History, politics, people of Oly WA

Month: April 2013

Water, wells (Olyblogosphere for April 28, 2013)

1. The most quintessential of Olympia discussions over at /r/Olympia: state office work versus regular office work. Discuss.

2. Wondering what’s up with Make Olympia. Well, that’s what’s up.

3. HA! I feel the same way at Mathias: “…we just had about a dozen cupcake shops open up in the last 24 months.”

4. Oh my God.

5. From Marcus Lane: Water.

6. Jinkies! College students (no Greeners) are all up to hijinks!

7. Makes sense that we’re talking about, but gun ban at SPSCC is controversial.

Tumwater Towers, once you know they’re there, you see them everywhere

Where else in Tumwater have copies of this tower spread?

Encouraged (at least in part) by actual City of Tumwater code:

To encourage design elements that convey the historical theme of Tumwater. Pitched or mansard metal roofs, decorative brick facades, and ornamental towers with pitched roofs and decorative cornices are examples of design elements that reflect the history of Tumwater. Several of these elements are incorporated into the designs of civic and commercial buildings along Israel Road, including Tumwater City Hall, Tumwater Headquarters Fire Station and the Tumwater Timberland Library.

Right nearby the actual brewery, for one.


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A sort of not-obvious one, but one that got me thinking:

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Another one, down the street:

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The ordinance above actually lists a few examples of public buildings, so I’m just going to skip those ones and look for some other examples that might not be so obvious.

Do you think this qualifies? I’m almost sure I’ve seen this chain of hotels with a similar design.

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Kind of an easy one, really:

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Olympia Beer, looking at a budget Puget Sound culture from Los Angeles

The headquarters of the Olympia Brewing Company, literally on Santa Monica Boulevard.


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Just a bit different than the original headquarters.

Since the 1980s, the Olympia Beer brand has been passed around several national beer companies, landing with Pabst in 1999. By the time Pabst bought Olympia, it was already a virtual brewer. A maker of beer in name only, or simply a company that owned the intellectual property of branding and making beer, and not the means of brewing itself.

That year was the same year that Olympia the beer was separated from Olympia the brewery, as the building was passed to SABMiller. That outfit ended up closing up shop in Tumwater in 2004.

So, the idea of “Olympia Beer,” “It’s the Water” (which still weighs pretty heavy around here) is owned out of Los Angeles and is likely controlled by some sunny Southern California creative firm. So, what does that mean?

Actually, does anyone want to be the brand manager at Pabst? Looks like they’re hiring.

Well, when they try something new, they kind of get it wrong.

Back in 2010, Pabst launched a sort of rebrand of Olympia Beer. The cans went retro (which only just satisfied the hipsters in Seattle) and the attitude of the brand itself seemed to move to some sort of grittier version of hipster PBR.

And, I’ll be honest. I’m confused by this Sasquatch (Bigfoot) contest. It seems to have satisfied the minimum requirements of a beer brand game, it got attention with minimal effort by giving a large reward for something that will never happen. It also seems to tap into the sporting nature of drinkers, but I’m not really getting a good idea of how much participation they’re getting. Really, most of the “sightings” on their map seem oddly fake.

This guy I think says it best, though.

Also, to me, Bigfoot is what people from outside the Northwest call Sasquatch. Which absolutely makes sense.

What I left unsaid about baseball, ambition and community

I recently submitted a rough outline of Olympia’s minor league baseball history to the local historical society newsletter. It was based on a longer piece that I really hadn’t put finishing touches on, so I took out some thoughts that strayed off the historically cite-able path. They were mostly thoughts on the communities that made up the well defunct Southwest Washington League.

Here’s the piece in the Olympia Historical Society Newsletter: Olympia in Minor League Baseball.

Here are my extended editorial thoughts, in rough form:

(League organizer John P.) Fink first reached out to organizers of local teams in the timber towns early in 1903, asking them if their communities had it in them to step up to professional baseball. First on his list were Olympia, Chehalis, Centralia, Montesano, Aberdeen and Hoquiam. 

These six cities were at the time very similar. Today, they stand apart culturally and demographically, Olympia in particular. In more than a century, Olympia has gone from a timber town in the same classification as Aberdeen and Chehalis (with a state capitol) to a city on the southern edge of the Puget Sound metroplex. Olympia grew from just under 4,000 to more than 10 times that size. Today, you can put Olympia together with neighboring Lacey and Tumwater and get more than 100,000 people living in and around Olympia. This is more people in either of the individual county’s that also made up the Southwest Washington League in 1903.

The 1903 cities of the old league almost seems like ghosts now. Olympia has grown outside its 1903 version, practically leaving nothing behind of its former self. The other cities have grown, seeing high times after World War II. Through the 1930s and World War II Olympia lagged behind cities like Aberdeen and Hoquiam. It wasn’t until 1960 that Olympia was the largest in population. It was the 1980s that Olympia started putting real distance between itself and its former league-mates.

While state government grew and Olympia took advantage of its connection to the urban centers of Washington, the other cities in the old Southwest League suffered from the decline of the timber and other resource industries.

Olympia became even more distant as it got more liberal relative to its neighbors. Being the home of state government and the politically and culturally liberal Evergreen State College, the old Southwest League towns turn their ire at Olympia. The infamous “Uncle Sam” highway billboard in Chehalis has included many anti-Olympia messages over the years, including “Evergreen State College – Home of Environmental Terrorists and Homos?”

But, as Fink sent out his inquiries in early 1903, these really were cities of the same league.

Views and shorelines (olyblogosphere for April 15, 2013)

1. Not really from the blogosphere, but I’m not sure if anyone else has pointed to the really interesting videos the city posted from their shoreline discussions. These are two visualizations side by side of what certain regulations would look like in terms of actual buildings.

2. Speaking of views, both Stevenl (at Morty and Olyblog) and CIAguy have been sharing historic views of the Capitol from various vantages and vintages.

3. Mojourner Truth blogs about the impacts of the coal port in the future of the northwest in someone’s community:

I’ve never lived by a coal port, and Olympia is too small to be in the race. But I do drive Route 14 up the Columbia from time to time, I have tried to sleep in Stevenson as the plains rumble through, horns blasting, and it’s hard to imagine how a massive increase in traffic would be tolerable.

If a coal port happens–and the relentlessness of North American capital suggests it will–the lucky winner will likely learn some hard lessons. Many of the construction jobs will go to outsiders, and operations won’t generate the employment or revenue expected. At Cherry Point, we’ve already learned that the proponents’ initial statements about the volume were a fraction of what they really plan, that there will be twice as much traffic and pollution. Friendly promises will be reneged. Coal, being a global commodity, may become more profitable (leading to increased shipping), or the bottom may drop out (causing jobs to disappear from time to time). Even if you support coal power, does it make sense to sell our reserves to China, whose import policy is partly to protect their own for the future?

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