Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Approaching Tumwater's past fate

Images from the City of Tumwater:



Being in Steilacoom for a few hours yesterday got me thinking about that old saw about Tumwater: that even though Tumwater city fathers invited I-5 into town to roll right over the old Tumwater downtown, it was a short sighted decision and ending up "killing the town."

Steilacoom struck me as what Tumwater could have ended up like if I-5 had gone around the old town. Slow, a few old commercial buildings tucked neatly into a mostly residential town. Probably smaller than it is now, depending of course on how close I-5 got to town. Probably what saved what we now know as Steilacoom is that Pierce County gave the outskirts of town to the Army to build Fort Lewis.

Anyway, first off, I took a look at what the most basic impact I-5 had on Tumwater. In short, did the city father's gamble in the 1950s, to raze the old Deschutes-side downtown for an interstate, work out?

So, here's a spreadsheet that puts together two basic measures, structures (which I stumbled upon months ago) and population.



There was an early surge in structures from Tumwater after the highway went in, but Olympia quickly took the lead.

In terms of population, there also was a surge, and Tumwater is still leading in growth, but their lead is shrinking.

So, in short, yes the gamble worked. By the raw numbers, I-5 coming through certainly had an impact and seemingly surged Tumwaters growth (and in my opinion) made it the town it is today. But, that surge is subsiding, and I'd even venture to say that along with Lacey being created out of nearly nothing, Tumwater's post I-5 growth advantage is now gone, and all the communities are on the same playing field.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Green River Pop in Steilacoom

Bair Bistro, via flickr, by Suburban Times


Green River Pop has been around for years, and its one of those kid memories I have that I try to make my way back to. Usually I can find it in a random gas station, but for the past ten years, its been harder and harder to find.

Even harder (well impossible) has been the mythical hand mixed Green River pop, which I've hear of, but never actually seen in the wild. Until today at lunch when I drug my family up to Steilacoom to the Bair Bistro (former Bair Drug) where they've been serving hand mixed Green River pop since Christmas:
There’s an old/new item on the menu at the Bair Bistro in Steilacoom.

It’s called “Green River” (not to be confused with the coffee-colored liquid that meanders through Auburn), and the refreshing, green beverage conjures up a bit of nostalgia for those who remember “the good old days.”

A few days before Christmas, a handful of regular customers had an opportunity to taste-test this old-fashioned liquid while Bistro proprietor Sarah Cannon experimented with the recipe to replicate the perfect “Green River.”

After several patrons had sampled the mixture, Jane Bair Light, granddaughter of Bair Store founder, W. L. Bair, added her straw into the sample blend…sipped deeply, paused …and pronounced, “no, it needs a bit more syrup.”

The syrup/soda proportions, Cannon vowed, will be perfected by the time patrons flock to the Steilacoom Historical Museum’s “Living Museum” to order the renowned soda fountain drink.

Here is my photographic evidence. One with the carbonated water and syrup before mixing.


And, one immediately after.


When we arrived, we were informed that they were out of C02, so my Green River pop had to be mixed with regular soda water. My overall impression is that in terms of taste its very close to what Green River tastes like out of a bottle, possibly just a little less sugary.

And, of course Green River (soft drink) has a wikipedia entry.

Is there any place in Olympia that does hand mixed pop?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What the hell is wrong with Nikki McClure's "Speedy the Geoduck?"


Evergreen is looking for a new Geoduck logo. Nothing wrong with that, but what's wrong with the great logo they've already used? And, from what I remember, its designed by Evergreen Grad and all around great Olympian Nikki McClure.

I remember talking to then athletic director Dave Weber when they (the athletic department) rolled out the new geoduck, which must have been maybe 10 years ago or so. He said it was drawn by McClure and that it would be a logo for the sports teams. I assume since then, its use has faded away, since its almost impossible to find online, especially on the Evergreen website.

Great logo though, they should really consider resurrecting it.

Well duh update: I couldn't remember where I'd seen the logo recently, and it turns out it was on an Evergreen website, at the bookstore. They're already using on hats!

On Karen Rogers public forums and the need for another organization

This week, a city councilmember's forums became the topic of conversation. Since being elected last year, Karen Rogers has been holding formal meetings with citizens to gather input. Summaries of the meetings are posted on the city's website. Sometimes city staff are requested to attend, and the impact on staff time on one city councilmembers effort to reach out to citizens.

Before I get to my point, here are some tweets by Lakewood City Councilmember Walter Neary (and two) and open government leader Sarah Schacht. Both Walter and Sarah seem to point to a more formalized additional way for the city to encourage input from citizens.

I think Roger's has hit on something important, but she might be going about it wrong. Granted, I haven actually attended one of these meetings, I've only read summaries and of course the coverage in the Olympian. But, they seem to point to the need for more input in city matters. Or, just public matters in general.

By the way, I've pointed out in the past that Rogers has a decent time getting public input.

So, the city might just use the model created by Rogers and formalize it. Rotate the city councilmembers that attend, but with no more than three at a time (to prevent a quorum). Councilmembers already have several regional intergovernmental commitments that mean they attend meetings above and beyond regular business. One more meeting a quarter with citizens, with a mix between citizen and city generated topics, wouldn't be that hard.

What they also might think about doing is formalizing a new so-called "blog policy" (like the one Seattle has) to ease the process of city councilmembers posting on the city's website.

But, that isn't really what I am interested in seeing, I think there needs to be a whole new organization focussed on putting on public forums of general civic interest. Something like a city club. Boy, I like this topic, don't I?

Anyway, there are a lot of example out there locally, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Lakewood United, and North Mason (County) Voice. Each of these organizations have a central role of holding forums on generally civic topics. Some, like the Seattle City Club, also have other projects like a living Voters Guide.

So, why haven't these sort of efforts taken hold in Olympia?


I would say because most of the positive political force in Olympia is focussed for or against a particular issue. Oly2012, Olympia Capitol Park, and other organizations are focussed on their own goals, not necessarily providing an open forum. As they should be.

It also might be, since we are a capital city, that people with this sort of thing in their DNA and who live locally are focussed on statewide issues, not necessarily on the local civic landscape.

But, there seems to be the pieces you could put together to organize a city club like organization. The League of Women Voters has a local chapter, but I honestly don't hear much from them (I have to make an effort to hear anything from them). There is also SPEECH, which seems to have a general forum role, at least in the environmental sense.

I could could also see how other tangential organizations like the Coalition of Neighborhoods and the Friends of the Olympia Library could play a role.

So, what is standing in the way? 


What can we do to get this done?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What will Washington State do with the congressional seat we're getting from New Jersey?

In the data release today, New Jersey is losing and Washington has gained (you know, among other states).

I'm hoping that Dave Bradlee updates his very useful tool soon with the new data, but in my first go round, it really looks to me like the new district will be centered on Olympia, and bring in mostly Democratic coastal and rural counties like Mason, Grays Harbor and Pacific.

And, if you aren't satisfied with the online tool, there's a boardgame for you and your nerdy friends to help redistrict Washington State (via @epersonae)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Olympia Time #1: Welcome to Olympia

And, its about metonymic use of the term Olympia to mean "Washington State government." Wow, big surprise, bet you can't wait to read this one.

Elaine Nelson was kind enough to write a short introduction, basically so I could say at least one other person shares by pet peeve enough to claim it in print.

And, yes, a lot of what's in there is already here on my blog under the metonymy of Olympia tag.

You can download the file here and print your own copy or just read it in the window below. I'm trying to find an easy way for folks to order their own printed copy, but I'm having some technical issues.



And, please, if you see any dumb typos, just let me know. I'll correct them and post a new version.

In preparation for later tonight, some metonymy of Olympia tweets

Its getting to be that time of year when the metonymy returns to Olympia.

And, if you were wondering, down below where I reply to a tweet about a post by Sarah Schacht about the budget bill over the weekend and how it appeared out nowhere? That post is simply brilliant. Sarah's exactly the right type of person we need blogging, her stuff certainly needs more attention.

And, my little snarky exchange with her is exactly the reason why I sometimes go overboard caring about how people use the term "Olympia." Christ almighty, Emmett, get some perspective. There are bigger fish to fry, you know?

  • Arg @seattletimes "Olympia knew the lucrative rip-off was going on, and said nothing" and its because we don't like you #metonymy
  • MLAS: Pension Games, Seeds of Revolt http://is.gd/iN0JY #WA #Olympia #tcot #taxpayers #publicsector #p2
emettoconnell: @mlas seeds of revolt just in Olympia or across the entire state of Washington? I'm confused #metonymy
 
emmettoconnell: @SarahSchacht no offense but don't peg #Olympia for a lack of sunshine in Washington state govt #metonymy
 SarahSchacht: @emmettoconnell I don't think you read my blog post; I documented a lack of public access to the budget bill, not transparency across WA.
emmettoconnell: @SarahSchacht I did, great post, I was replying to an earlier tweet of yours in which you used #Olympia in a metonymic fashion
  • pnwlocalnews: @GovGregoire proposes health care, pension modernization in biennium budget reform http://t.co/J5bpdVi #wabudget #olympia
emmettoconnell: @PNWLocalNews how about a hashtag for state politics that isn't about just one town? #metonymy

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Letting people know about whats going on with construction (City of Olympia vs. Thurston County)

It isn't that the construction on Henderson Boulevard is taking too long, which it is. I understand that big public works projects hit humps and need delays.

Its how I learned about it that bothers me. I learned about it from the daily newspaper. I live right in the middle road construction hell right now. Between the Yelm Highway project (county), the Henderson sanitary sewer (city) and an apartment project, I'm surrounded.

But, I'm not in mystery with what's going on with the Yelm Highway project, because between an active twitter account and blog, they've been doing a great job keeping folks up to date on developments: when its a good idea to brave the road, progress, and cool videos.

The City of Olympia, not so much. Southbound traffic is pretty much stopped during the day, and the work schedule is in constant flux (not always stopping at 4p as advertized on the web and reader boards). And, the worst part is, if you had been paying attention and checking their project webpage, you wouldn't have learned any sooner that the project is going over the limit.

Its well passed time that local governments need to depend on the only paper in town to let people know about news. They have the ability now to create micro-channels on the neighborhood level to inform people about construction updates or crime in their neightborhood, or anything else really.

And, most importantly, it doesn't need to be all that fancy. Free blogger.com blogs and twitter are about as easy as it gets.

Look at this cool thing, you can embed city of Olympia council meetings now

I'm mostly posting this because I think its exciting that the city of Olympia's vendor finally caught up and now allows you to not only embed city council videos, but choose where you want the video to start. This is something little old TVW has been doing for a couple of years now, but I'm glad the vendor folks have caught up.

For some reason, this embedding thing seems to be working here and not over at Olyblog, which is a shame, because I think there will be more people interested in watching these clips over there.

And, if you're really interested in this particular topic, read Janine Gate's blog. She's good.


Get Microsoft Silverlight

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Washington historic districts that have crossed the Cascade Curtain

Yesterday, I took a look at "Historical Atlas of United States Congressional Districts" at the Olympia Timberland Library and answered a question I had last time I thought about congressional districts.

As far as I can tell, there aren't any online digital historic congressional district maps online, so the 24 year old atlas is the best resource I could find.

So, in the past hundred years or so, since Washington gave up on at-large districts, there have been three instances where a congressional district spanned the Cascade Curtain:
  • In 1909 the 2nd CD
  • 1969, the 3rd CD
  • 1973, the 4 CD
All three crossed the Cascades along the Columbia, so there is no historic parallel what I do with the 8th CD (link above). Both the 1909 and 1969, it was the historic parrelell of the current 3rd crossing over, taking in a couple of east side counties. The 1973, an east side district came west and took in Vancouver.