Exit133 is about Tacoma

A Vision for Tacoma

This Friday, December 11, Downtown On the Go will host what promises to be an engaging conversation about Tacoma - the future of transportation here, and how that fits in with larger visions for the South Sound.

This month's DOTG Friday Forum includes the potentially intimidating name "book club," but it's a bit of a misnomer: the recommended reading is just two short articles - less than 10 pages total. The articles are written by local historian Michael Sullivan, one of Tacoma's best story tellers. The forum will be a conversation with Sullivan, interviewed by UW Tacoma Urban Studies Professor Mark Pendras.

Tacoma is in a different place than when the articles were written in 2002 and 2004, so they're fascinating time capsules giving readers a reminder of where we have been as a city. As a historian, Sullivan has a unique perspective on what the city's history lends to its present and future. The perspectives from the early 2000s are a good reminder of the mood and energy of Tacoma's more recent past. As Sullivan remarks in his 2004 article:

Tacoma is quite a thing right now. Definitely not what it was and not what it will soon be. It’s at a point it is quickly moving past and could not possibly stop at. It may also be at the point close to a perfect destination for a physical city of its size and it may not know it. 

The articles contain other descriptive gems like this:

"Tacoma, more than any other city in the Pacific Northwest is reimagining and recomposing itself around an uncommon, coherent but sometimes hesitant mix of ideas about what cities are for, who they serve and how they should look."

And this:

"Tacoma is best viewed in two acts- as a vestigial city of straight forward practicality and industry that is reappearing and suggesting a sustained direction and as a vernal city filling in empty spaces and taking advantage of physical opportunities with contemporary cultural and social expressions."

It will be interesting to hear whether he sees Tacoma as entering a third act, or still completing the script for that second act. Either way, listening to Michael tell stories of Tacoma is always a treat. And with the addition of the insight and Urban Studies expertise of Dr. Pendras, the conversation on Friday promises to be quite illuminating.

We highly recommend taking a few minutes to read Sullivan's articles, and putting this lunchtime discussion on your calendar. In looking to the future, it's always good to consider where you've been, and these nine pages remind us that even the recent past has been quite a journey.

Friday Forum: Book Club: A Vision for Tacoma
Friday, December 11, 12:30-1:30
UW Tacoma, GWP 212


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