Recent local blog posts

Olympia Library Goes Sub Pop!

K Records - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 5:58pm
Yesterday the Downtown Olympia branch of the Timberland Regional Library played host to Bruce Pavitt, founder of Sub Pop Records and author of the new book Sub Pop U.S.A. the Subterranean Pop Music Anthology 1890-1988. Mr. Pavitt read from the book and spoke about his fanzine form the ’80s Subterranean Pop that is reprinted in […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Thriftway Wines: Versatility in Action

Thurston Talk - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 2:44pm



By Kathryn Millhorn

wine shopping olympia“Give me wine to wash me clean of the weather-stains of cares,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. While it may not treat actual weather-stains in this season of dingy damp, it’ll sure help your holiday attitude stay sunnier than our forecast.

Locally Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway are a hub for some of our region’s most spectacular wines at the lowest prices. Rob Backman is their caped crusader, Direct Store Delivery Manager by day and Beer, Wine, and Liquor Manager by night. His goal is to bring the best products to the best customers for the best prices, no matter what.

One of his current favorites is exclusive to the Ralph’s and Bayview stores. The Benson Vineyards Estate Winery of Manson, WA, offers a red blend called ‘Rhythm’. Backman considers it to be “off the chart in quality, low in tannins, and versatile at an everyday price.” This wine is a combination of Syrah, Merlot, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon and the vineyard’s #1 seller. Most retailers sell Rhythm for $28 but Backman was able to negotiate an exclusive price of only $12.99 a bottle.

wine shopping olympiaWhile skillful wine pairings are the hallmark of a successful holiday meal, Backman is proud that Rhythm goes well with anything. He, personally, has had it with everything from bratwurst to Copper River Salmon and filet mignon and it is always a beautiful compliment.

Through the hard work of creative buyers like Backman, Thriftway’s wine sales are consistently high. The holidays, however, definitely see the stores going through a “crazy amount of wine.” Because of his skillful bargaining, other Benson Vineyards reds, which usually retail for $30-$50, are only $19.99. His goal is simple: “I want something you’re not going to find anywhere else.”

The mark of a true oenophile will be their response to the following phrase: Thriftway has Figgins. Are you scratching your head in bewilderment? Keep reading. If you’re flying out the door, buckle up and don’t forget re-usable shopping bags.

What is Figgins, you ask? It is the rare, bottled sunshine of a Walla Walla Valley winery whose entire stock usually sells out in less than a month. This small-batch wine is prized and typically ranges in price from $129-$139 a bottle. While supplies last, the two local Thriftway’s will sell it for $99.99 a bottle and quantities are very limited.

These deep discounts often result in a “feeding frenzy” of buyers. As Backman says, “these are the bottles you don’t see in an everyday store. It’s all about getting a good deal and passing it on to the customer.” He’s had customers buy out their entire stock of a favorite vintage thanks to Thriftway’s availability and competitive pricing.

wine shopping olympiaWhether you shop for wine as a gift or to accentuate a sumptuous holiday meal, Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway offer a unique, affordable selection. But more than that, their customer-centric attitude can be seen in the knowledgeable sellers who can match you with just the right bottle for just the right price.

Louis Pasteur once declared that “wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.” While it shouldn’t be used in lieu of a flu shot, it’ll certainly help with the winter doldrums, visiting in-laws, office parties and overlong school vacations.

While visiting, sample the holiday spirit (not spirits!) and jog your creative party spirit. You never know just what you’ll find to make the season bright.

Ralph’s Thriftway can be found at 1908 East 4th and Bayview is downtown at 516 West 4th.


Jean Nagia’s “Correctional Fluid” at Salon Refu

South Sound Arts - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 8:17am

Published in the Weekly Volcano, Dec. 18, 2014  "Canned (Sardines)" correctional fluid on canvas by Jean NagiaI don’t know how she does it. Susan Christian, owner of Salon Refu, keeps discovering artists of note. Or maybe they find her. The latest is Jean Nagia, an artist completely new to me. He painted the bright, geometric abstract mural on the side of Salon Refu, and he’s working on a mural for the artesian well park in Olympia. But what he’s showing in his exhibition is something completely different: works on paper and fabric in correctional fluid, aka, whiteout. Yes, that’s right, the stuff we use to use to correct typewriter mistakes back when we used typewriters.
With countless little white dots on either black or blue backgrounds, creates repetitive, sometimes organic and sometimes geometric patterns that in some cases can be seen as based on nature and in some are purely abstract. They are intricate, obviously work-intensive, and often hypnotic.
“Shipped” depicts many fish or eel swimming inside the framing device of an archway.
“Cheers” is a field of meandering ropes of dots, within which can be seen five masks.
“Mystic Truths” presents a monolithic rock-like formation of sparkling white dots on a blue field of watery, loosely brushed paint.
“Channels 3” is a wash of back-and-forth optical illusion.
“Ancient Vision” is a screen print (one of two in the show) of what appears to be the ocean at night.
“Canned (Sardines)” is a humorous title for a painting that looks like a Native American tapestry depicting five vertical icon-like fish stacked side-by-side — tightly packed like sardines in a can. Inside of these fish are many smaller fish linked together like sausages.
“Processed,” one of my favorites, is a two-panel painting with flowing forms in white on a dark blue-violet background. Little fish-like forms are herded together at the juncture of the two canvases with swooping forms that are like hair framing a face.
Frankly, these works are of a type I do not usually care for, but as created by Nagai they are mesmerizing. I particularly like the way he creates an illusion of space and dark-to-light modulations of tone by spacing the dots closer together or farther apart.
The reproduction of one of his works used on the invitation did not look inviting because these paintings don’t work at that small size. The pieces in the gallery are larger and work much better. I think they need to be larger still.
Also happening in the gallery is a large batik project that was just getting underway when I visited. You will be able to see this project in the works. Christian said the batik project was her suggestion of a way for Nagai to make these images much larger. She agrees with me that they need to be larger.Planned for Friday evening, Jan. 4 at 6 p.m. is a multi-media happening. Details are sketchy, but it will involve the batik project and gift items, food and drink and live music.     


Salon Refu, Correctional Fluid, Jean Nagai, Tuesday-Saturday, 2- 6 p.m. through Jan. 4, 222 Fourth Ave. W, Olympia.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 6:44am



dreesEvery Friday, ThurstonTalk brings you a highlight of weekend events.  Our diligent Editing team pulls together this list from our packed event calendar that includes even more things to do around Thurston County.  This time of year, it’s especially fun to make the list because the choices of family-friendly holiday events is so long.  Explore what Thurston County has to offer you and your family this weekend.  Bring along some holiday cheer.  Mix up the tradition with some new activities.  Regardless, enjoy the weekend and the holiday season.  Cheers!

Submit an event for our calendar here.

ThurstonTalk aims to be your source for positive information and events happening in Olympia. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.

All Eyes on Tumwater’s Historic Old Brewery

Janine's Little Hollywood - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 11:27pm
 Above: No bulldozers in sight. An aerial photograph taken today over Tumwater’s Old Brewery reveals the area disturbed by significant grading and fill placement in October. City of Tumwater staff met with staff members from the state Department of Ecology’s Shorelands Program and Water Quality Program as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to inspect the site on November 14.
By Janine

As 2014 draws to a close, several sets of eyes are still fixed on the historic Old Brewhouse property in Tumwater. The stop work order continues, put in place by the City of Tumwater in October due to a citizen complaint about significant activities that adversely impacted the environment. “The stop work order is still in place and will be in place until a mitigation plan is developed for the wetland impact, said Chris Carlson, permitting manager for the City of Tumwater, who has given regular updates on the situation to Little Hollywood.

Carlson said that city staff met with staff members from the state Department of Ecology’s Shorelands Program and Water Quality Program as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on site on November 14 at the Old Brewhouse property.  “We all agreed that a mitigation plan needs to be developed and submitted to the city for review and approval. The property owner will also be required to make application(s) to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the unauthorized work and be subject to any mitigation required under federal law,” said Carlson.

“As a part of the stop work order we have required that a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) be developed and implemented for the disturbed areas on the south side of the building to prevent water quality impacts. The SWPPP has been submitted to the city and approved. …The SWPPP we approved includes seeding the disturbed areas and covering the disturbed areas with coconut fabric. Staking in straw waddles will also be done on both sides of the road that leads around the building as well as putting a filter fabric stock in the exposed catch basin on the south side of the building,” said Carlson in an email to Little Hollywood in mid- November.Carlson initially expected applications and mitigation plans to be submitted to the city, Ecology and the Corps for review within 30 days from the day of the initial site visit, however, that expectation turned out to be overly optimistic.

In an email dated December 13 to Little Hollywood, Carlson said the city just got the survey on December 11 outlining the area of the Category III wetland behind the brewhouse that was partially filled.“Since we received the survey, we’ve been working with the wetland consultants -both the property owner’s and the one working on the Brewery Planned Action Environmental Impact Statement - to identify a mitigation site along the Deschutes River corridor so work on the mitigation plan can begin,” said Carlson. Carlson said he will keep Little Hollywood posted when the city decides on a site and the draft mitigation plan is submitted for review.

Carlson provided Little Hollywood with a map that indicates two disturbed wetland areas directly south of the brewhouse on the hillside containing artesian springs. The area disturbed by grading and fill placement encompasses a combined 5,011 square feet. There are currently no permits in place at the Old Brewhouse site, says City of Tumwater building official John Darnell.  

“The stop work order is still in effect. They will need to submit plans and engineering to us for review before any additional work can be completed….The on-site erosion control measures that the city required the owner to put in place are complete. I will continue to monitor throughout the winter,” said Darnell.

Above: An aerial photograph taken this morning over the Old Brewery and the Deschutes River. Role of the Tumwater Historic Commission

Meanwhile, the Tumwater Historic Commission reviews applications for projects within the historic district and approves or denies applicant requests for a certificate of appropriateness, which is required as a part of the permitting process.The commission is looking at several upcoming projects which will require the historical commission’s review before they are approved for development, including projects at the Old Brewhouse.

Chuck Denney, City of Tumwater Parks and Recreation director said George Heidgerken, owner of the historic Old Brewhouse property, does not have a Certificate of Appropriateness before the Historic Commission at this time.  “….Should any of his brewery projects solidify and he reaches the point where he is submitting paperwork for a development permit – meaning he has a site development plan and is prepared to move forward with construction – he will then be required to obtain the certificate from the commission as a part of the permitting process.  The work he is currently doing does not trigger that requirement. There are several projects in the planning stages in the Historic District that may require the commission’s approval.  Those may include something from Mr. Heidgerken, but also include development of the Deschutes Valley Trail through the Historic District and the reconstruction of the fish hatchery at Tumwater Falls Park,” said Denney.

Public Comment to Proposed Land Use OptionsSeveral state agencies, local governments, nonprofit organizations and individuals weighed in by the October 20 deadline to comment on the city’s land use determination of significance for redevelopment of the site.

The Nisqually Indian Tribe, Washington State Departments of Archaeology and Historical Preservation, Natural Resources, and Ecology, City of Olympia, LOTT Clean Water Alliance, Black Hills Audubon Society, Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team, South Puget Environmental Education Clearinghouse (SPEECH), and the World Temperate Rainforest Network plus seven individuals provided the City of Tumwater with detailed comments about the proposed land use options provided by the city.Jackie Wall of the Nisqually Indian Tribe, wrote, “The Deschutes River is a very Culturally Sensitive Area that was used by our people for thousands of years. The Nisqually Indian Tribe requests an Archaeological Survey be done by a qualified Archaeologist before there are any ground disturbing activities. I would like to receive a copy of the survey results. The Nisqually Indian Tribe also requests that an Inadvertent Discovery Plan be put in place for this project.”

She also asked to be informed if there are any inadvertent discoveries of archaeological resources or human burials.
A letter and paper submitted by Pat Rasmussen documents that the Steh-chass people lived in a permanent village at the base of Tumwater Falls for time immemorial.
“The village was originally Nisqually but after the Treaty of 1855 became part of Squaxin Island, in their Stehchass Inlet. As the Steh-chass were driven from the permanent village site by settlers who took it over, some fled to Nisqually and others to Squaxin, so there are likely descendents with knowledge of what happened there.” 

She attached an 1854 map she received from the Washington State Historical Society that shows the area with the name Steh-chass on the river, now called the Deschutes River.
For several past stories on Tumwater and its Brewery District Plan, the Old Brewhouse owner and developer George Heidgerken, and the stop work order, go to Little Hollywood, and type key words into the search engine. Recent stories were posted on February 19, October 12, October 16, October 30, and November 5, 2014.Editor’s Note: Janine Unsoeld also met the October 20 deadline to comment on the city’s Determination of Significance and as a private citizen, requested a stop work order on all activities at the Old Brewery site. This is documented in an article on Little Hollywood dated October 30, 2014. Unsoeld is also a long-time board member of the South Puget Environmental Education Clearinghouse (SPEECH), a 25-year-old nonprofit organization that publishes the South Sound Green Pages.

Above: An aerial photograph taken this morning approaching the Old Brewery from Olympia places the site in the context of the Deschutes River, Tumwater Historic Park and Interstate 5.


Little Caesars Announces New Tumwater Location

Thurston Talk - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 2:24pm



Submitted by Little Caesars

tumwater pizzaIt’s Pizza Pizza time!

Little Caesars Pizza is excited to announce its new location in Tumwater. 5729 Littlerock Rd Ste B101, Tumwater, WA 98512 is celebrating their grand opening on Tuesday, December 30th.

We look forward to serving the Tumwater, WA community and surrounding neighborhoods with delicious Little Caesars HOT-N-READY® pizza.

Giving back to the communities in which Little Caesars does business has been part of the Little Caesars business philosophy since shortly after the franchise began in 1959. Little Caesars looks forward to continuing its support of the Tumwater, WA community and supporting local school, church and community organizations. To get more details please contact Brieanna Beck,

The restaurant will open on Tuesday, December 30 at 11:00 a.m. with food samples, free give-aways, and a special appearance by Little Caesar.

Winter Break Camps and Activities Throughout Thurston County

Thurston Talk - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 11:56am



By Alyssa Ramsfield

capital medical centerAs the schools of Thurston County let out for Winter Break, parents and students are trying to find ways to enjoy every minute of it. These upcoming weeks are the perfect time for kids to enjoy activities across our area.  Here are a few ideas.

2nd Annual Girls Winter Summit at YWCA

Attention Thurston County girls ages 10-14 – this year’s free YWCA Winter Summit has a fun-filled day planned for January 2. Workshops will focus on this year’s theme: “S.T.E.M., Social Justice, and Art.” Some of these happenings include Gardening with GRuB, Self-Defense, Theater, Salmon Dissection, and Anatomy. Lunch and snacks are provided for this all day event and takes place at South Puget Sound Community College.

ywca winter summit

Girls from across Thurston County come together January 2 to further their exploration of science and the arts.

Lacey Parks and Recreation

From ski trips to visits with Santa, Lacey Parks and Recreation has a wide variety of activities for any age during Winter Break. The Snowball Express Winter Break Day Camp includes events like ice skating, swimming, skating, and movie days to keep children occupied and having fun. Space is limited for all of the break events so be sure to check out their site for an updated list of available spots for these entertaining events.

Olympia Parks and Recreation

Every day of Winter Break is packed full of adventure with Olympia Parks and Recreation. These day camps offer supervision for age groups of children 6-9 years old and 9-12 years old. Activities include swimming, rock climbing, tubing, sledding, snow shoeing, skating, and more. Registration is available online or over the phone at (360) 753-8380.

hands on childrens museum

Students engage with interactive materials, creating their own play at the Hands On Children’s Museum. Here two boys created a “maze” using magnet rods and balls.

Hands On Children’s Museum

Half-day camps will be available throughout Winter Break at the Hands On Children’s Museum. Museum members get a discount on the camps which are either one day or two days in length. There are age groups of 3-Kindergarten and first through fourth grade. Expect a variety of science labs, crafts, painting and more. For online registration visit the HOCM website or call (360) 956-0818 ext. 103.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Thurston County

All of the Thurston County Boys and Girls Clubs are offering day camps during Winter Break. A breakfast and afternoon snack are provided each day. Children of all ages will be able create and play together during the day with organized activities provided. For more information and registration information visit the website for Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, or Rochester branches.

Black Hills Gymnastics Winter Break Camp

Tumble through Winter Break with the day camps offered at Black Hills Gymnastics. Children ages 6-12 are welcome to sign up for a full day of gymnastics. There is also a half day camp available for preschool aged children.

For even more to do over Winter Break, check out our events calendar featuring activities across Thurston County.


Thurston Commissioners Ban Insecticide from County Properties

Thurston Talk - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 11:08am



Submitted by Thurston County

Thurston County Commissioners have amended the county’s Pest and Vegetation Management Policy (PVM) to prohibit the use of neonicotinoid insecticides on County owned or managed property. The action furthers the county goal to minimize the use of pesticides and favor the use of least toxic pesticides when they are necessary, and help set an example by avoiding the use of neonicotinoid insecticides.

Commissioner Sandra Romero says neonicotinoid insecticides have been linked to the loss of bee populations and the collapse of bee colonies.

“Since 2006 there has been a significant increase in the collapse of bee colonies and declining populations of bees in Washington State and the nation. Bees and other insect pollinator populations are critical for food crop production and agriculture, and the state and local agricultural economies are highly dependent on pollinators. The continued viability of the agricultural industry is important to food security and the agricultural heritage of the region and the health and well-being of county residents.” Such insecticides can persist for year in soils where they can be absorbed by non-treated plants.

The amendment to the PVM Policies will also bring that document in line with current best practices used by county staff. It also fits in with goals of the “Thurston Thrives” program and the Thurston County Strategic Plan by minimizing the county’s environmental footprint, protecting and restoring the water quality and helping sustain biodiversity and ecosystems.


Studio News: Structural Improvements

K Records - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 10:10am
When things slow down here I try to use the time to do big projects in the space. Last month we had a chance to knock out some long-standing ambitions. Our first enterprise was hanging a ceiling mic. We’re all excited to utilize the new high ceilings, but its hard to get a mic up […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Settle in and get it done

The Plum Palate - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 7:55am
Funny how food writing works sometimes. Guess what I don’t have time to do when I’m in the middle of writing a profile? I’ll be shoulder deep in interview notes, poring over a farmer’s perspective on the local food system, an artisan’s insights into wellness or sustainability; dragging a highlighting cursor over their thoughts on […]
Categories: Local Food Blogs

Teens Find Fun and Friends in Magic: The Gathering

Thurston Talk - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 7:01am



By Sara Hollar, Olympia High School Intern to ThurstonTalk

dairy queenSince its creation in 1993, Magic: The Gathering and its community have been thriving world-wide.  Luckily for local Magic enthusiasts, Thurston County provides plenty of opportunities to get involved in the game. In fact, the area is a sort of Magic paradise, especially for teens. From school clubs to card shop tournaments, now is a great time to be a Magic player.

Magic: The Gathering is a fantasy-based trading card game that allows players to build decks and compete. It can be played one-on-one, in tournament style or with drafts where players draw random cards to make a deck. The game involves complex rules and strategy both in playing against competitors and building decks.

magic the gathering

OHS junior Adam Sloma shows off his Magic deck. He considers this his greatest accomplishment when it comes to Magic.

Many players spend quite a lot of time and money creating the perfect deck, which consist of 60 plus cards. When it comes to Magic, Adam Sloma, a junior at Olympia High School, is most proud of his mono-green, ramp deck. “I’ve thrown a lot of money at it,” he says.

Of course, the total cost of playing the game is really up to the player but most admit that it’s not the cheapest hobby. Stacia Hollar’s 16-year-old son, Devan, has been playing off-and-on since 2007. They both agree that quite a bit of money has gone toward the game but Stacia doesn’t mind. “I think of it as an investment. Magic keeps him entertained now and eventually the cards could be worth some money,” she states.

Devan and many of his friends play Magic regularly and they each have a unique story about their experience with the game. Some players, like Adam, have been playing since grade school. Other teens discovered Magic through their friends. They spend hours in basements and around kitchen tables learning to play, building decks, holding drafts and trading cards. “I like hanging out with friends and just playing. There is direct social interaction. You can just chill with your buddies, it’s like poker,” comments 16-year-old Nolen Young.

For a few players, the game is a family affair. Connor Soots, an OHS junior, was exposed to Magic by his parents. Erin Snodgrass, also an OHS junior, has been playing since she was four. Her dad, brother, uncles and cousins all play Magic. Her dad and OHS teacher, Tim Snodgrass has a special role in the Olympia Magic community as the staff advisor of the Olympia High School Magic: The Gathering Club.

Erin Snodgrass and Owen Thompson face off during OHS's Magic Club.

Erin Snodgrass and Owen Thompson face off during OHS’s Magic Club.

Tim originally ran the OHS Dungeons and Dragons club but many of its members graduated. Instead, a group of juniors asked Tim to advise a Magic club. Starting officially this school year, the club has already seen fantastic turn-out. Players of all ability levels are welcome during the Friday morning flex hour. The club is currently running a tournament to allow students to compete against each other but Tim emphasizes that the games remain casual and fun.

“Magic club is an area of interest for kids. It’s a place to go and I hope it’s always that. Its just students participating in things they enjoy,” Tim says.

The club members agree that Magic is also a great way to meet new people. Players span from freshmen to seniors and although the main demographic is boys, there are a number of girls that play. Erin Snodgrass highly recommends the game to any interested women. “Sometimes it’s a little rough with all the testosterone but I would love for more girls to play,” she laughs. “It’s very fun and it’s not just a ‘boys’ game. I think girls would like it.”

Magic Club provides a great opportunity for OHS students but Magic players of all ages can find a caring atmosphere at Gabi’s Olympic Cards and Comics in Lacey. OCC, as its regulars affectionately call it, is the local go-to for all things Magic: The Gathering. Owner Gabi Trautmann bought the store when she was 18, incidentally on the same week that Magic was first published. She’s been a part of the community every step of the way. Currently the shop hosts Magic events almost every day of the week, including Beginner’s Night and Lady Planeswalkers, a night for women Magic players.

Games aren’t only played during the designated Magic times though. “We always have people playing randomly whenever they want because we have so much game space. Just about every minute that we’re open there is someone playing Magic,” Gabi describes.

magic the gathering

Forrest Kim (L) and Tyler Murphy trade Magic cards at Olympic Cards and Comics.

The strength of the Magic community at Olympic Cards and Comics is a little awe-inspiring. With Gabi at the helm, players create a welcoming and open environment for players of all skill levels. Some customers have been going to Olympic Cards and Comics for decades and Gabi has watched kids grow up in her store. She recounts that one of her favorite memories of the Magic community was a tournament held in order to raise funds for a young woman in Renton who was wheelchair-bound in a car accident. “It was quite touching to see the community come together like that,” Gabi remembers.

One Saturday night, Forrest Kim and Tyler Murphy can be found trading cards in OCC’s upstairs game area. Forrest is a 20-year-old student at The Evergreen State College who has played for four years. Thirteen year old Tyler attends Bush Middle School and started playing six months ago. They both play usually three nights a week at OCC. Neither has friends from school that play Magic but they have found a group at Olympic Cards and Comics that loves the game as much as they do. They have become friends with one another and others at the shop, despite obvious differences. Making friends at the shop isn’t uncommon, in fact Gabi says it’s one of her favorite parts about her job.

“Every week, there’s just kids who come in here and hang out. They’re a part of something. You can see them protect each other and hang out and build friendships that are going to last forever,” explains Gabi. “There’s a lot of kids here who have been friends for a decade and the only thing they have in common is Magic. They go to different schools, they’re different ages but they have the common denominator of Magic.”

Showcasing the Season at The Gift Gallery in Tumwater

Thurston Talk - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 6:53am



gift gallery tumwater

The Gallery’s Christmas tree is decorated entirely in handmade goodies.

Despite the absence of a white winter, I still agree with funnyman Mo Rocca that “Christmas is a stocking stuffed with sugary goodness.” And for a one-stop shop to fill that stocking, visit Tumwater’s The Gift Gallery LLC, a wealth of everything wonderful our region has to offer.

Owner Linda Miller fills her store with the wares of more than 30 vendors from around the area. Hailing from Thurston, Lewis, and Grays Harbor counties, these artists and crafts people keep her booths stocked with jewelry, toys, housewares, holiday decorations, gift items, antiques, and food treats of every variety. These local artisans are always happy to discuss custom or personalized orders and often live locally to expedite turnaround time.

The Gift Gallery’s individualized attention makes them a home-grown treasure no matter what your gift-giving need. Looking for a Seahawks, Mariners, Huskies, or Cougars patterned teddy bear? They’ve got ‘em. Local huckleberry honey? Check. Chocolate nut toffee packaged as reindeer poop? Yup. Vintage, one-of-a-kind jewelry? A gorgeous assortment, ready to go.

Linda moved the store to its current Capitol Boulevard location five years ago after spending almost three in Lacey. The shop often hosts local authors for readings and book signings, ‘Vendor Appreciation Day’ where customers can meet the artists, and even free monthly jewelry appraisals complete with tasty food samples galore.

Miller works hard to keep her merchandise as local as possible since handcrafted items are always the most popular. In their Food Court section, you’ll find offerings from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Montana, and Colorado. These range from coffees, teas, and cocoas, to cheese dips, candies, honey and jellies, and all manner of savory and sweet delights.

gift gallery tumwater

Owner Linda Miller loves to showcase local artists and artisans in her Tumwater shop.

Holiday shoppers looking for unique ornaments, Secret Santa gifts, or stocking-stuffers can start with a large, festive Christmas tree featuring only handmade ornaments. These are sure to be a hit in any home, office, or gift exchange.

The Gallery will also save the day if you’re completely stumped on your gift-giving list. Their skilled staff will help create gift baskets for any occasion or recipient, with complementary basket, stuffing, wrapping, and ribbon to accentuate your chosen treats. You’ll definitely look and feel like a shopping master.

Are you an artist, tradesman, or creative crafty soul? The Gift Gallery is always looking for new vendors and loves to showcase emerging—or established—talent. Give the shop a call or stop by to discuss their array of booth options.

During the month of December, the Gift Gallery will offer an assortment of special holiday events for their guests. Every Wednesday is Senior Day, with shoppers 50+ receiving a free gift with a $10 purchase. If you’re wandering the aisles and find a tucked-away bunny stamp, bring it to the front for 10% off your purchase as part of the month’s delightful ‘Find the Bunny’ promotion.

gift gallery tumwater

Art, jewelry, gifts, and tasty treats fill the aisles of the Gift Gallery.

Saturdays in December also feature multiple raffle drawings throughout the day. Selected winners, who don’t need to be present to win, will be able to choose a gift from those donated by the shop’s many creative sellers.

Located at 5113 Capitol Boulevard SE in Tumwater, Southgate Shopping Center, Exit 102 off I-5, the Gift Gallery is not to be missed. Whether on a mission for something specific or simply treasure-hunting on a lazy afternoon, the sights, smells, and surprises you’ll find make it well worth the trip.

The shop is open from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. For December only, they’ll also be open from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Sundays and 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Call 360-491-4917 with questions or special requests. Visit their website or Facebook page for updates, event postings, and amazing inventory slide-shows.

Fashion Designer Rebekah Adams Draws on Deployment Experience

Thurston Talk - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 6:39am



By Cara Bertozzi

creative officeLife inspires art, and passion stokes the fires of creative genius. When Rebekah Adams of Rebekah Adams Design (RAD) was selected for the Bellevue Collection’s Independent Designer Runway Show (IDRS), she had just arrived from the east coast with her husband. He deployed shortly thereafter, and the challenge of preparing for two shows, Vancouver Fashion Week and IDRS, was just the ticket to staying busy and fulfilled for the duration of their separation.

A framed photograph of billowing Army parachutes transporting heavy tanks like feathers high above the earth provided a mix of contrasts and a dramatic landscape that captured Rebekah’s eye and reminded her of her husband. She purchased a vintage parachute on eBay and began sketching ways to incorporate the material and the Airborne spirit into her designs.

military clothing

Hand-drawn parachutes float on silky grey and blue tops.

Rebekah silk-screened a hand-drawn ethereal outline of the chutes onto some of her pieces. The clothes progress from muted greys and blues with fitted structured silhouettes to the collection’s turning point, a cobalt blue dress with bilateral exposed zippers that can be used to convert the dress into a chic maternity piece. This dress represents the breathless moment of standing at the door of a perfectly good plane at high altitude and choosing to lean out and abandon yourself into the jet stream. Perspective changes as all the senses heighten, and the blues of the expansive sky intensify in the chaos of the initial free fall.

The collection shifts at this point into green and brown tones representing the tumble toward earth. Huge swatches of parachute material and rigging comprise high-drama flowing dresses. Texture plays a starring role in the looks as well, with a range of fabrics from pleather, polyester georgette, and nylon to faux polyester snakeskin, chiffon, and vintage wool.

When Rebekah moved from North Carolina, she was fortunate to be joined by two friends whose husbands were also reassigned to the same unit. The three ladies all share a Midwest connection as well and pitched in on Rebekah’s senior project during their time in NC. They were thrilled for another chance to work together professionally with Rebekah’s selection for the fashion show.

military fashion

Mandy models a transitional maternity dress that can accommodate a growing belly.

Amanda Guydan has expertise in a fascinating range of fields. She has degrees in chemistry and law and has worked as a forensic scientist, but she also has an affinity for planning and directing promotional events. Amanda is the event planner for RAD, coordinating the crew of models and looks in hectic performance environments with aplomb; she is also the official collection photographer, and her discriminating eye for detail helps to differentiate and showcase the products. Her latest venture is as a small business owner of the Lacey-based company Amanda Guydan Photography, which specializes in wedding, event, and portrait photography.

Mandy Rose works in Marketing and Public Relations and brings those skills to bear at RAD. She loves capitalizing on the opportunities that social media creates for sharing content and images. She is also sometimes a model and can be seen bringing Rebekah’s designs to life in Amanda’s photographs.

These remarkable women agreed to let me join them on a blustery day at McChord Airfield’s Heritage Hill fleet, an outdoor collection of the McChord Air Museum. They were conducting a fashion shoot, my first, with the well-preserved retired planes that grace the park. The grounded planes seem to come to life as the wind plays with the copious fabrics of the parachute dresses and Mandy walks in the clothing to demonstrate its movement. The shots are amazing. Everyone is practically giddy.

military fashion

Rebekah (left) directs Mandy (not shown) while Amanda (right) clicks away, capturing the designs in motion.

Rebekah is thrilled with the reception of her clothing in the greater Puget Sound community. She now has designs for sale at Sassafras Boutique, a purveyor of locally made clothing, where her first sample sale is upcoming on Saturday, December 13 from 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 14 from 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.. She is also busy preparing her Fall/Winter 2015 collection for Seattle Fashion Week 2015, which runs March 4 – 8. The concept is still coming together, but printed fabrics in rich colors are in order. What started as a creative way to repurpose hand-me-down clothing from her older siblings (Rebekah is the sixth of nine children) has turned into a legitimate business gaining traction in the fashion world.

As with many pursuits, Rebekah views her designs as an extension of herself. In addition to creating beautiful yet practical designs, she wants to be intentional in the way she interacts with the world. Textiles can be obtained through fair trade and responsibly sourced without compromising on quality. At RAD, it is important to consider all of the stakeholders that contribute to the final product.

By the end of the photo shoot, Mandy is shivering, Amanda has her photo editing work cut out for her, and Rebekah has to transport the now-hangered looks to their next engagement. But they accomplished what they came to achieve. For these friends, it’s all in an honest day’s work, for which they are paid in clothes.


Thrifty Thurston Enjoys Free and Fanciful Fun at the Olympia Library BiblioBall

Thurston Talk - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 6:00am



By Gale Hemmann

greene realtyThere’s no denying it: winter’s here. Amidst the chilly weather and many holiday obligations, you may find yourself looking for something fun and different to do. Something festive and special, but not your typical holiday event. Something the whole family can get out of the house and enjoy. Well, I have just the answer.

library events

The Youth Services team brings fun to the library – here, they are dressed up in Halloween costumes (from left to right: Emily Vineberg, Mary Rulewicz, and Sara Lachman). Photo courtesy of Olympia Timberland Library

The Olympia Timberland Library is affectionately known as “Olympia’s Living Room.” But on the evening of Saturday, December 20, it will be transformed into Olympia’s Ballroom for the first time ever. The first annual BiblioBall, a formal ball for all ages, is a family-friendly event full of dancing, live music, crafts, and gift-making. It is totally free, open to everyone, and promises to be a “magical evening of fairy-tale fun.”

Dressing up in fanciful clothing and spending a glamorous (yet free) evening at the local library? I have to admit, the idea of the BiblioBall intrigued me. I met with Mary Rulewicz and Sara Lachman, library staff, to find out more about this unique community party.

Lachman got the inspiration for the event on a trip to New Orleans, where she attended a wonderful intergenerational dance. She thought the Olympia community would also respond well to the idea of such a fun, festive evening for all ages. The other Youth Services staff, Mary Rulewicz and Emily Vineberg, were on board and have all worked closely together to make it happen, with the support of the other library staff and the Friends of the Olympia Library.

So, what can you expect to do at the BiblioBall? This after-hours community event, which runs from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m., offers a smorgasbord of activities. Listen to live music by the Contra Quartet and boogie down on the dance floor. Local printmaker Mimi Williams will lead art activities (you can follow her on Facebook here). Kids will have plenty of opportunities to make handmade holiday gifts. The whole family can enjoy light refreshments, a drawing for a prize (a print by Williams), and a “gift-worthy book sale.” Attendees will also have a chance to make their own special masquerade mask to wear.

You can also get free photos taken in a photo booth. Everyone is encouraged to attend in their “finest fairy-tale fashion or formalwear.” This could mean anything from that prom dress you have in your closet to a thrift-shop score to a handmade creation. Re-purpose an old Halloween costume or wear your fanciest attire. Dressing up in creative outfits will definitely enhance the fun and magic of the event for kids (and adults too). This is “Olympia formal,” so creativity and imagination are what count. There will also be a “fairytale promenade” for those who wish to show off their costume creations.

library events

Two teens model their cosplay fashion on the runway at the Library Anime Convention held for teens during the summer reading program. There will also be a fashion promenade at the BiblioBall. Photo courtesy of Olympia Timberland Library

Lachman and Rulewicz told me about the plans to transform the library space into a whimsical fantasyland for the ball. Luminaries created for the Procession of the Species are being provided by Procession founder Eli Sterling and volunteer Nichole Rose. The library atrium will be turned into the dance floor. And, Rulewicz notes that this is also a wonderful chance to share the library’s folk and fairy tale collection (enduring classics for all ages, and a great choice for family reading time) with a special display. “This is a low-stress, fun event for everyone, and of course it also has a literary element,” she says.

One thing that always impresses me about the library is how they offer such creative and original activities. If you’re looking for free, family-friendly fun that encourages kids’ love of books, check out some of their ongoing activities and other upcoming events. They offer popular weekly story times for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers as well. Older kids can join book clubs, and there are plenty of volunteer opportunities for teens.

The Olympia Library staff and volunteers are excited to see the BiblioBall come to life. They are hoping to make this an annual event, with a different theme each year. “We think the library is a treasure, and we want to share this treasure with the community,” says Rulewicz.

The BiblioBall is sponsored by the Friends of the Olympia Library (“like” them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter).

The Contra Quartet is part of the Olympia Contra Dance Community, a non-profit which celebrates this unique style of music and dance. (You can also find them on Facebook.)

Since the event is held after-hours, no regular library services will be available. For more information about family programming at the library, visit the Olympia Timberland Library’s website and follow them on Facebook (and check out this past Thrifty Thurston article).

library events

Kids have fun at a Musical Story Time event at the library with Olympia artist Nikki McClure (left), library staff Mary Rulewicz (center), and local musician Greta Jane (right). Photo courtesy of Olympia Timberland Library

Like all library events, admission to the BiblioBall is free. Drop by any time the library is open (see their hours here) to learn more details, dig out some fun costumes (or hit the local thrift shops), and you’re on your way to one enchanted evening.

BiblioBall 2014: Fairy Tale Formal

Olympia Timberland Library

313 8th Avenue Southeast in Olympia

Saturday, December 20, 2014 from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Find more details on the Facebook event page or the library website.

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 brainchild 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


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