Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Resident Engagement this Week - Be Informed, Give Input, and Have Some Fun!

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

That phrase is actually an old proverb, but you probably know it as the sentence that Jack types over and over again during his psychotic break in the movie The Shining. If you are the literary type, you might remember the phrase shows up in Jack Kerouac’s novel Big Sur.

Well, don’t worry, nothing that heavy or scary here - just a full week of ways to have fun and to “go to work” as an engaged citizen in downtown Tacoma.

Because, all play and no work make Tacoma a dull place.

Bike Train: Bike Me Out to the Ballgame
June 24, 2015 at 5:30 pm

​The Bike Committee is going to bike train from downtown to Cheney Stadium to watch the Tacoma Rainiers play the Reno Aces. The game starts at 7:05 and anyone who bikes to the game gets a special ticket rate of $11.50, which gets you a seat, a hot dog, a bag of chips, and a bottle of water.  Just tell them at the ticket counter that you biked to the game. If you want to join the bike train, meet at S. 11th and Pacific Avenue.

ST-3 Tacoma Open House
June 24, 2015 at 5:30 pm

Good and plenty of public transit is an important factor for a thriving urban region. You can show up at this open house and give your input to The Sound Transit Board on which projects they should study as final candidates for the ST3 public vote that could be happening as soon as November 2016. The presentation will begin at 6 pm and the open house will take place at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center at 1500 Broadway.

Public Hearing on Draft of Paid Leave Rules
June 25, 2015 at 10:00 am

You have probably heard by now and I will likely be writing more about this soon, but beginning  in February 2016, Tacoma employers will be required to provide up to 24 hours of Paid Leave annually to employees within the City of Tacoma. You can read about the paid leave rules and regulations that have been drafted for review at cityoftacoma.org/paidleave. You can attend the public hearing, and provide your feedback at the Tacoma Public Library Main Branch – Olympic Room at 1102 Tacoma Avenue South.

1st Annual Tacoma Waterfront Crab Feed
June 25, 2015 at 5:30 pm

If you are allergic to crab, well, I feel really bad for you and you definitely shouldn’t go to this event. But, for the rest of you – strap on your bib and join the Tacoma Waterfront Association (TWA) this Friday for the first ever Waterfront Crab Feed fundraiser at the Foss Waterway Seaport at 705 Dock Street.

Beyond eating all the crab you can, there will be chances to bid on or win prizes at the silent auction, raffles, and a ring toss. This fundraiser will be an opportunity to highlight Tacoma’s waterfront and the community and businesses within it. The event will feature prominent figures in the waterfront speaking to the latest activities and plans for the future of Tacoma’s waterfront. This fundraiser will help TWA continue its mission of making the waterfront enjoyable and accessible.

You can get your tickets now at: TWA-CrabFeed.brownpapertickets.com!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Pop-Up Art Putt! in Downtown Tacoma

It’s finally here – the U.S. Open Golf Championship has come to the 253. For many, the anticipation has been building for years.

There has been word of Tiger Woods sightings as he played some practice rounds in the weeks leading up to the tournament. Some are hoping that practice might lead to a Tiger return to glory. It seems doubtful.

Others dream of a local boy like Michael Putnam or Ryan Moore coming out of nowhere to win their first major. That also seems unlikely, but would be really cool.

Whatever happens with the actual golf, we are all hoping for a nice economic boost for the city, county, and region. We can anticipate the world will fall in love with the pure aesthetic beauty of the course and its surroundings, as they watch the tournament unfold later this week.

I will not be heading out to Chamber’s Bay for the tournament. I’ve never played the golf course because, well, I’m terrible at and easily frustrated by the game of golf. Why pay all that money to be pissed off and when I can enjoy the course and the view for free by walking the trail? I’ll track the tournament and the coverage on T.V. this week.

If I actually grab a golf club this week, it will be to play something a little more my speed – like the Pop-Up Art Put mini golf course being brought to downtown Tacoma by the Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) and the Tacoma Arts Commission.

Ten local artists have been commissioned to create ten sculptural miniature golf holes for a course that will span TAM’s Paul G. Allen Family Foundation Plaza, Tollefson Plaza, and the Prairie Line Trail.

You can get your club, golf balls, and score cards at the TAM and when you are finished playing the course you can vote for your favorite artist-designed hole. Unlike Chamber’s Bay – this course is FREE to play.

As the first day of play is winding up at Chambers Bay, the party will just be getting started at the Pop-Up Art Putt course in downtown Tacoma.

The Opening Party for the exhibit will be this Thursday June 18 from 5-8 pm. You can dance along the course to tracks spun by a live DJ. There will be food trucks along the course and of course a beer garden, because this is Tacoma.

Come on – go ahead and check this out! This is one hell of a cool idea. Bravo TAM and Tacoma Arts Commission!

Pop-Up Art Putt! Hours will be…

Thursday, June 18, 5 pm – 8 pm
Friday, June 19, 10 am – 8 pm
Saturday, June 20, 10 am – 8 pm
Sunday, June 21, 10 am – 4 pm

New Tacoma Awards 2015 Nominations Open

Each year the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber works with the downtown community to recognize outstanding individuals, organizations and events.  Well, it is that time of year again.  

Next month, on July 10th, downtown standouts will be honored at the New Tacoma Awards luncheon.  Last year's award recipients include:

Ghilarducci Award: Foss Waterway Seaport’s Rehabilitation
Popham Award: Justin Mayfield of Downtown Block Party
Public Places Award: Downtown On the Go’s Walk Tacoma
Schoenfeld Award: Tinkertopia
Union Station Award: Children’s Museum of Tacoma 

For more on last year's recipients:

Who will be nominated to receive the awards this year is up to you.  Nominations are now open: http://bit.ly/NewTacomaAwards

If you love what someone is doing downtown, nominate them for an award:

  • Popham Award: Building community spirit

  • Schoenfeld Award: Retail/Restaurant pizzazz

  • Ghilarducci Award: New development or renovation

  • Union Station Award: Building momentum for revitalization

  • Public Places Award: Activation of a public space
The online nomination form can be found http://bit.ly/NewTacomaAwards

Monday, June 08, 2015

I love trains.

I just took the Amtrak down to Portland a few weeks back for a work trip. It is my favorite way to travel to PDX, which I do for work and pleasure at least a few times a year. Portland’s walk-ability and transit system also make it really easy to be without a car.

You may have heard by now that WSDOT will be breaking ground on the new Amtrak station at Freighthouse Square this next year and that new station is schedule to open in 2017.

Parts of the plans for the new station include a clock tower that WSDOT and the Citizens Advisory Committee on the project have hopes will be an iconic addition to the Tacoma landscape.

The proposed clock tower will stand 80 to 90 feet tall and be located on 25th Street, in front of the Freighthouse Square building and across the street from the commuter parking garage.

Whenever someone uses the word iconic – I’ll admit I get a little nervous.

Not because I’m against iconic structures. No, in fact, I think iconic design and architectural elements are an important factor in a community’s identification with its city.

I get nervous because sometimes what gets produced in the service of iconic is something ugly, something out of place, something that isn’t functional, or something that is trying entirely too hard.

I’m not an architect or a designer, but like most of you, I know when something works and doesn’t work. It’s a fine line – trying to create something iconic

In some ways there are a lot of things out of the control of the designers and decision makers that end up making something iconic. Sometimes it is just about timing. Sometimes it’s about the cultural evolution of a place that can’t be anticipated in the moment.

Interestingly enough, we already have an iconic structure in the vicinity of the new Amtrak station – the Tacoma Dome.

The T-Dome is a good example. I’m not sure anyone would call it attractive and in fact many people might call it an eye sore. Nevertheless, it is iconic and you can’t think about the Tacoma landscape without calling to mind the dome.

The structure itself is iconic and that doesn’t even take into account the history that it holds. I wore out my Sonic’s T-Shirt that had the Tacoma landscape worked into the Sonic’s logo from their time playing in the Woodshed in the 1994-95 season. That’s just one of my many favorite pieces of T-Dome history.

One of the things that will make the Tacoma dome even more iconic (in my opinion) is the Warhol Flower being painted on the top of the dome. I know that everyone doesn’t share that opinion, but what I like about it is that it takes something that is already a known quantity and connects it even more deeply to a significant part of our identity as strong artistically oriented city.

Plus, it takes a bit of a risk – which sometimes is needed when trying to create something iconic.

WSDOT put a call out for residents to weigh in on three proposed designs for the clock tower. Today was the deadline for input. I will be interested to see what the feedback is.

I won’t get into the proposed designs, but if you want to read more about them you can check out Matt Driscoll’s article in The News Tribune. Like Matt, I think the clock tower is a good idea, but I’m not sold on any of the current designs either.

Here is the thing about creating something iconic – you can’t let the limitations get in the way.

There are plenty of potential limitations – cost, the limitations of the location, and trying to meet particular deadlines.

Taking a risk is not the same thing as settling for something less the desirable because we lack the will, the imagination, and the determination to create something that really works.

I vote that we take our time.

Matt points out that City Councilman David Boe (an architect) has some ideas, including a city run open design competition – after all Tacoma is full of many great artists, designers, and architects that I believe have the capacity to imagine something that will indeed be iconic.

In my opinion it would be worth the time and effort – let’s get this right.

If at this late hour you still want to weigh in. You can access the survey here - online survey .