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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!

What our classmates didn’t know.

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I’m reposting this story today in celebration of a guilty verdict. It was originally published on May 29, 2012 at community-building.org. 

Jolie sat on a blue picnic table outside our school cafeteria, soaking in the sun in her pleather pants and snug purple top. She wore tall, black platform boots, I think.

Whatever she wore, it was proof of everything they said about her.

We — my friend group du jour (friends have never been my strong suit) — ate lunch on the bridge nearby. I stood next to Mark*, my new best friend, who had dated Jolie from middle school until earlier that year. She used to stand where I now stood, her “in” status in the social circle as tenuous as mine. And now that I stood there, I needed to fit in.

When Jolie and Mark split, everybody sided with him. When her name came up during lunch, everybody had something to say about her, and given the pleather and all, I figured it was all probably true.

She was definitely weird.

Proof: The year before, somebody had posted anonymous letters on our AP English class online forum, signed “OuTsIdEr LoOkInG iN.” In her poems, OuTsIdEr damned us all. She describing her lonely world — not fitting in, being judged for being different.

Jolie sat in the row ahead of me, right at the front of the class. We burned twenty holes in the back of her crimped hair. We were indignant. I wasn’t a super cruel person in high school, nor was I popular or rich or even happy — I had my own share of too-intense-for-high-school things to deal with — so I didn’t feel like she was talking to me. What had I ever done to her?

We all pretended we had no idea who OuTsIdEr could be. She was just crying out for attention, we concluded, and we moved on to Lord of the Flies.

Senior year, Jolie and I both made the alto section of our school’s A Cappella choir. Let’s put it this way: She projected. As such, she was moved to the back row, where I stood (I also, um, projected), and we made uncomfortable conversation between run-throughs.

In the Spring, I invited her to go to church with me (which is different from being friends, because it means  you’re trying to save someone’s soul), and she came, probably because people didn’t ask her to do stuff very often.

Somewhere in between learning the Second Alto part for the Spring concert and riding together in her purple sedan to youth group, I learned a few things about her that nobody had bothered to mention on the bridge at lunch.

Her house, at the gateway to our neatly-groomed suburban town, didn’t look like mine. It was dirty and small on the inside, with ratty carpets and dishes piled up in the kitchen. Her mother had leathery skin and cursed with a raspy voice. Her twin siblings ran around with hair poking out in every direction. Spaghetti dinner was served on plastic Mickey Mouse plates. Her stepfather was nowhere to be found.

Listening to Oasis in her bedroom, which was plastered with every Oasis poster ever printed, she told me about her biological father, who had become a vegetable after a motorcycle accident and was kind of an asshole anyway.

My dad was kind of an asshole, too, I said, so I understood. Since my parents had split, he’d kind of gone MIA and only ever bought pasta, yogurt and Cheez-Its when he went grocery shopping. I didn’t even like yogurt.

What did your dad do? I asked.

After my parents split, when I was a baby, he stole me and hid me out of state, she said.

Oh.

I asked about Mark.

We got pregnant, she said, and I had an abortion. He didn’t want me to, but he didn’t really want a kid at seventeen, either. Now he won’t talk to me.

Oh.

I think I stopped asking about stuff after that, but I eventually learned that her stepfather gambled, her mother didn’t work and her grandparents owned the disheveled house. When she’d come home after work at Jack in the Box, sometimes the electricity was shut off. She payed for her own choir trips and school fees with Jack in the Box money.

Just before the end of Senior year, Jolie came over with smudged mascara glistening through her glasses. She had told the school counselor something and she couldn’t stay at home anymore. It had taken four years for her to speak up; she hadn’t thought anyone would believe her. There was a warrant out for her stepfather’s arrest and her mother was so mad. Not at him, for what he’d done, but at her, for telling.

We pushed two twin beds together in my room and stayed up late talking. My father and my new stepmom said of course she could stay.

We cut class together on Senior Ditch Day, except we didn’t go to the pool with everyone else; we went to Lake Tahoe instead. We went to prom in the neighboring city with her new boyfriend — whom she had met at church — and his friends.

We giggled in choir, and I ignored everyone who was now looking very nervous when I talked to them. We were late to our own graduation, our hair still wet from an afternoon at the lake.

At the restaurant before the ceremony, her mother announced she had superglued in her fake tooth for the occasion. My mother sent back her Bloody Mary because it was too salty.

We caught air in the purple sedan going 55 over bumps on the way to the school, arriving the gymnasium just in time to thrown on our gowns and walk. We laughed the whole night.

Jolie’s stepfather made national news this month when the U.S. Marshalls finally tracked him down in New Jersey, where he’d stayed under the radar for ten years.

I hadn’t kept in touch after college. She became more involved in church and I stopped going at all. She got married and I didn’t. She got a “real job” and bought a house — things I never got around to doing.

When I saw the news — Jolie telling her story on TV in our hometown — I sat in my bedroom crying. Out of relief for her, mostly, regret that I had let small things interfere with our ability to support one another, and a rush of the pain knew she’d endured each day that she waited for justice.

Ten years ago, I filled an entire page with a pink glitter gel pen in Jolie’s senior year book. To close, I wrote, “Ten years from now, we’ll probably see each other and pick up right where we left off.”

Jolie and I saw each other for the first time in two years last month, and it was like we hadn’t missed a day (except that we had tons to catch up on, so we stayed up into the wee hours of the morning drinking wine and talking).

I had come home with a mission — to visit the places where we had grown up — and I asked her to come with me.

First thing Saturday morning, we went by the elementary school. Nothing, not even the crusty old pale yellow tether balls, had changed since we left. We recalled being in next-door classes in fourth and fifth grade and posed for a picture on the United States map still painted on the blacktop. I remember the drinking fountain being a lot taller.

We grabbed coffee at what used to be the town’s one grocery store, where we used to walk to after school.

When we arrived at the high school, Jolie tensed. We took a photo outside the choir room, making exaggerated singing gestures for the the camera, then walked toward the cafeteria, across the bridge.

Jolie stopped on the bridge and I lifted my camera to snap a photo. Through the lens, I saw that she was crying. I brushed back her bangs to wipe the black streak emerging from the corner of her eye.

Committed to the potential cathartic value of the experience, we trudged on to complete our tour — but it wasn’t one of reminiscing about first kisses and that time when the quarterback got in a fight with that dorky kid in the quad. (This is what I imagine other kids remember about high school, but maybe we were all quietly trying to make sense of bigger things.) We peered through the window of the library where she would hide for lunch, making friends with the librarian instead of the other kids; the classroom where OuTsIdEr sat staring straight ahead with her hair in flames.

We finally mustered smiles for a picture when we both raised a middle finger in front of the school mascot, a yellow and blue Trojan sprawled across the Administrative Office wall.

Then we ate really big cheeseburgers.

Our ten-year high school reunion was this last weekend. Jolie posted this on wall for the reunion’s Facebook event:

Over the past few months I have pondered how I can convey my anxiety for the event upon us tomorrow. I want so much to see many people and reconnect and get past the bad memories I have from my childhood but I also don’t want to be superficial and just pretend that everything is ok.

…I have described to many people that for me growing up in El Dorado Hills was extremely difficult. I was the poor kid in a rich neighborhood. When I came to Brooks in 4th grade I wore Salvation Army prairie dresses and spandex shorts while my peers were wearing Abercrombie & Fitch. I would come home to lights and water turned off because the bills weren’t paid. In high school my mom drove me to school in a car with an A-Trak while many of my peers were being driven to school in BMWs. On top of that my home life was difficult consisting of physical and emotional abuse and parents with gambling, alcohol, and drug addictions.

Some of you may remember the “OuTsIdEr LoOkInG iN”: a series of poems and writings I placed “anonymously” on the Carr webpage we had for our English classes sophmore year. In them I wrote of my feelings of being ostracized by my peers and the world. I remember sitting in class saddened that no one had empathy for that poor girl and instead called her names… and most didn’t even know who she was. I was broken and hurting and wanted so much to be accepted and loved… by someone… anyone… my family… my peers.

…I know now that none of us were equipped with the skills it took to truly be supportive of a person going through what I went through as a kid. I’m not mad at anyone and quite honestly I am ready to see people again. I am in a good place in my life now and look forward to the opportunity to face my childhood fears and connect with the many genuinely nice people we have in our class.

A number of our former classmates responded, most of them generously. One comment stands out: “I remember doing laundry with you at the laundromat because I didn’t have a washer and dryer and you were nice enough to keep me company,” wrote a girl whose friendship we found in the Alto section during spring of Senior year.

Through her compassion, and the story she bravely shares, Jolie has given a voice to other women suffering privately — we both know women who only spoke out about their own abuse after hearing her story. She has challenged the people around her, including me, to think twice before dismissing someone who does not fit the mold.

The trial begins in the fall. When Jolie stands to testify against her stepfather, I will be there. Even if she wears pleather pants, I won’t believe anything he says about her — and neither will anyone else.

Authors: Rachel from Rentbestcars.com

Earning Our Ovals

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By The Apostate

This week both The Inlander and the Spokesman were kind enough to remind us about Washington’s disengaged youth. In “Geriatrics vote. The youth don’t care.” Nick Deshais cited some data released by Secretary of State Sam Reed. In the last primary about 4,000 people below the age of 25 cast their ballot, making up about 3.5% of the vote. The second group, ages 25-34 made up another 5.9%. You ready for some math? That adds up to a not-so-grand total of 9.5% of ballots cast by people under the age of 35.

This is appalling because while young people make up about 23.9% of the electorate, they only made up about 10% of the electors. In 2008, the Obama campaign turned young voters out and transformed many in to young activists. And as you know, these young activists weren’t just poli-sci majors. They were bloggers, artists and apathetics alike. So what gives, young people? How did civic engagement seem to go from “hot to not” in one election cycle?

 

Here’s my thought: politics aren’t marketed to young voters because as the numbers suggest, old folks vote. It’s a nasty catch-22, young people aren’t involved because political ideas aren’t presented to them in a way that motivates because people cashing in their social security are more likely to vote. The best way to approach this problem is to vote. When numbers suggest that young people give a shit, politicians will return the favor by being concerned with the young vote.

Moreover, young people can champion their own causes and change the way we elect people in Spokane and in Washington State. Few young people operate in a way that shows concern for suits and marble walls, what’s wrong with politics in jeans and a hoodie? Oh yeah, and why can’t we vote online? Good laws require good people in elected office. We must support young, forward focused candidates and make sure our generation has champions in Olympia.

The first line of action in Spokane comes from The Washington Bus, an organization devoted to politics by young people for all, and NextUp Spokane, a new group that seeks to motivate more participation from other young people through fun local projects. This fall the two groups have come together to get upwards of 1,000 young voters to pledge to vote by addressing a post card that is mailed back to remind them to follow through on their pledge. In addition, NextUp and the Bus are hosting a massive get-out-the-vote canvass on Halloween called Trick-Or-Vote (stay tuned for details later this month) that involves a friendly costumed reminder to vote and a killer after party. Awesome, right?

 

If you aren’t sure if you’re registered or you need to change your address you can visit MyVote, a cool online program from the Secretary of State. Young people are not a lost cause, we just need to make our voices heard so we can remember why voting matters. If you’re interested in getting involved with these efforts in Spokane please email: alayna[at]washingtonbus[dot]org.

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.

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.

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

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.

Broken Mic is far from Broken

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By Audrey Connor

I’ve been hearing about Spokane’s poetry scene for a long time – I was even invited to observe or participate at least three times in the past couple of months. So last night, I thought I’d go check it out.

A half hour pre-Mic—maybe 1/5 of the actual mid-show crowd

As it happens, this particular Broken Mic—an open-mic for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry writers at Neato Burrito—was the RiverLit Zine debut celebration, so the focus of the evening for the first half hour was its contributors. (I picked up a copy of the hard-spined, glossy-paper zine for a tidy ten bucks, and as Taylor Weech assured us, “these will be collectibles someday.” RiverLit is a product of RiverSpeak, a website and community built on the principle of getting more Spokane artists moved into the public eye. Painters, sculptors, musicians, printers, dancers, poets—pretty much all are welcome and encouraged at RiverSpeak. The network’s Community ranges from amateurs to professional Spokane art-scene staples, and the entire scope of the website is dedicated to resources for Spokane artists (and art-lovers) to connect, submit, and be promoted. The RiverLit zine features 19 writers in 3 fiction and 17 poetic works in their summer issue, number 2 in a series orchestrated by Keely Honeywell and Weech.

 

Broken Mic itself is a fairly loose-formatted, all-ages welcome venue for writers (fiction, non-fiction, as well as poetry) to get up and strut their stuff. It’s pretty clear that it mostly comprises of regulars who attend every week; however I saw at least five people get up and read who’d never done so before, including the aforementioned RiverLit-ers. The entire operation is championed by Mark Anderson, who radiates earnestness and a sincere affection for language as well as the crowd that fills up Neato Burrito’s small space to embrace it.

Want a Summer RiverLit Zine? Check out Magcloud

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

The “C” Word

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“Oh no, here she goes again!”

My friends automatically cringe at the word.

It doesn’t matter the context or the subject at hand. As soon as I say it:

*COMMUNITY*

Eyes start to roll, people look out the window, and shift around uncomfortably in their chairs. What is so threatening about this word?

Sadly it seems in today’s culture of suburban materialism, people have every reason to be suspicious. Especially young people. To our parents, “community” was a tangible thing. Folks grew up knowing their neighbors, etc. Today however, the social fabric of authentic community has all but been ripped to shreds. An average of four hours of television a day, the necessity of two-income households, decreased suburban density and increased total population mean we hardly know the meaning of the word.

To certain young people the “C” word represents an obligation they never agreed to fulfill. It is a hollow promise, a loaded word often manipulated by public figures to sell folks on an agenda that may not match up with their own. To some “community” = cloying and claustrophobic. Someone even accused me recently of being in the “Community Cult”. It’s a concept that a lot of people just don’t relate to. Who are the members of this so-called “community” and why is it supposedly so special?

When young adults hear the “C” word we tend to place ourselves outside of it. We don’t fit the target audience for the majority of civic dialog as few of us have children, we aren’t in terminal career track jobs, and we’re typically not making mortgage payments or contributing significantly to the tax base.

This doesn’t mean that young people are anti-social and lack desire for community of their own. We simply use a different word for the same thing and call it the “scene”. A pet peeve of the Spovangelist is that the concept of “scene” in Spokane is rarely extended beyond the realm of local music. That is a great place for a scene to start, but in more culturally dynamic cities the scene is far more multifaceted than that.

What is an ideal scene? Its a large network of people who relate to each others perspectives on jobs, relationships and station in life. They can offer relevant advice on connecting to opportunities that support their shared lifestyle. People in the scene should appreciate the creative work of other people in the scene should it be worthy of such attention. The scene should be able to help its members get hooked up with good roommates, and even share costs on things like throwing parties or transportation to Seattle. The scene should be diverse and interesting. It should provide companionship and expose the people in it to new ideas and ways to recreate. A healthy scene is strong enough to develop its own micro-economy, and this in turn provides meaningful, socially significant jobs to its members.

Cheers to the future of the “C” word in Spokane!

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