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February 7, 2013 at 7:41am

5 Things To Do Today: Tacoma Sister Cities Film Festival, "City Goats," Green Drinks, comedian Todd Glass and more ...

CITY GOATS: Find out what's the deal tonight at King's Books.

THURSDAY, FEB. 7 2013 >>>

1. The 11th annual Sister Cities Film Festival is more than a film festival. It's a cultural exploration of Tacoma's sister cities, of which there are 11 located all around the world. Each Thursday, a film from a sister city lights up the screen of Blue Mouse Theatre - complemented by bonus activities and entertainment. Each week also has its own committee responsible for said entertainment and film selection. The festival kicks off with Tacoma's oldest sister - Kitakyushu, Japan - at 6:15 p.m. featuring the Stadium High School Taiko Drumming group, a Japanese Garden at Point Defiance update and the Japanese film, What the Snow Brings.

2. Why drink alone when you can get your drink on with cool cats who care about environmental issues? On the first Thursday of each month, Green Drinks invites Tacoma and Pierce County residents to do just that - hang out and chat with other green-minded individuals over drinks and snacks. The next session of Green Drinks - which will be held at 6 p.m. inside The Office Bar at Grill - will focus on downtown Tacoma's pacific Avenue Streetscape Project ... and drinks, of course. Read Kristin Kendle's interview with the project's consulting firm here.

3. Urban homesteading, backyard farming — call it what you will, the movement for self sufficiency and sustainable living is booming. In South Sound neighborhoods it seems more and more houses sport a chicken coop or custom greenhouse. Soon, the most dedicated local homesteaders may be able to join ranks of urban farming trailblazers elsewhere who are exploring a new way of bringing the farm to the city: raising goats. Seattle author Jennie Grant will discuss urban farming trends, as well as her book, City Goats: The Goat Justice League’s Guide to Backyard Goat Keeping, at 7 p.m. inside King's Books.

4. Every 15 years or so, the American musical veers in a new and unpredictable direction. When it works, it inspires a wave of imitators. Phantom and Les Miz spawned a decade of bombast. Rent added urban flava and moved gay life and issues to the forefront. Weekly Volcano theater critic Christian Carvajal believes Next to Normal, which debuted on Broadway less than four years ago, is the model for the next wave. Catch the show at 7:30 p.m. inside the Capital Playhouse. Read Carvajal's full review of Next to Normal in the Weekly Volcano's Arts section.

5. There's a certain familiar moment when you're hanging out with very close friends, being giddy and silly, and there's a way that you make each other laugh that's so specific and so unique that it's hard to recreate anywhere else. For sure, it's hard to recreate in the setting of a comedy club. A professional comedian is designed to make you laugh, but that certain type of laugh is so particular that it's almost banned from comedy clubs. Todd Glass can make you laugh like an audience member might but he can also touch you in the way that a close childhood friend can hit your buttons. In a way, um, he's magical. Glass begins a three-night run at the Tacoma Comedy Club at 8 p.m. tonight. Read Rev. Adam McKinney's interview with Todd Glass in the Weekly Volcano's Bars & Clubs section.

LINK: Thursday, Feb. 7 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

January 30, 2013 at 6:40am

5 Things To Do Today: Circus Oz, Scrabble Rabble, genetically engineered food chat, Trivia for Dorks and more ...

CIRCUS OZ: An outrageously circus that combines a sly sense of humor for the adults with wacky and daring antics to entertain the kids.

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 30 2013 >>>

1. Australian Circus Oz is kicking off its new North American tour with three performances this weekend at the Pantages Theater. Formed in 1978, Oz is a rock and roll, animal free circus of musicians, acrobats, contortionists and artsy clowns. Grab a free, sneak peak of the show at 4:30 p.m. today inside the STAR Center.

2. Want to know what's in our food? At 6 p.m. inside the Moore Public Library a Let Me Decide - Genetically Engineered Food Initiative Forum will discuss a legislative initiative that would require food companies to label products containing genetically modified organisms.

3. Word Nerds! Scrabble is back at King's Books! Chill. You're good with words. Seriously. Get it together! This is Scrabble Rabble at 6:30 p.m. inside King's, remember? It's all in good fun. Now piggyback off that free U to form QUAT - that's 14 points without the double-word score. Word!

4. Dorky's Bar Arcade in downtown Tacoma hosts Trivis for Dorks every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. Weekly Volcano scribe Nikki McCoy has the scoop here.

5. Play bingo with those not just killing time before the Grim Reaper calls their number. Every Wednesday at 9 p.m. inside The New Frontier, bingo players are treated to a rather boisterous evening of number-calling. The music rocks, the prizes are craptastic and there's something very satisfying about yelling "It's not a tumor!" when B-9 is pulled from the hopper (Schwarzenegger anyone?). Sessions are free with $2 margaritas during bingo. Every Wednesday night is also Taco Night with $1 beef, $1 black bean and $2 chicken in soft or crunchy shells.

LINK: Wednesday, Jan. 30 arts and entertainment events in the greater TAcoma and Olympia area

January 28, 2013 at 9:30am

Learn about the Pacific Avenue Streetscape Project over drinks

GREEN DRINKS TACOMA: Discover the Pacific Avenue Streetscape Project plans over beers.

A REASON TO DRINK >>>

Why drink alone when you can get your drink on with cool cats who care about environmental issues? On the first Thursday of each month, Green Drinks invites Tacoma and Pierce County residents to do just that - hang out and chat with other green-minded individuals over drinks and snacks. The next session of Green Drinks - which will be held Thursday, Feb. 7 at The Office Bar and Grill - will focus on downtown Tacoma's Pacific Avenue Streetscape Project ... and drinks, of course.

Doreen Gavin, project manager for AHBL - the consulting firm hired by the city of Tacoma in 2011 to design the Pacific Avenue Streetscape Project - will be main entertainment at the Feb. 7 Green Drinks session. And by entertainment I mean giving an overview of Pacific Avenue's makeover and answering questions. 

In a nutshell, the Pacific Avenue Streetscape Project will deck out downtown's main drag with new sidewalks, lighting and bike lanes, as well as innovative green touches from stormwater infrastructure and rain gardens to more than 3,000 new plants. When all is said and done, downtown Tacoma intends to be a leader in urban greenness - as well as a lot prettier.

I tossed a few questions at Gavin before she got her Green Drinks on at The Office.

WEEKLY VOLCANO: Why is the Pacific Avenue Streetscape Project important to Tacoma?

DOREEN GAVIN: The Pacific Avenue Streetscape project has three main goals. First, economics. The project is designed to create an active, attractive and economically viable "main street" that encourages people and businesses to be downtown. Second, multimodal accessibility. The new sidewalks, intersection bulb-outs, crosswalks, bike sharrows, landscaping, street furnishings, artwork, catenary lighting and transit stops will improve walkability, accessibility, bicyclist and pedestrian safety. And third, but not least, stormwater improvements. The project incorporates stormwater treatment for this busy downtown corridor, which drains into the Thea Foss waterway. The waterway was designated a superfund site in 1983 and the cleanup was completed in 2006 at a cost of over $100 million to the city and its partners. The stormwater treatment facilities to be constructed as part of this project will improve the quality of stormwater generated within this corridor before it's discharged to the Thea Foss Waterway. This work adds to our efforts to protect the newly remediated waterway through source control, sweeping, maintenance and treatment projects. In addition, the Pac Ave corridor is a wonderful opportunity to showcase this treatment to the public in an innovative and interesting way. The goal is that these stormwater improvements will not only be functional but beautiful as well.

VOLCANO: It's a huge project. How are you going to structure your talk at Green Drinks?

GAVIN: My talk will focus primarily on green stormwater infrastructure and how the Pacific Avenue Streetscape Project incorporates the goals of stormwater quality treatment in Tacoma's "Main Street" through the use of rain gardens and silva cells. I will show some sketches and images illustrating what the proposed project will look like when completed. I will also talk about the goals of the project and the construction schedule.

VOLCANO: What pairs with a Pacific Avenue Streetscape Projects lecture?

GAVIN: Green beer, if available.

THE OFFICE BAR AND GRILL, GREEN DRINKS, THRUSDAY, FEB. 7, 6 P.M., FREE ADMISSION, 813 PACIFIC AVE., TACOMA, 253.572.3222

January 9, 2013 at 7:55pm

CONTEST: Artwork needed for Tacoma agritourism event

CHERYL THE PIG LADY: She's in. Photo credit: cherylthepiglady.com

CALL FOR ARTISTS >>>

Dirty Oscar's Annex, Primo Grill and Hotel Murano have teamed up with Pierce County farms Zestful Gardens, Terry's Berries and Cheryl the Pig Lady in an agritourism partnership that will produce events beginning in 2013. The partnership intends to take the "far" out of farms, producing farm to table events celebrating regional cuisine - from the land and in the kitchen - with an educational focus on issues of sustainability in food production and distribution.

The partnership is looking for help with branding. The partnership asks artists to submit a logo design for its vision, including naming the union. The chosen design will be featured on promotional materials such as event posters and T-shirts. The chosen artwork will be featured in many various forms of media for the event. Please note that, although the partnership will strive to preserve the integrity of the submitted design, the artwork may be slightly altered to suit different media. The winning designer should be able to provide an Adobe Illustrator EPS file (with fonts converted to objects or outlines). An Adobe Photoshop PSD (don't flatten layers) is also acceptable, but EPS is preferred.

The partnership, which you will name, will judge the artwork. The winning artist will be showered with gifts from the restaurants and farms.

Deadline for submission is 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, 2013. Submit information to Agritourism Partnership, c/o, Weekly Volcano, PO Box 98801, Lakewood, WA 98496 or via email at feedback@weeklyvolcano.com. Chosen artist will be notified via email.

January 2, 2013 at 9:28am

Spotlight on Gray Lumber Company

GRAY LUMBER COMPANY: It's where Tacoma Food Co-op would buy its wood. Photo courtesy of graylumber.com

LIKING LOCAL >>>

Tacoma Food Co-op is a nifty member-owned food destination - a haven for those seeking all things local, organic, allergen-free, non-GMO and beyond.

On Fridays, this community-centric shop shines its Local Friday Business Spotlight onto other local companies, hoping to give them a boost and to raise consumer awareness of the businesses in our area. Businesses that the Co-op especially likes are featured in their newsletter, but they also enjoy mentioning other local businesses on its Facebook page.

"It is great if the business is doing something forward thinking, whether it be environmentally or otherwise," says Luke Byram, outreach member of the Co-op.

Friday, Jan. 4, Tacoma Food Co-op will feature Gray Lumber Company - a Tacoma-based lumber and building products company founded in 1903. Gray Lumber Company receives the spotlight because it participates in the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, which signals that the company buys its wood products from a certified source, backed by a rigorous, third-party certification audit, according to Gray Lumber's website.

Beyond this, Gray Lumber is a big proponent of buying local to strengthen local economies and community development. Forward-thinking for the win!

The Tacoma Food Co-op welcomes business suggestions. For especially forward-thinking businesses, email the newsletter editor at newsletter@tacomafoodcoop.com. For the Facebook feature, email Byram at media.tacomafoodcoop@yahoo.com.

December 20, 2012 at 7:43am

Tacoma wins another Greenroads award

ALASKA STREET: It is now a Greenroads Silver Certified road. Photo credit: greenroads.org

KICKING ASPHALT >>>

Remember this past spring when the Cheney Stadium Sustainable Stormwater Project was awarded a Greenroads Silver Certification, making Tacoma's Clay Huntington Way the first Greenroad in Tacoma and the fourth in the world? It was a glorious green day in Tacoma. Actually, it was a glorious silver day.

Good news. Tacoma throughways Wapato Lake Drive, Asotin Court and Alaska Street are now certified Greenroads, too. In fact, Alaska Street is Silver Certified.

Wapato and Asotin are currently in the review process.  

With four streets, Tacoma is the first U.S. city to have multiple Greenroads.

An international standard, the Greenroads Rating System is a collection of sustainable roadway design and construction best practices that address water, environment, access, community impact, construction practices and materials. There are 11 project requirements that must be completed for a roadway to be considered a Greenroad. After a rigorous review process, the Greenroads Foundation assigns a project score based on the number of points earned by meeting the requirements and achieving credits. This score translates to one of four certification levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Evergreen.

Want to know the best part? These Greenroad projects actually cost substantially less than a more conventional roadway project would.

"Cheney, Wapato and Asotin where about half the cost of traditional improvements. Alaska Street was less too, but a much smaller fraction," says Jessica Knickerbocker of the city of Tacoma's Environmental Services, Science & Engineering Division. "But the stormwater requirements were less for Alaska Street and we had only a small portion of the project with green infrastructure."  

LINK: Cheney Stadium Sustainable Stormwater Project is actually cool

December 18, 2012 at 12:41pm

Proctor Farmers Market enters its winter phase

PROCTOR FARMERS MARKET: Bundle up and hit it one more time. Photo courtesy of proctorfarmersmarket.com

EAT FRESH, DRESS WARM >>>

Last night's snow is a good indication that summer loving, or even mild, pleasant weather is officially over. With that, we will be bidding adieu to the weekly Proctor Farmers Market.

Proctor Farmers Market is Tacoma's only four-season market, running every Saturday from March to this Saturday. After Saturday, the Proctor Farmers Market will open the second Saturday of the month in January, February and March.

Why do the vendors brave the wind, the snow, the SUVs screaming down Proctor Street? As L. Lisa Lawrence, Market manager puts it, "We discovered that people like to eat all year round."

The Proctor Farmers Market's mission, "Eat Fresh, Buy Local, Build Community," isn't just about offering a selection of fresh fruits and veggies from the likes of Little Eorthe Farms and Tiny's Organics, nor is it just about nibbles courtesy of Alina's Soups or local favorite Gateway to India. The Market folks wear "Build Community" like a badge. The Proctor Farmers Market proudly provides an outdoor hub for citizens to hug, enjoy music, learn a thing or two, and hug some more.

When asked what some of the highlights were Lawrence, was not at a loss for words.

Lawrence on music: "I loved having Steve Stefanowicz join our roster of wonderful market musicians. One of many musical highlights for me was watching the formation of the bluegrass group The Pine Hearts, which happened at our market. We also hosted our first ever bluegrass event, "MarketGrass," which we plan on bring back bigger and better next year."

Lawrence on nibbles: "We had some great cooking demos with chef Leslie Westphal from Maxwell's Speakeasy and Lounge and chef Aaron Grissom from Dirty Oscar's Annex - as well as a canning demonstration by Chef Betty Ann Curry as part of our Green Day Event."

Lawrence on special events: "Our annual Green Day event was bigger and better than ever, with seminars and demonstrations on urban chicken keeping, worm bin composting, home remodel, solar cooking, electric vehicles and composting toilets. We also hosted our annual Art-A-Thon event that raised money for the FISH Food back to purchase fresh produce from our farmers AND hosted a music stage as part of Proctor Arts Fest."

As for me, my fond memory of the Proctor Farmers Market was nibbling a blackberry blueberry creamsicle from Hilltop Pop Shop on a toasty day backed by the sounds of market chatter and live music.

I say we end this weekly market season with a bang, grab your umbrellas and get your market fix on! That is, if the big bang doesn't hit us Friday.

PROCTOR FARMERS MARKET, SATURDAY, DEC. 22, 9 A.M. TO 2 P.M., NORTH 27TH AND PROCTOR, TACOMA, WEBSITE

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December 6, 2012 at 7:51am

5 Things To Do Today: Dumpster Values show, choral concerts, Green Drinks and more ...

NI-HAO: The Japanese band squeezed in an Olympia show tonight during its world tour. Photo courtesy of Facebook

THURSDAY, DEC. 6 2012 >>>

1. After several months of silence Broken Water has emerged. This serves as a relief to those concerned about the state of the band following the groups critically acclaimed LP, Tempest. Tonight at 8 p.m. inside Dumpster Values, Broken Water will perform with Ni-Hao from Japan, Vex featuring HPP bassist Aaron Larsen, and a new super-group of sorts featuring Abigail Ingram and Kanako Wynkoop from Broken Water and the Need's Rachel Carns.

2. After work and dinner, and while your better half gets the kids to bed, why not get some holiday shopping out of the way at Tacoma's Antique Row? Thursdays, now through Christmas, the 70 merchants that make up Antique Row offer free parking after 6 p.m. and have extended hours until 8 p.m. So pick up the perfect book for your niece, grab an original framed local art piece for your mom, or find that great shabby chic nightstand for yourself. 

3. The Saint Martin's University community invites the public to share in the joy of the upcoming holidays with the University Chorale and the American Legion Band in a Christmas concert and carol sing-along at 7 p.m. inside Saint Martin's Marcus Pavilion. This free event, a collaboration of the Chorale and the Office of Campus Ministry, will launch the Christmas season with a concert of familiar carols, followed by a tree blessing celebration.

4. Speaking of free holiday concerts, three vocal ensembles from Tacoma Community College - TCC Singers, TCC Voices and the TCC Gospel Choir - present a fall choral concert at 7:30 p.m. inside TCC Building 2.

5. Green Drinks Tacoma holds its final gathering of the year at 6 p.m. inside Doyle's Public House. The social organization that mixes sustainability, conservation and environmental conversations with cocktails asked Dana Lyons to perform at its meet-up since wrote a song bout the coal trains blazing through Tacoma. Read an interview with Doyle's co-owner Russ Heaton regrading tonight meeting/show.

LINK: Thursday, Nov. 6 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

December 5, 2012 at 12:29pm

Green Drinks Tacoma hosts coal train discussion and concert at Doyle's

DANA LYONS: The singer/songwriter will add his two cents Dec. 6 at the Green Drinks Tacoma gathering at Doyle's. Press photo

SEE YOUR FUTURE, BE YOUR FUTURE >>>

"One of the obligations of owning a proper public house is being open to the public," says Russ Heaton, co-owner of Doyle's Public House in Tacoma.

So when Green Drinks Tacoma approached him about having Dana Lyons perform his song "Sometimes" about the coal train slated to head from Billings, Mont. through Tacoma, it was a no-brainer. The show is tomorrow at 6 p.m.

"There is going to be a hearty and robust conversation," says Heaton.

Indeed. Green Drinks Tacoma holds its final gathering of the year tomorrow at Doyle's. The social organization that mixes sustainability, conservation and environmental conversations with cocktails asked Lyons to perform at its meet-up.

"I would like to make sure we've done our due diligence and talk about the issues. If you don't start talking about it - you're going to have knee jerk reactions from both sides," adds Heaton, honored Green Drink Tacoma choose Doyle's for the concert.

Lyons, who is known for his political leans, gruff voice and acoustic pleasantries, is perhaps most well known for his song, "Cows with Guns."

Heaton is looking forward to Lyon's performance, stating he'd seen some of Lyon's work online, but opted out of watching "Sometimes" because he wanted to experience it first hand.

Doyle's and Green Drinks seem a natural collaboration, as Heaton explains Doyle's has taken great lengths to minimize its impact on the environment.

"We pay a pricier sum for some of our electricity because we asked the power company for a renewable source. We've switched from plastic to sugar based silverware. We're in process of switching over to LED light bulbs. We're also working with tenants and the city for the food waste recycling program."

And as final encouragement to enjoy the show and engage in learning about the coal train, Heaton says, "Before passing judgment on anything, make sure to get all the information you can gather."

DOYLE'S PUBLIC HOUSE, GREEN DRINKS TACOMA, THURSDAY, DEC. 6, 6 P.M., $8-$10 SLIDING SCALE, 208 SAINT HELENS AVE., TACOMA, 253.272.7468

Filed under: Community, Green Crush, Music, Tacoma,

November 5, 2012 at 11:30am

Pacific Avenue Streetscape Project has launched

GREEN FLASH: In honor of the "Green Flash" art installation that will grace the Pacific Avenue Streetscape Project, dignitaries snapped green glow sticks.

MONDAY MORNING GROUP HUG >>>

This morning, Tacoma officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its Pacific Avenue Streetscape Project, a beautification and innovative storm water improvement plan that includes new street paving, sidewalks, bicycle lanes and crosswalks along the Pacific Avenue stretch from Old City Hall at Seventh Street to the Tacoma Art Museum at 17th Street.

This is not your Grandfather Sprague's streetscape project.

At the gathering around Fireman's Park just off the north end of the proposed project, Congressman Norm Dicks, Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Tacoma Councilmember Jake Fey and others explained how improvements will enhance the business opportunities and livability of downtown's core street — the "front porch" of downtown Tacoma – adding new curb, gutter and sidewalks, including a bicycle sharrow, on-street parking, landscaped curb bulb outs, street trees, new transit stops, new street furnishings, lighting, public art and signs to direct visitors to various attractions.

"A brighter downtown will be an incentive for smaller and larger businesses alike to bring more jobs and additional economic activity to this community," Rep. Norm Dicks.

In addition to the beautification, the project will integrate innovative stormwater improvements, including storm water planters, pervious pavement and plantings. The green storm water infrastructure includes 14 new rain gardens, which pass the storm water through organically enriched soil that filters out pollutants and either slows the release of the water into the storm system or percolates it into the ground — before draining into the Thea Foss Waterway.

"We have a great partnership with the Tacoma Art Museum," said Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. "We were able to successfully complete a National Endowment for the Arts grant for the 17th Street portion of this project."

As part of the beautification of Pacific Avenue project artist Elizabeth Conner will install green textural tiles in strategic locations along the 10-block stretch of street and 20 to 28 large-scale botanically-themed concrete sculptures that can convey storm water. The “green flash” concept will be integrated into four bus shelters. Green flashes are optical phenomena that occur shortly after sunset on the ocean's horizon.

Also, strings of lights will be strung above Pacific Avenue near Eighth Street to create a bright canopy of lights.

After many years of planning, design work, construction and implementation, the Pacific Avenue Streetscape Project received a major boost this summer after $3 million from the state's public works board and $978,300 from the Federal Highways Administration arrived. Combined with $4.4 million in grants and local matches previously secured, the city chose Tucci & Sons, Inc. as the project's contractor.

The project is expected to be completed in December 2013.

Dick McKinley, City of Tacoma Public Works director

Rep. Norm Dicks

Sen. Derek Kilmer

Tom Pierson, president and chief executive officer of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce

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