So here it is, the last installment of "Jake's Take." In these 900 words, I will present my answer to the question I posed in the first installment back in February: What does Spokane have to offer people in their twenties?
It seemed like a fairly easy question that I would be able to answer easily. But alas, I am having one f-bombin' hell of a time with it.
Part of the problem is the question itself. Instead of asking what Spokane has to offer you, a better question might be what do you have to offer Spokane? (Thanks, JFK!)
Why is this better, you ask? Because trying to find things in Spokane that cater to 25-year-olds like myself, instead of thirtysomethings looking for a safe place with a family-friendly atmosphere that is "near nature, ahh, near perfect," is damn near impossible. Ultimately, this leads to a pessimistic view of this place so affectionately referred to as The Kan.
But look at what some people are doing for Spokane and suddenly a few vehicles of optimism pull into your empty surface parking-filled mind.
Spirit Skate Shop, the B-Side, Wells and Company, Funky Groovy Threads, Mootsy's Pizza, Studio 901, the Detour, Boo Radley's, Jimmy Z's, the Inlander and Local Planet (the closing of which was simply tragic for everything subversive in Spokane), local musicians, local artists and many other people and businesses are the ones doing their best to make Spokane a place people like me would like to live.
These examples are why I can say that Spokane has cool things going for it. I will never be able to convince people from out of town to visit with descriptions of NorthTown and the butterfly statues in Riverfront Park.
I will, though, if I can tell them that there's going to be a music festival with acts that only people under 30 (and maybe Mike Corrigan) have heard of, take them to a movie theater that shows indie movies served with some local beers, round up some bikes (oh, and helmets!) so we can take part in the monthly bicycle pub crawl, scour the bookshelves at that communist/socialist/anarchist bookstore in the alley behind that big building downtown, show them the offices of the publishing company I work for where I design and edit the web page.
But... I can't.
What I can do is hope they visit when Unified Groove Merchants is having its annual vinyl-swap, when the Spike coffee house is hosting the Quails from San Francisco (best show of my year), when Studio 901 is exhibiting artists I know, when we can hang out at my buddy's historic apartment in Browne's Addition or when we can eat at the Mexican truck for lunch and Kim's Korean Restaurant for dinner.
These are things I have done when people visited. The problem is that I didn't have much to do following the compact culture tour. That is when I noticed the cars leaving and found myself standing in an empty parking lot with my guest hitching a ride.
What needs to happen then? Obviously more young people, more support from young people for these places and events and more support from the city for local businesses when, say, Hoopfest or Bloomsday take over.
While most would admit that Spokane has improved, even during the year that I have been here, ominous forces still lurk as evidenced by the closing of Moon Shadow, Gabby's and Chicken 'n' More and the demolition of the Fort Spokane Brewery.
In the end, I look back to people I spoke with about Spokane, and only one person said, "It's cool here." Others may have mentioned that it's "getting better" or "could be cool," but if people living here have a hard time digging the city, how can it be a surprise that the most tempting move for that younger crowd is not toward Spokane but away?
Well that's it: I'm moving to NYC for grad school. I hope my one or two cents did something for this beloved -- and behated -- Spokane of mine.
Jake's Wish List
1. Start a record label to keep bands here and provide a source for local music and merchandise.
2. Open an indie movie theatre that serves food and drinks. I still remember going to the Magic Lantern as a kid and watching the guy in Never Cry Wolf eat mouse-and-saltine sandwiches.
3. Turn that warehouse building at Division and Riverside into a downtown supermarket. It's a great location, and there'd be parking galore once they move the Hoopfest baskets.
4. Make sure the proposed University District goes through. It's not hurting Boise or Seattle.
5. Create some trolleys or any form of public transportation that would connect downtown to Browne's Addition, the GU/Logan neighborhood, the Garland district and any other of the cooler areas in town.