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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?

A Hotbed for Cold Electricity

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While the worlds stands aghast at massive oil spills in the Gulf, or the political football about where to bury left over atomic waste, Spokane has become a harbor for a handful of independent, non-funded technical researchers who are on a quest to revolutionize the way the world generates power. These fringe physicists and electrical engineers defy the laws of thermodynamics, and are working with humble means to discover a new technology that they believe will supply more energy than their inventions would consume.

This search for an endless fountain of “free energy” has become a lifetime calling for many in our area, and they have slowly evolved their own community of interest. Just a few weeks ago Coeur d’Alene was home to the first world free energy conference of its kind. Outside this network of support they receive no assistance whatsoever from academic or government organizations. This is not surprising, given that the law of Conservation of Energy is the solid bedrock for classical physics and chemistry. Despite opposition from every establishment, they trudge on in search of a system that would represent an age-changing event.

But why would so many of the country’s cold electricity researchers congregate in the Inland Northwest? They all agree, to the best of their knowledge, that there is no other place on the planet where so many authors, bloggers and active experimenters are engaged in this heretical subject. Is it something about our regional culture? Something in the ether, perhaps? Either way, for the sake of the planet, one can only hope they might stumble across that new Holy Grail after all.

Ballot Initiative No-No’s

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With all the initiatives, referendums, propositions and constitutional amendments (not to mention candidates), voting for some is starting to resemble that nightmare situation where you’re about to take a test in a class that you forgot you registered for. In this case, consider Protect Washington to be your one-stop study guide for deciphering all the numbers.

Spokane’s moderate population density has sheltered us somewhat from the onslaught of paid out-of-state signature gatherers that try to push these things through. In Seattle they stake out every intersection and street corner, harassing pedestrians with sometimes unscrupulous tactics for a salary.

Until our state can pass some ballot initiative reforms to create accountability with the way these proposals are brought forward, Washington will remain near the bottom of the barrel, drowning in special interest requests that will bankrupt basic services and create costs far beyond what they promise to save. This election is testing more than people’s tenacity to vote, it is a test of the big corporate lobby’s

Baroque Network Now

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Now that we are coming down off our high from Terrain people are wanting to know what is next. There is a yearning for more frequent “mini-Terrains” that feature local businesses and offer regular social networking opportunities. Baroque Design and their recently assembled “Creative Team” has got that wish list item covered. In a town as vibrant and bumpin’ as Spokane, you don’t have to wait another 365 days to have an exceptionally awesome experience with your friends. In fact, this debut event is going down this Thursday night at the Glover Mansion for free!

Not unlike the beloved Metro Spokane parties (may they R.I.P.) there will be a photo booth, except this one will have a themed back drop old school style, attended by house photographer Kelsey Woodward. This month is “Miami Vice” so be sure to break out your sleeker duds to work the scene. In Portland obscure theme parties were all the rage. In Spokane I feel some are still reluctant to venture outside the comfort of their favorite blue jeans, but that is OK. If you need a hint, here is a clue:

 

Anahie & Simona in Miami Beach, by Seth Barlow of Spokane

There will be artwork by Darcy Drury, tunes by Benjamin Jorgens, and laughs by Lance Paullin – the perfect comedian for this theme. Sometimes he can get a little, shall we say, risque? So who is behind all these generous people and why are they organizing parties to bring together Spokane’s creative/entrepreneurial circles?

We are very passionate about community, local business, and the arts. Networking and encouragement go hand in hand to create a better city to live in. With creating more ways we can be heard, we can create more opportunities to succeed.

We at Baroque want to create a collaborative of entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, politicians, or anybody who just wants to be involved in their community to create a tight knit Spokane local community that is pro active in their passion. -Matt and Alanna, Organizers

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

A Local Calling

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By Crystal Clark

This old phone box was standing on the corner of First and Jefferson, crying out for a bit of attention. A quick whip of string and tin can later we have a play on outmoded technology and the connections we make in our modern lives.

My son is a natural in front of the camera, that stance is all his own. The way his left knee bends and head tilts recall his no fuss attitude.

As of today, the tin can is no longer hanging there. Given the area the phone box is in, I’m guessing the can was clipped from it’s string for recycling money.

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.

Alice in White Park

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Maybe I’m exposing my own ignorance here, but what on earth is this White Park that shows up in Google maps? Clearly “Gloven Field” is incorrect (it is supposed to be Glover Field) but White Park is news to me.

Spanning much of the land that is slated for eventual development by Greenstone, we wonder if the above area would be more appropriately labeled White Parking Lot.

I wonder what documents the Google team draws upon when they create these maps? Was there a White Park on the books somewhere back in our City’s history? Not apparently. Searching for White Park Spokane results in a bunch of directions to Aubrey L. White Park up by the Little Spokane.

“Paralysis By Analysis”

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Peaceful Valley is a gem but the secret is out and running up the hill. The scenic location and closeness to downtown are too much to resist for developers. For several decades, the neighborhood has resisted drastic changes and remained a sweetly paced, unique community in the heart of Spokane.

Our first Indians fished here, wood-frame homes designed by miners and loggers still make up the district, and today residents work hard to retain that integrity. The Peaceful Valley Charrette was a recent effort to involve the community in the design and planning process around the neighborhood’s parks.

Now the Riverview Condominium proposal looms, a creeping abstraction some neighbors say is equivalent to a solar eclipse. It is a monolithic juxtaposition in a neighborhood full of small charms and idiosyncrasies. Residents who had worked tirelessly to improve the neighborhood opposed the tower. So they sued and were called NIMBYs for their efforts. Then developer Mick McDowell filed a lawsuit against the city in an attempt to bypass the comprehensive plan and build the tower for less money closer to Peaceful Valley. It was part of this controversy that birthed the more controversial Proposition 4 – to give neighborhoods a stronger voice in the development process.


Image courtesy of Steven Meek Architects.

The City Design Review Board examined elements of the condo proposal at 1404 W. Riverside Avenue just east of the Maple Street Bridge and it sounded like the structure adhered to all downtown design guidelines, codes, and zoning regulations. The stars aligned for developers since the property is located in a special height district that allows a construction height of 150 feet off of Riverside Avenue and north of the street for 100 feet. The project includes:

  • 18 floors of residential on top of a 3 floor parking garage.
  • 60 total units.
  • There will be approximately 93 parking stalls in the garage for a ratio of 1.55 stalls per unit.
  • The site is approximately 96 feet wide and 212 feet long.

Still, a building permit application has yet to be submitted. It’s easy to look at McDowell with a jaundiced eye and not just with knee-jerk defiance to a new developer in an old neighborhood. This from McDowell in an interview with the Spokesman:

“I find the constant paralysis by analysis frustrating. I have never ever shied away from presenting my case to a jury of peers. If I have a disagreement with a neighbor and we both present our cases to the appropriate body, I will live with the decision that’s reached. But what drives me wild is when we have a holdup of the process by a minority. It drives me wild.”

Not exactly a display of the self-consciousness a concerned neighbor would hope for in the role of the development process. But if you build it, will they come?

Builder George Doran knows. He lost hundreds of thousands on his Peaceful Valley project, the Lina Marta Condos, located at 1405 W. Water Ave. And this was just a four-unit building! Word is that foreclosure awaits. “Maybe we went a little overboard for that area as it is right at the moment,” Doran said in a story, aptly titled.

While we’re all for dense living and urban revival in old neighborhoods, the Riverview structure would be Spokane’s mammoth pink elephant, casting a shadow on century-old dwellings. Peaceful Valley residents cherish the unique and fragile – whether student murals on the Maple Street Bridge or renovating a dilapidated house – and they are deeply rooted in this place as the landscape continually threatens to change. Something important is at risk of being lost.

A Parking Lot in Park’s Clothing

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Every day I ride my bike past the sea of parking out in front of the INB. What little hope I had for development, sparked by those misleading “hotel property” signs last summer, was trounced when a friend explained that all the construction was for another surface lot. The nail in the coffin for my enthusiasm came when they demolished The Blvd. and chopped down its lone majestic willow tree. Like a digital mirage, the two can still be seen standing in Google street view to this day:

The swanky new parking comes with a price tag to match. At the peak of the Lion King frenzy, the lot appeared to be only 2/3 full at a going rate of $10 per spot. A blurb in the DSP’s Street Talk newsletter pointed me towards the master plan that was written for the Public Facilities District expansion.

Parking with Style
The new lot features sheltered, automated parking pay stations, new classic style light poles with wrought iron details on Main, 115 new trees, and solar powered lighting. Not bad for a parking lot!

While nobody can deny that the new lot is a vast improvement on the asphalt desert that preceded it, I have to wonder if this move effectively delays breaking ground on a planned multi-level structure. The Vision 20/20 plan fails to explain the rationale behind the timing of the current upgrade, stating only that the new lot will be around for about 10 years before Phase Two.

Downtown with a portion of current surface parking highlighted.

It was painfully ironic how Vision 20/20 carries on about the cultural and authentic place-seeking inclinations of Gen Y (see pages 24-25) only to result in the wrecking ball for one of their favorite local venues. They note a perceived disconnect between the convention center and the emerging East End, and then eliminate the nearest feature of that sought-after urban fabric.

In good faith I assume there are solid answers to all of these questions, and the plan suggests several exciting elements that will greatly enhance the downtown landscape if they are pursued. But what should the role of the public be in such a planning process? I was surprised to see that citizens were not listed as stakeholders, and only one public input meeting was cited in the report. The results of that meeting were not outlined, and so after 97 pages it is unclear how the proposal incorporates the perspective of local consumers.

We should use the assets we have, such as our visually appealing and unique historic buildings, to invest in permanent businesses and living spaces. Unnecessary parking lots flatline the heartbeat of downtown, no matter how they are used, and send the wrong message about the vision and direction we want for our city.

-Crystal Gartner

Community Candid

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This is what community looks like:

Sometimes you just get hit with an “Aha!” moment and all the talk and striving and scheduling pays off. THIS is community in action, you say to yourself. Right here, this is what it is all about!

Most recently I felt it at Jon Snyder’s campaign party, and then at the Terrain artist reception and Sustainable Uprising before that. It is usually when something special and unexpected is happening that brings a variety of people into a context where they have something meaningful to share.

By Joe Preston of Hairline Media

We’ve attended dozens of events where speakers, bands, comedians, journalists, politicians, authors and several other semi-famous figurehead types tour through our city, and they always seem especially pleased to have discovered a new audience in Spokane. Some open with jokes about misconceptions they’ve heard about the area, others admit that they had no idea what they were in for. At the end they comment how “It’s nice to see people actually dancing,” or “Those were some really excellent questions that I’m not usually asked.” Are these platitudes repeated by all traveling spokespeople, or does Spokane truly defy expectations?

The same wow factor seems to run through the audience as well. Spokanites often appear a little shocked and excited to realize they aren’t the only ones around who are interested in the topic at hand. It’s like the gold fish and the proverbial castle, it’s a surprise every time! I hope this freshness factor never wears off. I hope event-goers never get to a point of jadedness where their expectations outstrip any possible measure of human performance.

Spokanites know how to genuinely *appreciate* special gatherings – we are raised to elevate them to almost a cultish cultural practice, i.e. fighting over lawn chair real estate at the Torchlight Parade. We seem somehow immune to the “too cool for school” attitude that plagues more urban environments. It this a saving grace? Is it in my head? Who knows, you tell me.

Meanwhile, you can savor some more community eye candy from the Sarah Kramer dinner at One World.

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