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April 2, 2015 at 6:27am

5 Things To Do Today: Peach Kelli Pop, Olympia Farmers Market, Lee Heath photography, The Brown Edition ...

Peach Kelli Pop performs at Deadbeat Olympia record store tonight. Photo credit: Kelsey Reckling

THURSDAY, APRIL 2 2015 >>>

1. The music of Peach Kelli Pop harkens back to the sugary sound of Beach Blanket Bingo - albeit with a fuzzy veneer of bubblegum garage pop - but sneakily provides more substance than Frankie and Annette could've mustered. From bedroom recordings to playful glamor shots on album covers and associations with record labels like Burger, Lolipop and Bachelor, the years since Peach Kelli Pop have been feverishly eventful ones. Numerous tours across North America and even over to Japan have helped to refine and strengthen what Peach Kelli Pop already had pretty well nailed back when it was just a one-woman project. Even though the members tend to shift - with different ladies coming in to fill out the band at various times - the vision of Peach Kelli Pop remains a constant. Read Rev. Adam McKinney's full feature on Peach Kelli Pop in the Music & Culture section, then catch the band with Globelamp and No Big Seal at 8 p.m. in Deadbeat Olympia record store.

2. One of the most popular attractions in the city of Olympia, the historic and active Olympia Farmers Market opens its main season at 10 a.m. The market has been serving locals and visitors for 40 years and can see upward of 400,000 visitors during the market season. A vast variety of vendors, live entertainment and a covered but open and airy market make it a not-to-miss destination. This year the market has partnered with South Sound Community Farm Land Trust, furthering agricultural land awareness, stewardship and preservation in the region. Bonus: bluegrass band The Pine Hearts will perform 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

3. The Swiss Restaurant and Pub held a photo contest asking the public to submit photos depicting The Swiss as either a family-friendly environment or as a cultural or historical site in Tacoma. Lee Heath won, which means she earned wall space at The Swiss for the month of April. "I have chosen to go strictly with photography," says Heath. "I am not sure if this has been done in Tacoma before, but I am doing a Pay What You Want display. This is an attempt to make an interactive art display, not only by trying to get people to engage in discussions about what they see while they dine, but when someone ‘pays what they can,' and a photo is removed from the wall, a new one will go up in its place." The show features photos from places, people, murals and street art around Tacoma.

4. Tacoma Green Drinks has invited Earthship Seattle to raise awareness about Earthship technology, and all the green building techniques that come with it. What better way to talk about green building techniques than over a drink with friends? Of course, there isn't a better way. Drink and learn at 6 p.m. in The Forum Tacoma.

5. Award-winning Olympia-based funk rock band The Brown Edition wants you to join their band. Hold on - don't get your hopes up. The band, led by the charismatic Miguel Pineda, will host a jam session inviting all to join them on stage at 8:30 p.m. in the Rhythm and Rye venue in downtown Olympia. For the uninitiated, the popular and bubbling band has had it with all the revision, and will return to its funk bass - the bass that scored them the best funk band in Thurston County, according to the Weekly Volcano readers voting in our Best of Olympia issues year after year. In addition to original works, expect funked-out jazz standards covers of more funk essentials at this free show.

March 19, 2015 at 6:14am

5 Things To Do Today: Tacoma Art Bus, "Talk Radio," Diynosaur, Ben Union ...

Angela Jossy leads her Tacoma Art Bus on its five-year-anniversary tour tonight. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

THURSDAY, MARCH 19 2015 >>>

1. The iconic Tacoma Art Bus tour, hosted by Duchess of Downtown Tours, is a guided tour that runs on the third Thursday of the month. The evening tour visits various art exhibits throughout Tacoma, and celebrity tour guides, games, prizes, swag and good eats are signatures of the trip. Launching from 734 Pacific Ave. in downtown Tacoma at 6 p.m., the Art Bus will celebrate its five-year-anniversary with a tour of Spaceworks Tacoma, Why Adam Studio, Happy Belly Restaurant + Juice Bar, Washington State History Museum, The Blue Octopus, The Modern Cottage Company, The Forum and the Museum of Glass. Read up on the Tacoma Art Bus here, then grab details of tonight's tour here.

2. Washington State Parks turns 102 years old today, and visitors are invited to help celebrate by getting out to enjoy a state park for free.

3. Before there was Howard Stern, before there was Rush Limbaugh, before there was Tom Leykis, before there was Mike Malloy, there was ... Barry Champlain, the fictional protagonist of Eric Bogosian's 1987 play Talk Radio, the story of Cleveland's controversial late-night radio host infamous for slinging insults at callers. Now Tacoma Little Theatre revives the work via its "Off-The-Shelf Reading" series where local directors and actors bring scripts to life. Tonight's 7:30 p.m. play reading will be directed by Jen Ankrum.

4. Made up of three people apparently named Funkasaurus Rex, Swagadactyl and Velocityraptor, Diynosaur aspire to electronic mavericks from multiple generations like Jean Michael Jarre, the Books, and Fatboy Slim. Catch the band with Infantry feat. Lil PDF, Kybele and Piff at 8 p.m. in Deadbeat Olympia record store.

5. He's not the new king of pop yet, but Ben Union makes a pretty good Adam Levine. Union frames his prodigious and rock solid talent - soulful vocals, a danceable funk groove, irresistible pop hooks - with passion and showmanship. Imagine the music of Maroon 5 and Train being forced occasionally through the Red Hot Chili Peppers backbeat, grabbing Fred Hammond's soul and then pumped out Levine's larynx, and you have a pretty good idea of the kind of sound Ben Union and his band can produce. While most of Union's songs don't stray too far from the characteristic blend of funk and soulful rock, some of his best moments are the more mellow tunes, such as "Angeles" - which will most likely be front and center at 9 p.m. when Union will perform at The Swiss.

January 24, 2015 at 8:16am

5 Things To Do Today: Skates, nature walk, Hip-Hop 4 the Homeless, Handel's "Alcina," Solvents ...

Skates are a Seattle-based pop-punk band featuring former members of The Redwood Plan.

SATURDAY, JAN. 24 2015 >>>

1. Skates is a band formed almost on a whim, formed from the ashes of the recently defunct Redwood Plan. Frontwoman Lesli Wood made a move basically akin to Queen vowing to not use synthesizers on their album, or like Joe Jackson nonchalantly making the decision to not include any guitars on an album, except to the most extreme degree: Wood ended one band and formed another in one month, based on just one name alone. Where The Redwood Plan was a jittery fury of dance-punk, Skates finds its comfort zone with surfy pop-punk, almost in the same vein as fellow Seattleites Tacocat. Gone are the squirrelly synthesizers and panicked vibes, now replaced with Skates' analog surf-pop. Read Rev. Adam McKinney's full feature on Skates in the Music & Culture section, then catch the band with Hot Cops, Deep Creep and Wimps at 9 p.m. in the 4th Ave Tavern in downtown Olympia.

2. Explore Tacoma Nature Center during a seasonal naturalist-led family walk from 1-2 p.m. Discover the plants and animals that live in the park and how they adapt in the different seasons.

3. Members of the Olympia hip-hop community, and beyond, join together for the Hip-Hop 4 the Homeless benefit at 5 p.m. in the Olympia Ballroom. Originally founded in Vancouver, B.C., in 2002, HH4H moved to Olympia in 2007. This year performing are Afrok, The Staxx Brothers, AKA, Free Ya Mind, The Zulu Nation (206 and 25Z60), VintageDOPE, Formula Boogie and others, as well as the 6th Annual 25360 Awards presentation. 

4. George Handel's magical opera Alcina, based on the epic Italian poem Orlando Furioso, features back-to-back solos littered with cadenzas, lots of cross-dressing and heavy use of castratos - from the time when castration was the quickest route to success for aspiring opera singers. PLU Opera presents the three-act play that tells the story of a Circe-like sorceress who loses her powers when she falls in love with one of her captives, Ruggiero. Meanwhile, Ruggiero's fiancée, Bradamante, comes disguised as a man to rescue him, like Leonore in Beethoven's Fidelio, and like Leonore she attracts the attention of another young woman, Alcina's sister Morgana. The play can be both ravishing and heart-rending, given the way both Alcina and Ruggiero are in a perpetual state of inner conflict. (Handel was clearly more touched by the complicated villainess than by the goody-good guys.) James L. Brown will conduct the chamber orchestra in Italian with English supertitles, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in Eastvold Auditorium.

5. Considering how abrasive and corrosive solvents can be, the band Solvents may as well be a swimming pool filled with fluffy teddy bears. The Port Townsend duo are a master of controlled intensity, blending guitar and violin in ways that can attack as much as they soothe. The interplay between Jarrod Paul Bramson and Emily Madden is what draws you into the world of Solvents, where everything skirts the line of dusty Americana and introspective pop. catch the band with Teach Me Equals, Dweller on the Hill and RedRumsey at 8 p.m. in Bob's Java Jive.

LINK: Saturday, Jan. 24 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

January 21, 2015 at 7:45am

5 Things To Do Today: Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles, JBLM discussion, "King Kong," Hooded Fang ...

Yup, the Four are still Fab and tribute shows abound. But Rain has the edge, including a multimedia presentation that incorporates original footage. Press photo

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 21 2014 >>>

1. Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles features a rotating cast of musicians in a multimedia spectacular that carry the band from its jangly, Liverpudlian roots to the grand psychedelic finale of Abbey Road and Let It Be. Since the cover band's inception in 1975, its members have played everywhere from Broadway to the Today show. Dick Clark (who'd know better?) was so impressed by their vocal talents that he engaged Rain for the soundtrack of his 1979 film The Birth of the Beatles, directed by Richard Marquand (Return of the Jedi). Expect full-scale productions of such classics as "Come Together" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." In other words, anticipate greatness at 7:30 p.m. in the Pantages Theater.

2. A community listening session regarding potential Army force structure reductions at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will be held from 10 a.m. to noon in the McGavick Center Ballroom at Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood.The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review requires the Army to reduce its force. The listening session allows the community to provide input to the senior leadership of the Army before any decisions are made regarding force reductions.

3. Outdoor adventure takes center stage from noon to 8 p.m. as the Washington Sportsmen's Show opens for a five-day run at the Washington State Fair Events Center in Puyallup. Expect a big line-up of fishing, hunting, camping attractions and more than 100 hours of how-to seminars, plus great values on fishing and hunting gear, clothing, camping equipment, sport fishing boats and RVs.

4. Take a break from asphyxiatingly overplotted blockbusters to absorb the good old days, when all you needed was a mysterious island, a couple dinosaurs and one sexually voracious ape. The Grand Cinema is deep in its Classic Film Series, hitting the Triangle District movie house very third Wednesday. At 1:45 and 6:45 p.m., they screen the original brainless blockbuster cobbled together by real-life thrillseekers Merian C. Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack (The Most Dangerous Game) for maximum impact. Cherish the smell-the-panties moment - a bit sliced out of the film that took 40 years to restore. That's right, the original King Kong is coming to Tacoma!

5. Toronto's Hooded Fang have garnered their fair share of positive reception since their formation in 2007, even earning a nomination for a Polaris Prize (sort of like the Canadian Grammy's) and setting up a tour supporting Johnny Marr, and they're deserving of every bit of praise. As their sound has evolved over the years, they've begun to embrace a volatility that wasn't quite present in their early days. Combining garage rock fuzz, the wiry dynamism of the Pixies, and the fractured structure and bombastic sound of Broken Social Scene. Unlike the majority of bands that rise on gales of internet hype, Hooded Fang have only improved, getting darker and leaner without giving up the vitality that made them so appealing when they first arrived on the scene. Catch them with No Body and Guaranteed Whales at 8 p.m. in the record store Deadbeat Olympia.

LINK: Wednesday, Jan. 21 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

December 1, 2014 at 10:36am

Outdoor Addict: Outdoorsy gifting guide of 2014

Patagonia Black Hole Duffle Bag = awesome

My family keeps asking the only question I hate more than "are we there yet?"

"What do you want for Christmas?"

Ugh. So in an effort to appease my own family and provide inspiration for any outdoor enthusiasts in your life, here's a list that ranges from Trump style to starving student.

REI Adventure Travel Extravaganza

I've been coveting a trip to Bhutan for quite some time now. High in the Himalayas, Bhutan is a Buddhist country largely untouched by Western influence. They only allow a certain number of tourists per year and do not have a well-developed tourism industry, so going it alone is a little more than I can handle. Enter REI Travel. They organize amazing trips with excellent guides, local connections and know how to handle group dynamics. I mean come on; the trip is called "Festivals of the Thunder Dragon". How cool is that?! Anyone want to be my Santa baby and slip this under my tree?

14 day Festivals of the Thunder Dragon: $4,999

Local Check-That-Off-The-Bucket-List

So maybe your budget isn't able to handle Bhutan. No matter. You can still help your beloveds check stuff off their bucket lists. Everything from ice climbing to paddle boarding can be done in our own backyard. Personally, I want a snowshoeing experience. Or send them white water rafting this spring. How about snowboarding lessons? Or kayaking? The possibilities are endless and I promise they will love it more than that sweater you were about to grab desperately.

Whitewater: Riverrecreation.com 

Snowsports: Crystal Mountain

Snowshoeing that is practically free: Mount Rainier 

Kayaking: Kayak Academy 

Gear

Every adventure lover needs gear. My top choice for this category is something not on my Christmas list this year. Because I already bought it for myself and lovelovelove it: a Patagonia Black Hole Duffle Bag. These things are da bomb. They hold insane amounts of stuff, take a beating beautifully and are stylish enough to not make me self-conscious when I'm outside the Pacific Northwest. (Side note: have you ever noticed that? Leave here and suddenly you realize just how different fashion perspective are? Just me? OK.) Oh, and they make a backpacks too.

The "Cheap" Stuff

Anyone who is in to outdoor pursuits will tell you how much the little stuff adds up. For rock climbers it's chalk and tape. For hikers it's good socks. Skiers and snowboarders can never have too many hats and gloves. And everybody loves granola bars and snacks. Consider loading your favorite adventurer up with the essentials they need. They aren't glamorous but they'll be thoroughly enjoyed.

September 28, 2014 at 10:22am

5 Things To Do Today: Back to Beale Street blues, Downtown to Defiance, Roxi Wolfe benefit, Super Funny Comedy Show ...

The CD Woodbury Band headlines a blues show today at The Swiss.

SUNDAY, SEPT. 28 2014 >>>

1. The South Sound Blues Association (SSBA) is hosting a fundraiserto help send The CD Woodbury Band to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in January today at The Swiss. As readers may recall, guitarist CD Woodbury and his band emerged victorious earlier this year at the SSBA's Back to Beale Street Competition.  The band's eclectic array of originals and obscure "gem" covers encompassing roots, blues,rock, old school R&B, funk, jazz, jump swing and Americana - all flavored with the spirit of Jam Band improvisation - blew the judges minds. Now the booty-shaking contemporary blues band is headed to Memphis - meaning the SSBA will be footing the travel bill. Aside from being for a good cause, this Sunday's show at The Swiss will bring together a formidable collection of blues musicians, all of whom will no doubt bring the house down. Starting at 4 p.m. and running until 10 p.m., those scheduled to perform include former Back to Beale Street winner The Randy Oxford Band, Richard Allen and The Louisiana Experience, Emily Randolph and Oaklawn, The Wired Blues Band - and, naturally, The CD Woodbury Band with guest vocalist Maia Santell.

2. Walk, bike and roll to enjoy 6.5 miles of trails and roadways along Tacoma's waterfront from 8 a.m. to noon during Downtown to Defiance 2014. Organized by the city of Tacoma, Metro Parks Tacoma and Downtown On the Go, the event is open for anyone and everyone and there will be plenty of activities from the Tacoma Dome, along the waterfront to Point Defiance Park, including a button-making activity at Marine Park.

3. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium has planned a special day for its sea otters in the Rocky Shores area. Festivities include special treats for the otters at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.; tours of the Marine Mammal food preparation area from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.; and hands-on sea otter-themed activities and crafts from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Marine Discovery Center.

4. A few of Roxanne Wolfe's friends are holding a fundraiser to help cover costs of her medical condition that her health insurance won't cover. A night of music is scheduled from 7-11 p.m. at The New Frontier Lounge. Emcee Doug Mackey will keep the laughs coming and The Crazy Texas Gypsies, Stonepony, Evan Purcell and special guests on track. Expect a silent auction and good times.

5. Nate Jackson returns with a double-header of his Super Funny Comedy Show at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. in Keys On Main. Two comedy shows in one night is a nice twist. Tiffany Haddish (The Arsenio Hall Show, Def Comedy Jam) and Shawn Harvey (Bad Boys of Comedy) will headline the shows, which have received rave reviews since Jackson began hosting and producing them a few years back. The show will be flanked by SFCS resident soundman DJ Tu and a special performance by Grammy nominated singer/songwriter William Jordan.

NATE JACKSON'S SUPER FUNNY COMEDY SHOW, w/ Tiffany Haddish, Shawn Harvey, William Jordan, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., Keys On Main, 1003 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, $15-$20, brownpapertickets.com

LINK: Sunday, Sept. 28 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

September 27, 2014 at 7:32am

5 Things To Do Today: Psychomagic, Fall Garden Festival, Fish Oktoberfest, Pro-Am Pub Crawl, The Bad Things

Imagine a '60s pop/surf rock influenced band from the 2010s with music bordering on the line of sincere slocore/indie rock and you have Psychomagic. Photo courtesy of Facebook

SATURDAY, SEPT. 27 2014 >>>

1. Psychomagic's recent self-titled album begins with flutes and a tremulous vocals from Fusco, before breaking off into a kaleidoscopic array of '60 sounds, all blended up and spat out in a colorful cornucopia. In performance, Psychomagic never takes itself so seriously. Everything is filtered through the glassy-eyed gaze of a person who has no need to dig trenches in their brains, but would rather take a moment to notice how fine it feels to be bombarded with the serene vibrations of psychedelic rock. Face-melting can be found elsewhere; Psychomagic is a brain massage. Read Rev. Adam McKinney's full feature on Psychomagic in the Music and Culture section., then catch the band with Santoros, MILK and Bath Party at 8 p.m. in The New Frontier Lounge.

2. Did you know that Metro Parks Tacoma hosts a Fall Garden Festival? It's true, and this year's fest, set in picturesque Point Defiance Park, packs educational and resourceful activities, such as how to keep bees, the best ways to grow fruit, "Chickens 101," creative ways to grow your own foods and flowers, and many more, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Little ones can grab a dose of eco-friendly gardening. Gardening superstar Ed Hume will make an appearance at 10 a.m. In "65 years of Gardening" Hume will recount his favorite gardening tips. Bus tours of Tacoma's community gardens and the heritage garden at Fort Nisqually will be led by Harvest Pierce County. Five tours are planned to depart from the Point Defiance Pagoda.

3. Like beer? Jump in and enjoy the Aroma of Tacoma Pro-Am Pub Crawl along Sixth Avenue. For $35 attendees can present a punch card at participating stops and redeem a 10-ounce pour of one of five beers from the 2014 Aroma of Tacoma Homebrew Championship that were selected by local brewers and brewed commercially. Attendees also receive a commemorative T-shirt. The crawl kicks off at noon at The Red Hot then heads out to Engine House No. 9, O'Malleys, Dirty Oscar's Annex and the Crown Bar. Click here for full details and to purchase your ticket.

4. Fish Brewing Company's 16th Annual Oktoberfest will pack their downtown Olympia brewery from 4-10 p.m. There you'll find all the things you've come to expect from a Fish Oktoberfest: down home, ole' fashion, ass kickin' southern-roots band The Slow Rollers and high energy funk, soul and sexy The Brown Edition. Live German oom-pah bands would only squash the groove. These two bands will pump out tunes to incite beer guzzling, various delicious wursts (there is no such thing as too much wurst), a sneak peek at the Hobbit beer series and an obscene amount of Leavenworth Biers Oktoberfest. 

5. The Bad Things are born out of cabaret and drink. A motley crew, made up of urchins and drunkards, The Bad Things bring theatricality and tongue-in-cheek fatalism to a variety of genres. Taking cues from the likes of Tom Waits and the Pogues, the band piles accordions, mandolins, singing saws, upright bass and all manner of sqeezeboxes onto their stage, inciting polka riots and rowdy singalongs in their audiences.Catch them with Victoria Renee and Middlewav at 8 p.m. in Bob's Java Jive.

LINK: Saturday, Sept. 27 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

September 12, 2014 at 7:15am

5 Things To Do Today: "And Then There Were None," Park(ing) Day chat, "The School for Lies," Girl Trouble on film ...

"And Then There Were None" opens tonight at the Lakewood Playhouse. Artwork by James Stowe

FRIDAY, SEPT. 12 2014 >>>

1 Whodunit? Criminal mastermind Agatha Christie's 1943 And Then There Were None (Ten Little Indians) - based on her best-selling novel of the same name - is a mind-bending murder mystery that asks that very question. And the Lakewood Playhouse production will keep you guessing, beginning at 8 p.m. Ten strangers are trapped on an island resort and one of them is eliminating them one by one until there are none. If there's a dude wearing a striped shirt and metal claw in the show, our money is on him.

2. Spaceworks Tacoma is excited to announce the latest Spaceworks Creative Enterprise to open its doors, The Blue Octopus on Pearl. Grand opening festivities are set for from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., plus a reception from 6-8 p.m., at 5013 N. Pearl Street in Ruston. Nationally recognized artist Kerry Cole, owner of The Blue Octopus, offers painting parties, an art gallery, and a painting studio at her new location.

3. Holy Leslie Knope! Can you imagine Tacoma without Optimist Park? Without Ursich Park? Without anywhere to take your dog off the leash and let her run? Even in dense, urban areas, open space is a calming force, giving us a place to sit, lie, tag zombies or walk amidst the birds and the trees. National Park(ing) Day - the annual global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into "PARK(ing)" spaces: temporary public places - invades Tacoma Sept. 19. First, we need to discuss it. Three speakers will present concepts in Pecha Kucha format (20 slides, 20 seconds each) followed by a discussion on the topic of public space and "parklets" (or mini parks) from noon to 1 p.m. at UW Tacoma (Joy Building 215).

4. In its first full production, Tacoma nonprofit theater Working Class Theater Northwest presents contemporary playwright David Ives’s farce The School for Lies at 8 p.m. in the former Deltan Club space at 733 Commerce. Directed by South Sound theater alum Tom Sanders, with a local cast of six men and three women, the farcical, fast-paced and scintillating comedy runs modern variations on Molière's The Misanthrope.

5. Isaac Olsen, the acclaimed Tacoma filmmaker who gave us Quiet Shoes (2010) and Ich Hunger (2013), is related to the Tacoma band Girl Trouble by blood. He's also the guy our readers named Best Filmmaker in 2014. His new documentary, Strictly Sacred, delves into Girl Trouble's archive of historical treasures. "Girl Trouble is a vastly creative band," Olsen explains, "who have brought all their artistic talents to the fore in the pursuit of pure entertainment experience. They were early pioneers of DIY. ... The other unique aspect of Girl Trouble is that they were avid chroniclers of their own story. ... It's almost as if Girl Trouble has been generating biographical material for the express purposes of a comprehensive film." Strictly Sacred opens Friday at 9 p.m. in The Grand Cinema (voted Best Movie House every year) for a week's run. Olsen will lead a discussion after the film.

LINK: Friday, Sept. 12 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

August 27, 2014 at 11:00am

Well, Well, Well: What's happening at Olympia's Artesian Park and Commons

Artesian Park and Commons in downtown Olympia hosts food trucks year round.

At one of five picnic tables at the Artesian Park and Commons in the core of downtown Olympia, I meet with Rob Richards, program director for the Downtown Ambassador Program, and Brian Wilson, downtown liaison for the city of Olympia. Both are in button-up shirts with to-go coffee in hand. A group of street kids, in patchwork pants and tie dye shirts, mill around under a speaker that's playing classic rock. Behind them, a man fills a jug from the well.

The three of us are here to discuss the Artesian Park and Commons, officially opened by the City of Olympia Parks Department May 4. Since then, Phase 1 has shown a glimpse of what the park is slated to be. For now, there are picnic tables and food trucks. The plan includes recreation, such as basketball and skateable areas, and the construction of structures like a stage for live performances.

The two men are working to bring a community space to the variety of people that inhabit downtown. This plan is based on Project for Public Spaces (PPS), an organization that values placemaking - how we collectively shape our public realm to maximize shared value.

"Placemaking breaks through by showing planners, designers and engineers how to move beyond their habit of looking at communities through the narrow lens of single-minded goals or rigid professional disciplines," reads an excerpt from www.pps.org. "The first step is listening to best experts in the field - the people who live, work and play in a place."

This is the sentiment that Richards and Wilson are using as momentum. PPS sets up models for other cities to utilize, and it specifically encourages a concept called the Power of 10.

"All great public spaces - Washington Square, Pioneer Park in Portland, Central Park - they have 10 things that bring in a variety of people to the space," explained Wilson. "And they are typically crowd sourced. So what we did was bring everyone from kindergartners to senior citizens, neighborhood association to people that hang out downtown, and we asked, ‘What do you want to see? What would bring you down here?' ... The city took that info and came up with a design."

Working on the core of downtown is timely, Wilson said. Between the Sears building, Legion Square and Columbia Heights, Olympia will see a 100-percent increase in market rate housing within 16 months.

"We're going to start to see in downtown the need for different types of businesses and different spaces - probably more so than in the last 20 years," Wilson said. "A lot of people ask, ‘How can we handle this?' ... This (park) is the perfect opportunity."

The Olympia Downtown Ambassadors were contracted by the city to put on three events over the summer, and all were well received. There were activities for young and old.

"My philosophy was that it's an opportunity to show everybody what this park can be," Richards said. "We set up a basketball hoop, and immediately people played. Kids who are sitting here now, actually, played basketball. We had an 80-year-old woman shooting hoops with a street kid, a cop and a community worker. There was a huge diverse mix - it brought people together."

The next phase of the park will be discussed Sept. 9 at city council

August 19, 2014 at 10:16am

NW Military in the Outdoors Expo inspired veterans to explore

NW Military in the Outdoors Expo lined the Ruston Way waterfront in Tacoma Aug. 16. Photo credit: Gary Lott

I just moved here. What do I do? How do I get out?

These are questions that many may ask when moving to Washington, and thanks to an event on the Ruston Way waterfront this past Saturday, many service members now have some answers.

The NW Military in the Outdoors Expo showcased a wide range of workforce and recreation opportunities available to service members, veterans and families in the Pacific Northwest.

"It's a way to bring visibility to a community that's very important to the fabric of our country," said Lili Allala, a Northwest recruiter for the Student Conservation Association. "It's a way to network, get to know one another and see what other programs and organizations are out there that can assist."

Certification courses are available in wilderness first aid, chainsaw handling and red card certification and firefighting. And with wildfires burning in Central Washington, there are many employment and emergency preparedness opportunities available.

"In certain situations like fighting a fire, you're working in a team and trusting them with your livelihood," Allala said.  "That kind of level of pushing yourself physically and mentally in the outdoors is something that the military is already used to."

>>> Nicholas and his son, Cole, climbed the Washington National Guard's Recruiting and Retention Battalion's rock wall. Photo credit: Gary Lott

However, the outdoors doesn't just mean emergency preparedness.

"Everything is centered around the outdoors, but it's about so much more," said NW Military in the Outdoors Expo organizer and Sierra Club Military Outdoors lead organizer Joshua Brandon. "It's also about recreation, employment, therapy and education all combined, and it's really important for the military to look at it in that range."

From 2002-2012, Brandon served as an Army infantry officer, went on three deployments to Iraq and was even a 3-2 Stryker right at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. With multiple deployments, Brandon experienced post traumatic stress disorder struggles firsthand.

"From my personal experience, recovery can be a big benefitting factor for the military to take from the outdoors," he said. "It's a natural treatment for PTSD and TBI and is so much better than pills."

This message of recovery, recreation, emergency preparedness and even employment is a message that Brandon has been preaching for years.  However, when he met Nicholas Carr, the constituent services representative for veterans, active duty military and higher education for Representative Derek Kilmer during an annual 9/11 therapy mountain traverse up the Olympic mountains, the message turned into the NW Military in the Outdoors Expo.

"Hearing about how the outdoors saved my life and the positive effects it's had on me, Nick has been extremely passionate and just really wanted to get that message out to the people in the community," Brandon said.

This was the first annual NW in the Outdoors Expo, but according to Carr and Brandon, it will undoubtedly not be the last.

For more information visit www.facebook.com/NWMilitaryOutdoors.

Filed under: Military, Veterans, outdoors,

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Marcy LaViollette said:

Arresting Power is at 6:30 (even though it's a good idea to get there early).

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