Northwest Bestsellers at Local Record Stores
- Mudhoney Under A Billion Suns (SUB POP)
- Too Slim & The Taildraggers Beer & Barbecue Chips (Underworld Records)
- Sammy Eubanks My Big Fat Blues Record (self-released)
- Seaweed Jack The Captain (self-released)
- Reverend Shines Today’s Good News (self-released)
- The Lashes Get It (RED ink/columbia)
- Bagdad Alamode Promtape (No Sleep Records)
- The Creeps Smear the Queer (self-released)
- The Volumen Science Faction (wantage) )
- Idiot Pilot We Should Meet Here (Clickpop)
This list of Northwest artists and Artists on Northwest labels is compiled from sales reports from 4000 Holes, Boo Radley’s, The Long Ear, and Unified Groove Merchants.
Magazine Article |
Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
360,000 Britons can’t be wrong, can they? Arctic Monkeys have shattered UK sales records with their debut album and ride a wave of hype into America’s consciousness. Their songs are crisp and tightly-wound, moving rapidly through a gambit of musical ideas (albeit none terribly original). Arctic Monkeys find their unique voice through their detail-obsessed lyrics referencing drunken text messages, Smirnoff ices, overpriced cabs and surly bouncers. This sharp focus is refreshing, and lends these Monkeys an authenticity which inspires one to view their irritating aspects more benevolently.
Please Come Back EP
“We’re Catfish Haven and this is what we do,” shouts an obnoxious and loutish voice. Fortunately, what they do gets much better after that, and involves rough-edged rock with some throaty vocals. Catfish Haven’s sound is powered by George Hunter’s vocals, replete with desperation and scratchy pathos. Other than that, they’re fairly ordinary: workmanlike drumming, unostentatious strumming and retro-fitted songs. However, I am of the persuasion that convincing vocals can cover a multitude of sins, and Hunter’s throaty exuberant pining consistently wins me over.
There are bands that are masquerading in the dance realm, and there are bands that are the dance realm. The Killers, The Bravery, these are your imitators. !!!, LCD Soundsystem, VHS or Beta, these are the ones that know what’s up. Toronto’s Controller.Controller belongs to the second list.
This is the sixth album from Vancouver’s own Dan Bejar, last heard at the helm of multiple tracks on the New Pornographers’ Twin Cinema. Here, Bejar offers a particularly virtuosic melange of multi-instrumented psychedelia, noise and folky shuffle. He also spits out a copious stream of erudite yet inscrutable lyrics in a vocal styling that demand Bowie comparisons. If that sounds appealing, then jump on it. But I find Bejar’s incessant and impenetrable barrage to be grating, obscuring the superlative complexity and nuance of his music.
(The Control Group)
When someone claims a new group similar to their favorite band in the land, it means they must really take stock in the comparison. Well, here goes: Something about Figurines reminds me of The Strokes. It’s definitely not the lead singer’s voice-though it does remind me exactly of someone else’s that I absolutely cannot remember. Rather, this comparison lies in the rest of the lot-the way the guitar and drums interplay, the dynamic of the vocals. That said, there’s more here to draw from too. It’s also a little bit Pavement and a little bit Modest Mouse. These types of bands may seem a dime a dozen lately, but when a good one comes along it does always seem abundantly clear-and, yep, this is a good one.
Her Accent Was Excellent
Nothing on this album is worth listening to, or discussing. Some of the song titles are sort of fun to repeat, though: “Misinformation Rules” (more fun with a “!” at the end, I think), “On Fire with a Dolphin,” “Dude, You’re Drunk” (oh, that one’s stupid), “Gayhouse.com” (oh, shoot, they’re getting worse). Uh, don’t bother with any of it.
Future Women (Polyvinyl)
This Chicago band likes their fuzz-boxes on, their bells chiming, and their harmonies tripartite. Don’t mistake their sonic squalor for garage rock, though-it’s carefully balanced, almost mellifluous (think the gossamer surge of early Smashing Pumpkins), and often coupled with strings or the aforementioned bells. There is something retro or classic in their sound, perhaps in the well-worn chord progressions that underscore their songs. Maybe it’s in the careless confidence of their music. Whatever it is, it’s awfully easy to like.
In a way, this album title is curiously apropos, as the Mogwai menace seems strangely domesticated on their latest offering. It’s not that the Beast has turned into a lamb, he’s just settled into a stately townhouse and kept his primordial rages and epic moodswings under control. Mogwai trade in some multi-guitar assault for tactful drum patter and stately keyboard lines. That said, all bets are off on “We’re No Here,” the album’s thunderous closer which makes everything you’ve heard about volcanoes, monsters and the apocalypse seem like the chirping of so many chickadees.
I’ve mentioned it before, but here I go again: this album artwork freaks me out. Really freaks me out. Nevertheless, when he’s not posing for mock-strangulation shots, Minnesota’s P.O.S. is busy adding worthy beats to the already burgeoning collection of goods at Rhymesayers. The man behind the music grew up in punk rock, and it must show in his work because, well, somehow non-rap fans can stand it-perhaps he’s taking a page from fellow Minneapolis fella’ Atmosphere’s book.
RELEASE THE BATS: THE BIRTHDAY PARTY AS HEARD THROUGH THE MEAT GRINDER OF THREE.ONE.
San Diego’s Three.One.G is just about the coolest label ever. So, when a group of their finest bands gets together to work on anything, it’s undoubtedly cause for celebration. Who’s included in the mix this time around? Some Girls, Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, Daughters, Year Future, Chinese Stars, Get Hustle, and more. It’s a thrill at each track, and something to check out as a fantastic introduction to all that the label has to offer, if you’re not already aware.
RUMBLE OF THE RAWK
Various ArtistsRAWK is a great Spokane organization that puts on shows that make the kids go wild (okay, and me, when they welcomed The Academy Is last September). Every year the buzz about the RAWK Final Four is crazy throughout the city’s high schools, and this year is surely no exception. Watch for Big Wang Theory, Tekoa~Sun and Foreign DNA on this disc, but, really, congrats to all involved in this fantastic project.
Dying To Say This To You
There are likely not words enough to express just how cool Sounds frontwoman Maja Ivarsson is. Her bleach blonde locks, her heavily-lined eyes, her onstage swagger just incredible. The Sounds’ 2001 debut, Living in America, was about the catchiest thing to come about that year, and while Dying to Say This To You differs slightly, it’s still an absolute gem. “Ego,” “Queen of Apology” and “Painted by Numbers” are fantastic, and they’ll be even better when accompanied by Ivarsson’s blood, sweat and tears on their upcoming spring tour dates.
YEAH YEAH YEAHS
Show Your Bones
A quick word from a non-Yeah Yeah Yeahs fan: The new album is frickin’ AWESOME. The first time I listened to it I was at work, and everyone was convinced that the first two tracks were straight from the mouths of Tegan & Sara. Now, don’t get me wrong, they’re alright, but don’t be discouraged by this disc because of any dislike of the aforementioned twins. Comparisons to whatever aside, the YYYs disc is wonderful. “Maps” was a good song lost in a fog of shite, but everything on Bones is stellar. Look no further than the first single, “Gold Lion,” for proof, and then turn to the rest of the album when you can’t get enough of it.
Magazine Article, Music Reviews |
The Joy of Hiking Hiking The Trailmaster Way
John McKinney, The Trailmaster
Wilderness Press, 2005, 288 pages.
With The Joy of Hiking, John McKinney gives us a new kind of hiking guide-one that not so much guides the hiker in the where to go and the how to get there but in the how to go and why we should. McKinney is “The Trailmaster;” he spent 18 years as the hiking columnist for the Los Angeles Times, has written a dozen guides and has hiked obsessively his whole life. This book gives hikers a trustworthy source to guide them both to and on the trail.
The Joy of Hiking addresses every concern that a hiker might have, even the ones they may be too embarrassed to ask. McKinney starts with basics-planning your trips, getting the most from your guidebook, and gearing up with a focus on the essentials. He discusses trails with great hints on how to scale steep ones without wearing out. He covers safety issues, hiking with animals, and how to deal with pesky annoyances. There is an illuminating list of hiking myths, tasty recipes, informative marginalia, and “hike- kus.” Worried about getting lost? Consult The Joy of Hiking. McKinney walks the reader through different methods of orienteering and gives advice on what to do if lost. At the end, he recommends long walks abroad and includes an appendix of hiking humor and songs, important contacts and funny questions and complaints to the U.S. Forest Service.
The book also covers aspects of hiking normally neglected: health benefits and hiking as a spiritual path. This is where The Joy of Hiking inspires. Hiking lowers blood pressure, improves mental health, and slows the aging process. For ages, it has also been equated with the spiritual fulfillment that comes from getting out into nature, communing with silence, and meditatively engaging the outdoors. Reading The Joy of Hiking instills a desire to put on boots and get into nature as a part of that spiritual journey in which a new vision of the world can arise.
Rare Bird: Pursuing The Mystery Of The Marbled Murrelet
Maria Mudd Ruth
Rodale, 2005, 298 pages.
If, in 2086, the last marbled murrelet (mer-lit) quietly dies off the coast of Southern Oregon, will it matter? What is it worth-the life of this small surface-diving sea bird of the Pacific coastal regions-a rapidly flying “baked potato with a beak?”
In Rare Bird, Maria Mudd Ruth, a naturalist writer and self-described “non- birder,” writes a moving detective story of the mystery surrounding the life of this elusive member of the auk family. Since its first “official” sighting in 1778, 185 years passed before scientists finally found a murrelet nest in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
A seabird that nests high in coastal old-growth conifers, the murrelet randomly captured Ruth’s curiosity, and she soon became obsessed. Her quest soon led her to move her family closer to breeding grounds-across the country to California.
There remain thousands of murrelets living along the coastal states (90% of the population is in Alaska). Ruth asks, “Why should anyone be worried about the marbled murrelet when other species are in greater peril? …[because] in some areas populations have plummeted 40, 50, even 70 percent … it is not a matter of if but when the marbled murrelet will become extinct.”
The marbled murrelet’s fate rests in our clumsy hands. Incubating one lone egg each breeding season, often in the same branch of the same old-growth tree, the murrelet’s survival first asks that we acknowledge our impact on its world. Ten percent of its original wooded habitat along the Pacific coast remain, oil spills and petro-pollution devastate the birds and their food sources, and gill nets kill thousands of marbled murrelets each year (it is currently a federal listed endangered species-this status is currently under review).
Rare Bird is both a beautifully real epic of one special creature and a symbolic tale of our relationship to all of life. This book asks us to evaluate the cost of our industrialized society-and whether we have a moral obligation to know the consequences of consumption.
The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure, third Ed.
Jenkins Publishing, 2005, 255 pages.
“The world is divided into two categories of people: those who shit in their drinking water supplies and those who don’t. We in the western world are in the former class.” Joseph Jenkins
“Tell me this book isn’t about what I think it’s about.” Anonymous.
In engaging detail, this book explains the incredible financial and biological cost of “modern” human manure disposal. Our sanitation systems waste a tremendous amount of drinking water to transport feces and urine, then “treat” the result by removing the suspended solid material. The euphemistically-named “solids” are then trucked to landfills, where they become a major contributor to global methane emissions (methane is 30 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide). The remaining wastewater contains huge quantities of what are essentially agricultural nutrients-nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus-which, if recovered and applied to farmland, would substantially replace the artificial fertilizer used today. Instead, this nutrient-rich water is discharged from sewage treatment plants into local waterways, where it causes significant environmental harm.
While the author makes the magnitude of the problem clear, he also details a simple solution: Compost your manure. Is this difficult or dangerous? No. The book fully explains how to compost “humanure” safely and easily without mess, flies or other problems.
To support his extraordinary claims, Jenkins provides extraordinary evidence, including 30 years’ experience composting his own family’s wastes. The book is impressively documented, and while public health authorities everywhere may be apoplectic, ordinary people should give this book a careful reading.
Book Reveiws, Magazine Article |
Someone once called golf a good walk spoiled. But I’ll tell you what really spoils a good walk: man scat. Big. Human. Turds. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been walking along the river only to find that someone has loafed on the trail.
“This is my number one outdoors issue,” I told the editors of Out There Monthly when they first contacted me about writing this column. (Full disclosure: Initially, I returned their call because I misheard the magazine’s name and thought I was being publicly linked with Tom Cruise again.) As I explained to the editors, I consider myself an “urban outdoorsman,” a man whose entire relationship with nature takes place within the city. I am king of the white-trash frontier.
So I have rafted the mighty Spokane towing an inner tube of beer. I have fished beneath bridges for bottom-feeders so loaded with heavy metals that you weigh them with a Geiger counter. I have sledded the great peaks of Manito Park and watched drunken rock climbers scale the brick faces of those handful of old buildings that we haven’t turned into Diamond lots. This is what I want to write about, I told the editors, the outdoor opportunities and issues right here in the bespoiled heart of our city. And the biggest issue I see right now is this public display of defecation, the trail of turds. I have lived on the river most of my life. I’ve taken thousands of walks along our great urban stream and have seen man scat roughly, oh, every single freaking time.
For years, I did what anyone does when I saw trail dung. I ran away. But hunters don’t run when they come across deer droppings. Conservationists and biologists don’t run from bear scat. They study it. They poke at it with sticks, take it back to the lab to dissect and analyze. There is no better way to learn about something than to study its shit.
So, in my desire to understand why people crap on trails, I began crouching along the offending stool like those trackers hired by posses in old Westerns. (It’s usually a stoic Indian played by Ricardo Montalban, who holds up a broken twig and then calmly announces that three men and a mule passed by nine hours ago, that one of the men was wearing dance tights and that the mule was clinically depressed.)
Here’s what I’ve learned by studying path poop:
1. The people who do this are either horribly backed up or this is a breed of shitting giants (I mistook one of these things for a fumbled football and in a fit of muscle memory, nearly pounced on it.)
2. Too much Fritos, not enough salad.
3. Trail dumpers exclusively drink malt liquor. There are always malt liquor cans nearby. If I were in the malt liquor industry, I’d stop marketing to rap fans and go for the lucrative outdoor shitter market.
Jess Walters: The Urban Outdoors, Magazine Article |
Mimicking whitewater features on a relatively tame stretch of the Spokane River will require a lot of rock-2,000 cubic yards of granite boulders 4 to 6 feet in diameter to be exact. This is one of many revelations in the conceptual design report for the Spokane whitewater park, which was completed in March by Recreation Engineering and Planning based in Boulder, Colorado.
“It’s a positive step forward,” said Steve Faust, Executive Director of Friends of the Falls. “We are really pleased with the way the consultants integrated the community input we had gathered into this report.”
The report recommends finishing in-river structures and removing existing concrete pillars before work on shoreline amenities begins. A double crested “U” drop structure is proposed for the Sandifur Bridge site. It will provide both high and low flow whitewater features for a broad range of paddling abilities.
With the consultant’s report in hand, park promoters are already gearing up for the design, permitting and fundraising challenges ahead, including the need to raise an additional $225,000 for the river portions of the park, much of which will go towards purchasing and placing the boulders that will actually create the park’s whitewater features.
“The final price tag for the park will likely be about $625,000,” said Faust. “$400,000 in state funding has already been secured and an additional $48,000 in private donations helped pay for the conceptual design report,” added Faust.
To cover the remaining costs, Friends of the Falls will be unveiling an “Adopt a Rock” campaign in April, where individuals and businesses will have the chance to fund the placement of one of the hundreds of boulders needed to complete the park for a $250 per rock donation.
“Spokane’s first whitewater park is going to do so many great things for the city by providing increased recreational opportunities for residents, bringing tourist dollars to town and helping to clean up and revitalize an incredible cultural and historical resource at the edge of downtown,” said Faust.
“Our adopt-a-rock campaign is great way for anyone who sees the potential this park holds for our community to make a tangible contribution to this historic, civic effort.”
Friends of the Falls is also looking for businesses and property owners who are willing to donate both boulders and the use of the equipment needed to move them to the site.
To adopt your very own whitewater park rock, contact Friends of the Falls at (509) 981- 6296.
Magazine Article |
Except for a few cold snaps, the weather gods have smiled on both bicyclists and skiers this past winter, but now’s the time to step up the riding to prepare for this summer’s rides. Local and regional rides offer something for all cyclists. Gearing riding toward supported events makes spring and summer cycling all the more fun and fruitful. The following is a round-up of some the best rides in our region.
(April 30) Lilac Century Surprise. Three routes. 15 mile family route plus 50 and 100 miles, all fully supported with potato feed at the end. Century takes riders through Spokane’s West Plains and along the Spokane River/Long Lake/Lake Spokane (call it what you will!). A fair bit of climbing is involved.
(May 13-14) Scenic Tour of the Kootenai River (STOKR). If you aren’t signed up for this one, you missed out as the ride’s 350 slots are filled. The ride, 45 or 98 miles on day- one and 37 miles on day-two, is a fundraiser for Libby, Montana’s Habitat for Humanity.
(May 27 28) 24-Hour NORBA NW Regional and Washington State Championship. Round and Round Event that enables you to ride your mountain bike around and around and around Riverside State Park’s 7-Mile Airstrip route for 24 hours, alone or with teammates.
(June 3) Wenatchee Sunrise Rotary Apple Century. Two routes, 50 or 100 miles, take cyclists along the Columbia River from Wenatchee to Lake Chelan and back to a festival complete with no-host beer garden. Late starters may end up battling a stiff wind in each direction so plan on an early start.
(June 10 11) Tour of the Swan River Valley (TOSRV West). A two-day tour through some of western Montana’s most spectacular scenery. Riders choose from three routes with two start/finish points: Missoula for a 260-mile round trip or Potomac for a 200-mile round trip. A third option is Saturday’s extra-long century (116 miles) along the route of the original TOSRV-West, starting and stopping in Missoula with a turnaround at Seeley Lake.
(June 24) Ride Around The Pioneers in One Day (RATPOD). Starting and ending in Dillon, Montana, this one-day, 157-mile ride with 7,000 feet of climbing benefits Camp Mak-A-Dream. The route takes riders through southwest Montana’s scenic Big Hole Valley, home of 2005 Tour de France fifth-place finisher Levi Leipheimer. Riders are encouraged to raise donations with prizes for the top fundraisers.
(June 24 27) Cascade 1200. In its second year, The Seattle International Randonneurs ride features 1200 km (767 miles) of riding over four days. Cyclists trundle through the forests of Western Washington and the winds of the Columbia Gorge, through the high desert of the Mid-Columbia Plateau and over the North Cascades. Riders share overnight stops and start together each morning. Accommodations and bag transport provided.
(July 8) Tour of the Coeur d’Alenes. Round and Round Events sponsors this one-day tour through the heart of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s ancestral territory. Starting in Wallace, Idaho, travel where the Coeur d’Alene tribe traditionally hunted, fished and lived. Distances range from 28 to 130 miles roundtrip.
(July 15 16) Seattle to Portland (STP). Join The Cascade Bicycle Club and 8,999 of your most intimate cycling buddies from nearly every state in the union (38 in 2005) and a smattering of foreign countries for this trek between the Queen (not Emerald!) and Rose cities. Two-hundred miles in one and two-day options with baggage transport and limited overnight accommodations.
(July 27) Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day (RAMROD). Perhaps the Pacific Northwest’s premiere one-day cycling event, Redmond Cycling Club’s RAMROD combines the beauty of Mount Rainier National Park with 10,000 feet of climbing over 154 miles. The Park Service limits participation to 800 cyclists selected via a lottery on April 1. Register by March 31.
(August 5) Eight Lakes Leg Aches. Riders choose from 30, 50 and 80 mile routes that take them to and around some or all of the following lakes in the Cheney/Spokane area: Willow, Granite, Silver, Medical, Clear, Chapel, Kepple and Fish Lakes.
(August 19 26) Ride Around Washington (RAW). The folks at Cascade Cycling Club might better call this Ride Across Washington rather than around as the ride starts near the Canadian border town of Oroville and concludes six days later near Goldendale at Maryhill State Park. Mileage varies from 50-95 miles daily.
(September 16 17) Tour de Lacs. Round and Round Events and Group Health Cooperative sponsor this two-day journey from Spokane to Coeur d’Alene and back with routes ranging from 40 to 122 miles with plenty of climbing. Some routes include a boat ride from Harrison to Coeur d’Alene. Baggage transport provided.
(September 24) Livestrong Ride Portland. Along with a registration fee, this ride requires a $500 fundraising minimum. Ride as an individual or part of a team. Course options include 10, 40, 70 and 100-mile routes. Raise $2500 and be invited to a pre-ride pasta dinner (no word if Lance will be there). Raise $15,000 and receive an invitation to the Ride for the Roses in Austin, Texas.
Rest in Peace. Spokane Bicycle Club Midsummer Madness and Autumn Century Classic. These rides have been cancelled due to lack of volunteers. If you would like these rides to return, join the Spokane Bicycle Club and/or volunteer your time and energy!
Magazine Article |
Not quite a commune and more than a traditional village, “cohousing” or “intentional communities” aim to provide both the autonomy of a private home with the security of a close-knit community. Cohousing residents want to know their neighbors well.
Cohousing developments have traditionally been located outside the city limits. Homes are usually clustered around an outdoor space with a shared Common House. The Common House is a place for residents to celebrate birthdays, eat meals, house guests, watch movies and even build furniture in a shared workshop. However, with increasing awareness about the costs of sprawl both to our environment and to our psyches, many families are beginning to abandon the image of the idyllic village in the countryside and are beginning to search for cheap, vacant land in the city. Across the country, like- minded individuals are looking to aging neighborhoods for remaining urban lots and existing housing stock to refurbish and reconnect.
In Spokane, a group of families is starting to do just that. They are planning an urban cohousing community. “Its time for people to start thinking about simplifying their lives, not only for saving money, but for conserving precious resources and just using less. We like the idea of living close to friends, stores, school, and not having to drive as much,” says Lupito Flores, member of the Spokane Urban Cohousing group. The group is currently negotiating with property owners to develop a cohousing model for Spokane.
There are close to 200 cohousing communities registered with the Cohousing Association of the United States, from Detroit, Michigan to Davis, California. Washington State has 23 registered communities. While cohousing is gaining in popularity here, it orginated in Denmark back in the 1960s. Danish architect, Jan Gudmand-Hoyer was instrumental to the initial movement, publishing in 1968 an essay titled, “The Missing Link between Utopia and the Dated One-Family House.” Skraplanet and Saettedamen, the first two Danish cohousing models, were developed and designed by Gudmand-Hoyer.
In recognizing that the nuclear family and the subdivision was a major drain on society and individuals, and that families desired more quality time with their children, the Danes were ahead of their time. With more parents working outside of the house and single-parenting on the rise, Danish society began to place a high social value on children having lots of different mentors and role models that were a regular part of their daily lives.
Grace Kim, co-founder of the Seattle architectural collaborative, Schemata Workshop, recently received a grant to study cohousing communities in Denmark. Kim with her husband and co-founder, Mike Mariano spent two months visiting and living in cohousing communities. “The idea of community living is not new to themour first experience of shared living is often the college dormitory,” says Kim, “…at one community at 3 PM, the elderly residents had tea and cookies with the kids, even if mom could not be thereand regularly, a retired school teacher baked bread for the community children.”
Kim recently toured OTM around two well-known urban cohousing communities in Seattle, Jackson Place and Puget Ridge. Both began with the vision of one to three families desiring a cohesive network of neighbors located in an accessible, urban location.
Jackson Place, International District. Located near the Interstate 5 and 90 corridors, Jackson Place is definitely urban. Traffic noise is heard and downtown Seattle is visible from many of the units. Multiple stores, restaurants and parks are just a short walk away.
Jackson Place was designed by prominent west coast architect, Michael Pyatok, known for his design of community-oriented architecture. It consists of 27 residential units. It is the less insular of the two cohousing models. Units face their neighborhood with main entrances coming in directly from the sidewalk, while back doors open to a landscaped shared courtyard.
The planning for Jackson Place started during the late 1990s. “Three families were interested in living downtown and could not settle on a site…they found some city- owned property in the International District that had sat empty for about 30 years,” says Kathy Sellars, resident and outreach coordinator for Jackson Place.
The acre and a half site had been active with drug dealing and prostitution for years. The City of Seattle initially planned on building a bus barn and warehouses on the site, but the neighborhood wanted to see more home ownership. The cohousing proposal came to the city at the right time. The city could avoid a fight with the neighborhood and bring in increased taxable land.
With banks wary to fund such a unique proposal, they required 30 percent cash down from each of the potential buyers. “Some had homes that they pre-sold in order to invest while others borrowed from retirement accounts or against their home equity. Some even helped finance each other,” says Sellars. “When you joined, you paid a $5,000 membership and the down-payment.”
The Common House with its shared spaces, was the most unusual part of the proposal. Built on the north corner of the site, it houses a professional kitchen, dining hall, childrens play area, media room, office and laundry facility. Today, most Jackson Place residents share four to five meals a week in the Common House. The price is $3 for a meal. Meal planning teams consist of two cooks, two in charge of cleanup and one shopper, duties rotate among residents. “Food is ordered through local markets or Azure Standard [a bulk organic foods company out of Oregon],” says Sellars. “We try to meet dietary restrictions as best as possible and vegetarian options and late plates. Typically 30 to 35 participate in a meal.”
Sellars, a native of South Africa, is clearly proud of the community of which she is a part. “It has tended to appeal to families with little family connections in town…those who wanted close and trusted neighbors.”
Puget Ridge, West Seattle. Slightly elevated from its surrounding neighborhood, Puget Ridge Cohousing was the first urban cohousing development in the United States. The feel is more suburban than Jackson Place, but the location is still within walking distance of shops, businesses and public transportation. An on-site water retention pond collects stormwater and provides a wildlife refuge for migratory birds and tree frogs, and densely planted trees create a quiet, park-like setting. The cedar-sided duplexes and triplexes sit on 2.4 acres and face each other in a village-like atmosphere. The 23 units range in size from 1,000 to 2,000 square feet.
Ed Fischburg has lived at Puget Ridge for the last 12 years. He made the move from Chicago to Seattle in order to be closer to his grandchildren, who also live there. “I coach Little League baseball, and see myself as a sort of mentor to the communitys children and younger families,” says Fischburg. “Young families with children are the lifeblood of the community.”
Fischburgs son, Paul, an architect, moved to Seattle for the sole purpose of pursuing his dream of urban cohousing. In the late 1980s, Paul began by making presentations to area environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, and after a number of years he had 40 committed families. That number dropped to 22 once a downpayment was required.
In the center of the site, sits Puget Ridges Common House. It is 4,000 square feet with a cathedral ceilings and exposed wood beams. Here, residents share meals, host art openings and talent shows, while less formal gatherings are held in the lower level recreation room filled with pool tables, ping pong and a little kids play area. There is also a shared laundry area, workshop and guest room. An adjacent outdoor flagstone patio at the upper level and lower level play-yard and basketball court carry community events outside as well.
Despite its unconventionality, demand for units at Puget Ridge remains high. “We have never gone to a realtorcurrent residents have the right of first refusal,” says Fischburg. “Somebody always has a friend or brother that is interested. There usually ends up being three to four potential buyers.”
Fischburg, however is quick to note that cohousing is not for everybody. “There is a lot of responsibility. Everyone has to be on a committee. Most meet once a week. Residents are also obligated to be on a chore teamthey put in a three hour weekend every seven weeks.”
For those that are willing to put in the time and energy toward a cohousing community, the payback and support to families and children can be immense. “The kids play together really well. Older kids show the way. This is a great place for kids to grow- up. Theyre supported, there is a lot of love,” says Fischburg. “Cohousing is more than just a houseyou are buying a way of life.”
For more information on cohousing please visit the following websites:
Reading Material: http://www.cohousing.org/cohous ing-resources.aspx
Jackson Place: http://www.seattlecohousing.org
Puget Ridge: http://www.scn.org/pugetridgecohousing/index.htm
Temescal Creek, Oakland, CA: http://www.cohousing.org/creating_retrofit.asp
British Columbia: http://www.cranberrycommons.ca and http://www.cohousing.ca/cohsng4/quayside
For more information on Spokanes Urban Cohousing Group email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Magazine Article |
The new light rail system recently recommended to the Spokane Transit Authority is a thrilling opportunity for Spokane to join other transportation-smart cities. Less thrilling is the anti light rail talk being heard around town.
Exhibit ‘A’ for light rail critics is the cost; $300 million dollars-most of which will be covered by federal funds. Sounds like a lot of money, but it needs to be put into perspective. The Mariners ballpark, Safeco Field was built with $340 million in public funds. According a recent article in the L.A. Times, each new mile of interstate cost $100 million dollars, with each interchange costing $25 million. The replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle, whichever direction it goes, is going to be a multi- billion dollar project. A light rail line from Spokane to Liberty Lake, which could eventually be extended further, seems like a bargain in comparison.It’s worth paying for. Does anyone believe that oil is going to get cheaper and more plentiful in the long-term, reducing the need for public transportation? Does anyone believe the development along I-90 between Spokane and North Idaho is going to come to a screeching halt anytime soon? Does anyone think Spokane can compete economically with similar metro areas that have better public transportation?
The choice is clear; we can either get ahead of the curve with our transportation needs, like Portland did, or drag our heels like Seattle. When Brock Adams was President Carter’s Transportation Secretary he could have delivered any public transportation project the Emerald City desired. But Seattle blew it’s chance a few decades ago saying, in affect, “We’ll never need a train system here.” Now the city is playing catch-up, with insane growth and awful traffic that’s only getting worse.
There’s something luxurious about getting into a vehicle and having somebody else do the driving for you. That’s what I think when I step into the light rail at the PDX airport and head into town. Portland’s TriMet train is fast, efficient, and moves more people better than busses can. How thrilling would it be to have local political and business leaders stand up and champion the same sort of light rail in Spokane? If enough of us take a vocal pro light rail stance it just might happen.
Editorial, Magazine Article |