Category Archives: Tacoma stuff

What’s In A Name? (Or When Is A Border Agent Not A Border Agent?)

21055850_10209793927868757_994380700046984243_oEarlier this week, after quite a lot of drama, the environmental activist group Redline Tacoma announced that they would change their name in response to criticism over the term ‘Redline’ which has negative racial connotations. Names are important. One does not want to accidentally offend people. More importantly, one does not want to give off the wrong impression of what the company does…except when one does. The above photo was taken by City Councilman Marty Campbell this morning here in Tacoma. It’s a Dodge Charger with the letter BPS on the door. It clearly states that these letters stand for Border Protective Services.

Contrary to any implication from their name, Border Protective Services does not have anything whatsoever to do with border patrol, immigration, or federal authorities. They are a local private security firm. What’s interesting is if you plug in ‘Border Protective Services Tacoma’ into Google you will not find them. Whether this is due to bad search engine optimization or due to a purposeful attempt to hid who they are is unknown. It actually takes quite a bit of looking to find any information online about them at all, which lends credence to the idea that their hidden digital footprint is purposeful.

A search of Washington State companies shows that Border Protective Services was created February 21st of this year with an address in Spokane. One of the people involved in the company is listed as John Catterson. Catterson’s LinkedIn profile interestingly does not mention BPS. According to his profile he is a former special investigator for the United States Air Force and currently works as an independent contractor, a background investigator for the Spokane Police Department, and a Partner in Triple Lantern LLP. Triple Lantern has a LinkedIn profile, but the link to their official website leads to an empty page. The LinkedIn profile describes Triple Lantern as “Triple Lantern, a veteran owned small business is a full spectrum asset protection company structured to meet the investigative, assessment, education and protection needs of our clients. Founded upon the principle of relevant perspective, we strive to see the world through the eyes of our clients, and more importantly view your company through the eyes of your competitors.” It was founded in 2012.

The other man involved in both BPS and Triple Lantern is Derrick Aalderts. I was not able to find much of anything on Mr. Aalderts. He does not seem to have a LinkedIn or Facebook account under that name.

On ZipRecruiter.com there is a recently expired ad for a ‘Security Officers’ to work in ‘numerous locations throughout Thurston, Pierce, and King Counties starting at $13 an hour or just less than $2.00 an hour more than minimum wage. Requirements include no criminal history ‘that would prevent an applicant from obtaining an Armed Security License’*, two years of work history, a GED or High School diploma, a driver’s license, and an ability to work independently with minimum supervision. The ad also describes Border Protective Services using the exact same words used to describe Triple Lantern.

To put all of this into perspective there is a private security company with no known offices or online presence operating in Tacoma paying their armed employees $13 an hour to work at unspecified areas doing unspecified things wearing uniforms and driving cars that identify them as “Border Protective Services” operating with a bare minimum of supervision in a city that happens to have a for-profit prison that houses over 1,000 illegal immigrants.

Now before I go on there are a couple of other things I should mention. For the most part, private security companies and workers are a vital part of our society. Many of these men and women are highly trained military veterans with extensive exemplary records. I could find no complaints to the Better Business Bureau regarding BPS. I found no online reviews of the company anywhere I looked. As far as I am aware, BPS is a professional company providing professional services. Catterson’s background certainly sounds exactly like the sort of person one would want running a protective services company.

That said, the sketchy contact information, low pay, and deceptive name are significant red flags in my opinion. Like I said at the beginning of this article, names are important. Redline Tacoma recognized that and did something about it. I doubt that Border Protective Services will be changing their name any time soon. Then again, since they lack an online presence, when people go looking for them, they are likely to find this article which clearly states that they have absolutely nothing to do with the United States Government or immigration enforcement.

– Jack Cameron

* Washington State’s Armed Security License requires that you be 21, have a current firearms certificate issued by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, and get a fingerprint and background check.

UPDATE: I was able find the website for Border Protective Services. It does not have much more information than I’ve already shared.

 

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5 Question Friday With Tacoma Girls Rock Camp

Booyah

I was recently contacted by the good people at Tacoma Girls Rock Camp. They thought my readers would be interested in their program. I agreed. Here they are to tell you all about it.

1. What is Tacoma Girls Rock Camp?

Tacoma Girls Rock camp is a music education program for girl-identified youth. We are passionate about getting women involved in music and feel there’s a lot to learn in creative collaboration with others. The weeklong day camp provides group music lessons and the opportunity for each camper to play an integral part in the formation of a band and creation of an original song. Campers will also be exposed to workshops like: A History of Women in Music, Songwriting and Screen Printing. The program takes place from July 31st – August 5th, when the girls showcase all their hard work on stage for the community. (https://www.grctacoma.org/)

2. What is the background of the people putting on Tacoma Girls Rock Camp?

CasiCasi Brown: I grew up in the South Sound region playing the harp, obsessing about bands and taking 3 hour bus rides to to attend all-ages shows in Seattle. I was first introduced to the Girls Rock’n’Roll program in the summer of 2010 when I volunteered as a camp counselor with Rain City Rock Camp, where I fell in love with the program. I am passionate about building educated and empowered communities and see art and other creative endeavors as a great tool for positive social change. I organized Bellingham Girls Rock Camp as my senior project with Fairhaven College and am excited to be starting Tacoma Girls Rock Camp. We have a lot of great ideas and hope to become a central figure in the all-ages music community.

 

HarlieHarlie Jane Carter: Born and raised in Tacoma, I spent my high school years downtown at Tacoma School of the Arts, SOTA. This is where I first gained the confidence to express myself through many different art forms, from songwriting to photography. I went on to attend The Evergreen State College and discovered a passion for working with youth. I studied techniques for creative positive learning environments while working and interning within various elementary schools, including a year of service through AmeriCorps. I aim to to transform my love for music, this city, and education into a safe space for girls to step a little outside of the box and express themselves.

3. What should campers expect?

Campers should foremostly expect to have fun, form friendships and experience the challenges and rewards of creative collaboration. While our focus is music and the goal is to support campers in their band’s creation of an original song, we will offer other workshops like: screen printing, songwriting, a history of women in music – and are open to other ideas! We anticipate that most campers will come with no previous knowledge of music and leave having written, performed and recorded an original song.

4. How can people help Tacoma Girls Rock Camp?

If people like what we’re doing they can make a monetary donation,  lend us gear for the week of camp, or volunteer their time. All money will go to support the week of program, provide scholarships for campers and enable us to begin the nonprofit application process. All gear will enable us to instruct and empower the girls to form bands to write and perform an original song. In addition to instruments, we’ll need amps, microphones, microphone stands  guitar straps, chords, tuners… (https://www.grctacoma.org/instrument-donation/)

If you would like to volunteer your time we are looking for individuals take on full and part time roles like: camp counselor, band coach, roadie, instrument instructor, workshop leads, and morning rockstar. We are also offering high school specific volunteer opportunities for students ages 15-18. Positions include: stage design;  photography; design, marketing and social media management; audio recording. If you’re interested please check out this link (https://www.grctacoma.org/info/) or contact us with any questions at GRCTacoma@gmail.com

5. How can people sign up to be campers?

Registration is available for campers here (https://www.grctacoma.org/registration/). Interested youth should fill out the application with their parent or guardian and create a brief short story, comic strip or essay telling us why they want to be a part of our program and what their goals are for the week. The cost of camp is $350. However, we want everyone who want’s to be a part of the program to participate and will provide full and partial scholarships to make it affordable to everyone.

I would like to thank the people at Tacoma Girls Rock Camp for taking the time to join me for 5 Question Friday. Do you have a business, an event, a cause, or just a cool story you would like to share on 5 Question Friday? Contact me at jackcameronis@gmail.com

– Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday with Alex Fazekas-Boone from Wilder Outdoor Spaces

alexIt’s almost summer. After a long, wet winter and spring, I think most of us are more than ready to spend some time outside. Maybe do a little yard work or gardening. Maybe mow the lawn. But maybe you’re looking at your yard and thinking you want something more. Something beyond your capabilities. If you’re looking to step up your yard game, then you may want to call Alex Fazekas-Boone at Wilder Outdoor Spaces. Alex has decided to join me today for 5 Question Friday to tell you a bit about his business and how his is more than just a landscaping company.  Here’s Alex:


1. What is Wilder Outdoor Spaces?
Technically, you could call us a landscape company, but we don’t mow lawns, trim hedges or pull weeds. We construct creative outdoor spaces. We build custom fences, decks, walkways, patios, walls and just about anything else that our clients can think up.


2. What’s your background?
First and foremost, I’m a creative. I’ve played music, shot photography, painted things, filled books with drawings/words, built stuff and traveled A LOT. I’ve made money by working in landscaping and construction my whole life. For the last several years I was the lead builder at local landscape company based in Seattle.


3. What makes Wilder Outdoor Spaces different than most landscaping companies?
There are many things that make Wilder different. The first is that I am the one who does the work. I do the estimating and I am the one who builds the stuff. In my experience this simple rule eliminates all of the miscommunication that leads to problems.  Secondly, Wilder is the only Tacoma company focused solely on designing and building hardscape projects (fences, walkways, patios, etc). We don’t do maintenance, clean-ups, lawn mowing, tree trimming, etc. Lastly, we are the only Tacoma based company to my knowledge actually building modern design outdoor projects.


4. What’s the biggest misconception most people have about landscaping?
That’s an easy one. Whenever you say landscaping people just assume lawn mowing, tree trimming, weeding, etc.. That’s why we don’t really use the term much, because we really don’t do any of those things.

5. Where can people see some of your work?
The best place to check us out is on our website www.wilderoutdoorspaces.com. We have lots of awesome photography of our work, we have the blog and of course how to get ahold of us. We also have Facebook (www.facebook.com/wilderoutdoorspaces) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/wilderoutdoorspaces) if you’re into those things!

www.wilderoutdoorspaces.com

www.facebook.com/wilderoutdoorspaces

www.instagram.com/wilderoutdoorspaces

bikerack.jpg

Thanks to Alex for taking the time to participate in 5 Question Friday. If you or someone you know has a connection to Tacoma and would like to participate in 5 Question Friday email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

– Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Sharayah Kinney From The Tacoma Tool Library

green-horizontal.pngLast week someone mentioned the opening of the Tacoma Tool Library. I had never heard of it but it sounded like an interesting idea. I contacted Sharayah Kinney at the Tacoma Tool Library and asked if she would like to join me for a 5 Question Friday to tell us more about it. She happily agreed. Here’s Sharayah.

1. What is the Tacoma Tool Library?

Tacoma Tool Library is a community project whose goal is to develop a sustainable, community tool lending library in Tacoma that is accessible to residents regardless of income. The library provides low cost access to shared tools and other durable goods, and encourages re-use, repair, and reduced consumption. In addition, it hosts a safe community space for learning how to use household tools, and empowers Tacoma residents to care for their homes and neighborhoods, house by house and block by block.

2. How can people participate in the Tacoma Tool Library?

Get involved by becoming a member and/or volunteering.

BECOME A MEMBER

Interested in becoming a member of the Tacoma Tool Library? We’d love to have you! We operate on a membership system, and ask members to give a yearly suggested donation to help us keep the doors open. Members have access to all of the tools in the library’s collection, and can also participate in workshops that are offered at the library. To become a member, please make a suggested donation either online or in person at the library. We’ll also ask you to sign a membership form, waiver, and tool use & borrowing policy the first time you use the library.

Suggested donation levels:

  • $40 General
  • $30 Student/Senior
  • $20 Low-Income
  • $100 Founding Member
  • $150 Business
  • $250 Lifetime Member

VOLUNTEER

Tacoma Tool Library is currently volunteer run. We have five board members and a network of volunteers who help us with our day to day operations. We are looking for folks with knowledge of and experience with tools, but don’t be discouraged if you are a beginner, you can learn with us. As we prepare to open we are especially in need of volunteers with these skills:

  • Knowledge of tool repair
  • Knowledge about specific types of tools (ex. plumbing, automotive, etc.)
  • Interior construction
  • Tool sharpening
  • Data entry
  • Customer service
  • Fundraising
  • Marketing
  • Teaching experience/ interest in teaching a workshop

If you are interested in volunteering with us please send an email to info@tacomatoollibrary.com or call us at 954.866.5253.

 

3. What are tools you don’t have in the library that you’d like to get?

Here’s a list of our greatest needs at the moment:

  • Sawzall
  • Multi-tool
  • Impact hammer
  • Chop saw
  • Wet/dry vac
  • Ladder
  • Extension cord
  • Hand truck

We would also like to have some more uncommon such as an engine lift, scaffolding, and weed wrenches.

To donate tools, check out the calendar page on our website for upcoming open hours or contact us at info@tacomatoollibrary.com. We accept all tools in good working order, except for gas-powered.

 

4. How can people help the Tacoma Tool Library?

Become part of the tool library community, whether through donating your time, skills, or money.

 

5. What do you hope for the future of Tacoma Tool Library?

Since we just officially opened our hope for the future is focused on goals to accomplish within the next year, such as expanding our membership, increasing the number of volunteers involved, adding to our inventory of tools available and implementing a series of workshops. At some point in time, we hope to be able to have a portion of our space used for a makerspace, where members can use tools in the space that are too big to check out.

I want to thank Sharayah for taking the time to participate in 5 Question Friday. You can find out more about the Tacoma Tool Library at their website http://tacomatoollibrary.org. If you or someone you know would like to participate in a future 5 Question Friday email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com. 

– Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday Regarding The Proposed Methanol Plant

port of tacoma

If you live in Tacoma, you’ve probably heard something about the methanol plant being proposed for the Port of Tacoma. There have been recent meetings about the topic. The Tacoma City Council has been notably quiet about the issue. (Though it is worth noting that the idea for this 5 Question Friday came from a Tacoma City Councilperson who contacted me.) The neighboring Federal Way City Council just last night held an emergency session to condemn the plan.

Over the last few weeks, I have contacted many people about this issue. And for this week’s 5 Question Friday I contacted the Port of Tacoma (the location where the plant may be built), NW Innovation Works (the company building the plant), and Redline Tacoma (a grassroots activist group against the plant). I asked them each the same five questions. The idea here is to get different perspectives on the same topic from people closer to this project than I am.

Here we go: 

1.What is the basic plan at this time for the proposed methanol plant?

Port of Tacoma: I’ll defer to Northwest Innovation Works on its plans for the proposed facility.

NW Innovation Works: NW Innovation Works proposes to construct a two-phased, $3.4 billion gas-to-methanol plant at the Port of Tacoma. Methanol produced at this facility will be exported to Asia, where companies will convert it to olefins, which are the building blocks of products we use every day like medical supplies; safety and industrial equipment; consumer electronics like smartphones, televisions and computers; and clothing. The plant will include up to four methanol production lines, each with a production capacity of 5,000 metric tons per day, for a total of 20,000 metric tons per day. At the peak of construction, the project will create up to 1,000 jobs. Once operational, the facility will employ approximately 260 full-time jobs.

The plant will utilize ultra-low emissions (ULE) reforming technology, which will emit substantially lower greenhouse gas and other air pollutants compared to conventional technologies for reforming natural gas to methanol.

The facility is planned for the former Kaiser property, returning the site to productive use for industrial manufacturing that generates jobs and local revenue. Nearby facilities include Schnitzer Steel, Targa Sound Terminals, and Port of Tacoma breakbulk- and containerized cargo facilities. The Port of Tacoma approved a lease agreement with NW Innovation Works in May 2014, allowing the permitting processes with the appropriate regulatory agencies to begin.

Redline Tacoma: NWIW Tacoma LLC proposed the largest methanol refinery in the world for the heart of our city. NWIW LLC never built anything, anywhere. The refinery is proposed to consume 14.4 million gallons of fresh drinking water per day, 450 MW electricity and 524 million cubic feet of fracked gas per day. It would pump about 1.4 million gallons polluted waste water each day into the City of Tacoma water treatment facility and it would release toxins such as sulfur dioxide, benzene and formaldehyde. The sole purpose for the refinery would be to feed a plastics manufacturing facility in the city of Dalian, China, who is also a financial backer of the project.

 

2. What aspect of this project do you feel is most misunderstood by the public?

Port of Tacoma:  When the studies are complete, the data may well show the facility has a significant net environmental benefit. Facts about a proposed development are fleshed out during the environmental review process, but, in this case, misinformation without any basis in fact has been allowed to overshadow data and rational conversation. Here are some of the reasons the Port of Tacoma considered this proposal a good fit for the former Kaiser Aluminum smelter site.

  • Environmental benefits: Many of the products we use every day—cell phones, eyeglasses and contact lenses, exercise clothing and gear, medical devices, carpeting, toys, camping gear, the plastic components in buses, trains, airplanes and other common items—have traditionally been made with coal and oil. Replacing coal and oil with methanol, a clean, biodegradable manufacturing feedstock, would improve global air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Environmental regulation: I have heard some people express concerns that the facility would pollute our air, water and land. Washington state has among the most stringent regulations in the nation. A manufacturing facility that cannot meet or exceed these hundreds of regulations could not be built. The contamination the Port removed from the property after purchasing it from Kaiser occurred before these regulations existed.
  • Proven commodity: Methanol facilities have operated safely all over the world for decades. The Methanol Institute, an industry association, reports there are more than 90 facilities all over the world, and each day more than 80,000 metric tons of methanol is shipped from one continent to another. More information about methanol facilities and uses is available on the Methanol Institute’s website: http://www.methanol.org/Methanol-Basics/The-Methanol-Industry.aspx.
  • Environmental review process: Many people professed shock that they hadn’t heard of the proposal until now, when, in fact, the environmental review process is the first step in examining the feasibility of a development. The steps generally are environmental review (scope, draft EIS, final EIS) and permit applications—all of which have public comment periods—before any construction can begin. A typical comment period is 30 days with one public hearing. This process is more than twice the standard.

NW Innovation Works: The NW Innovation Works Tacoma facility offers a more environmentally responsible way to produce the items we all use every day. By using natural gas instead of coal, emissions are reduced 70 percent. NWIW is taking an even bigger step by using ultra-low emission technology, which result in an even greater (up to 75 percent more) reduction in emissions compared to coal.

Methanol is water-soluble, bio-degradable, and non-carcinogenic. You can buy methanol at your grocery store, gas station, hardware store and even on Amazon.com. The methanol produced at the Tacoma facility will not be used just for cheap plastic products, but instead for several important products we use every day, like insulin pumps, hearing aids, smartphones, eyeglasses, contact lenses, clothing, industrial equipment and more.

Redline Tacoma: The Pacific Northwest and in particular the Puget Sound region is becoming a major through way for massive fossil fuel exports. Tacoma already has the distinction of being traversed with the most oil trains, 80,000 barrels a day and climbing, rattling away on underinsured, publicly owned Tacoma Rail. Also proposed for the port of Tacoma is a Bellevue-based, Australia owned PugetSoundEnergy LLC Liquefied Natural Gas export facility. This LNG tank would be 18 stories tall and hold 8 million gallons of liquid fracked gas held at MINIS 260 degrees. LNG is very dangerous and international standards say it can only be built 3 miles away from civilians. We are not just dealing with methanol, but with becoming the toxic petrochemical kitchen for exporting our natural resources at an unprecedented scale.

3. Residential use of water in Tacoma is 5.7 million gallons a year. The new plant requires 3.8 million gallons a year. We had a drought last summer where we were all told to conserve 10% of our water. If similar conditions should occur in the future, what assurances do we have that residential use of water will have the priority?

Port of Tacoma:  I’ll defer to Northwest Innovation Works and/or Tacoma Public Utilities on the proposed facility’s water use and availability and sources of water.

NW Innovation Works: Tacoma Water has 242 million gallons available on a daily basis and an additional 183 million gallons in storage, according to the Tacoma Public Utilities website (http://www.mytpu.org/tacomawater/water-source/supply-storage.htm).

And according to data available from the TPU’s publicly available 2014 Financial Statement, this is the breakdown of water use on an annual and daily basis:

Data from 2014 Financial Statements

Customer class Billion gal/year Million gal/day
WestRock (papermill) 6.05 16.6
Residential 7.97 21.8
All other, Commercial and Industrial 3.17 8.7
Total 17.19 47.1

NWIW will employ innovative design features that allow for greater volumes of water to be reused throughout the process. The majority of the water at the plant will be used for cooling and will be released back into the atmosphere as water vapor, with small percentages consumed in the methanol production process.

We will work with the Port of Tacoma and Tacoma Public Utilities to make sure we are responsible during regular and potentially changing conditions.

Redline Tacoma: There are no assurances at this point. Who will get the water? Hospitals, schools, Metro Parks, breweries, hotels, farmers, salmon, vegetables, paper industry, export facilities or the already fastest water bottling plant in the world Niagara Bottling? Niagara’s water use went up drastically during the drought, see below: Niagara water use '14,'15.

 

4. What infrastructure will be in place to handle the practical and financial consequences if something goes wrong at the plant and there’s an explosion or other dangerous incident?

Port of Tacoma: Here’s what we know so far. A new fire station is scheduled to open in the Tideflats area as a result of Puget Sound Energy’s planned liquefied natural gas facility. An Intelligent Transportation System, which will help guide traffic through the industrial area, is also planned for the Tideflats. The Environmental Impact Statement will determine what other enhancements might be required.

NW Innovation Works: We absolutely understand that safety is a community concern, and it’s one shared by the project team. Safety is always our first priority. Methanol is safely produced, manufactured, stored and transported within the United States and internationally. NWIW will maintain this strong safety record and is committed to working with stakeholders and community members to build a facility that meets or exceeds applicable safety standards.

We are working with appropriate emergency responders and authorities to plan state-of-the art safety systems as we plan our system design. We will develop emergency preparedness and response plans for local and state approval to address potential spills, fire and security at each site. In addition, each facility will have a dedicated and trained on-site fire brigade and equipment to support emergency response.

Redline Tacoma:  NWIW Tacoma LLC is a limited liability corporation. LLC’s take the profits and pay it out to investors. The money is gone. Should something go wrong, they simply declare bankruptcy and Tacoma and the Port will have to deal with it. Should the accident be bad enough we can call FEMA. NWIW Tacoma LLC is not just one corporations, it is made up of several LLC’s, or shell companies. They can re-incorporate every year and can have a tax shelter somewhere in a tax-free heaven. Tacoma in its history always let industry pollute and when they made enough profit, they pull out and leave the toxic mess for Tacoma to clean up and live with it.

5. Do you see the methanol plant as a good thing for the future of the city and port of Tacoma and why?

Port of Tacoma: Tacoma has the opportunity to reduce global greenhouse gases to address climate change by providing cleaner alternatives to the coal and oil currently used to produce consumer goods we use every day. It’s important for us to fully understand the potential impacts of any development. I hope people will keep an open mind as we gather all the facts because we have an opportunity be a global climate leader, helping build a bridge to a cleaner future while creating valuable jobs for our community.

If the environmental review demonstrates the proposal’s feasibility, this could be a positive transformational project that provides global environmental benefits, hundreds of family-wage jobs and sizable city and school tax revenues.

NW Innovation Works: Tacoma has a proud history of pioneering innovation and being at the forefront of embracing the opportunities of our ever changing world.  With the NWIW proposal, we have the chance to build on that foundation and create a better future not just for ourselves, but for everyone who is concerned about climate change.

NWIW is proposing to pioneer a technology that that can transform how methanol is produced, removing coal from the equation and providing the world a cleaner way to manufacture goods essential to our daily lives.

This facility provides a way for Tacoma to be part of the global fight to reduce climate change. In addition, the project represents a $3.4 billion investment in the local economy that will create approximately 1,000 jobs during construction and 260 full-time jobs during operation of the facility.

Redline Tacoma:  Turning our publicly owned natural resources into a toxic chemical for export and plastic manufacturing is stunningly short sighted.

 

I want to thank the representatives at the Port of Tacoma, NW Innovation Works, and Redline Tacoma for taking time out of their schedules to answer these questions.

You can find further information about the Port of Tacoma on their website at http://portoftacoma.com

You can find further information about NW Innovation Works at http://nwinnovationworks.com/

You can find further information about Redline Tacoma at http://redlinetacoma.org/

What are your thoughts on the methanol plant? Feel free to comment. All comments are moderated by me, but I’ll be fairly open to whatever you want to post as long as it’s substantive. 

– Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Angela Kores with the Gothic Witches Ball

witchesball

One of my favorite things about Tacoma is that we have so many interesting events. Our ArtWalks are legendary. Last week I participated in Tacoma’s first lit crawl. And next weekend on Saturday October 24th Tacoma will have the Gothic Witches Ball.

While I can tell you a thing or two about ArtWalks and I can definitely tell you anything you need to know about lit crawls, I don’t really know anything about the Gothic Witches Ball. Luckily Angela Kores was nice enough to join me in a 5 Question Friday and tell us all about it. Here’s Angela:

1. What is the Gothic Witches Ball?
The Witches Ball is an annual event (this year’s theme being Gothic). In the past it has been hosted by Tacoma Earth Religions Revival Association (TERRA), and later hosted by Central Puget Sound Pagan Pride. This year it is being hosted by Magical Garden. It is a night of ritual, dance and magic.

2. What’s different about the Gothic Witches Ball this year?
It is a smaller venue, more intimate. The theme is something that I am unsure has been done before. In the past the Witches Ball has been hosted by Tacoma Earth Religions Revival Association (TERRA) & when they disband a couple of years ago, Central Puget Sound Pagan Pride had taken it over. I wanted to keep the tradition of the Witches Ball alive and decided to host it this year.

3.What are possible misconceptions people might have about the Witches Ball?
That you have to be a witch to attend. We welcome everyone.

4. How can people attend and how can they help if they want to?
Get your tickets at Magical Garden. Our address is 430 E 25TH Suite #9 Tacoma, WA. You can call us during business hours (Mon-Sat 11-7) at (425)591-7345 or order online at: Witches Ball ticket. I should mention tickets are limited, and are going fast.

5. What do you see for the future of the Gothic Witches Ball?
I envision the tradition of the Witches Ball coming back stronger and better than ever.

Thanks to Angela for taking the time to join me for 5 Question Friday. If you think you or anyone you know would like to participate in a 5 Question Friday, email me at jackcameron.com.

  • Jack Cameron

Izabel Laxamana: A Community Left Grieving. Where Do We Go From Here?

The Memorial At Izabel's Middle School

The Memorial At Izabel’s Middle School

It isn’t usual for Tacoma Stories to do more than one article about the same topic. It’s also not usual for someone other than me to write an article for Tacoma Stories. But the last few weeks have been unusual. There has been much talk and controversy about the suicide of Izabel Laxamana. Up until now, I’ve refrained from using the 13-year-old girl’s name. However, since it’s been used everywhere from the Washington Post to Seventeen Magazine, I think my refrain is fairly useless at this point.

I received the following article earlier today from a local psychotherapist. Her name is Cheryl L. Fracasso, Ph. D. She’s not just writing about Izabel. She’s writing about all of our children.

Before we get to the article, I just want to say if you or anyone you know is feeling suicidal, you can call the National Suicide hotline any time day or night for free and anonymously at 1-800-273-8255.

Here’s Dr. Fracasso:

Not even three weeks after her death, one thing that is clear is that there is a whole community spanning globally now left grieving the tragic loss of Izabel Laxamana. The public response of support and compassion has been tremendous, evoking many strong and mixed emotions. As a psychologist, I, like many others, sat dumbfounded and deeply saddened as this case unfolded, hoping that the investigation would reveal some answers into the “how” and “why” behind this. In the end, the police investigation that closed last week that revealed no wrongdoing by the father and left more questions than answers. So where do we go from here?

While no legal action may be taken for the real Izabel, one thing that lives on is the iconic Izabel created by the facebook page, “Justice for Izabel.” Whether her suicide was due to abuse or not may never be answered since Izabel can no longer speak for herself. I only hope that those who may have further information about this case will gain the courage to speak up if there are facts that need to be investigated further. However, we must move on as a community and society and focus our efforts on preventing future tragedies like this from occurring. I for one am not interested in reading about media defending their positions and pointing fingers at one another due to the reporting of this case, nor am I interested in reading about what “could have” or “should have” been done. What I am interested in seeing is abuse awareness and prevention efforts launched in the local and global community so that not one more child is lost in this manner. We need to give our children a voice. We need to take them seriously when they come home and try to tell us things that are happening to their friends that do not seem right. Education about what abuse is and how it operates needs to be put forth in our schools, which encourages friends or family members to speak up. Abuse can only exist if those suffering from it and those who witness it are scared silent, and this needs to end. We need to stop this hideous cycle of abuse, bullying, and public shaming. Each of us on an individual level can start by speaking up when we observe anything out of the ordinary with a child.

If you or your children observe something going on that is not right, report it. Also, we need to take a look at our current Child Protective Service (CPS) measures and find more effective ways to protect our children when a report is pending. As legislation is right now, children are generally left in the home when a report is pending investigation and some investigations take months to resolve.

From a psychological perspective, it is my hopes that practitioners band together to launch efforts to educate our youth and society about classic signs of abuse and to end this silence and fear about speaking up. In this sense, we can get “Justice for Izabel” by insuring that we make changes in our current systems to minimize the chances of something like this happening again.

Blaming and pointing fingers at each other and individual agencies is not an effective use of energy. Rather, we need to band together with police departments, school districts, legislation, and media who have the power to make change, and say “Enough! We are not losing one more child!” Let’s end the silence!

My deepest condolences to all who have been touched by this case…especially friends, family, and others who knew her.

If you would like to open up further dialogue about this, I can be contacted at doctorfracasso@hotmail.com. Please note, I am not interested in rehashing the details of this case. If you have further information, report it to the proper authorities. However, I do welcome suggestions on how social change efforts can be put in place to prevent future tragedies like this from occurring.

My sincerest regards,

– Cheryl L. Fracasso, Ph.D.

Dr. Fracasso is a psychotherapist based in Kent, Washington. She has served as a Psychologist with the State of Washington, Department of Social and Health Services, Developmental Disabilities Administration at Rainier School. She’s also worked as Case Manager with the City of Seattle, Office of Aging and Disability Services.

I’d like to thank Dr. Fracasso for sharing her thoughts with us. It’s important to talk and we’re interested in your comments. I’ll be approving any comments that aren’t insulting or accusatory.

– Jack Cameron