Posterizing for SPIFF

For Som: Grief.

“Paralysis By Analysis”

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A Parade for Peace

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Here’s what Michael Kinsley from Seattle’s Politico had to say about the shooting in Tucson:

“No one is suggesting that one of those voices in the assassin’s head was John Boehner’s cigarette growl or that Loughner had even heard of Sarah Palin when he started saying nutty, paranoid things. No one is suggesting that he got the idea that the number six is somehow indistinguishable from the number 18 from the 2008 Republican Party platform. The suggestion is that we live in a political atmosphere in which nutty views (President Obama isn’t a U.S. citizen.) and alarming rhetoric (“Second Amendment remedies” are the answer to disappointment at the ballot box.) are widespread and often go unrebutted. The suggestion, finally, is that the right is largely responsible for a political atmosphere in which extreme thoughts are more likely to take root and flower.But all of this is now too uncivil to bring up. So wherever could Loughner have gotten his paranoid contempt for government? Who told him that the government was this hulking, all-powerful “other” determined to control and ruin his life? Official answer: He’s crazy! What more do you need to know?…”

Just last week a similar attempt occurred at our Martin Luther Kind Jr. March. I first think of the catastrophe that would have occurred if this backpack bomb was indeed successful, and then of the heroes it took to thwart the attack. Now that Spokane has stopped showing up on CNN and The Rachel Maddow Show, it’s time for us to take a long hard look at the why this potentially tragic event occurred.

So many are blaming this event on the way political discourse has taken shape in the past could of years, others are attributing it to a complicated mental illness. Because the insight in to the mind or minds that planted the bomb in downtown Spokane is limited, it’s time for us to reflect on what acts of hatred could spawn from such a peaceful message.

I take the utmost pride in Spokane because on the variety of neighbors. It is when the variety of neighbors begin to do damage to others that I start to question our city.

What’s next? Is it our political rhetoric? Is it the Inland Northwest’s history of white supremacy? Regardless of last week’s bombing catalyst, we need to reflect, as a community, on the language we use to to discuss opposing political parties. More so, we must reflect on how we confront this attempted together.

What can you do to support peace, love and safety in the coming years? What can we do to ensure an attack like this is never successful?

Unclogging the Plunger Game

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Washington State is home to some of the best game inventors, that is if you love Pickle-ball, Cranium and Pictionary. Soon to join the ranks of those highly popular games is the Plunger Game. Somewhere in the winter of 2008, Alex Nagy’s kitchen sink in his basement studio apartment in Spokane developed a sink clog. After returning from Rosauer’s Grocery Store, the clog had resolved itself leaving Nagy and his friends with a clean, unused plunger. Thus was the genesis of the H-O-R-S-E style game of the Plunger Game.

According to the game’s creators, Will Maupin, Alex Nagy, Alex Miller, Andrew Gutman and Taylor Smith, “This lack of clarity surrounding the creation of the game is appropriate, as the game is still being created. Every time someone picks up a plunger, they are furthering the creation of the game. A new move, style or application can be developed or discovered at any time.”

The Plunger Game might sound insane, it really is. It’s the ultimate highdea (High+idea, get it?) building to a small group of dedicated enthusiasts. For full “rules” and regulations click here.

In addition to the game’s following of loyal players, these dudes have also been getting a little bit Internet famous with these trick shots.

Author: Nelle J. Hussey from Troy-moore.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.

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.

Comparing Calories

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By Brother Merriweather

Here at the Spovangelist we’ve devoted a lot of attention to the food consciousness emerging in our community, from flourishing neighborhood gardens to the delicious products of Spokane area farmers. Many of us would agree that learning about the path of our food from seed to stomach is a satisfying experience. Yet with new revelations about the true cost of manufactured food, Spokanites have even more to gain from local production and consumption than we might realize.

A University of Washington study published in July shows that nutrient-dense foods are growing ever more expensive per calorie than refined grains, sweets, and fats. Basically, this means that fresh produce and whole foods are increasing in price much faster than Doritos, Hot Pockets, soda, Pop Tarts, and other “foods” chemically engineered to intrigue our taste buds.

This price disparity has a disproportionate impact on people who live on fixed incomes from sources like Social Security, Food Stamps (EBT), or Women, Infants and Children’s supplements (WIC). If the study’s forecast about escalating price disparity is accurate, people with fixed food budgets will continue to see their dollars being incapable of purchasing enough healthy food to feed themselves and their families.

Why should budget-constrained families be consistently forced to make unhealthy food choices? Even those of us who are not living at the poverty level often choose processed foods to make ends meet. Healthy food might seem unreasonably pricey, but consumers are actually shielded from the hidden costs of processed food. 30 billion dollars are spent every year supporting corn and soybean production, which makes foods containing high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated soybean oil (trans fats) much cheaper. The actual cost of processed food is higher than it appears on the supermarket shelf.

 

Obesity in Washington and elsewhere is most prevalent in low-income families, which really drives home the point that empty calories from cheap food aren’t worth it. When people try and sustain themselves on high-calorie, low-nutrient food, we end up with paradoxically overweight and malnourished families. If we focused efforts on making healthful foods available to people at all income levels, costs related to obesity and health would also drop dramatically. After all, fresh fruits and vegetables are nature’s medicine; these foods are actually health protective, reducing the likelihood of obesity and subsequent medical expenses.

Of course, the first step to a national push for universal access to healthy, nutritious food starts here at home. Within Spokane, I have been inspired by the movement for affordable nutrition being spearheaded by organizations like p.e.a.c.h., Plant a Row For the Hungry, and One World Spokane Cafe. Second Harvest also plays a crucial role, offering “Food $ense” classes to educate families about healthy eating on a limited budget.

 

Sun People Dry Goods Garlic and Cover Crop Workshop in East Central

Sourcing food locally is an huge step in the right direction in battling the price disparity between healthy and unhealthy foods. Keeping food production close to where we live cuts down on delivery and storage costs, and when direct relationships with farmers are formed, can even cut out costs associated with food brokers and packaging materials. When we support local producers by shifting our dollars to our local food system, we expand the local economy, increase our access to affordable, healthy food, and help to relieve the unfair burden of ill health on vulnerable members of our community.

3 Deadly Excuses to Stop Stalling Spokane

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When you ask people in the park what they like about Spokane they say “it’s not too big” and “doesn’t have traffic like Seattle”. Some think Spokanites are “friendly” while others point out our access to nature and recreational resources.

On the flip side, comments about barriers to Spokane’s success contain equally generic and uninspired viewpoints. But this set of assumptions has a much more dire effect on our regional mindset. Let me challenge the basis of the top three most cherished Spokane excuses:

1) Spokane just needs more time.

PROGRESS IS NOT A FUNCTION OF TIME

Ask yourself “How many thousands of years was China under dynastic rule?” It is naive to assume some natural process of growth towards more democratic and/or sustainable societies. These practices do not develop on their own. They result from cultural patterns that are directly influenced by a complex variety of real world circumstances. THIS is where the focus should be kept, not asking “Is the time finally right?” I would agree with the truism that “timing is everything” – but this nugget of wisdom shouldn’t be taken proscriptively.

Creating your own opportune moments is a powerful skill to develop. If we can get past the limit imposed by this ‘glacial time assumption’ the challenge becomes identifying methods that accelerate the process of change itself. The social time scales of the past should not be inappropriately applied to the ever-changing possibilities for the future.

2) Spokane needs new people.

NEW BODIES WON’T REPLACE OLD ATTITUDES

Often I hear it said that we have to “be patient” and wait for all the old fossils to die off before things can really start to move ahead. A variation on this idea is that Spokane needs to import a bunch of “enlightened” Californians or outside corporate talent to cancel out the effects of suspicious natives or make our economy sing.

It is hopelessly narcissistic to assume that attitudinal barriers to change will disappear with certain members of the society that espouse them. Let us not forget that these people have children (often times a larger number of them) and ideas about the what makes the world tick have a funny way of transferring through generational lines. At some point social activists will have to suck up their uncertainty and (gasp) actually engage the criticisms they despise.

3) Spokane is too poor.

HOW WE SPEND IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TOTAL SPENDING

First off, as an American city, Spokane has a lot of fat to burn. The question is how we burn it. Are our dollars squandered on flat screen TVs or invested into energy efficient dishwashers? Do we allow our limited money to be vacuumed out of the local sphere by national and international corporate conglomerates, or do we circulate our dollars faster and more effectively in our own vibrant micro-economy?

Culture change can be spearheaded on a shoestring. The question must involve how to win hearts and minds, the money will follow. Just ask a preacher! Let’s remember one doesn’t loose weight by buying a fancy gym membership, one actually has to work out to get rid of those pounds.

Learning to Love Spokane Again

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Spokane can be a hard place to live. OK, Spokane is a hard place to live, for me at least. Since I’ve stopped writing the Spovangelist, which wasn’t intentional, I’ve fallen off the Spokane wagon– causation or correlation is up to you. Probably since I lost my job in April due to the federal sequester, I’ve lost interest in the daily goings on, the gossip, even the woes of urban planning. I make jokes about being a “Sequestrian” or “Funemployed” but it actually just blows. For a while I embraced the darkness, using it as fuel for other projects I had been dying to do, but now it’s just pure darkness.

Spokane is hard for a lot of reasons, partially because it can be so easy. Easy to fall into a daily schedule of: wake-up, read arbitrary stuff on the internet, attempt to get some work done, maybe go for a walk, try to finish whatever work thing I started, take a nap, walk down the block for cigarettes (SORRY MOM) and coffee, then back to Googling weird stuff. Maybe after all of that, I might make it down to Baby Bar for some awkward run-ins with everyone I’ve ever met or perhaps Mootsy’s if I want to smell toilet deodorizer. Side note: Mootsy’s bathroom graffiti says “Alayna sux dix”, so obviously I have a fan club.

It’s a hard habit to shake; difficult to reengage in our city.

I don’t really mean to whine, it’s a classic, “It’s not you, it’s me” situation. I know I shouldn’t complain anyway; Spokane already gets enough flack for things it really has no control over, or at least things it’s working on (#weallbuildthis, right?). But I’m whiny and apparently have blame issues. Hating on this place is kind of cliché anyway, everyone has done it, will do it, or is doing it right now.

Clichés are often clichés for a reason, but as I turn this conflict over in my head time and time again, I find that this particular cliché is tired. And so am I. I’m tired of resenting a place I once loved. As short of a blood oath as I can come, I’m recommitting.

I spent the last few weeks talking to friends, acquaintances, and my cat about why we all still live here. We came up with a few good reasons to stay. A lot of the reasons people listed had to do with the great opportunities here. They don’t always present themselves, that’s part of the trick: you have to seek them. But once you find them, you can build whatever your heart desires. Also the Santa Fe chicken sandwich at the Elk.

Point is: hey guys, I missed you.

City of Sarah Palin Valley

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I thought this photo snapped with a friend’s iPhone was worth sharing.

Make of it what you will.

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!

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

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