Tacoma: "State of the City" address 2013

By Ron Swarner on January 29, 2013


The words I feel best describe last night's Go Local Tacoma Shift Happens 2013 event can best be summed up by Charles Dickens from his book A Tale of Two Cities: "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." This is especially true as the city of Tacoma continues to grapple with the reality of a decimated budget, and business owners guard their marketing dollars as if it was Bimbo's Italian Restaurant pasta sauce recipe. Regardless of how much money we earn, our education, faith, ethnicity, neighborhood we live in, or types of jobs we have, nearly all Tacoma and Pierce County residents have been impacted directly or indirectly by the downturn our economy has gone through over the past four years. People are exhausted. Business owners are logging in more hours due to staff reductions. City leaders have gone through a string of stressful budget sessions. Marketing managers wrestle with social media. Consumers are trying eek out a life with less money and longer work hours.

The mood at last night's Shift Happens event was more somber than the past two years. Handshakes were short. A few booths weren't manned. Attendance seemed down, but it was difficult to judge with the change of environment from a warm room to a gray, cavernous hall.

That said, Shift Happens is exactly what this city needs. It's an opportunity for Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland to light a fire under our asses, to push the fact more than a 1,000 new businesses opened in Tacoma last year, to brag what our students have accomplished, to boast the city's forward-thinking and global goals, and to relay Tacoma success stories. Go Local Tacoma, the organization behind Shift Happens, knows people need to be seen and heard, respected and cared for by one another. Rebuilding community at the local level can dramatically restore human well being. That, to me, is what Shift Happens tries to accomplish. It's what is needed. I get the "shift $20 to a local business a month and it will result in millions to the local economy and more jobs." And I applaud Go Local's soon-to-be released Localist savings card. But, having everyone in one room - as large as is was - rallying around the go local concept, nibbling on each others successes brings the community together, one hug at a time, and encourages local spending. That's cool.

Congratulations to this year's Shift Happens Indie Award winners: Advocacy Champion Angela Jossy, Community Steward Justin Mayfield, and Entrepreneurial Empowerment winners Robert Bunge and Teresa Springer-Grounds.

Below is Mayor Strickland's "State of the City" address from last night's Shift Happenes event, shot from my shaky hands. "Tonight I ask you, what will be your civic contribution in 2013? Will you sit on the sidelines or will you get involved? What will be your role in making Tacoma a better city?" asks Mayor Strickland at the end of her address.

What are you going to do?