Recent local blog posts

The Holiday Season at The Gift Gallery LLC

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 1:46pm



Submitted by Kaylene Fischer for The Gift Gallery LLC


The Gift Gallery in Tumwater will have holiday specials starting Black Friday and running through December.

The Gift Gallery in Tumwater will have holiday specials starting Black Friday and running through December.

Thanksgiving is upon us and already the stores are displaying their Christmas spirit with trees and decorations. The Gift Gallery LLC in Tumwater is no exception. We have a wonderful tradition here in our store each year. We put up our Christmas tree just like everyone else….almost. Our tree however is unlike any you will find in another store. Our tree is unique in itself. How you ask? Our tree is filled with hand-crafted quality ornaments made special by our vendors! This is a neat tradition our customers have come to know and love. With our hand-crafted ornaments we provide not only something unique and fun for your tree, but also something made of quality and from the heart. Be sure to stop in and see which ornaments you will want for your home!

During the month of November you can earn a $5 coupon to use for a later purchase. Simply find the “pumpkins” stamp and with your purchase you will receive a $5 Coupon! Great time to save while you’re beginning your holiday shopping.

**We will be closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 26th.

Join us for Black Friday on November 27. Enjoy our “Early Bird Special” of 20% off your total purchase from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.  From 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. enjoy 10 % off your total purchase.

Small Business Saturday, on November 28, The Gift Gallery will offer all shoppers 10% off your total purchase all day long.

Handmade goods, mixed with commercial wares, can be found at The Gift Gallery.

Handmade goods, mixed with commercial wares, can be found at The Gift Gallery.

Coming in December:

Gift drawings will be held every Saturday in December! Enter in store for your chance to win. Prizes will include commercial items as well as hand-crafted items donated by our vendors.

The Gift Gallery LLC will be open every Sunday from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. starting November 29 and all through December. Regular hours of Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 6 p.m. will remain the same.

Follow The Gift Gallery LLC on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus. 

The Gift Gallery LLC

5113 Capitol Blvd SE, Olympia, WA 98501


Tumwater Volleyball Takes 5th Place in State

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 12:55pm



By Grant Clark

south sound radiologyThey had been the pinnacle of high school volleyball in the state all season. So, when top-ranked Tumwater High School walked off the court with the fifth-place trophy it was a bit of a surprise.

The goal all year for the Thunderbirds was to defend their Class 2A state championship. A loss in the quarterfinals to Burlington-Edison prevented that.

“It’s bittersweet,” said senior Jaeya Reed. “But hands down this is the best place to play volleyball. It’s such a family atmosphere. I have made so many best friends. Our main goal every single season is state champs and having such a high goal it’s really hard to come back from that, but I am so proud of our team. I wouldn’t have changed anything.”

tumwater volleyball

Tumwater High School’s Anela Cairns (#6) attacks the net with Maddy Pilon (#4).

Despite coming up short in their attempt to win the program’s third straight title and become the first team since the 2010 Pullman squad to register back-to-back championships, the T-Birds put together one of the best seasons in school history, finishing with a 20-1 record and adding some more hardware to the their already packed trophy case.

“All season we had the goal of state champs. We never thought about getting second. We’re not getting third. We’re going to be state champs,” said sophomore Kennedy Croft, who was spectacular during the two-day tournament. “At the beginning (in the consolation bracket) we were trying hard to be happy, but it really wasn’t working. It took us a bit to get back into it. When we did, we knew we wanted to finish off the season the best that we can.”

Tumwater saw its prefect season come to an end against Burlington-Edison in the second round, losing a thrilling five-set match (25-20, 22-25, 26-28, 28-26, 16-14) where the T-Birds twice had match point in the fourth game, but were unable to put away the Tigers, who went on to claim the state championships by defeating Ellensburg, 3-1, in the finals.

tumwater volleyball

Tumwater celebrates a point against Archbishop Murphy at the state tournament.

“It was just back and forth,” Tumwater coach Tana Otton said about the match against Burlington-Edison. “The deciding factor was they got the final point and we didn’t. I hope the team feels proud about their season. To only have one loss and have it happen in the state tournament against a great team is really impressive.”

The T-Birds, who defeated North Kitsap in straight sets to win last year’s 2A state crown, entered the state quarterfinals with an 18-0 record, having won 27 consecutive matches dating back to the previous season.

Included on the list of victories this season were wins over 4A state champion Curtis, 4A state runner-up Emerald Ridge and 3A state runner-up Columbia River.

It marks the second time Burlington-Edison has stood in Tumwater’s way of claiming a state championship. The Tigers also knocked off the T-Birds in the 2011 state final, 3-1.

The team rebounded from its only setback on the year by hammering White River (25-19, 25-22, 25-14) in a loser-out bracket before rallying to defeat Archbishop Murphy, 3-2 (21-25, 25-11, 26-28, 25-22, 15-11), to secure the program’s fifth straight state placing.

“It was really hard to get into motion today, but we just needed to fight for ourselves,” Reed said. “Tana told us the team with the more heart is going to win, and we ran with it.”

tumwater volleyball

The Thunderbirds capped a 20-1 season by placing fifth at the 2A state tournament.

Croft, who was named 2A Evergreen Conference MVP, showed exactly why she’s regarded as one of the state’s top underclassman as she finished with a remarkable 110 combined kills over the four state matches. She posted 28 kills in a three-set sweep over Franklin Pierce in the first round, 31 against Burlington-Edison, 21 against White River and 30 against Archbishop Murphy.

“My shoulder was getting tired out there,” the hard-hitting Croft said with a laugh. “This has been the most unified team. We are all best friends both on the court and off. We wanted to finish on a good note. We’re already really excited for next year.”

In addition to Reed, Tumwater will also graduate seniors Kaiya Weston, Anela Cairns and Senna Larson, but will return a bevy of talent next season.

“This has been one of the most enjoyable years to coach,” Otton said. “This team has been a dream. They are just easy. There’s zero adversity. Every day in practice it was just so fun to coach them. There wasn’t a day where I walked into practice and dreaded being there, and I don’t think they had one either.”


Leadership Thurston County Gives Homeless Kids a Place to Play

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 11:40am



By Kathryn Millhorn

fastsignsThere have been numerous studies on the importance of play in a child’s healthy growth and development. But when families are homeless, even temporarily, children often find playtime isn’t an option. Studies show that “play becomes even more critical for children living in transition as a healing force to cope and restore normalcy to their lives…Playtime reduces potential trauma by engaging youth cognitively, physically, and emotionally, allowing children to build healthy relationships with caring adults and other children.”

Locally the Family Support Center of South Sound fosters a vision of “a community where all families are valued and nurtured and have the resources to be strong, healthy, and self-sufficient.” They offer parent education, family and homeless resource services, and supervised visitation support thanks to community donors, grants, and fundraising.

pear blossom place

Family Support Center Executive Director Schelli Slaughter cuts the ribbon on Pear Blossom Place’s new playground. Photo credit: Natalie Moran.

On November 7, Family Support Center welcomed the community to visit their brand new playground facility at their Pear Blossom Place Shelter at 837 7th Avenue SE in downtown Olympia. The playground was built with the generous support of the Leadership Thurston County (LTC) team, a program of the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce.

City of Olympia Senior Planner and LTC member Stacey Ray explains that “LTC’s goal is to educate, prepare, and inspire Thurston County professionals to engage in leadership roles within our regional community. The Class of 2015 was the first in recent memory to adopt a class project. We set a goal to raise the funds necessary to purchase and install a playground for the families at Pear Blossom Place and we accomplished our goal!”

“Our Leadership Thurston County class, thanks in part to a significant donation from the Hawks Prairie Rotary, raised over $15,000 to provide a commercial-grade playground for Pear Blossom,” adds Ray.

Ray laughs that “the night the playground was installed at 7:30 p.m. there were kids from Pear Blossom ready to play on it! That tells us we’ve been successful!”

Fellow LTC member Bob Heck, a financial advisor with Kiley Juergens Wealth Management, described the process as very direct and hands-on. “As a class we set a goal to reach out to our own personal networks. We worked diligently to identify individuals, businesses and other community partners that might be interested in our project. Wherever possible, we made the request for support in-person. As a class, we had the support of the Thurston County Chamber Foundation so all gifts were tax deductible, this was a big help in keeping our overall project costs low.”

pear blossom place

Leadership Thurston County members Stacey Ray and Bob Heck are two of the project’s instigators. Photo credit: Natalie Moran.

Family Support Center Executive Director Schelli Slaughter raves about the collaboration with Leadership Thurston County. “This project is really a dream come true! Our mission at the Family Support Center is working together to strengthen all families in order to enhance the safety, health, and wellbeing of children in our community and this project truly exemplifies that. This playground is the biggest gift we could ask for right before the holidays. This is the missing piece to our puzzle that really makes Pear Blossom Place a family support community. It will be a place where families can gather together, kids, and parents can strengthen their social connections and most of all kids can just have fun!”

Slaughter continues, “We know that homeless kids are twice as likely to suffer from physical and developmental delays, health problems, obesity, and depression; a big reason for that is that homeless children often do not have opportunities to play and climb and run in a safe and stimulating environment. Play gives kids the freedom to forget their worries for a while. So whether they live in the apartments permanently or are just staying here for a short time at the shelter while we help their parents to find permanent housing, they will remember this place as a place of joy.”

pear blossom place

Upon completion, kids played on the new structure well into the night. Photo credit: Natalie Moran.

“Each year hundreds of kids are going to have the opportunity to play here and every family will get to see what an amazing community we have here in Thurston County that cares about them,” continues Slaughter.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness says that as of 2014, there were 578,424 people homeless on any given night and of these 216,197 are people in families. Let’s all do our part for those in Thurston County who need our help the most.

Donations to the Family Support Center of South Sound can be made online or by calling their downtown offices at 360-754-9297. Families in need of emergency shelter can reach their hotline at 360-628-7343. They are located on the corner of State and Capital and offices are open from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Follow the Family Support Center on Facebook or sign up for their eNewsletter. Looking for a more hands-on way to help? They always have volunteer opportunities in every department.


Sensations That Announce the Future

South Sound Arts - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 10:59am

Intriguing but difficult show at The Evergreen State College Published in the Weekly Volcano, Nov. 12, 2015
“Souvenir,” cabon pigment print by Amjad Faur, courtesy of PDX Contemporary Art and the artist.The latest exhibition in the art gallery at The Evergreen State College takes concentration and thought to comprehend. It is not a show that can be easily enjoyed for its beauty alone but one that stimulates deep thought from those willing to put forth the effort. It is called Sensations That Announce the Future. It showcases artworks created by and chosen by TESC students and faculty based on the book Thinking in an Emergency by Elaine Scarry, and it posits the theory that art can look at patterns in the present and the past and intuit the future. A gallery handout, uncredited but presumable written by faculty member Shaw Osha, who organized the show and has a series of eight paintings in it, says, “Art shifts our perspective so we can perceive current circumstances differently. Art makes visible the subterranean ‘forces of chaos’ we contend with every day.”I have to admit that I had a hard time understanding a lot of the works and seeing how they relate to the stated themes, possibly because I have not read the book that purportedly inspired them all.For such a conceptual and future-oriented show, Osha’s contributions look surprisingly like paintings from the early 20th century Ash Can School, but with looser and more expressive brushstrokes and less clear definition of form. Her eight small paintings, which are not shown together but are scattered throughout the gallery, are street scenes with people. The setting might be the TESC campus, but that is hard to tell because there are few recognizable details. The colors are lush and soft, and figures and backgrounds bleed into one another. In one of her paintings the co-mingling of figure and ground is so extreme that the walking man, a shirtless figure facing away from the viewer, all but vanishes. The plaza or sidewalk and buildings and trees can be seen through his body. In another there is a man walking on what is probably “Red Square” on campus. The brushstrokes across his head and hair are so broad that they merge into the autumn leaves on the tree behind him. The ground he stands on is orange and tan, and as bright as glowing embers in a campfire — a treatment of the sidewalk that is common in all of her paintings. I don’t get the meaning of this series of paintings, but from a purely formal point of view they are outstanding. I would be proud to own any one of them.  In Steffani Jemison’s video, “Personal,” the setting is a street scene with a mural picturing Barack Obama and Desmond Tutu. A large black man walks back and forth in front of it, seemingly unsure of where he wants to go. Perhaps he is waiting from something or someone. Cars drive by, quickly, going backwards. Other pedestrians pass by, also going backwards. The scene then changes to a park scene where a man walks endlessly in a circle. Is the film making the point that we are walking blindly and backwards into the future? It is funny and perhaps prophetic.I loved C. Davida Ingram’s “Conjures & the Mermaid,” a selection of three photographs and a poem printed on three panels. The first line of the poem is “Here Lies the Nigress,” and the photos of the “Nigress,” are of a black woman seated in one photo and lying down in the other two. A dark, shadowy figure sits or lies in front of her in one of the photos; cushions on a bed replicate the shadow figure in the other; and in the third, something indistinguishable and mysterious stands in for the shadow figure. These are dramatic and attractive photos, and as with much good art, the images and the poem relate to each other but not overtly.There are some fabulously dramatic black-and-white photos of storm clouds by Joan Livingstone.Naima Lowe’s “Thirty-nine questions for white people,” notes in ink on notecards with brown paper wrapping and tied with ribbon, give whites and blacks much to think about, especially in light of the Black Lives Matter movement.There is much more to this show, much of it difficult but most of it intriguing.
Sensations That Announce the Future, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday,, through Dec. 2, The Evergreen State College Gallery, 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, Library 1st floor, Olympia, 360.867.5125
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Tumwater Football Continues to Roll, Advances to State Quarterfinals

Thurston Talk - Sun, 11/15/2015 - 5:24pm



By Grant Wood

Hometown logoTumwater football overpowered yet another opponent on November 13. If things go as smoothly the next three weeks as they have the last 11, then this year’s Thunderbirds squad will join a very selective fraternity.

Jarid Barret rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, Spencer Dowers threw a pair of touchdown passes, Griffin Shea added two scores and undefeated Tumwater opened the Class 2A state playoffs by pounding visiting Franklin Pierce, 55-14, at a rain-soaked Tumwater District Stadium on November 13.

tumwater football

Tumwater High School’s football team has overpowered opponents for 12 consecutive weeks.

It’s been a quarter century since the last time the T-Birds went unbeaten during a season, but Tumwater’s opening round drubbing of the Cardinals puts them three wins away of joining the 1989 and 1990 squads as the only teams to accomplish the feat in school history.

“We’re very focused,” said Dowers, who has thrown 13 touchdown passes and no interceptions this season. “We’ve known what other (Tumwater) teams have done and we’re tired of falling short. We feel like this is our year and we want to keep pushing and pushing no matter what.”

The sting of last year’s 28-27 season-ending loss to eventual state champion Sedro-Woolley in the state semifinals still lingers with Tumwater, serving as motivation for this year’s playoff run.

“We do think about it a lot,” Dowers said about the team’s last defeat. “We remember what losing felt like and we hated it. So, we’re making sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Tumwater, champions of the 2A Evergreen Conference, has done that by simply dismantling every team they have faced this season, outscoring opponents a combined 522-121.

Against Franklin Pierce, the starters watched the fourth quarter from the sidelines as the mercy rule and a running clock was in effect – a common theme all season for the T-Birds as they improved to 11-0 on the year.

But even that is nothing new for Dowers and his fellow seniors. It marks the third consecutive year Tumwater has opened a season with 11 straight victories. Only one other class in the T-Birds’ celebrated gridiron history has matched that achievement.

That event occurred 25 years ago with the Class of 1991 which finished its three-year run with a combined record of 37-1.

tumwater football

Tumwater High School took a commanding 28-0 lead in the first quarter before finishing out the game with a win of 55-14.

This year’s seniors have gone 36-2 over their high school careers – the second best three-year record ever at Tumwater – but are still looking for that elusive state title.

The T-Birds lost to Lynden (38-28) two years ago in the championship game before falling last year to the Cubs.

“We talk about it. We have to stay hungry. We want to stay humble and hungry,” said junior linebacker Cade Otton, the 2A Evergreen Conference defensive player of the year. “Respect all our opponents, obviously, but then we have to take care of business. We feel a sense of urgency – lose and we’re out.”

Otton, the team’s leader in tackles, receptions and receiving touchdowns, continued his stellar season against the Cardinals, hauling in three passes for 90 yards, including a 20-yard TD reception which put Tumwater up 21-0 with two minutes to play in the first quarter.

“Our defense got touched up a little, but it’s bend, don’t break. Our offense faced a little adversity, but we stayed positive and tried to do what we do,” Otton said.

Shea, the Evergreen Conference’s player of the year, opened the contest by picking off a Willie Patterson pass on the game’s first play to set the early tone for the T-Birds.

Tumwater scored on all four of its possession in the first quarter to grab a commanding 28-0 lead with Barrett opening the scoring with a 1-yard plunge.

tumwater football

Tumwater High School’s football team has advanced to the state quarterfinals.

“I think our line was doing really good. They were opening up holes. They were just giant. I could drive a truck through them,” said Barrett, who has scored 17 touchdowns during his senior year. “I just followed all their blocks. It was mostly the line tonight.”

Shea followed by pulling down a 24-yard TD pass from Dowers before ending the first quarter scoring with a 13-yard run.

Leading 28-14 at the half, Tumwater sealed the game by scoring on its first three possessions in the second half, getting a touchdown runs from Barrett (7 yards), Dominic Jones (3) and Noah Andrews (33).

It marked the final home game on the year for Tumwater, which will now be on the road during the remainder of the playoffs.

“I can’t believe this is the senior’s last time playing on our field,” Dowers said. “This is the way we wanted to end it. We’ve been wanting this since second grade.”

The T-Birds, who improved to 19-7 all-time in the first round of the state playoffs, advance to the quarterfinals where they will play the winner of Squalicum and W.F. West. Tumwater defeated Squalicum, 59-33, in last year’s quarterfinals and knocked off W.F. West, 49-21, this season.

Tumwater is 11-0 for the ninth time in school history. The program has been 12-0 four times (1986, 1989, 1990 and 2013).


Shipwreck Beads Artisan Market Brings the Best of our Region Close to Home

Thurston Talk - Sun, 11/15/2015 - 4:00pm



shipwreck beads

Enjoy vendors from across the region at the twice-annual Shipwreck Beads Artisan Market

In her book America’s Artisanal Market, author Kathryn Mahoney explores a growing trend: “As a consumer swamped with gimmicky ads and products, it is becoming increasingly important to develop an appreciation for real artistry, real artisanal goods. It really is what we all want. We want to be healthy, to give our bodies real food, to feel good about our choices and lifestyle, and to support the creative community and hard work of our fellows.” With holidays fast approaching, the Shipwreck Beads Winter Artisan Market offers a way to do just that.

Happening this year on November 28 from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., the Artisan Market coincides with Small Business Saturday and the long Thanksgiving weekend. In this age of box store gift giving, it’s refreshing to be able to experience and support so many local crafters in one central location.

“The authentic meaning and application of artisan alludes to a simpler time when people took pride in their craft: It’s about special and unique. [An] Artisan is…defined as: 1. a person skilled in an applied art; a craftsperson, and 2. a person or company that makes a high-quality, distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand and using traditional methods.” For the third year in a row, this twice annual Artisan Market showcases almost 100 vendors from across our region.

shipwreck beads

The Shipwreck Beads staff, under the leadership of Kelsy Vincent (far right), host almost 100 vendors at the Market.

This passion for goods produced locally by small, family businesses is growing exponentially. American Express estimates that in 2014 alone, $14.3 billion was spent at small independent businesses on Small Business Saturday alone.

Market coordinator and long-time Shipwreck Beads staffer Kelsy Vincent is excited by the event’s growth. While the overall format remains unchanged, there will be more vendors and food provided by the Galley Cafe inside Shipwreck Beads amongst others, sponsored in part by 94.5 Roxy Radio who will be live streaming from the event.

There will also be hands on ‘Make and Take’ activities sponsored by Swarovski, a perennial fan favorite. At the 2014 Artisan Market, attendees made Christmas ornaments featuring the gorgeous, sparkling crystals.

The event is free to attend but Vincent is proud to offer “a food drive to give back to the community.” For either two cans of food or $1 a ticket, visitors are entered into drawings for an array of prizes and gifts. All money and donations will benefit the Thurston County Food Bank during this often difficult time of year.

shipwreck beads

Taking place on Small Business Saturday, Nov 28, the Winter Artisan Market provides an opportunity to shop local.

Whether you’re stocking up on jewelry, baked goods, or quilts, you’re sure to find all that and more at this year’s Artisan Market. Applications for vendors are filling up fast but you can find the Booth Registration Form online. Space will be granted on a first come, first served basis so apply soon.

Advertised as the world’s largest selection of beads, Shipwreck Beads is a true Thurston County treasure. From humble beginnings in the 1960s, they’ve grown into a 22,000 foot showroom with beads and jewelry-making supplies galore. Drop in to take a class or just browse their stunning inventory on a rainy afternoon.

You can find updates on November’s Winter Artisan Market on Facebook or by following the Shipwreck Beads Facebook page. The Artisan Market will take place at 8560 Commerce Place NE. Give them a call at 360-754-2323 with any questions.


Anchor Bank + Habitat for Humanity Create Financially Literate Families

Thurston Talk - Sun, 11/15/2015 - 6:00am



By Heidi Smith

habitat for humanity

Anchor Bank’s sponsorship of the Partner Plus program has helped Habitat for Humanity train families in home ownership and financial literacy.

It’s a safe bet that most people who work for non-profit organizations want to make a difference. So when a for-profit business comes along and increases the number of people they can serve while boosting the impact they can make for individual families, it makes them happy.

“You feel better when you can do more,” says Shawna Dutton, marketing and outreach supervisor at South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity. “Being able to work with a giving community organization like Anchor Bank has created additional relationships and added capacity. It makes me smile all the time.”

Dutton is referring to Habitat for Humanity’s Partner Plus program, which Anchor Bank has sponsored for the second year. While Habitat is best known for building homes for low-income families, through Partner Plus they’re able to offer home ownership training and financial literacy to families who are struggling.

“Before, when someone applied, we didn’t have the staff to give them financial literacy and home ownership coaching,” says Dutton. “Now we have a dedicated person. Part of Anchor Bank’s sponsorship allows us to hire a part-time person to orient new families and do outreach to find new families.”

Anchor Bank has been a partner of Habitat for Humanity for more than eight years, most recently through Partner Plus. For Sam Newberry, Anchor’s vice president of sales and marketing at the bank, it was an obvious choice. “We are involved with Habitat for Humanity in Grays Harbor and I noticed that we weren’t in Thurston County,” she says. “We reached out to them. They’re a great organization.”

habitat for humanity

Habitat for Humanity volunteers work with families to create new, affordable homes.

Newberry says the team at Anchor Bank appreciates the opportunity to support something that includes a teaching component. “It’s a hand up and not a hand out,” she says. “People put in so many hours before they get into their house. They have to go through credit counseling and learn about how important the house is. It creates a pride of ownership.”

The bank’s support has made many things possible, says Dutton. “We’ve been able to double the amount of orientations we can do,” she says. “We aren’t doing group orientations any more. Doing them one on one, we can offer financial literacy training and education on how to conduct a family budget and save for the future.”

Additionally, she says, they’re able to reach more people and hugely reduce their response time. “It used to take us 28 days to get back to someone,” she says. “Now we get back to them in under a day.” They’ve also been able to update all of their home ownership marketing materials, both digitally and in print.

Learning about how to manage money is important for Habitat families in part because of the income they’re able to save. “The average cost of a home in Thurston County is $1,200 to $1,300 a month,” says Dutton. “Our homes are $750 per month. That’s a huge cost savings. It’s about knowing what to do with that extra capital.” The training allows families to build equity for the first time, she says. “They can send their children to school and improve their health.”

habitat for humanity

Learning what to do with the capital they save is helping families create equity and plan for the future.

Joy Mickael’s family was one of the first to experience the new program, and it made a difference. “We only got a little taste of it, but it was really helpful knowing where we stand financially and having new resources available to us for getting out of debt. We got to understand how negative that debt is and how it drags us down as a family,” she says. “Being in a Habitat house lightens our load considerably so that we can get a grip on the debt.”

Mickael wasn’t aware of Habitat for Humanity until her husband started working for them. “It’s an amazing organization,” she says. “They’ve been able to help bring a sense of stability back to our family through a really hard time. The workers have opened their arms to us.” She is battling spinal cancer and credits Habitat with getting the family into a good, affordable house. “We were in a really bad situation before,” she says.

For anyone in a similar situation, she recommends the program. “I would tell them to put forth the effort,” she says. “It’s beyond worth it.”

The Partner Plus program is still young, but it’s clearly already creating benefits within the community. “We’re producing more financially literate families,” says Dutton. “It’s exciting.”

Dutton appreciates the support from Anchor Bank. “They’re one of our oldest community partners,” she says. “It’s been great to develop those relationships with people that we love and respect and who are pulling for our mission.”

To learn more about Anchor Bank, visit Habitat for Humanity South Puget Sound can be found at


Dr. Jay Rudd Opens new Aurora LASIK Surgery Center in Lacey

Thurston Talk - Sat, 11/14/2015 - 11:55am



Submitted by Aurora LASIK

Dr. Jay Rudd opens Aurora LASIK in Lacey.

Dr. Jay Rudd opens Aurora LASIK in Lacey.

People who struggle to see their phone screen up close, or the jaw-dropping sunrises over distant Mount Rainier have a new option for clearer vision.

Long-time Olympia ophthalmologist Dr. Jay Rudd has opened a new state-of-the-art LASIK surgery center in Hawks Prairie, near Harley Davidson and the RAM Restaurant. Aurora LASIK features the Wavelight Refractive Laser Suite, the first of its kind in Washington state.

Dr. Rudd has performed more than 15,000 vision correction surgeries, including over 3,500 laser correction procedures. “I’ve practiced long enough to have seen numerous laser technologies enter the market,” said Rudd. “But the Wavelight Refractive Laser Suite is a game changer.”

“The precision and outcomes we’re seeing with this technology are unprecedented,” said Rudd. “With the Wavelight all-laser system, LASIK procedures are bladeless, which reduces healing time and further enhances vision outcomes. This is welcome news for patients.”

Previously, patients felt they had to travel to Tacoma or Seattle for the most advanced LASIK procedures. “With Aurora LASIK in Lacey, you don’t have to fight I-5 traffic jams for LASIK. It’s all conveniently right here,” said Rudd.

Dr. Rudd, a co-founder of Clarus Eye Centre and a fellowship-trained cornea and refractive surgeon, will continue seeing patients at Clarus where he has practiced for over 15 years.

Dr. Rudd will also work with referring optometrists throughout the region. “We want to supplement and support the great eye care our optometric community is providing,” said Rudd. “Patients having surgery at Aurora can have their post operative care provided by their primary eye care provider, their optometrist who has cared for their eyes for years.”

“My biggest payoff as an eye physician and surgeon is the ear-to-ear smile on patients’ faces when they tell me they can now see their alarm clock in the morning, or their child’s soccer game, without glasses or contacts,” said Rudd. “Better vision is life-changing.”

Aurora LASIK also offers a number of advanced vision correction options not previously available in Thurston County. The KAMRA Inlay is an FDA-approved implant that is surgically placed in one eye. The inlay dramatically improves near vision, without compromising distance clarity. For most patients, this means they can set aside their readers and enjoy clearer vision up close.

“We are seeing a dramatic increase in vision correction options, for people of all ages,” noted Rudd. “It’s an exciting time to be an eye surgeon, and the opening of Aurora LASIK is so timely. We hope to be a center of vision innovation right here in Thurston County.”

To learn more, visit  Aurora LASIK is located at 8050 Freedom Lane NE, Suite A, Lacey, WA 98516.


Mark Rentfrow Hired as Olympia’s New Downtown Liaison

Thurston Talk - Sat, 11/14/2015 - 11:35am



Submitted by The City of Olympia

Mark Rentfrow has been hired by the City of Olympia as the new Downtown Liaison.

Mark Rentfrow has been hired by the City of Olympia as the new Downtown Liaison.

The City of Olympia announced the hire of Mark Rentfrow as the new Downtown Liaison. Rentfrow will be joining the City staff on November 16, 2015. The position, titled Community Development Senior Program Specialist, will manage and coordinate Olympia’s Downtown Project and serve are the primary liaison between a variety of stakeholders. The Downtown Project is a coordinated set of initiatives to create a clean, safe and welcome environment in downtown Olympia for is residents, visitors, businesses and the community at large.

“Mark’s commitment to the Olympia community has been seen in his work as a member of the Heritage Commission, President of the South Capitol Neighborhood Association and as a graduate of Leadership Thurston County.  Mark’s knowledge, skills and experience make him a great fit for this key position and an asset to our team,”  said Renée Sunde, Economic Development Director for the City of Olympia.

Rentfrow is a lifelong resident of Olympia and passionate about the community. He is a graduate of Pacific Lutheran School of Business having earned both a Bachelor of Business Administration and master of Business Administration. Rentfrow has most recently served as program manager at Thurston Energy, a program of the Thurston Economic Development Council.


“I’m honored and excited to accept this opportunity to serve the citizens and businesses of Olympia and to help strengthen the economic vibrancy of Downtown and our community,” said Rentfrow. Promotes Visiting Olympia

Thurston Talk - Sat, 11/14/2015 - 6:34am



The article is classified in the “must try” section of  The story, from the major tourism outlet that has been writing about exceptional experiences for more than 30 years, promotes 7 Reasons to Drive to Olympia. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have local shops like Olympia Coffee Roasting Company, Little General Food Shop, Dillingers, Mercato, Swantown Inn, Cryptatopa Bar and of course Fish Brewing Company featured in an internationally-read article.

Congrats, Olympia!

Want to read the full article? You can find it here:

Passengers Wanted – The Station Wagon Podcast Takes Listeners on a Ride

Thurston Talk - Sat, 11/14/2015 - 6:00am



By Nikki McCoy

indian summer logoJulie Kinn and her brother Marc Shecter are on conference call for our interview (she lives in Olympia, he’s in Snoqualmie) and honestly, I feel like I’m listening in on one of the sibling’s podcast episodes – playful rivalry carries the conversation.

Launched in August, The Station Wagon podcast is where Julie and Marc accept the challenge of giving up a common habit, service, or product for two weeks – a twist if you will, on the classic sibling dare.

station wagon podcast

When she’s not working, taking care of her kids, or podcasting with her brother, Olympia resident Julie Kinn takes selfies while wearing cool swag.

In addition to their hilarious observations and insight on what it’s like to live without paper (toilet paper was thankfully exempt), to not sit down, or to quit using eating utensils for two weeks, the two cover unusual and interesting facts about that episode’s topic.

For instance, listening to Marc and Julie break down paper products led to some intriguing history about toilet paper, ones I made mental notes to bring up as an icebreaker at a party sometime. Did you know toilet paper wasn’t always on a roll? It was in books, and the user would tear out the page. Or that 1935 was the year the first splinter-free toilet paper was invented? Yikes. This wonderfully legit excuse to be juvenile is just one example of the history The Station Wagon likes to share with listeners.

Marc, a software specialist by day, usually tackles history and Julie, a military psychologist, shares all things – as she likes to say – science-y. For instance, she reported on the 16 billion paper coffee cups used last year in the U.S.

Another discussion is around the parameters of the challenge. What does it mean to not consume “news” for two weeks? What constitutes eating utensils? When giving up paper, does that cover food product packaging?

Turns out it does. Instead of little paper packets, Marc pulled out a plastic bag of white powder every morning at the office. It was filled with Splenda for his coffee.

Podcast enthusiasts for about a decade, (favorites include Sawbones, Big Picture Science, and the Flop House) the brother/sister duo are naturals on the mic. As soon as Julie introduced the idea to Marc, he was sold.

“I was sitting at home one night minding my own business, when Julie called me out of the blue,” recalls Marc. “When she suggested a podcast, I didn’t miss a beat in saying yes.”

station wagon podcast

Marc and Julie goof off with their kids. Will their sarcasm and wit transfer to the next generation?

I ask Julie and Marc to walk me through a podcast session. It’s explained that a Skype conversation is recorded, and the first 20 minutes or so are dedicated to the history, science, and a break down of the experience. What will be given up for two weeks? Swear words? Technology? Going outside? A five-minute break with some groovy tunes and snippets of guest interviews follow, and segues nicely into the final leg of the show – the results of the experiment.

Take the discussion on when they gave up dressing down, meaning they had to wear fancy clothes, make-up, and hair for two weeks. Julie walked away a little less of a tomboy and more inclined to take the few extra minutes to style her hair – despite showing up at work with curling iron burns.

Marc, on the other hand, said he was relieved to put away the suit jacket and get back to jeans, noting that it was awkward to be more dressed up at work than he was at his interview.

“Each one of these experiences changes us slightly, even if it’s just helping us understand about the things we take for granted,” comments Julie.

station wagon podcast

Marc Shecter gave up dressing down for The Station Wagon podcast. It was awkward. And hilarious.

Where do they get their ideas on what to give up? Listeners submit ideas through Twitter or Facebook, and co-workers and family members are in on the action. Marc’s daughter even solicited submissions at school – giving up proper nouns is now on the short list.

While hilarity is the inevitable outcome, the siblings hope listeners can learn from the challenges, and appreciate the opportunity to experience, and share, a new perspective.

“We hope to educate as well as entertain listeners,” says Julie.

The siblings are seven years apart, but very close at heart. Julie recalls her brother as being protective and compassionate growing up, and while Marc didn’t say it in so many words, I may venture to guess she was the loving (and sometimes bratty) counterpart. These dynamics play through to today.

Case in point, the following comment from Julie:

“The podcast is a really great way to stay and touch with my brother, even if it’s just texting him a picture of my middle finger, like I did today,” she laughs.

Family banter is part of the listener’s fun. Snarky (or loving) comments are often directed at each other, their parents, cousins, spouses, and more. Growing up, the siblings, along with their older brother used to ride in the back of the family station wagon. Nowadays, The Station Wagon podcast is an adult version of those back seat antics, and a clever way to enjoy the ride.

Tune in at


Evergreen Solidarity with U of Missouri Student Protests

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 11/13/2015 - 9:01pm

I was out at the college Thursday collecting signatures for I-732, and sharing the very cold and windy space under the library entrance with these students, participating in a nation-wide expression of support for the students protesting at the University of Missouri... logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Review: A Comedy of Errors at Lakewood Playhouse

South Sound Arts - Fri, 11/13/2015 - 3:59pm

Published in The News Tribune, Nov. 13, 2015Ben Stahl as Antipholus and Frank Roberts as Dromio
Jodie Chapin as Adriana and Ben Stahl as Antipholu. Photos by Kate Paterno-Lick Director Kristie Worthey and the Lakewood Playhouse took a bold risk in presenting Shakespeare’s “A Comedy of Errors” as a contemporary comedy set in Portland, Ore., with a large cast filled with fresh young faces. Messing with Shakespeare is nothing new; he’s the most messed-with playwright in history. His plays are nearly always edited and it is not uncommon to update them to modern times. Sometimes it works, and probably more often than not it doesn’t. Sadly, Lakewood Playhouse’s bold experiment does not. In the crowd scenes with mostly young and inexperienced actors portraying street performers and other “Keep Portland Weird” hippie characters, they are loud, clichéd almost to the point of offensive, and not particularly funny. I don’t think this is because of the age of the actors; the director simply didn’t pull it off.Many of the principle characters, by contrast, are excellent, most notably Ben Stahl as Antipholus and Jodie Chapin as Adriana.“A Comedy of Errors” is one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, and critics generally consider it one of his least successful. Even the director of this productions seems to agree, stating in her program notes, “… while it might not be his wittiest or cleverest play, it does portend word play and scenarios in plays to come; a peek into his creative process.” It has been suggested that in this play Shakespeare tried out many of the plot lines and tropes perfected in his later comedies such as “Twelfth Night,” a grown-up and more sophisticated version of this earlier play.This version plays on the supposed friendly competition between Portland and Seattle. Aegeon (Cameron Waters), a building developer of Seattle whose new project in Portland is slated to be killed, begs the mayor (Chris Johnstone) for one day to raise money to save the project.  Meanwhile, his son Antipholus of Seattle (Stahl), comes to Portland where his long-lost twin brother Antipholus of Portland is a bike shop owner. The identically named identical twins have identical twin slaves, both named Dromio (Frank Roberts, with Waters doubling as one of the Dromios when they’re on stage at the same time). In typical Shakespearean fashion, everybody confuses the two sets of twins, including the Portland Antipholus’s wife, Adriana (Chapin) and her sister, Luciana (Nastassia Reynolds), whom the Seattle Antipholus falls in love with.Roberts is outstanding portraying two very different characters, the two Dromios. Likewise, Stahl shows great versatility and a wide range of facial and bodily expressions as Antipholus and Antipholus. Most outstanding and a beginning actor who should be destined for good things is Chapin as Adriana. Seldom have I seen an actor so thoroughly understand a character and become that character so convincingly. The scene where she seduces the twin she thinks is her husband is comic gold, played amazingly well by both Chapin and Stahl. Chapin is also loveable, sassy and funny in a scene on roller skates.Kudos to Bret Carr for the wonderful set design with the in-joke advertising signs and the flying, cut-out Portland bridges and skylines.Despite clever word play and funny local references, and despite excellent acting by the main characters, I felt in the end that I had just watched a lampoon of Shakespeare written and produced by high schoolers.
  WHAT: A Comedy of Errors WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through Nov. 29WHERE: Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd., LakewoodTICKETS: $25.00, $22.00 military, $21.00 seniors and $19.00 students/educators, pay what you can INFORMATION: 253-588-0042,
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Author Tony Angell talks about his book "The House of Owls"

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 11/13/2015 - 2:38pm
Event:  Sat, 11/21/2015 - 2:00pm - 3:30pm

Come join us at the library for an evening with wildlife artist and naturalist Tony Angell, who will be discussing his new book, "The House of Owls".  Angell provides a fascinating overview of the lives of owls, as well as an appreciation of their amazing impact on human culture and thought. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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C. Davida Ingram: Wednesday, November 18th, 11:30-1:00 pm in the 2nd floor Recital Hall of the COM Building

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Fri, 11/13/2015 - 11:23am
 C. Davida Ingram: Wednesday, November 18th,
11:30-1:00 pm in the 2nd floor Recital Hall of the COM Building
C.-Davida-Ingram-1 Artist and writer C. Davida Ingram uses intensive collaborations to explore society and community. She is a self-described “cultural worker” whose creation takes many forms: performances, installations, photographs, videos and private performance art. Community is at the heart of all her work, as well as queer theory, gender politics and race. Her audiences can be many or one: For her project Come Hungry, 10 years in the making, she invited white men into her home and cooked for them, “which was a way for me to have a disarming conversation about white male supremacy.” She’s worked at the Seattle Art Museum, Gage Academy of Art, Video Machete, Insight Arts and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center and she’s a co-founder of the Seattle People of Color Salon. Last spring she curated Stereo*type* at LxWxH, featuring text-based pieces focused on poetics, type and typography that outlined and expanded upon racial identities.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Olympia Family Theater Announces Winter Break Theater Education Programs

Thurston Talk - Fri, 11/13/2015 - 11:11am



Submitted by Olympia Family Theater

olympia family theater

Olympia Family Theater offers fun, educational theater experiences during winter break 2015.
Photo credit: Mandy Ryle

Olympia Family Theater is your community partner in raising imaginative, loving, joyful and confident children. Our educational programs provide opportunities for personal development for young people, teaching creativity and responsibility, encouraging teamwork and personal integrity, and fostering self-esteem and appreciation for the performing arts.

For Winter Break 2015 we’ve got three days of fun each week. There will be new material introduced each week….so, register for one or both week.  Learn, Laugh, Perform.

Fairy Tale Camp (Ages: 5-6)

Week 1: Dec 21 / Dec 22 / Dec 23    9:30am-12pm

Week 2: Dec 28 / Dec 29 / Dec 30    9:30am-12pm

Description: Once upon a time in a magical far-away theater camp, children set out to explore the fascinating world of fairy tales. They used their voices, bodies, and imaginations to bring classic fairy tales to life. They all worked together to defeat the villains of the forest and create new tales of their own that they would tell over and over again. On the last day of their camp, grown-ups came from far and wide to witness the children’s fairy tale adventures, and they were amazed! And, of course, they all lived happily ever after.

Schedule: 3 days each week (Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday) 9:30am-12pm

Cost: $60/session

Registration: Register online


Magical Journey Camp (Ages: 7-12)

WEEK 1: Dec 21 / Dec 22 / Dec 23    9am-3pm

WEEK 2: Dec 28 / Dec 29 / Dec 30    9am-3pm

Description: Embark on a quest where dragons, princesses, knights, and magical creatures roam the castle grounds! Students will create their own fantasy world, incorporating real and fantastical creatures of the royal realm as they explore character development and participate in creative drama and storytelling activities. On the final day, students will present their very own games and story based on the skills they’ve learned during our magical journey.

Schedule: 3 days each week (Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday) 9am-3pm

Cost: $110/session

Registration: Register online

Partial scholarships are available! Applications are available on the camp registration page and must be received by Dec. 1, 2015.

612 4th Ave E • Olympia, WA 98502 •   • •  360.570.1638


If you can walk to your park in Olympia, you like it. Drive? Hate it

Olympia Time - Fri, 11/13/2015 - 7:02am
Because OlyJeff asked in the comment thread, I did a similar precinct map on the park vote in Olympia.

I did it measuring where the vote did the worst. So, in the map, the darker the marker, the more no votes there were. The highest no vote was just over 50 percent, so really, almost everywhere in Olympia wanted their parks to get more money.

But, it is still fun to make maps.

This seems like I'd pretty much expect it.
Generally, the closer you are to Budd Inlet, the more you want parks. Or, rather, the more you want to raise taxes for parks. This follows the typical pattern for voting in Olympia. Progressive (because you can't just say liberal in Olympia to mean people further left) voters are thought to be in the older neighborhoods around downtown and the nearby Eastside and Westside.
When Olympia Pop Rocks asks "Westside or Eastside" they don't mean down off Boulevard Road or out past Kaiser.
There's another thing about those neighborhoods that I think might be more telling than just the way people vote on a progressive to liberal (to maybe conservative) scale. The inner neighborhoods are also generally walkable. They're older, and since people can get out and use the parks near them without getting in a car, maybe they have a more everyday experience with them.

I'm just spitballing here. But, maybe a more personal "that's my park right down there" experience means you're more likely to vote for parks in general.

But, this measure passed nearly everywhere, so it's almost meaningless to quibble.

Lastly, you see three precincts in the far South Eastside that have lighter reds than the ones immediately around them. These are standouts on that side of town in support of the park levy.

This I would say is NIMBYism at work. These are the precincts that are nearest LBA park, which has been the center of the most vocal pro-park, anti-house/neighborhood development debates in recent years.

The passage of the park levy made it more likely LBA would expand, so they voted yes.

Mud, Glorious Mud Greets Racers at Deschutes River CX Cyclocross

Thurston Talk - Fri, 11/13/2015 - 6:34am



Submitted by Ron Jones

deschutes river cx

Local rider, Erik Anderson, was one champion during the Deschutes River CX race. Photo credit: Ronald Jones Photography.

On Saturday, November, 7, 53eleven Race Promotions, with help from Olympia Orthopaedic Associates (OOA) CBC Racing Team, brought the Washington State Bicycle Association State Cyclocross Championships to Pioneer Park in Tumwater. The event drew close to 300 cyclists from across Washington State. The venue at Tumwater’s Pioneer Park proved epic due to heavy rains and new trails cut into the course by City of Tumwater Parks and Recreation department.

Four Thurston County residents (Erik Anderson, Jennifer Burtner, Roy Stansell and Julianne Vanderhagen) laid claim to being 2015 State Cyclocross Champions by winning their respective races. Erik, Jennifer and Roy all race for OOA, while Julianne is on the local junior’s team Rad Racing NW.

Cyclocross is a type of bike racing that combines elements of mountain biking and road cycling. Racers go all out for 30 to 60 minutes around a  technical, obstacle-laden course that is roughly two kilometers in distance.

deschutes river cx

Obstacles like The Pond (pictured here) threw up a lot of mud in racer’s faces. Photo credit: Ronald Jones Photography.

This year’s course included a lot of slippery mud, some of it the consistency of peanut butter.  There was also plenty of uneven terrain, heavy sand, forested trails, barked pathways, pavement and even barriers to jump over.

Cyclocross is super fun and a spectator friendly event. Plenty of cheering and heckling were on hand as racers negotiated sections called Peanut Butter Slips, Thigh Master Boulevard and The Pond. Everyone finished completely exhausted, looking as though they had a mud bath, yet grinning ear to ear.

Cyclocross a sport that epitomizes youthful enthusiasm while staying fit through competition.

This was the fifth year for the Deschutes River CX race in Tumwater.  Event organizers plan to bring it back in 2016 with the hopes of drawing 500  racers. Racers and spectators can keep up with the event and learn details about the November 2016 date by following the event’s Facebook page.


Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 11/13/2015 - 6:00am



capital medical centerOne word can be used to describe our weekend weather – rain. However, we need quite a few more words to tell you about all the happenings going on around Thurston County.  And, while some of you hardier souls may enjoy some outdoor activities (we’ve got a whole section of them for you here), many of you will be looking for warmer and drier forms of entertainment.  Look no further than our list below for ideas on how to spend this November weekend.  And, even if you decide the stick around the house, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea and devote an hour or so to reading some of our most recent articles.  Sharing the positive stories about the people, places and businesses that make Thurston County great is what we do best.  Stay dry, neighbors!

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, visit our events calendar.

2016 WSU Master Gardener Training of Thurston County

Thurston Talk - Thu, 11/12/2015 - 5:22pm



Submitted by Washington State University Thurston County Extension

Dirt Works

The Dirt Works Garden is maintained by Thurston County Master Gardener volunteers.

Washington State University Thurston County Extension is currently accepting applications for the 2016 Master Gardener volunteer training.

Next to digging in the dirt, there’s almost nothing gardeners enjoy more than learning about their favorite plants. One of the easiest ways to increase your gardening knowledge is to enroll in WSU Extension’s Master Gardener course next spring. For forty two years, Washington State University Extension has been training Master Gardener volunteers in the science and art of gardening. The next WSU Master Gardener training will start January 22, 2016 and cover an array of botanical topics (examples: vegetables, ornamentals, soils, pruning, water-wise gardening, weeds, composting, diagnosing plant disease, identifying insects/pests etc.).

There is a perception that to become a WSU Master Gardener you must know everything about gardening. This is unrealistic and untrue. To be a WSU Thurston County Master Gardener you must have some gardening experience but more importantly you must commit to sharing accurate gardening information with our community.

The WSU Master Gardener training will also teach you how to access the latest researched-based information from Washington State University faculty, staff, and nationwide partners on subjects you may not know too much about. You will become part of over 200 Thurston County WSU Master Gardeners who have very diverse backgrounds of gardening expertise and interests. As a result of this diversity you will have fun learning from one another while making lifelong friendships.

To be considered for one of the limited training spots you must complete an application and attend a preorientation session. To see if the WSU Master Gardener volunteer program is a right fit for you please join us for one of the following pre-orientation sessions:

  • November 10th at 10:30 a.m.gardening
  • November 20th at 4:30 p.m.
  • December 1st at 10:30 a.m.
  • December 10th at 4:30 p.m.
  • December 16th at 4:30 p.m.
  • December 18th at 10:30 a.m.

No pre-registration needed.

Location: Thurston County WSU Extension Office- 5033 Harrison Ave. NW, Olympia, WA 98502

Space is limited so don’t delay…apply today! If room is available, the last day to apply is January 1, 2016. To learn more about the program or to download a 2016 application visit our website at



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