Meeting Information

Meeting Type
Friday Coalition Meeting
Friday, 9/27/2019
9:15 AM
11:15 AM
PSH panel was postponed. Instead, we have Orting Veterans Village tiny homes, coming to present,on their project that is about to break ground. The Community Partner Cafe will talk about their cross sector collaboration work. We'll get a report out from Hire253 and and update on the progress of the more restrictive shelter rules proposed from Tacoma parks.We'll also prepare for the October 4th and October 11th Candidate forums. Finally, we'll hear a report out on the most recent State inter-agency work group on homelessness meeting.
The Salvation Army Church (1110 S Puget Sound Ave, Tacoma, WA 98405)


  • Kelly Blucher, Goodwill -
  • I’m excited – about the testimony at the City council
  • Excited by being at the amazing MDC Breakfast this morning and all the great work they are doing.
  • Excited about what we’ve accomplished at this Coalition
  • Had a great Hire253 event this week


Racial Equity Committee

  • Heidi Nagel, Comprehensive Life Resources -
  • Team
  • Our Tea is working on Racial Equity
    • People of color are disproportionately in the homeless population – 40% of homeless population
    • Homelessness more than poverty
  • Meet at 8:15am every Friday – sit with us so you can inform our work (and I suspect do some of the work too – but that is a good thing –ed.)
  • SPARC report ( ) – The Center for Social Innovation (often called C4 - -ed) wanted to understand racial disparities in homelessness across the County
  • The Center Looked at 10 communities – and Pierce County was one of them.
  • We have a reputation of no slavery in the west (but we had some, of course – Charles Mitchell is perhaps the only known example of an African American slave in Washington State.  He was a “wedding gift” to James Tilton, the Surveyor General of Washington Territory. Mitchell was able to escape to Victoria – a free Colony. Thankfully Victoria accepted him – a nice thing to do for a neighbor living in inhumane conditions – just saying. See, that history degree is really paying some dividends now, isn’t it Dad…”what do you do with a history degree” – bah. –ed.), not as vast of redlining as East Cost and south (although I wouldn’t say that to Harold or Bil Moss –ed), but racial disparity was still not any better
  • Blacks are still overrepresented in the homeless population 2 or 3 times over the general population, and even balancing for poverty doesn’t explain it.
  • We have these social safety net structures that are supposedly race neutral, but aren’t.
  • Data is riffled throughout the housing experience with disproportionality – evictions, foreclosures, utility shutdowns.  These are supposed to be race neutral policies – power shut down if you don’t pay.  But they are not happing in a proportional way.  We see what is happening, but not why.  We need stories from the community to understand what is going on.  Calvin Kennon said that one factor may be higher per capita marijuana usage in some populations – tests blocking employment.  Police interventions are disproportionate – there are more per capita arrest for blacks.  More negative impacts for blacks in courts.  At every point in time in the process, if you are black you are slightly more likely to have a negative outcome, and these all stack up – you are more likely to be apprehend, more likely to be kept in jail, more likely to be held pre-trial, more likely to be charged, and if charged more likely to be guilty, and if guilty you have a higher chance of longer sentence.  You’re even slightly more likely to be held for a higher crime.  We have this data from this state - and personal experience right here and in this room.  I’ve been pulled over for a warning by police.  I doubt that warning would have been Ben’s experience (Heidi, the speaker is not black, and Ben is black – important information for those of you following along from home.  Normally I don’t call out everyone’s race in my minutes – I’m hoping that narrative flourish dropped from the Nyland family line with the passing of my Grandmother – but sometimes the story has its own needs. –ed).  You all know the stories of racial discrimination – we need your information  to inform our work.  And read the SPARC report (again - - and totally worth the read – new things were learned from their work, and what they uncovered are things I think we all need to know. -ed)
  • Ben – charged as a kid with theft and fighting (I didn’t quite get the details of the incident, but I don’t think that isn’t the important part. –ed) – a few of us were involved.  Two of us are black and Korean (bi-racial, that is.  You know, when writing about race, I have to google every word I think might be racially charged to make sure what I think is OK to say is really OK to say. I really don’t want to offend people, but at some point I’m going to screw up – so please don’t hesitate to call me out – it’s how I learn. Anyway, it looks like saying bi-racial is OK – but it still sounds wrong somehow… –ed). We were charged with a felony.  Our White friend was not charged with a felony – he just received a fine.  I took me my whole life to get that felony off my record.  My mom, from Korea, didn’t know what was going on.  We can help people be aware of these situations. 
  • Heidi – The SPARC report thinks Service Providers are part of the problem.  The legislative session starts in January – we want to hear your experiences, want this room to tell us what needs to change.  People in this room know how to go to the legislature.  There isn’t a lot to do yet, because we don’t understand the problem.  The SPARC report says the service deliver is a problem – they are built for white people to access them.  We need to understand this.  The criminal justice system informs this process – landlords don’t want to rent to folks with conviction.  We need to know what to do the housing system – what people experiences are – so we know why this is happening.  We think some opportunities are in service delivery  - learning what we are seeing at the street level.  System-wide training – government and non-government .  Look at the public service model.  They got us to stop smoking with billboards – stop shaking babies with billboards – may be able to use a public information campaign. (it is surprising hard not to shake babies – they really mess with you sometimes, and you still have to be nice to them – not really fair. I mean, my son Henry is really a nice kid now, but in the early years, most of the neighborhood was pretty sure we were raising a sociopath. We were a corporal punishment free household, but we still had conversations like:

Me: so, how about just a little shaking, that can’t be so bad.  You can’t believe what a turkey Henry was today.
Me: Have you read any research on when shaking becomes dangerous?
Wife: No one is doing research where they shake babies to find out when the brain damage starts
Me: But what if…
Wife: look, I’m trying to sleep here…

  • What are we asking  from you?
    • On October 18th – we have an hour and 20 minutes set aside for a forum on racial equity - we want you to think ahead.  Put your thinking cap on.  If you don’t want to speak publicly – email us, and we’ll present it for you.  Come with an open heart – there may be words that are hard to accept – and we’ll try to figure out why it is happening.
    • Tell us what you think is part of the problem
    • Tell us who you think we should bring to the forum – specific clients or politician who have worked on race issues – really start to talk about racism.  We want you to tell us what the racial equity subgroup can accomplish – where we can have an impact.  Tell us who should talk to us. 
  • Please remember that many of us may need to be anonymous – I can’t wait for the day we can just talk about issues openly  - we are all in this together, in a community together. 
  • All of you are beautiful – and I appreciate you.
  • Al – when I was in grad school, I did research on conformity – the sphere of talking about racism – the wider cultures says to be careful – we need to be willing to talk about it, that we can expect there to be conformity pressures, and that we can be OK disagreeing. 
  • Theresa – I assumed you talked about people that wanted to point out problems in their agency or partner agencies – we want to protect people who fear reprisal for speaking out against their agency.


Update on Associated Ministries, Metropolitan Development Council and the City of Tacoma

  • Mike Yoder, Executive Director, Associated Ministries -
  • Many of you have been passionately saying “not here but not where”
  • We want to be an organization about where you can be – we think faith-based organizations are part of the solution to where can people be?
  • This morning’s News Tribune article ( ) is very good – a good overview of the debate in the community around this ordinance.
  • The Mayor talked about how an ordinance was passed to make it easier for communities of faith to host site.  Unfortunately, the City has spent decades pushing the faith community away from that kind of work (How is it said - The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge? -ed)
  • We’ll need to invest in walking alongside the faith-based organizations to help them be partners and solutions to homeless -  this is hosting tent cities, safe parking – sheltering in church facilities – and longer term affordable housing development – tiny house development.  Those are too tough for the average lay person in a congregation to navigate – they are just lay people with great hearts and a lot of compassion.
  • We need a case worker for pastors and church workers to help them be part of the solution.  The City thinks that is a great idea, too
  • That is an idea the City is working with Metropolitan Development Council and Associated Ministries.  The City Council will need to approve it – in the next few months.
  • Hopefully this work will have a lot more people willing to help out
  • The city has to put their money where their mouth is – to be great partners, not just expects
  • Normally we wouldn’t talk about this because it is so early, but there is enough word about it getting out I wanted to tell you a bit more about this
  • Al – what is the role of MDC?  Mike – Pam is a woman of faith and believes in this – they are looking to open an encampment on their land.  By being an encampment host, they will then be a technical expert to help other groups that want to do this.
  • Carolyn? – Will the city pay for port-a-potty (interesting word potty – the noun is probably a child’s version of saying “chamber pot”. But less appreciated is the older adjective potty – meaning crazy or silly.  I do rather like the word potty. –ed) ? -   Mike – the City has money to support with sanitation and such – but they want the non-profits to make an ask for those services.  We are there to help non-profits with that.
  • Maureen – mellow wants a review of the temporary shelter ordinance – it is not just fire system stuff an church must have that makes it tough, but you have to be a certified planner to wander through that ordinance.  Are you working with the Metropolitan Development Council and the City or Councilmember Mello to review this, or get an emergency ordinance?  Limits to fire systems?  Mike – that is key to make this work, and everything is reviewable. 
  • Currently there is one per police sector, and the stability site is one of those in the police sector 1.  That stops anyone on the hilltop to do that.  The city will pass an ordinance to overtake that.  They don’t want the police overwhelmed looking after encampments
  • Sheri – why  can’t they remove that barrier now? Mike – they (and then I have nothing else in my notes – I must have been so enthralled in the exchange I forgot to take notes. Or maybe this is when I got up to get a mini-cinnamon roll. –ed)
  • PJ – Street pastor last 25 years – we supplied the City and the council with people form tent cities – over 20 years ago, and now Tacoma is finally jumping on board.  I’m clean and sober for 25 years now.  We’ve been suggesting solutions for years, and it is only now that the City is joining in.
  • Question – do pastors and churches know they can do this now?  Who is going to tell all these churches we are going to make it easier?  If I don’t’ know, I can’t do something to help.  Mike – that is one of the big gaps – the city has tried to get the word out.  We host quarterly meetings – trying to create some energy – 71 church communities – 400+ folks – have attended the meetings.  We don’t have staff to help folks navigate, but do long term intensive hand-holding.  We need another front line person to help do that. 
  • Peach – I belong to a faith community that tried and tried to do this.  It may just be a stop gap, but the mayor can’t just foist this on the non-profits – this was caused by policies that created our affordable housing crisis.
  • Mike – talking points sheet – show up and speak out #3 – where it is written “we see the open shelter for families at St. john’s Baptist” – this was Bethlehem Baptist – and there will  probably be more shelters operating there (Because the Bethlehem Baptist congregation, and Dr. Jackson in particular are making good things happen. –ed)
  • Kelly – we have so much to say – go the city council meeting – write letter, send e-mails – I’ve seen change happen with activism like this around child care issues.


Orting Veterans Village -

  • Jaycie Osterberg, executive Director for Quixote Communities -
  • Quixote Communities is a nonprofit based out of Olympia
  • Had no idea what I was walking into at this meeting  - we are much smaller in Olympia
  • How many people have heard about the veterans village
  • We own and operate Quixote Village – for 30 individuals.  The Puget sound Veterans Hope Center (  ) operating out of the Tacoma Rescue Mission Men’s shelter asked us to partner with them to build a community in Pierce County. 
  • We are building on the Washington Soldier’s Home campus in Orting – building 30 tiny homes.  (I was just out there – it is as serene a place as you could hope for – I’d pick one of the tiny homes where you could hear the frogs in the pond nearby. –ed).   
  • It has been a long time coming, and the permitting has been long winded (what an incredibly polite way to say that –ed)
  • Ground breaking next Tuesday, October 1st – I have a press release I can send around.  It is just an event, not really groundbreaking – that will actually happen in a couple weeks.
  • It will be Permanent Supportive Housing – each unit will have 176 ft2, a bedroom and bath – fully furnished, toilet, sink, shower.  At Quixote Village in Olympia, we didn’t put a shower in, and the residents have wanted that.  So we added it this time.  It is Quixote Village 2.0.  They will still have electricity and plumbing.  But, not a kitchen.  There will be a 2,500 ft2 community building with a large double kitchen.  There is a large multi-purpose room – open for life skills classes and yoga and such from community providers.  Will also have 2 full time staff – a program manager and a full time case manager – someone to work one-on-one with folks – get wraparound services, benefits, transportation, help finding work or getting in school. 
  • We are recovery housing, so residents need to try to be clean and sober.  That can scare some people – we know relapse is hard.  We don’t kick folks out, we work with them if they want recovery. 
  • We’ve been working on this for over 2 years – would love to hear any questions.
  • Carolyn Read – what is the cost per client so folks can compare to the being on the street?  Jaycie – our Quixote Village budget is $285k/year - $8k per person per year.  Residents pay 30% of income for rent, and are working with Pierce County Housing Authority to get vouchers. 
  • Theresa – is there space out there for a campground nearby?  Is anyone looking at that as a possibility until these units are built?  Gerrit – Roosevelt barracks, run by the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs, has a transitional housing program (called Grant Per Diem or GPD – least descriptive program name ever. –ed) with space available out there.  Westcare also operates a transitional housing program called Betsy Ross House (in a lovely building that just had a fabulous remodel –ed.), which always has space for single female veterans.  Both of those programs operate as clean and sober housing, and each veteran gets their own room (and the case managers are top notch – the Orting and clean and sober housing combo can be a tough sell, but let’s refer clients so they can get access to some amazing programs. Ed)
  • Orting Veterans village will use Coordinated Entry to refer veterans to the program.
  • Transportation – none there – working on that.  We have a van or some such to get folks to the VA hospital.  It is something we need to work out (or Orting could choose to vote themselves back into Pierce Transit and then they could have bus service – just doing a little dreaming here –ed.)


Community Partner Café -

  • Cheri Coleman, Community Partner Café -
  • Created 6 years ago when I worked in Seattle as a community capacity building coordinator.  I taught agencies how to work with the Department of Health and Human Services (DSHS).  The referral systems were all using paper, and we had to send people to different Managed Care Organizations (MCOs)
  • I came here when the economy took a nosedive. 
  • I learned organizations weren’t paying attention to each other.  I said we need to get folks talking to each other. 
  • Thus, Partner Café was created – to get city, state, etc. talking with social service agencies and everyone
  • What do you have, what do you want , what do you need, how can you help
  • Created a mobile unit.  Monthly – I go to rural areas – first experience was this month on Key Peninsula.  Going to Parkland, then Buckley, then Roy.  People don’t know what they don’t’ know. 
  • I live in University Place – there is nothing I could possibly want for there, but go 5 mile and resources are scarce
  • Contracted with Department of Vocational Rehabilitation as independent contractor.  I work with the Developmental Disability community on life span work – advocate for housing, transportation. 
  • There is nothing the human condition doesn’t experience that I can’t help with
  • You talk about racial equity – we all know about our biases.  Do some background – look at the reality of how people who don’t look like you contribute to the Country – imagine what that would be like if they didn’t do that. 
  • We are Visiting Mercy Housing facilities – going to two places a month – because I can’t cover all Pierce County towns if I don’t do that.  I chose Mercy Housing because we are in open enrollment – I’m was one of the original Affordable Care Act people when the online systems crashed on launch, and have some clinical background as an eligibility and outreach specialist.  And have Medicaid and Medicare coming out of me.
  • Where in parkland – at Mercy Housing, November in Buckley, then back in G Street Mercy Housing.  Work with mobile medical clinic.  I’m also helping a free clinic that is opening in Buckley, with meals,  showers, food, clothing for homeless on a daily basis.  He isn’t asking for money, just help building the facility. 
  • Key Peninsula is losing it’s only doctor, and need a new physician on the key (sadly, I just don’t think you’ll replace Dr. Roes. I’m always surprised at how many people live on the Key, but how that is still not quite enough to bring the services they all need. –ed)


Hire253 Brief Reportout

  • 556 people came to Hire253 – I do have the data done (but I’m still working on it – almost done, though –ed), and we’ll start to hear about jobs in the next couple of week.  Seemed like a lot received jobs – Safeway hired over 20, Rhino took in over 30.  We had 75 volunteers – we need more next time.  It was an incredible day – had our community resource room – multicultural got folks signed up for preschool – which is great for families experiencing homelessness.  I’m passionate about early learning.
  • Goodwill and Sound Outreach – had lots of people coming in to talk about financial stability
  • 211/United Way – amazing table –talking to everyone about the resources available through 211 (United Way’s priorities seem to ebb and flow, but they have been a rock providing 211 service to the community for years – I love that team. –ed)
  • Thank you everyone for helping me get this together
  • We may be near the 50% hiring mark
  • Super amazing, excellent day.
  • Theresa – how did you get so amazing?  It isn’t me, it is the community – I’m just mouthy and talk a lot. 
  • Lots of employers came with over 900 jobs. 
  • Sheri is going to help me pull the data form the first 2 events
  • Gerrit will work with all that data (oh yes I will – but you should have given me a deadline – I was all excited when you first gave it to me and did a bunch of work, then it got hard, and I’ve been avoiding it.  I’m all about the deadline… -ed)
  • Maureen – could we tie Hire253 in with housing vouchers, maybe?
  • Al – Tom Pierson – CEO of the Tacoma Pierce County Chamber – ask him to have the chamber official endorse hire253 and promote it among their membership.  Gerrit -  and have them fund it (yelled without a microphone – bad Gerrit. –ed).
  • Client Jason Cox – anyone work with him?  Jason came in - he was on channel 5 talking about this experiences – homeless in his truck with 2 dogs, lost his job.  Child support is his barriers – racking up $1,500 per month in back child support per month for 15 years.  Child support is a barrier for many men. 
  • Child support solutions – would love to see a presentation.  60% of pay is going to child support, it is a huge barrier.  (it is funny, I see all these single parents with very low or nonexistent incomes, and I think “where is the child support that should be coming from the other parent?”  But, like with everything, there is another side to the story – why is everything so complicated.  It is so much easier to just have a villain to blame and call it good, but no, we have to treat everyone like human beings.  –ed)
  • I’m still shocked and amazed we are getting over 500 people into that event.  We will keep on doing this- I’m not stopping until we get families out of poverty.


Advocacy Update

  • Martha – everyone did a great job at the City Council Meeting
  • We went to the city council meeting thinking we would get nothing – we were told to expect nothing.  It was the acceptance stage of grief. 
  • Someone – Martha maybe- reached out to folks who experience homelessness – and they came. 
  • Pastor John was there – 15 folks – we just signed in randomly.  It was amazing.  Without orchestrating who would speak.  Everyone had a piece and covered the ground. 
  • The mayor really did stop the meeting. 
  • Maureen – we all learn every day – from the people who have impediments we don’t expect.  I learned from someone who looked able, but had Multiple Sclerosis (MS) not to expect everyone can do what they look like they can do.  Anyone with a need for accommodation should tell us.
  • The Council was on their phones – Al asked them to get off their phones.  Al – I observed their body language, and called them out on it.
  • Al - I pointed out to the council that I had a PhD in Psychology (I hope I got that right, Al) , that most members of the Council were doodling at their cell phones.  You have to have courage to say stuff, even if it will get you fired (says someone who’s retired. But I’m sure you never held back much in your employed days, either. –ed)
  • Maureen – those of us who are retired have an obligation to speak out
  • The City is certain about what they heard.  One councilmember has sent an exhaustive list of questions to the city manager.  Linda Stewart – the director of Human Services is quoted in todays’ news tribute that a taskforce would take too long and be too complicated.  I suggest we need a task force, then if the City doesn’t do it, the Coalition does it.  Metro Parks may be willing to do it.  I also suggesting rotating encampments through the different parks, starting with Vassault.
  • Sent info to Jason Escareno with the County Council.  Also asked if Associated Ministries would convene something.  We should wait and see what the City says – a “how to get through the winter” task force.
  • One more opportunity for public comment- Tuesday, October 1st at 5pm.  – ordinance number is on 28615. You get 3 minutes (but there were so darn many folks, it was down to 2 minutes at the actual meeting.-ed).  Can e-mail the city clerk comments, too. Or e-mail council members directly ( at or lookup their e-mail or phone number in the League of Women Voters handy Directory of Elected Officials - -ed)
  • We want to get the section on limited shelter removed – or get the implementation delayed.  Several council member picked up “where will people go?” we need to say where they can go – I listed off where 350 beds could come from real fast.  I didn’t even know about Bethlehem and their work. 
  • There feels like a sort of a guerilla network of shelter around the county, as well.
  • Say what is important to you – whether it is reject that shelter section, or delay it until they have a safe place to be day and night .  Any suggestion – a taskforce, a type of shelter, put it out there and say thank you. (clear, personal and civil – there is much to learn from the Maureen Way. –ed)
  • There is a community of goodwill that wants to prevent as much harm to homeless people as possible.  That isn’t in opposition to safe parks.  If you see the video that accompanies the news tribune article (view it at -ed) – they interview a man living 3 years near People’s Park – about J street and varying levels of security. 
  • Neither Metropolitan Development Council or Associated Ministries were in the audience.  When the Mayor announced the task force, I reached out to Metropolitan Development Council and Mike Yoder about this contract in the works.  There are lots of moving pieces – the people moving those pieces don’t realize there are lots of us with knowledge and experience and energy and ideas and passion – and that the time is done when the people in the power chairs get to make all the decisions themselves. 
  • Pacific Lutheran University has a debate on Tuesday, October 1st on Housing, and we still have a candidate forum on the 11th
  • Greg – a couple observations – there are things said at the public forum by employees or council members that are inaccurate or misleading.   Unfortunately, public comment happens before the presentation.  Things like “70%” of people offered services are refusing services.  That may be a true fact, but misrepresents this situation.  Maureen did get up during her 3 minutes and said she had called all the resources and the list that the City is passing around is inaccurate.  Our elected and the public employees are not our rulers, they are our servers who work on our behalf and for us.  We can demand they must represent that information accurately.  We have a responsibility to call them out, respectfully and tactfully, but we have that responsibility. 
  • The city attorney, without the opportunity to cross examine him, said the penalty is just a civil infraction.  How many have criminal problems that started with a civil infraction?
  • Maureen – the 2nd part of trying to ensure everyone has a safe place for shelter – the 2nd part that is extremely troubling in the ordinance, is the latter part, where a criminal trespass is given if you don’t leave the park when told to.  You get excluded from any park for any reason – a whole section perhaps they thought no one would read.
  • Mary Anderson – I just wanted to say that the exclusion and trespass clause already exists .  Maureen – thank you so much.  Metro parks has committed to having someone here every Friday.
  • Al – I’d like to suggest we have the Mayor come and talk to us on some Friday morning
  • Theresa – I saw the power of this organization – Rosemary with lack of housing stats, Maureen with her testimony.  Gerrit saying that even with his connections he can’t find someone a place to sleep. I just want to say to all of you – it really made a difference.  I appreciate Maureen for organization to the degree you are organizing.  Everyone, even if you can’t make it, you boost all of our work.  Thank you Maureen.  Maureen – I can’t believe I’m now advocating for safe parking places.
  • PJ – I know I said this many times, if you need me, I’m there with you guys, if you need information or wisdom, just find me at nativity house and ask for PJ – I’ve been doing this for a lot of years and I like to see everyone pitching in as a voice. 
  • Maureen - James Pogue introduced me to the news tribune as staff to the coalition.  If I’m staff, how about doubling my salary?  I have done this work for years – I’ve never seen what this Friday morning group does – it is incredible. 

Good of the Order

  • Joy – Shared Housing Services has rooms available – contact us - -
  • Thanks everyone for coming today, remember, the Salvation army does provide all this stuff for us – food, setup, meeting space – leave some money if you want to support their work
  • Al – for information –  a group for us is looking for information on discarded meds (I wrote down “meals”, but I think Al meant “meds” – hopefully I got that right. –ed) on the streets – me and the Sherriff and Paul LaKosky – want a law for any provider who dispenses needs to include instructions on safe and appropriate places to dispose of them, and provide sharps boxes so they can bring them back – a public health effort. 
  • Theresa – if you can find it in your heart – say the parks in the poorest neighborhoods shouldn’t be where people are living.  Say we need safe places – by November 1st – that aren’t in our parks.  Surrounding business aren’t taking a hit.  Have a deadline.

Coming Attractions

  • October 4th – Preparation for Candidate Forums, Conversation with the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, Advocacy Update, and More
  • October 11thCandidate forums
  • October 18thWe Care Daily Clinics and a deep dive into addressing inequities in those experiencing homelessness
  • October 25thForward Operating Base Hope is going to come and talk about the expansion of their veteran outreach into Pierce County.
  • November 1st – The Sexual Assault Center will prevent on their work to help support and exit folks from trafficking situations. 
  • November 8th – Learn about the new Tacoma Fire Department Safe Station Program
  • November 15th - Started by high school students, Benevolence Blankets provides blankets to people experiencing homelessness
  • November 22nd - Were flightless birds naughty in a previous life, or is there a joy in the aquatic acrobatics of penguins that would suggest the opposite?  Join Ian Stevenson, the Karmapa Lama, and the Director of the Slater Museum of Natural History for a lively discussion of samsara, emus and eternity.

Restaurant Review

I remember the first day I ate sushi. I was maybe 19, and the experience left me feeling a bit queasy. But I got over it.  I cook salmon, but otherwise I like my fish as close to swimming as possible.  Tacoma has a number of good sushi options.  One I’ve enjoyed since the day it opened was TwoKoi.  Back then it was owned by Jerry Hyman and an sushi chef named Jackie (who had been at Fujiya, another great downtown sushi spot). Jackie has now moved on, and now it is TheKoi (1552 Commerce Street Ste#100, Tacoma, WA 98402 - ), and is owned by Tim Bartz.  Well, Tim and his mom. The restaurant keeps many of the things I’ve always loved about TwoKoi – a great vibe, a really well designed interior space, and hugely complicated Western Sushi.  I have to admit I only kind of like Western Sushi – which feels a world apart from traditional Japanese Sushi.  Japanese Sushi uses just a few ingredients – usually just fish and sushi rice.  It is about freshness and healthy and clean flavors.  Western Sushi is, well, the western version of that – big rolls with avocados, tempura, sauces and fish everywhere – on the inside of the roll, on the outside of the roll – it is all about more, more and more more.  It is a lot of flavor all at once, and it is really pretty fun.  Anyway, TheKoi does this really well.  They also Japanese style sushi, but that’s not the point of TheKoi. The menu was recently redone, and they have a pretty enjoyable bunch of things I’ve never had – like “sexy edamame”, and “Hamachi kama” – grilled yellow tail cheek bone.  As a side note, I had a lovely chat with Tim, the owner, and he’d love to give back to the community – especially with some food deliveries for a shelter, perhaps.  He also owns a teriyaki place in Fife.  If you have some suggestions for how he can give back, give me a holler and I’ll connect you up with him.  Anyway, TheKoi is priced as you’d expect of good sushi restaurant.  But the kitchen execution is spot on, and the service was smart and well timed – something sadly lacking in many restaurants.  If I’m dropping serious dough for a nice meal, don’t even think about bringing the entrée until after I’m done with the appetizer – cause that’s how you lose your tip.  With sushi (or tapas), I just want a slow flow of dishes, and they do a great job of that at TheKoi.  Anyway, for that next special occasion, pop on down to TheKoi – your taste buds with thank you.


  • Cynthia Stewart, League of Women Voters
  • Heidi Nagel, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Carolyn Weisz, University of Puget Sound
  • Levongia Carrera, Valeo/TrueBlue
  • Rebecca Morales, Franklin Pierce Youth First
  • Tori McDermott Hale, HCA/DBRHR Fellow, Franklin Pierce Youth First
  • Mike Yoder, Associated Ministries
  • Hava Tursky, Child Care Resources
  • Mary Anderson, Metro Parks
  • Peach McDougal, Clubhouse Advocate
  • Charleen Fitzgerald, Coordinated Care
  • Heather Wiley, Helping Hand House
  • Bryan Green, Olive Crest – Safe Families for Children
  • Greg Walker, Cardo Community
  • Mick Craw, The Evergreen State College
  • Al Ratcliffe, me
  • Theresa Power-Drutis, New Connections
  • Carolyn Read , St. Leo’s Parish
  • Maureen Howard, Homeless Advocate
  • Joy Stanford, Shared Housing Services
  • Sarah Hale, Tahoma Vista Village
  • Kacey Musgraves, American Singer-Songwriter (OK, she wasn’t there, but I’m a little obsessed with her music right now, and her songs were running through my head, so she was at least there in spirit. –ed)
  • Maria DePerro, Beacon Health Options
  • Cheri Coleman, Partner Café, Elevate Health
  • Barbara Kaelberer, Elevate Health
  • Yuni Medlin, LASA
  • Len Ganduglia, Tacoma Salvation Army
  • Gail Misner, Molina Healthcare
  • Rosemary Powers, New Connections
  • Rich Berghammer, Fellowship Bible Church
  • Stephanie Glover, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Christian Da, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Larry Parson, Helping Hands for Veterans
  • Channel Jensen, Puyallup Tribe
  • Ashley Olson, Puyallup Tribe
  • Jake Nau, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Benjamin Feldbush, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Greg Holman, Associated Ministries
  • Sherri Jensen, Valeo Vocation
  • Gerrit Nyland, Catholic Community Services
  • Marilyn Newton, Sea Mar
  • Elizabeth Herrera, Sea Mar
  • Pastor John, Got Jesus
  • Kelly Blucher, Goodwill
  • J. Gruenewald, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Stef Glover, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Tiegan Tidball, City of Tacoma