Thursday, July 31, 2014

Summer archive post: Soccer history, two stories about Puget Sound

First, you might not have known, but soccer has a deep and rich history in Cascadia (from a submission I put into GoalWa):
This isn’t a thorough history of high level Puget Sound area soccer, but rather a quick overview of what I could find in a few places about the earliest soccer in the area. I drew solely from articles I could find at Chronicling America and the Internet Archive. I put my emphasis on adult intercity soccer, ignoring mentions of international soccer (there seemed to be some friendlies played in Seattle) and school soccer.

The years I was able to find resources were basically from 1906 through the early 1920′s. That said, these years seem to represent a high water mark for local soccer.

The Seattle Wanderers traveled to Bainbridge Island to play the Port Blakely team at Pleasant Beach in 1906. This game, and the Wanderers themselves, are the earliest reference to Seattle soccer I could find. Below this article is an interesting reminder of how old some issues in soccer really are. The article is about why the game itself is called “soccer,” reminding more mainstream fans of the full name of the sport of association football.
But, did you know its also true that Olympia itself (tiny little Oly!) has its own rich history of club soccer. This includes a trip into what I think is the best sporting tournament in America, the U.S. Open Cup:
The 1973 campaign by the Olympia Olys in the Challenge Cup turned out a little better. They won their first round game on February 11 against the Rainier Brewers 4-1, but a couple of weeks later, they dropped 4-2 against the San Jose Portuguese. That team would end up losing to eventual champions Maccabi Los Angeles.

Club soccer in western Washington was different back in the 70s. Most semi-pro teams played in the state soccer league, which kicked off in the early 1950s and at its peak was a three division system. Olympia's first entry into the league was in 1965. That team played at Stevens Field, the old high school stadium just south of the Lincoln School.
Remember history is deep. Its varied. The history you know is often there because someone wrote it down. The saying "history is written by the winners" is so true, that its not even funny. But, we can look beyond that first telling of history, digitize way more stuff than we ever had before, and go back and relearn what we know about ourselves.
 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer archive post: Aunt Sally and the Sounders naming contest

This piece ran in GoalWa just about two years ago now. I really like it. People disagreed with me, but I think the name was going to be Sounders all along. It worked better if we owned it.

My main takeaway from the recent Forbes blog series on the Sounders (E Pluribus Sounders) was how well-considered the move from the minors to MLS was. At every point, it seemed like the current Sounders ownership group made the right decisions, from marketing, to branding to player personnel.

Forgive me if I’m off base, but the blog series rang true to me. I really do remember things going pretty smoothly from the USL to kick-off in the MLS. Which, made me think hard about the one time it seemed like the Sounders owners were about to make a mistake: when they were deciding on the team.

In spring 2008, the club announced a web-based vote on the name of team, and that “Sounders” would not be among the choices. But, when the actual vote took place, there was a chance for fans to write in a vote. Most people wrote in “Sounders” or something close, and the rest is history.

But, why does it seem strange to me that an ownership group that seems to have done practically everything else right, might have gotten something so basic so so so wrong? I mean, Seattle Republic? Really?
Is it possible that the Sounders proposed purposefully bad names like Alliance and Republic to raise the interest (and ire) of the fan base to force the issue on the Sounders name?

This sort of proposal has some relations in the real business and real estate planning world. This sort of thing is called a straw man proposal (not straw man argument) or an Aunt Sally.

A straw man proposal is used in business settings as a rough document to kick off a discussion. Everyone is in the loop, so no one thinks the original proposal is a possible end to the discussion.

On the other hand, an Aunt Sally is disguised as a serious proposal (we want to Build a 20 story building!) when a much more reasonable goal (no really, just a 10 story building) is desired. So, you’re able to walk back the large building for a not so quite large building. A 10 story building may have been equally opposed as a 20, but its much easier to swallow than a 20.

So, in our case, the ownership really didn’t try to pull a straw man proposal (since we obviously weren’t in on it) or an Aunt Sally (since we would’ve gone for the Sounders in the first place.)

So, the real end of the false dilemma was probably to further engage and connect the fan-base in the name and the overall brand. It worked on me, I certainly remember feeling a sense of massive relief and pride when the result of the vote was announced.

The original context of the naming process seems particularly out of sync:
“The three naming options will be announced Tuesday, March 25, and were chosen through fan focus groups, internal committees and fan suggestions, but will not include Sounders.”

“I have great respect for the Sounders and the club’s history,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “While we should celebrate the past, we believe the MLS Seattle team should be about where we are headed tomorrow and help position the club globally.”

For one, I’m not sure how they could have conducted real focus groups on naming the team and avoided finding Sounders at the top of the heap. The end result of the process was 49 percent of all voters writing in “Sounders.”

Also, while the MLS has a bad reputation for respecting its NASL roots, it had been ten years since the San Jose club had first rebranded to its NASL-original Earthquakes. Also, by the time the Sounders started ramping up in 2008, the MLS Earthquakes 2.0 had already hit the field.

Also, since the Quakes and Sounders, both the Whitecaps and Timbers have come back with their NASL names with no discussion.

Lastly, two of the proposed names — Alliance and Republic — seem to indicate that it was more about the voting process and the fans actually choosing than anything else.

Any serious person would know that Sounders was a powerful name locally, it was unlikely to carry any bad feelings from the NASL days because the Sounders had been so well supported in those days. To me, the point of the vote was to give the fans the chance to put their own stamp on the team when the first game was still over a year away.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The long history of hating and loving Boeing

When we jump on the bandwagon around here, we sure do jump on hard:
Senator Bone attacked Boeing in February and March of 1934. He referred repeatedly on February 20 to an unnamed "air- plane factory" that had "made 90 percent profit out of the Govt." and proclaimed that he did not want his country to be "helpless in the face of the inordinate and extortionate demands of privately owned airplane companies." On March, 6 the senator went further, he named names. As part of a broader attack on firms that did business with the federal government, he charged that Boeing had made profits of 68 percent on navy business and 90 percent in its dealings with the army, and he complained about the company's employment, at $25,000 per year, of a vice president to solicit business from the federal government. For the Tacoma Democrat, money and politics mixed in alarming ways.
Less than 10 years later, the Seattle Chamber of Commerce would join with labor leaders to rally for Boeing.

The quick turnaround in the political and cultural center of Washington state towards Boeing obviously had more to do with World War II and the company's ability to capitalize on the war. Boeing had gone from a small-to-medium size operator in the airplane industry to the center of the Puget Sound economy. Almost 20 percent of the entire workforce of King County was somehow connected to Boeing by the end of the war.

This turnaround, from whipping boy to savoir isn't untold, it may just not be well understood. Other people have written about it, but usually just in the terms of I outlined above, which can be pretty simple.

But, there are a few more wrinkles I think worth exploring.

First, Senator Bone. If you like my Business/Libertarian or New England/Appalachia duopoly of Cascadian politics, Bone falls into the Libertarian Appalachian wing. Firmly anti-corporate, Bone took a shot at Boeing in the same way that Washingtonians took shots at the rail-road companies. His political tradition fell from the same tree the spawned anti-corporate talk at both the Washington and Oregon constitutional conventions.

Also, it is hard to understate the double impact of the Great Depression and World War II had on reshaping our region. Nominally, we were friendly business Republicans region prior to the 1930s, but the political map was whipped clean in 1932.

But, with World War II, the inertia from the 1930s began to recenter towards business in the 40s. Youngins like Scoop Jackson and Warren Magnuson were much more friendly with the traditional New England political thought. And, by the end of the war, Washington's economy and culture had changed, and a cadre of young business friendly Democrats were ready to fight for Boeing.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Nothing about LakeFair. You should all be proud (Olyblogosphere for July 20, 2014)

1. It isn't just LakeFair that makes us tick. There were some great things at Pride too.

2. Ken obviously let's people write without using their real names. This particular post seems to toe the line of acting like a kid in civil discourse. And, reminds us that the entire isthmus planning group is a poorly held public secret.

3. I usually like local blog talking about local things, but one other will do. This time a local blog talks about cultural appropriation.

Camille:
I should note here that the original poster found it useful to say something to the tune of “most Africans are doing it wrong”. If anyone is doing it “right”, I’d say it’s them. His whole rant was … startling. Now, I am not disparaging this young man at all. He was speaking most vehemently based on the information he had. There is a lot of misinformation out there on the internet and I can’t fault him for falling prey to some of it In fact, I remain strangely unemotional about the whole exchange. But it did set me to thinking…

Should I be angry that someone from a culture other than my own is telling me about my culture in authoritative ways? I am not. I am … simply pondering a world in which this happens so regularly that we can’t even recognise it.
 
4. Who can just take away a park from members of our community, who just happen to be homeless?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Do we have to wait until Dan Evans dies before someone writes a biography?

Scoop Jackson, Warren Magnuson, and Tom McCall all have biographies.

The Secretary of State's Legacy Project has released biographies of Slade Gorton, Booth Gardner and John Spellman.

Cecil Andrus has a really good biography. "Fire at Eden's Gate" about McCall is better. But, the Andrus one is really good.

Scoop and Maggy cast a longer shadow in Washington, sure. McCall is probably the most inspiring Cascadian politicians. But, at least in terms of 20th century executives in Washington State, none is more powerful and interesting that Dan Evans.

And, there is no biography. Hell, even Nancy Evans had a full oral history.

Dan Evans is a totem in our politics. A "Dan Evans" Republican or a "Dan Evans" anything is the symbol of a rational, friendly to the environment, good for business politician. Evans served three terms and has been the only governor to serve three consecutively.

Biographies are oftentimes the best history. People moving through history, changing the context around them. It can be pretty good reading. And, arguably, no single governor has guided Washington through more interesting times that Evans.

So, why no Evans book? 

UPDATE 7/17/14 12:43 p.m.: Apparently Evans has been working for decades on an autobiography (thanks Deb Ross). From the Nancy Evans oral history:
...the week before Scoop died Dan had called the chair of the Evergreen trustees, Thelma  Jackson, because he wanted to write this autobiography he’s been working on for so long.  He had actually started doing some research, and started organizing the governor’s years, and going back into his own childhood – those sort of things.  So he had gott en that far, but not really doing research like he is now.  So he asked for an appointment with her.  And he was going to tell her that he would work unti l the following June, but then he wanted to leave Evergreen. He wanted to write his book and then do something else. He didn’t know what – just something else.
 I'll be honest though. What I want isn't what I want. What makes a book like Fire at Edens Gate so good isn't just that it tells you the facts of a politicians life, but that it carries that life through the broader context of our communities and does it honestly. More honestly than could be done for an authorized biography (Shelby Scates on Magnuson or even John Hughes on Gardner) and much more honest than the subject can do on themselves.

It is great Evans is working on his autobiography. I want someone else to take a crack at it too.

Monday, July 14, 2014

We can't move Evergreen closer to Olympia, but we can bring Olympia (or a walkable community) to Evergreen

This is working out to be a part two to the post I put up last week about how we could've had a different history, college and town if Evergreen had been built closer to town.

Barring Dr. Emmett Brown, how can we try to solve the separation issue that impacts both Evergreen (as a mostly car based campus) and Olympia (a college town without a college in town).

I think the solution would be to cut down some trees! How very non-Evergreen, but they had to cut down trees in the first place, so why not just cut some more.

On the east side of campus, there is a large Douglas Fir woods. This property is totally owned by the college, is bound on the north by a fairly new residential development, on the south by Evergreen Parkway and on the west, by the non-teaching portion of campus (residential and recreation areas).

Another feature is the lack of wetlands in this portion of the campus:


I can easily imagine a dense residential and commercial development along Driftwood and Olverhulse, hugging the corner between the residential developments and campus. This would encourage more living close to campus and, of course, build a college-town sort of community nearby.

And, since I'm just spit-balling here, I am imagining the same sort of mixed density, apartment above commercial development that was sketched out early on in my own neighborhood.

Evergreen's own Master Plan admits that too many students commute to campus, and the vast majority of those drive. The same plan mentions vaguely a small "local retail" development as part of a minor addition to campus (Project K). That wouldn't be a bad start, but the idea in the plan is really tiny compared to what sort of real estate is actually available out there.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Where would've been a better place to put Evergreen?

@jeff_james is always on my back about Olympia. It isn't a college town, he says. It doesn't have the normal trappings of the Midwest college towns that he was used to. Somehow it always comes down to college bars, but I think that's just what I remember.

Ken also points this out, that the relationship between Evergreen and Olympia is different:

Nicandri said there’s a lack of things for students to do on the college campus, and its physical isolation causes even more problems.   “There’s no place for a student to buy an aspirin or visit a laundromat or buy other needed items without leaving the campus,” he said.

While touting the great academic component of the college, Nicandri said its time to re-look at the campus and perhaps allow some commercial activities.   This has to be coupled with renovating the existing dorms and constructing additional housing facilities.

“Perhaps its time to talk about requiring students to live on campus,” he said.
Evergreen and Olympia are inseparable, but the reality of their actual physical distance (and irony that people need to be able to drive to campus) has some real impacts. If you are a student with a job or even a family life, its easier to live off campus than on. The cultural mix between the campus community and town is stilted.

Sure, people can point to things we have here (OFS, general art community) that we can credit to the college and its alumni. But, you'd have to admit that these institutions would be stronger and more diverse if the campus was closer (or actually in) town.

Which begs the question, how would the founders of the school, in 1968, found a place closer to Olympia? It isn't like Evergreen is the University of Washington. The UW was founded in the 1800s, and the city and the school literally grew together over time. Now, the school is firmly integrated into the city's geography, but it took decades for that to happen.

What choices did the school founders have in the 1960s to get closer. Turns out, they had at least one great choice, not far from the current campus.

The site where the Olympia Auto Mall, the South Puget Sound Community College and Mottman Industrial Park was nearly empty in the late 1960s (image from Earth Explorer):

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-7wlAMpnXS5s/U77KBXiAUGI/AAAAAAAAB5E/eY0PTN-uAqs/s1600/Olympia+west+side.png

Not only was the site empty (seemingly available) it was also connected to a portion of Olympia that was already developed, granted it was a sleepy residential neighborhood at the time. But, in the decade soon after the founding of Evergreen, the westside of Olympia exploded with commercial and residential growth. Other parts of town I looked at included the general Southeast (less open space, more houses) and Northeast (same). But, I'm curious about other parts of town. Would it have been possible to do Evergreen NYU style? Build a handful of reasonable office buildings downtown? Maybe the emptying of downtown happened 10 years too late for that to work out, but it would've been interesting. Anyway, food for thought.