In summer 2018, I was contacted by a reporter from the Washington Post, who wanted to write an article about my hometown. I’m the founder and publisher of the leading regional arts and culture publication OLY ARTS, so I was happy to lend my expertise to her story.
We ended up spending some time together in Olympia as I showed her the sites, introduced her to local business owners and demonstrated the goodwill that is part and parcel of the Pacific Northwest experience.
It was a nice surprise to see myself quoted in the eventual story in the Washington Post, which appeared in September 2018.
Here are some brief excerpts:
In the Pacific Northwest, a capital city that long has marched to the beat of its own drum manages to maintain its groove amid plenty of changes. By Andrea Sachs Sept. 12, 2018
A few miles outside Olympia, Wash., I passed the Sleater-Kinney Road exit and, in my excitement at seeing riot grrrls history, completely forgot the band’s origins. According to my revisionist version, civic leaders renamed the street in honor of Sleater-Kinney, the feminist punk group that Carrie “Portlandia” Brownstein and Corin Tucker formed in the 1990s while living in the capital city. Once in town (specifically, at a ceramics class with craft beer), a local reminded me about the actual order of events: The musicians named the trio after the sign, not vice versa. But the truth didn’t shake my faith in Oly pride, which bubbles up like the artesian well water that has been slaking Olympian thirsts for centuries. “Keep Portland in Portland. Keep Seattle in Seattle,” said Ned Hayes, founder of Oly Arts, a cultural publication. “We want to do our own thing.”
“Twenty years ago, downtown was grunge,” said Hayes, the Oly Arts founder, “and not just in terms of music.” Over the years, the grit of the Olympia Downtown Historic District has receded, with independent retailers and inventive restaurateurs stepping in with, say, Betty Boop-meets-Holly-Golightly threads (Hot Toddy) and vegan Mexican brunch (Hart’s Mesa). The area supports four theaters; three bookstores, including 80-year-old Browsers; two kid-approved museums that parents can enjoy without their dependents; one cider distillery with a “teeny-tiny taproom”; three chocolate shops; and four breweries. If you like to opine on coffee or art, you should attend a public cupping (or tasting) at Olympia Coffee Roasting or vote for your favorite sculpture on Percival Landing. The winner will earn a permanent pedestal in the city.