The Olympian flagged/censored the following observations made in their comment section following the referenced article they ran in their publication on 3-8-13. Fortunately, they cannot censor it here. WE ARE NOW THE MEDIA!
The Olympian newspaper had a disturbing article about the City’s proposed ‘expansion’ of the Artesian well site on its front page today. It included a diagram/blueprint with a raised stage, movie screen, ping pong table, tiled emulated waterway art walk, steel arch entrance emblazoned with Artesian Court, and an awning designed to keep all dry except the homeless (the awning will be retracted and locked at night, presumably along with any public restroom facilities) promising to buoy up the City’s aspirations by ‘managed positive behavior’ (apartheid?)–a hallmark of Olympia’s public policy track record.
Yet another brick in the wall of Olympia’s march to becoming a gated city/community is afoot. The gentrification of the Artesian will complement the apartheid ordinances targeting the homeless, the poor, the dispossessed as personas non grata. Consider what Dave Okerlund’s vision of an ‘Artesian Court’ [pun intended?] arcade-like environment where “a combination of active & passive uses designed and managed to promote POSITIVE BEHAVIOR” means in a town which, until recently, restricted free speech to ‘busking zones’, and where its community center (Olympia Center) has ‘no loitering’ signs posted on its walls. The plethora of obnoxious signs in its transit center are similarly hostile, announcing bikes left in its racks have been vandalized, yet promising they will be seized if left over 24 hours. The transit authorities are unwilling to accept any responsibility for protecting the bicycles of its patrons, but they’re more than willing to steal them. Downtown Olympia has empty streets and a sterile atmosphere after dark.
If the City’s track record of managing by crisis and discrimination (busking ‘zones’, cruising ordinances, anti-‘camping’ ordinances, persecuting the homeless, locking people with no home but the streets out of public bathrooms, etc.) is a measure of its corruption/incompetence, citizens would be well served to avoid more of the same in its proposed gentrification of the Artesian well site. The white middle class arrogant ignorance of characterizing the site as currently “under-used” is deafening. The Artesian is, by far, the most popular City natural resource 24/7 and always has been. Its friends are legion. Besides water, it has been observed food donations are often left there. Street activists often use it as a meeting place to organize/stage events/protests. Art works have been created on site and a sense of ancient community watering holes permeates the place. All who come share the universal need for water to sustain life. Like death itself, water can serve as a great leveler in the quest for life…or it can become yet another commodity in the furtherance of greed and middle class ennui. This is what Mr. Okerlund’s proposal represents–an ode to capitalism and a cathedral to ‘managed positive behavior’ as one walks beneath the steel arch entrance to the ‘Artesian Court’. Perhaps a sign with more genuine language may be posted there: No Homeless Allowed–Homeless, keep off the grass!
Predictably, the resentment toward this furtherance of gentrification and apartheid within the City limits will become pronounced. This invited resentment will inevitably be expressed in the form of tagging and vandalism. The City’s newest gilded thumb in the eye of the poor, the homeless, the downtrodden, will become a target, a perverse ‘democracy well’ with the words of its prophets written on the walls. Dave Okerlund’s proposed gentrification of the Artesian is akin to dressing your 10 year old daughter up in hot pants and directing her to hang out on the street corner at night. It is not a responsible proposal. It should be firmly rejected as based on a vision conceived by one with middle class blinders ignorant of the Artesian’s current unique value and use by ALL of the community, not merely the ones favored by the City and its minions.