Recent local blog posts

Small Town Celebrities – Coaches Steve, Matt & Barry Lead Youth Soccer Team

Thurston Talk - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 7:48am



By Amy Rowley

LogoThey are there in the rain, organizing drills when the wind is ripping through three layers of clothes.  They dodge balls of hail and shield their eyes from sun rays.  In my life, Steve Hamilton, Matt Bell, and Barry Diseth are more reliable than the postal service.

Together, the three coaches have created a passion for soccer that illuminates my fourth grade daughter’s fall and spring months.

olympia youth soccer

Coach Steve Hamilton gives a message to his player during a spring season soccer game.

For five consecutive seasons, Steve Hamilton ends his day as a veterinarian and walks onto the field, prepared to coach a girl’s youth soccer team.  Along with his assistants, Black Hills High School teacher Matt Bell and accountant Barry Diseth, this trio has led the Wolverines to consistent victory through the Oly United Soccer Club.

The girls affectionately call the coaches by their first names, adding the respectful title of “Coach.”  Both on and off the field, each coach is also called “Dad.”

“Each girl is special and I can see her potential inside,” comments Coach Steve.  “I enjoy coaching because I want to crack that ‘something special’ out of each player.”

Kim Hamilton, Coach Steve’s wife, comments that she often finds her husband and daughter in the backyard practicing a drill.  Bella, their daughter, plays forward for the Wolverines.  “He truly loves coaching and remembers to have fun too,” says Kim when asked about how she manages to share her husband three days a week with the team.

olympia youth soccer

Coach Matt Bell warms up the fourth grade soccer players before a game.

Now ten years old, the girls started as a ragtag group when they were six and seven year old second graders.  Hailing from Griffin, Pioneer, LP Brown, and Charles Wright Academy, the team has formed a strong bond that enables them to respond positively to coaching direction.

“It’s so wonderful to have been with the same coaches,” says Jen Valdenegro whose daughter Sam plays defense.  “I like watching them go through their sporting career together.”

“Lucy looks forward to practice and games,” says parent, Christy Peters.  “The coaches have such a sense of each girl’s ability level and are able to challenge each player individually.”  Peters’ daughter, Lucy, adds “Coach Steve doesn’t yell at us if we are doing something wrong.”

Instead, the coaches are known for their positive attitude.  ”The coaches do an excellent job of blending encouragement with challenging motivation,” shares mom, Heather Brandsma.  Heather’s daughter, Brooke, is often seen belting a kick well into the opposing team’s territory.

This season, the team welcomed two new players, after competing together on a winter basketball team.  “These coaches are great,” says newcomer, Sydney Reidel who states that the World Cup game at the end of practices is her favorite.

“The coaches utilize each of the girls’ strengths which really fosters a strong team spirit,” adds Brandsma.

Sheri Sage-Plyler appreciates the kind and patient coaching of her daughter, Kyrstin.   Josh Plyler adds that “the coaches clearly have a passion for the game and want to make sure the girls are having fun, learning something.”

olympia youth soccer

Coach Barry Diseth practices with a Wolverines player.

Coach Barry agrees with this mission.  “I like seeing the girls grow, learn and mature as soccer players,” he says.

The family time coaching their daughters is something that all three dads appreciate.  “I recognize that there is a short period of time that I can be involved with my kids,” says Coach Matt who has coached multiple high school teams.

Coach Matt focuses on coaching the defense and specifically trains with his daughter, Makenzie who often plays “keeper” or goalie.  “I like that my dad helps me when I am in goal,” reports Kenzie.

Hannah Diseth, Barry’s daughter, sums up the atmosphere on the soccer field.  “My favorite part of playing soccer is that my dad is here, watching me play.”

Go Wolverines!


Ira Coyne – Local Sign Painter Leaves His Mark in Olympia

Thurston Talk - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 6:00am



By Kelli Samson

heritage bankWe take them for granted, but signs are incredibly important. They invite us in or keep us out. A sign can tell us a lot about a business owner or the wares and services inside: playful or practical, fancy or funky.

How many times have you really taken a look at the sign of a local business and wondered about the artist?

A few years ago, I was jolted into curiosity about the signage in Olympia was the gorgeous, colorful sign painted on the window of the hair salon Snip, located on Fourth Avenue downtown. I began to inquire around town about the artist.

olympia sign painter

Ira Coyne stands outside his Olympia studio with his dog, Luna.

I learned that the work I was admiring was created by none-other than the Seattle-born, Ira Coyne, son of an art teacher.

After spending an evening with him and lots of other locals at the downtown Olympia branch of the Timberland Regional Library last month, my drive home through downtown and up the west side sparkled for me in a whole new way.

As I left the library for home, the sign for Drees – with its shiny letters and simple, bold design – jumped out at me because now I recognized the work. Could it have been made by Coyne’s friend and fellow local sign maker, John Hannukaine?

As it turns out, I am a good student: the sign was, indeed, made by Hannukaine from hand-cut letters covered in gold leaf.

Just when I thought I knew everything about my community, an evening listening to Coyne share his inspirations via a very entertaining slide show convinced me that there are still things to be illuminated.

So much artistic history abounds in the letters marking our favorite haunts, new and old, across our community. Coyne taught me to see with new eyes.

olympia sign painter

Coyne’s handiwork can be found throughout downtown Olympia including this sign for a local hair salon.

Before meeting him and learning about his passion for signage, I never thought about the people behind the letters. I never really considered old signs as part of Americana or important parts of our community history.

Coyne does. He collects hand-painted signs and displays them around his Olympia studio.

“I really appreciate old things,” he says.

Coyne first came to Olympia in 1997 to attend The Evergreen State College. While in Minneapolis on what he calls “a leave of absence” from college, he was introduced to sign painting by Phil Vandervaart.

Coyne connected with local sign maker Vince Ryland in 2007. “I have been learning the traditions of the sign painting trade from him ever since,” he adds.

At the library, Coyne shared his own critique on local signage. He tries to learn from every sign he sees. “What really drives me to make signs is to do better, or at least to try.”

Sign making connects him to our community. While he is out painting in his white Converse sneakers and paint-spattered jeans, he is watching the tides of our community ebb and flow.

olympia sign painter

Coyne’s toolkit has all his essential supplies.

There are some doors of downtown businesses that Coyne has painted up to four times as businesses fail and new ones have begun. Though it is painful to scrape off one’s own hard work, “I don’t feel like I own anything that I make. When I’m done, it’s theirs,” he explains.

He knows which buildings are in good locations for success, which landlords maintain their property, and he is a voice for getting Olympians to come downtown.

“I am driven by respecting my community and my craft,” reflects Coyne.

The work he has done for The Reef, the downtown haven of hip and epicenter of classic diner-style food, is his favorite. When asked about a sign he would love to paint, Coyne expresses his desire to create something for the state that would remain on the Capitol Campus.

“My goal is to be permanent in Olympia, much like the Sherwood Press,” he adds.

For now, Coyne is content making and painting signs, indulging his hobby of photographing other sign painters’ paint kits and studios, and having fun.

“A lot of what I do in life is about fun,” he states.

If you have left your home and gone anywhere in Olympia, chances are you have already seen Coyne’s artistry. You can find his work at places like the West Olympia Food Coop, Vic’s Pizzeria, Matter! Gallery, Olympia Supply, the mural at Percival Landing, and Lucky Lunchbox, to name a few. He is also part of the recent film “Sign Painters,” which premiered at the Smithsonian Museum.

For a complete photo gallery of his work, you can visit his website at


Washington State Recycling Association Honors Three Local Organizations

Thurston Talk - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 4:35pm



Submitted by Thurston County Solid Waste

Three out of the nine 2014 Washington State Recycling Association’s (WSRA) Recycler of the Year awards went to organizations here in Thurston County. Each year, a diverse panel of WSRA members chooses organizations, businesses, and individuals who have made outstanding recycling achievements. WSRA members represent a variety of aspects of the recycling industry, including collectors and processors, government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations. Recipients will receive their awards at the Recyclers of the Year Awards Banquet on Tuesday, May 6 during WSRA’s annual conference.

City of Olympia Public Works Waste ReSources – Public Agency Recycler of the Year

WSRA recognized the City of Olympia for their accomplishments and new programs centered on their Vision of Zero Waste, a mission to lead and inspire their community toward a waste-free future and to play a strategic role to create opportunities to eliminate waste. Olympia’s innovative programs include their award-winning GrassCycling Virtual Workshop, Pedestrian Recycling, 3rd Grade Education Program, Business Waste Assessments, and Lakefair Parade Recycling.

Olympia School District’s Child Nutrition Services Department – Youth Education Recycler of the Year

WSRA recognized the Olympia School District for implementing some of the most innovative and visionary school food service waste reduction initiatives in the nation. These include using milk dispensers to reduce milk carton and milk waste; replacing disposables with durable utensils, bowls, cups, and trays; and participating in the Food Rescue program to collect prepared but unserved food for the Thurston County Food Bank. The Olympia School District has a 30-year history of reducing waste, and was one of the first school districts in the state to implement comprehensive recycling and organics collection programs.

Thurston County Solid Waste’s Plastic Whale Project - Societal Impact Recycler of the Year

WSRA recognized the Plastic Whale Project for uniquely combining art and marine biology with the goal of preventing waste. Thurston County Solid Waste Division educator Carrie Zeigler conceived a plan to marry her artistic skills with her environmental education job by having local school children assist with the creation of a giant whale sculpture that would use plastic bags and other plastic waste. The large-scale art project was a way for kids to get a hands–on experience while learning about the harmful effects of plastic waste on the environment and wildlife. The project brought together more than 900 people from all walks of life to create a 32 foot replica of a gray whale made entirely out of plastic bags and other waste commonly found in our oceans. More than 100,000 people viewed the whale in person, and it was seen on television by 1.65 million people.


Celebrate Earth Day by Driving Less

Thurston Talk - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 4:28pm



Submitted by Intercity Transit

intercity transit dashEvery day, people in the Pacific Northwest and around the world face dozens of sustainability choices. Paper, plastic, or reusable bag? Trash or compost? Drive or take the bus? As Earth Day approaches (April 22), people consider ways to protect our planet. Turns out, one of the most effective ways to reduce energy use, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions is to drive less.

Use of public transportation, at near record levels here in Thurston County, as well as walking, biking, and sharing the ride make a significant impact on the region’s carbon footprint. That’s because here in Washington State, 52 percent of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels come from transportation, including automobile traffic, freight, and planes. The state’s transportation sector produces more than three times as much climate pollution as electricity production, according Seattle based Sightline Institute (August 22, 2007).

According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), driving less makes an immediate and positive impact on reducing energy use and carbon output – exceeding even thecombined benefits of using energy-efficient light bulbs, adjusting thermostats, weatherizing one’s home and replacing a refrigerator.

“Using a transportation alternative and driving less is the single most significant way people can reduce their carbon footprint,” states Ann Freeman-Manzanares, Intercity Transit General Manager. “And with Earth Day upon us, there’s no time like the present to explore green transportation options.

If you ride the bus instead of driving alone for a 20-mile roundtrip, you will reduce your annual CO2 emissions by 4,800 pounds. And, according to APTA’s “Transit Savings Report”, riding public transportation saves an average of $10,000 a year when you own one less vehicle and use public transportation instead. The figure is based on the average national gas price, parking costs and auto and maintenance costs.

Local Transit Options

Twenty-six bus routes serve Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Yelm, and Tacoma and carry an average of 16,000 passengers each weekday. Buses operate every 15 minutes on major corridors during peak commute times in Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater. Intercity Transit connects with other systems so riders can travel to destinations in Tacoma, Seattle, Shelton, Aberdeen, and Centralia, as well as to Amtrak, Greyhound and SeaTac Airport.

All Intercity Transit buses have bike racks for people who want to combine bicycling with riding the bus. The popular Thurston County Bicycle Commuter Contest launches May 1.

Other services include Travel Training, Bus Buddy, Village Vans, and Dial-A-Lift, all of which are designed for people new to riding the bus or needing special travel assistance. Intercity Transit’s Community Vans program provides group travel on an advance reservation basis to qualified non-profit and governmental agencies.

Vanpools are an earth- and wallet-friendly option for commuters traveling long-distances to and from work. Intercity Transit currently operates 217 vanpools. The agency also supports carpool matching and operates several park and ride lots in Thurston County.

Spring Events

Several community events are scheduled this spring. When you make plans, think about your planet-friendly travel options:

  • Spring Arts Walk & Procession of the Species – April 25 and 26, downtown Olympia
  • Lacey S.T.E.M. Fair & Grand Prix Electric Car Races – May 3, Huntamer Park, Lacey
  • Wooden Boat Festival – May 10 and 11, Percival Landing, Olympia
  • Lacey Spring Fun Fair – May 17 and 18, Saint Martin’s college, Lacey
  • Bicycle Commuter Contest Events – April through June, Thurston County

Get Going

Intercity Transit provides an online trip planner for customized travel planning by bus, bike and foot. There’s also an online commute calculator that estimates transportation savings based on travel mode and length of trip. For more information on transportation options, visit, e-mail, or call 360-786-1881 or 1-800-287-6348.


Early April Recent Photos

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 2:54pm

Almost all of these photos are from around Budd Bay. There has been a lot of traffic and other activity at the port. In this set of photos are images of the new ship Inland Sea arriving (also video of that below,) the Corella Arrow arriving, unloading bagged ceramic proppants (destined for the Bakken Region oil fracking operations of ND and MT,) and departing. Also the Atlantic Burnet log carrier departing at night.

video Inland Sea Arriving

video Corella Arrow arriving in Budd Bay logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Anne Feeney & Evan Greer Tour to Honor the Legacy of Pete Seeger

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 2:53pm
Event:  Wed, 04/16/2014 - 7:00pm - 8:30pm

From today's inbox:

The rabble-rousing spirit of beloved protest singer Pete Seeger lives on -- and this April, renowned labor singer Anne Feeney and riot-folk troubadour Evan Greer are out to prove it. Audiences who attend the multi-generational “Carry it On” tour will learn to expect the unexpected during high energy concerts that feature music ranging from Irish ballads to union singalongs to political punk anthems. Greer and Feeney have both shared stages multiple times with Pete Seeger. Together they will carry on Pete’s legacy - harnessing the power of music for revolutionary social change, and making it irresistible for audiences to join in and sing along. They will be in Olympia April 16th; 7pm @ the Davis Williams Building; 906 S. Columbia St., Suite 330; Price: Donation; Phone: 206-254-4908.

The Carry it On Tour features Anne’s bottomless backpack of hellraising songs, given new energy by Evan's skillful accompaniment on a veritable arsenal of acoustic instruments. Greer's catchy and original folk-punk anthems shine with the addition of Anne's soaring harmony vocals. The two have been touring together for more than a decade -- since Evan was just a teenager -- and their dynamic stage performance, which ranges from hilarious to serious, will instantly and permanently change the opinion of anyone who has ever thought that political music has to be boring. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Stuffed Animal Sleepover

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 1:45pm
Event:  Tue, 05/13/2014 - 6:00pm - 6:30pm Children 3-6 years can bring their favorite stuffed animal for a sleepover at the Tumwater Timberland Library! After an evening of stories, rhymes, songs and movement games, we'll tuck the animals in and say goodnight. Come back the next day between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to pick up your stuffed animal friend and find out what mischief the animals got into during their night at the library! logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Celebration of the Species - Marbled Murrelet

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 1:44pm
Event:  Mon, 05/12/2014 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Author Maria Mudd Ruth will give a slide presentation on the topics in her book, "Rare Bird: Pursuing the Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet," a just-reissued account of her adventures with an endangered seabird. A Q&A will follow. Books will be available for purchase and signing.  Event held at the Tumwater Timberland Library. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Tumwater May-hem Comic and Game Fest

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 1:42pm
Event:  Sat, 05/03/2014 - 10:00am - 3:00pm Drop by the Tumwater Timberland Library to get free comic books, play board games, card games and video games, and make personalized superhero insignia necklaces! In addition to door prizes, you can enter a family cosplay contest to win fantastic rewards from local comic and game stores. Ask at the library’s information desk for more logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

America’s Music Film Series at the Washington Center

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 11:33am
Event:  Fri, 04/11/2014 - 6:30pm - 8:30pm

Attention music and film lovers!  The Washington Center for the Performing Arts presents America’s Music, a series that uses documentary films and texts to engage the public in a study of history of some of America’s most enduring popular music. The series is a production of the Tribeca Film Institute of New York City and presentation here is sponsored in part by KAOS Community Radio, 89.3 FM and the Timberland Regional Library.

The series consists of six sessions, each built around a different genre of American popular music.  Each session features either a complete documentary film, or excerpts from longer documentaries, to provide the basis for scholar-led discussion. The next session Friday, April 11 explores Broadway and Tin Pan Alley. Read a complete essay on this great musical subject here:

The remaining schedule:
April 11: Broadway and Tin Pan Alley
April 18: Swing Jazz
April 25: Country and Bluegrass
April 26: Rock
May 2: Latin Rhythms From Mambo to Hip Hop

You can catch them at Washington Center’s Main Stage, 512 Washington St. SE, downtown Olympia.  The films begin at 6:30 PM.  More information is available at Admission is FREE. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Look! See? at Museum of Glass

South Sound Arts - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 9:56am

The Weekly Volcano, April 10, 2014

Installation shots of Look! See? - photos by Duncan PriceThe exhibition at Museum of Glass by Jen Elek and Jeremy Bert is a colorful and interactive show of glass sculptures combined with about 50 large, refurbished neon letters that visitors can rearrange to their hearts’ content.
The show fills two of the larger galleries in the museum. It’s like an interactive children’s museum lifted from its site and set down the in the galleries. The day I was there, a large group of children of all age, plus a few adults, were moving the oversized letters around to write their names or make poems or other messages on the floors and the walls.
The letters are brightly colored and stand approximately three to four feet tall. They hang on straps from hooks on the wall or can stand up on the floor or can be worn draped on bodies like necklaces. I saw them being used in all of those ways simultaneously. There were a lot of kids in the gallery that day, and they were having a wonderful time of it.
The show is called Look! See? and there’s a reason for both the exclamation point and the question mark in the title — though I don’t need to spell it out, it should be self-evident when you visit the show.
“Abstract artworks are often considered less accessible than figurative or narrative work, but with Look! See? the artists create a hands-on opportunity to engage with conceptual ideas,” notes curator David Francis.
The conceptual ideas of which he speaks have to do with the relationships between poetry and visual art and between the work of art and the viewer, neither of which is complete without the other. My guess is that many of the visitors “get it” with consciously conceptualizing it.
In addition to the interactive letters, there are galleries filled with big, colorful balls and discs and cylinders, some of which are stacked in glass cases and some of which hang on the wall surrounded by blinking marquee-style lights. On one wall there groups of the letter O and circles, some surrounded by the flashing marquee lights. Is there a conceptual puzzle here having to do with the relationship between a circle, the letter O and the numeral zero?
One long wall is completely filled with big balls in bright primary colors, and there are cases filled with similar balls, all remindful of ball pits that kids play in.
One of my favorite pieces was one called “Signal” with balls and flashing lights and other sculptural forms and neon letters spelling out the word “Always” backwards, readable only in a mirror that is part of the piece. In other works here are standing, round-top cylinders with silly faces like colorful little robots.This is a fun show but one that I think can be appreciated more as something for kids than as serious art to be contemplated by adults. If I had young children I would love to take them, but I would not be likely to go back to see it without kids in tow.
Through Jan. 18. 1801 Dock Street, Tacoma Wednesday - Saturday: 10am - 5pm
Sunday: 12pm - 5pm(866) 468-7386 

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Embracing Diversity in Tumwater High School’s Cultural Awareness Club

Thurston Talk - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 6:02am



By Kira Stussy, Tumwater High School intern to ThurstonTalk

This tee-shirt sports the Tumwater High School’s Cultural Awareness Club logo proudly.

This tee-shirt sports the Tumwater High School Cultural Awareness Club logo proudly.

Eating, dancing, singing, speaking, gesturing. These are all aspects of a complex concept we call culture. Around the world, there are hundreds of thousands of various societies, each with their own distinct culture and way of life. At Tumwater High School, and probably several other schools in the area, these different lifestyles and ethnicities are given a place of recognition with the Cultural Awareness Club – a club specifically designed with world cultures in mind.

“I didn’t notice much culture here,” said Kosal Gonzales, president of the club, “and I just wanted to do something about it. I wanted to bring people who love culture together to spread the culture and just express their culture around the school as well.” Kosal, along with several other members, are passionate about spreading culture around the school and community to create awareness. “I’m here, notice me.” He jokes with a broad grin stretched across his face.

When asked about racism in the school he merely claims he has almost never heard or seen anything disrespectful at Tumwater High School, “But if I see it, I will stop it.” Kosal’s goal for the club in the next year or so is to expand “out of the career center and pack out the small gym, no, the big gym with members.”  The students in the club are able to strut their cultures down the hallways with confidence and enthusiastically encourage everyone with an interest in global lifestyles to join. The club also regularly participates in debates during meetings that can get “pretty heavy” but are still generally jovial. Kosal speaks of the sense of unity within the group and the safe ambiance there. “I really like the member and the opportunity to share my culture with others in the school.

Tumwater Cultural Awareness club

Kosal Gonzales, club president, wants to create a more diverse atmosphere at THS.

Both January and February are particularly special months for the club, what with Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 20, 2014 and February’s Black History Month. “Black History Month is a good time to recognize all of our African American heroes,” said Kosal. In fact, the club played a large role in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day assembly this year, helping to inform the entire student body about King’s accomplishments and why we still celebrate his work to this day. But according to Todd Caffey, the club advisor, founder and a counselor at THS, the club, “thinks of things that we can do throughout the student body to raise awareness…whether it be Black History month or how we help with the Dr. King assembly or in May during Asian History month or for Cinco De Mayo…” and so many more.

Caffey originally started the club due to his lifelong passion for culture and because “the idea of justice has always been important” to him even as a child. “Having a safe place for people to talk about culture, where they are from and be able to celebrate” are what make the club meaningful and unique. Caffey recently visited several southern states such as Alabama and Georgia and came back with a “new and more personal perspective” after seeing places where civil rights leaders once lived and fought for what they believed in.

Tumwater High School Cultural Awareness Club

Todd Caffey, advisor and club founder and counselor, has always had a passion for global cultures and for “justice” since he was a small child.

The goal of the Cultural Awareness club is to create a safe environment where diversity is welcome and where anybody can speak about their culture openly with their peers. “But we do not exclude,” Caffey explains.  Many kids at the high school assume that if they are not of color or if they are not sure of their cultural background, then they are not allowed to join, but this is certainly not the case. Both Caffey and Kosal encourage everyone to come and experience the club no matter where they are from. “I think it is something every school should have,” shares Caffey. He is excited to see where the club goes in the very near future and how it will continue to flourish in the school, creating a supportive team of students and teachers alike who help each other embrace their heritage.

The way people go about their daily lives, the way people communicate with friends, and simply the way they carry themselves is a reflection of their culture. Everything a person does contributes not only to their culture but to what is around them. It is important to be informed of the various lifestyles surrounding you and groups like Tumwater’s Cultural Awareness Club are making giant leaps and bounds at creating a more knowledgeable society with an increased respect for the varied cultures that define each and every person.

Neighborhood Notes – San Francisco Street Bakery is an Olympia Institution

Thurston Talk - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 6:00am



By Katie Doolittle

van dorm sponsorMid-morning at the San Francisco Street Bakery smells like hot coffee and freshly baked bread. I’m standing in line with a conservatively dressed elderly couple and a tattooed twenty-something, eavesdropping on their friendly conversation. Today, there’s classic rock playing over the speakers. The young mother behind us taps along to the musical beat on the handle of her stroller. Several Roosevelt Elementary School students giggle and point at the goodies inside the pastry case.

This sort of friendly and eclectic crowd is something I’ve come to expect from Olympia’s Eastside neighborhood. The bakery serves as a gathering point for the whole community, providing a welcoming atmosphere for all.

san francisco street bakeryDuring pleasant weather, everyone has the option to sit outside–in the shade of an umbrella-covered patio table, or on a seat in the native plants garden. Inside the bakery itself, the booth seats are comfortable and roomy. Stacks of newspapers await any patron wishing to catch up on current events. And multiple little touches render the bakery incredibly family-friendly: several high chairs, plastic water cups, and even a well-stocked play kitchen.

Carmen Otto remembers when her parents opened the bakery back in 1989. She was only four at the time, but in hindsight she understands how important local patronage was for establishing the business. “Without the Eastside community and the people who live here we wouldn’t have made it this long,” she says. Otto also appreciates the many Roosevelt students who become long-term customers. “We get kids who aren’t kids anymore, but they remember coming across the street for cookies.”

These days, the bakery is an Olympia institution, with a booth at the Olympia Farmers Market and goods for sale at several area locations. It’s quite an inheritance for Otto and her brother Nolan who—along with Otto’s husband—are taking over management. She describes her parents as ready to retire, but still involved in a consulting capacity.

san francisco street bakeryThis transitional time has yielded several exciting developments. Most notable is the evening bistro, now operating every Thursday through Sunday. “It was a way for me to have something of my own,” Otto explains. “The bakery was always my parents’ baby.”

The bistro’s overall vibe stems from the culinary philosophy she absorbed while living in the San Francisco Bay area. Otto describes herself as “inspired by Alice Waters and the food movement there—San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley.” The bistro menu is intensely local and seasonally driven, changing each week based on produce availability and quality. During the colder months, Otto shops the Olympia Food Co-op and serves tasty comfort food such as pancetta and Brussels sprout penne pasta. Summer brings an influx of fresh produce and seafood to the menu.

Ingredients are sourced almost exclusively from the Olympia Farmers Market and Olympia Seafood Company… with one notable exception. Bremer Mountain Farm supplies all of the bistro’s greens. “They only do lettuce, and they hand-pick each sprig.” As Otto promises, “It’s the most amazing lettuce you’ll ever taste.” The salads are certainly a culinary experience not to be missed, but diners hoping to indulge a bit have other options. For instance, they might enjoy a squid and chickpea entrée before slicing into a gorgeous plum tart for dessert.

san francisco street bakeryYet no matter the season, guests can expect certain consistencies from the bistro. There will always be thoughtful beverage pairings for those who wish to imbibe with their meal. And there will always be some sort of pizza on the menu. Otto laughingly admits, “Pizza is my own personal obsession. I love it more than anything.”

Like the bistro, the bakery’s goods are carefully prepared from quality (generally organic) ingredients. Patrons can take home all kinds of bread, from humble wheat loaves to beautifully braided challah. I highly recommend my favorite savory breakfast: a crunchy toasted bagel topped with a smooth layer of pesto cream cheese. I’m a bit more flexible when it comes to my sweet tooth. I go through phases where nothing satiates me like a Danish, with its ropes of flaky pastry twisted around gooey cheese, then liberally studded with marionberries. But then I’m lured away by the scones, those perfect puffy triangles sliced down the middle and oozing sticky jam.

And who can resist the seasonal items on the menu? There’s something for every holiday, whether it’s Italian panettone at Christmas or Irish soda bread for St. Patrick’s Day. In winter, they make stollen that’s both gorgeous and tasty, with a flour-dusted crust and dough shot through with fruit and marzipan. In spring, their hot cross buns strike the perfect balance of flavors—not too yeasty, not too sugary.

san francisco street bakeryWith toothsome treats to tempt every palate, the bakery and bistro are a gustatory experience not to be missed. Check out their website for information regarding menus and hours. Be sure to come hungry!

San Francisco Street Bakery

1320 San Francisco Ave NE

Olympia, WA 98506



24th Annual Rachel Carson Forum

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 10:55pm
Event:  Thu, 04/24/2014 - 6:00pm - 9:00pm

The 24th Annual Rachel Carson Forum: Responding to Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest

Presented by the Master of Environmental Studies Student Association

The Rachel Carson Forum is an annual spring event dedicated to Rachel Carson’s legacy of exploration and understanding of complex environmental issues and questions.

Location: Evergreen State College, Library Room 4300

Program: Doors open at 6:00pm with a performance by The Oly Mountain Boys and a tabling expo.  Speakers start at 7:00pm followed by discussion and Q&A.

Distinguished Speakers:  Dr. Richard Feely, Senior Scientist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  //  Andy Haub, Planning and Engineering Manager, City of Olympia Public Works Department  //  Thera Black, Senior Planner, Thurston Regional Planning Council  //  Facilitated by Rhys Roth, Evergreen Sustainability Center

Admission: Free and open to the public. Parking $2.



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Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 5:27pm



lucky eagleThis weekend marks the close of Spring Break for local families with school aged kids.  I, for one, have enjoyed the time with my girls – sleeping in, visiting family, NOT packing lunches each day.  There is an interesting paradox when your children are home on a school break.  You’ve lost the freedom to run errands and make appointments on your own.  Yet, you’ve gained the freedom to indulge all-day adventures, giant late-morning breakfasts, and spur-of-the-moment plans.

As this week of beautiful weather and carefree kids comes to an end, we will enjoy the freedoms that come with our break from routine as well as look forward to the change back to our “normal” next week.    Our weekend events calendar is packed full this weekend with tons of choices for those who want to grab one last all-day adventure or family bonding moment.  Enjoy!

Submit an event for our calendar here.

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


Greeners on the Cutting Edge Lecture Series Explores Technology’s Advancements

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 5:08pm



Submitted by The Evergreen State College

Every day, technology continues to profoundly impact our lives—especially the careers of today’s college students. Further exploring the state of technology today, The Evergreen State College is hosting a lecture series on computing issues called Greeners on the Cutting Edge, focusing on Evergreen students’ roles in the future of technology.

The lecture series kicked off March 31st and continues with a lecture each week until June 2nd and is a part of the ongoing PLATO Lecture Series. This series is offered every year at Evergreen by faculty who bring outside speakers to Evergreen to address computing issues that are of broad interest to the campus community.

“This particular series is a celebration of Evergreen graduates who are ‘on the cutting edge’,” said Judy Cushing, computer science faculty at Evergreen and organizer of the series. “We really wanted to show current Evergreen students some possible lives after Evergreen, and demonstrate to those in the community the success of our graduates. Some, but not all, of the speakers studied computer science here at Evergreen.  All are highly successful.”

Topics include software quality, the intersections between technology and social justice, and education for job skills (presented by founder and Evergreen graduate Lynda Wyman). Designer and artist Dylan Sisson will present the next lecture in the series on advances in CGI technology on April 14th.

The lectures will take place every Monday of Evergreen’s spring quarter at 1:30 p.m. in Lecture Hall 1 on Evergreen’s Olympia campus. More information, including the lineup and lecture topics, can be found at

The series is funded by software development royalties paid to the College by Control Data Corp, for John Aikin’s development (with students) of Computer Aided Instruction and is named after the influential PLATO programming language, which led to great advances in computer technology.

Three Project Engineers Hired by SCJ Alliance

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 5:03pm



Submitted by SCJ Alliance

SCJ Alliance is pleased to announce the addition of three new Project Engineers to their team: Tyrell Bradley, PE; Patrick Holm, PE; and Josh Brannin, PE.  SCJ is a consulting firm specializing in transportation planning and design, civil engineering, and land use/environmental planning.

Bradley has been working in the transportation and civil engineering field for six-and-a-half years and hails most recently from Skillings Connolly. Tyrell’s experience includes hydraulic and stormwater engineering, site sewer and water systems, roadway and sidewalk access design, transportation engineering and site grading plans. Possessing a calm yet efficient demeanor, Tyrell is a graduate of the renowned Hal and Inge Marcus School of Engineering at Saint Martin’s University (SMU) in Lacey.

Holm has over six years of experience providing project management, civil engineering and construction administration services for clients throughout the Pacific Northwest. Joining SCJ from PACLAND, Patrick’s a highly effective communicator and consensus builder. He’s known for listening closely, responding quickly and keeping projects on track. He graduated from University of California, Irvine.

Brannin has eight years of civil engineering experience with an emphasis on stormwater, transportation and design/build projects. Previously from PACLAND, Josh is an efficient and resourceful engineer, consistently completing projects on time and within budget. Also a graduate of SMU’s engineering school, he is well respected among his peers for his reliability and integrity.

A nationally-recognized, award-winning company, SCJ Alliance was founded in 2006 as Shea Carr Jewell. It has grown steadily from three employees in one location, to nearly 50 employees in five locations across three states…Washington, Idaho and Colorado.

In addition to adding employees, another impact of the company’s growth is a planned move this month to a larger building in the Hawks Prairie area of Thurston County, WA.

SCJ Alliance has provided the expertise behind many endeavors in the region.  Some of the firm’s current high visibility projects include planned improvements around JBLM spanning five miles and four interchanges, as well as the High Roller in Las Vegas, the world’s largest observation wheel.

KAOS Benefit: Anna Gordon, Third Eye, The Askew Trio

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 5:00pm

Help support KAOS radio with this great eclectic lineup!

Anna Gordon

Third Eye

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Askew Trio

Anna Gordon

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

MIRAH – Changing Light [KLP253/AMR01]

K Records - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 4:12pm
Mirah‘s fifth solo album, Changing Light [KLP253/AMR01] is a co-release from K and Mirah’s brand new label, Absolute Magnitude Recordings. Changing Light will be available on May 13th, 2014 and can be pre-ordered from AMR here. Listen to the track “Goat Shepherd” by Mirah from Changing Light [KLP253/AMR01]. On her fifth solo album, Mirah breaks […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment
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