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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

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

To My Bike Thief

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Congratulations! You’re the proud new owner of a 52-centimeter Trek 2.1 road bike.

It might be a little small for you. Maybe you’ll give it to your girlfriend. Maybe you’ll hike the seat up ride around on it yourself, basking in the adrenaline rush of that lightweight, sexy beast of a vehicle.

Here’s the problem, though: It’s mine. It’s been tuned to fit my body and I’ve broken in the handlebar tape. (I also spit on it, so wash it off real good, eh.) The handlebars are measured to my shoulder width. I’ve tweaked the seat to perfection for long rides.

And what you might not have guessed is that it’s my only way to get around.

It’s a nice bike, so you probably assumed I could afford to replace it. Maybe that I have a car sitting in the garage at home. I was going to a meeting when you watched me walk away from my bike, so I probably looked pretty put together. Maybe you read me as a spoiled chick with money to throw around.

Whatever you assumed about what I have and you don’t and what society owes you or whatever your rationale is, you’re wrong.

I bought that bike with money I had from selling my car. I sold my car because it needed more repair than I could afford. I won’t be able to replace that bike anytime soon, which means I’m stuck riding the bus and walking places. You might relate to how this makes me feel. I’m making some assumptions about you, too — that you don’t have a “real” job, a car or a bike of your own (as in, one that you didn’t rip off) — and you probably know how much being tight on cash and without transportation feels.

My bike was my passport to self-sufficiency and staying healthy — and an item I can’t possibly afford to replace. As such, I brought it inside every night instead of leaving it in the garage. I locked it up within eyesight whenever I could.

You might be wondering about the scratches along the frame. A car hit me while I was riding home last year. My body was screaming but I barely noticed; my shock-addled brain could only muster this: “Is my bike okay?”

As soon as I was healthy enough, I got back in the saddle and rode trembling down Sprague Avenue. Riding again became my gradual victory over fear — not just of being hit again, but of the many, many things that are terrifying about the very uncertain life of a young person without financial security. While you were busy stealing my bike, I was meeting with a group trying to make Spokane a safer place to bike. Oh, the sweet irony.

Without a bike, living without a car becomes much more difficult. Buses run late, run on awkward schedules and simply don’t go everywhere. Going to the grocery store is enormously frustrating. Some jobs just aren’t an option because you don’t have a way to get there.

You probably assumed I don’t have these problems — and I didn’t, until you stole my bike.

Suddenly, I’m more dependent on others and less employable — which sucks because I’ve pretty much tapped out all the favors I can ask of my friends and family in my last three years without a steady job or a car.

I’m trying to take this in stride. This isn’t my first rodeo and you’re not the first punk to run off with something that’s mine. I bet you’re not a terrible person — I’ve been down enough on luck to feel like the universe owes me break, too.

I imagine that’s how you feel — or at least how you’ve justified it — like the universe owed you some rich bitch’s fancy bike. You were wrong, and I’ll totally throw you a bone there. I don’t care about reporting you or kicking your ass or anything like that. Will you just return my bike, please?

The no-questions-asked drop-off spot is Merlyn’s Comics at 19 W. Main. It’s open every day from 10am – 9pm. I know you’re free on Mondays from 4-5:30, because that’s when you stole my bike, so maybe you could drop it off then. Or whenever. You can say you’re doing it for your friend, or that you just found it — I really don’t care. I just want my bike.

Here’s the info on my bike, in case anyone sees it riding around town: 2010 Trek 2.1 Compact WSD. 52 cm. Serial # WTU286G0605E. Dark green with white embellishment. Black handlebar tape — at least the last time I saw it. It went missing near Riverside & Howard in downtown Spokane.

Please email me at erikaprins(at)gmail.com if you have any information.

Update: Friends have started a fund to help Erika replace her bike, click here to learn more.

Author bio: Hey, I am Tasha Chavez. I am providing you great ideas to materialise the magic of Christmas the best way you can. As an author, I know girls and also know the importance of a great gift. On our site Whattogetagirlforchristmas.com you can find the inspiration that you need! Girls are easy to please if you find the right present. And we gathered all the great ideas in one place. We provide you perfect ideas for little girls and women! And when it comes to pleasing a woman’s taste, we know just what you need to do! Check our site and make the women in your life happy this Christmas!

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….

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!

Things to do about sadness that aren’t drugs.

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Sometimes I get stuck. Like bigger-than-life sad/hopeless/can’t move stuck. That kind of stuck loops around in a bigger stuck, in which I know I’m not living life to its fullest but can’t quite sort out how to fix that. I know, I know, there are drugs for this, but I don’t have any and mostly don’t want them. Today has been the worst day in a while.

I read a funny (I am pretty sure it was funny?) blog post about depression and chuckled half-heartedly. I had been saving that blog because I love the artist/writer so much, and it didn’t even feel like anything to read it. Nothing.

Maybe I am depressed, but I don’t think that’s it. Most days I feel the amount of nihilism appropriate for the situation (life being meaningless and all) and enjoy things the amount that seems appropriate. I remember being depressed and it was nothing like that. It was more like today, but for all the days I could remember at the time.

Here’s the thing: I think if you feel like you’re missing out on some of what you could be making of your life, the answer is not to get a pill for that. If you feel bigger-than-life pain sometimes, it might be because you’re ignoring nagging dissatisfaction with your choices and circumstances, and that pain is hell-bent on being felt at some point so it can move the fuck on with its life.

I ate a lot of pastries and chocolate today and went to a yoga class. Otherwise, I mostly stared at the screen that I was supposed to be fixing a problem on and couldn’t make my brain do the fixing. I tried sleeping, which helped, except now there are bits of chocolate melted into the sheets. I read about juggalos on the internet. So when I realized the video I was about to watch was 20 minutes long, I didn’t even care that I would be losing 20 minutes of my day. It was about a guy who got kind of famous for writing a really cool song you might have heard on the radio, and the guy was like 17 at the time and now he is dead from cancer.

The video was about how he decided to live life while he was dying instead of trying so hard not to die that he would be sick from drugs and horrible surgery for the whole rest of his life.

I cried for a good 30 minutes, which helped. I also really want to do that even though I am not dying. My plan is the following:

Stop doing things that seem like a good move even though they will make me too busy to do things like learn stuff on the guitar and go for runs.
Stop saving exercise for the last day of the week when I panic about not having exercised all week.
Do some of the things I want to do but don’t because _(insert boring excuse here)_, like eat real food instead of whatever is easiest, do fun things after work, visit my family, hang out with people I like a lot, watch good movies, learn new stuff, go outside when it’s nice, etc.
Let go of anger that is pointless.
Write all the things.
Clean my house all the time so I like being there, instead of once every few weeks when I am angry about my house being gross.
You know, all the things people say you should do to be happy. (The last one is probably not on everyone’s list, but it is important to me.)

My grandmother did what this kid did when she found out she was terminal, and a lot of the things she had on her list, except I think she was doing most of those things already. She didn’t stop being annoyed about annoying things or otherwise a normal human being, but in perspective. As far as I could tell, the only regret she had was not having time to do all the things she wanted to — and that’s after seventy-something years of being pretty bad-ass. If there’s that much awesomeness to live, I’d better get on it.

I think living like you’re dying when you’re not dying in any immediate sense is subtly different from living like you’re dying when you know you have weeks or months to live, because you can’t just stop doing things required of humans, like going to work and thinking about the long-term implications of your life choices. But only subtly different. I love my job and obsessively think about the long-term implications of my life choices as it is, so maybe my shift should be to think less hard about the long-term implications and do more small things just because they are the things I’d want to have done with my life if I didn’t have years ahead of me to put them off.

For now, I’ll count it a success that I emerged deeply fulfilled from a day I would normally promise myself to get on meds and write off as a waste.

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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.

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.

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