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Thursday, June 30, 2011

How the Safe Streets Campaign Impacts Lives in Tacoma

Citizens protest crime.    Photo courtesy of the Safe Streets Campaign
As much as I love the City of Destiny, I realize that my impression of life inTacoma might not be so positive if I had a different address. My neighborhood is nothing fancy, but it feels safe to me, and I hope it stays that way. But if problems with crime arose, I'm glad to know about the Safe Streets Campaign and the dedicated people who work with this organization.

I recently interviewed several of these good folks, including Deputy Director Steve Jewell, Officer Daniel Hensley, who has been a vital part of the "community policing" aspect of the effort, and Community Activation Specialist Kathy Martin. Before she officially became an employee of Safe Streets, Martin was a deeply involved activist in the fight to make her own neighborhood a safer, more pleasant place to live. She and all the others like her deserve the respect and gratitude of everyone in the city.

Martin didn't start out planning to become an activist. Here is how her story began, excerpted from my article recently published on Neighborhood Life, an online neighborhood improvement journal.

from Neighborhood Life - Summer 2011 issue

by Candace Brown

Kathy Martin knew five years ago, that her Larchmont neighborhood in Tacoma, Washington, had its problems, but she didn’t know how much they would impact her life. In the beginning, this mother of several children never expected to join a march, or carry a protest sign, or stand before a group of men who had been arrested for prostitution, look into their eyes, and speak to them “with a Mom’s heart,” she said. Yet she has done all those things, and more.

Likewise, Martin never expected to end up being hired by a non-profit organization called the Safe Streets Campaign, but that recently happened too. Now, Community Activation Specialist Martin thinks about how the family tragedies she hopes to prevent through her job could easily have been her own.

“I was taking my son to middle school,” Martin said, “and I started noticing that the middle school students who were walking to school were being approached by drug dealers and prostitutes.”
And that wasn’t all. Two men in a car approached her thirteen-year-old daughter and a friend. In another incident, her daughter was going to the neighborhood store just three houses down and around the corner, with her four-year-old sister along.

“There was a guy in a brown truck watching some kids, and he spoke to her, wanting her phone number,” Martin said. “When I heard about it, I asked her why she didn’t call me. I could have been there in a minute and gotten a license number. And she said she just didn’t think of it.” The potential for tragedy ate at Martin.

She began to ask other people what they were seeing. Prostitutes did their work right in people’s yards and left the filthy evidence behind. Drug dealers and pimps interfered with local stores and other businesses. One prostitute started yelling inside a restaurant filled with people, and then took off her shirt. Another assaulted a restaurant owner after being asked to leave the parking lot. Something had to be done. To read the full article, please click here:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy Summer! Join me in the garden.

If you are reading this from somewhere other than Western Washington, let me tell you the big news; we're all in shock today. It's really summer, with the weather to prove it, after weeks of unseasonably cool, cloudy and often damp days. Like we always say, "When it's nice here, there is no place nicer."

Outside my open upstairs window here in Tacoma, I see nothing but blue sky framed by a fringe of green leaves that tremble in the breeze. I'm restless. All those delicious summer days of childhood come to mind. (Read "Dandelion Summers")

A friend e-mailed this morning and told me I should do something nice for myself today, to celebrate the arrival of summer. So I did. I took a break from my writing jobs, closed the lid on my laptop, and went outside to wander through the garden. Want to come along?

In the front yard, my senses thrill to the sweet scent of sun warmed California lilac, now covered with buzzing honey bees that bear cargoes of yellow pollen. I welcome the golden sun, and its warmth, as I welcome the gold finches that come to my feeder in the mornings now. Roses climb the trellis. All is right with the world. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ahoy! Nautical News (just in time for Father's Day)

The 1913 tall ship ADVENTURESS, Puget Sound's own "Environment Ship"   Photo courtesy of Sound Experience
Living in the Puget Sound area's maritime environment means plenty of interesting things to do, explore, and learn about, in connection with the sea. Today I have three items of nautical news to share with you that can enrich those experiences.

1.) Fyddeye Guide and Book Trailer
I love hearing from my friend Joe Follansbee, because he's always up to something exciting. I met this interesting man aboard the tall ship ADVENTURESS during a public sail on Elliot Bay. By that time he had already authored several books, including "Shipbuilders, Sea Captains, and Fishermen: the Story of the Schooner Wawona."  Next, he started a website called "Fyddeye,"  an online community for people interested in maritime history, including old ships, lighthouses, museums and much more.

Then it wasn't long before I found myself writing about Joe again, when he published the Fyddeye Guide to America's Maritime History. It's the perfect gift for any Dad who has an interest in maritime history (even if he doesn't know it, yet!) But wait. There's more. 

Just this week Joe told me about his new video trailer for "The Fyddeye Guide." I expected it to be informative, but it turned out to be funny too. When you watch it, you'll chuckle, but you can also learn how to get the useful free gift Joe has waiting for you. No purchase required. Enjoy!

2.) Help the historic tall ship ADVENTURESS on JUNE 23 through the Seattle Foundation's "GiveBig" program
I never would have met Joe Follansbee or learned about his books, if I had not gone sailing on the tall ship ADVENTURESS, owned by the non-profit organization Sound Experience.  I've written about this elegant old wooden schooner a number of times.

Here are a few earlier blog posts:

Tall ship ADVENTURESS on Puget Sound. Photo courtesy of Sound Experience

It takes a lot of money to maintain a 1913 schooner and the important programs Sound Experience offers. This organization provides everyone, including about 3,000 children and teens per year, with the opportunity to sail on this historic vessel and learn about the environment of Puget Sound. If you're thinking of making a tax-deductible donation to Sound Experience during 2011, PLEASE do it on June 23, when the Seattle Foundation with match a portion of your donation if you make it through a link on their website.

FATHER'S DAY GIFT IDEA: How about treating Dad to a Sound Experience membership, with its many benefits, including sailing on the ship for free. You can do this right now, online here. If you your father is deceased, you might considered remembering him on Father's Day by making a donation in his name.

And last, but certainly not least:
3.) New Exhibit at Tacoma's Working Waterfront Maritime Museum

Photo by Jan Adams

If you've never been to this maritime museum, part of the Foss Waterway Seaport on Commencement Bay in Tacoma, you've missed out on a regional treasure. An afternoon spent there would make the perfect Father's Day gift. Kid-friendly and fun, this place will fascinate the whole family, and the new exhibit that opened last weekend is especially exciting. Come see "Wheels, Whistles, and Wonder: the Extraordinary Maritime Collection of Bill Somers."

How I wish I could take my father with me to see Bill Somer's collection again, but he passed away last year at age 96. He drove a freight truck back in the days when a man named Charles Somers and his son C.W."Bill" Somers started the St. Charles Winery on Stretch Island, just after Prohibition was repealed in 1933. At that time wine was "fortified," and that involved the addition of sugar which Dad picked up in Tacoma and delivered to the winery. Every time he arrived with his load, the two young men saw each other, and they became well acquainted.

Later on, when Bill used the old winery to house his vast collection of maritime memorabilia, Dad visited now and then, when out for a drive with my mother or friends. But the years passed and things changed. Mom died and Dad moved out of the family home and into an assisted living situation. He couldn't drive anymore. He missed that freedom to wander the roads and see people and places from his past.

On a sunny summer day that I'll never forget, not long before the end of Bill's life, my husband and I drove Dad out to Stretch Island again. I had never been there before. I remember the peaceful rural scene, the silent winery building and the old house on a hill overlooking the calm, blue waters of Hood Canal.

We were the only guests and enjoyed a personalized tour conducted by Bill himself, while the two old friends enjoyed each other's company. At one point, he pushed a button on a dusty old cassette player, and I shivered to hear what seemed like voices of ghosts, the actual whistle sounds of various vessels including the Mosquito Fleet steamers that once kept people, freight, and the local economy moving via the waters of Puget Sound.

Photo by Jan Adams

When I heard about the collection coming to Tacoma, I worried about that little cassette tape. Nothing else like it exists anywhere. What a relief it was to learn that those precious recorded sounds from the past are now safely preserved in digital format. You can hear them yourself when you visit this exhibit.

I will miss my father on this Father's Day. If you are lucky enough to still have yours, enjoy him while you can. Consider visiting the Working Waterfront Museum to create a memory you will savor in years to come, just like I do mine.

HOURS:Wednesday to Friday – 10:00 to 5:00 PM
Saturday/Sunday – Noon to 5:00 PM

ADMISSION: $7.00–Adults, $4.00–Children/Students/Military/Seniors 62+, $15.00–Family (up to 5 members)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Local Day Trip Idea: West Seattle

Alki Beach
I broke out of jail recently. I escaped from the invisible handcuffs that bind me to my laptop, the ones that hold me prisoner in the small, cramped,writing/sewing/piled-with-books room I call my "office" where I work on articles and other wordsmithing jobs day after day. I broke free and headed north from Tacoma to spend an afternoon in West Seattle.

Over a century ago, my great-great-grandfather owned a large piece of land there, stretching west from California Avenue clear down to the beach. Too bad he lost it during the nation's financial panic in the 1890s. But it's still fun to go to West Seattle and imagine how it looked back then.

Surrounded by water on three sides, with views of the city skyline, two mountan ranges, and islands, it makes the perfect day trip. California Avenue runs right up the middle, connecting one fun, funky, and fabulous business district with another. Since I needed to do some research for a magazine article about the Elliot Bay Brewing Company anyway, my bossy, demanding work ethic felt satisfied too. (So when you see the picture of a glass of beer, remember, it was all to do with research.)

I hope you enjoy this little photo tour of one of the Puget Sound area's sweetest spots. A few of these shots were taken before the leaves had all come out on the trees, but I added them anyway.

Alki Beach

Monument to Early Settlers at Alki Beach

An old tree in Lincoln Park

Bakery Nouveau's colorful delights

Pastries at Bakery Nouveau

Lunch choices at Elliot Bay Brewery and Pub. GREAT food.

Research for a magazine article

The perfect pour at Elliot Bay Brew Pub

Lincoln Park

Sidewalk art along California Ave.

The place for cupcakes in "the Junction"

A house on Beach Drive

Tide is out
Admiral Theater

Old apartment building
Looking west toward the Olympics