History, politics, people of Oly WA

Month: July 2014

Summer archive post: Soccer history, two stories about Puget Sound

First, you might not have known, but soccer has a deep and rich history in Cascadia (from a submission I put into GoalWa):

This isn’t a thorough history of high level Puget Sound area soccer,
but rather a quick overview of what I could find in a few places about
the earliest soccer in the area. I drew solely from articles I could
find at Chronicling America and the Internet Archive.
I put my emphasis on adult intercity soccer, ignoring mentions of
international soccer (there seemed to be some friendlies played in
Seattle) and school soccer.

The years I was able to find resources were basically from 1906
through the early 1920′s. That said, these years seem to represent a
high water mark for local soccer.

The Seattle Wanderers traveled to Bainbridge Island to play the Port Blakely
team at Pleasant Beach in 1906. This game, and the Wanderers
themselves, are the earliest reference to Seattle soccer I could find.
Below this article is an interesting reminder of how old some issues in
soccer really are. The article is about why the game itself is called
“soccer,” reminding more mainstream fans of the full name of the sport
of association football.

But, did you know its also true that Olympia itself (tiny little Oly!) has its own rich history of club soccer. This includes a trip into what I think is the best sporting tournament in America, the U.S. Open Cup:

The 1973 campaign by the Olympia Olys in the Challenge Cup turned out a
little better. They won their first round game on February 11 against
the Rainier Brewers 4-1, but a couple of weeks later, they dropped 4-2
against the San Jose Portuguese. That team would end up losing to
eventual champions Maccabi Los Angeles.

Club soccer in western Washington was different back in the 70s. Most
semi-pro teams played in the state soccer league, which kicked off in
the early 1950s and at its peak was a three division system. Olympia’s
first entry into the league was in 1965. That team played at Stevens
Field, the old high school stadium just south of the Lincoln School.

Remember history is deep. Its varied. The history you know is often there because someone wrote it down. The saying “history is written by the winners” is so true, that its not even funny. But, we can look beyond that first telling of history, digitize way more stuff than we ever had before, and go back and relearn what we know about ourselves.

Summer archive post: Aunt Sally and the Sounders naming contest

This piece ran in GoalWa just about two years ago now. I really like it. People disagreed with me, but I think the name was going to be Sounders all along. It worked better if we owned it.

My main takeaway from the recent Forbes blog series on the Sounders (E Pluribus Sounders)
was how well-considered the move from the minors to MLS was. At every
point, it seemed like the current Sounders ownership group made the
right decisions, from marketing, to branding to player personnel.

Forgive me if I’m off base, but the blog series rang true to me. I
really do remember things going pretty smoothly from the USL to kick-off
in the MLS. Which, made me think hard about the one time it seemed like
the Sounders owners were about to make a mistake: when they were
deciding on the team.

In spring 2008, the club announced a web-based vote on the name of
team, and that “Sounders” would not be among the choices. But, when the
actual vote took place, there was a chance for fans to write in a vote.
Most people wrote in “Sounders” or something close, and the rest is

But, why does it seem strange to me that an ownership group that
seems to have done practically everything else right, might have gotten
something so basic so so so wrong? I mean, Seattle Republic? Really?

Is it possible that the Sounders proposed purposefully bad names like
Alliance and Republic to raise the interest (and ire) of the fan base
to force the issue on the Sounders name?

This sort of proposal has some relations in the real business and real estate planning world. This sort of thing is called a straw man proposal (not straw man argument) or an Aunt Sally.

A straw man proposal is used in business settings as a rough document
to kick off a discussion. Everyone is in the loop, so no one thinks the
original proposal is a possible end to the discussion.

On the other hand, an Aunt Sally is disguised as a serious proposal
(we want to Build a 20 story building!) when a much more reasonable goal
(no really, just a 10 story building) is desired. So, you’re able to
walk back the large building for a not so quite large building. A 10
story building may have been equally opposed as a 20, but its much
easier to swallow than a 20.

So, in our case, the ownership really didn’t try to pull a straw man
proposal (since we obviously weren’t in on it) or an Aunt Sally (since
we would’ve gone for the Sounders in the first place.)

So, the real end of the false dilemma was probably to further engage
and connect the fan-base in the name and the overall brand. It worked on
me, I certainly remember feeling a sense of massive relief and pride
when the result of the vote was announced.

The original context of the naming process seems particularly out of sync:

“The three naming options will be announced Tuesday, March 25,
and were chosen through fan focus groups, internal committees and fan
suggestions, but will not include Sounders.”

“I have great respect for the Sounders and the club’s history,”
said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “While we should celebrate the past,
we believe the MLS Seattle team should be about where we are headed
tomorrow and help position the club globally.”

For one, I’m not sure how they could have conducted real focus groups
on naming the team and avoided finding Sounders at the top of the heap.
The end result of the process was 49 percent of all voters writing in

Also, while the MLS has a bad reputation for respecting its NASL
roots, it had been ten years since the San Jose club had first rebranded
to its NASL-original Earthquakes. Also, by the time the Sounders
started ramping up in 2008, the MLS Earthquakes 2.0 had already hit the

Also, since the Quakes and Sounders, both the Whitecaps and Timbers have come back with their NASL names with no discussion.

Lastly, two of the proposed names — Alliance and Republic — seem to
indicate that it was more about the voting process and the fans actually
choosing than anything else.

Any serious person would know that Sounders was a powerful name
locally, it was unlikely to carry any bad feelings from the NASL days
because the Sounders had been so well supported in those days. To me,
the point of the vote was to give the fans the chance to put their own
stamp on the team when the first game was still over a year away.

The long history of hating and loving Boeing

When we jump on the bandwagon around here, we sure do jump on hard:

Senator Bone attacked Boeing in February and March of 1934. He referred repeatedly on February 20 to an unnamed “air- plane factory” that had “made 90 percent profit out of the Govt.” and proclaimed that he did not want his country to be “helpless in the face of the inordinate and extortionate demands of privately owned airplane companies.” On March, 6 the senator went further, he named names. As part of a broader attack on firms that did business with the federal government, he charged that Boeing had made profits of 68 percent on navy business and 90 percent in its dealings with the army, and he complained about the company’s employment, at $25,000 per year, of a vice president to solicit business from the federal government. For the Tacoma Democrat, money and politics mixed in alarming ways.

Less than 10 years later, the Seattle Chamber of Commerce would join with labor leaders to rally for Boeing.

The quick turnaround in the political and cultural center of Washington state towards Boeing obviously had more to do with World War II and the company’s ability to capitalize on the war. Boeing had gone from a small-to-medium size operator in the airplane industry to the center of the Puget Sound economy. Almost 20 percent of the entire workforce of King County was somehow connected to Boeing by the end of the war.

This turnaround, from whipping boy to savoir isn’t untold, it may just not be well understood. Other people have written about it, but usually just in the terms of I outlined above, which can be pretty simple.

But, there are a few more wrinkles I think worth exploring.

First, Senator Bone. If you like my Business/Libertarian or New England/Appalachia duopoly of Cascadian politics, Bone falls into the Libertarian Appalachian wing. Firmly anti-corporate, Bone took a shot at Boeing in the same way that Washingtonians took shots at the rail-road companies. His political tradition fell from the same tree the spawned anti-corporate talk at both the Washington and Oregon constitutional conventions.

Also, it is hard to understate the double impact of the Great Depression and World War II had on reshaping our region. Nominally, we were friendly business Republicans region prior to the 1930s, but the political map was whipped clean in 1932.

But, with World War II, the inertia from the 1930s began to recenter towards business in the 40s. Youngins like Scoop Jackson and Warren Magnuson were much more friendly with the traditional New England political thought. And, by the end of the war, Washington’s economy and culture had changed, and a cadre of young business friendly Democrats were ready to fight for Boeing.

Nothing about LakeFair. You should all be proud (Olyblogosphere for July 20, 2014)

1. It isn’t just LakeFair that makes us tick. There were some great things at Pride too.

2. Ken obviously let’s people write without using their real names. This particular post seems to toe the line of acting like a kid in civil discourse. And, reminds us that the entire isthmus planning group is a poorly held public secret.

3. I usually like local blog talking about local things, but one other will do. This time a local blog talks about cultural appropriation.


I should note here that the original poster found it useful to say something to the tune of “most Africans are doing it wrong”. If anyone is doing it “right”, I’d say it’s them. His whole rant was … startling. Now, I am not disparaging this young man at all. He was speaking most vehemently based on the information he had. There is a lot of misinformation out there on the internet and I can’t fault him for falling prey to some of it In fact, I remain strangely unemotional
about the whole exchange. But it did set me to thinking…

Should I be angry that someone from a culture other than my own is telling me about my culture in authoritative ways? I am not. I am … simply pondering a world in which this happens so regularly that we can’t even recognise it.

4. Who can just take away a park from members of our community, who just happen to be homeless?

Do we have to wait until Dan Evans dies before someone writes a biography?

Scoop Jackson, Warren Magnuson, and Tom McCall all have biographies.

The Secretary of State’s Legacy Project has released biographies of Slade Gorton, Booth Gardner and John Spellman.

Cecil Andrus has a really good biography. “Fire at Eden’s Gate” about McCall is better. But, the Andrus one is really good.

Scoop and Maggy cast a longer shadow in Washington, sure. McCall is probably the most inspiring Cascadian politicians. But, at least in terms of 20th century executives in Washington State, none is more powerful and interesting that Dan Evans.

And, there is no biography. Hell, even Nancy Evans had a full oral history.

Dan Evans is a totem in our politics. A “Dan Evans” Republican or a “Dan Evans” anything is the symbol of a rational, friendly to the environment, good for business politician. Evans served three terms and has been the only governor to serve three consecutively.

Biographies are oftentimes the best history. People moving through history, changing the context around them. It can be pretty good reading. And, arguably, no single governor has guided Washington through more interesting times that Evans.

So, why no Evans book? 

UPDATE 7/17/14 12:43 p.m.: Apparently Evans has been working for decades on an autobiography (thanks Deb Ross). From the Nancy Evans oral history:

…the week before Scoop died Dan had called the chair of the Evergreen trustees, Thelma  Jackson, because he wanted to write this autobiography he’s been working on for so long.  He had actually started doing some research, and started organizing the governor’s years, and going back into his own childhood – those sort of things.  So he had gott en that far, but not really doing research like he is now.  So he asked for an appointment with her.  And he was going to tell her that he would work unti l the following June, but then he wanted to leave Evergreen. He wanted to write his book and then do something else. He didn’t know what – just something else.

 I’ll be honest though. What I want isn’t what I want. What makes a book like Fire at Edens Gate so good isn’t just that it tells you the facts of a politicians life, but that it carries that life through the broader context of our communities and does it honestly. More honestly than could be done for an authorized biography (Shelby Scates on Magnuson or even John Hughes on Gardner) and much more honest than the subject can do on themselves.

It is great Evans is working on his autobiography. I want someone else to take a crack at it too.

We can’t move Evergreen closer to Olympia, but we can bring Olympia (or a walkable community) to Evergreen

This is working out to be a part two to the post I put up last week about how we could’ve had a different history, college and town if Evergreen had been built closer to town.

Barring Dr. Emmett Brown, how can we try to solve the separation issue that impacts both Evergreen (as a mostly car based campus) and Olympia (a college town without a college in town).

I think the solution would be to cut down some trees! How very non-Evergreen, but they had to cut down trees in the first place, so why not just cut some more.

On the east side of campus, there is a large Douglas Fir woods. This property is totally owned by the college, is bound on the north by a fairly new residential development, on the south by Evergreen Parkway and on the west, by the non-teaching portion of campus (residential and recreation areas).

Another feature is the lack of wetlands in this portion of the campus:

I can easily imagine a dense residential and commercial development along Driftwood and Olverhulse, hugging the corner between the residential developments and campus. This would encourage more living close to campus and, of course, build a college-town sort of community nearby.
And, since I’m just spit-balling here, I am imagining the same sort of mixed density, apartment above commercial development that was sketched out early on in my own neighborhood.
Evergreen’s own Master Plan admits that too many students commute to campus, and the vast majority of those drive. The same plan mentions vaguely a small “local retail” development as part of a minor addition to campus (Project K). That wouldn’t be a bad start, but the idea in the plan is really tiny compared to what sort of real estate is actually available out there.

Where would’ve been a better place to put Evergreen?

@jeff_james is always on my back about Olympia. It isn’t a college town, he says. It doesn’t have the normal trappings of the Midwest college towns that he was used to. Somehow it always comes down to college bars, but I think that’s just what I remember.

Ken also points this out, that the relationship between Evergreen and Olympia is different:

Nicandri said there’s a lack of things for students to do on the
college campus, and its physical isolation causes even more problems.  
“There’s no place for a student to buy an aspirin or visit a laundromat
or buy other needed items without leaving the campus,” he said.

While touting the great academic component of the college, Nicandri
said its time to re-look at the campus and perhaps allow some commercial
activities.   This has to be coupled with renovating the existing dorms
and constructing additional housing facilities.

“Perhaps its time to talk about requiring students to live on campus,” he said.

Evergreen and Olympia are inseparable, but the reality of their actual physical distance (and irony that people need to be able to drive to campus) has some real impacts. If you are a student with a job or even a family life, its easier to live off campus than on. The cultural mix between the campus community and town is stilted.

Sure, people can point to things we have here (OFS, general art community) that we can credit to the college and its alumni. But, you’d have to admit that these institutions would be stronger and more diverse if the campus was closer (or actually in) town.

Which begs the question, how would the founders of the school, in 1968, found a place closer to Olympia? It isn’t like Evergreen is the University of Washington. The UW was founded in the 1800s, and the city and the school literally grew together over time. Now, the school is firmly integrated into the city’s geography, but it took decades for that to happen.

What choices did the school founders have in the 1960s to get closer. Turns out, they had at least one great choice, not far from the current campus.

The site where the Olympia Auto Mall, the South Puget Sound Community College and Mottman Industrial Park was nearly empty in the late 1960s (image from Earth Explorer):


Not only was the site empty (seemingly available) it was also connected to a portion of Olympia that was already developed, granted it was a sleepy residential neighborhood at the time. But, in the decade soon after the founding of Evergreen, the westside of Olympia exploded with commercial and residential growth.

Other parts of town I looked at included the general Southeast (less open space, more houses) and Northeast (same). But, I’m curious about other parts of town. Would it have been possible to do Evergreen NYU style? Build a handful of reasonable office buildings downtown? Maybe the emptying of downtown happened 10 years too late for that to work out, but it would’ve been interesting.

Anyway, food for thought.

Pretty, cheaper and better for fans. Great new indoor soccer league, I wish it was a futsal leauge

I’m glad the new Western Indoor Soccer League is coming online. The old national minor league indoor teams around here had been associated with just seemed so disconnected. And, there was a bit of drama in there that I didn’t like.

And, most importantly, I think local leagues should be local. Sure, organized with some sort of national system (like US Club Soccer), but local teams controlling local leagues. Just makes sense.

But, where I wish these team owners had changed their approach would be to abandon the historic tangent that is indoor soccer. In no where else in the world does anyone play our version of indoor soccer. Its odd in that way. Our version seems to be based on a need to use underutilized indoor hockey rinks. They are laid out almost exactly the same, with team boxes and tall walls that keep the ball in play.

Futsal is just a better sport. The rest of the world plays futsal, which more closely resembles actual soccer.

I’d even say that futsal is more exciting. And, after watching more than 10 indoor games right on the walls, indoor is plenty exciting on its own.

What I’ve read makes me believe that futal would also be cheaper to implement. Mostly what worries me is the need to essentially replicate hockey arenas to play what should be a simple sport. Futsal can be played anywhere basketball or volleyball is played. It is just another series of lines on the same gym surface. Even if you’re buying a futsal floor, they can be purchased in the neighborhood of $10,000, which is near what an indoor field (with turf and walls) can be set up for.


The biggest argument for me is fan experience. The indoor arenas I’ve seen around here have pretty bad fan experiences. Small metal bleachers awkwardly arranged around an indoor arena, I mostly ended up standing, and I felt I was in the way of people trying to walk by. The facilities are obviously built for recreational players with a fan experience jammed in.

Even if you took an average high school gym and laid a portable futsal court, you would increase the fan experience by 100 percent.

And, according to FIFA indoor isn’t real soccer. And, they’re right.

Freedom and Walla Walla

On Independence Day in 1861, the Steilacoom paper mentioned that the soon to be ex-acting governor of the territory would make his own person independence in Walla Walla.

Just a couple of months after shots were fired to open the Civil War on the opposite coast, in his capacity as acting governor, Henry McGill had called out the troops. McGill issued a proclamation bringing the Washington territorial militia back into existence.

McGill was just waiting out the time until he (the territorial secretary) and his Democratic Buchanan appointed territorial governor were replaced by Lincoln Republicans. Before coming west, Ireland born McGill has been Buchanan’s personal secretary. Buchanan president under whose presidency the nation began to fracture.

McGill visited the office of the Puget Sound Herald (reported on July 4, 1861) and gave an impression about his own search for freedom. Clearly looking past the time when Lincoln would appoint his replacement, McGill said that maybe Walla Walla (in the growing eastern portion of the territory) might be the place for him.

McGill was put in charge of the territory on an acting basis because his governor, Richard Gholson, made his way back to Kentucky, in an effort to get that state to join the Confederacy.

But, McGill mentioning Walla Walla in the summer of 1861 was an interesting dream. Secession had tossed McGill’s career. Walla Walla was the center of its own local secession movement that Olympia and the rest of Puget Sound played to their benefit in the era of national fracture.

McGill’s stay in Washington was only a few months old when the territorial assembly shot down the idea of letting eastern Washington and much of what is now Idaho seceded from the territory. In a 18-12 vote, the assembly voted down a memorial to Congress to create the massive inland and economically powerful territory.

Between the rising agricultural territory around Walla Walla and the mines upriver, Walla Walla was a community on the rise and it wanted to the center of its own territory. Puget Sound and Olympia obviously didn’t want this at all. They were able to hold off the 1861 memorial, but people were streaming into the east. Eventually, the population and the votes over the mountains would end up drawing a line unfriendly to Puget Sound.

The question remained, how do the Puget Sounders keep at least a portion the economically vital region in the fold? As miners flooded into the east in the fall of 1861 and into 1862, the solution became dividing the farms from the mines.

Thus, Idaho:

Thousands of gold-seekers rushed to the Salmon River mines as soon as travel became practical in the spring of 1862. At the height of the excitement, a new boundary suggestion came from Olympia. There, on April 5, 1862, the Washington Standard indicated that Washington territory should be divided, but not on the Cascades. In order to keep Washington as big as possible and yet get rid of the mining area with its controlling majority of Washington’s population, a new territory was advocated foe the miners only. After all, there was no need to cut off anything more: if just the mines were detached, the danger that political control of Washington would shift east across the Cascades would end suddenly. Walla Walla and the potential farming section of the Palouse, therefore, might stay in Washington without endangering Olympia’s future. A boundary much farther east than the Cascades would leave Olympia with a Washington territory of respectable size to preside over. To accomplish this, Washington’s eastern boundary might properly be made a northern extension of Oregon’s eastern boundary. Dr. A. G. Henry – surveyor general of Washington, and an exceedingly able and influential agent for Olympia – selected the exact line that would meet these new Olympia requirements. His choice was a meridian running due north from the new town of Lewiston, which had been established the season before at the mouth of the Clearwater. From that time on, that was the line that Olympia partisans worked for.

War and death raged in the east, but Olympia civic leaders and bureaucrats quickly and coolly dispatched with the secessionists on the Snake River.

I’m not sure if McGill ever made a stop in Walla Walla. He did some lawyer work around Puget Sound in the 1870s, by 1870 he was lawyering and getting elected to local office in San Francisco.

Fifty years after the last battle of the Civil War (the battle of Columbus, Georgia) McGill died in San Francisco. 

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