Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Remembering Chris Carson


Above: Tom Nogler, left, and Audrey Henley remember the life of Olympia activist Chris Carson at the Capitol Theater Monday night in downtown Olympia. Carson passed away of cancer on January 6. 

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

The life of Chris Carson was remembered by friends and family at the Capitol Theater in downtown Olympia Monday night.

Carson passed away of cancer on January 6 at St. Peter Hospital.

The celebration was quickly organized by friends in a way that was very Olympia: with a potluck, live music by Dusty Rhodes and friends, and storytelling.

Carson was involved with social, economic, and environmental justice issues in Olympia for decades. 

Due to vision issues, Carson did not drive and relied on friends to drive her home.

When someone asked for a show of hands of how many in the audience had ever given Carson a ride home, about 100 hands went up.

Carson was an eyewitness to the shooting of unarmed students by members of the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University in 1970. 

There is no doubt the experience dramatically shaped Carson’s life and work with peace and justice issues.

Calling Facebook a “toxic swamp,” in a recent chat with Little Hollywood, Carson eschewed social media platforms, and made relationships the old-fashioned way by sharing her thoughts and truly listening to others.

Many friends shared their stories about Carson.

Audrey Henley, executive director of the Olympia Film Society, said the Capitol Theater was Carson’s second home. She volunteered there for at least 18 years and helped to sustain the Olympia Film Society in a variety of capacities.

“She was a huge course of change in the community,” said Henley.

In written remarks, former mayor of Olympia Mark Foutch said he sometimes gave Carson rides home from the theater.

Appreciating her faith and confidence in Olympia, Foutch said Carson left him with two wise thoughts that expressed her opinion of the Olympia community, and also why she loved it: 

“Olympia should have signs at the city limits saying, ‘Welcome to Olympia - Leave your baggage HERE,’ (Of course, she meant to free yourself of the past; this is your place for a new start) and “Olympia is a place where you not only can pursue your dream, it will help you get there.”

A Go Fund Me fund in Carsons name has been established at https://www.gofundme.com for cremation services and a tree planting memorial burial, and hospital and home related fees. 

Any additional funds will be donated in her name to the nonprofits she loved.

Above: Chris Carson, beloved sister and friend.

Asked to give a eulogy for Carson on Monday evening, I offered these words:

Going Home: Chris Carson

Last night, I was asked to say a few words about Chris Carson.

Luckily, I’ve been writing about her ever since Rick (Fellows) texted me the day she passed away. 

I’ve lived in Olympia for 35 years and I don’t remember a time without her, but it was only recently that I found out that we’re originally from the same part of Ohio.

My last conversation with Chris was on November 1. It lasted three hours, sitting in my car after I had taken her home after a city meeting.

This was not the first time we had done this. I always enjoyed hearing Chris speak. It was a cold, windy night, but I was warmed by her sweet voice.

As we were leaving city hall that evening, she had tripped on a curb - badly. Her vision was compromised by a rare eye disease, chronic cyclitis, and she had been part of a research case about it for several years in California.

She said that early on, doctors had given her a prognosis that was bad in the long term. She said she was heading toward blindness but felt positive about the future because she had good color perception and was smart and healthy.

Because of her vision issues, she had given up driving.

An avid bus rider, the Intercity Transit bus used to run past her house until 10:30 p.m. until the budget got slashed due to I-695. Fourteen bus routes were eliminated and never restored.

Buses in her neighborhood stopped running at 6:00 p.m. and weekend service was cut, so, basically, she felt like she was living under a total curfew.

All this could have limited her ability or desire to participate in community activities and evening meetings, but she relied on us, her friends, to drive her home.

She got involved with the Alliance for Public Transportation and attended Intercity Transit community meetings and asked them to bring back routes. She said she knew people who had to move and lost their jobs because they couldn’t get to work.

She said she had a friend who hosted EF students and, in order to host them, the home must be on a bus route. The friend lost the opportunity to host the students.

She was an advocate for us all.

Of course, Chris was perhaps best known as the voice of the Pet Parade for many years for Thurston Community Television (TCTV).

She was at Mt. Rainier one year when someone spotted her and yelled out to her, “Hey, Pet Parade lady!” She loved that.

Recently, she was active with the Strengthening Sanctuary movement and there was a meeting in September at the Temple of 14 or 15 participating congregations. She encouraged the Fellowship of Reconciliation to join the coalition. 

A couple hundred people were there, and someone came up to her and recognized her as the Pet Parade lady. They wanted a picture of her with them and of course, she obliged.

She managed Music in the Park for about six years in the late 1980s. She loved one of the phrases mentioned in the city’s downtown revitalization “Main Street” study. It said that “Sylvester Park is Olympia’s living room - a place where everyone is welcome and can sit down and relax.”

About that, Chris told me:

“That’s what I always wanted Music in the Park to be - to attract people of all types, ages and backgrounds and cultural groups and that they would come, enjoy some food, music, and be there comfortably together, and perhaps the next time they saw each other again, they wouldn’t have that fear of ‘the other’ so much, because they had had that positive experience. That’s the way I always looked at it.”

We talked about the seeds of our social and community service organizations, nonprofits, and unsung heroes. She was involved with Bulldog News and the Liberation Café and the nonprofits that shared the space upstairs like Books to Prisoners.

We talked about Carol Burns creating TCTV, Long-haired David creating EGYHOP, Gita Moulton starting SPEECH, Glen Anderson creating the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation and her involvement with Media Island.

She remembered how Herb Legg would see leaves as works of art, attach them onto cards and give them out to people. She talked about Scott Yoos and what a great Scrabble player he is.

We talked a lot about the delicacy of life and how one person can make such a difference.

Chris loved the poem by Rachel Corrie called “The Blind Eyed Salmon.” When Rachel used to live in the Cleopatra Apartments, Chris said she used to run into her along State Avenue. Rachel knew Moxlie and Indian Creek and knew the salmon were still trying to get home, she said.

Chris was involved with the Abolish Nuclear Weapons movement.

She enjoyed Jazz Jams at Traditions on the first Sunday of the month.

She was looking forward to the Women’s March on January 19.

She was keenly interested and knowledgeable about historic preservation.

She was an advocate for libraries and expressed concern about current Timberland Library funding issues. She was thinking about how to fairly fund libraries and intended to ask Representative Beth Doglio to find secure funding.

Chris used the library a lot and used their printer. I offered her a printer, but she declined, saying she enjoyed running into people there.

She used to work for the Washington State Library. She worked in Acquisitions, and eventually oversaw the mending of books.

For several years, she took care of the territorial collection and the State Constitution. At one time, the Library loaned her to the Timberland Library system, and she was caring for the collections of 32 libraries in Washington.

She taught classes at Bates College in Tacoma. She said she once got a standing ovation and was amazed that she had made book mending the most fascinating thing they had ever heard in their lives. She laughed about that.

I asked her how she repaired a book. She said that there is no one answer, but that she would start by inspecting a book, so she knew how to begin.

She said: “It’s like being a doctor looking at a patient, one on one, looking at how it is bound, seeing what you could do that wouldn’t damage the materials, and seeing what damage is reversible.”

And that’s Chris. She cared for us as individuals, all of us just a little damaged. We’re the pieces of our community and she was the glue that brought us together while making everything sound so fascinating.

It’s amazing how much you can learn about someone in so little time if you really listen.

Maybe some of you didn’t realize just how much she needed us. Now we are realizing how much we needed her.

It will take some time before I realize she doesn’t need a ride from community events and meetings.

She’s already home.


Above: The Capitol Theater marque reads, Rest in Power Chris Carson - We love you!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Measuring Hope in Thurston County


Above: A crisp Saturday afternoon brought walkers to Capitol Lake in downtown Olympia. 

A community survey is being conducted to assess the level of hope in Thurston County. The Hope Thurston survey process began in June 2018. 

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood
https:/janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com

At the beginning of a new year, many people reflect on the past, present and future. 

Opportunities are explored and new goals are set. Its often a time full of anticipation and renewal.

But sometimes, the death of a loved one or challenges with onehealth, finances, employment, or housing makes some of these life course changes for us.

Regardless of the situation, we often hope things will get better, right? Not always.

Although research shows that hope is instinctive, some people feel hopeless. Manifesting itself as apathy, some see no vision for the future. Mental illness is a barrier to hope. Hopelessness can lead to depression, addiction, and suicide.

What does it mean to hope? How hopeful are you?

Working closely with children who have suffered abuse, trauma and neglect, Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim has seen the impact of adverse childhood experiences.

Discovering the concept of hope theory while attending a domestic violence conference several years ago, he has become a student of its principles and has since delivered over 100 “hope talks” throughout the South Sound community.

Last week, he spoke at the Hawks Prairie Rotary monthly meeting in Lacey.

“Hope is the belief that the future can be better than the present and the ability to make it so,” said Tunheim.

“Hope contemplates that we have the ability to influence our future: one, to set goals and create a vision of goals and success; two: to have the ability to create strategies and pathways to achieve goals, anticipate barriers, and see alternatives; and three, to have the willpower to achieve goals. That’s what moves you forward – goals and strategies,” he said.

Research indicates that hope is the single best predictor of a person’s ability to thrive and flourish.

“Hope is a way of thinking, not feeling. It’s cognitive, not emotional. It’s figuring out the strategy to get there. It’s contagious, taught, learned, and measurable,” said Tunheim.

Above: A little girl catches sight of a great blue heron taking flight at Capitol Lake in downtown Olympia. Applying the science of hope can help facilitate positive community change.

Measuring Hope in Thurston County - Hope Thurston

Separate from his role as prosecutor, Tunheim is the public safety and justice chair with Thurston Thrives, a public-private community council with action groups that examine the root causes undermining public health.

Through a county wide survey of residents, Tunheim is assessing hope in Thurston County. Applying the science of hope can help facilitate positive community change, he says.

Communities are starting to measure hope at an individual, organizational, and community levels.  

Hope Thurston is modeled after the work of Dr. Chan Hellman at the University of Oklahoma –Tulsa who created a community map of hope called, “How Hopeful is Tulsa?” 

Hellman will measure and analyze the survey data to establish Thurston County’s “Hope Score.”

Hellman is also involved in analyzing hope survey data gathered by Kitsap Strong, a community-based organization similar to Thurston Thrives based in Kitsap County.

The Thurston County survey is at www.thurstonthrives.org/hope-thurston. Written in plain language, it takes about 10 minutes to complete and does not require your name.

What It Means to Build a Hopeful Culture

The Hope Thurston survey process began in June in partnership with Saint Martin’s University, The Evergreen State College, South Puget Sound Community College, Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and the Thurston Chamber Foundation.

The project’s work is funded through a grant from the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound. 

A variety of methods are being used to conduct the survey. Nonprofit organizations are engaging with their clients to survey their level of hope.

To reach out to the population they are serving, the Family Support Center has already incorporated an index of “hope language” questions about their client’s goals and pathways, Tunheim said. This will help determine their clients’ “hope score.”

Tunheim says the idea is to identify why someone is feeling hopeless and target resources in the community where there is less hope.

The report produced by the survey will help direct Thurston Thrive partners for three to five years.

“We want to make Thurston County more hopeful and figure out how to reduce those barriers to feeling more hopeful,” said Tunheim.

What would it mean for Thurston County to have a higher “hope score?”

“A higher hope county is a safer county. One is more productive at work and less vulnerable to stress. Hope is the best predictor of college, higher grade point averages, healthy, lower rates of depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome. 

In the justice system, it means a lower risk of recidivism. It’s about making the community better,” Tunheim responded.

The survey will close soon and a final report is expected by the end of 2019.

The survey is downloadable and printable as a PDF. For more information about the survey, contact Jesse Knudson, Community Engagement Specialist, Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, Thurston County, at (360) 786-5540, ext. 4272.

For more information about Thurston Thrives, go to www.thurstonthrives.org

For crisis intervention, resources or referrals, contact The Crisis Clinic at (360) 586-2800 or 1(800) 627-2211, 24 hours a day. A list of community resources is available at www.crisis-clinic.org.

The National Suicide Hotline is 1 (800) 273-TALK. Veterans, press 1


Above:  Walkers at Capitol Lake in downtown Olympia on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Madrone Announces Olympia City Council Race



Above: Dani Madrone, 35, of Olympia, announced her candidacy for Olympia City Council, Position 3 on Saturday. Little Hollywood interviewed Madrone on issues of homelessness, affordable housing, sea level rise, and neighborhoods.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Dani Madrone, 35, of Olympia, announced her candidacy for Olympia City Council, Position 3 on Saturday.

The position is an open seat because Councilmember Nathaniel Jones, who currently occupies that position, is running for the seat currently held by Mayor Cheryl Selby. Selby is running for reelection.

Madrone, a resident of Olympia since 2004, studied science, sustainability, and public policy at The Evergreen State College. She received her master’s in public administration in 2016 and works for the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

Madrone met with Little Hollywood in downtown Olympia Saturday to discuss her candidacy and the issues of homelessness, affordable housing, sea level rise, and neighborhoods.

She says Olympia faces big decisions on the environment, including climate change, and the health of Puget Sound. She wants to incorporate environmental priorities into all areas of city government with decisions based on science.

Above: The city-sanctioned homeless mitigation site located on the corner of Olympia Avenue and Franklin Street Saturday morning in downtown Olympia.

Beginning our walking interview at the city-sanctioned homeless mitigation site located on the corner of Olympia Avenue and Franklin Street, Madrone acknowledged that homelessness in Olympia is in crisis mode.

She says she recognizes that social service providers are overwhelmed, potential shoppers are afraid to go downtown, and local businesses are losing customers.

“I love downtown. I feel safe, but I don’t want to tell other people what feels safe for them. There’s a lot of tension downtown and at this point, it takes a lot of courage for businesses to step up and say, ‘This isn’t working for me.’ The conversations just aren’t very good right now.

“I’m hoping to be a bridge builder and to listen to people and say, ‘OK, what does it look like when we’re succeeding?’ and develop a crisis management plan around that. This is a big issue and it’s going to be tense for a while.

“We need a clear problem statement. We need to know if the mitigation site is working, for example. It’s a big community conversation that needs to happen between folks who are homeless, businesses in the area, service providers, and city staff to come up with a shared vision of success. Otherwise, we don’t know if we’re heading there.”

Asked about the mitigation site, Madrone said that it is a good first step but needs to lead to something more permanent. She says she thinks of it as Olympia setting the table, but wonders how the city is going to make sure all are fed and healthy in the long run.

“What comes after this? This is obviously not a sustainable solution. We don’t want people living outside on pallets in tents. It’s not the end-game. That’s the piece I’m not seeing yet and that’s the part I’d like to help bring around – a long term crisis management plan,” she said.

Asked about funding, Madrone said the Home Fund is an important piece of the funding puzzle.

“I’d say by the time the Home Fund was already approved by the voters, it was not enough. We have a growing problem, a problem that is becoming increasingly visible. The city does need more help from the county, state, and federal government.

“We have to ask ourselves, are we putting our resources where they need to go? Do we know at what point we can declare that something is not working so we can free up those resources and put them toward the things that we know are working?”

Housing Options

Madrone has lived in a variety of rental situations in Olympia and has had to leave housing because the rent was suddenly raised so high she couldn’t afford it. She’s also lived in places where the landlord really cared about her situation. 

Madrone says her rent was not raised for four years because her landlord knew she was struggling. She is now a homeowner in the northwest neighborhood where she lives with her young daughter.

Madrone was active in the recent “Missing Middle” housing conversation and sees a need for more diverse housing options throughout the city. She says she will explore renter protections and the barriers created by short-term vacation rentals and long term vacancies.

“The Missing Middle conversation is a big, complicated issue. Calculations from the city say that 1,000 more housing units across the city could be built over the next 20 years due to the recent passage of the ordinance.

“It’s a very small piece of what’s needed. In terms of what’s next, we really need a lot more multi-family housing in the density nodes: downtown, over by Capital Mall, the Eastside, and the high-density corridors. We have to figure out why those aren’t being built.”

Above: Dani Madrone walks along Percival Landing near the childrens playground where soft-armoring of the shoreline with native plants help control flooding.

Sea Level Rise

Another issue facing Olympia is the threat of sea level rise. Discussing the city’s draft sea level rise plans, Madrone says that floodable landscapes are mentioned but not incorporated into the plan.

“I really think the city should be looking at places downtown that will allow flood water to come in and become the receptacle for flood water until everything subsides.

“There are opportunities to take underutilized parking lots and turn them into a park-like area so when it floods, you can direct the water into those areas to contain it. 
There’s a lot of planning to protect downtown from flooding but not enough planning for where that water is going to go if we can’t handle it.

“I would like to see us have a range of flood barrier options to choose from for downtown….We don’t have any options that suggest that we only protect part of downtown. What would it look like if we were to retreat from downtown? Let’s put it out there on the table.”

Little Hollywood asked Madrone if she was suggesting that retreat still be considered as an option and if she was in agreement with the city’s sea level rise plans. 

The city is committed to saving downtown and all its assets, such as the regional LOTT water/wastewater facility.

“Not 100 percent,” responded Madrone. “I think their direction is fine if we only get two to three feet of sea level rise, but if we end up on the higher end of the projections, I think we’re underestimating the issue….

“I don’t think a complete retreat from downtown at this point is realistic, but we might start talking about what it looks like to put new housing over in that direction (Madrone points southwest across Capitol Lake).

“The less we have to protect in the areas most likely to flood the better. What does the community conversation look like in terms of what parts of our downtown is most important to protect? What is the phased approach?

Finally, Little Hollywood asked Madrone if there were any issues she needed to learn more about.

“I could stand to learn more about almost every issue. I would hope everyone would say that. I would love to hear more from businesses throughout Olympia about their experiences and what their needs are,” she said. 

Madrone said she would also like to hear from neighborhoods and their issues. 

“Neighborhood associations are run by dedicated volunteers with limited time and energy. Their issues need to be kept on the city’s radar,” she said.

“I’m going to learn a lot in the next year. One of the biggest challenges I see is how much people talk past each other. I want to be someone who can help with seeing our shared interests and help bring people together a bit more. It’s part of the national politics right now for everything to be so divided and I just feel like we can do better locally,” said Madrone.

Madrone has already received endorsements from some elected officials and community members.

The filing deadline for council races is in May.