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Earth Turners Convergence

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I grew up in Spokane. I also successfully convinced myself to hate it for two (admittedly lame) reasons:

All the cool kids were doing it, and
There wasn’t much that was appealing for anyone under 21 to do.
My disdain for Spokane has since turned to delight in no small part due to the explosion of people working really hard to make Spokane reach its full potential. Although the Friday night scene for many young people in the 509 hasn’t changed much, Spokane now has a fighting force for change in the Youth Sustainability Council (YSC).

Community-Minded Enterprises refers to the Youth Sustainable Council as a way for young people to contribute in the ways they want to contribute. The organization is known for its innovative “youth-lead” approach, which has resulted in projects as small as PARK(ing) Day and as large as Sustainable Uprising.

This spring break the YSC is putting on its first Earth Turners Convergence Wednesday the 31st through Friday the 2nd. It’s a series of 13 workshops on topics ranging from gardening and composting to grassroots organizing and starting a business, all led by some of Spokane’s finest. This is an event led by young people, but the workshops include skills that are of interest to everyone.

The Earth Turners Convergence kicks off with an issues forum, where young people will be invited to share their reasons for being involved and how they hope to affect change in their community. Workshops and fun events will continue over the following days, culminating on Friday, April 2nd during the Youth Sustainability Council’s Transcendence Project installation.

Want more information? Check out the YSC blog or contact: spokanceysc@gmail.com

Social Desegregation – Mixing it up in our high school cafeterias

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Growing up on the North Side I went to Mead – “Spokane’s preppiest high school” (with Ferris coming in a close second). To make a typical story short this environment rubbed me the wrong way so I spent half my time at M.E.A.D. Alternative just across the street.

Alternative schools are often unfairly stigmatized in the larger Spokane community. Upon announcing my departure from Mead I was informed that I was “making a political, social and academic mistake.” Many wrongfully assume that Alternatives are programs of last resort. Negative stereotypes include that students fit the following categories: teen parents, juvenile delinquents, kids with violence/anger issues, substance abusers, or students that are just plain lazy.

Whether this sentiment persists out of a sense of self-congratulatory superiority or plain old ignorance we’ll never know, but I propose a simple solution to significantly shake things up:

What would happen if the entire student body of M.E.A.D. Alternative walked across the street one day to join their mainstream peers in the cafeteria for lunch? This is not as trivial of an act as you might first think. The social divide between these groups can feel like a gaping chasm at times, and there is reason to expect mainstream admins would make excuses to oppose the event if it were ever actually suggested.

The sight of thirty or so misfit young people marching into “the Mall” to mingle with old friends and intentionally make new ones would be quite the spectacle. I predict there’d be a moment of shock as mainstreamers wondered “What is going on here? Who are THEY?” This would quickly dissipate as the alternative students dispersed around the room to say hello.

It would take a lot of guts on behalf of M.E.A.D. kids to assert themselves in this way and I suspect many would not feel comfortable doing so. But what an effective approach it could be! Who wouldn’t want to

Authors: Jenny from Articlehack.com

Dark Side of the Sun

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Spokane is a city full of khaki, blue and gray. When people deck themselves out in black around here it is often meant to signify something. To some it is anti-social and threatening. To others it is a sign that someone isn’t bound by confining social norms and is more likely to accept you for who you are.

Next time I’m riding around without my backpack I’ll just follow suit and clasp my U-Lock around my neck. Problem solved!

Why Fagan Cares About Bikini Baristas

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City Councilman Mike Fagan is up in arms over bikini baristas. Bikini baristas are up in arms over Fagan’s newest proposal. The Councilman representing the 1st City Council District (U-District all the way up to Hillyard) wants to require a minimum clothing regulation or move to zoned “adult business” areas. There’s really no right way to feel about this. So many things about lingerie and bikini espresso stands repulse me — they defame the good name of espresso everywhere, objectify and over sexualize often very young women.

Most people understand that the word “Objectification” is a bad thing, but it’s deeper than that, it’s more than just a word. Our culture has made the female form a source of fascination, a white whale of sexual desire, which creates businesses like strip clubs, bikini barista stands and a whole lot of trouble. “Objectification”, is true to the definition of the word, it takes human beings and reframes worth from intellectual contributions, kindness, humor, love and transforms it in to sexual worth. Objects can’t be hurt, because they are inanimate, but when you turn women into objects, it makes things like cat calls, sexual harassment and even sexual violence more justified in the mind of aggressors and general d-bags.

Bikini barista stands may seem fun or even funny, but are fundamentally damaging to our community. Places like bikini barista stands are not really to blame; they’re merely capitalizing on the built culture surrounding women and women’s bodies. Read: it’s all our fault.

The toxicity of bikini barista stands aside, Councilman Fagan’s proposal is still plain wrong.

First, allowing middle-aged white dudes to tell women what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior, is exactly what we talk about when we talk about gender inequality. Mike Fagan is, perhaps unwittingly, attempting to institute policies that are directly interfering with the independence and free will of women. And sir, we have enough of that patriarchal bullshit with out the help of our city government. Even more concerning is that Councilman Fagan is a self-proclaimed libertarian, meaning with every other concern, he is supportive of free market ideals and supports little governmental intervention. Except when it has to do with dictating the values of other people. Unequivocally proving he is attempting to institute a policy that is inherently sexist– on purpose.

Second, it is not the place of city government to decide the value system of it’s constituency. But to support the vital services the city provides. In the Spokesman-Review article on the bikini barista cover-up proposal, City Council President was quoted with the perspective of a strong leader, “Who decides what Spokane values are? I didn’t get elected to legislate values. …We should be talking about economic development, the creation of the budget and police accountability…”

The thing about sexism is that we have a choice. Our culture isn’t hardwired to be oppressive. We have the option to reframe the way we talk about sex, the way we talk about our bodies and the way we evaluate the inherit value of humans. We have the power.

We also have the power to buy good coffee from people that wear clothes.4

Bucking up.

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This is what I looked like before I was sad.

OH MY GOD JANUARY. It is so awful. There is science proving how awful it is — or “pseudoscience,” at least. According to Science, the most depressing day of the year hasn’t even happened yet — it’s on January 21st.

Factors include things like weather, holiday debt, motivation and days since falling off the New Years resolution wagon. There should also be something about “likelihood that you are hacking up a lung.” And “number of fights you’ve had with friends and/or strangers on the internet in the past week.”

Having moved through the preliminary stages of utter despair, including

pretending to just be having a bad week
getting drunk on bad beer several days in a row
coming to terms with the semi-permanent nature of the situation
and
unfettered self-pity,
I have now moved into a considerably more pleasurable stage: self-comfort. This is the part where you stop just feeling sorry for yourself and do something about it. Like eat scones every day, regard attending one yoga class in a week as a Feat of Strength, and read long-form articles about Lindsey Lohan making a low-budg film.

I’m even using my favorite mug — which (neurosis alert) I use as little as possible to prevent it from ever breaking or getting lost — on the daily.

It’s wonderful. I am pretending/recognizing that I have a disease, and treating that disease by treating myself awesomely. Which leads me to wonder why I don’t do this all the time.

Being inexplicably sad has led me to living more wholly. For now, as a survival technique. But later, maybe just for fun.

Designing Local Health

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The Interdisciplinary Design Institute of Washington State University Spokane held its Sixth Annual Design Research Conference October 7-8 to discuss a variety of interesting topics, from investigating the calming properties of wood to sustainable aging in the built environment. This was an interactive conference where presenters and students from a wide range of disciplines participated in different venues to facilitate the exchange of ideas. The relationship between design and human health goes far beyond health care facilities and hospitals, so how do we define what “Designing Health” really means?

 

“Design” is a dynamic and multi-faceted term. Both verb and noun, it originates in the Latin designare, or, “to mark out.” Thus, design can be understood as both a mental activity that involves the study and transformation of our physical and intellectual surroundings; and as the products of such activity. Design and health have many areas of overlap. How do the designs of our environments, including such specific characteristics as light, color, material, and dimension; and more general characteristics such as proximity to nature, other human beings, and basic services, affect our health? Can good design contribute to good health, and if so, how can we study this relationship and facilitate the most healthful outcomes?

Even the word “health” is subject to interpretation. For our purposes, the World Health Organization definition fits nicely: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” With that holistic view in mind, it becomes clear that the design of homes, neighborhoods, and entire communities can have a huge impact on our individual sense of well-being.

Matthew Cohen, an associate professor of architecture at WSU, expands on this idea of designing for health at multiple levels. Although architects are creating individual buildings using healthful products, natural light, and other “gizmos,” Cohen notes that pedestrian and bike-friendly urban design packs the real punch for reducing health problems. In his words, “excessive use of the automobile is the single greatest risk in the U.S. today that designers can influence,” and the evidence stands up for itself:

Suburban development often equals more driving and less exercise.
Carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles in urban areas reduce air quality and worsen respiratory issues.
Perhaps most importantly, people sitting in closed vehicles interact less with one another, contributing to a decline in health as measured by socially fulfilling lives.
So, what are Spokanites doing to improve our community’s health by design? The re-conquering of pedestrian-friendly zones like Main Avenue between Browne and Division is a great example of the sort of urban design that contributes to individual and communal well-being. Incorporating elements of unique Spokane culture with attractions like the Community Building, Main Market, and the Saranac, the Main Street reclamation encourages interaction among residents and visitors, to everybody’s benefit.

Other examples include the efforts to improve bicycle safety in Downtown Spokane and the development of walkable, exciting areas like the International District. Future residential areas like Kendall Yards, with an up-front commitment to the cycling and pedestrian lifestyle, mark another positive trend for Spokane.

At the WSU conference, keynote speaker Fred Kent of the Project for Public Spaces made the point that urban design should create great places for people, not just cars. Let’s keep encouraging Spokane’s urban planning in that direction. Which spaces would you choose to redesign for a healthier Spokane?

Garland Block Party is BACK

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  • “The creative act is a letting down of the net of human imagination into the ocean of chaos on which we are suspended, and the attempt to bring out of it ideas.”― Terrence McKenna

Music is like food. A dedicated artist can nourish you. In that frame, Patrick Kendrick is a gourmet chef–a gourmet chef that has been treating our fair city with his culinary delights almost on daily basis (Plus he’s so dreamy). From the intimate, sweaty and raucous shitshows put on at Mootsy’s to offering his broad vision to organize the wildly popular Terrain and Volume festivals, Kendrick and his mothership, Platform Booking, have curated, yet again, another gem. I give you:

 

Poster design by Nick Tibbetts
Poster design by Nick Tibbetts
You down with GBP, oh you know me!

Runway Renegades

My first thought was, “Shit. A Runaways cover band!” But was pleasantly surprised to see I was wrong! The Runaway Renegades is a collection of local clothing designers and models (for the GBP they’ll be featuring work from 6 local designers from Eco Chic, Mechanical Mannequin, Blackwood Art, Chevalier, Assassin Apparel & Glamartia.) In my opinion, it’s a cool and classy way to end a superb day.

Violent Vickie

This lady, hailing from San Francisco, California, doesn’t f***k around, I mean, shouldn’t her name tell you that? Throwing together a pot of boiling hot & bombastic beats, mixed with her haunting vocals and layered and intricate synth work , Violent Vickie is light years ahead of the electronic game, and is producing some of the most prolific music I’ve heard to date.

For fans of: Bruxa, Crystal Castles , & Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Nude Pop

Is incredible, and yet I still don’t really know anything about them. I caught their impressive opening set for El Ten Eleven, at the Red Room and have been in love with those boys ever since. NP creates dreamy garage rock and cerebral pop with delicious sprinklings of shoegaze, psychedelia and post punk framing themes of feelings of isolation and living against relationships. Don’t miss these guys, because soon they’ll be off to Seattle and the next time (most likely) that we’ll see them will be on a TV somewhere.

For fans of: For fans of: Battles, El Ten Eleven, The Antlers

Cathedral Pearls

I have said this many, many times. I love the Cathedral Pearls. Listed last year as one of “12 Washington bands you should listen to now” by Paste magazine, local power couples Caleb & Karli Ingersoll (of the Bartlett) and Max & Carrie Harnishfeger make wonderfully infectious and danceable tunes that has been taking the PNW by full force. If their performance is anything like the last I’d seen, the whole family will be up and dancing within the first few songs.

For fans of: Neko Case, Ivan & Alyosha, and Sallie Ford & The Outside Sound

Summer in Siberia

I don’t think I’d be the best person to describe how much ass Summer in Siberia kicks. You should probably ask anyone who managed to make it into their jam-packed, dance filled & romping show at Volume this last month. I couldn’t even make it into the bar, but could still tell that people in there were getting down, and shaking what their mothers gave them! I’m ecstatic to get to see them live finally! I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve heard of theirs (on their bandcamp) so far!

For fans of: Foals, White Lies, Editors

Daethstar
I love loud in your face electronic music, the closer my ears are to bleeding and the faster I want to dance, the better! You can imagine my excitement when I saw that local heavy hitter Daethstar was on the lineup, let’s just say I’m having a hard sitting still at this point!

For fans of: Living, Breathing, Dancing, Eating and Sleeping

Why the hell isn’t it the 17th yet?! I want to dance, man!

I never thought I would say what I’m about to say, in my entire life, up until now. Take heed, Northwesterners! Work out. I mean, really workout and practice your dance moves. This year’s lineup is legendary, and is sure to get your ass shaking, and keep it moving until the wee hou-(whoops! 10pm. Stupid noise ordinance) I’m fairly positive their won’t be an EMT on site to assist you with your dance related injuries, so do yourself a favor don’t be foolish, wear appropriate party loafers, strap on your party hats and get to the

Garland Theatre Aug 17th 3-10pm! It’s free! AND ALL AGES!

Authors: Kristin J. Lavigne from RideLugged.com

Posterizing for SPIFF

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Once again, it’s almost time for the Spokane International Film Festival. No Matthew Modine this year, but plenty of global films and a new feature: Posterize. With 21 designers commissioned to make posters for 25 films, it’s an art display showcasing independent film by some of the greatest graphic design talent in our city. And it’s free.

You can preview many of the posters here, as well as a listing of this year’s films for the festival here.

I think this is a particularly good idea because it allows festival patrons to glimpse the potential of movies they may want to see through the eyes of innovative designers. This should, theoretically, encourage a sense of community, pride, and interest in the arts from multiple angles. The show includes local favorites Karli Ingersoll and Chris Dreyer, as well as a host of emerging talent. It’s a combination of two way cool ideas that looks, well, way cool. Way to go, SpIFF.

The show will be one night only, at the Bing this Friday, from 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

All Local Listening on Spotracks

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I haven’t made a mix for a while; which isn’t the same as saying I haven’t been listening to music. I have been. A lot. But I haven’t yet made an all-local mix, so here is a winter gift from me to you. Every song was meticulously picked from my itunes library and the corners of the internet, and the result is not necessarily a cohesively blending mix, but a compilation of truly awesome Spokane sound power. Enjoy!

Clubbing Our Culture to Death, or Beating More Life into Downtown?

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Despite the sluggish economy a whole crop of new nightclubs have opened up in Spokane this year. Yet at the same time certain theater and live music locations have struggled to stay open, with some closing their doors altogether. Does the clubbish bent to these new venues mean Spokane is becoming a generic and predictable middle-America meat market? Or should we be optimistic for the potential of businesses like the MarQuee and Casbah to encourage new consumers to develop their ‘urban identity’?

 

Certainly not all clubs are created equal. Some will inflame people’s most base instincts, while others are better positioned to bring about the class they claim to represent. How this “classing up” can be done with intention instead of by accident is important to consider. Otherwise we risk more of what most can agree are the downsides of the typical club scene. Social drama, hollow conspicuous consumption, senseless drinking, and otherwise attractive women looking and acting like this:

Manic Mondays at the MarQuee are supposed to “toast what’s sassy, sexy and sophisticated in Spokane” on a monthly basis. Similarly, a commercial-themed social networking night happens every Wednesday at Rain. We hope these “after work casual” and other “dress to impress” events will remain accessible and interesting to the general public. To the skeptic on the street they can seem highly artificial and just plain overpriced.

Either way, it is interesting to observe how a venue markets itself and eventually becomes defined by the collective identity that gathers there. These social associations become so sticky a business has to go through significant re-branding if it is to overcome an unwanted stereotype. Try this simple experiment: What do you see when you imagine yourself at Trick Shot Dixie’s?

 

Anyways, Spokane has always had its fair share of seedy bump-’n-grind style dance clubs. And let’s be clear, there is nothing wrong with these. They serve their purpose and are a natural component of any city’s social  ecosystem. The funny thing is when a dance venue tries to get it’s patrons to step it up a notch by enforcing dress codes, changing cover requirements, and introducing a section for VIPs. The public response to this policy at Studio 23 was surprising. Some people didn’t know what to make of the command “be sexy” and many were turned away at the door. Now that the location is Envy people know the general drill and it’s not a big deal anymore.

LET US END WITH A RANT: This whole process of growing pains goes to the heart of Spokane’s tortured (or dare we say it, non-existent) fashion identity. At some point we need to stop and consider the social meaning of the popped collar. Just like gentrifying low-income housing in the downtown core, the question of how clubs can impact Spokane culturally is a loaded one. Does squeezing ourselves into a mini-dress make us sophisticated? Or does it paper over the need for a deeper process of authentic cultural soul-searching? Spokane has the potential to be a truly distinguished “best kept secret” kind of place. Little old Spokane can balance the best of high-brow and low-brow in ways that larger cities can only dream of. As we continue to grow and shape our own modern regional ethos, let us do so with intention. Let us not sell ourselves short of our true potential, and lets enjoy to the fullest the fruits of our labor – sans pretension.

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