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5 Question Friday With Tacoma Girls Rock Camp

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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 author Erin Pringle

FullSizeRender (17)Welcome to 5 Question Friday where we ask someone connected to Tacoma 5 Questions. Today we have Erin Pringle author of a collection of short stories called “The Whole World At Once”. She is in Tacoma this weekend making an appearance at King’s Books and was nice enough to take the time to join me for 5 Question Friday. Here’s Erin: 

1. What is The Whole World At Once?
It’s a collection of strange short stories that trace rural landscapes and the varied experiences of loss and how that affects the way a person moves through the world and their relationship to themselves. For example, in one story, a girl’s sister disappeared from the agricultural fair a year ago, and was later found dead. IN the story, the girl encounters a carnie who has been shot in the chest. Even though he likely had nothing to do with her sister’s murder, she relives the loss of her sister through the encounter. In another story, a boy who served several tours in war returns to raise his kid sister, and starts planting and digging up landmines in the back yard as a way to cope with his life.

2. What is it that attracts you to the Northwest?
I grew up in the Midwest, in a town of 3,000, so all of the stories I’ve imagined taking place on those country roads. In some ways, what attracts me to the Northwest is that it is not marked by the grief I experienced in the Midwest, or that I situate there. My father, best friend, and sister died in the Midwest, and so it’s hard for me to return there physically. Living in the Northwest allows me the physical distance that seems necessary to have an imaginative connection to a place that hurts my heart. I guess the Northwest is kind of like an artist’s studio for me.

3. Can you tell us about your upcoming appearance at King’s Books?
Absolutely! I’ll be at King’s Books this Sunday at 7 PM. I’ll be reading two stories from The Whole World at Once, and then signing books afterward–or just talking with people if they don’t like to have their books signed. 🙂  The bookstore is opening special for the event, so it’s a great chance to relax within a busy Memorial Day weekend and take some space for new thoughts within the solitude that I think a bookstore brings.

4. Who are some of your favorite authors?
I have an affinity for Southern, lone women authors, I just realized the other day when I found the collected stories of Eudora Welty and immediately fell in love with her work. I enjoy Flannery O’Connor a great deal, too. Patricia Highsmith. Hemingway. Faulkner. Toni Morrison.  I also enjoy playwrights, too, with sharp, stunning language, like Edward Albee, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard.  My parents were born in the 1930s, and I think that has something to do with my being drawn to fiction written in that era. Of Midwestern authors, Sherwood Anderson is my favorite, or at least, his stories, Winesburg, Ohio, which is all I’ve read but felt fully understood by. I like authors who see the strange slants of the world and feel compelled to talk about them and find the beauty and awful in the hard routes our lives take–since so much of the world, outside of art, seems bent on covering it up or ignoring it or pretending it doesn’t exist. The same goes with poets, like Jack Gilbert and Walt Whitman, or visual artists like the painter Jenny Saville or the photographer Matt Black. Artists who try to show both the ugly and the beauty that flashes amidst it somehow.

5. What’s your next project?
I’m working on several. I have the first draft of a novel that I’m letting sit, which deals with a travelling circus and a mother who dies in the same way that my sister did. Then I have a memoir project composed of flashes of language that might be called prose poems. And I’m completing a draft of a new collection of stories that revolve around love and what it is. I’m trying to understand it after so much loss, because it seems like a phenomena that I haven’t understood before, or from my life as it is now, so I’m trying, through fiction.
Thanks to Erin for participating in 5 Question Friday. You can buy Erin’s book at Amazon.com at this link or better yet pick it up over at King’s Books this Sunday and meet her yourself. If you or someone you know would like to join me for a future 5 Question Friday, email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com
– Jack Cameron

Third Tacoma Homicide of 2017: Manuel Olmos Jr.

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On the evening of February 9th 32-year-old Manuel Olmos Jr. and a friend were at a fast food restaurant in the 2600 block of North Pearl Street. It was just after 8:30pm and they needed a ride. Manuel offered a 19-year-old man and his friends some money for a ride. This led to an argument. The argument got loud. At one point the 19-year-old said, “You want to get shot?” The manager of the restaurant then asked them all to leave. A few minutes later the manager heard gunshots. Manuel was shot in the neck. He died before he could be transported to the hospital.

Manuel Olmos Jr. is the third Tacoma homicide this year. Like the first two homicides it is a killing that makes little sense. While any loss of life is going to create a hole in the lives of dozens of people who knew and loved the victim, it seems especially disheartening when an understandable motive is non-existent.

Manuel’s wife, Megan wrote me and shared this about him )along with the photos in this post):
“Manuel is my husband, he has left behind me(wife), his 3 children ages 18(son), 5(Daughter), and 3(son), his parents, 3 brothers, and countless family and friends. Manuel was amazing, just amazing, a family man to the fullest, would do anything for someone in need and his kids were his world. He was so funny, life of the party very infectious smile and laugh. Words cannot express our loss and the holes we have in our hearts, I’m completely torn up over this and his kids have to spend the majority of their lives without him. Its not fair! But our babies will always know how great he was and much that he loved them.”
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It is the policy of TacomaStories not to mention killers by name. However, when the suspect has been identified but not yet arrested, we will mention him in hopes that a reader may have information that leads to the perpetrator’s arrest. 19-year-old Demetrius Jackson has been charged with second-degree murder and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Demetrius Jackson, please contact that Tacoma Police Department at (253) 798-4721.

As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew Manuel and want to share their thoughts or memories of him. This section is moderated and each comment is approved before it shows up on the site. If a friend or loved one has a photo they would like to share of Manuel for this article, please send it to jackcameronis@gmail.com.

– Jack Cameron

 

Eighteenth Tacoma Homicide of 2016 William Edwards

In the early evening of December 19th, 21-year-old William Edwards was outside a convenience store in the 2700 block of South 12th Street. His girlfriend sat in a nearby car. He was there to buy an iPhone. He met up with two men outside the Central Tacoma convenience store.

The seller handed him the phone to look at it. William started backing away with the phone once he had it. One man grabbed him as William backed away. Court documents say that William became irate, grabbed the other man’s shirt and pulled out a handgun putting it to the man’s head. “Don’t ever run up on me.” He shouted, “I’ll f*cking kill you,”

William demanded the man give him his wallet. At this point the man reached towards his waist as if grabbing his wallet, and removed his own handgun from his waistband firing two shots at William. His girlfriend grabbed William’s gun and put it in a backpack. William was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. The backpack was found and his girlfriend was detained. The shooter remained on the scene and was questioned by police. No charges are expected as the circumstances show the shooting to be a matter of self-defense.

William Edwards is the eighteenth Tacoma homicide of 2016. It has been an especially violent year. The last time we had this many homicides in a year was 2006. It is difficult to say what, if anything, has led to the increase in violence. Often it turns out that the violence has not really increased so much as shootings one year are more accurate than another.

At TacomaStories we focus on the victim and insist that a man is not his last or worst actions. Unfortunately, William’s common name makes an Internet search for more information about him difficult. This is why the comments section is reserved for those who knew William who might want to share memories of him. All comments are moderated and approved before being posted. Also if any friend or family member has a photo of William they would like me to share, please email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

– Jack Cameron

Wednesday in the Park #4: Baltimore Park

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Which Park?  Baltimore Park

Who Or What Is It Named After? Baltimore Street

Where Is It? 4716 N. Baltimore Street

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Child Area? Yes

Bathroom? No

Amenities? Basketball Court

Overview:

At just under two and a half acres, Baltimore Park is the smallest park I have visited so far for these articles. In fact if you are driving down Baltimore Street towards the water you may notice as much of it is behind a large flat building that is the Ruston Senior Center.

Baltimore Park has been around since 1981. The play area for the children takes up a small corner of the park. It appears to be for smaller children. There big toys with tiny steps and a swing set.

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In another corner of the park you’ll find a paved basketball court with two hoops.

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The rest of the park consists of an occasionally tree-lined gravel trail around a large, flat grass field. The field would be perfect for kite-flying, playing soccer, or sun bathing. Of course since it is close to winter right now, none of that was happening during my visit.

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As parks go, Baltimore Park is about as basic a park as you can get. Nothing particularly good or bad about it. And with Point Defiance nearby this park is definitely a neighborhood park. If you’re here, you probably live in the area or you’re from the attached senior center or the VFW Hall across the street.

– Jack Cameron

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Next: Brown’s Point Lighthouse Park

Seventeenth Tacoma Homicide of 2016: Bruce Randall Johnson II

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38-year-old Bruce Randall Johnson II did not have a good day on November 30th. He had been fired from his job as a barber and Sam & Terry’s barber shop up on Tacoma’s Hilltop where he had worked for the last eight months. He had gotten into an argument with his wife in which he had locked her out of the house they shared in the 400 block of East 52nd Street. When police knocked on the door he did not answer. When the landlord unlocked the door, he and his two children, an eight-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son, were on the third floor. When a police officer came up the stairs, Bruce opened fire, killing him.

It is unknown what exactly caused Bruce to behave the way he did on November 30th. In recent weeks friends and coworkers say he had become increasingly volatile. In mid-November he was spotted dressed as a plainclothes police officer at the Tacoma Mall, wearing a Sheriff’s cap and carrying a rifle case. He had been fired from the barbershop for altercations with customers and disagreements with staff.

Multiple people who knew him called said that Bruce was ‘troubled’. We will likely never know the mental state he was in or what caused him to take the actions that he did. We do know that there were people who enjoyed his company.

During the eleven hour standoff, Bruce would refuse to leave the house, at times using his children as human shields, at other times firing his guns at unknown targets. At one point his son was near the front door and a SWAT team member removed him from the house. Near 3:30am, a Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy outside the house fired one round through a window killing Bruce Johnson.

Bruce Johnson is the seventeenth Tacoma homicide this year and the second police involved shooting this year. TacomaStories treats police involved shootings like we treat any other homicides. This is because we operate under the concept that no one should be judged by their worst actions alone.

As always the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Bruce and want to share thoughts of memories of him.

If a family member or friend has a different photo they would like me to use for this site, you can send it to jackcameronis@gmail.com.

– Jack Cameron

Sixteenth Tacoma Homicide of 2016: Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez

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Ask most police officers and they will tell you that the most dangerous calls are Domestic Violence calls. For this reason at least two officers must respond to any Domestic Violence call. 45-year-old Tacoma Police Officer Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez had responded to hundreds of these calls in his 17 years in the Department. When it came to domestic disputes Jake was known as someone with a lot of success in deescalating situations. On the afternoon of November 30th, Jake and another officer responded to a call at a three-story house in the 400 block of East 52nd Street.

An animal control officer had encountered a very upset woman. Her husband had locked her out of the house. The animal control officer contacted the police. Jake and his partner knocked on the door, but there was no answer.

They contacted the landlord to get a key. The landlord knocked on the door saying they were going to unlock the door. Jake started going up the stairs to talk to the man and check on the couple’s two children, a six-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter. Jake yelled, “Get out!” to his partner and the man’s wife as three shots were fired, followed by three more.

Jake was hit multiple times. His partner returned fire and got the man’s wife out of harm’s way. Jake would later die at Tacoma General Hospital. After an 11-hour stand-off the man responsible for his death was killed by a Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy.

Officer Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez is the 16th Tacoma homicide this year and the 11th officer to die in the line of duty in the history of the Tacoma Police Department. This is the first TPD officer killing since I started TacomaStories back in 2006.  The last one was in 1997.

Jake spent most of his career on Tacoma’s East Side in the same neighborhood he gave his life protecting. He would attend community meetings. Many locals knew him by name. He had three children, a grandchild, and he was engaged to be married. By all accounts Officer Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez was the textbook definition of a good cop.

Jake had a quick wit and could be very funny. His demeanor helped him defuse tense situations. Colleagues say that on a domestic violence call, Jake was the officer you wanted with you. He will be missed by his brothers and sisters in uniform, his friends, his family, and this city he chose to serve.

As always the comments section is moderated. All comments must be approved. The comment section is reserved for those who knew Jake and want to share thoughts or memories of him.

– Jack Cameron