By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index
Tacoma’s greatest asset is its residents – this is not limited to those we see on any given day.
And it’s not even confined to those among us now.
Tacoma’s greatest asset is those who have, will, and currently, in some way, associate themselves with this area.
Some of us call Tacoma “The city of destiny”.
Whether that destiny is individual or shared, past, future or present is a continuous focus of conversation among those of us who find ourselves identified, voluntarily or not, with Tacoma.
To say that many of us have mixed feelings about Tacoma would be the ultimate understatement.
Our civic enthusiasm is, to put it mildly, a bit subdued – even, perhaps a bit sardonic.
And, as you may have noticed, some of us express our love/disdain/hope and passion toward our fair city through a number of unique providers, entrepreneurs and experiences.
On radio – KNKX
In a variety of guises, locations (and names) KNKX has served the Pacific Northwest since 1966.
KNKX is a continuing source for jazz and blues, and quality, non-commercial news, including NPR and regional coverage.
Unlike virtually every other radio station, local or national, KNKX is not “owned” by a corporation, a business or even a university. It is funded by a loyal (if not fanatical) community of listeners who value the station’s resolute independence.
In August of 2016, after an unprecedented public response to save the station from being sold and absorbed by a larger network, it became independently licensed and changed its name from KPLU (formerly based at and owned by PLU) to KNKX, which stands for “Connects,” acknowledging its intent to inspire, educate and entertain by reflecting the values and interests of the local community.
Besides a studio in downtown Tacoma, KNKX also has offices and a recording studio in downtown Seattle.
In addition to broadcast radio, KNKX has an online presence and is renowned around the world for its staff, events and programming.
And it all started in Parkland.
On the silver screen; The Grand Cinema
The Grand Cinema is the South Sound’s nonprofit home for independent, international, and local film.
As the only nonprofit cinema in Pierce County, The Grand supports and presents film festivals, filmmaker outreach, community events, and education programs for all ages and interests.
Like KNKX, The Grand has a legion of passionately obsessed members and supporters.
On stage: Tacoma Little Theater and Dukesbay Productions
If you’ve had enough CGI, plotless superhero movies – or maybe anything on a screen (large or small), Tacoma’s independent theater scene has a treat for you.
There is nothing like a live performance.
Tacoma Little Theater (TLT) has been around since October of 1918, when a group of civic-minded community members founded the Tacoma Chapter of the Drama League of America (also known as the “Tacoma Drama League”).
Dukesbay Productions is far newer (established in 2011) and just above the Grand Cinema at the eastern end of 6th Avenue.
The Dukesbay Theater (which seats about 40) is not just for use by Dukesbay Productions.
This performance venue is available for rent to other independent theater/experience companies who are based in or want to have smallish events in the Greater Tacoma area.
If your interest tends toward the hands-on, especially in the creative re-use dimension, don’t miss Tinkertopia. Art – and quasi-art – compilation material can be found here.
You can find remnants, seconds, scraps, off-cuts, discards, misprints and overstock from the larger commercial/industrial waste stream.
The proprietors seek out the odd and outlandish, and sometimes useful, but nearly always inspirational, materials for constructing that never-before-seen conglomeration, alternate life-form.
The Tinkerspace can be the site for (small) events for kids and those who want to re-visit childhood creativity.
If you have a long-neglected collection of beads, keys, ball bearings, floppy discs, foreign coins, maps, zippers, keys or trophies or just about anything else that can be relatively re-used, give them a call or email email@example.com.
No used clothing, batteries or furniture, please.
Antique Sandwich Company
Almost every Yelp! review used the term “funky” to describe this place.
The building was built in 1916 as a grocery store, and the Antique Sandwich Company has offered antiques and sandwiches (and more) there since 1973. They also brought the very first espresso machine to Tacoma – a few decades ago.
If you want “funky” food (or music sometimes) with an early 1970s vibe, this is the place. It’s just outside of Point Defiance; halfway between Vashon Island and Salmon Beach. (www.antiquesandwich.com)
Puget Sound Plungers
Yes, I know it sounds like a plumbing supply company, but it is far more than that.
If you feel the need for something legal and non-caffeinated to wake you up at the deepest level of your being, this is the group for you.
You may have seen them at one of the waterfront sites in or around Tacoma. These are the people who step out into the water and hang out there.
Yes, that water is cold; that’s the idea.
These are the people, who by their willingness to go where few of us dare, remind us that there are few things more healing than salt-water (and companionship) and that probably nothing is better for our hearts and souls than stepping beyond our (literal) comfort zones.
Editors note: I’ve done cold plunges before, but not with this group. I look forward to joining them.
You may have seen their posters around town, or you may know someone who is a collector following the Beautiful Angle crew as they post these graphic creations around town. All are handmade on a letterpress. Since 2002 these posters could be found (if you are lucky) on a near-monthly basis.
In true Tacoma fashion, these limited-run posters are set out in the wild, and who knows whose hands will find them?