indi, and Love Conquers All
Some of us are just bent a little bit differently by the wind, prefer a thing be done our own way, and are convinced we've done it better than those who have gone before us.
Western pioneers honed their senses and their skills in this frontier country; others after them carved it into a home. Strong willed and sturdy, the people of the Pacific Northwest are sharp, well-informed, intelligent people that demand a certain standard of quality be met if your new business is to survive here.
Consider Aj at Valhalla Coffee: He was the first one bold enough and able enough to craft a coffee better than the big boys. Had he not purchased his roasting equipment from his old employer, ventured out on his own, created coffee in small batch blends in his uniquely Aj way, most of us would still think bold brews meant burnt bitter beans, and in all likelihood we would not have been introduced to the tastes of Bluebeard's or Madrona's own coffee roasts either - our palates would not have been ready for them.
Tobin at the Mad Hat (a tea company) years ago heard a voice say, 'Tea,' and that was the start of his journey - our journey. Because without him and his (remarkable) partner Maureen McHugh, most of us would still think tea was dust in tea bags, and we would have little frame of reference and no other local place to go for medicinal blends to get us through our sore throats, colds, pregnancies and other trials.
I have chosen examples from our coffee (and tea) communities, but just as many examples abound in every category of our lives, from food to clothing to film, automotive to housing and body care. Permeating our lives, everywhere we go, are the effects in our atmosphere of those with the hybris to follow their great passion, the boldness to follow their heart and courage to listen to their own intuition.
This I call 'indi' class and culture - we do it better who love it more. And life becomes better here.
As one myself, I am dedicated to presenting those kinds of others introducing us all to the better life experience. More beneficial, more ultimately valuable, more sensual, more meaningful and significant, their contributions to our Town cannot be over-stated: Daily these businesses over-achieve their relative industry standard, creating better experiences for those of us aware enough to notice.
Supporting one of us supports us all - money spent here stays here. So venture onto the path of the High Romantic - taste passion; know love; experience what life is made of.
For us - the neighborhood small communities of independent families - your contributions to our lives truly matter.
So come ! Into the Garden - get water to our community roots and be refreshed yourself. No cold-hearted corporate chain compares, and our lives will be better - so will your experience be, and you'll enjoy sharing your discoveries with others.
Experience Destiny - We're happy you're here.
Culture & Grounds 4 Consideration
World Class Jazz was a Friday evening way of life that brought accomplished musicians the world over right to downtown Tacoma. Venue contracts in major cities like Seattle require that when bigger name acts come to town, considerations be made for the hosting venue: Artists are prohibited from playing anywhere else for weeks within a certain miles-wide radius. So bands and musicians with gigs in Seattle are often prohibited from playing in Tacoma - we're too close to Seattle, so our city's music community gets the shaft.
Well, Tacoma's independent music culture has a very long history of advocating and facilitating the independent voice, and Grounds for Coffee was perhaps our previous generation's last institution for doing so downtown.
Located at the busiest intersection downtown (where the Broadway Tully's now resides), Grounds for Coffee developed a platform that circumvented Seattle's contractual prohibitions against musicians playing in Tacoma, and facilitated sharing their music with us:
Every Friday night, for years running, the unassuming independent coffee shop held a jazz musicians' open mic. Unlike what I call 'white boy open mics,' these sessions were absolutely rare, one-of-a-kind collaborations of artists that loved the music more than they loved their names, who played with abandon in the presence of and on stage with strangers, and who exulted in open defiance of what many consider an industrial regression of a music culture's social status quo. Because many of them were on their way to or from gigs up north - and under contract not to play here, many played under assumed names, or gave no name at all.
The results were evenings that can only be described as a peculiar kind of magic:
Not one person or group held precedence onstage. Instead, groups of musicians created a consistently changing orchestral sound that altered as jazz does alter, but remained recognizable as fellow musicians changed place with others: Only very rarely would the whole stage of artists be replaced.
Instead, the music would continue as minor instruments were changed out in twos and threes, allowing other musicians opportunities for solos or duets. Major musical components like drums or piano switched players at irregular intervals, which made for a more substantial alteration of the musical atmosphere. Often a new pianist or drummer would start solo, always the music would change, though undercurrents also stayed the same.
None of us has experienced such an evening since, not here.
Where did it go, and why? Rumor goes (and rumor has it unanimous among us) that the current tenant - T___ the Bully - ran a demographics study and determined that the Grounds for Coffee building would make a small fortune for them: So they offered the landlord close to double rents once the smaller independent coffee house's lease was up. And there away went jazz.
You see, local independent shops bring more value to our landscape than a dollar - they allow us space to express ideas bigger corporations regard as liabilities. But there is no price on the experience of live music, for example, no fiduciary compensation for its loss in our lives, no way to account for the ramifications of its absence in a spreadsheet or accounting table.
There is only a silence for our ears that once did hear, and understanding amongst us all that ramifications beyond a dollar bare upon our lives a cost that cannot be returned in coin.
a request I make on behalf of this culture we love:
While here, Mind Your Coin.
Our coffee tastes better anyway, and music is good for life.
We celebrate the music at the root of our culture every Autumn Season in the Lumins Festivus. To learn more about music in Tacoma, go here - to learn about Tacoma's Festivus, follow us here.
What I Did About It
Why the Guide?
Me & Hybris
What You Can Do