banner atop the street corner sign by Tacoma's Merlino Art Center aptly alerts passersby that business as usual is spelled in beautiful living color! All photos (above and below ) copyright 2008 by Mizu Sugimura.

When my husband announced that we would be moving to the South Sound a number of years ago, I was particularly disheartened as it would take us even more miles south of the art and cultural touchstones I had grown up with as a resident of Seattle.


For the most part, the number of galleries opportunities in my present hometown of Federal Way can be reduced to the number of digits on a single hand, the blessing is that other communities particularly the wonderful city of Tacoma, WA are miles ahead of providing an adequate level of this necessary component in anyone's educational, cultural and spiritual life.



During any season I find myself desperate for a hit at an art gallery, I grab whomever family member or friend is nearby on the third Thursday of every month and head for the Art Walk in Tacoma.

This month, the journey in our car across the Tide Flats led us to a small island of culture and cafe at the junction of 6th Avenue South and South Fawcett Avenue which includes the Merlino Art Center, Two Vaults Gallery, Impromptu Gallery, One Heart Cafe and The Grand Cinema theater.


.
A long-time acquaintance, poet and artist by the name of M. Anne Sweet had secured a piece in a new equine themed show at Two Vaults Gallery and we were hoping to see her and the work at the opening reception.

Unfortunately, our timing was not at best and she'd ducked out with visiting friends for a well-deserved bite to eat! Nevertheless, the quality and selection of art on display that night made the trip well-worth taking, as well as the chance to enjoy a bit of culture and night life that Tacoma offers in plenty during the middle of the week to persons willing to come out and check what local arts community has to offer!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cool Stuff, Free Stuff, Food and Stuff: All The Right Stuff!

I love charity auctions, especially silent auctions. It's a fun game of shopping, gaming, strategy, and giving. I also love prizes, drawings, and surprises. Toss in some fantastic food, awesome wine, beauty buzz, high energy, and nice folks, and you have the event I attended Wednesday night.

Beauty, Bags & Bordeaux...A Girlfriend's Gathering was amazing fun and proceeds for this event supported the kiddos at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital and Health Center. I blogged about this celebration in March (click here to read all about it), and thanks to you, the event was a sold out affair. Put on by the friendly, ultra helpful and high energy Chambers Creek Orthopedic Guild, and hosted by Cascade Eye and Skin Centers in University Place, we were treated to a great night. Mom and I started with a glass of sparkling French wine and complimentary paraffin hand dips to make our hands silky soft. We perused pretty jewelry, glasses, and great products offered at the center and other local businesses (lots of little samples of the beauty products were dispersed which I adore!). We noshed on yummy food and desserts and sipped some terrific wines. We each bought little mini purses party favors and they had prizes in them. So for a small donation, you got great stuff. Mom and I were really lucky; I won a pretty watch and lip glosses and Mom got a moisturizer and a pretty designer scarf! The silent handbag auction offered something for everyone literally. It was great fun. I got a kitschy purse shaped like a boston terrier and a little sequined goldfish clutch (that my daughter prompted abducted). Mom won a couple of purses she just loved.

Aside from the retail therapy, we learned a lot about our skin and how to take care of it. The Cascade folks were really terrific and their facility is gorgeous. I also got to bump into a lot of folks I knew and it was fun chatting and catching up. All of this for the entry fee of thirty bucks. And the proceeds helped our South Sound kids. Now that you can't beat!

I'd like to thank everyone involved in this event. Your hard work paid off! And hey, just sign me up for next year too. I am ready!

Try the Rhythm of a Different Drum





Looking for a fun, moving experience that is free? Thursday nights at Ted Brown Music might be for you. From six thirty to eight PM there is an open drum circle upstairs at Ted Brown. Last week my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson went and had such a wonderful time that they insisted that I accompany them this week. We took along my younger son and granddaughter for good measure and had a wonderful time.


The Thursday night drum circle is very informal and the store provides the drums with everyone trading instruments from time to time. Children are very welcome and ours were not the only ones there. Instruments are provided for the wee ones, too, although they are welcome to beat on any drum there.


The sound of people drumming together is so primal, energizing and soothing all at once; a wonderful activity for old and young alike and a great alternative to whatever the boobtube has to offer. Come get with the beat (or not as my daughter-in-law says she can’t keep the beat, but has fun anyway) on Thursday night. Next week begins a little early at 6 PM as they will be having guest facilitator Arthur Hull. Ted Brown Music is located at 6228 Tacoma Mall Blvd.

http://www.tedbrownmusic.com/

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I JUST LOVE THE HILLTOP

WHY?
Back in 1968-1969 times were scary on the Hilltop and that's when I got my first lessons in being frequently under attack... because I was black. I kid you not. I who knew nothing (that's .0000000 to infinity)about civil rights/open housing/interracial dating/guns and drugs and corruption... found myself way, way over my head.

I remember one time coming to a meeting of the Human Rights Commission and watching one of the folks from a local station that loved to label folks Commies and revolutionaries who needed to either start loving their country or going back where they came from was putting various bits of broadcasting paraphenalia away. As he bent over, his suit coat raised up just high enough for me to focus in on a big, black pistol he had in his back pocket.

Believe me, by the time I got ready to move on for future studies, I had gotten labeled "troublemaker," "Commie," (to this very hour I really don't get what Karl Marx was trying to say... more than that, I never read more than three pages of anything he wrote, so I am not about to get in a big critique of Marxism, Sputnik, Kruscheov, "tear these walls down," or Putin ) by that radio station.

And the principal of Bellarmine at that time, my friend, Justin Seipp, let me listen to a blistering afternoon phone call as some man I did not know went on and on about how I should not be permitted to teach one more class and should be fired immediately... So, here in Tacoma, because of my love for the people of Hilltop, I got my first lesson in the old proverb, "if you're black, get back."

Tuesday I decided to take a late morning walk on the Top and this is what I saw:
The creativity of this wonderful garden, the various items there just held my attention


And I wondered about the laughter and sadness, the dreams crushed and the hopes fullfilled that had been experienced by the people who took time to welcome others into their world with this garden.

The power of the faithful who, day after day, came to this church, to give praise to God together.


One of the great sadnesses of so many urban churches are the number of funerals of young people who have been cruelly killed take place each year. I caught myself recalling moments of wonder and awe and sorrow I had experienced in different churches over the years. I am so thankful for the sincere hard working women and men who keep keeping on.

I recalled the welcoming smiles and the wonderful dishes I had seen the last time I came to this vegetarian restaurant.


I found myself hoping that the restaurant was daily crowded to overflowing by hungry people. Restaurant business is one tough work and the only way one succeeds in it is by cheerfully and consistently supporting people in feeling accepted and respected.

Any of you know Mr. Tom Dixon? He and Justin Seipp are two of the people who got me through 68-69. Justin kept inviting me to come and spend time with his friends...
cool, cool, determined people who wanted to make Tacoma a loving place for everyone.

Tom freed me up when he was director of the Urban League-- gave me a notebook and a pin and told me to go knock on doors and ask people what they needed

Thank you Justin; thank you Tom...

Then I decided to just stand on the corner of one of the busy streets there and let things happen. It was a bright, chilly morning... I was shivering and smiling and laughing and crying and thanking God for all the people who helped me to grow during my first hard years walking the streets of Hilltop...

I shall come here again and again. This is a good place for me and so many other people to just be ourselves. I hope you find some time to wander the Hilltop. Lots of good people here, who would welcome you to their churches, their shops, and hopefully, into their lives..


Ah... Martin King and 15th on a chilly spring day... JUST ABSOLUTELY LOVELY




Love to hear stories about your neighborhood...

April 15, 2008




From beginning to end April 15, 2008 was about as stress-filled and frustrating a day as I can remember. Not only the last day to file federal income tax returns, but working from an office at home, it was calamitous when just after 9 a.m. the power went out. I called Tacoma Power to report the outage and had a bizarre conversation with the man who answered the phone. Here I'm calling to report the power is out and he asks me, "Have you looked at your door?" Well, no, I hadn't looked at my door. Why would I look at my door when the power is out?!? He then informed ne that tree trimming was underway on our street and that the power would be would shut off for the next six hours! He added that they "would have attempted to notify you the day before" and I told him that both my husband and I had been at the house the entire day prior and no one had come to notify us. He added that a 'door hanger' should have been left on our door. (It wasn't.) So...no power...no work...and for that to happen any day would be a source of frustration, but to have it happen on April 15 presented an unfathomable conundrum. He gave me the phone number for another person at Tacoma Power and that went to voicemail, but the individual called later in the day to say he will mail me a claim form for any loss or damage.

Back in the good old days (when did they end?!?), the U.S. Postal Service kept at least one local facility open and receiving mail until midnight to ensure that the public would have the maximal opportunity to get an "April 15" postmark on their outbound federal income tax return filing. But the good old days are no more.

The Evergreen Station routinely receives mail until 8:30 p.m. (even though that represents a cutback also, because they used to pick up mail until 10 p.m. nightly), but now it is 8:30.

Wouldn't you think that the local postmaster might indulge John Q. Public and accommodate on just that one day of the year with a later time? Midnight, perhaps, like the olden days? No. Of course not, silly! What? And pay someone three-and-a-half more hours to go out and retrieve the mail one day of the year? No way!!! The latest pickup time at Evergreen Station on April 15 was 8:30 p.m.

We made it into the queue blocks away (47th Street, south of Tacoma Mall) on Pine Street and awaited our turn to drop the mail into the slot to ensure an April 15 postmark.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Into The Mystic M'ownday

The rain fell gently on the Aerie yesterday morning. I watched it begin like magic sparkles on the back deck, in early horizontal sunlight, before the clouds thickened and the drops became steady. I put the kettle on for a second cuppa, watching the wee hummers outside the window dart from feeder to feeder. An osprey alit in the big maple, sushi gripped tightly in his talons, and proceeded to chow-down. I focused the scope for a good close look at that beautiful white chest and dramatic stripe across the eyes.

While most dread Monday and the start of a new workweek, I declare it M’ownday to refill my spirit. When you juggle different jobs with no time clock to punch in and out, it’s important to carve what space you can for reconnecting and rest. Even with 24/7 caregiving, tasks can be moved around to give some necessary ease for one day a week.

Fellow Blogonia, Kim, gave me a wonderful present at the end of March. She sent (via email) an invitation. It was a poetry group’s challenge to write a poem each day for the month of April. I’ve been having a great time with it (thanks Kim!) and allowing the daily prompts to lead my mind where they will. Sunday’s was a gem…take a favourite song and write a poem.

Reading all the poems M'ownday morning, I began to think of how each of us has a personal “soundtrack” of songs in our lives and thought I’d share this challenge with you all. Pick three songs that would definitely be a part of your own soundtrack. You can just list them, or you can also say why you chose those particular ones. I know our lists can change from day-to-day, so I’m not asking anyone to sweat over the definitive three songs of your life. Relax your mind and let it float downstream. I’ll start us off.

“I’ll Be Seeing You”

I remember how this song affected my parents and their friends when I was a child. WWII was not far back in their memories and not a soul was unscathed by loss. The last line always gave me shivers. “…I’ll be looking at the moon…but I’ll be seeing you,” with that beautiful melody ending on a high, wistful note. Now that I’m older and have said goodbye to so many I have loved, the song grows ever deeper in my heart as comfort. Check out Lady Day's version sometime.

“Autumn Leaves”

This was a song my father used to sing, in his rich tenor voice. “The falling leaves drift by my window…the autumn leaves of red and gold…”
The mental picture of colour and movement was always so soothing. At the age of fifty-two, I’ve only just now added this song to my repetoire. I happen to love Eva Cassidy's rendition.

My third pick is perhaps one of my generation’s most favourite and meaningful songs…a song for M’ownday, packed with sweet memories made richer by pain and softer by time.

I know Van’s the Man but Joe Cocker is also cool and this is a lovely youtube to take you, “Into the Mystic.” Enjoy...and start thinking of the three you might pick.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Purple Haze, Sunny Days: Go HERE!

I love little discoveries, especially when I travel. So I was particularly delighted to recently find a sweet smelling treasure on the Key Peninsula. Fairview Acres Lavender Farm and Country Store located in Lakebay, Washington specialize in all things lavender: the plants themselves, culinary goods, beauty supplies, and household wonders. They also sell herbs and perennials, other fun gift shop items, knitting and spinning supplies, and even pretty, old fashioned spinning wheels!

Kind, delightful, family-oriented, and knowledgeable owners, Ron and Coni Chaney, have been working their beautiful farm for 15 years. Nearly 20 acres of GORGEOUS farmland are peppered with lush lavender plants, pretty herbs, perennial, and vegetable gardens, a green house, a tidy and lovingly put together country store and home, horse stables and barns, wide expanses of green grass, a small vineyard (they partner with their friends at Trillium Creek Winery, another Key Peninsula must see), and a glorious view of the water. The farm had horses (including miniatures), steer, and a large gaggle of geese.

Inside the country store was wonderful in just the lavender smell alone. Dried lavender bunches hung ornamentally from the ceiling and the lavender sachets were flowing from baskets and bins. I was intrigued by the culinary delights, all organic and infused with lavender. I saw syrups, jams, jellies, honey, teas, vinegars, sugars, and even lavender pepper! However, what caught my eye were the homemade beauty products. I purchased lavender soap, shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, and a room and linen spray to try. With great prices and a variety of goods available, you can’t help but walk away with fun gifts for others and/or little treats just for you. I am not a knitter or spinner, but for those that are, you’d be in absolute heaven at the assortment of supplies.

When I returned home from my weekend trip, I tried all of my products. I was impressed. The room and linen spray got absolute RAVES from other family members and the beauty products not only smelled terrific, but they were gentle, fresh, and worked well.

For more information on the farm, their products, address, and hours, please visit their website by clicking here or visiting http://www.fairviewcountrystore.com/. To note, if you can’t make it to the farm, you can order from them online at their online store. As far as driving directions, if you are a first time visitor, I’d recommend plugging in their physical address (noted on the website) into Google Maps and Mapquest.


Kim Thompson, Gritty City Woman Local Traveler

DAVID AND THE TRASH BIN



Sunday, at King Oscar's in Chehalis, where the World Wide Marriage Encounter Weekend was ending, I had a chance to meet David and his dad.

LOOKING BACK
For thirty years I had joyfully supported young people as they chose to courageously face that terrifying transition from childhood/teenage/college years to becoming young adults.
Many human beings I met shared their joys and sufferings. Often one of the great losses in their lives had been the physical, emotional, or spiritual absence of a parent.
I could identify with that loss. My father had never been available to me. I needed him to teach me how to be a Black man in American... 1940 to today. The way I talked, my perceptions and attitudes, my understanding of who I am and what I should do were shaped, not by the man who gave me life, but by my grandmother and mother (thank you God for giving me Mary Lou and Lourina), and the women and men who took time to love and guide me over the years. They did very well.
But I know my life would have taken a much different shape if MY DAD had been there for me.
Good shape, bad shape, indifferent shape? I do not know. But right now, as I am writing this post, I still miss MY DAD so very, very much.

TO THE POINT
So given the stories of the human beings I had served for thirty years and my own deep, deep need of MY DAD, I had come to believe that anything I could do to support other moms and dads in sharing their lives sincerely and deeply with their kids would, in some way, help me to accept my own loss and to help other children to lead lives that were happy, healthy, and meaningful.

AT KING OSCAR
David just caught my attention. He was full of energy, very much his own person--- awkwardly shy with me and the other adults there, but just one great big dynamic, loving human being.



David and his dad held my attention... holding each other, talking with each other, playing with each other... absolutely (beyond my desire to whine, moan, cry for what I had not experienced when I was a boy) terrific together.



I really think that the holding and talking and playing with each other is essential to becoming confident, healthy, loving and caring. What do you think?

Here's a video of David, his dad, and a family friend playing together. David is
describing each picture in the brochure as TRASH... aren't the three of them absolutely beautiful...

What Can Humans Do to Foster Compassion & Peace?


Yesterday I ended up behind a car with a red and white bumper sticker in the rear window. It read: “I will forgive Jane Fonda when the Jews forgive Hitler. “ It made me think about the dark days of Viet Nam, the war now and the Holocaust. It made me think about forgiveness and I wondered what the bumper sticker said about the mind-set of the driver—of human kind.

Can Jane Fonda’s trip to Hanoi in 1972 really the moral equivalent of attempting to eliminate the Jews in Europe? What can we as inhabitants of this big blue marble do to make the experience of living and working here an act of gratitude for the many blessings and possibilities afforded to us, particularly Americans?

Recently His Holiness the Dali Lama has been in the Puget Sound Area speaking about compassion as part of the Seeds of Compassion project. My daughter-in-law attended the Seeds of Compassion benefit concert and said that seeing and hearing him brought tears to her eyes. Although the exiled Tibetan monk has witnessed the brutality of the Chinese occupation of his country since 1959, he asks for peace and nonviolence.

In my life as a mother of a special needs daughter and in my work with special needs students I know that sometimes the smallest act of compassion can send out ripples that change lives. Conversely, a flash of anger or thoughtless remark can do damage that “I didn’t mean it that way,” will not undo.

What can we as individuals do in our own lives to spread compassion and foster peace? Poetess Ellen Bass’ poem “Pray for Peace” gives focus to what we can do.

Pray to whomever you kneel down to:
Jesus nailed to his wooden or plastic cross,
his suffering face bent to kiss you,
Buddha still under the bo tree in scorching heat,
Adonai, Allah. Raise your arms to Mary
that she may lay her palm on our brows,
to Shekhina, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to Inanna in her stripped descent.

Then pray to the bus driver who takes you to work.
On the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus,
for everyone riding buses all over the world.
Drop some silver and pray.

Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM,
for your latte and croissant, offer your plea.
Make your eating and drinking a supplication.
Make your slicing of carrots a holy act,
each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer.

To Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, pray.
Bow down to terriers and shepherds and Siamese cats.
Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.

Make the brushing of your hair
a prayer, every strand its own voice,
singing in the choir on your head.
As you wash your face, the water slipping
through your fingers, a prayer: Water,
softest thing on earth, gentleness
that wears away rock.

Making love, of course, is already prayer.
Skin, and open mouths worshipping that skin,
the fragile cases we are poured into.

If you're hungry, pray. If you're tired.
Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day.
Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth.

When you walk to your car, to the mailbox,
to the video store, let each step
be a prayer that we all keep our legs,
that we do not blow off anyone else's legs.
Or crush their skulls.
And if you are riding on a bicycle
or a skateboard, in a wheelchair, each revolution
of the wheels a prayer as the earth revolves:
less harm, less harm, less harm.

And as you work, typing with a new manicure,
a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail
or delivering soda or drawing good blood
into rubber-capped vials, writing on a blackboard
with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas--

With each breath in, take in the faith of those
who have believed when belief seemed foolish,
who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.

Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace,
feed the birds, each shiny seed
that spills onto the earth, another second of peace.
Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.

Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk.
Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child
around your VISA card. Scoop your holy water
from the gutter. Gnaw your crust.
Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling
your prayer through the streets.

We do not need give up our lives and worldly goods in order to foster change and promote compassion. We needn’t join the Peace Corp or join a monastery. We can do it one moment at a time. We foster compassion when we slow down and don’t run red lights. We foster peace when we forgive both others and ourselves. We can foster change by attempting to be present in the moment, knowing that it will not come again.

Love the Homes in Tacoma?

Have you often wanted the opportunity to peek inside a few of Tacoma’s GRAND homes? Now is your chance! Tacoma Historical Society is presenting their 14th Annual Historical Homes of Tacoma Tour May 3rd & 4th. This self guided tour provides a chance to walk through each home viewing the grand architecture, hearing the unique stories of each home and learning more about Tacoma’s history.

Tickets are $20.00 per person and available at Tacoma Historical Society Exhibit Center located at 747 Broadway; Stadium Thriftway; Pacific Northwest Shop or Columbia Bank Branches at Fircrest, Westgate and Allenmore. Fellow BLOG SQUAD writers Patty and Kim will be docents at one of the GRAND homes highlighted on the tour. For more information visit tacomahistory.org

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Annual Washington Cultural Congress April 28-30 Builds on Thirty-Year Bonding, Alliance of State Arts Advocacy

Almost thirty years ago between 1978-79 supporters of the arts from all around the State of Washington came together to found The Arts Alliance of Washington State as a non-profit organization with a mission, according to its website to provide service and advocacy to all the arts, with emphasis on quality and accessibility to all citizens.

During the late seventies and early eighties the alliance separated its charitable and educational programming thus creating the Washington State Arts Alliance Foundation a (501) (c) (3), and its advocacy efforts giving birth to the Washington State Arts Alliance a (501) (c) (4).

Since then the Washington State Arts Alliance has become increasingly active in the halls of the legislature, to increase funding to the Washington State Arts Commission, honoring advocates at the state level and bringing the organization into its now national recognized leadership position in the area of arts advocacy.

In 2001, the Arts Alliance reached out to join the Arts Network of Washington State in taking on the task of producing the only statewide multi-disciplinary arts conference, the annual Washington Cultural Congress which is slated to take place April 28-30, 2008 at Sleeping Lady Mountain Retreat in Leavenworth, WA.

The 2008 theme is Art Every Day - (Connect, Create, Exchange). This year's special speakers and guests will include a keynote addresses by Ellen Dissanayake, "The Deep Structures of the Arts"; Andrea Peterson, National Teacher of the Year, "Learning, Exploring, Interacting , Serving - Connections that Matter"; and readings by Washington State Poet Laureate Samuel Green. For full conference details and sign-up information click here.

According to their website, since 1997 the Washington State Arts Alliance has grown from a group of 49 organizations and individuals to a membership linking artists, arts educators, administrators, patrons, volunteers, students, parents, media and policy makers from Eastern and Western parts of the state which both enforces and underlines one of their main organizational tenets that no matter size, shape, color, or fabric of our urban, suburban or rural communities arts advocacy and education is something in which we all have a lasting stake.

Federal Way Chamber Of Commerce Also Surfing New Marketing Waves In South King County

In regards to the topic of movement and energy in the area of local marketing, the Federal Way Mirror has been carrying an interesting column by Tom Pierson, CEO of the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce about what's going on in the area's business sector.

Pierson's outreach, as it were, is worth noting and ought to be saluted in the personal opinion this writer, because such an attempt to directly communicate with residents not linked in the circles of the Chamber in a warmer, more considerate way - is a perspective that has been for the most part sadly neglected.

Above: Showing that the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce is not the only organization in the South King County metropolis climbing aboard an infusion of fresh marketing waves in the area of community marketing, as illustrated by this brochure available from the City of Federal Way.

Outside of occasional news articles about say, featured lunch speakers, fundraisers, business as usual boosterism, and a handful of irregular promotions - any conversation about community between organized business and the public used to consist of a regular one-sided stream of annual scoldings and increasing louder exhortations to buy local or support community businesses for what often seemed to be no other apparent reason than the owners had opened up shops here.


While the first duty of a body such as the chamber is to its paid membership and the overall climate of business, the patronizing, immature, juvenile love/hate approach that characterized this organization in our early city years towards the rest of their supposed community partners may well be making a long-needed transition in light of more recent efforts.

Perhaps some of this was the flip side of the small town welcome mat more established members of the area have always insisted was here in the first place, a question I submit, that's worth more than a few seconds today as we try to navigate from our present condition into those visions we entertain for the community of tomorrow.


Left: Burgeoning local city and community pride is evident in the selection of the Federal Way Transit Center as one of thirteen local tourist attractions in the current municipal brochure. Photo copyright 2008 by Mizu Sugimura.

It's worth noting that ten years ago in 1998 the decision by the Federal Wayt Chamber of Commerce to establish and support an Advancing Leadership program to provide training for support, encouragement, networking and connecting for prospective and emerging leaders both young and old was a significant break with the aforementioned past, and the organization can congratulate itself for this apparent contribution to part of the buzz and energy that appears on the horizon.

Irregardless, with Federal Way's teenage years soon behind us it would not be surprising to see that some of the old,worn and broken toys and games are naturally being retired (along with some genuinely loved favorites - Federal Way's Festival Days appears momentarily to be in danger) as newer items with bells and whistles ostensibly designed especially for our needs are put into place while our leadership matures and the community horizons and perspectives expand and grow.


So there is much that citizens of Federal Way can celebrate, be heartened and encouraged by the new energy beginning to course through the veins of the town from City Hall on down. We can salute the work put into these more recent milestones and accomplishments and cheer the possibilities of those just down the pike, of which the programs mentioned in this blog are only a fraction.

Federal Way Marketing Effort Seeks Community Photographers

In connection with ongoing efforts to promote the South King County's emerging metropolis of Federal Way, WA where It's all within reach! the City of Federal Way's Lodging Tax Advisory Committee is sponsoring a 2008 Photo Contest soliciting the creative energy of amateur photographers of all ages who reside within its borders.


According to contest rules, the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee seeks high resolution color photos, minimum 300 dpi, from amateur photographers who are either Federal Way residents or a student enrolled in the Federal Way School District for usage in future postcards, marketing and other publicity purposes. Four winners will be chosen to receive cash prizes of $250.00 each.


Preferred subjects include: Celebration Park (especially soccer and softball events), West Hylebos Wetlands Park, Dash Point Park, Dumas Bay and Knutzen Family Theatre. Photographers are limited to a maximum of 8 submissions per entry.

Submissions will be received in-person at Federal Way City Hall, 33325 8th Avenue S. on April 30, 2008 at 5:00 p.m. or can be mailed to Lillian Yeh, Economic Development Assistant, P.O. Box 9718. Federal Way, WA 98063-9718.

For more details click here or call Lillian Yeh at(253) 835-2501 or e-mail: lillian.yeh@cityoffederalway.com.


Trio of snapshots (above) taken on a recent sunny day at Federal Way's Celebration Park which is one of the local venues that city marketeers are seeking public input and talent. Photos above copyright 2008 by Mizu Sugimura.