TACOMA: Celebrations, gardens, green policies and elections

By Zach Powers on April 18, 2011

LIFE IN THE 253 >>>

Community Events

There are few things the City of Tacoma enjoys more than commemorative celebrations. A new school, a second grand opening to a museum, or maybe even a new tree in Wright Park: if an argument can be made something makes the city a better place common practice is to make sure it receives a ceremony of some kind.

So true to form, a groundbreaking ceremony is being held Tuesday at 9 a.m. to commemorate the next phase of work on the Murray Morgan Bridge.

You read that right. We're not celebrating the bridge's actual reopening... only a new step of its rehabilitation.

BUT jokes aside, it should be a great opportunity to hear city officials speak on the bridge and the bright future of downtown Tacoma.

According to Mayor Strickland's January "State of the City" address, Tacoma will soon have the most community garden space per capita in the country (take that, Portland, Bellingham and Berkley!).

That's undeniably cool, but I'd wager I'm not the only person in town without a clue as to how to get involved in a community garden. I'd also wager I'm not the only person to lack basic gardening skills.

Next Saturday, Tacoma-Pierce County Community Garden Project and Cascade Land Conservatory are sponsoring the second annual Community Garden Summit. The free event will provide insight into how to grow food and how to get involved with a community garden. It's happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 23 at the Manitou Community Center (4806 S. 66th St., Tacoma). Children are welcome.

City Policy

This Tuesday the City Council will introduce two new sustainable policies, both designed to make sure the City of Tacoma leads by example as it encourages business and residents to live more sustainably. One policy will mandate City of Tacoma departments purchase more sustainable goods (light bulbs, paper, vehicles, etc). The other will make sure all new buildings, as well as the refurbishment of existing buildings, meet LEED or comparable standards. The full story is part the Volcano's special Green Issue this week.

Local Elections

Karen Smitherman, a Tacoma Public Schools teacher, officially announced her run for Tacoma City Council, Position 1 last week.

"I want to create an environment that listens to our constituents, increases local jobs, improves public safety, promotes transparency in government, improves transportation mobility, and creates effective policies that protect our environment," Smitherman said in press release issued by her campaign Friday.

In addition to professional experience teaching and directing educational programs, Smitherman has an impressive resume of community involvement, highlighted by her current work on the boards of the Tacoma Urban Network and Pierce County Juvenile Justice Coalition. The wife of former State Senator Bill Smitherman also has worked as a board member of the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts.

Tacoma City Council Position 1 is being vacated by Spiro Manthou who has served two terms - the maximum. Two other candidates have also filled for this seat, Joseph Atkinson, a real estate agent and legislative aide toState Rep. Katrina Asay (R), and Anders Ibsen, supervisor and vice-chair of Pierce Conservation District and also a legislative aide to State Rep. Cindy Ryu (D).

Expect more on this race in the coming months, as the battle for Position 1 may be the only Tacoma City Council seat of the three on the ballot this fall to be closely contested. Incumbents Ryan Mello and David Boe have yet to draw formidable opponents.