RR Anderson, DIY Cultural Arts Specialist

May. 20, 2013 at 9:14am


City of Neighborhoods 2013 Event

Brief writeup of my experience on the walking tour with Tacoma City Councilmember David Boe as best as I can remember it.

NOT Pictured in this tour: Tollefson Plaza Triangle Square.


City of Neighborhoods 2013 Workshop Hour!

here are some cool shots of the location where the event (see example kevin's fun slideshow on the history of frost park) was held--in the old historic downtown Tacoma hall of justice / post office. Word is investors who bought the building for a steal are going to make it into a hub of arts and culture community center with tiny shops, schools and meeting spaces!

Begin tour through fireman's park (brisk walk past the totem pole).

Boe: "what I'm going to show you bro, will blow your mind."

Boe: "Pacific Avenue was one of the grandest of the grand avenues. WIDE across for events. You could stand here and see all of Commencement Bay from the street and these buildings. Now you get to look at the overpass."

Pacific "grand" Avenue being constricted with rain gardens and street trees (note state of crosswalks).

onward to the Spanish Steps!

Question from audience "What is happening with Elks?" 

Boe: "We think all the federal sequester shit is tying up all the federal grants/credits stuff. Everybody is just waiting. McMenamins is THE BIG HOPE. We hope that when McMenamins happens, it puts development pressure on the lame parking lot (left), the falling-apart Old City Hall (because it is unheated the faces of the bricks are popping off) and surrounding dead buildings."

Boe: "the small forest growing at the top of the steps here, and the redundant potted trees are here because of the fucking moron drunk drivers who like to drive down the steps"

I ask about the status monkey puzzle tree....

Boe: "The monkey puzzle tree is still here [motions to monkey puzzle] and looking terrible."

Boe: "Check this out, a rarity in the City of Desitny... this is a narrow alleyway like they have all over European countries. You do not see these here...  no god damn cars can fit through..  just people"


Boe: "Something very exciting is happening here.  All these little shops are being filled! Local Improvement District"

Tiny goddess of commerce garden...

Boe: "You may have heard something on the internets about the DIY crosswalks the city had to grind off.  Yes it was super lame, but they had to do it because of ADA laws.  that little traffic island out there has no wheelchair access... or those textured orange landing strips.. you need those to be ADA compliant. If a new crosswalk appears without those bloody expensive things then the city can be sued and stuff."

Now the crosswalks look like a real Tacoma crosswalk!

Boe: "Broadway LID was nice but there were lots of goofy decisions made.  like this park... what is up with this park? Does anyone sit here ever?  Look I'm going to sit in it."

Boe: "Another thing, look at all these trees/bushes. Most of the plants around the crosswalks block the pedestrian from view of the autos.  And if you ride your bike up St. Helens, it dumps you into this busy street."

Boe: "I stand here and cars cant see me till I jump out to cross the street"

Boe: "this little park is nice, they were going to put garbage compactors here but folks protested. I see this park as a staging area for protests/rally during council meetings."


Boe: "Another pocket park built sometime in the 70's.  It is special because it gets about 20 minutes of sunlight per day. They built an Aztec altar in the middle for human sacrifices. But most of the time is a dead space." 

Boe: "I think of this intersection as the center of downtown."

Boe: "Example of typical alleyway in Tacoma.  HUGE! you can fit an 18 wheeler down here. But I like this one because you can stand here and imagine yourself in Chicago or something."

Wells Fargo building plaza mentioned. Not as much of a success as other plazas due to surrounding parking garages.

see you next year!

comments [5]  |  posted under david boe, downtown, tacoma, urbanist, walking tour


by NineInchNachos on 5/20/2013 @ 11:36am
not pictured: that goofy transit center fountain/park that they wanted to run light rail up the hill through.

by KevinFreitas on 5/20/2013 @ 12:00pm
Great recap and thanks for the photo tour! Sad the Elks McMenamin's still isn't really happening but huge credit to Pacific Brewing folks working right now to put their brewery and distillery just a block down in the Old City Hall annex building! Now that's progress you can drink to!

by NineInchNachos on 5/20/2013 @ 12:13pm
one of these days it will happen!

by NineInchNachos on 5/20/2013 @ 2:54pm
RANDOM NOTES from City of Neighborhoods Jim Dier Keynote:

  • crisis in Chinese is 'danger opportunity'
  • "wherever there is a problem, community is the answer"
  • street trees
  • community garden score board
  • cement furniture
  • undrivers license for the 'shuffle bus'
  • police vs. neighbors just looking out for each other
  • Know your neighbors / find the others
  • create the spark to give people "confidence to come out of their homes"
  • dance-o-mat coin operated laundry machine / iphone hack
  • pedal powered drive in movie theater for bikes
  • top down vs. bottom up, it's all bottom up
  • unify/organize all churches to fight poverty
  • smiles per hour zones
  • democracy in crisis (need to get people back from apathy)
  • map your strengths as a community, not just problems
  • ARTIST REPUBLIC OF FREEMONT (rocket aimed at city hall story)
  • types of engagement: customer service vs. citizen participation vs. citizen empowerment
  • MEANWHILE IN SEATTLE:  department of neighborhoods.... 
  • success stories:  1. Fremont troll 2. Lenin statue 3. mile long pollinator causeway corridor
  • "Shakespeare on the Troll"  
  • "Lenin in Drag"
  • Matching Funds
  • Neighborhood budgeting
  • Volunteer public art
  • young city planners
  • Front Yard Parks
  • Volunteer community center child care
  • murals
  • community led development
  • food co-op
  • time bank
  • shipping container pub
  • dinosaur sauna
  • scarecrow festival
  • skate park
  • soldier support center
  • urban garage sale
  • goddess of commerce
  • painted crosswalks
  • go local / shift happens
  • Frost Park Chalk Off
  • Graffiti Knitting
  • Hilltopia: Parks, Murals, Gardens
  • Central Tacoma Free-Radical Media Exchange (little free library movement)
  • PAUL SPARKS: "1. Find the center of your neighborhood. 2. Map the BUMPING SPOTS. 3. Map the patterns of life in context of the center."
  • shape shifting, pattern exchange
  • CITY CONCERN: public access, noise, safety, competing uses.
  • #cityofneighborhoods
  • link fucked up from the beginning... moved from Pacific to Commerce because of "BUS PEOPLE"
  • What is special about your community?
  • local currency?
  • gifts of individuals, asset-based, community driven
  • Schools: open them at nights, make community centers
  • "Virtual Community Warehouse"
  • needs vs. strengths
  • swings
  • benches
  • multicultural feeds
  • raffle prizes
  • good entertainment
  • give cameras to kids "what do you like?"
  • "when people care enough to act"
  • hilltop tool library
  • visualize the government as yourself.

by NineInchNachos on 5/20/2013 @ 8:54pm
Mr. Boe had some thoughts on Gentrification as well.   He fully expects when the link expansion, LID improvements and new developments in Elks, Old City Hall etc. happen his Architecture firm rent will rise from $18sqft to maybe $20sqft.. and his business will be forced off Pac Ave further up the hill... maybe to hilltop.   "It's just what happens. Natural way of things."


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RR Anderson is one of the most curious characters in the UFO lore and the history of underground cartooning. He fought bizarre underground beings in the caves of Alaska, was wounded by a laser before it was invented, and had a background with the clandestine branch of the Tacoma Cartoonists Society.

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