The Cooper Point Journal

Editor in Chief, Creative Direction, Writing

While studying at The Evergreen State College, I led the relaunch and operation of the student newspaper the Cooper Point Journal, refocused on its heritage as an arts- and culture-centric print publication.

Founded in the early 1970s as a radical, student-led organization, it was where such figures as Matt Groening and Craig Bartlett published their first work before creating "The Simpsons" and "Hey Arnold."

When I arrived in 2011, years of disinvestment had gutted the paper of resources and community engagement, and it had atrophied into a seldom-used news blog.

Rather than succumbing to digitization, we completely reimagined the publication as a biweekly print newspaper enveloped in vibrant student artwork and filled with commentary and creativity.

The process was as fundamental as finding a printing facility, selecting a paper to print on, writing job descriptions and hiring staff, and loading up a pickup truck with bundles of warm newspapers and delivering them to pizza shops and cafes.

Winning an award in our yearly "Best of Olympia" edition became a source of pride for local businesses, and a campaign in our pages prevented the closure of the college's art gallery.

Circulation returned to historic levels, and we brought the paper from the brink of extinction to petitioning the college for expanded resources, filling the office with new state-of-the-art equipment for the first time in a decade, and set up for continued success since my departure.

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“Whose lives matter? Black lives matter!” was the chant ringing out in downtown Olympia Thursday evening as hundreds of protesters took to the streets in response to the shooting of two stepbrothers Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin by an Olympia police officer, drawing national media attention.

 

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Few bands in Olympia are as unapologetically fun as Holy Komodo. Thick bass lines, seductive harmonies, and infectious disco grooves cut easily through the fog of cynicism that clogs Olympia’s musical arteries. Their mission is to make you dance, so for a bit you can stop sulkily contemplating Foucault or whatever. 

 

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LAKE assembles a cabal of talented players for laid-back, vintage-sounding grooves in what is arguably most quintessentially Olympia band imaginable. Nearing a decade since their first release, Circular Doorway shows that the quartet has settled comfortably into their offbeat pop rock sound. Today their pastel twee style essentially defines the contemporary K Records aesthetic: unrelentingly mellow and cultishly familial

 

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While everyone fawns over Portland, Chicago and Austin as hot spots for new music, Olympia quietly ferments the kind of sublime weirdness that has contributed disproportionately to overall “alternative culture,” whatever that means. Obviously, themes established by riot grrrl and grunge—Olympia’s most heralded cultural export—remain pervasive in the music world. And what would indie rock be today without Sub Pop and K Records, both formulated by students at Evergreen?

 

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Nathan Barnes will show his distorted, grotesque mixed media portraits at Salon Refu for his new exhibition “Strangely Familiar.” The Olympia artist fits broadly into the genre of pop surrealism, where cartoonish assemblages make up uncannily warped scenes. In the new series, 3D collaged faces melt away horrifically, revealing biological mechanics and toy store bric-a-brac

 

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After dark on Friday night, downtown Olympia bustles and hums with a disoriented mood that creeps out from cafes and bars, casting in stark relief the city’s conflicting identities.

Olympia is the flowing spring of Northwest outsider art and radical activism. Drums echo through an alley murmuring with graffiti and cans and cigarette butts. Twenty-somethings clad in stained thrift store attire linger smoking beside a sea foam doorway, watching their friends hustle amps and instruments inside.

 

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