Exit133 is about Tacoma

(Re)Defining Tacoma?

We're hearing what feels like a growing conversation around the question of Tacoma's identity. Or maybe it's a question of Tacoma's brand...

A couple years ago we saw the introduction of the #FearlessExploration branding, which has a new iteration in the "Find yourself in Tacoma" campaign. Then there's the City's Economic Development Department ad aimed at Silicon Valley companies, explaining how affordable Tacoma is. That got the attention of Geekwire, among others. Marguerite Giguere is single-handedly championing the Move To Tacoma message far and wide.

Now you can also find a list of the Top 10 Things to Experience When You Visit Tacoma on the City website.

Just 20 minutes away from the Seattle-Tacoma Airport, and easily accessible from downtown Seattle and other neighboring cities, Tacoma is a city on the rise.

  1. Waterfront
  2. Glass Art
  3. Shopping
  4. Museum District
  5. Point Defiance Park
  6. Dining and Nightlife
  7. Mount Rainier
  8. Chambers Bay
  9. Transportation
  10. Tacoma + Pierce County Visitor Chamber

All this talk makes us wonder - is this all just a rebranding of what Tacoma has always been? Or is there something more going on with Tacoma's identity or with its place in the world? Matt Driscoll's recent column asked if Tacoma was drifting away from its gritty roots, and we have to wonder, gritty or not, is Tacoma the same town it always has been, just with new ad campaigns and new streetscaping? Or is there more to it?

The conversation about Tacoma's identity isn't a new one, but what's turning up the volume now?

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Just be certain to be driving a Ford Raptor or equivalent unless you want to replace the suspension on your vehicle after driving around Tacoma.

May 15, 2015 at 11:59 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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If it were my list I’d drop #10 and add Beer.

May 15, 2015 at 1:19 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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#10 is a joke. “Beer” is a fun replacement. The wording of a few other items could be improved as well. How about “Five Unique Museums” instead of “Museum District” (which is vague and excludes LeMay and Foss Waterway Seaport). And “Free Light Rail” instead of “Transportation”. Add “Zoo and Aquarium” to “Point Defiance Park”. Maybe “Urban and Natural Waterfronts” to expand upon “Waterfront”. And “Shopping” is a stretch, maybe “Beautiful, Affordable Neighborhoods” or “Historic Neighborhoods” instead? Oh, and should Mt. Rainier and Chambers Bay be below Shopping and Dining?

Isn’t it nice that we can debate what was left off a Top 10 list?

May 15, 2015 at 2:25 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I second your comment about transportation. What Tacoma has going for it is a free streetcar (we can call it light rail all we like, but it is technically a streetcar) and cheap abundant parking throughout Downtown and most of the neighborhoods.

In all other areas our transportation is really second class. The state of our roads outside of Downtown is quite poor, our bus service is severely underfunded and inconvenient to use, and the Sounder is useless for anything but the commuting and the odd Seahawks game. Even the so called “express” bus to the airport makes far too many stops in South King County to truly be called an express.

May 15, 2015 at 4:59 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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We should host a Curtis LeMay “Dr Stranglove type” B-52,B-47,B-36 and B-29 Museum along with nuclear bomb displays right next to the Harold LeMay Car Museum. This would be like a tale of two doomsday themed museums.The Nuclear threat of the Cold War that never happened as compared to the Anthropocene,Global Climate change and Ocean Acidification Global Holocaust thats actually happening in the Earth’s greatest sixth extinction event in geologic history due to human activity (motor vehicles and their moronic infrastructure are especially a large part of this ongoing global holocaust).
Two LeMay Museums with one much more destructive and evil than the other (Hint it’s the car).
I am reminded of R.R.Andersons awesome cartoons at Feedtacoma.

A Tacomic Look at LeMay - America’s Car Mausoleum: CAR OF THE WEEK


Illegally Filling Wetlands Won’t Stop A Rising Sea Level

May 15, 2015 at 5:39 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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The Doombat has spoken!

May 15, 2015 at 5:53 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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“...Global Climate change and Ocean Acidification Global Holocaust thats actually happening in the Earth’s greatest sixth extinction event in geologic history due to human activity (motor vehicles and their moronic infrastructure are especially a large part of this ongoing global holocaust). Two LeMay Museums with one much more destructive and evil than the other (Hint it’s the car).”—RHTCCComedyfan

I’ll be the last man on earth to argue that exposure to Tacoma can lead to a defensible mental outlook and moral framework to cope with everyday living. But if Tacoma is renewing itself into a tourism center, then let’s face reality. The summary conclusion of all this chit-chat is that Tacoma puts the “vulture” in the term “Culture Vulture.”

As for the general topic of transportation and the particular category of global powersports, Tacoma has a world class distribution network to enable green manufacturing to flourish, if not surpass Tacoma’s former industrial glory.

Electrification of all forms of motor vehicles is on the vanguard of high-tech industrial design and applied science.

Let’s all not get caught up in the idea that Tacoma’s only hope for the future is to provide a life of diversion, self indulgence, and passivity.

May 18, 2015 at 11:25 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Potholes and pot shops and pot shops and potholes and if the City wants to add another cultural museum to highlight the cultural heritage here it may as well be the Tacoma/Pierce County Museum of the Culture of Political Corruption.

May 15, 2015 at 5:57 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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If I didn’t live here, I’d have to say that Cleveland (the mistake by the lake) and Detroit would be higher up on my list of US cities to visit.  Seattle and Portland are the cultural centers of the PNW, and that is okay.  Can we focus on improving quality of life for the people who live and work here rather than trying to “market” ourselves to tourists who would rather go up the Space Needle, drive to Mount Rainier, figure out where Grey’s Anatomy was filmed, and check out all the weirdos from Portlandia?  I, for one, would prefer the marketing $s go to fill potholes, repair sidewalks, and improve our local bus system.  Tacoma is a cool place to live (dining or barhopping on 6th Ave, grabbing a coffee and some fresh produce in Proctor, theater or fine dining downtown, and walks along the waterfront on a sunny day) and can be a fun weekend destination for people within driving distance, but will probably never be a world destination.  Lots of cities have random little museums, coffee shops and breweries abound in many large cities, and most major port cities have a pretty waterfront.  These are all awesome features to have, but will never draw in tourists on a large scale.  In the meantime, we have a transportation system that sucks (pothole-riddled streets, crumbling or missing sidewalks, and a deficient bus system that doesn’t work for 97% of us) and entire sections of the city filled with homes, businesses, and vacant buildings that aren’t even code compliant.  Time to get the priorities straight.

May 19, 2015 at 2:19 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I think people, including myself, are tired of the theatrics in cities like Portland and Seattle.  In my opinion, what will make Tacoma stand out is the normalcy that we experience here and that is what we need to continue to do, just be average and improve the heck out of our city for the people that live here now.

May 20, 2015 at 4:17 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I like your point. We should strive to be a healthy average city where people can work and live. And #10 on the list? Really?

May 24, 2015 at 12:11 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Altered Chords

Each of the 10 items should attract a visitor to Tacoma.  For instance, a potential visitor would say “let’s visit Tacoma - I’d like to see that car museum” .  I can not picture anyone saying “let’s visit Tacoma - I hear they have good transportation there” or “Let’s visit Tacoma - we’ve always talked about visiting that Tacoma + Pierce County Visitor Chamber”.  What are these 2 items doing on this list?

May 24, 2015 at 7:27 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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