Last year, the Weekly Volcano chose musician and badass Jerry Ziegler as "Best Olympian," based on his unwavering devotion to Olympia's epic rock scene - an integral part of our Olympian identity.
This year, the Weekly Volcano chooses Mathias Eichler.
Eichler, too, is a badass. And he, too, has an unwavering devotion to Olympia.
Eichler's just comes in the form of community development through local business, events and overall downtown livelihood - another integral part of our Olympian identity.
Eichler has worked extensively with the Olympia Downtown Association to create events for the community, such as First Friday, where participating businesses stay open until 8 p.m., A Table for Olympia, essentially a giant community picnic featuring the chance to support local non-profits, and Craft X Northwest, a craft expo downtown and on the Westside.
In 2010, Eichler manned nearly 20 events, all of which didn't exist before his input and ideas took form.
"You get drunk doing events, it's so much fun!" says Eichler, who is originally from Germany and speaks with a charming accent.
For our interview, Eichler wears bright shoes and a bright smile.
Eichler moved to Seattle 11 years ago and settled in Olympia in 2007. He, his wife Trixy, and pal Brandon Rosage, opened einmaleins, a creative-design studio in downtown Olympia (you know the place, kitty corner from the bus depot, with huge windows and those cool black and white flags).
Besides running events, helping global and local clients with his creative-design business and raising a family, Eichler also writes insightful blogs at everydayolympia.com, and films entertaining and relevant shows with einmaleins co-founder Rosage. The shows are aired on einmaleins TV - Olympia's Internet Broadcast Network. Eichler currently hosts five shows, including "Don't Watch This," a thought-provoking opinion show, "You Make Olympia," where city council candidates are interviewed, and "Live Life Loud," a show that takes a tasteful and interesting approach to cultural topics like the fate of the Olympia Brewery world.
Eichler's high-energy attitude is contagious, and his motto, "Be an inspiration," is already working its magic on Olympia.
"I give him kudos for all that he's done," says Dave Platt, owner of The Mailbox and former chair of the Olympia Downtown Association. "We need more people like him."
It wasn't long after moving to town that Eichler realized community involvement was very important to Olympia - not only for businesses downtown, but for enrichment of the consumer experience as well. And so, Eichler started First Friday.
"Like that U2 song, throwing your arms around the world, you have the chance to throw your arms around Olympia and really have an impact," says Eichler.
Eichler says that by promoting downtown Olympia through events like First Friday and Table for Olympia that people will find the community has much more to offer than just shopping. The events, he says, are a chance for people to get to know one another, to network in person and to be more active with neighbors in their daily lives.
And Eichler's ideas are working.
"Eichler's leadership and coordination led us to creating an event that, in its first year, attracted over 300 people - which is quite a feat for a first try," says Rob Richards, who helped bring Table for Olympia to fruition.
"When he has an idea, he puts his head down and grinds it out, and the result is, more often than not, ‘ah-may-zing!" adds Richards.
(Anyone who has seen Eichler in action is familiar with his "ah-may-zing!" catchphrase - usually delivered with a big grin and hands spread wide.)
Eichler says his motivation comes from the neighborhood potential that downtown Olympia has. He says it reminds him of some of the neighborhoods in Seattle, like Wallingford or Ballard, but better.
"You get that urban feel, but you are still able to drive to a National Park or the beach in fifteen minutes without grueling traffic," he says.
Maybe it is that captivating combination of city life and the great outdoors that brings wonderful people like Mathias Eichler to Olympia. Maybe it is that combination of Thai restaurants and bike shops and beautiful evergreen trees that make wonderful people like Mathias Eichler want to stay.
Or, maybe, it's the water.