Recent local blog posts

Olympia-Thurston County CrimeStoppers Hosts Shred Event Fundraiser

Thurston Talk - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 4:44pm



Submitted by Olympia/Thurston County CrimeStoppers

A special 3-in-one event will be hosted by Olympia/Thurston County CrimeStoppers April 26.   Those stopping by can bring sensitive documents to shred, computers and other electronics to recycle and can drop off new or gently used books, CDs and DVDs for the Lacey Timberland Library.  The services are free but donations to support the mission of CrimeStoppers will be gladly accepted.  This is the third year for the event at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey.

  • Area residents can drop off documents to be shredded on site. (No businesses please)
  • Computer and electronic devices can also be dropped off for proper recycling.  (This includes computers, laptops, keyboards, mice, printers, TVs, cell phones and other small electronic devices (Household appliances will NOT be accepted.)
  • Donations of new or gently used books, CDs and DVDs will be accepted on behalf of the Friends of the Lacey Timberland Library.

Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim, a CrimeStoppers board member, says people should take advantage of this event.  “This is a simple way to make sure that documents containing personal information are shredded and properly disposed of, so the bad guys don’t have access to your vital information.  Having the electronics recycling there helps homeowners get rid of unwanted items in an environmentally responsible way and the benefit for the Lacey Timberland Library is also a bonus.” Sponsors include Saint Martin’s University, Allwest Moving and Storage, Lacey Police, Access Information Management, the Timberland Library System and SBK Recycle.

What- A free Identity Theft Awareness Shred Event.

Where- The grand staircase at Saint Martin’s University, 5300 Pacific Ave SE Lacey, WA 98503

When- Saturday, April 26th from 9 am to Noon

Cost- This is a free service, although donations to CrimeStoppers will be gladly accepted.


Olympia-Thurston County CrimeStoppers is a non-profit organization made up of various law enforcement agencies and dozens of other community partners and volunteers. Established in 1991 the tip line has resulted in the arrest of more than 900 suspects, recovery of more than $1.8-million in stolen property, seizure of more than $7-million worth of illegal drugs and the payout of more than $166-thousand in rewards.  Those with information on a crime can call the tip line at 800-222-TIPS.  To learn more about Olympia-Thurston County CrimeStoppers, please visit


Alain LeTourneau: Wednesday, April 23

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 4:10pm

Alain LeTourneau: Wednesday, April 23 11:00-1:00 pm in Lecture Hall 1

alain bio-photos-bw

Alain LeTourneau is a Portland, Oregon based artist. He utilizes 16mm film, video and still photography to explore the social and personal histories embedded in landscapes, and to consider how the accumulated actions of individuals and organizations define the function, shape and character of the built environment.

Alain is the co-founder of, a 16mm conservation initiative that maintains the international exhibitors list and houses a collection of 16mm film prints. From 1999-2009, Alain presented important and challenging films in the 16mm format at a micro-cinema operated by 40 Frames in Portland’s Central Eastside Industrial District.

His work has been exhibited internationally, including Anthology Film Archives, Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, Film Studies Center at University of Chicago, Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, International House Philadelphia, Images Festival (Toronto), Los Angeles Filmforum, Portland Art Museum, San Francisco Cinematheque, Unknown Pleasures (Berlin) and Vancouver International Film Centre.

Alain’s latest projects include the photographic series Swan Island Industrial Park, and Open Road, a 16mm film about the landscape of private, automotive transportation.


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Spring Cleaning Time Is Here… Hooray?

Thurston Talk - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 1:57pm



olympia house cleaner

Scottiejo McNulty is the owner of Elite Cleaning Services of Washington, an Olympia-based house and office cleaning company.

I’d never thought of it this way but Scottiejo McNulty of Elite Cleaning of Washington made a good point: “spring cleaning is like a move-out but you still live there.”  While I’m seldom so thorough, this is now my annual goal when faced with the out-with-the-old itch.

Our climate, while blessed with mild winters and moderate summers, isn’t perfect.  The excess damp causes cobwebs, mold, and dingy surfaces but “do you want to spend your springtime with your family cleaning every weekend?” asks McNulty.  What may take you and yours multiple sunny Saturdays to accomplish, the team at Elite Cleaning can do in a day at the most…with no grumbling.

McNulty’s crew can clean windows, screens, and tracks safely, create a honey-do list for future repairs, switch out winter clothes and shoes, and prep for spring garage sales by sorting outgrown items.  Their work can be focused on an entire home deep clean or just high traffic areas.  They can help tidy the garage, or freshen up windows and window treatments.  Or—and this is huge to the overly overwhelmed like myself—help you make a plan of action to keep your home under control in the future.

Says Scottiejo, “Spring Cleaning has to be organized, you have to know what you want and make a plan.”  To aid in this, the Elite Cleaning website has downloadable sample checklists, showing examples of the services they offer and the range of their expertise.  But they are not limited by such lists and are willing to talk over any request, frequency, or event, be it one-time or on a regular basis.

If your home has medical issues with allergies or chemical sensitivities, Elite Cleaning has tips and the experience to insure a harmless process.  They try to accommodate all special needs and guarantee that “we don’t leave until it’s done and we come back if it’s not right.”  Strong customer service insures great word-of-mouth, all vital to a small business in this day and age.

Call for an estimate or with questions: 360-529-2277.

Top Rung Brewing – Crafting Great Beer and Community Connections

Thurston Talk - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 1:47pm



By Kate Scriven

hawks prairie casinoThe Brewer’s Association, a group dedicated to the promotion and support of Craft Brewers since 1942, defines a “craft brewer” as three things:  small, independent, and traditional.  These hallmarks are important and set apart a true craftsman from a larger manufacturer or corporate owned operation.

Washington ranks in the top five states in the nation for number of craft breweries (lucky us!). One of these is Top Rung Brewing, located in Lacey on Hogum Bay Lane.  The brewery started in 2010 as the natural progression from a love a homebrewing to “something more” by local friends and co-workers Casey Sobol and Jason Stoltz.  The two have been collaborating together, perfecting recipes and laying careful plans for their dream of a craft brewery and neighborhood taproom.

top rung brewing

Firefighters Jason Stoltz (left) and Casey Sobol (right) have opened Top Rung Brewing in Lacey.

Both career firefighters with the McLane/Black Lake Fire Department, Sobol is a twenty year veteran and Captain and Stoltz has seven years with the department under his belt.  After winning the Dick’s Brewing “Beer for a Cure” homebrewing contest in 2012 with their signature Hose Chaser Blonde, the two brewers began to shadow Dick’s brewer Parker Penley.  “Being able to shadow with Parker gave us a closer look into commercial brewing and we were able to see where we wanted Top Run Brewing to go,” shares Sobol.

The names of Top Rung’s brews are a nod to Sobol and Stoltz’s love of, and commitment to, firefighting.  The newly constructed taproom also reflects their roots with ladders hung from the ceiling, fire related décor, and the brewery’s logo centered on the iconic fireman’s shield.  Despite the strong connection to fire, the taproom isn’t kitschy.  Its gleaming wood plank tables, polished concrete floors, and cozy couches are classy and inviting.

“We created this space intentionally to be very open between the taproom and the brewing facility,” shares Sobol.  ”It gives our visitors a full experience where they can see the brewing process, smell the fermentation, and feel a part of what we are doing.”  And what they are doing is creating excellent beer.  With a focus on quality craft beer and a financially stable business, Top Rung is here to stay.

When creating their business plan, a connection to community, sustainability, and environmentally friendly practices were key.  With this in mind, the brewers created a partnership with local farmers Nick and Rachael Taylor of The Farmstead, located nearby on Johnson Point Road.  The Taylors are likewise committed to their community and are raising pastured meat (lamb and pork) and laying hens with respect and dignity.

top rung brewing

Top Rung Brewing will be participating in three local brewfests – Oly Brewfest, Tumwater Artesian Brewfest and the Washington State Brewers Festival.

How do these two businesses intersect?  Aside from the love of a good pint, the Taylors were in need of a consistent, high-quality source of grain for their pigs and the two businesses found they held many of the same needs and values.  “We have always been committed to reducing waste, streamlining processes, and using everything we can to the benefit of the land and the farm,” explains Rachael.  “When we learned that Jason and Casey were just as committed to creating a sustainable footprint with their brewery we knew our two businesses would get along great.”

The process is simple – after brewing is complete, the spent grains are transferred to clean barrels supplied by The Farmstead.  A text is sent and the Taylors arrive in the evening to pick up the grain and haul it five minutes to their farm.  Happy pigs follow.

Did the Taylors come up with this genius way to both reduce waste at the brewery and acquire high quality feed for their animals?  Not quite. “Foam to Farm isn’t a new concept. The Craft Beer Movement is made up of people who, in addition to being passionate about creating delicious beer, are usually also committed to the type of environment their processes are creating,” explains Taylor. “Spent grain can make up as much as 85 percent of a brewery’s by-product. That has the potential to be a lot of waste. Putting it in the landfill is one option, but it’s a terrible one. Instead we use it to help supplement our pigs’ diet of pasture, goat milk, eggs, apples, as well as all the juice pressings from Zoe’s Juice Bar in Olympia.”

top rung brewing

Jason Stoltz tends to a batch of Scout Stout at Top Rung Brewing.

The brewery has several beers on tap with variety to suit any palette.  Hose Chaser Blonde is their lightest brew.  The Scout Stout, named after Stoltz’s black lab, includes notes of chocolate and coffee.  Heavy Irons Imperial IPA, named for the set of tools essential to any firefighter, has a great hop forward flavor and will please most IPA fans.

Keeping focused on the beer is essential for Top Rung and they’ve consciously chosen to not serve food in their taproom.  However, visitors are encouraged to bring in their own take out or have food delivered.  The family-friendly environment includes and outdoor patio and a larger-than-life Jenga game to pass the time.

Visit the taproom between 2:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays to enjoy a pint and celebrate a culmination of years of hard work and dedication.  Find Top Rung Brewing at the Olympia Brewfest, The Tumwater Artesian Brewfest, and the Washington State Brewers Festival.

“It’s exciting seeing your vision become a reality, but there are also times of sheer terror, being a small business,” shares Sobol. “But, I think we’ll do really well.  The support we’ve gotten so far from the community has been terrific.  It’s one of the great things about Thurston County.  People really want to support the local guy and that’s really who we are.”

That dream is a reality as Top Rung Brewing hosts their Grand Opening this Saturday, April 19, from 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Top Rung Brewing

8343 Hogum Bay Lane in Lacey

Follow Top Rung Brewing on Facebook


Spring Rebels by Bus adventures

There are still lots of seats left on the bus for three upcoming Rebels by Bus Adventures.
The Spring line up is:
madison parkMay 12th: Madison Park neighborhood of Seattle and the University of Washington Arboretum. The rhodos will be in their full glory. Madison Park includes Lake Washington shorefront, as well as delightful small shops and restaurants. And let’s NOT forget Café Flora, which is a delightful (and delicious) restaurant on East Madison, close to the Arboretum.

snohomish town

May 29th:  City of Snohomish  Snohomish is a small town known for antique stores, and only a short distance from Everett.  The town has lots of shops to browse, and a lovely riverwalk on the edge of the commercial district.  There is also a self-guided walking tour to see the lovely historic homes in town.  snohomish river walk

June 11th:  Gig Harbor

I think there’s a water theme going on this quarter… Gig Harbor is a beautiful town set snug in a small harbor.  There is a walk along the harbor, taking you to many little shops and restaurants, as well as spots to stop and enjoy the water and views of Mt. Rainier.

gig harbor rainer Each of these escorted trips cost $25.  To sign up, contact South Puget Sound Community College at 360-596-5753 or


Categories: Local Environment

Hopping into Easter with Family Traditions Old and New

Thurston Talk - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 7:06am


By Kira Stussy, Tumwater High School Intern to ThurstonTalk

For the Robertson girls, dressing in matching outfits was a beloved tradition when they were young.

For the Robertson girls, dressing in matching outfits was a beloved tradition when they were young.

Easter is a widely celebrated holiday worldwide and locally. To prepare for this much loved holiday, families all have their own traditions every single year. Hard-boiled eggs are dyed and then hidden, friends and families come together, and children hop out of bed to discover what the Easter Bunny was up to while they slept.  Families around Thurston County share some of their more common activities, as well some traditions that are a bit more unusual.

The Robertson family shares one of their unique Easter traditions. When her girls were younger, Shelley Robertson used to buy them matching dresses specifically for the holiday. Sadly, Shelley admitted that they “won’t let [her] do that anymore.” Along with the dresses, the Robertsons also emphasize the significance of Easter to their children, making sure they know it’s about more than the bunny. They also spend time with extended family, traveling up to Tacoma to visit grandparents. When asked what her favorite family Easter tradition is, Anna Robertson replied, “going on Easter eggs hunts.”

Similarly, with the Hamblet family it is all about the significance of the holiday. They focus on the religious roots of Easter and start by “reading a children’s book about Easter a few weeks before the holiday.” Reid Hamblet (father) has missed the past few Easters for work and his family is hoping to be able visit him there, perhaps even coordinate an Easter Hunt there as well.

The Hamblets dye their own real eggs for their epic hunts. They gather with friends and family and try to “build up” the holiday and the significance of it before the big day actually arrives so that their kids can truly understand what it is about.

olympia easter

Finding her basket Easter morning is a tradition for most families, including Madi K’s.

Another local family shared their tradition of waking up to a scrumptious breakfast prepared by their mother, Kate. Later, the kids, Madi and Josh, participate in a family Easter egg hunt at their grandparents’ house with all of their cousins. This Thurston County family claims that Easter is a very “big deal” in their home, and like with all holidays, they have an abundance of decorations set up around the house to help get in the festive mood.

When many kids think of Easter, what is one of the very first thoughts that pops into their heads? They immediately picture the Easter Bunny bouncing into town, carrying a basket filled to the brim with eggs and candy at the ready. When the Easter Bunny visits Madi K’s home, he literally leaves a trail of his fur lying around! He also leaves a basket full of toys and candy. When asked about the basket, Madi giggled and nodded saying, “Yeah, he leaves good presents.”

When the Easter Bunny stops by the Robertson’s abode, he also leaves a basket of goodies for Anna and her siblings. If they could ask him just one question, both girls agreed they’d want to know “how he gets to everyone’s house in just one night?” An age old question indeed. Both girls thought the Easter Bunny would be large in size compared to the tiny bunnies that scamper on the side of the road. Madi thinks he would be approximately the size of a man if not bigger. Although neither girl has actually seen the bunny, they know he is real based on the eggs and gifts he leaves behind.

Easter is a holiday that comes with many family traditions followed over the years.  Some are unique and original and some are comfortingly familiar.   No matter which tradition a family follows, each family creates a special holiday that will make memories for future generations.

Peace, Love, and Raw Cafe – A Cuisine for Optimizing Your Health in Olympia

Thurston Talk - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 6:50am



By Tali Haller

capital medical centerWith 34% of the adult population classified as obese, America is now ranked as the most obese country worldwide, according to the latest study conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. In response, many people are advocating for a healthier diet. Author of the best-selling book The Beauty Detox Foods, Kimberly Snyder, C.N. recognizes the importance of eating fresh, raw, and organic. “The connection between food and beauty is incredibly powerful,” Snyder writes. “Just by changing the foods you eat, you can radically change the way you look and feel.”

olympia raw food

The Peace, Love, and Raw Cafe creates RawNaimo Bar crusts in bulk for wholesale customers.

Not only are organic foods more nutritious, but they also don’t contain the pesticides present in conventional farming, which can contribute to a whole host of health problems, she explains. Luckily, Olympia offers a variety of healthy eating options.

Nestled in downtown Olympia at 111 Legion Way, the Peace, Love, and Raw Cafe is completely raw, vegan, and organic. Everything on the menu is made from fresh, nutritive ingredients and is completely free of gluten, corn, soy, and other common allergens. “My big focus is creating food that makes people feel good,” emphasizes the owner, Nicole Obermire. “I want to show people that eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring and rigid. It can be exciting and full of satisfying, delicious foods.” Over the years, Obermire has experimented with a variety of ingredients, challenging herself to create a menu that combines nutritional value with great taste.

The Peace, Love, and Raw Café is a family enterprise. What’s more, Obermire’s children, Blueberry and Cerulean, act as her inspiration. “My kids have been a huge motivation because I want to give them a model for healthy eating.  They inspire me to make things even more nutritious and beneficial,” she explained.

olympia raw food

The Peace, Love, and Raw Cafe creates holiday-inspired products like this strawberry lemon ‘cheesecake’ in honor of Valentine’s Day.

“I love the challenge of taking something considered ‘unhealthy’ and making the same thing with raw ingredients. That’s why I do a lot of ‘cheesecakes,’ ‘cinnamon rolls,’ and other desserts,” explained Obermire.

The Peace, Love, and Raw Café started as a wholesale business with the idea of selling healthy desserts in bulk to local eateries, health stores, and co-ops. Currently, you can find their products all around town, including the yoga studio around the corner, Breathe. In April 2013, the business expanded to a store front, and now, expanding further, they have started to teach cooking classes. Example classes include raw “cheesecake,” soups, and coconut ice cream.  To stay updated on class information, check out the PLR Facebook page or sign up for their newsletter.  The cafe is also open during Arts Walk, featuring tasty treats, local art and music.

Although the Peace, Love, and Raw Café began with a dessert-based menu, the expansion of their business has led to a growing menu as well. Customers can purchase a variety of fresh juices, smoothies, salads, soups, snacks, and, of course, an array of amazing, health conscious desserts. The menu at the Café is constantly fluctuating, changing with the day and season. Sometimes customers may see sushi rolls and falafel, other days gluten-free onion bread, curry rice, or RawNola.

olympia raw food

The Peace, Love and Raw Cafe juices to customers liking at the time of purchase.

For customers wanting a quick pick-me-up, the juices are a great choice. They’re light, nutrient-rich, and easily-digestible. What’s more, each juice on the menu has beneficial properties. For example, ‘The Remedy’ combines a high source of vitamin C from lemon and orange juice with the healing properties of cayenne and ginger to rejuvenate skin and promote a faster metabolism. Other favorite juices include the ‘Pineapple Fling,’ with pineapple, carrot, and ginger; and the ‘Hydrator,’ with cucumber, apple, celery, and cilantro. Customers can also buy single juices (apple, carrot, cucumber, orange, and seasonal options) or create their own juice.

Smoothies are also extremely popular. They’re made from pureeing house-made raw almond-hemp milk with different combinations of fresh fruit, vegetables, seeds, and special ingredients. Customers can experiment with exciting “super” foods such as Carob, a tree-growing pod that is similar to chocolate -without the caffeine- and encompasses antiseptic, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. Another “super” food ingredient is spirulina, a blue-green algae that acts as a wonderful source of vegan protein, B complex vitamins, and is packed with antioxidants. The ‘Green Crush,’ a best-selling smoothie, combines spirulina, dates, cacao, and banana for a sweet, protein-rich boost. Many of the smoothies on the menu incorporate these more exotic ingredients. The ‘I’m Yours’ smoothie is made with strawberries, banana, and Maca (a root that is extremely dense with minerals, vitamins, and amino acids). Once again, customers can customize their smoothie, mixing ingredients and trying out new concoctions.

By far, the desserts are their best sellers. The RawNaimo Bar, a three-layered confection of chocolaty goodness, is sold at many different venues all over town. The chocolate layer is 100 percent Raw Cacao, providing a rich source of Magnesium.

olympia vegan restaurantAlthough growth takes time, the PLR Café is continually gaining regular customers and has become a healthy stop along the way for travelers. In the future, Obermire hopes that the Peace, Love, and Raw Café becomes an Olympia hot-spot, where people can come to enjoy the pleasures of satisfying, healthy food.

Peace, Love and Raw Cafe

111 Legion Way SW

Olympia, WA 98501



Homes First! Helps David Stand on His Own Two Feet

Thurston Talk - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 6:00am



By Barb Lally

duncan sponsorDavid woke up on the floor. But it was only because the temporary air mattress his caregiver had lent him had sprung a leak during his first night in his new home

David didn’t want to wait for his bed to arrive before he moved in. As soon as Homes First! had his place ready, he was in the door. Homes First! is a local non-profit that owns and manages affordable housing in Thurston County for families that are strapped, those recovering from substance abuse and adults with disabilities like David.

“I was surprised that I was on the floor in the morning, but I slept well,” David says with a laugh. Sleeping on the floor hasn’t always been such a funny story for David.

Up on His Feet

olympia housing options

It is clear when David welcomes you at his door that he loves his Homes First! home and it makes him happy.

By age three David could not talk and could only crawl along the floor. Born with disabilities that impaired his ability to walk and to hear, Seattle doctors told his parents he would probably not live much longer. That was in the 60s. David says that his “body just kept on going.”

His family moved to California where with the help of his parents, hearing aids and some good doctors, David eventually learned to speak and walk.

David credits his Dad with teaching him to walk. “He would help me up on my feet,” David explains while holding out his hands as if helping a toddler.

As an adult, David was able to work a job as a janitor both in a veterinarian’s office through a non-profit agency, and eventually, when he moved back to Washington, at the UW Campus in Tacoma.

But he has had on again and off again living situations, some good, some okay, some bad.

On the Floor Again

Most recently, when he couldn’t bear living in a home any longer where he paid $400 for just two rooms, he moved into a fifth-wheel travel trailer parked in Rainier with his brother and his girlfriend.

David was again on the floor, but this time it was in a small cramped space shared with a piece of old furniture in the tiny camper’s living room.

“It was hard for me to get up from the floor in the morning because of my back,” David says. “Each day I would try to clean, do the dishes and fix the place up, but it wasn’t how I wanted to live.”

He knew he had to find a way out. David and his caregiver, Kathy from Catholic Community Services, spent a lot of time trying to find a new home for David.

“There was just nothing he could afford on his limited income from Social Security Disability,” says Kathy. “Most of the apartments we looked at required two times the rent just to get in. Then we walked into Homes First!”

Homes First! Home Helps David on His Feet Again

olympia housing options

David’s gratefulness for his new home is reflected in his care for his flower beds

Homes First! Executive Director Trudy Soucoup and Property and Project Manager, Mike Fouts, explained to David and Kathy there was a one-bedroom apartment available but there were applicants ahead of David.

David kept checking back. And checking back.

“Finally Mike called and it was good news,” smiled David. “I got my place. I said, when can I move in? Can I move in now?”

Mike Fouts registered sheer joy in David’s response. “He wanted and needed that place so much and his persistence won out. Now, we have another great tenant.”

The staff and volunteers worked hard to get the apartment ready for him with new lovely laminate floors and other upgrades, cleaning and repairs. David couldn’t have a better landlord.

“It’s affordable living that allows him to be so much more independent,” says Kathy. “David can walk to the bank, the store or the bus stop nearby and he has even taken the bus to the mall once. Homes First! helps people live their dreams of having what other people have.”


olympia housing options

Homes First has helped David stand on his own two feet.

Homes First! has been serving Thurston County communities for nearly 25 years and is currently inviting the public to a one-hour inspirational presentation about its mission held twice a month on location, right in one of their homes. They call it “Opening Doors to Homes First.”

“Attendees are amazed when they understand the positive effect of a decent, affordable home,” says Trudy. “It sort of catalyzes other great things in our tenants’ lives. Local county commissioners, mayors, city council members, business leaders and more have stopped by the presentations and have thoroughly enjoyed it.”

David Keeps a Promise

Homes First! tenants are openly grateful. David says it simply, “When I came into this house I felt like I was in a whole new world. This is my home and I will never sleep on the floor again.”

His thankfulness is clearly expressed in his care of the place. It is immaculate, cozy and comfortable. David has weeded flower beds and replanted gardens and proudly shows them off. He takes great pride in all he has accomplished since he has been there.

“Before my Mom died in 2006, I told her not to worry,” David says proudly. “I told her I would be okay and live my life the best I know how and stand on my own two feet.”

Clearly, Homes First! has helped David keep his promise.

The public is invited to an in-home outreach event called “Opening Doors to Homes First!” RSVP online at for the one-hour presentations held on May 20 at 5:30 p.m. or May 22 at 11:30 a.m.  Future events scheduled June through August.


Olympia’s YWCA – Empowering Girls to Empower Each Other

Thurston Talk - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 6:00am



By Kathryn Millhorn

lucky eagleFor almost 70 years, the YWCA of Olympia has been an agent of change in our area.  Beginning as a prayer circle for ten local women, they’ve grown into an organization that thrives on making the lives of women and girls stronger, better, and community-centered.  This passion is summed up in their vision statement, for “all women, girls and families in our communities [to] live healthy and productive lives.”

middle school girls activitiesWe all remember adolescence as a difficult time.  For girls, especially, it is a hugely defining phase of life.  Researchers at the Confidence Coalition cite that a girl is bullied at school every 7 minutes, more likely than her male friends to be cyberbullied, and so negatively influenced by media that only 2% of girls consider themselves beautiful.  With such sobering statistics, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

That’s where the YWCA steps in.  By offering open doors, supportive friendships, and healthy opportunities to grow, they’ve influenced the lives of many women over the decades.  Whether it’s providing hygiene products like shampoo, diapers, and dish soap through the Other Bank or job training and interview outfits with the Women’s Economic Empowerment Program, there are many ways to support their mission.

Adolescent girls all too often fall through the cracks.  Too old for many childcare or summer programs, they’re not yet afforded the freedom that comes with a driver’s license or high school activity schedule.  At the YWCA, they become the stars of Girls Circle, a free after school program of relationship building, activities, friendship, and honest sharing.  There are currently seven groups meeting, with 6-10 girls per unit, and they use an evidence-based peer support model to highlight such themes as healthy relationships, stress management, communication skills, and self esteem.

middle school girls olympiaMeeting weekly with an adult facilitator to answer questions, guide discussions, or provide support, Girls Circle is open to anyone.  YWCA staffers visit many local middle schools but also make room for homeschoolers or those new to the area and just settling in.  Many of these groups begin by creating their own list of session guidelines, focusing on what’s important to the specific girls attending.  Because of the warm atmosphere and air of freedom and confidentiality, many attendees come back year after year.

Girls Circle isn’t just a program for youth in trouble; staffers see it more as a “creative outlet.”  Some past attendees are proud that “I learned to trust more people and to talk more because usually I’m really shy and I learned that I can really talk to people” and “Girls Circle helps me believe in myself, be myself, respect myself, and express myself.”

YWCA Executive Director, Hillary Soens is proud that the YWCA is the premier girl empowerment organization in Thurston County and loves that they offer the only Girls Circle program in South Puget Sound.  She acknowledges that this is possible with the ongoing support of longtime current and past donors like the Mary P. Dolciani Halloran Foundation, the Nisqually Indian Tribe, the Lucky Eagle Casino, WSECU, Olympia Federal Savings, The Community Foundation, Key Bank, many local service clubs, Intel, the Medina Foundation, several Thurston County government departments, and the US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, along with many others.

Helping the YWCA is easier than you might think.  Not only do they accept donations of cash, toiletries, clothing, and food, but they’re always on the lookout for local, professional women to visit as guest speakers.  By showing what is possible here at home, girls are inspired that anything is attainable.

ywca olympiaIf a spring luncheon is more your style, the fifth annual benefit luncheon ‘Spring Into Action’ will be held on April 24 at the Indian Summer Golf Club.  Thurston County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela will be the guest speaker and tickets are still available.  Even if unable to attend, contributions are gladly accepted on their website, via 360-352-0593, or through the Washington State Combined Fund Drive.

Studies featured by the US Department of Education show that “the peak period for peer influence is generally from seventh to ninth grades…Young teens generally benefit from being exposed to a broad range of experiences and programs—academic, recreational and vocational. These opportunities take advantage of their natural curiosity and can be invaluable in familiarizing them with new worlds and possibilities…More educators and policymakers are becoming aware of the high levels to which young teens can achieve.”

Organizations like the YWCA of Olympia offer all of this and more to girls right here in our community.  And, the Girls Circle program is even free.  Supporting their mission benefits us all in the long run as our neighbors, daughters, and friends become the leaders we need to shape the future.

For answers about Girls Circle or any similar programs at the YWCA, contact Girls Advancement Director Lanessa Inman at or 360-352-0593.


Calvin in Toulouse!

K Records - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:01am
Folks outside Theatre Garonne, awaiting the Calvin Johnson show in Toulouse, France. Marie Mathématique started things off with a flourish and some ver snappy tambourine playing. What a treat.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Hot Hoodoo, The Falsies, and Red Red Red

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 5:00pm

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you some local action!

Hot Hoodoo

The Falsies
Throwing it way back

Red Red Red

The Falsies

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Olympia Urban Corridor - In Our Interests?

OlyBlog Home Page - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 4:46pm

Effective hyperlocal advocacy journalism from Jay Elder. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Dub Narcotic’s Remix Contest!

K Records - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 2:24pm
                                    My fellow chaps and chapettes: Salutations, Greetings, and Happy Spring. A short while ago Dub Narcotic Studio held a video contest to give away a free day of recording in our new studio space, and by golly […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Goat Have Ready Now

Mojourner Truth - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 1:18pm

Last post mentioned my first artisanal meme, "Goat Have Not Ready," and it's variously dark and crypto-ornithological permutations. It also mentioned Gayle Waters-Waters, who my eldest girl-son and I saw perform live last weekend.

Then, it turned out that Gayle's alter-ego, Chris Fleming, posted this shot on tweetbook with the caption "Hey Seattle, I found your goats." [OK, he didn't punctuate or Capitalize, and technically I guess it's a selfie on facebook, but I'm too old to know those things, so deal with it.]

Having made a couple of goat-memes, I've become something of an expert on the genus Capra, and I can tell you, that is one blissed-out goat. She loves the smell of his hair (probably because of the dog shampoo he uses to get into Gayle character), and is about to take a big bite of it.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about goats, and mangoes, and then goats again, and how our Capran friends deserve to be happy too, even though they have eyes no less creepy than Hypno Toad. Also, I realized that the Gayle show hit the intertubes two Aprils ago, the goat-memes one April ago, and that things cycle round and round, back again just the same except a little different. I mean, April even witnessed the cherry trees blooming again,...just like last year. Eerie.

I'm not a superstitious man, but man, when the omens drive me back into the meme-smithy, back into the meme-smithy I go. And now the world is one goat-meme richer.

Calvin In Bordeaux!

K Records - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 4:01am
Above photog is Francis of Allez les Filles with his mobile DJ unit, which he employs every Thursday evening on the tram in Bordeaux, he gets the riders dancing. Since Bordeaux is the hometown of Melanie (Tender Forever), you know it has to be hott and ready to move its feet. Last time I was in […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Saint Martin’s Harvie Social Justice Lecture to Focus on Local Farming, Sustainability and Food Justice

Thurston Talk - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 11:04pm


Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

Growing CitiesFrom an upswell of urban farms and community gardens to a call for rethinking whole food access in low-income neighborhoods and the elimination of soft drinks in school cafeterias, food justice is a movement that seeks to transform the current American food system from the ground up.

Join Saint Martin’s University’s faculty members Robert Hauhart and Irina Gendelman as they welcome Thurston County-based food sustainability leaders Kerensa Mabwa from GRuB, Fred Colvin from Colvin Ranch, T.J. Johnson from Sustainable South Sound and Sue Ujcic from Helsing Junction Farm as they discuss their roles in local food production and how their work contributes to sustainability and equitable food production.

This next installment of the Robert A. Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series will take place April 22 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 110 of the University’s Harned Hall.

The evening will include a 7:15 p.m. screening of Growing Cities: A film about urban farming in America, a 97-minute documentary by Nebraskan filmmakers Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette. The film follows Susman and Monbouquette as they travel across America meeting “men and women who are challenging the way this country grows and distributes its food, one vacant city lot, rooftop garden and backyard chicken coop at a time.” A question-and-answer session with the panel will begin at 8:30 p.m.

Hauhart, Ph.D., J.D., creator of the lecture series and chair of the University’s Department of Society and Social Justice, is hosting this event with the collaboration and support of Gendelman, associate professor of communication and instructional designer, as well as the Saint Martin’s University Learning Garden and the Saint Martin’s Women’s Studies Program.

Following is information about the panelists:

Kerensa Mabwa, GRuB
Mabwa leads GRuB’s Community-based Fundraising, Special Events and Volunteer Coordination Programs. She comes to GRuB with passions for good local food, gardening and building relationships across multicultural backgrounds. She has about 15 years of experience in the nonprofit world, including the fields of  parenting and child welfare, affordable housing and grant writing, and project evaluation and management. With Mabwa’s international background and passion for inspiring cross-cultural learning, much of her past work has been spent helping people to live successful and sustainable lives through empowerment and inclusivity.

Fred Colvin, Colvin Ranch
Colvin operates Colvin Ranch, his family-owned and -operated cattle ranch located in south Thurston County, Washington, near the small town of Tenino. The ranch was homesteaded by Ignatius Colvin, who came to Washington on the Oregon Trail in 1851 from Boone County, Missouri, and is one of the oldest ranches in the county still owned by the original family. Five generations later, the Colvin Ranch family heritage continues through humane livestock handling, stewardship of the land and sustainable grazing practices that allow native and endangered plants to flourish alongside the family’s high-quality, all-natural cattle.

T.J. Johnson, Sustainable South Sound
Johnson is a former union organizer and shop steward who established and ran a successful bed-and-breakfast, was a founder and long-time president of the Upper Eastside Neighborhood Association and served as a citizen representative on several city advisory committees. He’s a past member of the Garden Raised Bounty (GRuB) Board of Directors, and the founder of Beyond Hiroshima, a grassroots anti-nuclear education and advocacy organization. He was a featured speaker at the 2006 Japan Peace Conference and a member of the World Peace Forum International Advisory Committee. In 2006, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility awarded him the prestigious Paul Beeson Peace Prize for “his extraordinary leadership towards a world free of nuclear weapons and war.” Johnson also served for six years on the Olympia City Council, chairing the Finance Committee and the Intercity Transit Authority, and was a passionate advocate for a more sustainable community and a more peaceful world.

Sue Ujcic, Helsing Junction Farm
Ujcic is co-founder, along with Annie Salafsky, of Helsing Junction Farm. Both are graduates of The Evergreen State College and have deep roots in agriculture. The farm began as a 75-member CSA and, over the years, has expanded to its current size of 1,200 shareholders. The partnership between the two women has grown to include their families, as well as the families of the people who work with them. It’s a group effort now, with great pride taken in the health and fertility of the soil, as well as the beauty of the produce grown.

Hauhart created the Harvie lecture series, now in its ninth year, to raise awareness of social justice issues within the community. The series honors the work of Robert A. Harvie, J.D., former professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at Saint Martin’s.


Crane Barge to Remove Cranes, Arrives

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 11:03pm

This is more (see previous blog entries) video from a couple weeks ago, when a crane barge was arriving. It's set to some music from YouTube, that was selected somwhat quite randomly, so please turn down the volume if it bugs ya. Hope you enjoy some of these shots. Thanks! Robert logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Bicycle Commuter Contest Gets Rolling

Thurston Talk - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 10:54pm



Submitted by Intercity Transit

olympia bicycle commuter contestIntercity Transit’s Bicycle Commuter Contest gears up once again. Now in its 27th year, the month-long event encourages Thurston County residents and commuters to use bicycles for transportation. Participants register in April, bicycle to work, school, and on errands in May, and return their completed mileage logs to Intercity Transit in early June for rewards and prizes. Recreational and training miles do not count, as the program rewards only trips that might otherwise be made by car.
Registration is $5 for adults. Ages 18 and under register free, and all students register free. Register and pay online at or  Participants can also register and get materials at area bike shops and the Olympia Transit Center in downtown Olympia.
“Commuting or running errands by bicycle is fun, healthy, and a great way to connect with your community,” says the event’s coordinator, Duncan Green. “And, the BCC provides a positive environment with information, support, and encouragement, that help people get going by bike.”
The annual Bicycle Commuter Contest is a popular community event with 1,500 or more people participating each spring. The event is designed to encourage, promote, and celebrate bicycling in Thurston County. It provides cycling tips, educational opportunities, a group bike ride and a free bicycle safety check. The contest awards prizes and gifts to riders of all abilities and ages, thanks to generous donations from more than 50 sponsors and supporters. Cyclists submit feedback on cycling conditions on roads, bike lanes and bike paths throughout Thurston County, which Intercity Transit compiles and submits to area jurisdictions for their use when making decisions about bicycling infrastructure development.
Intercity Transit, Thurston County’s public transportation agency, administers the Bicycle Commuter Contest. The agency recognizes the correlation between bicycling, walking, and bus riding and how these modes contribute to an active and healthy community.
“This year’s theme, Bicycling Builds Community, exemplifies what bicycling means to me and many others,” says Intercity Transit Authority Chair, Karen Messmer.  “When you ride your bicycle, you are more likely to wave and say hello to your neighbors and to experience nature and your surroundings more intimately.”
Upcoming Bicycle Commuter Contest Events olympia bicycle commuter contest

  • Several cycling-related events are scheduled before and during the Bicycle Commuter Contest:
    Earth Day Market Ride, April 19, 9–11 a.m. This neighborhood ride leads participants to the Olympia Farmers Market in downtown Olympia where Intercity Transit will host a table.
  • Wrencher’s Ball, April 25, 7 a.m.–3 p.m., Olympia Transit Center, downtown Olympia. Bike mechanic volunteers perform minor repairs and safety checks for anyone registered for the Thurston County Bicycle Commuter Contest.
  • Bike to Work Day, Friday, May 16. Ride your bicycle to work this day and visit a bicycle station along the way for snacks and information.
  • Awards Ceremony, Saturday, June 28, 9:30 a.m., Farmers Market. Intercity Transit will announce contest winners and award prizes.

Contact Duncan Green at 360-705-5874, via email, or visit for information on any of these events.  Bike and Bus Riding the bus is a great complement to bicycling. Every Intercity Transit bus, (except the Dash shuttle) is equipped with bike racks. Maps showing bike lanes, bus routes, and pedestrian pathways are available for travelers to explore their local travel options.

For information about the Bicycle Commuter Contest, visit, contact Duncan Green, 360-705-5874 or, or Customer Service, 360-786-1881 or


Bee swarm season begins!

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 6:39pm

(Passing this on from a neighbor in the Eastside Neighborhood Association)

Yesterday was the official beginning of swarm season in our neighborhood.

A bee swarm is the natural reproductive process that honeybees go through. The bees gorge themselves on honey, leave the hive for a temporary resting place, while scouting bees look for a new home. Their natural hive is an empty tree, but they have been known to hive themselves in all kinds of places.
Honeybee swarms are terrifying to most people. But counter to conventional wisdom, swarming is a time when bees are the least aggressive. With no home to protect and their bellies full of honey (which makes it difficult for them to project their stingers), they are almost peaceable. However the honey they consumed will last them no more than three days and less depending on the weather. 70% of all swarms die because they are unable to find a suitable home. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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