Recent local blog posts

JMG Painting Puts a Fresh Face on Homes and Businesses

Thurston Talk - Sat, 01/23/2016 - 6:00am


“The golden rule for every business man is this: Put yourself in your customer’s place.” Writer Orison Marden’s insight is embodied today in the professionalism and caring of Joe Grant and JMG Painting.

jmg paintingJMG Painting specializes in all manner of residential and commercial painting, drywall repair, trim and millwork, and pressure washing.

The U.S. Small Business Administration acknowledges that “starting a business involves planning, making key financial decisions and completing a series of legal activities.” High on their list of advice is finding a business mentor. This is “someone who has been down the same path you’re taking. He or she is experienced, successful and willing to provide advice and guidance—for no real personal gain.”

For Grant, one such mentor was Mike Steadman of Steadman Properties. They met almost a decade ago when Grant was installing a television in Steadman’s home.

“We pretty much hit it off as friends right away; as we were working on his TV we got to talking. He learned I had grown up in the painting and construction industry and he was into commercial property,” recalls Grant. “Since then, I’ve gotten to see him on both sides of his business, the management side and the development side.”

“One of the things I have grown to appreciate about Mike is his continual support of local small businesses; he never misses an opportunity to put in a good word,” continues Grant. “Any time I have ever had a question or needed someone to talk to, Mike has always been that friend and fellow businessman I can count on to give me great direction.”

jmg paintingCompany founder Joe Grant considers Mike Steadman of Steadman Properties a long-time friend and small business mentor.

With support from his wife and Steadman’s “just do it, you won’t regret it” advice, Grant started JMG Painting in 2012. His company specializes in residential and commercial painting for interiors and exteriors, drywall repair, trim and millwork, and pressure washing. Though based in Olympia, they gladly offer free estimates through Thurston County and beyond.

A family-based business, Grant now works full-time with his brother. Their goal is simply “to provide exceptional quality of workmanship, while having friendly, personal, yet efficient service. My current source of work is referrals with one goal in mind: keep the customer happy. They keep us working. Honesty and trust are key ingredients to a business succeeding, and that is what we strive for when we work for you, and in turn that builds lasting relationships.”

Online feedback is full of five-star ratings. Even former employers can’t say enough good things: “I had a painting company for 18 years and Joe worked with me for a lot of them. His brother Rick also helps Joe and both of them are exceptionally good painters. I have also worked with and seen a lot of paint companies out there and you won’t get anybody that does better work than them.”

jmg paintingFind amazing before, during, and after photos on the JMG Painting’s review-filled Facebook page.

Any small business experiences ups and downs. Says Grant, “Running a small business has its share of challenges, but I think it also can be the most rewarding and satisfying experience. I have worked for larger businesses and corporations, and at certain points you start to lose touch with the customer side of the business. Being a smaller company allows you to take whatever time and focus necessary to ensure the customer’s needs are met. When communities are thriving, businesses with a customer first mindset will also thrive.”

To stay current and active within both the industry and community, Grant is a member of the Lacey and Thurston County Chambers of Commerce and Thurston County Multiple Listing Sales Association.

Call Joe Grant and JMG Painting for estimates at 360-970-8367. You, your community, and your building will all benefit.


Junie B. Jones at Tacoma Musical Playhouse

South Sound Arts - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 4:05pm

Published in the Weekly Volcano, Jan. 22, 2016The cast of Junie B. Jones with Junie (Sammy Cattin) in the center with blue skirt. Photo credit: Dennis Kurtz
The cast of Junie B. Jones with teacher Mr. Scary (Blake York). Photo credit: Dennis KurtzWatching TMP Family Theater’s Junie B. Jones was a joyful experience. This upbeat musical is based on the popular children's book series by Barbara Park. And it’s not just for children. My wife and I don’t have any young children, and we enjoyed it as much as many musical comedies for grownups. It’s upbeat and hilarious, and the music really rocks.Sammy Cattin in the lead role is marvelous. A dynamo of energy at four-feet-ten, Cattin bursts on stage like a rocket. She has athletic moves and an expressive face that vacillates instantly from expressing outrageous optimism to crushing defeat, from childish petulance back to delight. And she sings wonderfully. Her previous stage experience includes playing Liesl Von Trapp in The Sound of Music and Ado Annie in Oklahoma. According to the program, she is currently applying to Cornish College of the Arts “to continue her pursuit in theater.” I suspect she will soon be wowing them as she did us.The rest of the cast is praiseworthy as well. Francesca Guecia as Junie’s sometimes nemesis, Lucille is captivating to watch. Sam Tebb as Junie’s new best friend – too young, to be a boyfriend but her boy friend nevertheless – is highly likeable and sings nicely. Isaiah Parker in the double roles of Sheldon and Chenille has some of the best comedic expressions you’re likely to see on stage anytime soon. The second scene in which Parker and Stephen Nishida in the double roles of José and Camille come out dressed as girls is comic gold. Their expressions are precious. Blake York does a yeoman’s duty in the many roles of Junie’s father; her teacher, Mr. Scary; the no-nonsense bus driver; and the hilarious cafeteria lady Gladys Gutzman. (It would have been logical for Tasha Smith, playing the only other adult female characters, to play the part of Gladys Gutzman, but casting York was a brilliant move, which I assume can be credited to director and choreographer Lexi Barnett. Also worth of praise are Rae Trotter as Tattletale May and Paddington Barnett as Tickle.The story begins with Junie, who insists of using the middle initial “B” when saying her name, getting ready for the first day of first grade. She can barely contain her excitement because she is going to get to spend a whole school year sitting next to her best friend from kindergarten, Lucille. But she is crushed when Lucille announces that she has dropped her in favor of her new best friends Chenille and Camille  ̶  twins whom she apparently loves because their names rhyme, which spurs a great be-bop song by Lucille, Chenille and Camille, much to Junie’s dejection.Following are a series of high hopes and crushing defeats for Junie, who gets sad but never gives up and never loses hope.I love the simple set by Bruce Haasl, consisting primarily of Junie B’s giant “Top-Secret Personal Beeswax Journal” with pages that open to create various background scenes, wonderfully painted in a childlike style by Haasl. Beyond the big journal there are no set pieces or props except for chairs and desks the actors move about to create seats on the bus and at school.It is a short, laugh-filled play, approximately an hour and 15 minutes including an intermission. Junie B. Jones purple glasses are on sale in the lobby for $5.Go see it as soon as you can, no matter your age and no matter if you have children or not. I promise you, you’ll be glad you did.TMP Family Theater at Tacoma Musical Playhouse, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Jan. 23 and 2 p.m., Jan. 24, 7116 6th Ave, Tacoma, WA 98406, 253.565.6867.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Scott Young at Stable Studios

South Sound Arts - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 8:53am

Photo: “Waking Free,’ watercolor and gouache by Scott Young, courtesy Stable Studios
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Jan. 21, 2016“Celestial Dance,’ watercolor and gouache by Scott Young, courtesy Stable StudiosIs it kosher for an art critic to say he doesn’t know what he thinks about an exhibition he’s reviewing? Somehow it doesn’t seem right, and yet we’re human. Sometimes it takes us more time than we have to study an artist’s work and mull it over before coming to a definitive conclusion. I’ve never before seen Scott Young’s paintings. He is perhaps best known as a musician, playing in the bands GAG and Trans FX. His show This Celestial Gate at Olympia’s newest gallery, Stable Studios, consists of 23 small-to-medium-size paintings in watercolor and gouache on paper, mostly framed but with a group of six unframed pages from his sketchbook in the back of the gallery.“Waking Free,’ watercolor and gouache by Scott Young, courtesy Stable StudiosThe paintings are technically well done with figures, faces, and geometric patterns painted in unmodulated primary colors — red, yellow, blue with black and white. Black backgrounds in many of the paintings are sparkled with white dots that create the feel of a star-filled night. Young’s paintings appear to be heavily influenced by the art of India and also by Keith Haring, who is quoted on the margins of one of the paintings. To me they are more like book illustrations than paintings that stand alone. They are somewhat predictable, but with inventive passages.Among the more inventive pieces are “Celestial Dance” and “Waking Free.” Each features a couple of yellow dancing women whose figures come together to create faces out of the background (with the addition of eyes and mouths). These paintings are fun to look at. I like the way the arms interlock to form eye shapes. I also like the addition of smaller faces and a couple of snakes in “Waking Free” and the piano keyboard teeth in “Celestial Dance.”Probably the most inventive surprise to be found in any of them is the woman on a yellow bed in “Sutra”: an abstracted interior with eyes in the center and in the lower section a boxy yellow bed. A white female figure appears to go into the bed in places, hiding parts of her body. All we see is the part of her body from her hips to her feet and two hands that seemingly reach out from within the bed.All but one of the unframed paintings in the group at the back include hand-written notes along the margins. On one is the quote from Haring: “Unity in the face of whatever kind of struggle or oppression is existing in the world, there has to be power to the people.”I like the vibrancy of the colors and the contrasts between architectural structures and  sensual organic shapes, and the little surprises that pop up in many of the paintings are fun to discover. A lot of imagery seems to be highly personal and psychological with meanings only the artist knows. Young’s work is obviously popular, as evidenced by the proliferation of red dots on the gallery walls. On the day I visited, 11 of the 23 paintings were marked as sold. They are reasonably priced, ranging from $200 to $500 with the majority in the $300-$350 range.This Celestial Gate,Stable Studios, 607 5th Ave. SE, Olympia, open Fridays 1-8 p.m. and by appointment, 360.951.7902,
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 7:05am


Are you feeling a little adrift without a Seahawks game on Sunday?  Let ThurstonTalk’s event calendar distract you this weekend.  Even without standing up to cheer for Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, and your other favorite Seahawks players, there is still plenty to do around Olympia this weekend.

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.

Soroptimist International of Olympia Presents LUNAFEST

Thurston Talk - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 6:00am


A new film festival is coming. That’s enough to catch the attention of many arts-loving readers. There’s more, though, to Olympia’s newest celebration of cinema. And it is near and dear to this indie-film fan and writer.

edge fitness logoSoroptimist International of Olympia brings us LUNAFEST, a presentation of some of the world’s best short films created by women. This upcoming fundraiser is a production of LUNA, the creator of the popular nutrition bar for women. Karen Hall, Fundraising Chair for our local branch of Soroptimist International, is excited to connect with a company who shares their motive.

soroptimist internationalKaren Hall is the Fundraising Chair for Soroptimist International of Olympia.

Soroptimist International is a global women’s group serving to transform and encourage the lives and dreams of other women and girls. They were founded in 1921 in Oakland, California. Around 80,000 volunteers from 130 countries now engage in endeavors of social and economic empowerment. Members include many strong professionals and leaders, successful volunteers and philanthropists. Soroptimist International of Olympia (SIO) has been actively upholding the cause, investing hope and support in local women, since 1941.

I am one of those women. In 2012, I had just returned to college at the age of 40. I was daunted by tackling a degree at that age and as a single parent. Honestly, I felt a bit out to sea with my new chapter of life, far from the shores of success. Through The Evergreen State College, now my beloved alma mater, I learned about the SIO “Women’s Opportunity Award” (now called “Live Your Dream”), applied for it and was chosen as a recipient. The financial award was of course a needed, appreciated boost, yet the moral support I found from these women was the gleaming beacon I needed even more.

soroptimistSoroptimist International of Olympia members gather to plan a successful 2015-16 year. Photo credit: Yasemin Alptekin.

I will never forget the combined sense of poise, confidence and experience radiating in the room full of women who greeted me for that award. They emanated acceptance and surety that their faith and funds were being well placed. This happened again last year when they chose me for a continuation of the award. The Soroptimists, the other recipient and I – all women with our own stories, challenges, successes, failures and budgets – were as equals that evening. Our commonality bound us together while differences were present but insignificant.

This is exactly why LUNAFEST pairs with SIO’s mission so well. Hall calls it “a perfect attachment to what we do as an organization.” The films are the winners of 950 entries from women of varied backgrounds and experiences. What they have in common is that they’re from deeply inspired, artistic minds of female filmmakers. LUNA decided to address gender disparity in filmmaking 15 years ago by creating the festival. Suzy Starke German, LUNAFEST Program Manager, writes, “…LUNA has been championing women for over 15 years with programs that inspire and support equality and a voice for women. It’s in our DNA, what drives us, and is at the very core of what we do.”

soroptimist internationalThe 2015 Soroptimist International of Olympia awardees include Lisha Coates, Madeline Seaman and Kate Faro. Photo credit: Yasemin Alptekin.

The festival’s endorsement of women’s equal abilities, enhanced by its fundraising for The Breast Cancer Fund, immediately drew SIO’s attention. The annual event is also a fundraiser for women’s non-profit organizations who host it. When SIO discovered LUNAFEST, as Hall puts it, “It was like putting our coat on.” They’ve been raising money for their “Live Your Dream” awardees and other beneficiaries through efforts such as their Spring Fundraiser and Bottle Auction for nearly 75 years. As I’ve personally witnessed, these women put great effort into what they do. Events typically take heaps of time and energy to plan and execute. For LUNAFEST, finding sponsorship and securing a good venue was the bulk of the work. Now Smith eagerly awaits both her first viewing from LUNA and hosting SIO’s first LUNAFEST event.

The showing will be at South Puget Sound Community College in Building 26, Room 105 on January 30, 2016. A reception begins at 6:30 p.m. with the show beginning at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for students and VIP, and are reportedly selling quite quickly through Brown Paper Tickets.

lunafest movieLUNAFEST offers award winning cinematic storytelling.

As the LUNAFEST website promises, we can look forward to 6 short films compiled into 85 minutes of “reflection, hope and humor” through fantastic storytelling and film craft. Don Francisco’s Coffee is generously sponsoring the site fee and donating coffee to the event.

It will be interesting to see who shows up to enjoy this experience. While it is indeed by and for the benefit of women, it’s certainly not solely for a female audience. It is for anyone, for all of us to celebrate excellent filmmaking and to expand our understanding and support of women’s worth. Hall surmises that everyone might be enlightened. “No matter what film they attach themselves to,” she says, “they will find something that touches their heart.”

“Dead Drift” Offers Locally Produced Sci-Fi Comedy

Thurston Talk - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 6:00am


Olympia resident Ken Carlson has a spaceship in his garage.

Well, sort of. It’s the interior of a lander module, one of several sets built for his latest film project, Dead Drift. As Carlson describes it, “Dead Drift is Red Dwarf meets the YouTube vlog. A sometimes ribald, screwball buddy comedy in space, told by characters interacting via video communication consoles.”

washington orthopaedic centerIn Dead Drift, the uptight captain of a decrepit spaceship must work with his bumbling mechanic to survive an alien encounter and save Earth from a terrifying ancient evil. Luckily, these hapless protagonists also have a wise (and wisecracking) holographic AI named H.A.N.N.A.H to help them.

Seattle-based actor Alyssa Kay portrays H.A.N.N.A.H. “It’s so nice to play a clever, interesting female character,” she says, adding, “I also was just drawn to the show as a fan of sci-fi: I haven’t had much chance to do sci-fi or work with a green screen, so that made it especially fun and different.”

dead drift Filmmaker Ken Carlson is the creative mastermind behind every aspect of Dead Drift. Photo courtesy: Ken Carlson.

The use of green screens is actually quite limited on Dead Drift. Carlson did most of his filming on three-dimensional sets that would throw light and shadow. “You can do that with computers, but not very well at our budget level,” he says. “We wanted it to look like a real spaceship interior, but we were also going for a bit of a run-down, rustic, cyberpunk kinda vibe.”

The show’s world owes its multi-layered look to tons of conceptual work, followed by the creative use of 2x4s and plywood in several friends’ garages. The painstaking process made Carlson extremely grateful for both his general construction knowledge and his Makita drill set. Most important of all, however, were the talented volunteers who dedicated countless hours to the project.

dead driftH.A.N.N.A.H., played by Alyssa Kay, stands for “Highly Adaptive Neural Network Anthropomorphic Hologram.” Photo courtesy: Ken Carlson.

Dead Drift’s overall production value makes it clear: Carlson is no mere armchair enthusiast. He’s been creating shows or movies since his senior year of high school. Public access aficionados may remember his award-winning sketch comedy show, Dammit This is Stupid, which ran on TCTV from 1996 to 2003. Local film fans have probably enjoyed some of the shorts he created during the days of Mutually Assured Productions. And many community members have hired his production company, Kinetic Vision Media, which films everything from TV commercials to weddings.

dead driftIn addition to playing Commander Schneider, Chris Nacey pitched in with writing, directing, and set building.

Carlson’s team is quick to note his technical skill and cinematic eye. And yes, Carlson can clearly recount every step of his artistic self-education, tossing around film jargon with the best of them. But he eschews gear fetishism, explaining that all the equipment “really only serves one purpose – to tell a story.  That’s why we have cameras, and lights, and mics, and editing stations, sets and special effects. To quote one of my favorite episodes of Futurama, ‘When you’ve done something right, no one will be sure you’ve done anything at all.’”

This philosophy puts Dead Drift’s focus exactly where it should be: on the story. As explained by Chris Nacey, one of Carlson’s longtime collaborators, “Storytelling has always been a passion of mine. Ken shares that passion, which is one of the reasons I think we have maintained friendship through all these years.”

dead driftLyquoc Vo, lighting the JF Sebastian’s bridge set. Carlson is grateful to everyone who loaned out their garage space for this project. Photo courtesy: Ken Carlson.

Nacey and Carlson met back in the 90s, when they both worked at the Hawk’s Prairie Godfather’s Pizza. They bonded quickly over a shared interest in such “nerdy” pursuits as Dragonlance, comic books, and Star Trek. It’s a pattern that has repeated itself throughout the years, with Carlson’s coterie expanding to include other talented, proudly self-labeled nerds. As Carlson jokes, “I’m starting to realize that Dungeons and Dragons has been a major enabling force in this whole thing.”

Alyssa Kay confesses, “I was a little nervous at first to come in as a total outsider to this group of people who obviously knew each other so well, but everyone was really kind and welcoming. I always love to see good friends developing projects together. There’s just so much more love and joy that goes into the work, and you really need that for the times when things go awry or get trickier.”

dead driftCaptain Banks is played by writer/actor Matt Burdick, pictured here on the lander set. Photo courtesy: Ken Carlson.

She attributes the group’s cohesion to Carlson’s unflagging passion and dedication. “Film and theater are such collaborative art forms, so those qualities are a huge asset.”

Nacey concurs, describing Carlson as an approachable, visionary leader. “He is open to the cast and crew contributing ideas and has often let those ideas get into the final product, but he has no trouble cutting something that doesn’t work, whether it is one of his babies or someone else’s.”

dead drift sci fi comedyThe “Dead Drift” webisodes combine screwball buddy comedy with sci-fi adventure.

It’s interesting that Dead Drift’s creators and target audience are essentially one and the same. Carlson describes them (and himself) as “folks with a fanatical devotion to sci-fi, comic books, cartoons, and video games… who happen to appreciate a bit of goofy fun.”

Final verdict? This meticulously crafted space spoof, which Carlson rates as PG-15, is definitely worth your time! Watch the first 8 episodes here, and tune back for the remaining episodes in spring 2016. Also be sure to like Dead Drift on Facebook.

Plan an Entertaining Girls Night Out around Olympia

Thurston Talk - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 6:00am


Life can be filled with stressful moments. That stress can really add up and take a toll on our lives. This is one of the many reasons women hit the town for a Girls Night Out. It’s not just a camaraderie for friends, but an opportunity to find food and fun in what can sometimes be a monotonous schedule. Thurston County offers a variety of options for anyone looking for a night time escape.

heritage bankEvery great Girls Night Out starts with delicious food to get fueled before really diving into activities. “Whether it be girls night out or a fun night out with anyone, I enjoy going to The Spar,” explains resident Mallory Coleman. The Spar has been a meeting spot in downtown Olympia for over 70 years. It’s American fare and laid back ambience makes for a relaxed start to the evening. They also boast a wide variety of beverages including their locally brewed, artesian well water based beer. “It’s never overly crowded, food and drinks are great, staff is always pleasant, and they have a nice pool table. It’s my go to place downtown.”

spar cafeThe Spar Cafe has been a hang out spot in downtown Olympia for more than 70 years.

Swing Wine Bar offers a unique experience for any group looking for good food and wine. Pairings of food and wine are available with 60 glasses and nearly 200 bottles of wine in house. On a nice day, ladies can sip their wine on an outdoor patio with a view of Capitol Lake.

If cold drinks and appetizers are more your group’s speed, Hop Jacks brings a variety of food choices and some of the coldest beers in town. “When we have girls night, it is a great place to catch up and have snacks,” says Robyn Hofstad. This local restaurant chain provides an entertaining environment and lengthy happy hour menu. Their icy bar includes beer flowing from ice encased taps and signature drinks served in ice formed cups.

girls night out olympiaHop into Hop Jack’s for ice cold drinks. Photo courtesy: Hop Jack’s.

For one of the most raved about desserts in Thurston County, be sure to check out Dillinger’s. Along with their specialty cocktails, Dillinger’s offers a mouthwatering whiskey donut bread pudding. “Their whiskey bread trumps all,” describes Kristen Trevorrow. The plate is adorned with slices of donut, baked in a custard and drizzled with a whiskey butterscotch sauce. To top it all off, a scoop of Olympic Mountain Ice Cream is served on the side.

girls night out Paint the town red at Painted Plate. Photo courtesy: Painted Plate.

When you are finished eating your way through Thurston County, you may want to work off some of the calories. One of the obvious answers for a fun activity with the girls has to be dancing. One of the best places to dance is Jake’s on 4th. Great drink specials and well versed DJs make it the perfect spot to dance the night away.

Another option is painting the town red. You and your friends can literally paint with two outstanding party spots. Both Painted Plate and Let’s Paint are located in downtown Olympia and allow for large groups. Whether your party wants a painting theme or identical canvas, the painting options are endless. Your crowd can also enjoy a glass of wine and appetizers while they create their masterpieces. Reservations are required at both locations, so plan ahead.

girls night out After dinner, take in a local show with Harlequin Productions. Photo courtesy: Harlequin Productions.

If your group is looking for a relaxing spot to enjoy a show, don’t miss Harlequin Productions Ladies Night Out. On the second Friday of every show production, ladies can enjoy complimentary champagne and truffles from Popinjay at 7:00 p.m. The fun continues as the curtains open to unveil the latest production at 8:00 p.m.

Plan for food and entertainment right here in Thurston County. It’s time to get together with friends for a much needed night on the town.

Olympia Youth Speak Up at Ad Hoc Police Forum

Janine's Little Hollywood - Thu, 01/21/2016 - 9:37pm

Above: Sign at Olympia High School, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Janine
The Ad Hoc Committee on Police and Community Relations held its fourth community forum at Olympia High School on Thursday afternoon.
The forum focused primarily on the experiences and ideas of youth and was open to all community members to also share their thoughts about how the Olympia police department can best serve the public.
Several students and staff of Olympia High School were in attendance, including principal Matt Grant. Several uniformed police officers were also in attendance, which prompted one adult to say that their armed presence was difficult for him. 
Several students shared stories of their interactions with local police. 
One young man, who is African American, said he was with a group of friends and one of them had a BB gun. Someone called it into police, and one officer arrived, who ordered them to the ground. They complied. One responding officer soon turned into three others because a neighbor started arguing with the officer.
“I was scared. I didn’t want to become a statistic,” he said. Asked to elaborate on his feelings about the incident, he said, “Well, the officer didn’t pull his gun out and I didn’t get shot, so the situation turned out A+….”
Another African American student said he felt the Olympia police are better than most.
“They’ve shown me respect,” he said. He said he came from Tennessee, and said that “things are really bad down there….”Asked what he would like to see by the Olympia Police Department, he said more forums and more dialog.
Maddie Hendrickson, 18, shared that she was in a car accident about a year ago in which a school bus rear-ended her car. She was uninjured, but said she didn’t feel like she was being heard by the officer, and he seemed rushed. 
“It was a stressful situation and the police could be calmer,” said Hendrickson. She offered many suggestions for how the police could approach teens with more compassion.
A mother described how her son has been victimized at Washington Middle School and Olympia High School due to his African American race.
“There hasn’t been a single year that he hasn’t had a racial incident here in Olympia,” said Karen Arnold. The Arnold’s have lived in Olympia for 15 years and came from Tacoma. In the most recent incident last year at Olympia High School, he was jumped on by another student on the basketball court and called the “n” word. She says the student was given a half day suspension.
“….That is not enough,” said Karen Arnold. “….It gives the message that the behavior is ok….”
Her son, Kardel Arnold, 15, was present and freely shared his stories and thoughts. Arnold said that when he was in the sixth and seventh grade, he was harassed all the time. He described a situation in which he was sitting on the bus and was punched by another student. There was no disciplinary action to the bully.
“I could be wrong, but I’m 99 percent sure that if it had been me who had done the punching, I would have been suspended or expelled,” he said. His mother called the police to see about what could be done, but they said nothing could be done because the other student did not threaten Arnold. Conversely, the school said that they couldn’t do anything because as soon as the police are called, it becomes a police issue, and not a school issue.
In general, Kardel Arnold says he has nothing against police officers, but he makes sure he doesn’t move too quickly or make any wrong moves when he sees police around.
Hired last spring, Olympia High School paraeducator Antonio McClinon, who is African American, said that he would like to see more people of color on the police force. He also said that there are only three African American males who work at the school.
McClinon said he spoke with the school district superintendent a couple of years ago about diversity and what he thought would be a ten minute conversation turned into an hour. He was pleased about that, but in terms of recruiting for teaching positions, the process is difficult, plus, African American teachers who live in the South Sound area tend to take jobs in Tacoma or Seattle, an environment where they feel more comfortable.
“….I could easily get a job there, but I want to be here…. I’m a role model here. It starts with one or two….I am not afraid, I am concerned….There's so much politics and roadblocks….” he said. The African American students surrounding McClinon agreed that he was someone that they felt they could go to if they needed to.
Mr. Grant said that race is frequently an issue at Olympia High School and acknowledged that it is a challenge for students of color to come to the school.
“If I could have a request, it would be that we be constantly in training, for the police and administrators, on how to interact with students of color, learn the issues there, and strategies for creating dialog. I think we learn a lot from each other and I can’t say enough about how much we want to engage in dialog, and we can do a lot more. We have a core group of students willing to engage in dialog but setting those things up are really difficult….”
He said that in his experience, the school has had several positive experiences with the police. Grant said they used to have lunchtime sessions with students of color, but not this year.
“We can always do more,” he said.
The Olympia City Council tasked a group of citizens last year with engaging the community on how the Olympia police can better serve the public, especially people who do not often have the chance to be heard. The group has held several forums. For more information about the group and future meeting dates, go to
Editor’s Note: All individuals in this article consented to being identified. 
Little Hollywood has written many articles about the Ad Hoc group, police issues, racial justice, the Olympia Police Department, and excessive use of force by law enforcement at Little Hollywood, Use the search engine to type in key words.
Above: Throw kindness around like Confettisign at Olympia High School.

Prison Library/Prison Art Panel featuring Laura Sherbo, Neal Vandervoorn, Pat Graney, and Sebastian Raine: Wednesday, January 27th, 11:30-1:00 pm in the 2nd floor Recital Hall of the COM Building

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Thu, 01/21/2016 - 5:20pm












Seattle-based choreographer Pat Graney‘s interest in working with incarcerated women began in 1992 after a conversation with Rebecca Terrell, then head of Florida Dance Festival. This conversation later morphed into what has become Keeping the Faith/The Prison Project. KTF is an arts-based residency program that features dance, expository writing and visual arts, and culminates in performances. This project has been conducted at FCI Lowell & FCI Broward in Florida, MCI Framingham in Massachusetts, Excelsior Girls School in Denver, Houston City Jail, Echo Glen Children’s Center & King County Juvenile Detention in Washington, Red Rock Juvenile Center in Maricopa County, AZ, Shakopee Women’s Prison in Minnesota, Estrella Jail in Phoenix, AZ, River City Correctional Center in Cincinnati, OH, Tokyo Girls Detention in Japan, Bahia Women’s Prison in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, Munich City Jail in Munich, Germany, the Dochas Centre/MountJoy Prison in Dublin, Ireland and Washington State Corrections Center for Women and Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women in Washington State.

Keeping the Faith/The Prison Project is one of the longest-running prison arts programs in the US.

Ms. Graney’s latest work, a peformance/installation project called girl gods, will premiere at On the Boards in Seattle in 2015. With National Dance Project Production and Touring support, the work will tour nationally and internationally through 2016.


Laura Sherbo received her MLS from Western Michigan University in 1978 and has dedicated her career to providing library services to the incarcerated by working with inmates and prison administrators to uphold the Library Bill of Rights.  She is currently the Branch Library Services Manager for the Washington State Library, overseeing nine (minimum and maximum security) prison library branches and two mental state hospital branches throughout the state.  Laura headed the McNeil Island Corrections Center library for 20 years, 13 of which she spent living on the island.  In 2012, she was awarded the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA) Leadership and Professional Achievement Award from the American Library Association.


Neal Vandervoorn taught high school for twelve years before he switched course to pursue librarianship.  He received an MLS from Emporia State University in Kansas and was employed with the Washington State Library as Branch Manager/Senior Librarian at Eastern State Hospital, Lakeland Village in Medical Lake and Western State Hospital for a combined twenty-two years. He provided library services to the mentally ill, the developmentally delayed, hospital staff and extensive outreach services to locked wards at Western State Hospital.  He retired as a medical librarian from MultiCare Health System in Tacoma in 2009.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Thrifty Thurston Sources 8 Date Night Ideas with Your Tween

Thurston Talk - Thu, 01/21/2016 - 6:00am


The other morning my tween son had a doctor’s appointment. We dropped his little brother off at school and made it to the appointment on time. After receiving a good bill of health, instead of rushing straight to class, I suggested breakfast. So we pulled into a diner, ordered a pile of pancakes, and talked – just the two of us.

Alley Oop LogoI felt really great dropping him off at school that day, enjoying that we’d snuck a little time out of our regular schedule, that we’d giggled over the fact that he’d received both a kid and adult menu, and that he was headed to class with a smile – and maybe a little syrup – on his cute little face (which will be mustachioed before I know it).

It doesn’t come as a surprise that behavior, health, and communication improve when we spend quality time with our tweens, but it can be hard to find activities that both parent and tween can enjoy – and afford.

date night tweenHas your tween read the Percy Jackson series? Browse the library and share favorite books.

So, before they grow up and head into the adult world, here are 8 date ideas to enjoy with your tween.

  1. Visit the library. While it may seem a cliché, the library is actually a great (and free!) place to go with your tween. Browsing and talking about favorite books is a welcome way to spend quality time, but our local Timberland Regional Library branches often have scheduled activities too. For example, Timberland Regional Library’s It’s in the Bag ongoing event, provides 4th through 8th graders with a mystery bag filled supplies to create something cool at the library. Creations are displayed and one lucky participant will even win a prize.
  2. Snag some breakfast. I may be partial to pancakes, but late-start breakfasts are a favorite way for me to steal some time with my tween. Don’t tell the principal, but the occasional slow-going morning, at home or at a restaurant, is a tender way to say “hey kiddo, sometimes it’s ok to just put the rest of life on pause while we catch up.” Playing hooky for an hour isn’t going to end the world, and it may be an opportunity for those good, deep talks.
  3. Step into LOTT’s WET Science Center. This downtown Olympia resource is great for kids of all ages, but is particularly geared for tweens and older. With tons of free events, from the history of toilets, to liquid nitrogen displays, to sea monster myths, the topics offered are sure to strike a chord with any kid, even those prone to eye-rolls at the slightest suggestion of something other than YouTube videos.
  4. date night tweenTack on an extra twenty minutes of screen time – for the two of you to play together.

    Partake in some screen time. Speaking of YouTube videos, how about watching or making one with your tween? Or playing video games, or hitting the arcade (especially that one that also has laser tag) or going to the movies? Instead of the usual arguments over screen time, try getting on their level and learning the latest minecraft discovery, check out P.F.U.D.O.R., (yes, I’m deliberately making you Google that one) or download an app that lets you create stop-motion videos.

  5. Control the chores. One way to get tweens to enjoy chores is to let them have some control over it. Have them choose chores for the both of you. Indulge them in this game, and it can not only be fun, but productive. Building or cooking can fall in the category of chores and creating something together builds memories. That birdhouse you’ve put off building since they were six? Maybe it’s a good time to revisit that project. Or pull out old family recipes and figure out just what that secret ingredient in grandma’s lemon bars is.
  6. Hit the gym. As we enter into the world of new bodies with our middle-agedness and their tween-agedness, a gym date is a great opportunity to blow off steam, talk about health and wellness, and discover new hobbies. Have you tried pickle ball at The Valley or tween cycling at the South Sound YMCA?
  7. date night tweenGet active with your tween. Local gyms are great resources and often have age specific activities.

    Walk the trails. Another, less expensive way to get physically moving with your tween is to get outdoors and discover a wooded, or paved, trail. Biking the Chehalis-Western trail is perfect for an afternoon weekend date. Consider packing a thermos of hot chocolate or juice and a special snack to enjoy. There are nice spots to pull off the trail and enjoy each other’s company.

  8. Get crafty. Tweens are little creative geniuses! Their capacity for big ideas is huge at this age, and being present in the creative process is a great way to nurture your relationship and make date night count. (re)fabulous offers a variety of sewing classes that will put both you and your tween in stitches, and playing with clay, ceramics, blacksmithing and more at Arbutus Art School will get you in touch with artisan roots.

There are lots of opportunities to enjoy a special date with your tween — pamper night, sporting events, all ages concert. Have more ideas for parent tween dates? Drop us a line.

Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County. The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community. 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 complete event calendar.

From Cougar to Bear, Capital High School’s Allyson Rudd Heading to the Ivy League

Thurston Talk - Thu, 01/21/2016 - 6:00am


It didn’t take Allyson Rudd long to decide where she wanted to go to college. The answer was Providence, Rhode Island – home of the country’s seventh-oldest college, Brown University.

mullinax fordLess than 24 hours after the Ivy League member offered the Capital High School senior one of its four available spots on the Bears NCAA Division I gymnastics team back in November, she accepted.

Rudd was also recruited and received an offer from Cornell University, a program that has won five Ivy League championships since 2001, but Brown proved to be a perfect fit.

“It was a pretty easy decision,” said Rudd, who first started participating in the sport at Black Hills Gymnastics at the age of two. “When I went on my official visit I just loved spending time with the team and the coaches. I could just envision myself being a part of the program and the university.”

allyson rudd gymnasticsAllyson Rudd, a senior at Capital High School, will attend Brown University in the fall.

Rudd will join a Bears’ squad that is certainly on the rise nationally as the past three seasons have been arguably the greatest in program history.

Brown University is coached by Sara Carver-Milne, who is in her 14th season. Carver-Milne has guided the Bears to three consecutive appears in the USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships and to their first ever Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championship in 2014.

Under Carver-Milne’s watch, the program posted their highest regional qualifying score in program history (193.650 RQS) during last year’s regular season and has captured two straight Ivy Classic titles, including the 2013 crown, which marked the program’s first league title since 1990.

Last year, she mentored four USAG First Team All-Americans (Regan Butchness, Jorden Mitchell, Caroline Morant and Diana Walters), two NCAA Regional qualifiers in Mitchell and Walters, who will be seniors next fall when Rudd arrives on campus and a 2008 Summer Olympic Games qualifier Alicia Saramone.

allyson rudd gymnasticsAllyson Rudd began gymnastics when she was two.

It’s a Bears team chalk full of talent with Rudd bringing in her own stacked resume to the roster.

Rudd has competed the past 11 years and is a Level 10 gymnast – the highest level of competition in the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic program, a program where she is an 11-time state qualifier, seven-time regional qualifier and six-time national qualifier.

As expected, the Brown University team also excels in the classroom. A total of nine Brown University gymnasts earned National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches/Women Scholastic All-American Awards for maintaining a 3.5 GPA during the 2014-15 season. Two seasons ago, the Brown team posted the nation’s fifth-best grade point average in the nation at 3.6306.

Rudd should fit in nicely. Her numbers are equally impressive on the academic side as she maintains a 4.0 grade point average.

allyson ruddRudd is an eleven-time state qualifier, seven-time regional qualifier and six-time national qualifier. In addition, she maintains a 4.0 GPA.

“I was able to sit in on some classes and see what it would be like,” said Rudd about her visit to Brown University. “It was a great experience. I felt comfortable there. The gymnastics program was great and (the academic side of the university) really sealed it for me.”

Amazingly, Rudd has been able to achieve all of this despite her hectic schedule.

Following her classes, Rudd practices Monday through Friday from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. She will train year-round, but her gymnastic season with Black Hills Gymnastics runs from January through May with competitions usually every other weekend and five to six individual meets.

“I think since I started (competing in gymnastics) they are only two of us left,” Rudd said. “The mental aspects of the sport is just as big, if not bigger, than the physical side. It’s a jump going from Level 9 to 10. It takes a commitment.”

Rudd began her 2016 season in Kaneohe, Hawaii with the 40th annual Aloha Gymfest January 14-17.

allyson rudd gymnasticsAllyson Rudd is currently a Level 10 gymnast, the highest level of competition in the Junior Olympic program of USA Gymnastics.

The season concludes with state and regional qualifiers (Washington is in USA Gymnastics Region 2 along with Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana and Oregon) before ending with the 2016 Women’s Junior Olympics National Championships May 6-8 in Fort Worth, Texas

“I’ve actually been able to do things I never thought I would be able to do,” Rudd said. “You watch older girls perform when you are growing up and they do these things you think are impossible, but it’s inspirational. You just keep working at it and then finally you are able to accomplish it.”

Kyle Cronk – New South Sound YMCA President/CEO, Life-Long Y Supporter

Thurston Talk - Thu, 01/21/2016 - 6:00am


When Kyle Cronk was 15-years-old, a teacher asked him what he wanted to do for a living. “I told him I wanted to be a teacher and his great advice was, ‘You should figure out if you like kids first,’” says Cronk. That teacher arranged for him to volunteer at the Y’s Camp Orkila on Orcas Island, where he quickly rose to camp counselor. He’s been with the Y ever since.

washington business bank“The thing that I realized early on was that, there was magic at camp,” Cronk explains. “It’s special when 500 kids show up, not knowing each other, and leave best friends after eleven days. I was there as a fifteen-year-old and I met some of these people that I’m still friends with now, at 46. So that’s powerful.”

south sound ymcaIn his first 30 days as President/CEO of the South Sound YMCA, Kyle Cronk has found the South Sound community very welcoming and excited about the potentials for the coming years.

As the new President/CEO of the South Sound YMCA, Cronk brings a lifetime of involvement that has included a diverse range of roles from Youth Development Director to record-breaking fundraiser. He’s worked with inner city youth, helped to pioneer programs throughout Seattle middle schools, and turned around a struggling Y in Port Angeles where they literally didn’t know if they could make payroll in his first month on the job.

The South Sound YMCA is a completely different situation, he says. “This is a very strong, financially buoyant Y. [Former CEO] Mike West and the board did an amazing job to get to this rock solid foundation.” As CEO, Cronk oversees all operations of South Sound YMCA, including both branches (Briggs Community and Olympia Downtown) and the Child Development unit (29 sites of before and after school care).

After working at Camp Orkila throughout high school and getting involved with a YMCA in Puyallup, Cronk became active in residence life and housing during his college years. He did a study abroad year in Australia and graduated “thinking I was going to move into higher education and work in campus life and student leadership,” he says. “I got a job at a very small liberal arts college in Houghton, Michigan. It was very cold.”

A break from the frigid temperatures came through a phone call from someone he’d known at Camp Orkila. “He’d been hired by the Seattle Association as a branch executive,” says Cronk. “I was working with inner city kids from Chicago and Milwaukee at the time, with all kinds of diverse backgrounds. He called me one day and said, ‘I need a youth development director and I need somebody with your skill set. You’ve got to come and work for me at this Y.’”

south sound ymcaThe Cronk family enjoy all manner of athletic endeavors. His children were particularly entranced with the Briggs Community branch climbing wall.

Moving back to Washington, Cronk became the Youth Development Director for the Meredith Mathews YMCA, where he was mentored by president and CEO Neil Nichol. “He told us, ‘“We want to make sure that Youth Development and teen work specifically is what we’re known for in the Seattle Y,’” says Cronk.

During his time there, Cronk and his colleagues took that message to heart, bringing the program into schools. “We put Youth Development Directors in middle schools so they were working with the school leadership team,” he says. “During the day, they were building relationships with kids and then after school, they could create programming that really wrapped around that whole school day.” In the five middle schools where they worked, the results were improved student achievement and engagement.

Later, Cronk was hired by the downtown Seattle Y as the operations manager for membership and financial development. “We were the first branch to raise half a million dollars in the Seattle Association,” he says.

Six years ago, Cronk and his growing family moved to Port Angeles, where he was the CEO of the Clallam County Family YMCA and his wife works as a school counselor. “We knew that we wanted to live in an outdoor mountainous region, and the Olympics were the ticket,” he says. His two sons, now eight and ten, have been raised to be comfortable in the outdoors. “We had wildlife coming in and out of our yard. At one point there was a cougar right next door,” he says. “That was a little scary. It was great, though.”

south sound ymcaSince starting as a counselor at Camp Orkila when he was fifteen, Cronk has always been involved with the Y in some capacity.

In January, they added a new member of the family: a six-year-old foster daughter. “We’re brand new foster parents,” he says. “We started the foster licensing process in the summer and just received word a few weeks ago that we could come and pick her up. It’s a foster-to-adopt situation.”

For now, the rest of the family continues to live in Port Angeles and Cronk commutes on the weekends. “My wife, Meegan, is still a counselor, and she’s going to finish the school year,” he says. “My kids have really great teachers and we didn’t want them to have to transition in the middle of the year.” They will be joining him in the Olympia area once summer arrives.

During the first thirty days of his new role, Cronk says the community has been incredibly welcoming. “I’m getting a lot of excitement and vibrancy around the community that really, anything is possible because of the situation that we’ve created,” he says. “I think people recognize that the Y is in a position to really do something great in this next iteration. There has been a lot of conversation around downtown revitalization and expansion into Lacey,” he says. “Those are the initial conversations we’re having.”

The first year will be about gathering information, he says. “Mike did a great service for this organization to provide the luxury to, observe, learn and listen and then see things unfold and then say, ‘Okay, now where do we want to go? Where do we want to drive this?’ What kind of impact do we want to have?’ There isn’t a limitation in that, thanks to our solid foundation.”

For more information about the South Sound YMCA, visit or call 360-753-6576.

South Sound Wedding Show to be Held January 23

Thurston Talk - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 4:47pm


Submitted by South Sound Wedding and Event Magazine 

The ninth annual South Sound Wedding Show is Saturday, January 23, 2016, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Marcus Pavilion at Saint Martin’s University, 5300 Abbey Way, SE, Lacey, Wash. The show is presented by South Sound Wedding & Event magazine, a local resource guide for engaged couples planning a wedding in the South Puget Sound. 

The Wedding Report, a research company that tracks wedding statistics, estimates there will be more than 1,620 weddings in Thurston County in 2016.

The South Sound Wedding Show will be held on January 23, 2015.The South Sound Wedding Show will be held on January 23, 2015.

Engaged couples, their families and wedding attendants are invited to attend the Olympia-area show. Couples will receive a complimentary copy of South Sound Wedding & Event magazine. Prizes will be awarded to engaged couples during the show. The latest styles in hair, makeup, bridal bouquets, jewlery, wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses and tuxedos will be featured during fashion shows presented at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

“To help plan their weddings, engaged couples are invited to meet more than 70 Olympia-area wedding professionals at this stylish show,” Paula Lowe, show director and publisher of South Sound Wedding & Event magazine, said. 

Couples will meet caterers, disc jockeys, wedding planners, florists, photographers and jewelry designers. They will also meet representatives from wedding and reception venues and bridal and tux shops.

Our highlighted wedding show presenters for the show are Occasions Catering, The Heritage Room, Elle’s Floral Design, Weddings With Joy and Firstlight Photography.

olympia red lion hotelLearn all about weddings in the South Sound at the South Sound Wedding show, including venues for your celebration like The Red Lion Hotel.

“This is the place to meet highly-skilled wedding professionals from Thurston County. They will help you create the wedding you have always imagined,” Lowe said.

The show is sponsored by Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater Visitor & Convention Bureau and Mixx 96.1 KXXO. Mixx96.1 is a soft rock radio station based in Olympia. 

Discounted tickets are available online or purchase tickets for $12 at the door. Free parking. 

The show is at the Marcus Pavilion at Saint Martin’s University, 5300 Abbey Way, SE, Lacey, Wash.

For information about the show,  visit or

South Sound Wedding & Event magazine is published by Expressions Media. Expressions Media produces the South Sound Wedding Show, West Sound Wedding Show and the South Sound Wedding Workshop.

Ruby Fray “Photograph”

K Records - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 12:28pm
Filmed in Iceland on their 2015 tour, the new Ruby Fray video “Photograph” is everything you want from Ms. Emily Beanblossom and Co., stylish, austere and delightful. “Photograph” appears on the Ruby Fray album Grackle [KLP251], available now from the K Mail Order Dept.  
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Seven Days of Razor Clam Digging Starts Thursday

Thurston Talk - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:50am


Submitted by The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Razor clam diggers can return to Long Beach and Copalis Beach later this week, state shellfish managers announced today.

Digs at both beaches are on evening tides and include a seven-day opening (January 21 through 27) at Long Beach a one-day dig (January 22) at Copalis Beach.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) confirmed the digs on those two beaches after marine toxin tests showed the clams on those beaches are safe to eat. All other beaches remain closed to recreational razor clam digging.

The department is limiting razor clam digging at Copalis to help ensure the beach will have openings throughout the spring, said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.

“Over the last few openings, we had a concentrated effort at Copalis Beach, where we’ve harvested one-third of our annual quota already,” Ayres said.

razor clam digRazor clam digging will remain closed on Washington’s other coastal beaches until domoic acid levels drop below the threshold of 20 parts per million set by state public health officials.

Domoic acid posed a problem for shellfish fisheries along Washington’s coast for much of 2015. The natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. Cooking or freezing does not destroy domoic acid in shellfish.

WDFW is continuing to monitor toxin levels on all Washington beaches and will open other areas as soon as clams are safe to eat.

The upcoming dig is scheduled on the following dates, beaches, and low tides:

  • Jan. 21, Thursday, 4:49 p.m.; – 0.4 feet, Long Beach
  • Jan. 22, Friday, 5:35 p.m.; -0.7 feet, Long Beach, Copalis
  • Jan. 23, Saturday, 6:16 p.m.; -0.8 feet, Long Beach
  • Jan. 24, Sunday, 6:54 p.m.; -0.7 feet, Long Beach
  • Jan. 25, Monday, 7:31 p.m.; -0.4 feet, Long Beach
  • Jan. 26, Tuesday, 8:05 p.m.; 0.0 feet, Long Beach
  • Jan. 27, Wednesday, 8:39 p.m.; 0.5 feet, Long Beach

razor clam digAyres noted the best digging usually occurs one to two hours prior to low tide.

Under state law, diggers can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2015-16 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website and from license vendors around the state.

More information about razor clams is available on WDFW’s website.

Persons with disabilities who need to receive this information in an alternative format or who need reasonable accommodations to participate in WDFW-sponsored public meetings or other activities may contact Dolores Noyes by phone (360-902-2349), TTY (360-902-2207), or email ( For more information, see

Boston Harbor First Graders Help Keri Hodge Get New Lungs, New Life

Thurston Talk - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:58am


Keri Hodge isn’t asking for too much. She wants to play with her son. She wants to go on family walks with the dog. She wants to take a deep breath.

Keri Hodge wants new lungs.

greene realtyAnd, if the first graders at Boston Harbor Elementary School (BHES) have anything to do with it, that is exactly what she will get. While these six and seven year olds can’t craft new lungs with their safety scissors and glue sticks, they can do something else: help raise money for the double lung transplant, and the extensive after care, that Keri so desperately needs.

lung transplantKeri Hodge needs a double lung transplant so she can continue to do her most important job: be Cooper’s mom.

Keri has cystic fibrosis (CF), a disease that affects over 30,000 people in the United States alone. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, it is “a life-threatening, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and progressively limits the ability to breathe.”

Keri was diagnosed with CF at age four, but in spite of her disease, has lived a fairly normal life. She grew up in Boston Harbor, attending BHES where her 7-year-old son Cooper is now a first grader. She graduated from Olympia High School and continued her education at The Evergreen State College. She married her high school sweetheart, McLane Black Lake Fire Department Captain Heath Hodge, and they began a life and family together back in Boston Harbor.

lung transplantHeath, Cooper and Keri Hodge are excited about the February 6 fundraising event organized by Cooper’s first grade class at Boston Harbor Elementary.

“I’ve had CF all my life,” explains Keri. “But I haven’t really owned up to it until this year. I spent most of my life pretending I didn’t have cystic fibrosis and feeling like that was the better choice because it made me tougher, fight harder, because I didn’t have an excuse.”

However, things have changed for Keri in the last year. Her CF has taken a turn for the worse. Keri is on oxygen 24 hours-a-day and needs a double lung transplant to save her life.

The typical wait for a CF patient to receive new lungs is nine months. Keri is in month four. “The waiting is excruciating,” says Keri. “Your life is on pause. Indefinitely.” She is on the UW Medical Center transplant list and many factors – lung size, blood type, post-surgical support, and condition of the transplant lungs – impact when she will get the call. In the meantime, she waits.

lung transplantBHES first grade teacher Heather Myers is coordinating the fundraising event, Lungs for Keri, to help the Hodge family as well as help her students support their classmate Cooper.

During this time, the community has rallied to help the Hodge family in many ways including raising money. The expenses will mount surrounding the surgery and post-care requirements, including living in Seattle near UW Medical Center – the site of the transplant – for three months post-surgery.

Local cystic fibrosis non-profit Return to Life has chosen Keri as their featured fundraising campaign and the balance on Keri’s GoFundMe page has grown steadily.

Help is also on the way from Cooper and his compassionate classmates at BHES, led by their teacher Heather Myers. The class is hosting Lungs for Keri a fundraising Spaghetti Feed on February 6 at the school and everyone is invited. The event, coordinated by Myers, will include various sized silent auction items, like a big weekend at Seabrook, a terrific dinner, and inflatables and games for the kids. “I wanted to do something to help Cooper. I have two kids of my own at home, but I truly look at these 23 students as my other kids and I wanted to do what I could to help,” says Myers. “Plus, this teaches them something outside academics. It teaches empathy and compassion in a way I never could in my classroom alone.”

lung transplantKeri made a surprise visit to the first graders at Boston Harbor Elementary to read “Mommy Can Play Again,” a story about a mother with cycstic fibrosis who receives new lungs.

Myers made sure the kids were an essential part of the planning and execution of the event. “The kids will all take one-hour shifts helping at Lungs for Keri,” she explains. “They will be bussing tables, greeting at the door, taking out garbage, or refilling napkins and utensils. They are making all the decorations including flower pot centerpieces that we will sell to help raise more funds.”

Myers has an army of volunteers helping including several parents who are Providence physicians or employees. When Providence heard about the first graders’ efforts, they offered to cater the event, donating food, drinks, and all the paper goods. They will even provide chefs hats and aprons for each student helper.

Providence physician, Dr. Meghan Duffie, has a son in Cooper’s class and visited the classroom to explain the medical side of a lung transplant, bringing stethoscopes for the kids to listen to each other’s lungs, hearing their healthy function.

Providence physician Dr. Meghan Duffie explains to the BHES first graders how lungs work and why Cooper's mom, Keri, needs a new set to get healthy again.Providence physician Dr. Meghan Duffie explains to the BHES first graders how lungs work and why Cooper’s mom, Keri, needs a new set to get healthy again.

Keri has also visited the class recently, something she had to give up as her health declined. She read a story about a mother with cystic fibrosis waiting for a lung transplant. The book helped the children understand how the surgery will allow Keri to play with Cooper and volunteer in the classroom again, giving added meaning to the hard work they are doing to prepare for the event.

Tickets for Lungs for Keri Spaghetti Feed and Silent Auction can be purchased at Boston Harbor Elementary, the Boston Harbor Marina or through the event Facebook page and cost $30 for a family of four ($5 each additional family member) or $10 individually.

lung transplant“Lungs for Keri” Silent Auction and Spaghetti Feed will be held on February 6 to help raise the more than $50,000 needed to cover non-insured costs related to Keri’s life-saving double lung transplant.

“It has been really different for me to become the center of attention and all of it being about CF,” says Keri. “But, I’m realizing what a gift so many people are giving to me – not just the gift of getting new lungs or the gift of money. There are just a lot of people thinking about me and my good health and that really feels powerful to me and makes an impact. Every time I hear about someone else supporting me, I think, ‘OK…I’ve got this.’”

Bill Christie – Lacey’s Licensed Massage Practitioner’s Healing Hands Bring Relief

Thurston Talk - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:00am


Bill Christie’s life path gets high marks for width and breadth. Did the wheat farmer from Saskatchewan ever dream about being a specialized massage therapist in Lacey? (Correct answer: no). Life has a marvelous way of unfolding, and Bill’s journey rolls along with pursuing education and creating adventures.

Capitol City Honda sponsorThe story begins on the farmlands of Canada where the Christie family grew wheat. Bill worked on the farm. Lucky for Bill, the severe winters and freezing limited agricultural activities during that time of year, which allowed him to pursue other interests. “I got to do other stuff like be a commercial and bush pilot, a flight instructor and a crop duster.” Little did he know at that time, but all the flying “prepared me for the subtleties of using my hands with a light touch.” He added, “It’s as if your hands understand what’s happening before it happens.” The massage business was still in his future, but the groundwork was being laid.

bill christie massageBill Christie is a licensed massage practitioner in Lacey. He has developed his knowledge and skill to offer personalized care and healing.

Interested in his own personal growth and development, Christie enrolled in a series of courses with Context. Inspired by his learning, he later assisted on teams presenting this information. It was during a Mastery class that he met Diane (Rogers) Starr. They married in 1995, and farm life took a back seat. Bill left Canada and settled in Diane’s town of Lacey.

It was during their first month of marriage that an accident influenced his career direction. Diane fell backwards off a ladder. Bill spent the months afterwards driving her around to multiple practitioners to find relief. They even purchased a massage table to use at home. When Bill tried his own hands on Diane’s back, she told him that he had “a nice touch.” Serendipitously, a friend of Bill’s had enrolled at Alexandar School of Natural Therapeutics in Tacoma. Bill decided to join him and graduated in 2000, becoming a licensed massage practitioner.

bill christie massageBill Christie’s hands listen to the rhythms of your body during a massage.

Bill worked at the school’s clinic and spa, but soon the Christies departed for new lives in sunny, warm Palm Springs. In short order, he was working for an agency that staffed masseuses all over the area. In this way, Bill got to work in multiple venues – hotels, resorts, and outcalls to the rich and famous. He enjoyed the variety and experience. However, the following spring, Bill was diagnosed with prostate cancer. “I joined a club that I didn’t really want to join.” His treatment and recovery went well, but it took many more months to fully recover. This intimate journey with cancer provided him with a deep and personal understanding of others in similar situations.

When the Christies moved back to Thurston County in 2002, Bill opened his own practice. Shortly after their move he attended the fall convention for the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). There he met Tim Hutton, LMP with a Ph.D. in physics and certified in CranioSacral therapy.

bill christie massageBill Christie’s massage space, in Lacey, is comfortable and peaceful.

The results he saw as he watched Hutton work impressed Bill. This led to course work for techniques in both cranial sacral and lymph drainage. Bill was great with his hands and could sense the rhythms in peoples’ bodies. He studied and easily assimilated the concepts into practice.

Then Bill met Dr. Ron Mariotti, who became his mentor for visceral manipulation, a technique founded by Jean-Pierre Barral. He was intrigued and wanted to learn more. This meant he entered a realm with doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists. The subject required deeper learning and understanding of anatomy. “I had to learn it or quit, but I was up for the challenge,” he reflects. So rather than give up, he dug in and took the necessary courses.

Clients have told me they have experienced deep levels of healing and relief from Bill. I have heard more than one person say that Bill had a direct, positive effect on the quality of their lives as they dealt with cancer. Christie states, “I don’t heal anyone, I just help the body to do its work.”

bill christie massageEver the flyer, Bill Christie has fun with his remote control airplanes. Photo credit: Diane Christie.

I enjoyed the first massage of my life as a college student in 1977. That was back when Radiance occupied an upstairs space on 4th Avenue. My life was forever changed. I’ve continued all these years with many practitioners for the purposes of relaxation, pain relief, injury rehabilitation and alignment adjustments. Every person has a different touch and philosophy. I’ve appreciated all my sessions with Bill. He ‘listens’ to what my body is telling him and goes from there. I’ve fallen into sleep while he was gently rocking my head. I’ve had my organs moved around a bit, which may sound creepy but it’s not. It was really helpful.

Remember that bodies are complex systems of organs, bones, muscles, and blood that are continuously shaped by our thoughts, actions and activities. There are many healing practitioners in our area. Bill Christie offers specialized treatment. He continues with this line of work because he’s fascinated with what goes on inside our bodies. Every person and every situation is different.

It’s hard for Bill to resist a new challenge. When he’s not working at his massage table, you might find Bill singing at the choir at Unity of Olympia or flying one of his remote control planes. If you can’t find him right away, he’s probably traveling. His adventures continue.

To learn more, visit Bill Christie online or call his Lacey office at 360-870-0878.

Eat Well – Be Well

Megan Brown – Saint Martin’s University Grad Livin’ It and Lovin’ It

Thurston Talk - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:00am


With a smile that can light up a room and an attitude that would make even Grumpy Cat change his tune, Megan Brown is a powerhouse of determination and inspiration with a history to back it up.

first light home careLast September, Megan was the keynote speaker at Camp Korey, a summer camp for children with challenging medical conditions located in Carnation, Washington. She is well versed in what the camp has to offer. She has been a counselor, mentor, and at one time a camper herself.

Megan has a craniofacial condition called Hemangioma. It’s a benign tumor she was born with. “It turned out to be really life threatening,” said Megan, who was born in Bremerton in 1993. “Most of the time it’s not, but in my case it was and back then very little was known about it where I lived.”

megan brownMegan Brown is a 2015 graduate of Saint Martin’s University. Photo credit: Joe Saladino.

She was then seen by professionals at Seattle Children’s Hospital who quickly diagnosed and started treating her. “I took steroids and an experimental drug, alpha interferon, to stop the growth of the tumor. That’s what saved my life but I spent my whole childhood dealing with surgeries. Most Hemangiomas go away on their own… mine was life threatening and covered one of my eyes. Thankfully it didn’t take my vision,” said Megan.

So in 2008, when Camp Korey opened, Megan was one of the first to attend. She was 15-years-old. After spending two years as a camper, she transitioned into being a counselor and mentor for the younger campers. Every year she returns to reconnect with friends, mentor kids and be an advocate for others

“Camp is a family,” said Megan. “Many of these people know exactly the same adversity I face every day of my life. We ‘get’ each other. There is a comradery with going through the same things and at camp we come together.” Since then she has had a place to go where people truly understand.

megan brownMegan met emcees Steve Pool and Dan Lewis at Camp Korey. Photo credit: KOMO4 News.

That’s why getting a call to be the keynote speaker at Camp Korey was such an honor. “As the keynote speaker, I was able to share with an audience about my favorite place and what’s cool is it took me forever to really sit down and write the speech because I had so much to say,” said Megan. But when she got on stage she realized the speech wasn’t about her. What it was really about was the camp and every single camper who attends. She was speaking on behalf of them all. “Yes, they were my experiences but I made sure they could be felt and it was something all campers could relate to.”

“She has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know,” said friend, former coworker and fellow 2015 Saint Martin’s University graduate Ben Lopez. “She genuinely cares for everyone and wants everyone to be happy.”

Ben met Megan through a mutual friend during their first year of college. They stayed close friends while working together as Residence Advisors and mentors to first year students. She reached out for advice on giving a keynote speech because her friend has recently given one during the Gala at SMU.

megan brownMegan Brown relaxes on the pier in Allyn, Washington. Photo credit: Joe Saladino.

“She asked how I stayed calm and remembered all my stuff and delivered it properly. I said you just have to practice. Nobody there is going be disappointed in you for telling your story. I just encouraged her and reassured her that her story was going to be great,” described Ben.

And she was great! “After the speech she was super excited,” recalled Ben. “It went really well. She got to meet Dan Lewis and Steve Pool (of KOMO4 News fame). She was so excited about that. She was moved to see how her story was impacting and empowering others. It was really neat to see her realize how she can help others with her story.”

Megan is healthy now. The Hemangioma is gone. But the scars remain, even though they have slowly faded through the years. When it comes to scars, Megan said, “I once heard a quote, ‘Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you conquered whatever tried to kill you.’ I know the rest of my life I will have a facial difference, but I remind myself daily that this is just one part of my purpose. I know I was made specifically this way.”

So how does Megan persevere through the hard times? She looks at it like a storm. “It’s going to pass. Even though I’m facing adversity and it’s tough in that moment, I’ve faced it in the past and there are brighter days to come,” she described. “There are going to be bad times, people are going to discriminate. And that’s tough.”

megan brownMegan Brown enjoys life. Photo credit: Joe Saladino.

But Megan knows she can overcome and it doesn’t define her. She is more than just her scars. With her positive attitude and faith she can push forward. “I can’t share my story without including my faith,” said Megan. “I look at the keynote speech as a stepping stone, along with my video testimony that I gave to my church,, on Easter. I realized on that day that if I was going to come out as an advocate for this craniofacial population, that it would allow me the opportunity for me to share my story when people asked me about what happened. A light turned on and what’s cool is all the love I received on that day, knowing my story was being shared to help others. Knowing it was just the start of something new. One thing they say at church is, ‘If it’s not good, God’s not done.’ God is going to continue to use my story for his glory.”

Her story certainly is not finished. In November it was presented to the staff at Northwest University, her pastor’s alma mater and continues to be watched and shared on Facebook.

A video of Megan’s presentation from Camp Korey can be found here.

Say Yes

Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team - Tue, 01/19/2016 - 9:50am


Just say YES!!! to restoring the Deschutes Estuary.  DERT – the Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team is working diligently to restore the Deschutes estuary by reconnecting the Deschutes river to South Puget Sound’s Budd Inlet and the Salish Sea.

It 1951, the Deschutes River was dammed at its mouth to create a reflection pond for the State Capitol. Over time, the basin has filled with sediment, stagnant water, and invasive species. The state has commissioned many studies on this environmental and public health hazard, and they all point to dam removal and estuary restoration. However, no decision has been made towards remediation.

DERT advocates for the removal of the 5th Avenue dam to comply with the Clean Water Act. DERT cares about watershed and ecosystem health supporting natural habitat and a statewide community that values water quality, economic opportunity, and recreational access.

Please enjoy our website – full of important information and ways for you to take action to support estuary restoration.  Thanks for stopping by!!

Categories: Local Environment
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