Recent local blog posts

Circle Mirror Transformation

South Sound Arts - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 9:10am

Published in the Weekly Volcano, March 11, 2016 
from left: Jesse Morrow, Tim Shute, Meghan Goodman, Scott Douglas, and Chelsea Williams. Photo by Austin Lang.
And now for something completely and delightfully different — Circle Mirror Transformation at Olympia Little Theatre, written by Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Annie Baker and winner of the 2010 Obie Award for Best New American Play .It might seem silly and disjointed at first, but stick with it and you’ll be rewarded. Some people didn’t stick with it opening night. I noticed that more than a couple of couples left at intermission. Perhaps it was too weird for them. Perhaps it seemed meaningless. Too bad for those who walked out. They missed out on a terrific show ably pulled together by first-time director Hannah Eklund and an outstanding ensemble cast.Cast photo by Austin C. LangMarty (Meghan Goodman) runs an acting class for adults. It’s a small class, four students only, one of whom is Marty’s husband, James (Tim Shute). It seems he doesn’t really want to be there, but is taking part in the class in order to support his wife. The other class members are Theresa (Chelsea Williams), a professional actor who doesn’t really need the class; Schultz (Scott Douglas), a recently divorced man who is uncomfortable being in the class; and Lauren (Jesse Morrow), a student with hopes of becoming an actor.The play begins with a series of seemingly unconnected scenes that parody the kinds of often bizarre exercises actors are known for engaging in — attempting to communicate without words, making animal noises, lying on the floor and shouting out numbers in an attempt to count to 10 without any two or more saying the same number and nobody knowing when someone else is going to call out a number (try it, you’ll see how hard it is), becoming various inanimate objects, and introducing each other and telling their personal stories each in the guise of one of the other people in the class. Time changes, from week one to week two and so forth, are cleverly introduced by projected videos of the actors, one at a time, in extreme close-up with lots of changes of expression and with background music. I do not know if the actors attempted to go through their medley of facial expressions with the music playing or if the music was added later, but they appeared to be delightfully synchronized—most enjoyably Shute frowning and laughing to the tune of The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction.”The different scenes and exercises seem random and are often hilarious, but become increasingly revealing of intimate details, fears and desires. In the end, each of the class members has changed, and the audience knows them better. But not everything is revealed. As the actors tell their personal stories, the audience is challenged to figure out what stories pertain to which of the actors. Clues abound, but not necessarily the answers.Kudos to cast and crew for a job well done.Circle Mirror Transformation runs approximately two-and-one-half hours including intermission. It is an intelligent play for sophisticated adults.The set and lighting are deceptively simple and effective. (No one is credited in the program for set design, but Tom Sanders is listed as set construction, and Sam Arsenault is credited for props—primarily a big ball, a hula hoop and a cleverly designed combination bench and storage cabinet.) The projected videos are captivating (Eklund did them and the sound design; and as director she has to be credited for the complex and excellent blocking). And since I've listed half the crew I should list the rest of the unsung heroes behind this production, all of whom deserve praise: Stage Manager Austin C. Lang; Lighting design Lang and Vanessa Postil; light and sound booth George Dougherty, who is seldom acknowledged for the critical job of running lights and sound for Theater Artists Olympia, Olympia Little Theatre, and Olympia Family Theatre; and Producer Allison Gerst, longtime costume designer for OLT.Circle Mirror Transformation, Thursday-Saturday and 1:55 p.m. Sunday, through Feb. 21, Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave., NE, Olympia, tickets $11-$15, available at Yenney Music, 2703 Capital Mall Dr., Olympia, 360.786.9484,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 8:55am


Love is in the air.  Whether you are hunting for a beautiful bouquet of flowers, crafting a thoughtful homemade card, or preparing a delightful meal for your sweetie, ThurstonTalk has you covered with all things that say “I love you.” We ‘heart’ our readers.  Enjoy the holiday weekend, an extra day to sleep in, and some positive stories

Evolution at W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory

South Sound Arts - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 8:50am

Art, Science and Adaptation
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Feb. 11, 2016“Beioneural” mixed media sculpture with moss and LED lights by Jennifer RobbinsLisa Kinoshita curates art exhibits in fantastic venues and presents the work in such a manner that it blends in with, becomes a part of, and enhances what is already there. She did it beautifully at the Seaport Museum last summer and has now done it again at the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory in Wright Park. In an exhibition called Evolution: Art, Science and Adaptation, Kinoshita has brought together the works of 13 artists including works of mixed-media sculpture, video, and ceramics displayed among the hundreds of exotic plants in the conservatory. The art fits in so naturally and organically that viewers can easily miss some works. It is a smorgasbord of beautiful, unusual and unexpected shapes, colors and materials on the floor and in the air — all of which plays upon the theme of evolution, sometimes humorously and sometimes with scientific seriousness.A trio of Claudia Riedner’s popular giant heads guard the entrance. They are like the Easter Island heads moved from a bare hillside to a lush tropical jungle, and can be seen as either welcoming or a warning. Enter at your own risk; you’ll be glad you did.There are three unique sculptural works by Yuki Nakomura in the exhibition, the most intriguing of which is one called “Tree Map.” She traced the shapes of peeling bark on an allspice tree in the conservatory, painted them in solid tones of red, yellow and blue and with black and white stripes, and then put them back on the tree trunk. It is an artist’s playful interpretation of a possible evolutionary change to the tree.Another playful interpretation of evolutionary change can be seen in Ed Kroupa’s “Cactopl,” an octopus-like creature hiding in rocks on the floor made out of sculpted foam, toothpicks and glass. With its big, blue glass eyes and tentacles partially buried in the rocks, it seems to be stalking prey. “Breaking Through” mixed-media sculpture by Don High. Photos by Lisa KinoshitaDon High’s “Breaking Through” is a mixed-media sculptural tower of rocks with moss-covered tendrils sprouting fountain-like from the top. Like many of the sculptural pieces, it seems to be an organic part of the jungle of the conservatory.Had Kinoshita not been there to point it out to me, I would not have seen Brent Watanabe’s mixed-media installation “Deposit.” There is a small table covered with a red checkerboard cloth. That part was easy to see, and seemed out of place. But then Kinoshita told me to look under the table. There I saw a video of a funny and kind of sad puppy projected onto clear vinyl sheets.One of the most beautiful pieces in the show is Jennifer Robbins’ “Beioneural.” It is an organic sculpture of sticks, raindeer moss, succulents and LED lights. Sprouting from either end of a brilliant orange moss-covered stick with lights glowing from within are tree branches or bright red and purple. Verbal description does not do it justice. The beauty is breathtaking.Another of the most fascinating installations is Sean Alexander and Paul Cavanaugh’s “Ant Farm.” It is, in fact, just what the title claims, an ant farm with living ants, hanging in air within sheets of glass. Inside the glass are complementary blue and orange substances that look like a three-dimensional Mark Rothko painting. The blue material is a gel substance developed by NASA for sending ants into space, and it functions as food, water source, and habitat.There is so much more to see, and it is all intelligent, thought-provoking, often surprising, and quite lovely to look at. Evolution: Art, Science and Adaptation, Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Third Thursday Art Walk, closing time is 7 p.m., $3 suggested donation, Seymour Botanical Conservatory, 316 G Street in Wright Park, Tacoma.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Hot Yoga Olympia – Classes Become More Accessible to All Who Wish to Practice

Thurston Talk - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 6:00am


At age 65, most people might start thinking about retirement. In Vreni Zeller’s case, it was a chance to try something new: Hot Yoga. “It’s changed my life,” says Zeller, who is now 75 and has been a regular student at Hot Yoga Olympia for the past ten years. “I’m more in touch with myself.

5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about the History of the Isthmus

Thurston Talk - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 6:00am


There were two plotted waterways through the isthmus. You may know that the isthmus is entirely fill. Meaning, the original shoreline of Olympia was somewhere along Water Street and didn’t extend any further west. Our early city planners began the process of filling and bulkheading early on. One reason was to create an easier way to get

Olympia’s Logan, Shaw and Flannery Got All the Right Moves on the Wrestling Mat

Thurston Talk - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 6:00am


They use different techniques, different moves. Typically, Logan Pine pins his opponents. Trevor Shaw doesn’t give up easy points. And Patrick Flannery often throws his opponent, using a move called the wizard to get a takedown. But while their methods vary, the results are usually the same for these three seniors on Olympia High School’s

Volunteers Wanted for Winter Native Plant Salvage

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 3:46pm
Event:  Sun, 02/21/2016 - 9:30am - 3:30pm

Grab your warm winter gear and join WSU’s Native Plant Salvage Project for an exhilarating morning of salvaging small native trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants from forthcoming development sites slated for clearing. Community volunteers work under WSU staff’s direction to recover small plants that are used for revegetation projects to benefit water quality and habitat. The work is done during winter months when plants are dormant and more likely to transplant successfully.

Plant salvage activity occurs between 9:30 a.m. and noon, when hot lunch is served to volunteers. After lunch, volunteers transfer plants to the native plant nursery in west Olympia and put plants in pots until about 3:30 p.m. Events will occur on February 21, March 5 and 13.

No prior experience is necessary, as volunteers are trained on site.

Sign up and receive details by contacting or (360) 867-2167. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Annual Dinner & Volunteer Recognition Ceremony

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 2:04pm
Event:  Fri, 02/26/2016 - 5:00pm - 9:00pm logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

250 Kids Helping Kids Through Service Project

Thurston Talk - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 12:18pm


Submitted by The City of Olympia On Monday, February 15, an estimated two hundred and fifty 4-H youth from around Washington State will arrive at Priest Point Park to participate in a service project hosted by Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation that will benefit one of their peers who is in need. Through the Sparrow Club,

Coming Home to The Village at Mill Pond

Thurston Talk - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 6:00am


Our world is electronically connected in amazing ways, but often at the expense of personal interaction. With almost 25% of workers telecommuting and the rise of such philosophies as Aging In Place and connected parenting, housing communities where you can live, work, shop, and play are vital. Centrally located in Olympia at 2400 Lilly Road

Terry Thorsell – Four Decades of Rolling Dough at Dirty Dave’s Pizza Parlor

Thurston Talk - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 6:00am


When Terry Thorsell graduated from North Thurston High School in 1976, he found a job at Los Hermanos.  At the time, he probably never dreamed he would end up working for the Dave Wilson family for the better part of his adult life. Thorsell has been at Dirty Dave’s Pizza Parlor since 1991, and is now the

Thrifty Thurston Spends Time with Little Valentine’s

Thurston Talk - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 6:00am


Valentine’s Day is known for roses, candlelit dinners, and romantic rendezvous. This holiday is surrounded by love. One of the people we love the most is our children. Thurston County has a plethora of activities to help parents celebrate their littlest Valentine during the holiday weekend. For the Active Family There are many options for

Firefly Yoga Offers Classes for Every Body

Thurston Talk - Wed, 02/10/2016 - 6:00am


As I lengthen my spine and twist to look up toward the sky, I am deeply connected to all that surrounds me. I am in the moment, simultaneously grounded and infinitely expansive. I haven’t a worry in the world. Moments like this, of mindfulness and connection, keep me coming back to my yoga mat time

Earn-a-Bike Program Prepares Young Cyclists for Road Ahead

Thurston Talk - Wed, 02/10/2016 - 6:00am


Intercity Transit means more than a bus ride to the middle school Earn-a-Bike graduates who bring home a refurbished bike to call their own. What started as a small group of friends and neighbors interested in bicycling and repairing bikes to give to kids is now Intercity Transit’s Earn-a-Bike program. The after-school program, now in

Kari and Gene Bond are a Team for Capitol Little League

Thurston Talk - Wed, 02/10/2016 - 6:00am


On opening day of any youth sports season, big brown cardboard boxes arrive at the field or gym with stacks of shirts in every hue from bright orange to muted maroon. The shirts are bundled by team with numbers and names nicely imprinted. The excitement is palpable as the players claim their shirts, pull them

Olympia Sea Level Rise Report: An Undeniable Challenge

Janine's Little Hollywood - Wed, 02/10/2016 - 2:52am

Above: City of Olympia staff briefed city councilmembers on the implications of sea level rise in downtown Olympia at a study session on Tuesday evening. With a four foot sea level rise, portions of West Bay, all the way to south of Union Street, and the I-5 interchange near Plum and Henderson will be inundated.
Councilmember Gilman Questions Saving Downtown
By Janine
A brutal, sobering report on the implications of sea level rise in downtown Olympia was delivered to Olympia city councilmembers by staff at a study session Tuesday evening. 

Mayor Cheryl Selby and Councilmember Jeannine Roe were excused from the study session and council meeting.
Councilmembers asked questions after the half hour report, but were mostly faced with the undeniable, daunting fact that downtown Olympia is highly vulnerable to sea level rise and has little time to protect itself.
“This year’s work feels a little bit different from past years….We are increasingly concerned and we’re suggesting a more heightened sense of urgency in our response to this dynamic….We feel we are currently vulnerable to flooding downtown and we suggest that the long term implications for what we’ve reported to you are higher than what we’ve reported to you in the past,” said City of Olympia public works planning and engineering manager Andy Haub.
Since the last Ice Age, sea levels have risen more than 400 feet. This process has occurred in spurts, and at times, has risen more than one foot per decade, most likely the result of ice sheets melting. Over the past 5,000 – 7,000 years, sea levels have been stable. The Industrial Age and the use of fossil fuels have accelerated climate change, and in the last 20 years, the rate of sea level rise has nearly doubled that of the previous 100 years.
“….We should develop a vision and a plan to begin adapting to sea level rise sooner than later….We can’t go it alone and we’re only going to be as strong as the weakest link in our defense,” said Eric Christensen, City of Olympia water resources planning and engineering manager.

Staff urged active community engagement, and engineering and financial partnerships with the State of Washington, the Department of Enterprise Services, the Department of Natural Resources, the Port of Olympia, LOTT Clean Water Alliance and the Squaxin Tribe.
Sea level rise information was derived from the UW Climate Impact group and the International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC). The last IPCC report was produced in 2013, however, new information is released on a weekly basis.
According to the IPCC, sea level rise is projected to occur at a rate of 11 to 38 inches by the end of the century. These are global averages, and Christiansen said Olympia’s tides come in 1.28 times higher than Seattle’s.
Adding to sea level rise concerns, according to data via the Washington State Reference Network which monitors land movement, downtown Olympia is subsiding nine tenths of an inch per decade. Monitoring stations are affixed on regional stations throughout the state, and one is located on top of Olympia city hall.
“We have acted very responsibly to date, and we’re in a very admirable position with our knowledge of both Budd Inlet and downtown,” said Haub, who urged that the city create codes for minimum floor elevations for new construction to protect downtown assets. He hopes to propose those this year.
Staff showed several scenarios to illustrate the impacts of sea level rise and climate change in Olympia’s downtown combined with the “nuisance flooding” that already occurs as a result of tidal events. The frequency of this flooding would increase.

Along with a one foot sea level rise, flooding would occur 30 times a year; two feet of sea level rise would flood downtown 160 times a year, and four feet of sea level rise would flood downtown 440 times a year, which is more than once a day.
With a four foot sea level rise, portions of West Bay, all the way south of Union Street,  and the I-5 interchange near Plum and Henderson will be inundated.
Above: High tides of 17.6 feet and low atmospheric pressure created a flooding situation in downtown Olympia on Sylvester Street adjacent to the Oyster House in December 2012.  
The City of Olympia has acknowledged and responded to sea level rise concerns since 1990. Since 2007, staff has been providing city council with annual updates on current climate change and sea level rise research, proposed work plans for addressing sea level rise, and reporting on their accomplishments regarding those plans.
The city set a policy in 2010 to protect downtown and sea level rise is reflected in goals and policies of the city’s 2014 Comprehensive Plan.
Immediately following the report, newly appointed Councilmember Clark Gilman asked how the decision was made to protect downtown and questioned the assumption that it should be saved.
“Looking at the two foot map (indicating sea level rise), you start to see the historical (shoreline)…It’s an interesting choice… To me, downtown is a collection of businesses and public spaces and it could be anywhere within the city limits….My initial gut (reaction) is that, I would much rather invest those resources in creating a more…resilient economy than trying to stop the floodwaters,” he said.
City manager Steve Hall said that the city made its commitment to protect downtown, rather than abandon it, in 2010, adding that a half billion dollars of investments are downtown, most notably the regional LOTT Clean Water Alliance wastewater treatment system.
Councilmember Jessica Bateman asked about Capitol Lake and how its reverting back to an estuary would impact downtown. She also asked about local and regional efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Without the dam, we would currently flood more frequently….the dam definitely helps control flooding downtown,” said Christiansen. He suggested that Heritage Park could be raised to prevent flooding downtown.
Rich Hoey, City of Olympia public works director, said that there will be study session scheduled in July regarding a plan to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions over the next three years. The city adopted an ambitious plan to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions of 80 percent by 2050.
“Quite frankly, we’re going to need regulatory help from higher levels of government to get there….” said Hoey.
Councilmember Jim Cooper said he would like to see the city produce a guidebook of simple adaptations and technical assistance for businesses. He also expressed a desire for downtown buildings to accommodate an eight foot sea level rise, and had concerns regarding the implications of contamination and the ability for underground utilities to deal with sea water inundation.
Cooper also requested that staff model what Olympia would look like if Moxlie Creek were daylighted, and asked if that would help stormwater holding capacity as a functioning estuary. 

Staff said they would look at that scenario. Moxlie Creek is currently 15 – 20 feet below ground, and runs more than a mile through downtown Olympia from Watershed Park to East Bay.
“An incremental adaption, initially preparing for a one to two foot sea level rise - whatever we do - should build the foundation for, and not preclude measures to address four to eight feet of sea level rise,” said Christensen.
Above: The city has 36 stormwater outfalls connected to Budd Inlet and Capitol Lake that are susceptible to backflow flooding. City staff and state Department of Enterprise Services staff prepare for more flooding the afternoon of December 10, 2015 at Capitol Lake in downtown Olympia. Earlier, tides came in 30 inches higher than predicted and caught staff off guard. Water came to within four inches of Olympia Supply's doors. With climate change, El Nino events will become greater in magnitude and flooding will increase in frequency. 
Other planning ideas included elevating the grade of Heritage Park and some roadways, placing planter boxes in strategic locations, and the building flood walls or gates that automatically rise when needed.  A barrier across a waterway, called a barrage, is being used in Venice, Singapore, on the Thames River in England, and the Netherlands.
The city plans to complete ongoing, current capital facility projects, work with the city’s Utility Advisory Committee to develop a multi-year sea level rise response plan, and coordinate its efforts with the council’s Land Use Committee.
Mayor Pro Tem Nathaniel Jones admitted that while progress has been made on data, local agencies do not have the capacity to do the kind of work that needs to be done on this issue.
Coming back around to Councilmember Gilman’s suggestion about abandoning downtown, Jones said the scenario of not making all the investments to protect downtown needs to be on the table and weighed into the overall conversation.
“That alternative is there and it should be respected.”
For past City of Olympia sea level rise reports and high tide events, go to Little Hollywood, and type key words into the search button.

The Peanuts Movie Entertains Kids for Free at Capitol Theater

Thurston Talk - Tue, 02/09/2016 - 9:57pm


Submitted by Olympia Film Society Families throughout the area will be smiling on Saturday mornings through the month of March. The Olympia Film Society and Captain Little are bringing the animated-classic, The Peanuts Movie, to the Historic Capitol Theater on Saturday mornings at 11:00 a.m. The Olympia Film Society is proud to team with Captain Little,

The Gift Gallery Announces Store Closing on March 31

Thurston Talk - Tue, 02/09/2016 - 3:10pm


Submitted by The Gift Gallery LLC  We want to begin by thanking the Tumwater community (and beyond!) for your support as customers of The Gift Gallery. It has been a privilege to provide our community with an assortment of unique gifts and handmade items for the past eight years, as well as a location for

Support Your Local Bookwriter

South Sound Arts - Tue, 02/09/2016 - 10:28am

Last night I went to a book launch party for William Turbyfill’s Field of Turbyat B Sharp Coffee House in Tacoma. Graciously, Turbyfill honored friends and fellow writers Christian Carvajal, Jack Cameron and Melissa Thayer by inviting them to read from their own works, and then he read a few selections from his newly published book—his first, and hopefully the first of many. It was a wonderful event. It is good to see locals coming out to support local writers. There are many more outstanding local writers than I can begin to enumerate. Most of them are published by independent, small-budget publishers, or are self-published. There used to be a stigma to that, but not so much anymore. Despite not being well known beyond friends and relatives, many of these local, independently published authors are just as good as, and often better than, more famous authors whose books sell in the millions.The difference is Random House and HarperCollins and Simon&Schuster can spend huge fortunes on advertising and promotion; they can provide every bookstore in America with return-guaranteed books; they can send their authors on worldwide book tours. (I’m not about to spend a thousand dollars to fly across country for a book reading where I might sell half a dozen books.) Marketing is impossible beyond readings in local bookstores (and only independent bookstores like Kings Books and Orca will even put these books on their shelves) and at events such as Creative Colloquy. Steven King’s latest novel, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams has 767 customer reviews on Field of Turbyhas seven, which is phenomenal for an independently published book that’s been out such a short time. My latest book has four. The most I’ve ever gotten for any book so far has been 19.Like your local food co-op and neighborhood schools, local writers need your support. Please buy their books and read them. But don’t just read them. Post customer reviews on amazon and Goodreads, and recommend them on Facebook. These reviews help more than you can imagine, and they’re not hard to write. They don’t have to be polished or even skillfully written. Just write what you think, and be honest. If there are things about the book you don’t like, say it. If you just gush about how great it is, readers will sense you’re being dishonest; they might even suspect you were paid to write a glowing review (that does happen, and amazon watches for it and will refuse to publish reviews they suspect are dishonest). Here are some local authors in the Olympia-Tacoma area whose books I recommend, plus a couple from other parts of the country whose books are outstanding and who could use your support:William TurbyfillMelissa ThayerJack CameronNed HayesChristian CarvajalRicker WinsorS.R. Martin Jr.Jack ButlerLarry JohnsonJoshua SwainstonRuth TigerDianne Kozdrey Bunnell
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

4 Romantic Outdoor Getaways Near Thurston County

Thurston Talk - Tue, 02/09/2016 - 6:26am


Love is in the air. Birds are chirping, spring bulbs are starting to become more visible and the gray and cold is slowly fading away. Spring is coming, and that means that it is time to take your hiking boots out of the closet and start planning a romantic outdoor adventure with your special someone.

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