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Olympia Then & Now

OlyBlog Home Page - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 1:23pm

This essay is photo heavy, so pardon the bandwidth. Most photos link to hi-res versions. 

The photos have been pulled from various online sources and the “now” pictures are from Google Maps Street View and Google Earth. 

I have tried by best to find the current locations, but I may be wrong in a few instances. 


1. Olympia in 1894. 

I had this photo labelled 1848 but I am pretty sure that is wrong based on the inscription. 

It is not easy to tell, but you can see how much the shoreline has grown. 




2. Olympia in 1948

I believe this photo was taken with the next few that follow it. You can see Little Hollywood and I am pretty sure that is the Oyster House





3. Olympia in 1948 (I believe) logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Thurston County Youth Football League – Bigger, Better Than Ever

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 12:08pm



By Gail Wood

color graphicsFinally, the anticipated moment had arrived – the football was kicked, sailing end over end down the field at Olympia’s Ingersoll Stadium to begin the game. The 41st football season for the Thurston County Youth Football League (TCYFL) had begun. Finally.

But before the Olympia Bears could play the Rainier Mountaineers in their season-opening game for 9-to-10 year olds and before Owen Shaw scored the game’s first touchdown on a 30-yard run, there was some business to take care of. Uniforms, shoulder pads and helmets had to be bought. Coaches needed to be found. Referees hired. And schedules planned for the eight-game season.

There were 41 games played on Saturday, kicking off the TCYFL season.

tcyfl youth football

Olympia Bears coach LJ Tuitele puts his team through a tackling drill prior to their game against Raineer.

“It’s an amazing league,” said Dirk Rasmussen, whose son plays for the Bears. “They do a tremendous job.”

TCYFL, which began in 1973, is bigger and better than ever. It had an all-time high 2,100 players signed up with 12 different franchises, one for each of the local high schools in the county. The teams are from Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Yelm, Rainier and Tenino. The teams are divided into five age groups based on age ranging from 7 – 14. Because Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater have dropped their middle school football programs, the last two age groups fill a void in those school districts.

Some claim that this year’s turnout boost is perhaps tied to the excitement of the Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl championship.

TCYFL is possible because of volunteers. A 12-member board, led by league president Scott Erickson, oversees the league, coordinating schedules, officials, coaches and purchasing equipment. It’s a busy time for the board.

“You’re making sure everyone gets their jerseys, coaches receive badges and coordinate fundraising,” explained Erik Martin, TCYFL board secretary.

tcyfl youth footballThe board meets every two weeks during the season. In the off season, they meet every three weeks, making it a year around commitment. Martin’s commitment comes from his belief in the league and what it accomplishes in kids’ lives.

“The people on the board are great,” Martin noted. “They’re passionate. They believe in it. It shows. Everyone works really hard to make it successful.”

In addition to being on the board, Martin also coaches the Olympia Bears seventh grade team, which his son plays for. A 1992 Timberline High School graduate, who turned out for football, basketball and baseball in high school, Martin said football teaches a lot of life lessons.

“It teaches teamwork,” Martin said. “The kids really learn that every player on the field has a specific job. And they have to do their job and work together as a team for the play to work right. That sense of teamwork and camaraderie is big.”

tcyfl youth football

Rainier Mountaineers coach Darren Sprouffske (with cap) has his players go through a drill prior to Saturday’s game with Olympia.

Teams practice three times a week, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Games are played on Saturday. The younger players practice twice a week when the season begins.

There about 90 coaches in the league and most of them have or have had a son on the team. As volunteers, their payment is simply satisfaction. Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces is their reward.

Line coach, Brian Cockrell, gets to coach his son, Caden. It’s his second year of coaching his son. “It’s great,” Cockrell said while describing the fourth and fifth grade team. “I played the same position, so it’s fun to coach him at that position.”

Cockrell, a 1988 Wilson High School graduate from Tacoma, played football at the University of Idaho under head coach, Keith Gilbertson. Cockrell is careful to teach technique in blocking and tackling.

“They have good rules in the league about weight limits,” Cockrell said. “For example, anyone above 110 can’t be a ball carrier. It’s a safety rule.”

This year all the coaches took an USA Football class on tackling techniques, stressing the importance of keeping the head up.

tcyfl youth football

Olympia Bears coaches Brian Cockrell (kneeling) and LJ Tuitele (standing) watch their players warm-up.

“Every one of the coaches you see out here, whether they’re an assistant or a head coach, has all gone through the tackling certification through USA Football,” Cockrell said. “It was a big expense for our league, but it was something we felt we needed to do for safety.”

Darren Sprouffske, coach of the Rainier Mountaineers’ fifth and sixth grade team, is coaching his son’s team for the fourth season. He’s also coached his son’s basketball team for the past five years. Like his son will probably do one day, Sprouffske played high school football for Rochester.

“It’s fun,” Sprouffske said about coaching his son. “I enjoy coaching and being able to share that time with my son.”

TCYFL teaches more than just tackling and blocking techniques. LJ Tuitele, who coaches an Olympia Bears fourth and fifth grade team which includes his son, Max, said he learned a lot from his days of playing football growing up in Hawaii.

“Football teaches you how to strive to be your best,” Tuitele noted. “It teaches a lot about discipline, a lot about teamwork. It teaches how to play together, win together and lose together.”

tcyfl youth footballTuitele first started coaching when his son’s Olympia Bears team needed a little extra help.

“They needed help,” Tuitele recalled. “After that I fell in love with coaching and just being around the kids. It’s an awesome experience. I advise any parent to take a chance and go out there and coach.”

Rasmussen was clear on his duty for the day as his son’s team, the Olympia Bears 9-to-10 year olds, warmed up for their game against the Rainier Mountaineers.

“I’m here to watch my son play football,” Rasmussen said. “I’m a proud parent. That’s all I am.”


Camping for the Kids at the South Sound YMCA

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 12:03pm



south sound ymca

Previous year bidders enjoy food, drink, and fun.

Camping season typically ends when the inevitable autumn rains make marshmallow toasting impossible.  But with the South Sound YMCA, you can enjoy one more night of Camping the Night Away on Friday, September 26.  This is when the non-profit organization’s annual dinner and auction take place at the Lacey Community Center to benefit the Y’s full range of youth development programs.

A more than 15 year partnership with Olympia Federal Savings, the event promises a summer’s bounty of food, drinks, and auction items.  Last year drew over 200 attendees and this year’s cornucopia of giveaways should easily exceed that.  With prizes ranging from a Superbowl football signed by Seahawks MVP Malcolm Smith or tickets to a November Seahawks game through getaways to Portland, Palm Desert, and Woodinville there’s something for everyone.

Food and drink options are a vast improvement from traditional camping staples like powdered eggs and instant coffee.  Ricardo’s will again offer delicious food to accompany Fish Brewing’s beer and hard cider.  There will be a photo booth on site for fun, retro pictures with friends, and balloon pop games with gift card prizes for local restaurants, spas, and even house cleaning services.

south sound ymca

Bidders browse the silent auction that benefits the South Sound YMCA.

South Sound YMCA Director of Development and Marketing Susan Callender is excited about all the programs this evening will sponsor.  She explains, “At the Y, we nurture the potential of youth and teens. We believe that all kids deserve the opportunity to discover who they are and what they can achieve. That’s why, through the Y, millions of youth today are cultivating the values, skills and relationships that lead to positive behaviors, better health and educational achievement.”

With offerings like child care, education and leadership training, swimming and sports teams, and summer camps for all ages, the Y has childhood covered for any season of the year.  Says Callender, this fun event is especially important to highlight “the importance of youth development programs.”

Tickets and additional details are available online here. The fun begins at 5:00 p.m. and a live auction sneak peek is available to interested bidders.  With more than 150 silent auction items and 29 live auction items, there’s sure to be something that catches your eye.

If you can’t make it, donations are accepted any time through the Y’s webpage or by visiting one of their neighborhood locations.  Donations for next year’s auction are also welcome any time.

Louisiana Senator David Vitter once said that “I continue to believe that if children are given the necessary tools to succeed, they will succeed beyond their wildest dreams!”  To be able to provide those tools simply through a night of fun, food, and community, is the greatest of opportunities…don’t let it pass you by.


Thurston County Health Department Advises on Immunizations and Flu Vaccinations

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 6:43am



Submitted by Thurston County Health Department

olympia domestic violence helpSummer break has ended and another school year is underway. The long lists of school supplies have been purchased and new clothing has replaced what kids outgrew over the summer. Despite buying several bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitizer for the classroom and teaching your child to wash their hands regularly and cover their cough, there seems little we can do to stop the inevitable rise of illness that comes with the start of a new school year!

Even with precautionary measures, there’s a good chance that your child will catch a virus and bring it home to you and the rest of your family in the next couple of months. This is partly because certain viruses are more active in the fall, and partly because kids haven’t developed immunity to many viruses yet, so they trade them back and forth and bring them home to share. So, what can you do to keep your children and family healthy?

Your first line of defense against a number of illnesses is immunization. News about pertussis (whooping cough) and measles outbreaks in our state remind us that vaccine-preventable diseases are still around, which underscores the importance of keeping your child’s immunizations up-to-date. Schools in Washington State require written proof of immunization or a physician-signed waiver. Immunizations required for the 2014-15 school year include:

  • Hepatitis B
  • DTaP/DT/Td/Tdap – Immunity from Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis
  • Polio
  • MMR -  Measles, Mumps, and Rubella
  • Varicella – or verification the child has had the disease (chicken pox)

comcast donationYearly seasonal influenza (flu) vaccines are also recommended for children starting at age six months (don’t forget to get yours too).

According to the Washington State Department of Health, two of the nine school districts in Thurston County, reported immunization exemption rates between 10 to 20 percent during the 2012-2013 school year. This means that these districts have less “community immunity” to vaccine-preventable diseases and are more likely to be impacted in the event of an outbreak. Community immunity helps keep diseases from spreading.

Several options exist today for getting your child vaccinated, making it pretty convenient.

  • Children can get their immunizations at their regular health care provider’s office.
  • Several pharmacies in our community offer immunizations. Details vary so inquire ahead of time regarding cost, insurance, which vaccines are available and the ages of children that they will vaccinate.
  • Thurston County Medical Reserve Corps and Group Health Cooperative will offer a no-cost clinic for school-required immunizations and influenza vaccination on Saturday, September 20. The clinic will be at Group Health Olympia, 700 Lilly Rd NE, from 9:00 a.m. until noon. The clinic is open to all children—not just Group Health members. For more information please visit the Thurston County Health Department web site at:

If your child does get sick, keep them home from school and daycare until they are no longer contagious. If we all work together, we can make this the happiest and healthiest school year ever!

For more information, follow Thurston County Health Department on Twitter (@ThurstonHealth) or Facebook.



Self-Sabotage Through Emotional Eating – How to Stop the Cycle

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 6:00am



olympia personal trainer

Amanda Price-Salazar is a personal trainer at Edge Fitness working with people to change their lifestyles through healthy choices including exercise and diet.

When something in life creates stress, we often find comfort in food instead of dealing with the issue directly. Using food as a comfort tool doesn’t fix the problem at hand and can lead to weight gain, feelings of guilt, depression, and more.  A total downward spiral of ‘self-sabotage’ can begin.

Sound familiar? Many people can relate, but it doesn’t have to stop you from reaching your goals. According to Amanda Price-Salazar, a certified personal trainer, nutritionist, and owner of Edge Fitness in Tumwater, you can take steps to stop the ‘self-sabotage’ cycle.

“I consider emotional eating to be numb and unconscious eating. It causes a non-stop spiral of feeling out of control. The most common thing I see is instead of taking the time to investigate self-sabotaging behavior, then working through it in an effort to fix the problem long-term, people jump into a crazy fad or super-star diet,” says Price-Salazar.

“Often these diets are not customized to their body type or lifestyle, are very restrictive, and not realistic,” she continues explaining.  “Within a week or two they are starving, restricting themselves, and assigning foods ‘good’ and ‘bad’ labels.  They don’t stay on the diet and when they stop, within days or weeks they gain back their losses and then some. This can be an emotional roller coaster and the repetition of this cycle can do long-term physical and emotional damage.”

organic farm

Price-Salazar encourages healthy choices most of the time, but allows for “fun foods” too.

“Extreme diets can cause a negative mental state. Food isn’t bad, but when you start to be overly restrictive, building a negative state of mind using constant negative self-talk, it can lead to a cycle of self-sabotage,” she says.

“Unfortunately, pairing the overly restrictive and unrealistic dieting along with a negative mindset and state of well-being is exactly how many eating disorders and body image issues begin,” she concludes.

Price-Salazar explains that the key is balance.  She encourages healthy choices most of the time and allows for “fun foods” in everyone’s diet. “It’s all about moderation and awareness of portions to achieve balanced eating habits.”

Being active is a great way to decrease stress and certainly a better choice than emotional eating. Exercise helps your body relieve or exit “stress” improving energy, mood, and sleep.

Not only that, but exercise improves your mental state and helps burn excess calories. Daily exercise also tends to decrease your body’s cravings for ‘fun foods’ and ultimately motivates healthy choices.  The more you work out, the more your body craves healthy food and the more you want to eat them.  It’s a cycle as well, but a positive one that Salazar promotes for each and every client.


Meconi’s Enters “Beast Mode” on Seattle Seahawk’s Blue Friday and Game Day

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 6:00am



By Kate Scriven

meconis menu

Throughout the Seahawk’s football season, Meconi’s will offer a “Beast Mode” sub on Blue Friday and Game Day, complete with a bag of Skittles.

The colors you might see most often this fall are blue and green, not the gold and red of leaves throughout Thurston County.  The Seattle Seahawks are back in action for the 2014 season.

The 12th Man (and woman) comes out in force on Blue Friday and game day to share their team spirit and show support of the World Champion Seattle Seahawks.  Some of the biggest fans around can be found in the back offices and behind the counters of Thurston County’s four Meconi’s Italian Subs restaurants.

Robin Vaughn, Operations Manager, may literally bleed blue and green.  She’s a long-time, die-hard Seahawks fan and anyone who has experienced game day with her knows her passion.  And she’s not alone.  The entire staff, from owners to cashiers, look forward to each Seahawks game and enjoy seeing customers come in for game-day subs or for lunch on Blue Friday decked out in their 12th Man gear.

Last season, though, the Meconi’s crew felt a bit left out, sporting only their uniforms.

This fall, Meconi’s will be celebrating right along with the fans each Blue Friday and game-day wearing their newly designed Meconi’s 12th Man jerseys and offering in-store food specials including a weekly “Beast Mode” sub.

meconis menu

Hawks Prairie employees Stefani, Joelle and Meghan show their Seahawk’s pride in their new Meconi’s Twelfth Man jerseys.

“This season, we are really excited to get into the spirit of supporting the Hawks and sharing fun specials with local fans at the restaurants,” explains Vaughn.  “We are all big Seahawks fans and we want to join with the rest of our community and celebrate each week, having fun in the store and creating a festive atmosphere for other fans.”

Employees in all four Meconi’s locations will be wearing their custom Meconi’s jerseys each game-day and Blue Friday.  The jerseys were designed in partnership with locally-owned Sound Apparel  and a limited number are available for purchase at each store for $19.99. Even Meconi’s food distributor, Lacey-based Harbor Wholesale, wanted to join the fun when they heard Meconi’s plans and partnered with them to provide the new jerseys to all employees.

In addition to the cool gear, Meconi’s customers can look forward to several in-store specials throughout the season.  The first is the “Beast Mode” sub.  Each Blue Friday or game-day, a specialty sub will be featured as the “Beast Mode” special of the day.  Fans can look forward to the same quality ingredients and fresh baked bread on this sub, but taken up a notch in honor of fan favorite, Marshawn Lynch.  And, just so you feel a little more like the power-house running back, a bag of Skittles is included with each “Beast Mode” sub.

meconis menu

Enjoy a Dick’s Brewing Company 12 Man Pale Ale at either the Meconi’s Hawks Prairie or Lacey Blvd. location with your Seahawk’s Special.

For those not looking to indulge in the “Beast Mode”, the stores will be offering the 12th Man Special.  Each Blue Friday or game-day, enjoy 12% off select menu items when you wear your Seahawks gear or team colors of blue and green.  “Really, we just want to encourage people to join the excitement, get in the spirit, and participate in a fun atmosphere at Meconi’s on game-day and Blue Friday,” shares Vaughn.  “We feel we are a part of the Seahawk’s success as 12’s and we want to share that energy with our community.”

If you happen to be dining at Meconi’s newest location in Hawk’s Prairie or at their Lacey Blvd. location, you can wash down your “Beast Mode” sub or Twelfth Man Special with a 12 Man Pale Ale from Dick’s Brewing Company.

Hawks Prairie employee Stefani Johnson is excited about the new uniforms and the fun planned throughout the season.  “It’s exciting that we get to be a part of it, to show our spirit,” Johnson shares.  “Last year, on Blue Friday, everyone would come in wearing jerseys and we were just in our uniforms.  Now, we get to join the spirit, support our team, and share something in common with our customers.”

Drawings will be held throughout the season to win a Meconi’s 12th Man jersey.  Simply purchase one of the Seahawk’s specials and you’ll be eligible to enter the drawing.

And while these specials will only last for the football season, the team at Meconi’s is confident they will be offered right up to February 1, 2015.  Go Seahawks!


Skrill Meadow Private Memories Infomercial

K Records - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 1:31am
The Skrill Meadow album Private Memories explained in full by this “infomercial”. Skrill Meadow is the brainchild of Mark Morrison (seen in the above “infomercial”), also an integral member of LAKE whose album The World Is Real [KLP246] was recently released by K. Skrill Meadow‘s Private Memories album is available from the K Mail Order […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Study Abroad Program at Saint Martin’s University Expands

Thurston Talk - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 10:11pm



Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

Saint Martin's University study abroad program is expanding to include a wider variety of countries.

Saint Martin’s University study abroad program is expanding to include a wider variety of countries.

The Saint Martin’s University Study Abroad program is partnering with a new affiliate provider to add three more host countries to the university’s pre-approved list, as well as provide a broader range of programs designed to ease the application and acceptance process for students.

Brazil, Czech Republic and South Africa are the new destinations for Saint Martin’s students as the result of an agreement forged with the CEA Academic Affiliate Program. The CEA was founded in 1997 in Chicago, Illinois as Cultural Experiences Abroad, which is now headquartered in Tempe, Arizona. CEA is an independent service provider that works with foreign universities to provide access to education abroad for U.S. and Canadian undergraduate students interested in exploring global issues in exciting global cities.

The organization’s signature Study Abroad Centers in six countries have earned CEA a reputation as an innovator in education abroad.

“I am thrilled to be partnering with such a great provider who has carefully selected locations endowed with cultural, political and/or financial significance, as well as academic resources appropriate to North American needs,” says Brenda Burns, study abroad coordinator at Saint Martin’s. “I think these programs hold a wealth of opportunities for our community and I am excited to see students taking advantage of them.”

The partnership with CEA also enables Saint Martin’s to offer new programs in several other countries, such as Costa Rica, Spain and Argentina, that have lesser language requirements, thereby easing the way for students who want to study in those locations.

“Additionally, since we are an official affiliate program, Saint Martin’s students will automatically receive study abroad scholarships from CEA and will be eligible for several others through the organization,” Burns says.

The CEA partnership follows another major step Saint Martin’s took last spring to expand its Study Abroad program by joining the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) Generation Study Abroad initiative to double the number of American students who study overseas by the end of the decade. The University has committed to tripling its number of undergraduate students who study abroad during the next five years.

For more information about the CEA Academic Affiliate Program, please visit

Students can also learn more about other education abroad opportunities by visiting the Saint Martin’s University Study Abroad website and by contacting Brenda Burns at or at 360-438-4521.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washing­ton. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedic­tine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 25 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes nearly 1,200 under­graduate students and 323 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 350 more students to its extended campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at


Inc. Magazine Names Smart Energy Today to List of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies

Thurston Talk - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 9:55pm


Submitted by Smart Energy Today

smart energy today

The Smart Energy Today team.

Smart Energy Today, a company specializing in helping home owners and businesses make their homes and businesses more comfortable and become more energy efficient, has been recognized as one of the 500 fastest growing private companies in the nation by Inc. Magazine.

Overall, Smart Energy Today was ranked No. 336, with a three-year cumulative growth of 1381.4%, in the nation on the Inc. 500|5000 list, which represents the most comprehensive look at America’s independent entrepreneurs.

“It is an incredible honor to be named to the Inc. 500 list,” said Julie Murray, Director of Media Relations at Smart Energy Today. “This honor truly reflects the incredible growth that Smart Energy Today has achieved over the last three years and is a testament to the fact that Smart Energy Today is solving a major problem by helping consumers live more comfortably and better maintain their homes through energy efficient products.”

The 2014 Inc. 500|5000 list ranks companies according to the percentage growth of their annual revenue over a three-year period. To qualify, companies must be U.S.-based, privately held, for profit and independent, and must have been founded and generating revenue by March 2010. Companies on the Inc. 500 are featured in Inc.’s September issue. They represent the top tier of the Inc. 5000 and can be found here.

“Not all the companies in the Inc. 500 | 5000 are in glamorous industries, but in their fields they are as famous as household name companies simply by virtue of being great at what they do. They are the hidden champions of job growth and innovation, the real muscle of the American economy,” says Inc. Magazine Editor Eric Schoenberg.

About Inc.

Founded in 1979 and acquired in 2005 by Mansueto Ventures, Inc. is the only major brand dedicated exclusively to owners and managers of growing private companies, with the aim to deliver real solutions for today’s innovative company builders. Total monthly audience reach for the brand has grown significantly from 2,000,000 in 2010 to over 6,000,000 today. For more information, visit

About Smart Energy Today

Founded in 2008, Smart Energy Today specializes in helping home owners and business owners achieve year-round indoor comfort through energy efficient products with the ultimate goals of using less energy and helping them better maintain their homes and businesses.


National Park Service Moves the Treasured Enchanted Valley Chalet 17 Inches at a Time

Thurston Talk - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 3:33pm



By Douglas Scott

boggsfinallogoThe Enchanted Valley sits in Olympic National Park, another jewel in a region incredible rich with beauty. Located above one of the most impressive rain forests in America, Enchanted Valley is a sought after destination for hikers and backpackers from all over the world. With bears, mountains, glaciers and great trails and camping, the region is teaming with adventurers on sumer day. Normally, the region is full of backpackers enjoying the last sunny weekend of summer, but in early September 2014, Enchanted Valley had been turned into the scene of an $124,000 relocation of one of the oldest buildings in Olympic National Park.

enchanted valley chalet

Prior to its move, the Enchanted Valley Chalet perched on the banks of the Quinault River.

The Enchanted Valley Chalet had sat in the same spot in the Quinault Region of the Olympic Peninsula since it was completed in 1931, seven years before Olympic National Park was created. Originally a privately owned backcountry lodge, the building stopped being used around WWII and was eventually sold to the National Park Service in the 1950s. For the next 60 years, the Enchanted Valley Chalet stood as a destination for backpackers worldwide, a remote building existing in an otherwise pristine wilderness. Serving as an emergency shelter, as well as seasonal backcountry ranger station, the Chalet was a welcome sight to many a weary hiker.

Olympic National Park Spokesperson Rainey McKenna, who was on her first visit to the Enchanted Valley, led tours for members of the media.  She expressed the same love for the region that many have.

“Enchanted Valley is a gorgeous, very popular hike. People have been Hiking up here for generations. For a lot of people this is a part of their memory and a part of the National Park Experience. They associate the chalet with their experience on the trail,” says McKenna.

enchanted valley chalet

The Enchanted Valley is a treasured backpacking trip in the Olympic National Park.

Located in wilderness, vehicles are not allowed in the park, making the logistics of getting supplies to the area quite difficult. While helicopters could be used, the NPS is required to use the smallest possible helicopter to do the job. For three days, a small helicopter carried between 700 and 900 pounds at a time to the Chalet. Flying back and forth with heavy loads dangling 30 feet below the spinning blades, the chopper provided a continuos buzz in one of the quietest regions of the country.

As the helicopter would fly out, it would carry an assortment of pipes, building material and decades worth of trash, some of which had been sitting in the valley for over 70 years. With just 25 flights, the Park service made sure to get their money’s worth, as the helicopter alone cost roughly $1,600 each trip, or $40,000 in total.

Everything else was hauled in by either mules or hikers. The 13.5 mile long trail from Graves Creek to Enchanted Valley weaves along the Quinault River, through lush rain forests, and some of the most beautiful wilderness in the world. Transporting goods along this route isn’t the worst commute in the world, and the destination makes it even better.

enchanted valley chalet

Mules were used to bring supplies to move the Enchanted Valley Chalet.

If you haven’t hiked to the Enchanted Valley, it is a must-see for nature enthusiasts. Leaving the dark greens of the rain forest, the Enchanted Valley opens up into a visual wonderland. The valley is often called the Valley of 10,000 waterfalls, as the north side of the valley is made up of steep cliffs. Numerous waterfalls pour down its flanks in the wetter months and year round, a few small waterfalls fall from the melting snow. To the northeast, Mount Anderson (7,330 ft) sits exposing its huge glacier and endless rugged peaks heading to Anderson Pass. The valley is breathtaking and is consistently named one of the best backpacking trips in the National Park System. Sitting right along the trail in this majestic valley is the Chalet, a three story wooded cabin, perfectly rustic, right down the the hand carved wooden bench that sits on its porch.

Starting in 2014, the Enchanted Valley Chalet had been sitting precariously on the ever-shifting banks of the Quinault River, teetering close to being destroyed by the slightest shift of the river. What had been a 10-foot buffer in October 2013 quickly shrunk to being undercut by the spring rains and snow melt in May 2014.

enchanted valley chalet

A team from Monroe House Moving rubs Dove soap on the rails to shift the Enchanted Valley Chalet.

Monroe House Moving, Inc. of Sequim, Washington was awarded the contract to move the building.  Using standard house-moving techniques, the contractor installed two main lifting beams beneath the chalet, which lifted it 20 inches off the ground. The chalet was slowly moved with four hydraulic jacks, pushing the 90 ton building in 17 inch increments over 5 minutes. Lubricating the beams with Dove brand soap, the crew would slide the historic chalet a few millimeters at a second, nearly impossible to see with the naked eye. Luckily, Olympic National Park officials have provided a link to their time-lapse cameras to watch the entire move.

The Enchanted Valley Chalet has been moved roughly 75 feet from the river banks, but its story isn’t over. For now, the chalet sits safe, away the the wild waters of the Quinault, serving as a wonderful sight for the last of the backpackers before winter sets in. Over the next year, we get to decide what to do with it, as the public, with approval from the National Park Service, has the last word on the historic chalet.

By September of 2015, Olympic National Park officials hope to have not just a solution, but already implement the plan.


Contra Dance to Live Music in Olympia -- 1st, 2nd and 4th Saturdays

OlyBlog Home Page - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:57pm
Event:  Sat, 09/13/2014 - 7:30pm - 11:00pm

 South Bay Grange, 3918 Sleater-Kinney Rd., Olympia

Newcomers’ Orientation at 7:30, dance 8-11. All dances taught. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Blithe Spirit at Olympia Little Theatre

South Sound Arts - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 10:15am
Meghan Goodman, Roddy Matthew Lee, Sophie Parody
Roddy Matthew Lee, Lark Church, Meghan GoodmanI have to say this is going to be a difficult review to write. I guess I might as well plunge right in and start by saying I did not enjoy this play. The play is Blithe Spirit at Olympia Little Theatre, written by Noel Coward. The OLT performance is directed by Kendra Malm. I know it has been popular since its premiere in London’s West End early in 1941, and I know that Coward was a much-respected playwright, so I’m thinking that maybe I should have enjoyed it more than I did. The fault seems to be Coward’s script more than with Malm and company’s production, although I saw some minor problems opening night.I reviewed this show when it played Tacoma Little Theatre six years ago, and I searched my blog for that review — hoping, perhaps, that the earlier review would give me some clue as to why I could not get into this one; not that I like comparing different theater’s takes on the same play, somehow that does not seem fair (even though I’m not sure why). That was a convoluted sentence, but I’m leaving it as is.I gave the TLT show a rather kind but not enthusiastic review. Could it be that I was being more kind than honest? Of course the actors and director were different, but in both productions they were/are mostly experienced and good at what they do. The difference in a proscenium stage and a thrust stage with seating on three sides can be significant, but this OLT set by Matthew Moeller is excellent — quite beautiful, in fact — and Malm’s blocking provides comfortable movement and viewing throughout, so the stage layout shouldn’t make a difference. Also of note are the outstanding period costumes by Diana Purvine.One big difference, and I wouldn’t have known this if I had not re-read my earlier review, is that director Steve Tarry cut 35 minutes from the TLT version, and considering Coward’s dry British humor, that probably resulted in a huge improvement. At OLT the play started at 8 p.m., and we didn’t get out of the theater until 11:15. There were three acts with two ten-minute intermissions. That’s a long time for modern American audiences accustomed to two-act, two-hour plays with more action.Did I mention the droll humor? There were a lot of laughs, but not of the knee-slapping, tears-down-the-cheek variety.Novelist and socialite Charles Condomine (Roddy Matthew Lee) has in mind a novel involving the supernatural, so he invites a spiritualist, Madame Arcati (Lark Church) to perform a séance. Charles, of course, doesn’t believe in séances; he’s doing it for research for his book, and just a little bit so he and his wife, Ruth (Meaghan Goodman) can make fun of Madame Arcati behind her back. Also there for the evening are their friends Dr. Bradman (John Pratt) and Mrs. Bradman (Toni Murray), and their maid, Edith (Sarah May). At one point during the séance the table starts shaking wildly, Madame Arcati passes out, and Charles’s ex-wife, Elvira (Sophie Parody) appears from “the other side.” Elvira, dead now some seven years, has come to stay, and Charles cannot convince her to go back to wherever it is she came from. Nobody else can see or hear her. Ruth refuses to believe she’s there and thinks Charles must have been drunk when he thought he saw her, until Elvira moves a vase, which to Ruth of course appears to have been lifted by an invisible hand. Up until the séance starts, a too-long buildup to the main action, there is a lot of busy stuff with props. There is way too much pouring of drinks and setting them down and refilling them before they're emptied. It got confusing to me. It seemed that drinks were set down and forgotten and then picked up by the wrong person, and I couldn’t tell if that was intentional and done for comic effect or not, or even if it actually happened. It was more distracting than funny. It did, however, make more sense when Ruth later accused Charles of drinking too much.I will not divulge what happens after Elvira is summoned by the medium.The acting throughout is competent but not exciting. The best acting by far is turned in by Goodman and Church. Goodman is enjoyably expressive as the skeptical, sometimes haughty and often angry wife. Church plays the broadest comedic parts with great style. I loved the way she faints. Parody is suitably ghostly and nicely portrays biting disdain of her ex-husband’s current wife. Plus she moves nicely, and again ghostly, while dancing to a recording of the popular song “Always.”I did not enjoy Lee’s portrayal of Charles. I thought his range of expression was lacking, and I thought both Pratt and Murray were able but not compelling in the almost throwaway parts of the Bradman’s. The maid, Edith, is also a throwaway part. May does as good a job as possible in a part that gives her little to work with.There were some bothersome glitches opening night that were as unintentionally funny as any of the punchlines, most noticeably when some special effects happened before they were supposed to. It also bothered me that someone put on a recording of “That Old Black Magic” by Louis Prima and Keely Smith which I think was not recorded until after the play was set. I researched this and found that it was recorded in the same year the play premiered. (The time period is listed as the 1940s, so it may be possible that the Condomines had that record in their collection, but it’s highly unlikely.) Yes, I know I’m being picky. WHEN: 7:55 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 1:55 p.m. Sunday through Sept. 28WHERE: Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave., NE, OlympiaTICKETS: $10-$14 ($2 student discount), available at Yenney Music Company on Harrison Avenue (360-943-7500) or INFORMATION: 360-786-9484,
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

The Bushwick Book Club Sings: “Closer to the Ground”

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 4:30pm
Event:  Wed, 10/01/2014 - 7:00pm - 8:00pm

Musical artists of the Bushwick Book Club Seattle will visit the Tumwater Timberland Library and sing original songs inspired by the book, “Closer to the Ground: An Outdoor Family’s Year on the Water, in the Woods, and at the Table,” by Dylan Tomine. Bushwick is a group of musicians dedicated to sharing their passion for both music and reading. Before their performance, the author will discuss his book. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Author Visit: Dylan Tomine, "Closer to the Ground"

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 4:29pm
Event:  Wed, 10/01/2014 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

At the Tumwater Timberland Library, Dylan Tomine of Bainbridge Island discusses his book, “Closer to the Ground,” a memoir that follows Dylan and his family through four seasons as they hunt chanterelles, fish for salmon, dig clams and gather at the kitchen table to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Dylan’s visit will be followed by a musical performance by the Bushwick Book Club. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

BYOD: Bring Your Own Device - iPad/iPhone edition

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 2:53pm
Event:  Tue, 09/30/2014 - 5:30pm - 7:00pm

Want to unlock the power of your iPad or iPhone? Is the new iOS 8 update giving you trouble?  Bring your iPhone and/or iPad to the Tumwater Timberland Library for a free class on how to get the most out of your iOS-based devices. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

The Language of Chickadees

Bees, Birds & Butterflies - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:49am
We woke this morning to heavy rain, the first wet pounder after several weeks of hot & dry weather.  Native to the wet side of the Pacific Northwest, we find this a source of rejoicing.

Chestnut-backed ChickadeeSo does the world outside of our windows.  As I sit snuggled up in a warm fleece blankie, a small flock of chickadees shows up in the big picture window.  One works its way through the rhododendron beneath the window, picking off scale insects.  Another is using its tiny beak to glean out minute insects from between the shreds of moss that coats the branches.  As I look out the window beyond the rhododendron, I see several chickadees, working almost as a team, methodically providing insect removal service to our yard.  The yard is full of chick chick chick contact calls, as they keep in touch with each other.  The wet conditions deter them not at all.

We have a long relationship with chickadees.  For many years we had a tube feeder stuffed full of their favorite black oil sunflower seeds.  We kept it going year around, and the chickadees were very aware of this.  And on some level, they seemed to recognize us as their neighbors. They seemed to know we lived in the house and that we were no big threat. They also seemed to know that the tall lanky human guy was the one to refill the feeder. Over time they trained us to take care of them.  Here is an example:

In winter, chickadees take their time getting up.  I remember many weekend mornings while we were still in bed, hearing the small local flock of chickadees moving slowly alongside the wall outside our bedroom window.  They were working through the native yew and rhododendrons, quiet sleepy chick chick noises marking their progress.  We knew that their ultimate goal was the front yard, where the tube feeder of sunflower seeds sat.  This was a reliable source of breakfast food.

Every once in a while, the tall lanky guy neglected to fill the feeder.  When the chickadees rounded the corner of the house and discovered this serious betrayal, the sleepy contact noises burst into loud, imperative CHICKa dee  CHICKa dee CHICKa dee as they registered their deep unhappiness with this state of affairs.  But through the course of many years together, we had learned their language. That call was enough to get the lanky guy out of bed, into enough clothes to venture outdoors, where he filled the feeder.  The complaints then stopped, forthwith.

I remember one spring I was laid up with a bad knee, awaiting joint replacement surgery.  I spent a lot of time sitting around that spring, waiting for the operation that would give me relief and make me mobile again.  During that spring we put up a chickadee nest box on the front of the house, near our rarely used front door.  Our invitation was promptly accepted by a pair of Chestnut-backed Chickadees, though they had to put a vigorous fight with others of their kind in order to “win” the box.

These chickadees entertained me during that long period of waiting.  I watched them ferry in beaks full of shredded moss to line their nest.  They were pretty sneaky about it:  they would fly into a nearby bush, moss hanging every which way out of their beaks.  They would lurk and look carefully around, very wary, before finally making a mad dash into the depths of the nesting box.  This went on for a few days and finally the nest was done.  From the outside, it appeared to be deserted, but looks were deceiving.  One of the pair was sitting in the box, quietly incubating a clutch of eggs.  The male often found a hidden perch high in a tree nearby.  He would sing a distinctive, mournful DEEE, Deee, dee, a series of notes in a minor, descending scale:  this is the distinct call of breeding chickadees.  As he sang (incessantly) and she sat, the eggs finally hatched and after a few days we would hear tiny peeps as the adults took turns, flying in to stuff their begging maws.

The nesting chickadees seem to get to know us and also knew the usual pattern of visitors to the yard.  For example, the postman always delivered to the wall slot just under the chickadee box.  The birds were not thrilled about his daily incursions but they accepted it with a quiet alarm call.  This call was distinctive: from inside the house I recognized it and would get up and check the mailbox.  They were always right.

They were more unhappy about cat visitors.  Our next door neighbor had a young hunting cat who regularly prowled the yard and killed birds.  The chickadees knew this cat and whenever it appeared, they would let loose a loud volley of Chick a DEE chick a DEE chick a DEE!!  When I heard that call, I knew to get up and chase off the cat.  After a couple of times, the chickadees knew I was available to provide this service and I believe they came to rely on me.  Who was training who, anyway?

While the cat was a serious threat, we had put the nesting box high up on a wall where it was out of the reach of cats, so there was no real risk.  However, the biggest threat to the young nestlings was Stellar’s Jays:  these are large birds who regularly prey on other birds’ eggs and nestlings; they of course fly and can reach into the nest box,  and the chickadee parents are very aware of this.  When the Stellar jay flocks made their circuit through the yard, the chickadees would sound their own version of screaming chickadee hysterics: CHICKA DEE DEEE DEEE CHICKA DEE DEEE DEEEE!!!!!!.  I heard that shrieking and jumped from my chair, chasing off the jays and once again earning my keep in the eyes of the chickadees.

Over that spring, I learned the different calls and was able to predict what the problem was even before I opened the door.  Sometimes I got a mixed message: one day I looked out the window saw Stellar’s Jays, but the call from the chickadees signaled a cat.  I opened out the door and watched the jays attacking the cat, who was attempting to hunt for one of their nestlings.  Jays have seriously long sharp beaks and the flocks they live in are only too happy to go after prowling cats.  As I looked out, it was clear to me that all of us: jays, chickadees and me were really enjoying the sight of the overfed cat put to scrambling, panicked flight.

After a few weeks, the hatchlings fledged and the nest box was empty once again.  But throughout the year, the chickadees continued to glean in our yard, to come to the feeder, speaking their own language and allowing us a window into their lives.  It remains one of my favorite memories as a bird watcher.

Janet Partlow
     ------------------Resources:•  Photos by Nancy Partlow•  Short YouTube by Nancy Partlow:  Chickadees at a nest box  (Mason bees in foreground)•  The Black-capped Chickadee by Susan Smith.  A wonderful book on the lives of these birds.       
Categories: Local Environment

Xinh Dwelley – A Pearl Amidst the Oysters

Thurston Talk - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 6:33am



By Mary Ellen Psaltis


Xinh Dwelley is an energetic restaurant owner and cooking instructor at Bayview School of Cooking.

Xinh Dwelley has spent her life in and around food. It began as a child in the family rice fields of Vietnam. For years she shucked oysters for Taylor Shellfish Farms. Now she’s the CEOE (Chief Executive of Everything) at her Shelton restaurant aptly named Xinh’s. Fusing fresh seafood of the Pacific Northwest with Asian influences and adding a large measure of Xinh, diners can sate their palates with her numerous creations.

Xinh recently returned to the helm after taking a few weeks away to undergo surgery to remove a tumor from her colon and take a little time for recovery. The restaurant is currently open Thursdays through Saturdays in the evenings. You’ll be relieved to know that she’s charging ahead with vim and vigor.

Taylor Shellfish Farms, who owns Xinh’s Clam and Oyster House, supplies the restaurant with an array of seafood. Xinh rattled off a quick recipe for their sweet, tender Manila Clams. Sauté garlic and onions then mix with the Thai flavors of lemon grass, coconut milk and lime juice. Add clams. Get every drop of the juice with hunks of crusty bread.

She also suggested Mediterranean Mussels (the ones with purple/black shells) cooked with garlic, a dab of butter, sun-dried tomatoes and jalapeño peppers topped with crisp bacon. Xinh likes the spicy peppers.

Her cooking includes ample amounts of basil, cilantro and chili flakes, depending on the dish. With any of these seafood recipes, you can make a full meal with the addition of rice, rice noodles or pasta, a loaf of artisan bread and a salad.

Before or after your meal at Xinh’s, be sure to walk the interior perimeter of the dining room to see photos of Xinh with famous personalities and noted chefs. There’s Julia Child, Andrew Zimmern, Anthony Bourdain, Jeff Corwin and Dirty Job’s Mike Rowe. There are plaques, many awards and printed stories. I’ll admit that it’s fun to rub elbows with ‘famous’ types, but I am inclined to think that it’s Xinh who is really the celebrity.

XinhFood2She left her home country, journeyed across the world as a young adult, learned how to shuck oysters faster than everyone else, married, raised her son, became the chef of a (now) long-time popular restaurant all the while overflowing with energy to tell a story or laugh about something. She is accomplished and grateful. You, too, could get your photo taken with Xinh.

You can also find Xinh teaching classes at Bayview School of Cooking located in downtown Olympia inside Bayview Thriftway. She’s been there almost from the beginning of school’s opening nearly eleven years ago. “Xinh is so knowledgeable about seafood and knows the answer to just about any seafood related questions anyone can throw at her,” says Leanne Willard, Director.

Learn Xinh’s cooking secrets.  Classes always fill up fast. You can see all of Bayview’s offerings by clicking here.

xinh I recall a rhyme from my childhood that explains what makes up girls and boys:

Sugar and spice and all things nice

Snips and snails and puppy dog tails.

Xinh is all that – sweet and funny with a zest for life. (She has a dog at home that is always glad to see her.)  She told me that she “loves what I do.” I believe her. You can see for yourself. Her smile will be lighting up the room.

Eat Well – Be Well

Xinh’s Clam and Oyster House

221 West Railroad Street in Shelton

Open Thursday – Sunday from 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.


Levi Bisonn – Behind the Steering Wheel of Life

Thurston Talk - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 6:27am



By Tali Haller

SCJ Alliance logoLevi Bisonn is the epitome of someone who’s never grown up – meant, of course, in the best way possible. At the age of 18 and currently a senior at Olympia High School, Levi stills exudes a kid-like curiosity and desire to learn that can be easily lost by high school. He’s a student who excels academically, while taking Honors and AP courses (the list includes AP Calculus AB and BC, AP Physics, AP English, and a host of others), participates in athletics, and fills up his schedule with a myriad of extracurricular activities. However, his ridiculously full schedule was not created to impress others or build up the college resume (well, maybe a little bit), but it evolved from his infinite curiosity and genuine desire to learn and solve problems.

levi bisonn

Aside from engineering, Levi Bisonn is also interested in graphic design.

His compulsion for doing things started early on. “I’ve always loved making stuff and doing big projects,” said Levi. For example, in elementary school, he was “super into Legos” and wanted to build his own unique Lego creations. After some research, he ordered silicon molds and did just that. In middle school, he also remembers making a crossbow that could shoot over 200 yards (we’re talking two football fields here) – pretty impressive for a pre-teen.

However, just because he’s always been busy doesn’t mean school has always been a priority. “I went to Lincoln Elementary School and they didn’t have a grading system so I never really tried. Then I got to middle school and ended up getting D’s and F’s my first semester. That was super motivating to me. I knew I never wanted to disappoint myself like that again so I started paying attention and studying,” he explained. After that first semester slip, it was all A’s for Levi until the harder high school courses roughened the road.  Still, he stays mostly on track.

“Once I got into high school, I realized how much more I could do with ‘me,’” Levi said. Freshman and sophomore year, he participated in the school’s Cross Country Team. Then, during sophomore year, Levi found what would become one of his main passions: robotics, the branch of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science that deals with the design, construction, operation, and application of programmable machines that can perform tasks (i.e. robots).

levi bisonn

Levi stays active by running, participating in cross country during his freshman and sophomore years.

“The idea of being able to build whatever I wanted when I wanted grabbed my attention,” emphasized Levi. Started by Jill Shah in 2012 (Levi’s sophomore year), the ‘Oly Cow Robotics Team has already had huge successes.

“During my first year, which was also the club’s first year, we ended up coming in second at state,” Levi told me. “This past year, our second year, we did a lot better, placing 8th at Worlds out of over 3300 teams, most of which had really high budgets and were sponsored by Intel and Boeing. Considering we only spent $60 the first year and $500 this last year, we did amazingly well,” said Levi, who’s currently co-President of the robotics team alongside Ian Culhane.

Levi has two main roles on the team. First, he acts as one of the primary engineers. “I tend to be the conceptual person,” he said. His other role is being the “main talker.” He does a lot of actual communication along with creating many of their marketing materials, using graphic design, a skill he learned through a summer course at New Market Skills Center.

Levi is now applying his engineering and leadership skills to make a profit. For years now, two or three Olympia High School students have taken it upon themselves to host non-school-related dances, charging everyone who enters $5 to $7 depending on the dance venue. Each year, the current hosts pass down the responsibility to upcoming juniors or seniors.  This year, Levi, along with two other seniors, is part of the dance crew.

Ambitious as ever, Levi hopes to make his mark by hosting some of the best dances yet. When asked, “What are you planning on doing to up the excitement,” Levi was brimming with ideas, all of which are already in motion. “First off, we have an awesome DJ. Some of the music last year just wasn’t that great for dancing and we want to make sure that every song this year brings people out onto the dance floor,” he said. “We’ve also just bought an insane speaker system.”

oly cow robotics

Levi and the ‘Oly Cow Robotics Team came in 8th at Worlds this year out of over 3300 teams.

But even more impressive is the light stand that Levi constructed (talk about engineering in action). “I looked at the way speaker stands are made – a big metal pipe with three pipes on the side and a ring that slides down the center for adjustable height. The problem is that they’re so expensive (typically around $100). I took the idea and made my own for $40 each. They’re not heavy-duty enough to hold speakers but they’ll easily hold up lights and a fog machine (also new this year),” Levi explained.

While the dances have a cover charge, most of the revenue goes into paying for the venue and buying equipment. Additional compensation comes in the form of fun and the marketable skills they’re gaining: leadership, event planning, and, in Levi’s case, engineering experience.

On top of it all, Levi is in the middle of making some big decisions: what to do next year after graduation? Already, this year’s high school seniors are pinpointing possible colleges and completing applications. “Right now, I’m looking at University of California – Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, University of Washington, and University of British Columbia. I’m looking at bigger schools because I want a large social aspect. But I also want a small, top-notch engineering program,” he explained.

Levi plans to major in mechanical engineering with a focus on robotics, additionally obtaining a minor in electrical engineering or computer science and a minor in engineering management. “Having a degree like that will put me a position where I can have authority at an engineering firm. I don’t want to just be the person making things. I want to be the person behind the steering wheel,” said Levi.

Already on the road to success with his hunger for knowledge, growth, and creation, Levi’s dreams may one day become reality. “I want to change the world, to be the one causing the change, not just helping it,” he summarized with resolution.


Mars Hill, Cascadian religion and the Seahawks

Olympia Time - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 5:06am
This quote told me a lot about how the Seahawks phenomena (and sports fandom in Cascadia in general) is informed by how we approach faith. Or, how I know that being a Seahawks fan is nothing like being a person of church:
“Pray that the watching non-Christian world would not be given the opportunity to discredit not only our church but the very gospel of Jesus."
Cascadia is the largest of the few places in the United States that this is true. That the majority and mainstream is unchurched. Or, more importantly, don't consider faith, specifically often Jesus, to be an important cultural touchstone.

So, up here, if you are religious, if you attend church every week and consider it to be an important part of your social and cultural life, you are separating yourself from the pack.

Most importantly isn't just that Cascadia is unchurched, but that those that are churched, are separated from each other because our corresponding high level of religious diversity. Even if you lumped together all of the particular evangelical protestant sects, you would only come up with 25 percent of the 42 percent that consider themselves anything at all.

So, the Mars Hill leaders really are right, the big wide world out there in Cascadia is non-Christian and also non-church.

But, even thought it is pretty unique to here that we don't use religion as a cultural touchstone, we are not without important and almost universal cultural references. Generally speaking, these have often come up when a sports team is good.

In the mid-90s, we were all Mariners fans. Before that, it was the Huskies. These phenomena reach across Cascadia, seemingly uniting a disparate population. But, uniting behind what? That a team is good, the team is from here, we should root for them.

Matthew Kaemingk writing at Christ and Cascadia I think answers it best:The Pacific Northwest has not “grown out” of religion, Cascadians have simply transferred their religiosity to what the sociologist Meerten Ter Borg calls “disembedded religion” or  “secular spirituality.” Broken free from religious institutions, structures, rules, and creeds this “disembedded religion” is an anti-institutional form of spirituality that seeks powerful aesthetic experiences.Matt's right, Cascadia didn't grow out of religion, it was in fact never religious ever in its non-native history. And, he hits the nail on the head when he lists "structures, rules and creeds." This is exactly why the Seahawks (when they're good and attractive) are an overwhelming universal force, because literally anyone can like them.

There is nothing special you need to do. You don't need to change your political beliefs, the books you read or take an oath. You don't need to get new friends, dress differently (in large part) or change your life at all. You just need to care whether a team wins. Deeper social, political or cultural values never come up.

A pro-choice, atheist, progressive, Seattle resident can sit next to a pro-life, Christian, conservative Duval resident at a Seahawks game and nothing much in the descriptions of each other would matter.

But, that is not how church is in Cascadia. It has a much more deeper meaning. And, because religion is so fractured here, very specific things like creed, political belief and possibly what you wear really does come to mattering. And, if you are religious, it absolutely should matter.

Pink Elephant’s Gravecast 012

K Records - Sun, 09/07/2014 - 11:03am
The Pink Elephant’s Graveyard cannot be denied. Located in the far reaches of that nebulous body known as the interweb, K has been stashing valuable artifacts there for your retrieval. What is K? A fair question to which we can only point upward, to the upper  echelons of the etherworld where relevant K artifacts are […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment
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