Hella Bus Blog
Your place for all things Buslandia!
-courtesy of summer fellow Jordan "Ain't I a Woman" Alam
Candidates, VoteBots, and boxing – oh my! This Wednesday, The Washington Bus put on a candidate forum at Neumos that shook Capitol Hill to its core. 500 people crowded into Neumos to watch hear a healthy dose of policy positions and see the unbelievable talents of all thirteen Seattle city council candidates as well. Here’s a play by play:
The lights dimmed and the music faded as the thirteen candidates came out in true fighting spirit
– wearing signature bathrobes and boxing gloves, they recited introductory haikus with a fiery
passion. Well, all except for Bruce Harrell, whose oiled cardboard cutout and personal assistant
stood in for him until his arrival later on.
Then commenced the question-and-answer lightening round, when candidates sprinted across the stage to answer “yes” or “no” to such burning questions as "Do you support gay marriage?" (all candidates said yes), "Do you support the legalization and regulation of marijuana?" (all candidates said yes), and “Have you ever skinny dipped in Lake Washington?” (Jean Godden, you rascal, you). With VoteBots manning the signage, the candidates then gave a grade A through F of several different aspects of our city, including Mike McGinn’s performance as mayor and Seattle's fashion sense.
Next, candidates answered tough policy questions from the Bus's unstoppable panel of local celebrities before performing a talent for the audience. And now, a brief summary of talents:
Bout 1: Dale Pusey, looking sharp in his bathrobe, performed a gospel tune accompanied by a guitar player dressed as a banana to complete with Tom Rasmussen’s cruise-appropriate dance moves. Via text-message vote, Tom Rasmussen took home the belt to a steady roar of cheers.
Bout 2: Many a Top 40 cover was performed, including a version of a Lady Gaga song in
Japanese by Brad Meacham. Meacham was up to bat against Bruce Harrell, who performed a
speech from The Godfather, albeit not as succinctly as he should have – his two minutes were
buzzed after just the opening lines.
Bout 3: Yet another song and dance routine – David Schraer sang a ballad to the audience, while Tim
Burgess broke loose with a rap game no one could have expected from him. Needless to say, the audience-engaging Tim Burgess took home the belt.
Bout 4: Ah, poetry. Sweet to the ear and tickling to the mind. Unfortunately, Dian Ferguson’s
poetry reading in this bout just could not match up to Sally Clark’s swan-folding out of foil and
leftovers, leaving Dian behind in this championship fight.
Bout 5: The granddaddy of them all: Bobby Forch stepped out of the gate strong by serving up
some cookies to the audience, followed by Maurice Classen, who ducked a basketball in a kiddie hoop. Michael Taylor-Judd left the crowd in stitches with an e-Harmony spoof. And, in possibly the most surreal moment of the night, Jean Godden explained to the rules and regulations of sexting. Yes, you read that right - sexting. Taylor-Judd and Forch tied for winner in this epic final bout.
And then the room exploded into candy and applause. Until the next star-studded Seattle City Council election, good night and good luck.
Scenario: Your ballot is on your living room table, looming menacingly. The array of heated primary races, referendi (plural), and antiquated language has you in a tizzy.
Well worry not! The good people at Seattle Works have an evening prepared that shall ease your worries with a stiff drink and a warm democratic embrace. That is: a toast to the primary!.
They'll be convening after the CityClub's forum about the Alaskan Way Viaduct (which you may want to attend ahead of time), alongside the panelists from the forum and city council candidates at Fado, downtown. More info and RSVP here.
A recent major study claims that a decline in Union membership over the past few decades is partially responsible for rising gaps in hourly wages among almost all demographics. The study, authored by two professors from Harvard and the University of Washington, emphasizes the job of unions as an equalizer in the workforce.
Between 1973 and 2007, union membership among men decreased fourfold, while membership among women decreased by a factor of three; during the same period, wage inequality increased by 40-50%. The study says that the union decline was responsible for between 1/5 and 1/3 of this rise.
“Most researchers studying wage inequality have focused on the effects of educational stratification—pay differences based on level of education—and have generally under-emphasized the impact of unions,” says Harvard professor Bruce Western.
The decline of union membership was found to be responsible for wage inequalities even among employees who are not unionized, as unions tend to drive overall wages up as a result of market competition.
The study seems to confirm common sense; giving employees more bargaining power leads to better wages and benefits, helping to narrow the gap between workers and their employers . So let's take a second to silently (or loudly) celebrate the unions that are still kicking today.
The Washington Bus is unstoppable force, we have taken on Capitol Hill Block Party, Candidate Survivor, and all manner of Seattle Events with our Pledge To Vote campaign. Whats next? Doesn't matter cause the Bus is unstoppable. This video is proof.
The week was oh-so busy in Bus world, and the weekend was oh-so sunny. Which means it's time to sit back, relax, and think about a light, airy, and, yes, stretchable and breathable subject.* Specifically, spandex. And bike gear in general.
On a scale of one to who-needs-it, Dansportation falls firmly on the who-needs-it end of the spectrum.
Bike gear makes biking less accessible and more elitist. It's also just plain not necessary for most people. It might even hurt the biking cause.
On Bike to Work day, I was perplexed to see a comment (allll the way back in May--this has stuck with me) remarking on the number of bikers in "normal clothes" on the street. I believe the (admittedly, well intentioned) thought behind the comment was that riders in their everyday clothes are biking noobs. Surely, serious bikers, people who bike every day all wear spandex! But really, jeans do just fine for commuting. Extra gear just adds extra expense. And it fosters an elitist, in-crowd attitude around biking.
We are privileged to live in a time when the cheaper, cleaner and healthier transportation option is, dare I say it, cool. And the cooler something gets, the more people who'll do it (this concept may sound familiar to those involved with the WA Bus). Cycling is busting into the mainstream, and wearing your everyday styles, and just plain looking good while biking is a big part of that. And, on the real, even if that d-bag hipster's fixy is just a fashion accessory, at least he's biking.
Here's the larger point in liberating cycling from the spandex subculture, eloquently stated by the godfathers of cycle chic over in Copenhagen--"When Citizen Cyclists are allowed to take to the bicycle without worrying about 'fitting in' with the fancy bikes, expensive clothes, gear and helmets of a cycling sub-culture, mainstream bicycle culture is provided with fertile soil."
We've know for a minute now that more cyclists on the road increase cycling safety --a cycling safety snowball effect. The safer it is, the more people who'll ride, which makes it even safer, etc, ad nauseum (hopefully!).
Maybe we'll see a cycle chic snowball effect too?
*Although, I'd be remiss if I didn't remind you that there are serious transpo issues out there too--the county council has put off a vote on the $20 license fee to save metro until August 15. Which brings me to my next brilliant idea--bus chic to save King County Metro?
The future, it drifts tantalizingly before us like a Krispy Kreme at the end of a mammoth Red Vine soaked in log cabin syrup. It looks enticing, but you know that taking on the whole thing by yourself will give you a stomach ache. That's why the Seattle Department of Planning and Development wants to hear all y'alls voices when it comes to planning the next 20 years of Seattle development. To get the ball rolling, they've got a survey asking for your ideas on how to move the city forward. Take a peek and throw down some wisdom. Increasing urban density? More low-income housing? Personalized gold-encrusted gondolas? Let the folks making it happen know what you want to see.
-courtesy of summer fellow Alec "Fridge Mover to the Stars" Stannard
Culture is life and politics is the dialogue.
Politics needs effective communication - to put it simply, what we say matters. And as progressives, it's important that we study concepts to help us better understand our positions and better explain ourselves.
At the Bus, we often ask, “How can take the facts of people's everyday lives and talk about them in a meaningful way?” Well, it turns out that there is a field of study devoted to answering these questions. Cognitive linguistics seeks to understand and explain the use of language for expressing worldviews. Today one of the leading cognitive linguists is Professor George Lakoff of UC Berkley, who focuses especially on the metaphors our country uses to discuss politics.
Professor Lakeoff has written several books, including New York Times Best Seller The Political Mind. To learn more about him and his field studies, you can check out his website at http://georgelakoff.com. He may change the way you think about your own brain.
After an exciting weekend at Block Party, Gabe’s Picks is back to our regularly scheduled programming. This week we have a local hero (Prometheus Brown aka Geo) and one of the most critically acclaimed MC’s in the underground hip hop circuit (Bambu of the Native Guns) teaming up to create one of the best albums of the summer.
Both Prometheus and Bambu have been stalwarts in the West Coast hip hop scene for years, and often touch on the same subjects in their music. The two have now teamed up to create one of the most formidable lyrical duos in hip hop. Touching a number of subjects from lighthearted love ballads (“Rashida Jones”) to political unrest (“Fuck Dog The Bounty Hunter”), Walk Into A Bar highlights both artists' signature styles, but also brings out a lighter side in both (we saw a little of that Blue Scholar’s last effort).
With help on the production side from the likes of locals Budo (“Rashida Jones”, Sabzi (“Slow Down Yavash Remix) and Vitamin D, (“National Treasue” the beats were sure to be fresh, but relative unknowns like Fatgums (“Looking Up”) and Osna (“Fuck Dog The Bounty Hunter”) both created stand out backdrops for Bambu and Prometheus to spit over.
Walk Into A Bar is a surprisingly complete album from two artists that often lack the diversity to make music that appeals beyond their target demographic. The album is both lighthearted summer BBQ companion and heavy hitting social commentary in one cohesive bundle and easily ranks among both artists best efforts. You can buy the album in physical or digital form at the Beatrock Bandcamp page.
If you're like me, a Seattlite who thinks they know every nook and cranny of the city, and pride yourself on knowing the most obscure hole in the wall joints, a new website may give you reason to think again. Only In Seattle is a campaign run by the city's Office for Economic Development trying to support local businesses. A large part of their campaign functions on their sleek website, onlyinseattle.org (not to be confused with onlyinseattle.com, a dude's blog about living in Seattle, including a post titled "Seattle paralyzed by lack of common sense"), which details the vibe and feel of the various Seattle neighborhoods. A new neighborhood is presented weekly, featuring what they like to call the neighborhood's "hidden gems" of these neighborhoods. Many of the businesses featured on the site have by around for decades and are owned by native Seattlites. They range from restaurants to furniture stores to galleries. Initially starting with five of the lesser known or explored, but very much the up-and-coming neighborhoods of the city including Ballard, Columbia City, Georgetown, Rainier Valley and West Seattle, in the next couple months they will be featuring more neighborhoods including Cap Hill, the ID and Belltown. Despite the cliched name, the campaign features some really great finds that even maybe the most diehard Seattlite might not know about yet.
Candidate Survivor! What a night. I think it's best if we just let the pictures do the talking:
Over 500 people in attendance (by latest count). To a city council candidate forum. Seriously.
Overflow to the balcony.
Toby, laying the groundwork for the night AND looking dapper. Multi-tasking.
The candidates take the stage.
Panelists extraordinaire Dominic Holden, Sarah Cherin, and Larry Mizell Jr. bring the funny.
Jean: feeling sassy. Bruce: looming.
And the human Bruce Harrell arrives just in time!
The godfather, city-council style.
Sally "one swan per minute" Clark.
Commanding victory for Sally Clark!
Tim Burgess brings down the house with a council-themed Wiz Khalifa remix. Seriously amazing.
That just happened.
The vibes were oh so good!
Wise words from Jean Godden.
Quasi-cookie baking from Bobby Forch.
Text message voting.
The co-winners of the final bout, Bobby Forch and Michael Taylor-Judd!
Nicole Keenan, the architect of the whole night, gets some well deserved love.
Thank you so much to everyone who made this amazing night possible including Neumos for the space and set-up, event sponsors Seattle Works, NARAL, the Stranger, and Rock the Vote, our hilarious panelists, the candidates, and of course, you (!), the good people that packed the house and made this an incredible moment in the history of Seattle politics. Thank you!!!
-courtesy of summer fellow Hannah "No Edits" Dean
You guys, do you remember when health care reform passed? Way back in March of 2010? It was sort of a big deal! Just in case your memory has gotten a little foggy, allow me to remind you -- after an arduous battle in Congress, President Obama signed a bill overhauling the current healthcare system in the United States. Shortly afterwards, everyone got insurance, rainbows appeared in the sky, and everyone got free lollipops!
Okay, that last sentence may have been a slight exaggeration. Unfortunately the "universal lollipops" provision of the bill was written out of the final draft. But never fear, here's some awesome news related to health care reform to brighten your day where rainbows and lollipops may have been absent; on Tuesday, a report submitted by the Institute of of Medicine (IOM) recommended that all insurers be required to cover contraceptives for women without copays. Read that again, ladies -- no co-pays for birth control! Under the new health care law, insurers are required to cover the cost of "preventative health services." Given that birth control reduces both the number of unintended pregnancies and the number of abortions in the world the IOM is suggesting that women should not be forced to pay for these services.
Of course, the Department of Health and Human Services need to act on these suggestions in order for free birth control to become a reality. Organizations like Planned Parenthood have been championing this idea for many years, and although it remains to be seen whether the panel's suggestions are enacted, the news still serves as a victory for the reproductive rights movement.
For more information, check out this fantastic New York Times article.
Unlike the first two days at Block Party, Sunday was not nearly as hip hop/electronic centered, instead opting for a more experimental, alt-rock lineup. While the early day lineup wasn’t exactly to my liking, I was still intrigued to see a few of the most talked about live bands around.
The first of those groups, Battles were definitely the loudest show of the weekend, and brought an interesting, although not incredibly clear or danceable set. My highlight was experimental rock group Explosions In The Sky. I enjoy EITS’s recorded music but it can also get fairly repetitive and can become background music pretty easily. Their live set easily eliminates both of those problems and is as clean and beautiful as each of their albums. As the sun set behind the band with the best name in the country, each member brought an energy and focus to a set that is one of the best I have ever seen.
Did you know that if the U.S.'s debt was stacked in hundred dollar bills it would be as long as two football fields and as high as the Statue of Liberty? Or that residents of Plano, Texas on average spend 2.33 times more on fast food than the rest of the nation. Probably not. And I don't blame you. There is a world of statistics out there and sometimes it's tricky to pull the informative and telling ones out of the masses. The sheer numbers make this a seemingly daunting and mundane task, I know, so I'm here to break down and present some interesting numbers on civic engagement.
Fortunately for me, CIRCLE, an organization that does innovative research in civic and political engagement in the U.S. Their website is chalk full of interesting statistics and numbers, however the part that I found to be most interesting was their research on voting trends in terms of race and ethnicity. Their research found that in the 2008 presidential election, African American youth (age 18-29) voted at a higher percentage than white youth. 58% of African American youth turned out as compared toonly 52% of white youth. While some may argue that this was caused by Barack Obama's candidacy, this trend continued into the 2010 elections. While 24.9% of white youth voted, 27.5% of African American youth did so. They also pointed out that this is the largest recorded decline in white youth voter turnout - going from 28% in 2006 to 24.9% in 2010.
In discussing and analyzing African American youth's civic and political engagement CIRCLE concluded, "African-American youth are the most politically engaged racial/ethnic group. Compared to other groups, African-Americans are the most likely to vote regularly, belong to groups involved with politics, donate money to candidates and parties, display buttons or signs, and contact the media."
Now let's bring it home and take a look at Washington state's own shifting demographics. Looking at the numbers in the 2010 Census, the changes in racial diversity proved most. The Census found that the state is becoming increasingly diverse, reporting that while less than one-third of adults in Washington are minorities, almost fifty percent of residents under the age of 18 are. It also found that in Seattle's surrounding cities including Bellevue, Kent, Renton and Federal Way the number of minorities has significantly increased, whereas Seattle has seen a 2 percent growth in the number of white children and a decrease in the number of African American, Asian American and American Indian children.
Looking at these numbers, it will be interesting and exciting to watch the change in the country's population and as a result, it's politics.