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Can you say SPOKE(a)N(e)?

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Spring 4-Ward: Local Micro Media Part 2

Spovangelist reader, freelance writer and Gonzaga student Brittany Wilmes beat us to the punch on this story. Read her insightful interview (excerpted below) with SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine editors Tyson and Sara Habein.

To summarize, SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine is a monthly .pdf publication that features the people, places and events of Spokane’s “creative community”. Taking a broad view of what that includes, SPOKE(a)N(e) goes beyond the typical music and visual arts coverage to include DIY fashion, community radio, graphic design, poetry, photography, film, offbeat theater and even news from the local comic community, to name a few.

The electronic format allows the magazine to include multiple full length interviews, an approach that is largely absent from the Inlander’s arts and culture coverage. Even better is the intriguing mix of established and emerging artists that are featured. Our favorite interview question is “What do you like about the Spokane creative community, and what would you like to see more of?” This angle gets at the heart of the optimism and dedication local creatives have for Spokane’s growing scene.

The absence of printing costs also allow for multiple page photo series that feature the work of Tyson’s YellowHouse Photography. Such prolific local eye candy makes up for the publication’s rather simple and utilitarian black/white/pink block layout design.

As with most Spokane style shoots (see Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living Feb. ‘09), a subtle urban vs. rural theme runs through these sets.

What adds an extra dose of authenticity to SPOKE(a)N(e) is the circumstances under which it is produced:

T: It’s very lo-fi. We’re working with Photoshop 6 and old, ancient software.
S: We’re on a dial-up connection. We live out in Rockford.

T: There’s two of us, but I have a day job and we have two kids.

T: I like the amount of variety that’s in Spokane. We’re both from Montana, and where I grew up, in Billings, it was very rare to see something non-traditional – that is, that wasn’t oil-based landscape paintings or high school kids starting a punk band.
It’s great to see art that’s unique, like spoken word artists and folks making their own clothes. It’s pleasing to see people in Spokane who don’t mind freaking out the grandmothers of the world.
S: Coming here, in some ways, the scene is just a little bigger. The size of the city provides a greater likelihood of there being variety.
T: I think Spokane is on the cusp of being a vibrant, creative community. I think it’s looked down upon in the Pacific Northwest, but it will depend upon who decides to stay and give it a go here.

In an effort to attract more independent contributors like Lloyd Phillips and Alex Toney, SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine is now offering 1/4 page ad space for writers to do with as they please. What would you use it for? We like that the SPOKE(a)N(e) staff aren’t afraid to self-promote and ask for revenue in exchange for the attention of their audience.

Looking forward, SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine seems like it is here to stay. While their efforts aren’t all that sophisticated to start, simplicity is a key part of long term viability. Basic business sense is also an important part of micro media longevity. And with longevity comes the confidence and trust of the community.

101 Reasons to Ride Your Bike in Spokane

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Spovangelist is not a bike blog for the simple reason that there are so many other outstanding local bloggers covering the topic. For some reason biking and blogging seem to go hand-in-hand. Four out of twelve of the blogs featured in the Spokane Blog Bible could be considered bike blogs, or at least strongly bike sympathetic. Here is an alphabetical list, please mention any I have left out: 100 KM, 26InchSlicks, Bicycles, Brewing and Bitches, BiketoWork Barb, Cycling Spokane, FBC Spokane, Fixed the Race, Fresh – Fresher – Freshness!, Joe Blogger, Out There Monthly, Shallow Cogitations and Spokanarama.

Awhile back I wrote 101 Things to do With a Surface Parking Lot. The list was a challenge and took a couple of attempts to complete. Coming up with 101 reasons to ride bikes in Spokane, however, was a breeze. I sat down and whipped these out almost without pause. In no particular order:

  1. your engine is in your butt
  2. people in bike shops don’t try and swindle you for repair costs
  3. cleaning your windshield is as easy as blinking
  4. people think you’ve “got guts”
  5. wearing bike accessories makes your fashion distinctive
  6. insurance doesn’t cost an arm and a leg
  7. changing a tire can be done in less than fifteen minutes
  8. biking daily adds spring to your step
  9. you are more likely to wear comfortable shoes
  10. pulling up to lock your bike is a great conversation starter with pedestrians
  11. people admire your dedication
  12. skip the lines, buses and craziness on your way to Bloomsday
  13. you remind traffic to pay attention
  14. takes a huge chunk out of your carbon footprint
  15. you don’t have to buy gas – this should be reason enough!
  16. no license required
  17. great compliment to regular exercise
  18. people think you’re sporty even if you aren’t
  19. bikes come in more colors than cars
  20. you never have to worry about parking availability again!!!
  21. you can’t lock your keys inside of a bike
  22. good for your heart
  23. way more likely to stop and smell the roses
  24. pot holes are easily avoided
  25. you set a good example for kids
  26. arrive at work refreshed and ready to contribute
  27. cold temperatures locally make biking more comfortable, not less
  28. make new friends, volunteer with Pedals2People
  29. about 70,000 people die from air pollution annually (this equals the number of deaths from breast and prostate cancer combined)
  30. Spokefest will feel like a vindicating joy ride
  31. you learn the art of layering your clothes
  32. breaks aren’t mysterious and are easy to repair
  33. reconnect with the day-night cycle
  34. stop fueling the war machine
  35. improve your flexibility
  36. be prepared for spinning at the gym
  37. encourage your friends to ride bikes with authority
  38. burn more calories every day to earn that fattening dessert
  39. win free prizes on MyCommute.org
  40. don’t leave a stinky trail of carcinogens wherever you go
  41. squeeze through narrow openings when necessary
  42. harness the power of evolution in making your transportation energy efficient
  43. you can carry your transit up the steps
  44. better your balance
  45. help people cost share when you carpool to an event
  46. you’ll never be caught off guard by the weather in inappropriate clothing
  47. hit up three times as many galleries during Art Walk
  48. make the Centennial Trail your freeway
  49. free yourself from guilt about hastening peak oil
  50. tread lightly on Spokane’s battered roads
  51. be invested in watching the local bike culture grow
  52. donate your old bikes to the Village Bicycle Project
  53. become thankful for red lights instead of being angry at them
  54. remove the temptation to answer and talk on your phone
  55. get discounts on drinks at Coffee Social
  56. improve your coordination by breaking while hand-signaling
  57. what a great excuse to get to wear neon!
  58. walk the talk when you pull up for a meeting at City Hall
  59. you only have to have two functional tires instead of four
  60. enjoy carpooling across town with friends you otherwise wouldn’t get to see
  61. get some mileage out of that backpack in your closet
  62. feel the elation of coasting down a long hill
  63. support your local bike materials economy
  64. create green collar jobs with your bike service purchases
  65. more easily reuse your bike parts across different brands and models
  66. flashing lights, light ropes and accessories are legal and encouraged
  67. whoever spent years paying off their bike payments?
  68. think of biking as a non-dietary “cholesterol cleanse”
  69. you are less liable to accidentally kill a warm and furry friend
  70. take advantage of existing bike infrastructure
  71. create the demand for more bike infrastructure
  72. bump total transit costs down from #2 on your household budget
  73. invent fun biking rituals
  74. pour aggression into powering up a hill
  75. vintage rigs are just as fuel efficient as new ones
  76. earn a rad “bike muscle” above your kneecaps
  77. stave off the risk of diabetes
  78. improve your posture
  79. beat the bus to your destination
  80. increase neighborhood property values
  81. slip through the traffic jam and be on time for dinner
  82. cycling promotes mobility for seniors
  83. cut your noise pollution down to “Near Nothing, Near Perfect”
  84. get rid of the need for the volume and overhead on that 2-3 car garage
  85. British Medical Assosiation says health benefits outweigh accident risks 20:1
  86. reduce the depreciation on your transit investment
  87. give your bones a daily workout
  88. a non-pharmaceutical/barbituate way to reduce anxiety and depression
  89. boost your LDL and HDL readings
  90. reduce your mortality by 40% – commute 3 hours a week for 15 years
  91. let speed function as your AC system
  92. bicycling is a physical meditation – a must for anyone living with ADD
  93. smell the pine, orange blossom, and lilac in the air
  94. become a crusader against America’s obesity pandemic
  95. merging your commuting and exercise time frees up hours for other pursuits
  96. ditch the concrete jungle and take the scenic route
  97. bicycling contributes to economic justice and equal opportunity for all
  98. contribute to Spokane’s urban/enlightened image
  99. protect your global neighbor – air pollution exceeds traffic fatalities 3:1
  100. foil the meter maids and parking Nazis
  101. cars pollute our lakes and groundwater; bicycles don’t

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.

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.

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