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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!

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

Ladies We Love: Kate Burke

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  • There are some women in Spokane doing some super awesome things. In fact, there are a lot of women doing awesome things, so we’re starting a new series to let you know what the women of this city are up to. To nominate someone, email us at TheSpovangelist@Spovangelist.com

Kate Burke loves Spokane. She tried out a few other places like Bellingham, WA and Chicago, IL and made the intentional decision to move back to Spokane and grow her roots deep. Kate is the Plant-a-Row coordinator at 2nd Harvest Food Bank, a localist, a cyclist and a slow food champion. Plus, she’s one of the hardest working, most dedicated people I’ve ever met. Spokane is lucky to have her.

How would you describe your activism?

My activism: The cheesy, overused quote: “Be the change that you want to see in the world” is what I try to base my activism off of. If people can see that I am doing it and that I can make it happen, then there are absolutely no excuses not to do it. I fight for a lot of things but and I find that there is so much wrong with America and the world that I have to narrow down my fight. So I picked to fight for community health and food access. Everything I do in my everyday life adds to my community one way or another. And same goes for my health. I feel that if our communities were stronger than most of our problems would just find a way to go elsewhere. I want to build up our local areas and make them full and rich!

What inspires you daily?

My lifestyle inspires me. Everyday I get up and find it so hard to get on my bike. Rain, snow or shine i ride. But everyday I dont have to get gas or deal with parking or deal with driving in a car. my life simplifies immediately. My boyfriend also inspires me. Our future goals are the same and we work everyday towards them. When I see him living his life the way he does, it makes me feel that I can do it too. My work is another inspiration for me. Going to work with like minded people is helpful and keeps me motivated. When people share an experience or a lifestyle, it makes it easier to proceed together.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

When i was really little i think i wanted to be a teacher, like my mom. But as I got a little older, around 13, I wanted to be a farmer. I think it’s interesting that I held on to that dream. I want to grow my own food and teach others how to do it and how to preserve the food too (canning and fermentation). So my two career goals melded together to be one super job!

What’s next for you?

I hope that I can get some land soon, but for now I will be trying to make my house into a small (very small) farm house on the south hill. If I do get the land I want to start about 1 or 2 acres as a vegetable garden and also some animals (rabbit, duck and pig for meat. chickens for eggs. goats for milk and of course a border collie for my pet!) then I want to set up CSA (Communtiy Supported Agriculture) boxes for pick up once a week. We would have an event on pick up days. Live music, cooking classes and food would be a few things present. This is peaceful. This is freedom.

Authors Bio: My name’s Parris from Lillslist.com, I’m a researcher by trade. For almost four years now, I’ve made my living by finding information for other people to sell. When I experienced a health crisis, I began to research for myself, trying to find ways to lose weight and solve my health problems.A little over six months later and almost 30 pounds lighter, I realized that I didn’t want to work for other people any more, but I still wanted to share my knowledge with those who could benefit from it….

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.

An Open Letter to the Spokanite in all of us

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This is a letter written by the woman I have the biggest lady crush on. She’s darn cute, super smart and is the lead singer of a band. If she and I both had not found our respective significant others I would ask her to run away with me (except not away, like to Browne’s Addition or something.) Caroline Francis Schibel is the lead singer of the band Mon Cheri, my dream girl, and someone that gives a damn about our fair city.

 
Photo Credit: The Inlander

“I’ve been thinking a lot about Spokane lately (especially my love/hate relationship with it) and of course after much debate (and internal struggle) a light bulb went off in my head and I literally almost fell out of my chair when I realized *gasp! “My love for this city is stronger than my hate!”… DUH, that’s why I’m still here. Now I suddenly want to aid in making Spokane a better place, legitimately (you can smack me for not thinking of this before, I deserve it).

Here is the crisis our city faces: all of the cool people with their neat ideas and their entrepreneurship LEAVE SPOKANE to make it big somewhere else. Do the math! If everyone with a good idea leaves (at least 90% of them do) then Spokane will continue to just chug along as it is, sputtering its remaining drops of creativity into damn near nothingness. Not acceptable. I’ve seen many promising people start to try to dabble in the non-existent scene that is Spokane (only a “scene” about twice a year when events like Elkfest and Terrain happen, and thank God for those eh?) and when Spokane doesn’t respond, said promising people leave and become Seattle-ites or Portlanders, which is basically like a giant F YOU to those of us remaining here. So I’m going to propose an idea for you entrepreneurs: STAY. No, it’s not going to be easy. Yes, the city can be hard to work with and can make owning and running your own business kind of like digging your own grave, but we have to start somewhere, right? Besides, I’m really good with a shovel (and using it to knock sense into the city runs across my mind constantly.) I’m willing to NEGOTIATE rather than fight, and I have a really hard time taking no for an answer.

All joking aside, the most recent events to make me despise my beloved city (heh) involve The MAC and The Empyrean… WHY do we act like we hate the arts and the local businesses so much? I see the glimmers of hope, I see people starting to try to do something with Spokane, and I get so damn excited. Then, something weird happens with the sprinkler systems (or lack thereof…seriously?) or there’s a budget cut or a sudden lack of funding, and we’re left with the bitter tears of those people who put so much work into a business that would absolutely THRIVE in other cities but gets turned on by its own. Doesn’t that make you angry? At least a little bit?

It sure makes me angry, especially since Spokane has so much potential (think Garland area, the ever adorable Perry District, Browne’s Addition, South Hill, Downtown etc). This place is cheap to live in, and it’s begging for more people to realize that it can also be a cheap place to THRIVE in. Hell, Spokane is even considered to be one of the safest places to live in the US (as far as natural disasters go, that is); and if we could just hurdle this stupid meth habit crap, we’d really top the charts!

So I want to hear your ideas. I want to know how you think we can band together and reach out to more than just the 10% of us that always get involved… it’s all about growth, right?! I know that I could get some people from the Valley excited about making Spokane better (don’t scoff at the Valley, that’s my childhood turf!), and using our amazing networking skills, we could actually get a TON of people in-and-around the area involved.

I know that people in Spokane are already starting to try to make this all happen, so please don’t think that I’m not acknowledging the massive effort a lot of you have already put forth in making this a better place. I just don’t want it to hit a wall: I want it to break all those damn walls down and start thriving. I want to feel good about loving this city as much as I do. I want to see people succeed, I want to see them gain support from their community! I don’t want the barriers of “valley” vs. “city”  or “South” vs “North” or “punk” vs “hipster” to hold us back either: we’re going to need all the help we can get.

I want to get involved, that’s for damn sure.

So the big question is: Who’s with me, and where can we meet for beer?”

Caroline Schibel

Member of Mon Chéri

Lover of Spokane, WA

Preach it, sister. I’m with you.

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?

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.

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.

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

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