Recent local blog posts

Gross Happiness Index of Washington: Thurston County is only just above average happy

Olympia Time - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 5:42am
Happiness Indexes are pretty interesting. They try to reach back beyond sterile, single factor indices (like Gross National Product) and give you a clearer picture of the health or happiness of a place.

So, obviously, I wanted to do one for Washington State.

I took some indicators that I could find data on the county level for across the GNH scale (economics, education, health, violence and democracy) and came up with a Gross Happiness Index of Washington Counties.

Certainly, there is a massive back of the napkin warning here, I'm not an economist or a statistician, but here are the general rankings:

CountyOverall rankAverage rankSan Juan14.20Whitman26.67Garfield311.60Lincoln411.80Island512.00Douglas612.80Jefferson713.00Walla Walla814.17Whatcom914.67Kitsap1015.17Klickitat1115.60Wahkiakum1215.80Ferry1316.20King1416.50Chelan1516.67Snohomish1617.33Thurston1718.17Kittitas1819.00Columbia1919.00Clark2019.17Benton2119.83Skagit2219.83Skamania2321.60Pend Oreille2421.60Adams2521.83Lewis2622.17Okanogan2722.33Grant2823.00Spokane2923.33Franklin3023.50Asotin3123.50Clallam3223.67Mason3324.00Stevens3424.83Pierce3527.00Pacific3627.60Grays Harbor3728.33Cowlitz3828.50Yakima3930.17
Digging down into the Thurston County, it is interesting to see what shapes our ranking. We do pretty well in Health (9th) and Pollution (10th) and average in Economic (17th), Education (18th) and Crime (21st).

But, our worst index is voter turnout. Out of 39 counties, we are 34th in voter turnout. Which, if you think of the symbolism of us being the home of the state capitol (totally crap symbolism) is pretty sad.

I think its also interesting that in terms of our neighborhood, we're the shining freaking star. Practically all four counties that border Thurston are in the basement of the GHI. Lewis (26th) Mason (33rd), Pierce (35th), and Grays Harbor (37th) all fall well below Thurston County in happiness.

Yeah us! We're above average!

Charles Edward Cheese Band “Rap Tape”

K Records - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 12:47am
The Charles Edward Cheese Band are Austin, TX. #1 animal party band. Their new album Rap Tape (Business Deal) is available now at accelerating levels of basement bargaination. View this explanatory dramatization for further details. The Charles Edwards Cheese Band is the brainstorm of one Chris Lyons, AKA Gene Defcon, who haunted Olympia for a […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Toward a clean and healthy Puget Sound: community shellfish farming fosters a local connection to our marine environment

Works in Progress - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 12:39am

Bounding forth onto the tideland rain or shine, hipboot toting, the hardy volunteer community shellfish farmers are working and slurping oysters at Olympia’s own Henderson Inlet Community Shellfish Farm (HICSF). With wide smiles the crew is surrounded by the abundant beauty of the Salish Sea tromping amongst bands of bivalves, with seabirds singing overhead. Some of the enticements and pleasures of Community Shellfish Farming is the first hand experience of working with your neighbors in the world of the marine intertidal, knowing that your efforts are supporting water quality, making that oyster taste ever more sweet.

Locally in Olympia, many people have heard about or have become involved with community gardens, urban agriculture, and community farming. In the most recent years the awareness has grown alongside the development of the local food movement, but what is a Community Shellfish Farm? It is the idea of creating public access to marine resources for the sake of local food production, community and our environment; this access can be utilized to educate, restore, and celebrate efforts around water quality and the marine environment.

Here in Washington, we are fortunate to live next to Puget Sound the nation’s second largest estuary. This special place is not only beautiful but magnificently productive with the potential to support a large complex ecosystem as well as a buffet of world class seafood.   Alongside the productivity is the building ecological pressure that our increasing population is putting on these invaluable marine resources.

Non-Profit Puget Sound Restoration Fund (PSRF) was founded in 1997 with the mission to restore marine habitat, water quality, and native species in Puget Sound through tangible, on-the-ground projects. Much of their work consists of projects directed at restoring native species such as the Olympia Oyster, Pinto Abalone and Bull Kelp. PSRF developed the Community Shellfish Farm (CSF) model to address water quality issues in areas where bacterial contamination and resulting downgrades in shellfish growing areas threaten access to resources that depend on clean water.

PSRF’s Community Shellfish Farms Drayton Harbor*(Blaine, WA), Port Madison (Bainbridge Island, WA), and Henderson Inlet (Olympia, WA) have joined other organizations and agencies with a common vision of a clean and healthy sound that is productive, full of life and capable of sustaining us. CSFs work with watershed communities to help restore and maintain healthy shellfish growing areas, spur cleanup efforts, and maintain community access to shellfish resources. By maintaining community access, PSRF fosters stewardship of the marine environment. When bacterial contamination threatens the ability to harvest, residents are motivated to change practices on their own property and support local pollution control efforts to regain something that’s personally important to them. Harvesting local seafood on the beach influences people to want to protect and preserve the marine environment, which leads to a long-term commitment to the health of Puget Sound.

Here in Olympia, south sound residents are fortunate to be close to the Henderson Inlet Community Shellfish Farm located in southern Henderson Inlet. Volunteers, students, educators and community members can experience first hand the bounty of high quality shellfish harvested from clean water. They also learn about the struggle for water quality, growing oysters and the surrounding marine ecosystem.   This currently safe access culminated out of a massive amount of work done by a plethora of partners within the watershed.

Prior to this work, in 2001 the health of the inlet was not looking good.   Commercial shellfish harvest was almost brought to a complete halt, long time historical growers such as Jerry Yamashita were at the front lines of this battle for water quality, desperately trying to stop the downgrades and began to reach out to the community for help.

The source of the pollution forcing the closures, in this case, was not what most people have in mind when they think of pollution. No big smokestacks or warehouses, no black ooze draining from pipes, no point source. It was our own individual collective impact within our watershed that accumulates fecal waste, creating bacterial contamination through failing septic systems, pet waste, and stormwater management intensifying these non-point nutrient pollution that poisons our shellfish beds in Henderson Inlet.

It was at this time in 2001 that PSRF partnered with the Pacific Coast Growers Association and WSU to create the HICSF in conjunction with the formation of the Shellfish Protection District (SPD) within the Henderson/Nisqually Reach watersheds. HICSF became a stakeholder within the SPD, working with partners to create context and to educate community members around the necessary work to be done to improve water quality in the inlet and stop the flow of nutrient pollution. The SPD, stakeholders, and partners worked diligently with homeowners to inspect and maintain septic systems, create farm plans with agricultural businesses to manage fecal waste, and the creation of stormwater treatment plants in the city of Lacey and Olympia. Along with this they have worked to slow down nutrient inputs during heavy rainfall, implemented constant water quality testing, orchestrated a county wide pet waste campaign, and promoted many other efforts around education for students and community members to create awareness and stimulate action.

It was almost ten years later, in 2010, that these efforts finally began to pay off for the oysters and residents of Henderson Inlet. Between 2010 and 2012, 340 acres of the shellfish growing area were upgraded by the Department of Health as determined by the frequent testing throughout water stations in the inlet. Growing areas such as the HICSF’s status changed from conditional to approved allowing for safe harvest most of the year!

Now more than ever, with water quality presently trending toward a decrease in bacterial contamination,efforts are needed to continue this positive momentum as well as celebrate the successes in the watershed. Outreach goals with HICSF have been brought to the adjacent Nisqually Reach working with partners National Fish and Oyster and South Sound Green to bring the education and connection to residents and students of that watershed. Another way HICSF tries to bring attention to the present issues and say thank you for the work that has been accomplished is operate an Oyster-Give-Away Program. This program rewards residents of the combined Henderson and Nisqually Reach watersheds with a dozen free oysters for those who successfully complete the Operation and Maintenance of their septic systems required within the SPD. This year HICSF is currently expanding the Give-a-way program to those who have taken action volunteering towards water quality, create farm plans on their property, or other pledges people make to Puget Sound. Oyster Give-A-Way dozens can be picked up at farm events or the HICSF Farm Stand located in East Olympia at George and Son’s Fruit Market @ 427 Lilly RD, Olympia, WA.

Currently HICSF operates year round hosting monthly work parties, volunteer opportunities, and educational tours. These events allow for people to visit the farm and participate in a hands-on oyster farming experience, learning about oyster aquaculture and upland connections to water quality while also supplying that gut connection to Puget Sound through oyster BBQs and slurping some on the half-shell. HICSF can also be found in the community shucking oysters or serving oyster pickle sandwiches at events such as the PCSGA’s SLURP, SSEA Turn of the Tides Festival in Olympia, Elliot’s Oyster House’s Oyster New Year in Seattle, and others. You can find Henderson Pacific Oysters on the half-shell at the Dockside Bistro in Olympia, the HICSF Farm Stand, and events throughout Puget Sound.

Population growth is not expected to slow down; our community needs to keep in mind how to manage our growth, to be stewards of our marine environment.Our actions will impact the water quality downstream and ultimately our access to these marine resources for now and for generations to come.

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” —John Muir

Derek King grew up on Orcas Island where his connection to the Salish Sea began. Currently based in Olympia, Derek graduated from the Evergreen State College with a dual BS/BA in Marine Science and Environmental Journalism in 2014, and is a Program Technician with the Puget Sound Restoration Fund. There he manages the day-to-day operations at the Henderson Inlet Community Shellfish Farm and coordinates and assists in other native species and water quality projects.

For more information on the Henderson Inlet Community Shellfish Farm, volunteer opportunities, and Oyster-Give-Away Program, go to

* With the role of PSRF accomplished Drayton Harbor CSF has since become its own commercial entity in 2014 as the Drayton Harbor Oyster Company.


Recent world events provide a bit of hope for halting climate change

Works in Progress - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 12:36am

When I was growing up, the Thanksgiving holiday meant that my family got together with aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents from all limbs of the family tree to eat turkey and mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce and pie. At some point in the increasingly rowdy conversations, a solemn adult would interject the plea that we all pause and consider what we were thankful for.

This November, three events occurred for which I am grateful. They offer a glimmer of hope that we may act collectively to address global climate change and reduce the rate at which carbon dioxide emissions are accumulating in our atmosphere—just a glimmer, not enough to celebrate, but enough to pause and say, okay. We might pull this off.

Presidents Obama, Xi Jinping agree to emissions reductions targets

On November 12, 2014, the presidents of the two countries that are the biggest contributors to climate change announced a deal to limit carbon dioxide emissions. By 2025, the U.S. aims to reduce its emissions 26 to 28 percent below the level of emissions in 2005. China set the goal of getting 20 percent of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030, and of having 2030 be the peak year for carbon dioxide emissions. Both these moves are not enough and also precedent setting. Meanwhile, the European Union reached an agreement to cut its carbon dioxide emissions 40 percent below the levels set in 1990, and to achieve this reduction by 2030. That means, as Jeff Spross reported on the website Climate Progress on November 12, the world’s three biggest carbon dioxide emitters have “gone on record with new commitments to get their greenhouse gas emissions under control.”

Should we be pleased with this turn of events? Paul Krugman, the often pessimistic and solidly liberal columnist for the New York Times says yes. Krugman’s op-ed piece on November 14 outlines why the agreement between China and the United States is a big deal. First, he says, consider the context. Fossil-fuel interests and “their loyal servants,” which is how Krugman characterizes the entire Republican Party today, have erected a deep defense against any action to save the planet.

Their first line of defense is denial. Climate change isn’t real. Senator James Inhofe, the likely chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is an outspoken proponent of this view, and also the recipient of more than a 1.5 million dollars from the oil and coal industries. In spite of the rich funding, arguing that climate change is a hoax perpetuated on the public by money grubbing scientists is losing its luster: a Pew Research study released last summer found that 67 percent of people in the U.S. believe that climate change is real.

According to Krugman, the second line of defense against taking steps necessary to save the planet is the argument that the economy will suffer. If we reduce carbon dioxide emissions, jobs will be lost and economic growth will sputter to a standstill. A version of this argument is central in the debate in Washington State about whether (and how) to put a price on carbon emissions—more on that later. The truth, Krugman argues, that is putting a price on carbon emissions will affect some businesses—any form of a “polluter-pay” policy is intended to shift the cost of polluting back to the producer. The alternative is for all of us to pay for the cost of pollution, leaving the polluter to count their profits and move on. Shifting costs of pollution back to the polluter changes profit margins; it doesn’t cost jobs and it doesn’t halt economic growth.

The third line of defense guarding us from taking action to reduce carbon emissions is that it’s pointless to act if the other big polluter, namely China, won’t. But now China will. The targets are too low, and too soft; however, this is the first time China has agreed to participate in an international climate agreement—and that’s a good step.

Krugman’s analysis of the U.S./China agreement is good in that it dismantles the arguments for ignoring climate change. Bill McKibben, co-founder of (which reminds us of the need to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from current levels of 400 parts per million to 350 parts per million in order to preserve a liveable planet), makes an even better case that the two presidents acted because of political pressure—pressure from activists. McKibben points out that this agreement comes at a time of growing unrest in China about the terrible air quality in cities, and just seven weeks after after the largest global climate demonstrations in history. In other words, as McKibben writes, “movements work.” In the spirit of being grateful, thanks to everyone who participated in demonstrations, called their Congress members, supported and other organizations, and wrote and talked and shouted and marched to say—business as usual won’t cut it. Reduce carbon emissions now.

Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce release WA State report

Governor Inslee’s Executive Order 14-04, issued in April 2014, established the the Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce (CERT) that was charged with providing recommendations for designing a carbon emissions reduction program. On November 14, they released their report, organized around four findings:

Emissions-based market mechanisms (carbon cap-and-trade systems) and price-based market mechanisms (carbon tax systems) can contribute to the goal of reducing carbon emissions in the state;

Either approach can work; whichever is implemented needs to be carried out in a thoughtful way and consequently, both approaches require further analysis;

The only way that Washington State can reach its carbon emissions limits is by developing a “harmonized” set of policies, particularly in terms of the transportation sector, which is the largest source of carbon emissions in the state. (In other words, reducing carbon emissions from transportation requires a mix of strategies, from land-use planning to transit development, that keep the diverse needs of WA residents, including low-income and rural communities, in mind.);

“Important questions remain unanswered”…

So far, there’s not that much to be grateful for. However, at the end of this 38-page report, an avid reader can find letters from individual members who served on the CERT. Reading these letters is instructive and, for the most part, heartening.

J. Perry England, Vice President of Building Performance at McDonald Miller writes that, “Price is key. We cannot fully unleash our innovative potential if we continue to allow unmitigated carbon pollution for free.” As a business owner, England wants the state to put a price on carbon.

Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, ALF-CIO, also wants a price on carbon. Johnson writes that “the impact of climate disaster, while bad for everyone, will fall disproportionately on the poor and communities of color, the very people who will be least able to afford the cost of transitioning to a new energy economy.” Consequently, he argues, in addition to establishing a price on carbon, the state should set up an “Economic Justice and Environmental Equity Board” made up of representatives from highly impacted communities (low-income, communities of color, front line workers in fossil fuel dependent communities) around the state who will monitor carbon emissions reduction strategies and make recommendations about investing carbon revenues so as to maximize equity, job creation, positive health outcomes, and further carbon emission reductions.

Renee Klein, President & CEO of the American Lung Association for the Mountain Pacific similarly focuses on issues of health. The reason to act, she writes, is to protect human health. She outlines current threats to health created by changes in our climate, and points out that the elderly, pregnant women, low-income and minority communities, people with chronic illnesses, and children are most vulnerable.

Other letters are equally eloquent, making the case that not acting—not putting a price on carbon—is unacceptable because it’s immoral. As Rick Stolz, Executive Director of OneAmerica writes, “we are united by a deeply felt urgency to take immediate action to reduce carbon emissions in ways that address social. Economic, health, and food justice.”

Governor Inslee faces Republican opposition that will take this form: reducing carbon emissions will hurt Washington’s economy—the same argument Paul Krugman identified at a national level, the second level of defense once the argument that climate change is a hoax has been dismantled. Lots of work remains to be done to get us past the “do more research” mode and into the effective action mode. Still, I’m grateful for those in our state, including the fore mentioned members of the CERT, for pushing forward in demanding the state meet its carbon emissions reduction goals.

Keystone Pipeline not approved—yet

The same week that CERT delivered its report the Senate took up the issue of whether to approve the Keystone Pipeline. The vote to approve the pipeline didn’t carry—60 votes were needed, and pipeline supporters only got 59. The 59 senators voting for the pipeline included all 45 Republican senators along with 14 Democrats. Forty-one senators voted against the pipeline: 39 Democrats and two Independents, Bernie Sanders from Vermont and Angus King from Maine. Mitch McConnell, soon to become leader of the Senate, threatened to bring the issue back for another vote in January, when the number of Republican Senators will increase. A veto from the president is not a sure thing. Ashley Parker and Cora Davenport, writing for the New York Times on November 18, 2014, conclude their report on the Senate vote with this cautionary note: “People familiar with the president’s thinking say that in 2015, he might use Keystone as a bargaining chip: He could offer Republicans approval of it in exchange for approval of one of his policies.”

We have a lot of work to do to topple the tyranny of the fossil fuel industry and the stranglehold it has on our political system and consequently on our future. I’m glad for a pause, a moment of hope, and grateful to everyone, everywhere, who works on making our political representatives more representative of us, the people. Let’s keep at it.

Emily Lardner teaches at The Evergreen State College and co-directs The Washington Center for Improving Undergraduate Education, a public service of the college.




Works in Progress - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 12:14am

This poem is for the drug addicts

the dope fiends.

this poem is for ninety pound bodies

shriveling in gutters like dried fruit.

this is for those who shoot.

for the withering alley-cat specters dancing

sleepwalk in the devil’s daymare.

this is for those who drown in dope

without a sunrise beyond the black tar’s shadow.

indentured to the needle and the spoon.

this is for my siblings who met their makers too soon.


This poem is for you

you who are black listed for your sickness

convicted, untouchable and criminally ill.

you who is locked up for possession

without a hope of redemption for

your child who is missing you and doesn’t understand

the reasons why the drug war nabbed his daddy

and will follow in his boot steps

if not properly guided.


This poem is for you who grew up

comfortable, but were missing something.

who graduated from the school

bus to the squad car, the pen to the magnum,

you who found your feet, your fountain,

in the Haight & Ashbury.


No hurry.

Why worry?


SMACK is the main line out of the middle class

and into an early grave. this is

for the track marks we paved.


This poem is for you who is on the wait list

for an underfunded treatment center for three

months deciding between

triage through treatment

or deliverance through death.

anything to stop the suffering.

This poem is reality.


I know this poem.

This poem is for ME.


ME who used to strip mine crumbs of amphetamine from the carpet snorting whatever came along with the catch. ME who trembled in anticipation at every new prescription. ME for whom the birds chirping in the morning would produce paranoia. ME who heard gunshots and lived in psychotic delusions


ME. . . who got clean.


ME who no longer lives between high speed chases and post-mania comas under the covers.


This poem

is for worried mothers.


This poem is for hope.

it is for one day, just this day clean

and serene, finally again a human being.

this poem is for no longer

being an animal a slave to my desires,

impulse towards deathly indulgence.

this poem is for skin clear of scabs,

face full of color and complexion.

this poem is for

a job,

an education,

poetry slams,

and getting published.

this poem is

for friends and family

proud to call me theirs,

for a mother who I can look in the eye.

this poem

is for hope.


But this poem is also for the fallen,

for the soldiers digging their trenches in

Southeast D.C. and Baltimore.


This poem is NOT for

the War on Drugs

the War on the Poor

the War on the Spirit.


This poem. . .

is for my dead kin who struggle no more.

for those who finally gave up and greeted the

reaper in the back seat of a beat up Caddy

with not an ounce of body fat,

sunken cheeks

emaciated skeletons

the ones we loved

dead at 23.

…this poem is an epitaph.

This poem is statistics.

This poem rolls dice.

This poem is proof that the dealer didn’t win.

This poem is for every addict who never met the pen.

This poem is for last gasps beneath bridges,

for the funerals

we didn’t have the courage to attend.

This poem is for


resilience, and

blind fucking luck.

THIS is a poem against all odds.

THIS POEM should be six

feet under, but


            IT         defies gravity.

I          defy gravity!

I          defy DEATH!

Brian McCracken is a poet, activist, and youth ally living and resisting in Olympia. As a founding member of Old Growth Poetry Collective, he lives in a house full of dyslexic poet revolutionaries.


Coordinated actions; climate change is major concern for oil trains in Washington State

Works in Progress - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:48pm

An emerging alliance of community and labor leaders joined by local elected officials want Governor Inslee to use his executive authority to deny the permitting of proposed oil terminals in Grays Harbor and Vancouver and the expansion of a Shell refinery in Anacortes.

“All of these terminals and expansions and all the increased oil train traffic fall directly under the executive authority of Governor Inslee,” said their spokesperson, Geoff Simpson. Mr. Simpson is a long time fire fighter for the City of Kent and a lobbyist for the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters.

“We want Governor Inslee to live up to his commitment for a clean energy future and stop the use of our state’s rail system as a carbon corridor for the export of crude oil to Asian markets,” he continued.

In their letter to Governor Inslee, this alliance of organizations is seeking a meeting with Governor Inslee so that they can discuss their perspective. It is signed by leaders of labor unions, community organizations, physicians, fishery groups, as well as elected officials such as Ben Stuckart, President of the Spokane City Council, and two Port of Olympia Commissioners.

Mr. Simpson said that these organizations first met in August at a Statewide Strategy Summit on Oil Trains at The Evergreen State College. As a follow up to the Summit, they met at an all-day session hosted by the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters on Saturday, November 15, in Olympia where they drafted their letter to Governor Inslee.

—WA State Council of Fire Fighters



Works in Progress - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:43pm

Con la boca con cinta adhesiva, Rafael Reygadas, un profesor de la Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM) Xochimilco, se sienta con los muebles que sostienen fotografías de la juventud Escuela Normal Rural de Ayotzinapa. “Agresiones aberrantes contra Ayotzinapa futuros profesores – heridas, mutilaciones, asesinatos y desapariciones forzadas – son los más graves de una política de criminalización de la juventud vez Sin duda, es de los crímenes de Estado y crímenes de lesa humanidad que no debe ser impunes Ellos. mostrar colusión inadmisible entre las autoridades, los partidos políticos y el crimen organizado “profesores de la UAM.


Enrique photo

Foto: Araceli Mondragón

ON STRIKE: With his mouth taped, Rafael Reygadas, a professor at the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM) Xochimilco, sits with furniture that hold photographs of the Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School youth. The sign behind him says, “I can’t hold class, I am missing 43 students.”

In a statement from UAM faculty, “Aberrant assaults against Ayotzinapa student teachers–wounds, mutilations, murders and forced disappearances—are the most serious of a policy of criminalization of youth time. It is certainly of State crimes and crimes against humanity that should not go unpunished. They show impermissible collusion between authorities, political parties and organized crime.”                                                     Photo: Araceli Mondragon

West Olympia Neighborhood Gets A Facelift

Janine's Little Hollywood - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:40pm

Above: Two properties on Division Street were recently purchased by Olympia resident Alicia Elliott. The house at 110 Division was in poor condition and demolished today. The property will be the site of a future business. The property next door at 106 Division will be remodeled into another business.
By Janine Unsoeld

An area near the corner of Harrison and Division continues its transformation into a friendly, walkable neighborhood center in west Olympia. Olympia resident Alicia Elliott bought two residential properties on busy Division Street earlier this summer and continues her bold vision to transform the area into a neighborhood center that welcomes foot traffic and locally owned businesses.

Recently, Elliott bought the property on the corner of Division and Harrison that became West Central Park, and the former DeGarmo’s Pharmacy property located next door to the park. That property is scheduled to become a café in 2015.

The properties at 106 Division and 110 Division are just down the street from the park. The house at 110 Division was in poor condition and was demolished today.Elliott watched as Matt Aynardi of Altis Construction, LLC used an excavator to bulldoze the house. Susan Fernbach, a neighborhood resident who lives just behind the property, also watched.

“The area was coming out of its blight by the time I arrived in the neighborhood,” said Fernbach, who has lived behind the property for a year. The 1930s era house was a rental in poor condition for many years, Elliott said, although she managed to save the new vinyl windows. All the metal and salvageable wood was taken out prior to destruction.  

“The floor, the walls…everything was spongy….I would have restored it if I could,” said Elliott.  “It’s pretty decrepit. It has a lot of structural problems…to rehabilitate it wouldn’t have been cost effective,” agreed Chris Ruef of Altis Construction, who supervised the demolition. Ruef said he’d have the house down today and all debris removed by Monday.

Elliott said she had to get many environmental permits related to clean air, asbestos, and lead before proceeding with the bulldozing.Elliott plans to build a two story, 2,500 square foot business on the site and restore the house next door at 106 Division, possibly into a bakery. Plans are still in the design phase but Elliott says that the businesses will look residential from the street. Fifteen parking spaces will be created in the back and a large White Oak tree and three apple trees in the back of the property will be spared.

Above: The yellow house on 106 Division Street will be remodeled into a business. West Central Park can be seen at the intersection of Harrison and Division.

Adventure and mystery in Laniakea

Works in Progress - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:39pm

 Laniakea, as Wikipedia defines it, is a Hawaiian word meaning, “immeasurable heaven.” The exciting thing for me is to finally see a well made map of our actual neighborhood in the Cosmos.

The British science journal Nature recently released a fantastic four minute video on YouTube called, “Laniakea: Our Home Supercluster.” We now have this clear view our home port – something the human race has never had before. It is the recently released description of Laniakea by R. Brent Tully and his team of astronomers at the University of Hawaii.

Our galaxy, the Milky Way is part of a Local Group which contains around 75 nearby galaxies. Our Local Group roams the edge of the Virgo Cluster of about 2500 galaxies. This is a very big neighborhood.

Bigger still is our supercluster. Our neighborhood revolves around the center, a place called the Great Attractor. We now have a clear idea that the 100,000 galaxies of Laniakea are all bound together by gravity.

All the while we are gliding through space along with a plethora of other clusters of galaxies. These clusters are in mutual orbit around the Great Attractor – the gravitational center of our supercluster of which there no known way to leave.

The other superclusters are expanding away from us at an accelerating rate. This will eventually fling them out of sight far away across the Universe. But our Laniakea will probably always be here as a very large and wondrous domain for us to explore.

To explore on not to explore?

Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is in mutual orbit with the great galaxy Andromeda. In several billion years we will be much closer together and likely to merge with each other. Humans will have little choice but to populate other star systems or perish as our Sun advances through the red giant phase of its life.

100,000 galaxies with 100 billion stars each, that’s room for lots and lots of possible adventures. Ten quadrillion solar systems with an unknown quantity of alien civilizations to meet.

The number of possible extra-terrestrial civilizations can be estimated by using the famous Drake equation. It is quite easy to estimate for yourself:


The number of extra-terrestrial civilizations within Laniakea which we may run into in the future just requires us to multiply a few estimates.

N(hab) is the number of habitable planets, I’ll guess one in ten stars out there has one.

F(life) is the fraction of these where life gets started some how, my guess could be one in a hundred.

F(civ) being the fraction of these where life develops into a space-faring civilization, maybe one in a thousand.

F(now) is the fraction where that civilization exists during our time period (civilizations come and go we guess) may be one in a hundred.

N(civ) the total civilizations estimated to be in Laniakea today.

(1/10)x(1/100)x(1/1000)x(1/100) =1/100,000,000

Divide the ten quadrillion stars of Laneakia by the one hundred millionth chance of a civilization being there. The estimate is on hundred million strange, advanced, diverse, alien civilizations out there for us to meet, this does not include ones which might visit form neighboring superclusters like the nearest, the Perseus-Pisces Supercluster.

Many people feel we should fear these civilizations. I think that is ridiculous. We should be searching for ways to cooperate and coexist with them, as well as ourselves. We need a conversation above all, to decide how we will handle contact with these alien civilizations who may have much to teach us.

As Laniakea, “immeasurable heaven,” swirls through space with our Milky Way hanging onto its skirt tail, we have so much adventure ahead. The European Space Agency just landed a probe on an approaching comet. India just placed its first satellite in orbit around Mars. China is staging for a return to human Moon landings. We have more opportunity than ever to cooperate with other explorers.

Russ Frizzell is an activist living in Olympia since 2010 and a graduate of The Evergreen State College where he studied Physics and Cosmology.


Sub Pop U.S.A. at the Olympia Library!

K Records - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 5:56pm
On Dec. 18 the Olympia Timberland Library is hosting a celebration at their downtown branch (313 8th Ave. SE) of Sub Pop U.S.A. The Subterranean Pop Music Anthology 1980-1988. Author Bruce Pavitt and contributor Calvin Johnson will be in attendance and give a brief talk about the book. Calvin, under his nom de plume Selector […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Commissioners Move Transportation Benefit District One Step Closer

Thurston Talk - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 7:22am



Submitted by Thurston County 

The traffic circle at Yelm Highway and Boulevard are interesting additions to the vehicle landscape.

The roads, bridges, and infrastructure of Thurston County need additional fund to maintain the growing needs of the community.  The Transportation Benefit District seeks to find those needed funds.  

The Thurston County Board of Commissioners voted today to support the creation of a Transportation Benefit District in unincorporated Thurston County—the first step in a process that will allow the county to seek additional funds for maintaining and preserving the county’s roads, bridges, and transportation infrastructure.

“It’s clear we have an urgent need to address our aging and deteriorating infrastructure. Creating the district will be an important step forward toward meeting those growing needs,” said Thurston County Commission Chair Karen Valenzuela.

State law authorizes cities and counties in Washington to create local transportation benefit districts to help fund public transit operations and local transportation infrastructure. With today’s vote, county commissioners have cleared the way to create the district in January. The three commissioners would make up the board of directors for the district, as state law requires.

One of the first issues commissioners would tackle as the board of directors for the new district would be examining the various funding options available to transportation benefit districts. One option allowed by state law is collecting an annual car licensing fee of $20 for vehicles registered in unincorporated Thurston County, which would raise approximately $1.8 million annually for preservation and maintenance of the county’s transportation infrastructure. The district’s board of directors would also need to determine the criteria for choosing transportation projects, and develop a district work plan with a list of priority projects.

“We’ve been talking about it for some years now, and while I think we have a ways to go before we commit to a funding mechanism, I do believe laying the foundation today is prudent,” said Commission Vice Chair Sandra Romero.

Commissioner Cathy Wolfe said, “I think today we’re setting the stage for finding the solution for our aging infrastructure. I’m looking forward to doing a great deal of outreach and discussion with people in the community about our roads priorities.”

Thurston County’s transportation system has an estimated value of more than $750 million and includes:

  • More than 1,000 miles of roadway
  • 109 bridges
  • 47 miles of trails
  • More than 110 miles of sidewalks
  • More than 23 miles of guardrail
  • More than 1,000 street lights
  • Nearly 6,500 storm drains
  • 256 storm water ponds
  • More than 17,000 traffic signs

While the county’s transportation system is extensive, it also is aging, and the county is struggling to keep up with the skyrocketing costs of maintaining the system. In the last ten years, the revenue the county receives for transportation has grown 16 percent, but the costs of construction have grown by about 80 percent in Washington state, and that wide gap is only growing. The cost of some materials used in road construction are rising at an even faster rate, such as the cost of chipseal, which has more than doubled in the last ten years.

“Clearly we have a fundamental problem with the growth in costs far outpacing our revenue, but having a transportation benefit district for the unincorporated county will give us an option to start addressing the problem,” said Ramiro Chavez, Director of the county’s Public Works Department. “The TBD is not a silver bullet for our funding problem, but it will allow us to make strategic investments in maintaining and preserving the system, and protect what we have in place today.”


New Group at Saint Martin’s Makes A Stand Against Violence

Thurston Talk - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 6:54am



By Gail Wood

dairy queenWith the recent public focus on professional athlete’s involvement in domestic violence, Stephen Mahnken sometimes felt a little uneasy about telling someone he was an athlete.

Mahnken, an outfielder and a pitcher on Saint Martin’s University’s baseball team, wanted to help change that perception of male athletes. So, he joined SAVE, an on campus group that is an acronym for Saints Against Violence Everywhere.

“It almost seems that there is a negative connotation of calling yourself a male athlete now,” Mahnken said.

athletes against violence

Alice Loebsack recruited Zach Carter (left) and Stephen Mahnken to join a new club at Saint Martin’s University that focuses on stopping domestic violence.

“I was always taught that being a male athlete is a privilege and you use that privilege to help others and to be a good role model,” Mahnken said.

The purpose of SAVE, which was recently created by Alice Loebsack, SMU’s head trainer, is to both help change perceptions of male athletes and to help and prevent domestic and other forms of violence. Like Mahnken, Zach Carter, who also plays on SMU’s baseball team, wanted to help the victims of domestic violence.

“One thing I like about the group is our saying – we stand because no one deserves to stand alone,” Carter said.

Their club is there to help people who think that they’re not safe and that it’s not a safe world.

“There’s a lot of violence going on,” Carter said. “This group is standing up to say hey, we’re here. We want you to know that there’s someone here standing against all those kinds of acts. That’s what got me involved.”

The club also hopes to change negative perceptions of male athletes by doing something good, by connecting with food drives or with helping hands projects. They’re considering teaming up with the Boys & Girls Club of Thurston County. They also want to raise money for a battered women’s shelter.

“It’s asking ‘what can you do about helping,’” Loebsack said.

athletes against violence

The group started meeting in September and between 13-15 athletes show up weekly including Mahnken (left) and Carter.

In late September, Loebsack organized the first meeting. There were 15 male athletes at that first meeting and between 13 and 15 at every weekly meeting since. The club is a positive counter to the negative news about male athletes.

“After all the negative publicity from the NFL this past fall I got to talking with Stephen and Zack about what interest would be out there,” Loebsack said. “They seemed really interested. We informally put out flyers to invite people to just talk.”

SAVE’s objective is to help stop domestic violence, bullying and other forms of violence. It’s also a hand of support reaching out to the victims.

Part of SAVE’s message is to change an athlete’s own definition of what it means to be a strong, tough male. While that rugged, determined manner is fine while participating in sports, Loebsack said there has to be a friendlier, less aggressive off-the-field manner.

“You don’t have to be violent to be a strong, effective athlete,” Loebsack said. “You don’t have to bring that home with you.”

While an objective of SAVE is to let female victims know that they aren’t alone, the purpose of the club isn’t counseling. It might console, but now counsel. That’s because SAVE members don’t have that training and experience to be a counselor.

athletes against violence

The club intends to move out into the community to provide education around stopping domestic violence.

“They would not be out there counseling,” Loebsack said. “You know that these guys are standing for something. They would help them find the right people. But they’d be by no means counseling. They’d just be letting them know that there’s someone supporting them.”

With the club’s emphasis on doing good and helping, Loebsack said the conversation about male athletes would continue to be positive and not negative.

“It used to be you could say ‘oh I don’t participate in domestic violence or other forms of violence,’” Mahnken said. “Now, it’s become an issue and you have to be more proactive. When Alice brought it up I thought it would be interesting. No one should have to deal with anything like that and they shouldn’t have to go through it alone.”

The club has taken a pledge to not only stand against violence, but to pledge that they’d stop it when they witness it. Their objective is to also help stop domestic violence, bullying and other forms of violence.

“Next semester we hope to go out and talk with the community about domestic violence. We want to educate that we need to rally together and stand up,” Mahnken said.

If you need help, contact Saint Martin’s University Counseling and Wellness Center at 360-412-6123, the SafePlace Help Line at 360-754-6300 or the Crisis Clinic of Thurston and Mason Counties at 360-586-2800.


Pilates at Play Combines Fun with Exercise

Thurston Talk - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 6:30am



By Lindsey Surrell

hirschIn a sunlit room of an old car dealership, colorful artwork, knickknacks, and houseplants line the peach and aqua splatter painted walls. From the wood ceiling hang three swings that seem to be transplanted from the local park, and on one, Trisha Hatfield Graves, owner and teacher of Pilates at Play, sits and swings and welcomes you to the class.

pilates olympia

Trisha Hatfield Graves incorporates fun into her classes.

Like a kid herself, Trisha is full of energy and laughter and makes you feel like you had met once before even if it’s your first visit. The room smells lightly of lavender, and with the sun hitting my face, and Trisha messing with my hair, I feel instantly welcomed.

There are some people who might enjoy the fast, hard, and extreme when seeking a workout routine, and then there are others who, as Trisha puts it, “want more connection.” I am definitely in the later group. But what really struck me about my visits to Pilates at Play was not only the connection; it was also how enjoyable and fun the classes were. Each of my four classes were completely different, despite them all being under the category of “Mat Classes.” In one class, I am twisted on aerial ribbons to elongate my stretches, and another teeter tottering on foam rollers to work on balance. While listening to a playlist that could easily be transferred to an enjoyable Sunday at home, at another class we adjusted our alignment with the arm and leg coil springs attached to the wall, a piece of equipment similar to what Joseph Pilates used.

As Trisha explains to me, Joseph Pilates designed movements to improve core muscles. Being sick as a child provided him with a lot of time observing other people and animals and recognizing that all movement comes from the core. With his observations, he developed an innovative technique to help recovering soldiers using pullies and coil springs. He immigrated to America, opened a studio, and continued to develop the machines, movements, and practices that are still used and taught today.

Trisha channels Pilates’ creativity into her classes and adds in her own warmth and fun. With short platinum blonde hair, and her workout attire including jewelry and ankle boots with two-inch heels, she does not look like your normal instructor, or 60-years-old. She credits her success to genuinely liking people.

pilates olympia

Trisha and Heather Christopher demonstrate a Pilates pull-up. (Photo credit: Trisha Hatfield Graves)

Trisha began her Pilates journey in 1993 after having a dream about Madonna doing Pilates. She commuted to the only Pilates school in the area, in Seattle, for three years to complete her training. Fully certified instructors are required to have two years of training, 1,000 apprenticeship hours, and one year of prerequisites prior to being accepted into a program. Also a writer and award winner, Trisha uses fun, touch, creativity, and spirituality to comfort, lift spirits, and welcome guests to the studio.

Opened in 2001 on State Street in Olympia, the name Pilates at Play comes from Trisha’s philosophy about the value of levity in exercise. The two main types of Pilates classes offered are Mat classes and Reformer classes. It is a common misconception that the Reformer classes (which are offered as either private sessions or four to five person group sessions) are for advanced students; however, beginners are encouraged to try both types of classes as they can be adjusted to your level.

Trisha and one of Trisha’s long-time students, Heather, both teach Pilates. In addition, the studio is a cooperative of contractors who have creative liberty to develop classes of their choosing, thus the studio and classes redefine continually. Other classes offered at the studio currently include: Barre Pilates, Aerial Pilates, Swing-a-Lates (which applies the principles of Pilates while on a swing), pole dancing, chair dancing, and Buti Yoga (a fusing of yoga, tribal dance, and plyometrics).

And these classes are not only for women. Men and women of all sizes, ages and backgrounds are encouraged to join classes. “Any lack of flexibility should be a motivating call to Pilates rather than a deterrent,” Trisha says.

During our talk, Trisha was kind enough to show me a few moves called the Reformer Jumpboard, which is basically like jumping on a trampoline while laying down. She instructs me to jump on one leg and then the other and challenges me by adding more resistance. Trisha says in all her classes she encourages the group not to take life so seriously. Maybe it’s the endorphins, maybe it’s Trisha’s great analogies she uses to explain instructions, or maybe it’s just because I feel like a kid jumping on a trampoline, but even with the extra challenge, I’m having a hard time staying serious.

Pilates at Play is located at 515 State Ave NE. Individual classes or packages are available for purchase with a discount for military. Online scheduling system is on its way, but in the meantime, call (360-352-3444) or stop by to schedule. The class schedule is available on their website.


Bring Your Skates: Ice Skating in Early Thurston County

Thurston Talk - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 6:29am



By Jennifer Crooks

lucky eagleIce skating is a favorite activity usually associated with winter. There is nothing quite as exhilarating as gliding around on the ice, weightless and free—or at least trying to. A moderate climate and the nonexistence of indoor facilities in early Thurston County made wintertime ice skating a rare, outdoors, community activity—one that was greatly enjoyed by numerous  residents.

olympia history

Barnes Lake, in Tumwater, was one of the most popular lakes for ice skating in Thurston County. Photo courtesy Jennifer Crooks.

When weather conditions made ice skating possible, many people in Thurston County would become very excited. Local newspapers faithfully announced rare ice skating conditions. “Although other parts of the Sound get more or less skating during the winter months,” gushed a December 24, 1909 Morning Olympian article, “ice skating is considerable of a novelty in this city. The news that ice has formed at Barnes Lake has spread all over the city and skates of all kinds and descriptions are being pressed into service.”

Indoor ice skating rinks were developing elsewhere during the early years of Thurston County, but they were neither practical nor economical for even Olympia, let alone the smaller towns and communities that dot the region. Thus outside, wintertime skating on natural lakes and ponds was the only option.

Many settlers and later immigrants came from areas that regularly enjoyed outdoor skating, but the moderate climate in Thurston County was and remains typically unsuitable for this activity. While winters are usually rainy, they do not tend to get cold enough to solidly freeze more than puddles. What was needed for good ice skating was several days of freezing nights and bitter cold days that did not melt the ice. These conditions did not occur every year and when they did they usually lasted only a few days. For example, while 1894 and 1896 enjoyed good ice skating, in 1895 the lakes did not freeze over enough to allow for skating.

Skating lakes needed to be shallow and rather marshy to freeze over well. Thus there were only a limited number of lakes in the area that were available for skating. These included Barnes Lake (in Tumwater), Moss Lake (a small lake in Olympia near Steven’s Field that was filled in with the construction of I-5), Tollner’s Lake (near the Plumb Station community and train stop), and a marsh on Woodard Creek. Barnes Lake was a particular favorite, because it usually had good ice and was near a population center. All these lakes had to be traveled to—by foot, wagon, sleigh, or later, automobile. Having to work to get there probably made the experience even more memorable.

olympia history

The Legislative Building in snow in the 1930s or 40s. Snow is an infrequent visitor to Thurston County, the freezing conditions for outdoor ice skating even more so. Photo courtesy Washington State Digital Archives, Washington State Library Collection.

Setting up for ice skating was also difficult. The Zamboni (or ice resurfacer) was not invented yet, so people cleared the ice as best as they could. But even then the ice would not be flat and smooth. Snow on the ice and frozen plants sticking through the ice were particular problems. Moreover, many people did not own ice skates. Although they could order them from catalogues such as Sears and Roebuck, local hardware stores would often have a brisk business of making ice skates during periods of sustained icy weather.

Ice skating was primarily a community activity. The “Society” sections in local newspapers recorded numerous “parties” of people going out to skate in the evenings (days being busy with school, work, and farm chores). Children and teenagers were often noted as making up the bulk of the crowds on the ice, but older people enjoyed skating as well.

Property owners would sometimes extend a friendly invitation to the public to come and skate on lakes on or near their property. John Dodge, a businessman who owned a dry-cleaning business in Olympia, invited people out to his county home on what was then East Fourth Street and Johnson Hill (now Pacific Avenue near the junction of Lily Road in Olympia), to come skate on nearby Chamber’s Lake. “Bring your skates and come on,” he wrote for the December 22, 1921 issue of the Olympia Daily Recorder. “It doesn’t cost a thing and believe me you can have a good time.”

olympia history

An example of ice skates from a 1902 Sears and Roebuck catalog. Many Thurston County residents did not own ice skates and hardware stores did brisk business making skates during periods of sustained ice skating conditions. Photo courtesy public domain.

Later, Thurston County would have indoor ice skating for a time. Currently the nearest all-year indoor ice rink is Sprinker Rink in Spanaway, Pierce County. Also, there are several seasonal outdoor ice rinks composed of synthetic ice throughout the Puget Sound region. These include ones in Tacoma and Bellevue. On the other hand, outdoor ice skating on lakes and ponds, enjoyed for decades by many Thurston County residents, is presently enjoyed by very few people. The fun of ice skating, however, remains a constant despite significant changes in American society, culture and technology over the past century.


Further Reading

“Skaters Taste of Winter Sport.” Friday, December 24, 1909, Morning Olympian (Olympia, WA), 1.

“Boys and Girls Enjoy Skating.” Wednesday January 5, 1910, Morning Olympian (Olympia, WA), 4.

“Good Ice Skating Here.” Thursday, December 22, 1921, Olympia Daily Recorder (Olympia, WA), 1.


Grayskul “Come On”

K Records - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 12:35am
“Come on”, a tight world view courtesy of Grayskul, from their album Zenith (Fake Four Inc.). Both Grayskul MCs JFK and Onry Ozzborne appear on the All Your Friend’s Friends [KLP255] NW hip hop compilation; JFK on “3D Monocle” (with Bishop, Goldini and Smoke), Onry Ozzborne on “Cynic Syndrome” (with Zikki Carr and Candidt): All Your […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Olympia Celebrates the Holidays

Thurston Talk - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 3:05pm



By Olivia Richards, Avanti High School Intern to ThurstonTalk

The Thurston area is in full holiday swing. Almost all store fronts have lights in their windows. People crowd the streets to finish up their holiday shopping. Outside of the Washington Center for the Performing Arts people play in “snow” (bubbles blown out to the the street).

Many shoppers were supporting “Duck the Malls”, a holiday bazaar held by the Olympia Film Society inside Capitol Theater. Local artisans bring in their specialties and sell them to eager shoppers looking to truly buy local. The festive Gingerbread House competition benefiting Sidewalk took place at the end of November. Groups made creative gingerbread houses auctioned off with the proceeds dedicated to supporting the homeless in Olympia.  Local piano students entertained in the lobby of the west Olympia Haggen.

The spirit of the season is surely in the air.


Gingerbread house 2014 Gingerbread House 2014 Washington Center Holiday fountain night fairy village duck the malls Haggen christmas trees lighted ships 2014 Radiance herbs and massage downtown holiday Duck the Malls 2014 Percival Landing Holiday gingerbread house 2014 bucks fifth avenue haggen holiday piano duck the malls 2014 Olympia downtown holiday lights Duck the malls 2014 Olympia christmas kids Washington center holiday evergreen tree blissful wonders Olympia Holiday lights

Thurston County Receives “Smart Communities” Award

Thurston Talk - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 2:14pm



Submitted by Thurston County

In the photo left to right- Jeff Wilson and Mark Barkley of the State Commerce Department, Xandre Chateaubriand, Commissioners Karen Valenzuela and Cathy Wolfe and Lon Wyrick

In the photo left to right- Jeff Wilson and Mark Barkley of the State Commerce Department, Xandre Chateaubriand, Commissioners Karen Valenzuela and Cathy Wolfe and Lon Wyrick

Thurston County Commissioners were recently presented with a special award through Governor Jay Inslee’s “Smart Communities” program. The Thurston Regional Planning Council (TRPC) was also recognized for their role in the Sustainable Thurston project.

TRPC lead the planning for the Creating Places, Preserving Spaces community visioning process which took three years and involved thousands of county residents.  In recognizing the effort, Xandre Chateaubriand of the Governor’s Office pointed out that Thurston County did a terrific job of coming up with a vision that will attract high quality jobs and community improvements that will benefit all residents of the county.

“Even more impressive is when multiple communities and public partners join to create a shared vision for the future.”  He went on to say the project shows a commitment to preserve, protect and enhance the quality of life we appreciate here in Washington State.

Thurston County Commission Chair Karen Valenzuela was the county’s representative to the Sustainable Thurston process.  She points out that all seven cities and towns joined with TRPC and the County to make the program a success.

“It was great to see so many people take part in a very public process over the three years.  This vision allows us to make sure that our “ship of state” is headed in the right direction to manage growth while preserving our vanishing natural resources including forests, farmlands and our limited prairie areas.”

Lon Wyrick, Director of TRPC, says he is proud of the community-wide effort in the Sustainable Thurston project and the leadership shown by the cities and the County.

“It’s important to recognize that the Commissioners were very strong leaders in making the Sustainability Plan happen and along with their support; their ideas and regional direction are key to its ongoing success.”


“The Butterfly Effect” Art Piece Finds New Home

Thurston Talk - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 11:04am



Submitted by Thurston County

County sponsored plastic art piece now on display at Family & Juvenile Court.

County sponsored plastic art piece, “Rise Above Plastics: The Butterfly Effect” seen here at The Washington Center, now on display at Family & Juvenile Court.

It can be hard sometimes to find a good home for unique artwork, especially when that art is 14 feet high and made up of more than 600 individually suspended pieces shaped like butterflies.

But all of those butterflies and the rest of the 35 pound piece called “Rise Above Plastics: The Butterfly Effect” have landed in their new home at the Thurston County Family and Juvenile Court building in Tumwater. The piece will be on display in the court building lobby through 2015.

Artists Carrie Ziegler and Jennifer Johnson are also both county employees, and they joined staff from Family and Juvenile Court Monday evening for a dedication ceremony for the piece. “In a way, this is a homecoming, since the project and the art in education program is sponsored by the county’s Solid Waste Division and Environmental Health Division,” said Ziegler, an educator with the county’s Solid Waste Division.

“When Jennifer and I saw this space, then realized how powerful the messages of hope, inspiration, and creating change through personal choices would be here, we knew this was the place for the piece,” Ziegler said. “And I couldn’t have asked for a better response from staff and court visitors.”

“We are really excited to host this piece, and we hope our visitors—and especially our youth—are inspired by the story of how it was created, and inspired by the imagery of hope and renewal,” said Judge Chris Wickham, who presides over Family and Juvenile Court.

procession species butterfly

It took nearly 700 students to create “The Butterfly Effect.” The project included students from many schools and community groups across Thurston County.
Photo by Carrie Ziegler.

“I am still amazed at how everything came together. The piece has such impact, and so many layers to its meaning and message, and I am still taken aback by how perfectly it fits this space,” said Court Commissioner Indu Thomas, who helps administer the court’s Student Art program.

Artists Ziegler and Johnson completed the art project with the help of nearly 700 students from 19 Thurston County schools who created the butterflies out of upcycled plastic juice

pouches. Along with the work on the art piece, students also learned tips, tricks and information to help protect the environment and their own health, including using glass or stainless steel water bottles, taking re-usable bags shopping, and heating food in non-plastic containers.

“Our goal with having local students help build the piece was to create a lasting memory for them, and also foster a sense of accomplishment and pride in being a part of something with so much impact,” said Jennifer Johnson, an outreach and education coordinator with the county’s Environmental Health Division. “Now that’s it’s here in the Family and Juvenile Court building, my hope is that even more young people in our community will be inspired by it and connect with it.”

For more information about the Thurston County Solid Waste education and youth programs,

For more information about the Student Art Program at Thurston County Family and Juvenile Court, or contact Court Commissioner Indu Thomas at (360) 709-3285

Mirah, Old Time Relijun, on Tour (1999)!

K Records - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:16am
Look what Arrington found in an old box in the attic – a photog from the Old Time Relijun and Mirah tour in 1999. Pictured here are Mirah (about to leave on her first tour beyond the West Coast) with Old Time Relijun members (L to R) Arrington de Dionyso (guitar, vocal), Aaron Hartman (double […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Clothing drive at Museum of Glass

South Sound Arts - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:19am
In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, Kids Design Glass™ creature Sockness Monster and Museum of Glass invite the public to warm up by the Hot Shop fire in exchange for donating items of clothing to keep those less fortunate warm too.
WHAT: Clothing drive at Museum of Glass (new hats, scarves, pairs of gloves and socks suggested). Visitors who donate items at the Museum front desk will receive a 50% discount off their individual admission price (applies to all admission levels). Free parking will also be offered to every visitor in the Museum of Glass underground parking garage and members will receive a double discount on their entire purchase at the Museum Store.
WHERE: Donations should be made at the Museum of Glass front desk. Items collected will be displayed on a Giving tree in the Grand Hall for visitors to see before being donated to Tacoma Rescue Mission the following week.
WHEN: Saturday, December 20, from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday, December 21, from 12 to 5 pm.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment
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