Saturday, July 28, 2018

New Hope for Former Olympia Temple

Above: New Hope Anglican Church has found a new home at 802 Jefferson Street SE, the former location of Temple Beth Hatfiloh, near downtown Olympia. Congregational members began much needed yard maintenance and interior cleaning on Saturday.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Congregational members of New Hope Anglican Church were working hard on Saturday sprucing up their new home, the former Temple Beth Hatfiloh, at 802 Jefferson Street SE, near downtown Olympia.

The building was recently purchased by local businessman Ali Raad, Marhaba Company, LLC, from Calvin Johnson, K Records, for $340,000.

The building was most recently home to K Records and has suffered a bit of abuse and neglect. The grounds have been home to the houseless for several years. 

Raad is renting the building to the church at a reduced rate in exchange for significant maintenance and repairs, inside and out. Repairs have already been made to an outside exterior area burned in a fire in 2016.  

The small, white building on the corner of Jefferson Street and Eighth Avenue was constructed in 1938. It is listed on the City of Olympia’s inventory of historic properties, but is not on any local and national historic register.

The original Star of David was removed from the building in 2017 and restored. It is now located at the current location of Temple Beth Hatfiloh at 201 Eighth Avenue.

One planned improvement to the split-level building is the installation of an elevator lift for those who need it.

Above: Reverend John Allen of New Hope Anglican Church stands in the downstairs meeting area of the former Temple Beth Hatfiloh on Saturday. Allen came to the New Hope congregation from Bellingham just a year and a half ago. 

Reverend John Allen of New Hope Anglican Church is providing fresh direction for the congregation of 35 - 45 members. The Church is less than 10 years old and meets in a variety of locations in Lacey.

“In the last year or so, we have felt a call to come to Olympia. We provide a weekly street ministry called Street Angels. We visit the homeless community, providing food, clothing, and toiletries, and talk, listen and pray with them.

“To do this through this building, being able to step into that role of ministering to the community, especially those who are struggling, is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to be here with the people of this city," said Allen.

Allen said the sanctuary will have a traditional liturgical feel and get a new coat of paint with gray-silver colored trim. The altar area will initially be decorated with green decorations.

“We’re really excited about the fact that it was once a synagogue. That was really important to our community, actually. Christ was a Jew from the time of Israel and called out to the Jewish people, so we loved the symbolism,” he said.

The congregation will be in the building before September. The sanctuary space won’t be ready by then, so they will initially meet downstairs in the coffee area.

“We’re still talking about what we’re going to do with the space, but we have dreams and hopes to make the coffee area a place for the whole community to gather. We’re small, but we have a lot of personality and a lot of talent,” Allen laughed.

The first service at the new church building will be September 2 at 10:00 a.m.

A community grand opening will be held within the next few months.

Above: The doors are open to the community once again at 802 Jefferson Street SE.

Little Hollywood has written previous stories about the former Temple Beth Hatfiloh building including,“Olympia’s Star of David Returns Home,” at and “Olympia Temple Saves Star of David,” at

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Olympia Council Purchases Property for Homeless

Above: The City of Olympia purchased the 1.12 acre property at 2828 Martin Way for use as a city sanctioned homeless encampment on Tuesday night. Located near wooded areas currently occupied by hundreds of unhoused individuals, it will be called The Martin Way Village.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

It was a packed agenda on issues surrounding the City of Olympia's response to homelessness at its council meeting Tuesday night.

The proposed locations of two, 24/7, city sanctioned homeless encampments, collectively called The Villages, was revealed along with estimated costs for site improvements and operations.

One site is a city-owned, half-acre, former nursery site at Plum Street and Union Avenue, adjacent to the Yashiro Japanese Garden and the Lee Creighton Justice Center. It would be called The Nursery Village.

The other site, located at 2828 Martin Way near Pattison and Devoe Street, would be called The Martin Way Village. That site has a 3,800 square foot building, half of it currently in use by a business, with five restrooms and one shower.

The property is adjacent to neighborhoods, the Holly Motel, and wooded areas currently occupied by hundreds of unhoused individuals. Across the street is Aztec Lanes, a bowling alley. Next door to the site is the Ira L. Carter Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 318. 

Council approved the purchase of the property from a private party for $1.3 million.

The Martin Way site sits on about 1.12 acres and would allow safe car camping. Although there are 50 parking spots at the site, the city would start with five to ten spaces.  

It is estimated that the properties will need about $1.1 million worth of site improvements.

Each location would house 40 residents in a combination of tents and tiny homes. 

Residents for the locations would be chosen through a coordinated entry system and serve the most vulnerable, however there could be room for those who are at immediate risk. All residents would receive tailored social services while living in the village.

A public hearing on an ordinance for emergency housing facilities hosted by faith-based and non-profit organizations or local governments was also held. The ordinance will next be heard by the Planning Commission in October.

Members of the public gave council members an earful regarding the proposed ordinance and the two proposed sites.

Above: The proposed site for The Nursery Village near the Yashiro Japanese Garden and I-5 on Plum Street and Union Avenue. It is in an area that could be considered downtown, near the Eastside neighborhood.

One parent, Chris Peterson, expressed concern about the location of the encampment facility proposed at Plum and Union. That location is less than 1,000 feet from St. Michael’s School.

Phil Owen, executive director of Sidewalk, a coordinated entry organization for shelter and housing, supported the emergency housing ordinance easing restrictions on faith organizations, non-profits, and local governments to house the homeless.

He expressed surprise about the two city sponsored encampments, however, saying the proposal was moving very quickly and a lot more work and coordination between city staff and social service organizations is needed.

Costs to Address Homelessness

Colin DeForrest, City of Olympia’s new homeless response coordinator, threw out some big numbers for camp management, heard for the first time at Tuesday night’s meeting.

The annual operational expenses were estimated to be $904,000, the bulk of which is for staffing the two locations.

Several council members were uncomfortable with the cost and the proposal to use Home Fund money without the development of a Home Fund advisory board.

The new Home Fund sales tax of one-tenth of one percent for permanent supportive housing will generate approximately $2.3 million per year. The city’s website says it will take years before those funds will result in a completed project, however, on Tuesday night, it was proposed to use those funds for temporary shelter and encampment purposes.

The city has so far collected no Home Fund dollars. Washington State began collecting the increased sales tax for the city in July and the city expects its first check in September of this year. For 2018, the city estimates about $550,000 will be collected. 

The ballot language and RCW 82.14.530 focus on permanent housing allows short term measures and services for those in the housing, whether permanent or transitional, Olympia city manager Steve Hall told Little Hollywood last week.

A council finance committee meeting that was postponed last week will be held July 31 to discuss the figures. 

Amy Buckler, the city's downtown programs manager, said none of the numbers are set in stone and were intended to give council members a high level sense of what the costs might be, including contingency for unexpected issues.

City staff said they hope to move people into the villages by December.

Little Hollywood often writes about homelessness issues, and unsheltered, street dependent, houseless individuals. For more information, go to Little Hollywood and use the search button to type in key words. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Squaxin Artist Joe Seymour: “Nothing’s Permanent”

Above: Joe Seymour, Jr., Squaxin Island and Pueblo of Acoma, of Olympia, stands near the mural he and three other artists painted in 2012, commemorating the Canoe Journey to Squaxin Island. The mural in downtown Olympia was demolished this week to make room for a new, three story, mixed-used building. Seymour has been commissioned to create art for the new building.

Olympia Mural, Downtown Warehouse Building Demolished

Seymour to Work on New Art for The Laurana and Views on Fifth

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Very little was salvaged.

Not the spectacular wooden trusses, not the metal window frames, not the beloved mural painted in commemoration of the 2012 Canoe Journey to Squaxin Island. 

The mural was created by Coast Salish artist Joseph Seymour, Jr., Squaxin Island and Pueblo of Acoma, Ira Coyne, Vince Ryland, and Kevin Bouton-Scott.

In front of a handful of witnesses, the mural in downtown Olympia was demolished on Tuesday. 

It was a brutal sight as the contractors’ machine took efficient bites out of the concrete upon which the Pacific Northwest sun, Olympic Mountain range, Salish Sea, indigenous canoes, paddlers, and a welcoming pole were featured.

In short order, the brightly colored mural with so much personality was gone.

Above: Artist Joe Seymour Jr. stands in front of the mural he helped create in commemoration of the 2012 Canoe Journey to Squaxin Island. 

Above: Passersby witnessed the mural’s destruction on Tuesday.

Built in 1941, the warehouse building adjacent to Percival Landing on State and Columbia Street was most recently home to Les Schwab Tires. In cooperation with the store’s management, the mural was painted on its outer, west facing wall.

After Les Schwab Tires moved to its new location on Plum Street, Walker John and one of his companies, Urban Olympia V LLC, bought the building. The project is represented by Thomas Architecture Studios.

In the past couple of weeks, the building’s demolition was accomplished to make room for a new, three story building with a restaurant and 44 market rate housing units: 10 studios, 28 1-bedroom, and six two-bedroom units.

The new development will be called The Laurana, after Laurana Ware Percival, the wife of Captain Samuel Wing Percival, who constructed the Percival Dock and Lumber Companies.

Construction is slated to begin in August with occupancy in late summer or fall of 2019.

Interview with Artist Joe Seymour

Little Hollywood contacted Seymour and met with him last weekend on Percival Landing. We talked about the Canoe Journey mural, his art, and future projects.

The conversation was bittersweet, and jumped between the emotions of past, present, and future.

The name Joe Seymour does not appear on the marker near the mural. What does appear is Seymour’s Squaxin Island ancestral name, Wahalatsu?. His family gave him the name of his Squaxin Island great grandfather, Wahalatsu?, William Bagley, in 2003. 

Seymour said his ancestors inspire him to create his art. 

Downtown Olympia sits on land ceded by the Medicine Creek Treaty tribes which include the Squaxin Island Tribe, Nisqually Tribe of Indians and the Puyallup Tribe of Indians.

A heavy trading area for different people, the waters and lands upon which we stood are the traditional territory of the Steh-Chass people, people of the Squaxin Island Tribe. 

Prior to the Carylon fill of 1911, the area between Percival dock and Columbia Street was the water’s edge. Piers were initially used to extend Water Street north of State, called 3rd Street at the time, to provide buildable area for more industrial activity.

Seymour had just come from Thomas Architecture Studios and held in his hand rolled up building drawings. 

He was excited to see the drawings because the building’s owner, Walker John, has commissioned him and local artist Ira Coyne to create two new pieces of artwork for the new building.

We opened the rolls.

The building will feature a plaza facing west, toward the water, and have a raised sill height of 16.5 feet which is six feet above the elevation required for sea level rise. Deployable Kevlar skirts will be used at building entrances.

The building’s west façade will be set back from the existing one by approximately 65 feet. The city requires a 30 foot setback from the shoreline and Laurana’s west façade is over 100 feet from the shoreline.

But Seymour was most interested in the wall space he and Coyne will have to work with to create their artwork.

“We’re not going to recreate this mural but do something that honors the Canoe Journey. We’re going to look at pictures of the actual landing that day and see what we find. We have two walls: one, facing west, toward the water, will be 15 feet high and 50 feet wide. The other, facing northeast on Columbia Street, will be about 30 feet wide and as high as 30 feet. Both Ira and I are really grateful that the developer is working with us.”

“Nothing is permanent,” Seymour added, looking at the mural wistfully.

His perspective comes not only from his indigenous heritage, but his upbringing. 

Seymour, born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, grew up in New Mexico and California. His dad was in the Marine Corps. He now lives in Olympia’s eastside neighborhood.  

A geoduck harvester and commercial diver, Seymour works with several artistic mediums, including wood, wool, etched glass, paint, and photography.

He started his artistic career by carving his first paddle for the 2003 Tribal Journey to Tulalip. Then he carved his first bentwood box. Then he learned how to stretch and make drums.

In 2005, after attending a life-changing artist-in-residency program at the Longhouse at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Seymour knew he wanted to devote his life to his art.

He has been a participating artist in several art shows facilitated through the Longhouse and the Washington State History Museum. The recipient of numerous grants, he has participated in several international gatherings of indigenous artists.

Seymours work can be seen at the Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon, the Squaxin Island Museum in Shelton, and the Hilo Art Museum in Hilo, Hawai’i.

The Canoe Journey Mural

Tribal Journeys began in 1989, intending to coincide with the centennial celebration for Washington State. Since 1993, Tribal Journeys or The Paddle have been held on an annual basis, with various tribes serving as the host tribe.

Seymour discussed the creation  of the mural to commemorate the 2012 Canoe Journey.

The project was commissioned by the Olympia Downtown Association. Ira and I submitted our designs and they were both really similar. We both had seven canoes on the water and we both had big sky, so they asked, Do you want to work together?

My first thought was, I don’t want to work with anybody,’ Seymour laughed. But then I saw the Rebecca Howard mural (painted by Coyne) and I was like, Holy shit, I wanna work with this guy.

A lot of my friends already knew Ira and they said, Yea, work with this guy. So, we got together, looked at our designs and within five minutes, said, Yea, let’s work together.  So, it was serendipitous. They gave us $3,000 and Benjamin Moore donated the paint.

Seymour was asked how he found out about the sale of the building and that the mural wouldn’t be saved.

We never really thought Les Schwab would move. We thought it would be here for, like, 20 to 25 years. Most downtown buildings stay where they are, but not anymore. I found out that the building was being sold when Ira called me about it. It turns out the developer was reaching out to the Squaxin Island Tribal Council, trying to figure out what to do. They called me about it and asked what would be the ideal. I said the ideal would be to preserve the whole wall or move it to the Tribe. But economically, that wasn’t feasible. I thought it could fall under historic preservation, but no….”

Pointing to one canoe named DZU-NIG-WUN-GIS, Seymour explained that the canoes featured are actual ones on the Journey.

“That is Chief Frank Nelson’s canoe, from Alert Bay, on Vancouver Island. He was one of the driving forces for the renewal of the Canoe Society. That’s one piece of wood. It’s heavy! He's passed on now,” said Seymour.

Pointing to a smaller canoe, Seymour said it was a traditional Squaxin dugout canoe.

Above: A close up of a traditional Squaxin dugout canoe.

Seymour said he painted the sun by freehand, using a yardstick and a couple of pencils to make a big compass.

He credited Kevin Boutin-Scott for painting the welcome pole. “It turned out amazing,” he said.

Future Plans for Views on Fifth

Seymour just graduated from The Evergreen State College and hopes Evergreen will receive the financing needed to begin a Masters in Fine Arts program so he can move forward with his education and later teach. For now, he is happy to create art.

He credits his faculty members, printmaker Lisa Sweet, and Alex Swiftwater McCartey, Makah, and their program, Studio Projects, for his exploration of printmaking with a Northwest Native art element.

“When working in the print studio, you’re working with Baltic birch for your blocks and because I have a carving background, that really came in handy,” he said.

The course explored dominant European-U.S. concepts and assumptions of art as well as the art of indigenous and ancient cultures, created to serve ritual and ceremony or to galvanize communities. Alternative forms and functions of art serve to act as change agents, questioning the status quo.

Above: The nine-story Views on Fifth under construction in downtown Olympia as seen from Rotary Park on West Bay Drive.

Turning south, Seymour looked toward the nine-story building under reconstruction as Views on Fifth and remarked that he is excited to be working with the building’s owner, Ken Brogan, to create massive Coast Salish art.

He envisions decorating the concrete towers with several salmon made of steel and welcoming poles made of wood.

Discussing the tortured history of the building and current efforts to stop its construction, Seymour says he thinks the new building will be beautiful.

“I don’t want to reveal too much, but I want to take the image of the welcoming pole figure from the mural and turn it into a 3-D sculpture. So, even though the mural is coming down, it will be recreated in a different form and then, maybe, in this new project, we can have something that celebrates regeneration and ties in with the Canoe Journey. I’m working with a carver who wants to teach me how to do it,” he said. 

The artwork, like the City of Olympia, will be created in stages.

Above: The mural is a featured landmark in the GPS game, Pokemon. Noses to their smartphones, several participants gathered at the mural for an impending raid. All in good fun, the game is played like Capture the Flag. One participant, Aryah Esposito, 20, of Olympia, wore a 2013 Paddle to Quinault t-shirt.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Olympia Declares Homelessness a Public Health Emergency

Above: Found cup and hat at The Jungle, Olympia’s largest homeless encampment. Photo taken December, 2017 during a community clean-up effort.

July 24 Council Study Session on Homeless Encampments

July 24 Council Public Hearing for Proposed Ordinance Regarding Emergency Housing Facilities for Faith Based, Non-Profit and Government Organizations

By Janine Gates

Little Hollywood

There are several efforts underway in Olympia to address the homelessness crisis.

At its Tuesday council meeting, the Olympia city council passed an ordinance declaring homelessness to be a public health emergency. Doing so allows the city to move forward on its efforts to tackle the issue in multiple ways.

After significant discussion which began with Councilmember Jim Cooper asking about ongoing camp sweeps, the council decided to hold a study session on the city’s current practices for dealing with unmanaged homeless encampments.

The study session will be held July 24, 5:30 p.m., at Olympia City Hall, 601 4th Avenue.

City manager Steve Hall said that the city is under certain regulatory requirements to clear camps as they impact public health and safety. The council will discuss the sweeps and options for future management of homeless camps.

Above: The Jungle, before a December 2017 community clean up effort. In 2018, there have been 27 active code enforcement cases related to homeless encampments in the City of Olympia, some of which may be occupied by 100 or more persons.

What prompted the discussion was the city’s plan to evict residents of a homeless encampment on Nickerson and Wheeler Street, set to occur July 19. Several community members, including residents of the camp, spoke at public comment about the pending eviction.

Councilmember Jessica Bateman said the ordinance declaring homelessness a public health emergency is a huge step forward and openly facilitates discussion of the “elephant in the room.” Passing the ordinance and allowing the eviction of campers at the Nickerson site were contradictory actions.

As a result of council discussion, there will be no eviction action at the Nickerson encampment until further discussion.

July 24 Public Hearing Regarding Emergency Housing Facilities

In May, the city council passed a resolution that directed city staff to pursue legal encampment options.

The city hired a homeless response coordinator, Colin DeForrest, who is actively developing a homeless strategic plan which will include short, mid and long term actions.

Toward that commitment, the Olympia City Council will hold a public hearing at its meeting on July 24 for an ordinance that would allow faith based, non-profit and government organizations to site emergency housing facilities on their property. 

The hearing will be held at Olympia City Hall. The council meeting starts at 7:00 p.m.

There are numerous stipulations in the proposed ordinance for applicants including the need to obtain permits and provide notice to neighbors, the requirement of an on-duty manager, an operation and security plan, and a code of conduct for living at the facility. A full list of requirements is listed on the city’s website.

The recently passed Home Fund sales tax levy will help provide permanent supportive housing for the most vulnerable, however, it will take years before those funds will result in a completed project.

Olympia Union Gospel Mission Update

In an article posted on Monday, Little Hollywood reported that there is a recent loss of at least 90 beds between the combined temporary closures of the Salvation Army and the sleeping arrangements at the Olympia Union Gospel Mission.

Mayor Cheryl Selby reported that the Olympia Union Gospel Mission told her that they now hope to finish repairs on their facility in two weeks, instead of the expected four to six weeks.

In the meantime, they are allowing the most vulnerable to stay on the property at night under supervision. Hot meals will continue to be served daily.

For more information about city homeless services, contact Colin DeForrest, City of Olympia Homeless Response Coordinator, (360) 709-2688, or go to

Little Hollywood often writes about homelessness issues, and unsheltered, street dependent, houseless individuals. For more information, go to Little Hollywood and use the search button to type in key words.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Olympia Homeless Lose 90 Beds

Above: Conditions in homeless encampments present serious sanitation issues which are dangerous to human health.

Olympia Union Gospel Overnight Shelter Closes for Repairs

Salvation Army Overnight Shelter Closed For Remodel – Will Reopen as a 24/7 Facility

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood 

The county supply of available emergency shelter beds for the homeless is inadequate to meet demand, and it just got worse. 

Sunday evening was the last night for those who usually sleep indoors at the Olympia Union Gospel Mission.

On Monday, the Olympia Union Gospel Mission at 413 Franklin Street closed down its sleeping accommodations. They will remain closed for four to six weeks for major repairs and maintenance. 

During the day, the Mission will continue to be open and serve hot meals.

Since November, 2017, it has provided space for at least 50 individuals in its dining room area, sleeping on mats with sleeping bags provided by the Mission.

The number of beds available to unsheltered individuals is now down by at least 90, which includes the recent loss of 40 beds due to the closure of Salvation Army’s shelter at 805 Fifth Avenue.

Both closures are temporary, but for those living out of doors, every unsheltered night puts their health and safety at greater risk.

When the Thurston County Point in Time Homeless Count was conducted in January, there were only 386 transitional housing and emergency beds plus 54 hazardous cold weather beds available on a given night.

The closure of 90 beds represents a 37 percent loss of shelter capacity.

There are six other area emergency shelters, including the Interfaith Emergency Overnight Shelter at First Christian Church in downtown Olympia. It has 42 beds and is full every evening. Doors open at 5:00 p.m. and clients must leave in the early morning.

Their shelter wait list is based on vulnerability, defined as those who are over 50 years of age, living with a physical or mental disability, and people with chronic health conditions. When a permanent bed becomes available in the shelter, people at the top of the waitlist are prioritized. Each night, a limited number of “one night stay” beds are available and are given out through a lottery.

Salvation Army

In an extreme makeover, the Salvation Army in Thurston County is revamping its facility at 805 Fifth Avenue. It will be closed until September. When it reopens, it will be a 24/7 low barrier facility.

Before it closed, the shelter had 24 beds for men and 16 beds for women. It is expected that they will keep the same number of available beds. It also served as a cold weather shelter from November to April.

When complete, the remodel is expected to relieve the pressure from the downtown Providence Community Care Center, which has become a de facto hub for street dependent individuals with nowhere else to go.

Providence Community Care Center

The Providence Community Care Center at 225 State Street in downtown Olympia sees an average of 100 to 150 clients a day. In the winter, the number is near 200.

Managing the facility as a day center has taken them away from its mission, said Angela Maki, public information officer for the Center, on Monday.

“It was never intended to serve as a day center. It was intended to be a clinic for those seeking social services, and while they are seeking services, we have a washer and dryer, showers, toilets, and limited storage facilities.

“These services are there because it takes time to develop a relationship, trust, to guide individuals into services, manage their wounds, get them into housing, and for those able, workforce development,” she said.

It is open daily except Saturdays, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. After 5:00 p.m., individuals stream out to find places to go for the evening. 

For some, it’s the woods. For others, it’s downtown doorways and tent encampments on city streets.

Little Hollywood often writes about homelessness issues, and unsheltered, street dependent, houseless individuals. For more information, go to Little Hollywood and use the search button to type in key words.