The town I grew up in, Olympia Washington, has a reputation for being just a bit, how shall I put this? Weird. Wild. Wacky.
The city is the state capitol, so there is that political side of things, that energy that drives the local economy.
Then there are two colleges, one of which is The Evergreen State College, a school that attracts some amazing people. There is a fine community college, and across town in the city of Lacey, there is Saint Martin’s University.
Many students who come here from out-of-town choose to stay in the area, and so we’ve become a place known for our high-energy arts and music scene, and our…interesting…downtown life.
Olympia is one of the most Vegan-Friendly cities you could ever want to go to, as nearly every small restaurant and cafe has at least one vegan offering and many have an entire SECTION of their menu that is devoted to vegan options.
Downtown is fun, crazy and most definitely a walk on the wild side, even on a Monday afternoon. When I am not on the road, I frequently drive up to Olympia and go to a local coffee-house called Batdorf and Bronson on Capitol way just to spend the day there, writing. I do this especially when I have come to a dead-end, because something about being in downtown Olympia inspires me when nothing else will.
The best parade of the year is called the Procession of The Species, and it is not just a parade, it is an event. In a time-honored tradition, people put their lawn chairs and camp stools out on the curb two days ahead of time, staking out their viewing places. The chairs will sit there, lining the curb like so many abandoned soldiers for two days prior to the parade and no one will steal them.
The parade itself is awesome.
From Wikipedia, the Fount of all Knowledge:
“Taking place during Olympia’s annual Spring Arts Walk, the Procession regularly draws 30,000 spectators and 2,000-3,000 participants.The celebration, now in its 17th year, is completely noncommercial, made possible by community contributions of money, materials, time, and skills. The Procession is produced by Earthbound Productions, a 501 C-3 organization, and currently does not benefit from any public funding from the city of Olympia. Seven weeks before the Procession, a community art studio is established. This studio is open to the public and a minimal donation is requested, but no one is ever turned away for lack of funds. As there is no permanent studio space available for the Procession, each year Earthbound Productions locates and rents a space to serve as the community art studio; ultimately, the group hopes to find a permanent location. The studio, staffed solely by volunteers, becomes a central location for art & music workshops and costume design. Participants use a wide range of artistic approaches, such as Batik, Papier Mache, and Luminaria. They use mostly donated or scavenged materials to express appreciation for the natural world and create their costumes, banners, floats, puppets, drumming, community bands, and more. During the event itself, bedecked in their costumes featuring the elements and various species of plants and animals, people of all ages join in the procession. The event itself has three ground rules: no live pets, no motorized vehicles, and no written words.
I have to say though, while the giraffe and the whales were awesome, the giant clam costume (the geoduck) at this year’s procession drew many…surprised…comments.
One of the fun activities happens 30 minutes ahead of the procession. Two wagons loaded with side-walk chalk pulled by volunteers make the journey along the entire parade route handing out chalk and the spectators then decorate the streets. Some amazing art happens. The wagons return to collect the chalk, leading the procession.
I don’t get direct inspiration from downtown as in “Oohh, write about this…” I just find it stirs my own already quite out-there mind and when the old brain can’t seem to pull up anything worth writing, the change of scenery does me good.
Alas, today I must hit the road once again, but inspiration travels with me this time. I think it will be a productive trip.