I thought this photo snapped with a friend’s iPhone was worth sharing.
Make of it what you will.
I thought this photo snapped with a friend’s iPhone was worth sharing.
Make of it what you will.
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.
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:
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.
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.
This is what community looks like:
Sometimes you just get hit with an “Aha!” moment and all the talk and striving and scheduling pays off. THIS is community in action, you say to yourself. Right here, this is what it is all about!
Most recently I felt it at Jon Snyder’s campaign party, and then at the Terrain artist reception and Sustainable Uprising before that. It is usually when something special and unexpected is happening that brings a variety of people into a context where they have something meaningful to share.
By Joe Preston of Hairline Media
We’ve attended dozens of events where speakers, bands, comedians, journalists, politicians, authors and several other semi-famous figurehead types tour through our city, and they always seem especially pleased to have discovered a new audience in Spokane. Some open with jokes about misconceptions they’ve heard about the area, others admit that they had no idea what they were in for. At the end they comment how “It’s nice to see people actually dancing,” or “Those were some really excellent questions that I’m not usually asked.” Are these platitudes repeated by all traveling spokespeople, or does Spokane truly defy expectations?
The same wow factor seems to run through the audience as well. Spokanites often appear a little shocked and excited to realize they aren’t the only ones around who are interested in the topic at hand. It’s like the gold fish and the proverbial castle, it’s a surprise every time! I hope this freshness factor never wears off. I hope event-goers never get to a point of jadedness where their expectations outstrip any possible measure of human performance.
Spokanites know how to genuinely *appreciate* special gatherings – we are raised to elevate them to almost a cultish cultural practice, i.e. fighting over lawn chair real estate at the Torchlight Parade. We seem somehow immune to the “too cool for school” attitude that plagues more urban environments. It this a saving grace? Is it in my head? Who knows, you tell me.
Meanwhile, you can savor some more community eye candy from the Sarah Kramer dinner at One World.
Last Thursday, SSYP did a “Beer With Jennifer Hall” event at the new Main Market Co-op downtown. It was the first opportunity we had to get up on the roof during construction.
The plans for the store will simply blow you away. Their/our website (I say “our” as a reminder that membership means partial ownership) is chalk full of interesting information and other opportunities for learning. Check it out and support with an early membership to hasten the grand opening of the store!
Spring 4-Ward: Local Micro Media Part 2
Spovangelist reader, freelance writer and Gonzaga student Brittany Wilmes beat us to the punch on this story. Read her insightful interview (excerpted below) with SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine editors Tyson and Sara Habein.
To summarize, SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine is a monthly .pdf publication that features the people, places and events of Spokane’s “creative community”. Taking a broad view of what that includes, SPOKE(a)N(e) goes beyond the typical music and visual arts coverage to include DIY fashion, community radio, graphic design, poetry, photography, film, offbeat theater and even news from the local comic community, to name a few.
The electronic format allows the magazine to include multiple full length interviews, an approach that is largely absent from the Inlander’s arts and culture coverage. Even better is the intriguing mix of established and emerging artists that are featured. Our favorite interview question is “What do you like about the Spokane creative community, and what would you like to see more of?” This angle gets at the heart of the optimism and dedication local creatives have for Spokane’s growing scene.
The absence of printing costs also allow for multiple page photo series that feature the work of Tyson’s YellowHouse Photography. Such prolific local eye candy makes up for the publication’s rather simple and utilitarian black/white/pink block layout design.
As with most Spokane style shoots (see Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living Feb. ‘09), a subtle urban vs. rural theme runs through these sets.
What adds an extra dose of authenticity to SPOKE(a)N(e) is the circumstances under which it is produced:
T: It’s very lo-fi. We’re working with Photoshop 6 and old, ancient software.
S: We’re on a dial-up connection. We live out in Rockford.
T: There’s two of us, but I have a day job and we have two kids.
T: I like the amount of variety that’s in Spokane. We’re both from Montana, and where I grew up, in Billings, it was very rare to see something non-traditional – that is, that wasn’t oil-based landscape paintings or high school kids starting a punk band.
It’s great to see art that’s unique, like spoken word artists and folks making their own clothes. It’s pleasing to see people in Spokane who don’t mind freaking out the grandmothers of the world.
S: Coming here, in some ways, the scene is just a little bigger. The size of the city provides a greater likelihood of there being variety.
T: I think Spokane is on the cusp of being a vibrant, creative community. I think it’s looked down upon in the Pacific Northwest, but it will depend upon who decides to stay and give it a go here.
In an effort to attract more independent contributors like Lloyd Phillips and Alex Toney, SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine is now offering 1/4 page ad space for writers to do with as they please. What would you use it for? We like that the SPOKE(a)N(e) staff aren’t afraid to self-promote and ask for revenue in exchange for the attention of their audience.
Looking forward, SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine seems like it is here to stay. While their efforts aren’t all that sophisticated to start, simplicity is a key part of long term viability. Basic business sense is also an important part of micro media longevity. And with longevity comes the confidence and trust of the community.
While the Spovangelist is weary of polarized two-party politics, we are not apolitical and we certainly aren’t afraid to jump in on important civic dialogue when something groundbreaking is at stake.
The Spokane Sustainability Action Plan (SAP) is just such an effort. It is the first attempt by a U.S. City to undergo a comprehensive public planning process that addresses the challenges of peak oil and climate change simultaneously. That’s right folks, we are a trend-setting city in something other than hosting history’s smallest World’s Fair!
What follows is my appeal to the Spokane City Council to approve the recommendations of the Mayor’s Taskforce.
This letter is written in direct response to a ten point criticism circulated in a Spokane GOP party memo. Local Republican talking points are included verbatim in bold below.
Locking our city into a huge process of “sustainability mandates” from the State Dept. of Ecology is a mistake. See Cap and Trade legislation pending and the awful Senate Bill 5735, the Cap and Tax bill which passed Wednesday. We want to keep our local government flexible and local!
1.) In no way do the sustainability recommendations “lock in” local government. Strategies and guiding principles are by definition flexible (this is pointed out in the plan) and open to interpretation and change based on new information as it becomes available. The members of the Taskforce anticipated this criticism when they explained: “This Action Plan … is not a bundle of regulations and mandates. The Plan is a portfolio of principles, strategies, and recommendations.” Furthermore, guiding principle #3 says to “Lead with incentives and education before mandates.” Because of this it is *inappropriate* for the GOP to sing the ‘big bad government’ song in opposition to this plan.
It will cost taxpayers BIG TAX DOLLARS to retrofit governments office buildings to make them more energy efficient when the return on investment will be dubious. Corruption and cost over runs will, as usual, be rampant. Our region has the cheapest, most plentiful and least polluting energy in the world…hydropower! We sell to the entire western U.S. and east to Chicago, then up into Canada and down in to Mexico. BEST PLAN?? Expanding the dam system electrical output which would be easier and very beneficial to our region.
2.) The Sustainability Action Plan specifically includes guidance to adopt only those energy efficiency measures that have desirable and demonstrable cost-benefit outcomes. Asserting that “big tax dollars” will be marshaled to some inefficient end is *simple paranoia*. Plans to improve the economic vitality of our City now and into the future should NOT be abandoned due to wrongs in the past that make certain Republicans feel that all local government is “rampantly corrupt.”
The suggestion that hydropower be pursued as an alternative to the Sustainability Action Plan does not make sense and does not hold up. The plan puts in place a strategy to determine the best approach to advancing local clean energy alternatives. Clearly this will involve more than just hydropower. Furthermore, Strategy #5 to “Conserve water everywhere” was included in part to protect our capacity to tap into hydropower sustainably. Hydropower is no silver bullet, what is needed is the comprehensive framework provided by the plan.
It will cost us businesses in our region when they are forced to “retrofit” their own buildings to make them more energy efficient. (Savings will be small compared to costs of renovations.) Is bankrupting one half of all local businesses and the resultant job losses really worth it?
3.) I have scoured the Sustainability Action Plan looking for any hint calling to “force businesses to retrofit their buildings.” The fact of the matter is that NO SUCH SUGGESTION EXISTS. The opposite is portrayed in explaining how the City will be a model for the surrounding community, and how green collar jobs could be created through strategic partnerships. Private sector businesses can choose to adopt or reject green practices as they see fit. Claiming that half of all Spokane business will automatically go “bankrupt” is nothing less than *counterproductive misinformation*. Please keep in mind that much of the opposition you may have encountered is based on an incorrect understanding of what the plan actually entails.
Changing over to electric cars and buses could be very expensive. Is it worth it? Is it needed? Will this really make the environment in Spokane cleaner? Our city is already purchasing ten new electric buses to do a “trial run”. Do our city officials really need the State Dept. of Ecology to tell us when to do this and how to do it?
4.) Valid questions about the best approach for achieving a leaner City fleet will be answered by “Developing and implementing a plan to increase the City’s use of electric vehicles.” Given the detailed strategies for efficient and effective planing set forth by the SAP, as well as innovations in measuring financial performance and total cost-savings, you can be confident that changing over to electric cars and buses will be well justified before it actually occurs.
Do citizens really want all government to function primarily around environmental concerns? Do we want BIG GOVERNMENT watching us to make sure we comply?
5.) Again, playing the “big bad government” card is silly in regards to the Action Plan as already explained. Questions about citizen desire have clearly been answered:
“The Task Force received more than 800 unique contributions to its base of information in the form of Work Group recommendations, citizen comments, citizen and staff complaints about current City practices and policies, and general suggestions.”
“Each contribution was inventoried, addressed and prioritized during the nearly year-long planning process.”
“A well-communicated public outreach plan produced significant citizen input that guided the overall direction of the final recommendations. The process yielded one simple message, accepted by members of every constituency the Task Force encountered during its work: Strive for good stewardship and efficiency in all things.”
FOX Business news announced on Tuesday…..Spain, one of the :”green showcase” countries, has now put out a study of some of their innovations. Among other surprises, for every green job produced, the cost was 2 traditional, “fossil fuel” based jobs.
6.) Drawing a 1:2 trade-off between “green” jobs and “fossil fuel” jobs is *over-simplified* at best. Sometimes emerging green industries do not directly impact traditional markets, and many studies demonstrate that “Green Collar” jobs are of a higher quality and greater growth potential than so-called “non-green” jobs. The many research sources drawn upon by the Sustainability Taskforce are clearly more credible than an off-handed broadcast by FOX Business News.
The Mayor’s sustainability study was based on UN and their surrogate ICLEI studies that based their science on “global warming” scientific models that are now showing signs of being faulty. The earth may be cooling, not warming. The science is still in flux. We need to wait and not make dire changes to our government structures based on fads or junk science.
7.) As a trained scientist I find the unsupported claim that global warming is a “fad” or “junk” science *downright embarrassing*. The people and the City of Spokane simply can not afford to be on the wrong side of science and the wrong side of history with regards to this important issue. According to Princeton researchers, by the time I am 73 the global average temperature will have climbed by 9 degrees Fahrenheit – and that is assuming that the the current rate of carbon emissions stays constant (this conservative estimate does not include projections for the growing demands of the developing world). Even if you consider yourself a “hardened skeptic” when it comes to global warming, please watch this video that logically argues the only responsible decision is for a proactive response.
One big premise upon which this report was based is that we are running out of oil….and that our dependence on foreign oil is a huge problem. Is it? How much oil is possible to drill in the U.S. and offshore? In the next ten years, will technologies improve to make safe nuclear power more attractive and plentiful? Are wind and solar panel energy dependable and constant? Are they sufficient to give our people and industries in the U.S. enough energy to still be a super power, or will we become a broken, corrupt, poverty-stricken socialist country like Brazil and Indonesia, where these plan models were created by the UN agencies? (Our Mayor signed an international agreement to implement international standards in Spokane.)
8.) The impacts of peak oil are not a matter of “if” they are only a matter of “when”. Many experts concur that we will never produce as much oil in a month as we did in July of last year. Even in the most optimistic nuclear power scenarios (nevermind toxic outputs and security concerns), the pervasive use of fossil fuels in all aspects of material production and transportation can not be ignored. Legitimate questions about wind and solar energy will be given a framework for consideration under the Sustainability Action Plan.
Suggestions that going green somehow risks “a broken, corrupt, poverty-stricken socialist country like Brazil and Indonesia, where these plan models were created by UN agencies” not only sounds *alarmist*, it smacks of *xenophobia*and a dogged unwillingness to even consider global best practices.
Avista has been an enthusiastic participant in the Mayor’s Sustainabililty Task Force process….why?
9.) Avista has been actively involved in developing the SAP because:
“Our history of responsible stewardship reflects the spirit of the region. You and others like you — who care about things like conservation, recycling and the natural beauty around us — embody that very spirit. We do it because it is the right thing to do, because it’s what you expect of us, and because, honestly, the next century depends on it.”
If you look at the “fiscal note” attached to the state cap and trade bill, you will see that expenditures will involve hiring new government officials who will build a whole new series of government agencies to monitor “sustainability.” Thus, government at the state as well as our local level will expand, and expand, and EXPAND! This will cost taxpayers more money. Do citizens really want more government that will be more intrusive?
10.) The proposed Washington State Climate Action Plan is in no way linked to the Spokane Sustainability Action Plan. The local plan does not call for a carbon exchange market. Opposition to one plan should not be confused with or transferred to the other.
In closing I would like to make one last plea for the adoption of this plan that has nothing to do with environmental concerns. It has everything to do with the impact on COMMUNITY TRUST AND FAITH IN PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT that will be had by your decision.
The introduction to the Sustainability Action Plan states:
“This initiative included dozens of meetings and many individual hours invested by the Task Force, meeting four hours every three weeks since April 2008. Such community participation shows that Spokane is a valued home, well worth the time and energy invested to ensure its future as a livable city.”
If in the face of public testimony you refuse to adopt this plan,you will effectively be issuing a vote of “no confidence” in the value of public participation in local government. As a local community activist and former City volunteer, I can’t caution you enough against sending such a devastating message to the broader Spokane community.
As you probably would agree, an effective City depends on the active involvement of all its citizens. This ensures accountability, innovation, responsiveness and collective capacity. While I myself am an avid sustainability advocate, I choose not to participate in the Mayor’s Taskforce precisely because I feared that the resulting plan would not be incorporated into City operations. Instead I chose to invest my limited time and energy doing independent organizing work that focused on relationship building among my immediate neighbors and peers. I was concerned that the Taskforce would consume an enormous amount of time attention and energy, only to ultimately burn out and embitter local sustainability proponents.
I want to believe in our ability to work together to achieve regional resiliency and well-being. In order to bring my disenfranchised young friends into this process with integrity, I need to believe that our vision will be taken seriously, and that our efforts will not be tabled or ignored. Please help me rekindle my confidence in local government as a viable means by which to achieve positive change. Please approve the Sustainability Action Plan.
Spovangelist is not a bike blog for the simple reason that there are so many other outstanding local bloggers covering the topic. For some reason biking and blogging seem to go hand-in-hand. Four out of twelve of the blogs featured in the Spokane Blog Bible could be considered bike blogs, or at least strongly bike sympathetic. Here is an alphabetical list, please mention any I have left out: 100 KM, 26InchSlicks, Bicycles, Brewing and Bitches, BiketoWork Barb, Cycling Spokane, FBC Spokane, Fixed the Race, Fresh – Fresher – Freshness!, Joe Blogger, Out There Monthly, Shallow Cogitations and Spokanarama.
Awhile back I wrote 101 Things to do With a Surface Parking Lot. The list was a challenge and took a couple of attempts to complete. Coming up with 101 reasons to ride bikes in Spokane, however, was a breeze. I sat down and whipped these out almost without pause. In no particular order:
Despite the sluggish economy a whole crop of new nightclubs have opened up in Spokane this year. Yet at the same time certain theater and live music locations have struggled to stay open, with some closing their doors altogether. Does the clubbish bent to these new venues mean Spokane is becoming a generic and predictable middle-America meat market? Or should we be optimistic for the potential of businesses like the MarQuee and Casbah to encourage new consumers to develop their ‘urban identity’?
Certainly not all clubs are created equal. Some will inflame people’s most base instincts, while others are better positioned to bring about the class they claim to represent. How this “classing up” can be done with intention instead of by accident is important to consider. Otherwise we risk more of what most can agree are the downsides of the typical club scene. Social drama, hollow conspicuous consumption, senseless drinking, and otherwise attractive women looking and acting like this:
Manic Mondays at the MarQuee are supposed to “toast what’s sassy, sexy and sophisticated in Spokane” on a monthly basis. Similarly, a commercial-themed social networking night happens every Wednesday at Rain. We hope these “after work casual” and other “dress to impress” events will remain accessible and interesting to the general public. To the skeptic on the street they can seem highly artificial and just plain overpriced.
Either way, it is interesting to observe how a venue markets itself and eventually becomes defined by the collective identity that gathers there. These social associations become so sticky a business has to go through significant re-branding if it is to overcome an unwanted stereotype. Try this simple experiment: What do you see when you imagine yourself at Trick Shot Dixie’s?
Anyways, Spokane has always had its fair share of seedy bump-’n-grind style dance clubs. And let’s be clear, there is nothing wrong with these. They serve their purpose and are a natural component of any city’s social ecosystem. The funny thing is when a dance venue tries to get it’s patrons to step it up a notch by enforcing dress codes, changing cover requirements, and introducing a section for VIPs. The public response to this policy at Studio 23 was surprising. Some people didn’t know what to make of the command “be sexy” and many were turned away at the door. Now that the location is Envy people know the general drill and it’s not a big deal anymore.
LET US END WITH A RANT: This whole process of growing pains goes to the heart of Spokane’s tortured (or dare we say it, non-existent) fashion identity. At some point we need to stop and consider the social meaning of the popped collar. Just like gentrifying low-income housing in the downtown core, the question of how clubs can impact Spokane culturally is a loaded one. Does squeezing ourselves into a mini-dress make us sophisticated? Or does it paper over the need for a deeper process of authentic cultural soul-searching? Spokane has the potential to be a truly distinguished “best kept secret” kind of place. Little old Spokane can balance the best of high-brow and low-brow in ways that larger cities can only dream of. As we continue to grow and shape our own modern regional ethos, let us do so with intention. Let us not sell ourselves short of our true potential, and lets enjoy to the fullest the fruits of our labor – sans pretension.