Recent local blog posts

Explore Trail Running around Olympia

Thurston Talk - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 6:00am


Olympia has a storied running history. In 1984, our city was home to the first Women’s U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, and we haven’t looked back. Daily, hundreds of local runners plod along Capitol Lake, taking in the sights while enjoying the exercise. Our community holds numerous road races and road running routes, but there are more

Summer Camps around Olympia for any Personality

Thurston Talk - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 6:00am


Despite the recent stretch of hot weather, summer’s not quite here yet. But with school in its final weeks, sign the kids up for one of Thurston County’s many exciting summer camps to provide a smooth transition into their time off. Not only will they minimize summer brain drain, but the play time and social interactions

Noises Off

South Sound Arts - Fri, 04/22/2016 - 4:18pm

Out of Control Bedlam at Lakewood PlayhousePublished in the Weekly Volcano, April 21, 2016From left (back): Shelleigh-Mairi Ferguson, Gary Chambers, Jim Rogers, Jennifer Davy, Jonathan Bill, Ana Bury, Nick Fitzsgerald and Diana George; on couch, Steve Tarry. Photo by Tim JohnsonThere is practically an entire genre of theater about theater, typically farces about bad theater companies doing bad theater. Often these are as bad as the plays they lampoon, but there is one exception — the mother of all farces about theater: Noises Off by Michael Frayn, now playing at Lakewood Playhouse.Ensemble cast. Photo by Tim JohnsonHere’s the thing I’ve noticed about farces: they usually don’t wear well. See one for the first time and it might be funny; see it again and it’s just stupid. But I’ve seen Noises Off three times as produced by three different companies, and every time I have laughed like a madman. At the opening performance at Lakewood Playhouse, the show ended with a standing ovation from a full house with screaming and whistling the likes of which I have never seen in that space.From left – Steve Tarry as Selsdon, Ana Bury as Poppy, Shelleigh-Mairi Ferguson as Dotty, and Jim Rogers as Frederick. Photo by Tim Johnson.It’s the story of an inept theater company directed by a harried director named Lloyd (Jonathan Bill) who struggles to temper his urge to kill half his cast and who is having affairs with the assistant stage manager, Poppy (Ana Bury) and with one of the cast members, Brooke (Jennifer Davy), who pulls off a funny dumbfounded look, loses her dress in the first act and runs around in her underwear and stockings throughout the show. The director also has to contend with, among others, a drunken actor far past his prime (Steve Tarry as Selsdon Mowbray); an actor who has constant nose bleeds and is a walking disaster (Jim Rogers as Frederick Fellowes); and another, Dotty the housekeeper (Shelleigh-Mairi Ferguson), who never knows where she’s supposed to be or what to do with props.The play-within-a-play opens with a disastrous dress rehearsal less than 24 hours before opening night. The set, designed by Larry Hagerman and Dylan Twiner and built by Hagerman and Art Fick, is a two-story home with at least nine doors. It is a marvel of planning because it is almost too big for the little thrust stage space and has to turn completely around between acts — a great design. It’s a shame that the walls are of such dull unfinished wood, looking more like the interior of a barn than an upscale country home.The dress rehearsal is like a Marx Brothers movie on steroids, with props misplaced, forgotten lines, pratfalls, and wild improvisations. Playing out underneath the farce of a rehearsal are the rivalries and the love lives of the cast and crew, and the wild struggle to hide the whiskey from Selsdon.The second act takes place backstage during the opening night performance. Everything is done with silent gestures, since the cast and crew can’t make noise during the show. What we do here are the bungled lines of unseen actors on stage, while cast and crew run around backstage like chickens with their heads cut off, fighting with each other (even with an ax at one point), making fast costume changes, and entering through the wrong doors and windows.In the third act, the set is turned around again for the final performance of a play that has progressively worsened.The ensemble cast does a good job, and the real life director — not “Lloyd” but Lakewood Playhouse Artistic Director John Munn — has managed to do what “Lloyd” was unable to do: herd his troop of actors through almost three hours of beautifully choreographed chaos.Noises Off is a play everyone should see at least once. Performances are expected to sell out, so get tickets early.Noises Off, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through May 8,Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd., Lakewood, $25, $22 military, $21 seniors and $19 students/educators, pay what you can April 21, actors’ benefit April 28, 253.588.0042,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Edvard Munch and The Sea

South Sound Arts - Fri, 04/22/2016 - 4:06pm
 See Beyond the Scream at Tacoma Art MuseumPublished in the Weekly Volcano, April 22, 2016

“Neutralia (Girls Picking Apples)” 1915, color lithograph. Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester: Marian Stratton Gould Fund . © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, courtesy Tacoma Art Museum.
“Summer Evening” 1895 aquatint and drypoint, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Rosenwald Collection, courtesy Tacoma Art Museum.Edvard Munch and The Sea at Tacoma Art Museum includes 25 prints and drawings and one oil painting by the Norwegian expressionist and symbolist master. Like most people, I have seen very little of Munch’s art other than the two or three pieces that habitually show up in art books, so I am grateful to TAM for pulling together this important exhibition.Not included are any of the four versions of Munch’s most famous work, “The Scream,” two oil paintings and two pastels. There is, however, a beautifully executed large silk- screen version by Andy Warhol, which is not a lampoon but rather a respectful homage.Munch was a methodical and masterful printmaker — drypoints, etchings, lithographs. He worked with a few simple and highly personal images including portraits and figures on the themes of love and death, nearly all of which were set on the coast of Norway. He did countless versions of these pictures, and this exhibition provides an excellent opportunity to compare prints of the same images with slight variations. For example, many of his pictures include a moon reflected in water, which in his treatment becomes an iconic lower case letter “i” with the moon as the dot and the stem of the “I” as the reflection. In some it is very bright, and in some almost invisible; often it looks like a Roman column, and in a few instances it becomes a crucifix.Another Munch trope that shows up in many of the prints is pictures of women with heavily shadowed eyes that look morbid or threatening. His wife of 20 years died young, as did a beloved sister, and he was known to have had tumultuous and tragic relationships with women, all of which shows in his complex depictions of women in his art.  Other stylistic devices that show up repeatedly are flowing hair that blendswith the flowing waves in the sea, and white figures or figures in white dresses next to white backgrounds and figures in black next to black backgrounds, so that figures and ground merge. His compositions are masterful in their balancing of dark and light for dramatic effect.Among the most powerful images in the show are two lithographs of the Madonna, one in black and white done in 1895, and the other in color from 1902. Other than the color, the images are identical. Each is of a nude with a stark white body and black hair. Heavy waving lines in the background follow the contour of her head and body. There is a frame with sperm swimming around it, and in the lower left corner a little skeleton that looks like the figure in “The Scream.”   This figure shows up in many guises in a number of his prints, perhaps most clearly in “Alpha’s Despair,” one of a group of images that illustrate the tragic myth of the love between “Alpha,” a woman, and “Omega,” her lover who murders her.Another strong image is “On the Waves of Love,” picturing the head and shoulders of a woman floating in water. Typical of Munch, the waves around her mimic the shape of her flowing hair. The woman looks like a corpse. If you study this print carefully, you’ll see that there is a man’s head on her shoulder. Such hidden images are not uncommon in his work.This is a most fascinating show that, once seen, should linger in your mind.
Edvard Munch and The Sea, Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through July 17, $12-$14, Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave. Tacoma,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Rob Halpern: Wednesday, May 4th, 11:30-1:00 pm in the 2nd floor Recital Hall of the COM Building

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Fri, 04/22/2016 - 11:39am

Rob HalpernCommon Place (Ugly Duckling Presse 2015) is Rob Halpern‘s most recent book of poetry. Other titles include Music for Porn (Nightboat 2013), Disaster Suites (Palm Press 2009), and Rumored Place (Krupskaya 2006).  Together with Taylor Brady, he also co-authored the book-length poem, Snow Sensitive Skin, which has been reissued by Displaced Press.  Recent essays and translations appear in Chicago ReviewJournal of Narrative Theory, and The Claudius App.  Rob currently splits his time between San Francisco and Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he teaches at Eastern Michigan University and Women’s Huron Valley Prison.


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Take Five to Ask about Take 2 from Evergreen Direct Credit Union

Thurston Talk - Fri, 04/22/2016 - 6:57am


Instead of the age-old adage “take two and call me in the morning,” Evergreen Direct Credit Union is upping the ante. With their Take 2 loan feature, you can skip two payments each year for the duration of the loan…for free! Available on almost all of Evergreen Direct’s loan offerings, Take 2 is an ideal

Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 04/22/2016 - 6:00am


Our sunny skies and record-high temperatures seem to be on their way out, but summer-like temperatures were fun while they lasted. Photos submitted by our fantastic readers showed the amazing beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities that Thurston County has to offer. And this weekend, we showcase one of Olympia’s most beloved traditions – Spring Arts Walk and

Carrie Ziegler Combines Students, Science, and Conservation in New Art Installation

Thurston Talk - Fri, 04/22/2016 - 6:00am


Did you know it takes 2,000 gallons of water to make one pair of jeans? Local artist Carrie Ziegler shared this fact with me while discussing her latest project. Carrie has been working on the project for one year. The finished project will hang at the WET Science Center located inside the LOTT Wastewater Treatment

Olympia Tumwater Foundation Offers Early Childhood Learning Grants

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 5:37pm


 Submitted by the Olympia Tumwater Foundation The Olympia Tumwater Foundation has grants available to support early childhood education programs. The grants, which range from $250 to $3,000, were created to support innovative, sustainable classroom projects. Any Thurston County school district, nonprofit, early learning provider or collaboration of those groups may apply for the funding. The Olympia

Sidewalk Receives Grant from Thurston County Realtors Association

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 4:59pm


Submitted by SideWalk SideWalk is pleased to announce it has received a $16,500 Housing Opportunity Grant from the Thurston County Realtors Association (TCRA) and National Association of Realtors (NAR). These funds will support SideWalk’s Rapid Rehousing program, which provides short-term rental assistance to people in our community who are experiencing homelessness. “This grant and partnership

The Language Archive

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 2:02pm
Event:  Thu, 05/05/2016 - 8:00pm

On May 5, Harlequin Productions opens The Language Archive by Julia Cho at the State Theater in downtown Olympia. This inventive and whimsical play looks at the way language may complicate love and the expression of feeling may find its ultimate form in the scent of baking bread. The show runs until May 28. Tickets are available online at, or over the phone at (360)786-0151.

George is a man consumed with preserving and documenting the dying languages of far-flung cultures. He is immersed in words but tongue-tied when his wife, Mary, announces that she is leaving him. Broken hearted, he turns to his current project: researching a dying language as spoken by an aged couple who are the last surviving speakers. Instead he finds them arguing in English over his claim on an airplane's window seat and her cooking. Meanwhile, George's assistant, Emma, has fallen in love with him but cannot find the words to express it in a way that he can hear. The Language Archive explores the way that words may stifle communication and how profound and incomprehensible feelings look for shapes that may not fit an archive.

     WHO:       Harlequin Productions

     WHAT:      The Language Archive, a romantic dramedy by Julia Cho

     WHEN:      May 5-28, 2016; Thursdays-Saturdays at 8:00pm, Sunday matinees at 2:00pm

     WHERE:     The Historic State Theater – 202 4th Avenue East, Downtown Olympia 98501

     PRICE:        General: $34, Senior/Military: $31, Student/Youth: $20

$15 Rush Tickets available at Box Office 30 minutes prior to curtain logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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26 Local Students Beat Out 2500+ Teams for Chance at World Championship of Robotics

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 1:32pm


Submitted by Olympia Robotics Federation FIRST Robotics Team 4450 This month, while most South Sound students were lounging on spring break, 26 motivated students from Capital, Olympia & Avanti High Schools and their robot named USS Kelvin were hard at work competing for a highly coveted spot in the World Championships of Robotics. More than 75,000

Saint Martin’s University Presents a Reading by Award-Winning Brazilian Poet Salgado Maranhão

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 10:36am


From illiteracy to recognition as one of Brazil’s most renowned poets, Salgado Maranhão’s remarkable journey progressed from life as a subsistence farmer to a world-class writer. Illiterate until the age of 15, Maranhão spent most of his youth laboring on his family’s subsistence farm. Despite the odds, Maranhão has since become one of Brazil’s most

Thrifty Thurston Makes Music at the Instrument Petting Zoo

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 6:41am


My daughter was four when she touched her first violin. She was wandering through Spring Arts Walk in downtown Olympia with her grandmother. They happened upon the Instrument Petting Zoo inside The Washington Center for the Performing Arts. In that moment, she fell in love with the violin. Fast forward five years – my daughter

New Home for Honeybees at the Capitol

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 6:26am


Submitted by State of Washington On April 20, 2016, the Olympia Beekeepers Association brought approximately 30,000 European honeybees to the Capitol Campus.  The bees were placed in two hives positioned in the front lawn of the Governor’s Mansion. The bees and hives are part of a collaborative effort with the Department of Enterprise Services and Olympia

The Addams Family Comes to Capital High School

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 6:15am


Capital High School has always been known for their outstanding theater program. Their newest production, The Addams Family, is based on the book by Marshall Brickman and Erick Elice, with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and the well-known characters from Charles Addams. The play embodies the classic dark comedy that people know and love

Tumwater Passes Brewery Property Ordinance

Janine's Little Hollywood - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 11:08pm

Above: The five story RST Cellars Building at 240 Custer Way is part of the planned action land use ordinance passed by the Tumwater City Council on Tuesday evening. Built over a period of years starting in 1966, the industrial building housed large beer cooling tanks and is not historic. It is located near the historic Schmidt House. In promotional materials, Falls Development has marketed it as a possible hotel with retail on the ground floor. Recently, it has been suggested as the location for a craft brewing and distillery center. It could also be a structured parking garage. Falls Development has said that the redevelopment of this building is one of its first priorities. Photo taken April 16, 2016.
By Janine
“We’re on our way, for better or worse,” said City of Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet, after the Tumwater city council voted 5 – 2 on Tuesday evening in favor of a planned action land use ordinance that includes the site of the Old Brewhouse.
Councilmembers Ed Hildreth and Joan Cathey voted no.
The action concluded a lengthy public hearing and finalized a land use plan three years in the making for the 32 acre area currently owned by developer George Heidgerken and Falls Development LLC.  The area is roughly bounded by Custer Way to the south, the Deschutes River to the west, Capitol Lake to the north and the railroad to the east.
Out of three land use alternatives offered by the city, the modified ordinance was a compromise of sorts, landing somewhere between a do-nothing approach and a maximum redevelopment build out. 
The council did not give Heidgerken his desired full build-out, instead opting for an alternative that limits a new parking garage to 625 stalls. Parking for a new building, a residential component, would be within that garage.
It also limits any new building within the planned action area to a maximum elevation of 126 feet, which is the ground level in the immediate vicinity of the Schmidt House, to preserve views from the house.
Offering a flexible design, the types of development and square footage of new development may be shifted between land uses, but the total of new PM peak hour vehicle trips can not exceed 306 trips.
The planned action ordinance will be reviewed again in five years by the city’s State Environmental Policy Act official, at which time it could be amended.
On April 5, the City of Tumwater approved a letter of agreement between the city and Falls Development LLC to acquire the six story, historic tower. The acquisition would also include easements to access the property and construct trails.
The tower is currently owned by Heidgerken, who has not yet signed the letter of agreement. He has until April 30 to do so.
During public comment time on Tuesday evening, concern was expressed by a member of the public that Heidgerken may back out and not sign the agreement if the council did not give Heidgerken his desired full build out.
Anthony Hempsted, a new hire of Falls Development LLC, spoke to that concern, saying it has taken partnership and vision to get this far with the city.
“Clearly, the city and Falls Development are in a long term relationship….In no way, shape or form would we walk away from it,” said Hempsted about the letter of agreement.
He praised the council for a transparent website, saying he had reviewed videos of past meetings.  
Regarding the ordinance, he said that Falls Development does not think it is perfect and would have preferred a full build out and more parking, but is willing to work with the city in good faith and the ordinance as written.
He said Falls Development will work on the first phase as soon as possible, the RST Cellars building, saying it could be a great craft brewing and distillery center, and would be a natural catalyst for future development.
The second phase would be the historic site.
“We have not done extensive work on what that would look like in the future. Any development would have to fit within the guidelines of the Historic (Preservation) Commission and we will certainly not do anything to infringe upon the historic nature of the four buildings.…”
Redevelopment of the area includes preservation or restoration of the historic buildings within the planned action area, which are the Old Brewhouse, the east and west warehouses, and the keg house.
Several individuals spoke in support of the ordinance.
Michael Cade, executive director of the Thurston Economic Development Council, admitted this was not an easy site, but spoke in support of the planned action and mentioned other successful planned actions he’s been involved with such as the Southwest Everett Environmental Impact Area and the Bellingham Waterfront District.
Mariella Cummings, chair of the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce, also supported the ordinance, saying the Chamber recognizes the importance of the brewhouse property as a critical jewel in our community’s character. She commended the council, as did others, for the creative, deliberative, thoughtful approach the city has used to get this far in the process.
David Nicandri, a member of Tumwater’s Historic Preservation Committee, the group that will ultimately decide whether or not to issue Heidgerken the required Certificate of Appropriateness for his projects, if they are ever submitted, spoke in support of the planned action. Nicandri is also the former longtime director of the Washington State Historical Society.
Speaking at length as he did at the April 5 public hearing in support of the city’s acquisition of the historic tower, Nicandri likened the city’s challenge regarding the Old Brewery to the City of Tacoma’s revitalization of the Old Union Station into a district courthouse.
Explaining that it was a former Superfund site, he said that every development project has its limitations and opportunities. The Union Station had outlived its usefulness as a station and the only way it was going to be saved was if new development filled in around it. Ideas for its purpose were bantered around. He said the city did the necessary planning and was ready to go when the creative energies of the community finally mobilized around the project.
“So it is possible, with solid design criteria… to do significant infill and do it sensitively, as was done in the case of the Tacoma Union Station project.”
Adding that the Old Brewhouse site is not a pristine, environmental preserve, he continued, saying that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was urban Tacoma. He said this property, when fully built out in 10 to 20 years, could be nationally recognized.
Others expressed concerns or spoke in opposition to the ordinance.
Krag Unsoeld, president of the South Puget Environmental Education Clearinghouse (SPEECH), expressed concerns about sea level rise for this area and that all the environmental impacts of developing the hillside, removal of the artesian springs, and widening of the road to access the site have not been taken into consideration.
He also expressed concern about the city’s questionable business practice of entering into a hefty financial commitment to restore the tower, and asked how the city is going to follow through if it does not get grant money.
He said the situation was like a tragic comedy.
“…There is some belief that none of this (redevelopment) will ever happen….If you believe that Heidgerken is not serious (about his plans)… then don’t rely on him backing out in hopes of getting what you hope to attain.  Just draw the line and say no, that’s not appropriate, it’s not environmentally appropriate….”
Ryan Carlson said he supports the idea of redevelopment at the site but that the ordinance went too far in scope and scale.  He said that because the brewery is in a historic district, the bar for redevelopment should be set higher, and urged the council to maintain the integrity of the site. Specifically, he said the mitigation plan for the hillside’s stability would require significant re-engineering and the integrity of the site would be lost in the process.
Speaking of diminished integrity, Carlson said he grew up on Tumwater Hill, and noted that the once spectacular Overlook Park, which had allowed for a 360 degree, panoramic view of the city and the region, was reduced to the size of a postage stamp.
Others who spoke in opposition to the ordinance included former Olympia Mayor Bob Jacobs.
“It is ironic that at the same time Olympia is working to eliminate its 'Mistake on the Lake,' Tumwater seems determined to have one of its own,” he said.
The vote was put in the form of a motion by Councilmember Neil McClanahan who said everyone has done their homework. The motion was seconded by Councilmember Tom Oliva.
Councilmember Nicole Hill said that while this was the hardest issue she has considered since she’s been on the council, she was pleased that details have been tightened up in the last few weeks.
Councilmember Joan Cathey expressed concern that the council is not in control of the “sweet spot” –  the balance between responsible development and protecting the environment.
Councilmembers were influenced by the thoughtful comments made by the public and all appreciated the high level of civil discourse demonstrated by the public and councilmembers.
Councilmember Tom Oliva, choking up, said the issue was surprisingly hard to talk about, and reminisced how, 20 years ago, he saw the tower, was immediately intrigued by it and wondered why it was dark.
Saying the planned action ordinance was “a little bit overbuilt, in my opinion,” Oliva said he was hopeful and confident that this last opportunity to preserve the buildings will work.
For more photos and information about the planned action, the Old Brewery property and historic tower, George Heidgerken, Falls Development LLC, Tumwater, the brewery district planning efforts and related issues, go to Little Hollywood,

For more information about the Planned Action from the City of Tumwater, go to

Sunshine and High Rollin’ Hot Rods at Quinault Beach

Thurston Talk - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 6:18pm


Nothing says summer like a weekend of sun, surf, hot rods, and high stakes fun. Friday and Saturday, April 22 and 23 enjoy it all at Quinault Beach Resort and Casino’s seventh annual High Rollin’ Hot Rods at the Beach. With over $2,500 in cash and prizes awarded throughout the two-day festival, event organizer Johnny

New video about Priest Point Park

OlyBlog Home Page - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 3:25pm

Many folks have been to Priest Point Park.  Here is a new video produced by my wife and I with highlights of the park's history.  It is 10 minutes long and I hope you enjoy watching it. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Tumwater Auto Spa Celebrates Earth Day

Thurston Talk - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 9:03am


Submitted by Tumwater Auto Spa April 22 has been designated Earth Day.  Each year a new theme is chosen to encourage citizens of the world to think about the choices they make and how they affect the health of our planet.  This year’s theme is Trees for the Earth.  This theme was chosen to encourage cities

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