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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.

Chicken Suit For The Soul

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Super Bowl Sunday. You:  Tall, dimples and seem pretty hungry from what I can tell. I saw you outside the Pizza Hut parking lot on 3rd and Maple. Me: I’m a cheap date, only 50 cents. I eat right. The farmers scatter corn for me. I eat a lot of that…not too much though LOL. My favorite feature is my yellow plumage. I even won a red ribbon for plumage at 4H. Friends say I look like a young Big Bird. I keep in shape by flapping my wings every morning. I’m not religious but I’m very spiritual. Likes: Football, NASCAR, pecking. Dislikes: Ovens, broilers, roasters…because, I’m a chicken! Call, email or honk.

A Parade for Peace

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Here’s what Michael Kinsley from Seattle’s Politico had to say about the shooting in Tucson:

“No one is suggesting that one of those voices in the assassin’s head was John Boehner’s cigarette growl or that Loughner had even heard of Sarah Palin when he started saying nutty, paranoid things. No one is suggesting that he got the idea that the number six is somehow indistinguishable from the number 18 from the 2008 Republican Party platform. The suggestion is that we live in a political atmosphere in which nutty views (President Obama isn’t a U.S. citizen.) and alarming rhetoric (“Second Amendment remedies” are the answer to disappointment at the ballot box.) are widespread and often go unrebutted. The suggestion, finally, is that the right is largely responsible for a political atmosphere in which extreme thoughts are more likely to take root and flower.But all of this is now too uncivil to bring up. So wherever could Loughner have gotten his paranoid contempt for government? Who told him that the government was this hulking, all-powerful “other” determined to control and ruin his life? Official answer: He’s crazy! What more do you need to know?…”

Just last week a similar attempt occurred at our Martin Luther Kind Jr. March. I first think of the catastrophe that would have occurred if this backpack bomb was indeed successful, and then of the heroes it took to thwart the attack. Now that Spokane has stopped showing up on CNN and The Rachel Maddow Show, it’s time for us to take a long hard look at the why this potentially tragic event occurred.

So many are blaming this event on the way political discourse has taken shape in the past could of years, others are attributing it to a complicated mental illness. Because the insight in to the mind or minds that planted the bomb in downtown Spokane is limited, it’s time for us to reflect on what acts of hatred could spawn from such a peaceful message.

I take the utmost pride in Spokane because on the variety of neighbors. It is when the variety of neighbors begin to do damage to others that I start to question our city.

What’s next? Is it our political rhetoric? Is it the Inland Northwest’s history of white supremacy? Regardless of last week’s bombing catalyst, we need to reflect, as a community, on the language we use to to discuss opposing political parties. More so, we must reflect on how we confront this attempted together.

What can you do to support peace, love and safety in the coming years? What can we do to ensure an attack like this is never successful?

A Hotbed for Cold Electricity

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

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

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

Ballot Initiative No-No’s

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

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

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

Baroque Network Now

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

A Local Calling

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By Crystal Clark

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

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

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

City of Sarah Palin Valley

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I thought this photo snapped with a friend’s iPhone was worth sharing.

Make of it what you will.

Alice in White Park

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

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

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

“Paralysis By Analysis”

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

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

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


Image courtesy of Steven Meek Architects.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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