By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
Yes, we all know that Tacoma is a place like no other.
And yes, every town is unique in its own way.
But I would argue that Tacoma takes “unique” to a whole new level.
Unique, of course, means one of a kind.
Tacoma is certainly that – and much more.
Here are just a few characteristics that set Tacoma apart.
Some communities may have some versions of any one of these (not likely), but even if they did, I am certain Tacoma did it first – and if competition in such a thing is even possible, I’d argue that Tacoma did it best.
Beautiful Angle is a letterpress street-art poster project in Tacoma, Washington, founded in 2002.
Approximately once per month, graphic designer Lance Kagey and writer Tom Llewellyn create hand-crafted letterpress posters and surreptitiously (and randomly) distribute them around the city via wheat paste, staples, and car windows.
These posters usually reflect an image, idea or concept that resonates with some aspect of Tacoma. Sometimes an image, a phrase or an inside joke.
You can see (or in some cases, purchase) posters here: https://beautifulangle.com/.
Beautiful Angle posters were initially considered a nuisance by our city institutions, but out of sheer determination have become a civic presence most of us appreciate.
And yes, these posters have very limited production and quickly become collectible.
Unlike Beautiful Angle, Monkeyshines is anonymous.
So what is a monkeyshine?
A monkeyshine can be glass orbs, pottery, medallions or small pieces of art handmade by local artists and hidden around Tacoma. They are stamped with the coinciding animal for each Chinese Lunar New Year.
They are tucked around town (and beyond) for the Chinese Lunar New Year, but not all are found, so in theory at least, they could be found any time.
They have been set out since 2004.
About 2,000 were set out in 2021.
Who started monkeyshines?
That would be a state secret, but you can call her Mrs. Monkey.
Why does she do it?
Just for the fun of it.
You can see more on monkeyshines here: https://gritcitymag.com/2020/01/a-little-backstory-on-monkeyshines-in-tacoma/.
To financially support monkeyshines, you can go to https://gofund.me/8cd42c19.
Greater Tacoma Peace Prize
In the firm belief that peace begins locally, the Greater Tacoma Peace Prize recognizes, supports and advances peace-building and peacemaking by local citizens and institutions and for those they impact in order to further promote, achieve and sustain peace, justice and reconciliation at home and abroad.
You might think of Greater Tacoma Peace Prize as a local expression of the larger goals and beliefs of The Nobel Peace Prize – and you’d be right.
You can see more details – or nominate someone here: https://www.tacomapeaceprize.org/.
Tacoma Refugee Choir
If you like to sing, or write songs, or both, Tacoma Refugee Choir might be for you.
Their philosophy is very simple; there is nothing so difficult in your life, in your family or even in the world that can’t be improved by creating and sharing songs.
To join them, simply show up at one of their events.
No audition is required.
Musical training is not needed.
Participation is free.
You can see more details here: https://www.refugeechoir.org/.
Or you could go to one of their (always free) concerts.
Interesting and innovative schools
(SAMI, SOTA and IDEA)
Tacoma’s school programs are legendary.
As they should be.
If there is anything high school should be, it is a place where individual gifts, interests and passions can be explored and expressed.
Each of the three schools has a focus, but each one also addresses all required courses for high school graduation.
These schools are part of Tacoma Schools, but out of district students are allowed – in fact they welcome up to 20% of out of district students.
My biggest complaint about these schools is that they did not exist when I could have attended them.
My second complaint is that each one sounds so fascinating that, even if I were the right age, I still could not decide which one to apply to.
You can find out more (and apply) here: https://www.applytoidea.com/.
In their own way, each one of these ventures keeps Tacoma as unexpected and interesting as it continues to be.