First Night Excludes TACOMA Artists, While Claiming to Be a Celebration of the TACOMA Arts Community

For those of you who have been asking.

I will not be performing in the midnight fire spectacle at First Night this year.

Neither will any other Tacoma fire performer.

Why… you might ask, would a TACOMA festival allegedly celebrating the TACOMA arts community exclude Tacoma performers who support, volunteer for and give to the community 365 days a year?

The answer is the out of town production company, EnJoy productions headed by Martha Enson which was given control over the outdoor portion of the event four years ago.

When she took over, she had already hired her friends from Seattle to headline the midnight fire spectacle, we were foisted on her (much to her annoyance) because it had already been announced that I was performing at First Night during the Le Diner En Blanc fundraiser (a performance which I spent hours choreographing mixing music and practicing for and did for FREE to SUPPORT the TACOMA Arts community and First Night) she completely blew off our first meeting, was late to our second meeting and was generally irritated that she had to deal with me/us.

I had to fight tooth and nail for the local performers to be anything but a fleeting opening act for her out of town friends. We local Tacoma people scrambled to find someone to do the flaming numbers after she fired the person who’d been doing it forever at the last minute and took on other organizational duties on behalf of First Night to make certain it was a success (she was in way over her head and it showed)

The following year, it was brought to my attention by other TACOMA fire performers, that she was advertising on the Seattle Burners lists looking for fire performers. She had not contacted any Tacoma fire performers. I was busy with a new job, grad school and needed more than two weeks advance notice to take the night off work, and didn’t have time to fight with an out of town entity who had no ties to nor love for TACOMA and only wanted to hire her Seattle friends.

Until I got Martha’s email, asking me to perform in the parade, for NO PAY.

I responded with a very polite, “I’m surprised to hear from you, given that you are advertising in Seattle for fire performers and have completely ignored the Tacoma fire performers”

That polite response led to increasingly nasty responses from her, to the point that I finally had to tell her to stop emailing me and that I didn’t care to perform that year (no way did I want to deal with her)

I contacted board members from First Night who were more concerned that what I was saying would hurt the organization than with her exclusion and treatment of TACOMA artists.

I backed off, for love of an event and organization that I thought was about TACOMA and it’s amazing art community.

The board never addressed her nepotism and favoring of her personal friends from Seattle over TACOMA performers. Thankfully, this did allow a handful of TACOMA fire dancers to perform in order to shut us and our supporters within the community up.

Last year, an extremely talented team from Tacoma put together a scaled down version of an extremely popular event (which I will not name, because their egregious mistreatment by Martha and First Night is not my story to tell) which included the fire dancers in the Midnight Spectacle. I was honored to be hired, not by Martha, not by First Night but by members of our TACOMA arts community who love and dedicate themselves to this city and community.

I thought everything was fine, until Martha started hassling the organizers (backstage at the very last minute, which is extremely unprofessional and counter productive) after everything was set, blocked and rehearsed with the band.

Despite Martha’s unprofessional behavior, last year was an amazing experience, and I thought First Night once again supported the TACOMA art community,

How wrong I was…

This year, I emailed Martha asking if the same person/people were organizing the fire spectacle this year, because it was such a great experience last year.

I (and other TACOMA fire performers) were notified by Martha that our services would not be needed because she again hired her Seattle friends. She did make the extremely “benevolent” offer to let us perform in the parade and maybe around the fire pits for NO PAY.

We politely declined.

Two years ago, instead of even pretending they gave a rat’s butt about TACOMA artists and performers, we were flat out ignored by the First Night Board (except one or two that asked us to be quiet about it)

Last year, we had hope that maybe it was going to be about TACOMA, that maybe TACOMA artists and organizers would be included, recognized and respected.


This year, we were completely excluded. Emails to First Night, including direct to the board president have been ignored.

As a few of us told our stories to friends, many of whom are also artists and performers, one common thing became clear. Well over 75% of any acts booked for First Night are Seattle performers (don’t get us wrong Seattle, we love you)

Story upon story upon story were told of TACOMA artists and performers who never got so much as a “thanks but no thanks” from First Night.

We hear you loud and clear First Night. You don’t care, you don’t value those who have given our blood, sweat, tears, time and money to TACOMA and to First Night.

First Night is about the “bottom line” and out of town producers hiring their out of town friends.

I for one, will not waste any more time, energy nor tears on an organization that has turned its back on Tacoma and those who create and nurture the community First Night falsely claims to celebrate.

If any of you are interested in also being ignored and disrespected you can make your feelings known:

on their Facebook page

their Facebook event page

by emailing them from their web page

by emailing the board president directly

Oh, and if you are interested in some fiery, TACOMA fun for NYE, reach out to one of your LOCAL TACOMA fire people (you know who we are). We just may have something in the works…




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August Postcard Poetry Fest, err… Project 2017

As the August Postcard Poetry Fest, err… Project, comes to an end (thank goodness for procrastinators and bonus cards-the mail isn’t boring yet) many of us like to reflect on and publish what we’ve written.

August POetry POstcard Fest

We had some bonus inspiration on the 21st of the month this year with the solar eclipse, many of us wrote poems on that day and/or bought the cool eclipse postal stamps that look like a sun in totality until the warmth of your thumb reveals the sun beneath the black disk.

This year, I decided to do Haiku. For those of my friends/readers who are not poets, Haiku is a Japanese poetry form, most often with a 5-7-5 syllable pattern. It’s incredibly challenging to properly express thought/emotions/concepts with so few words and such restrictions. Challenge accepted.

This year, instead of coming up with a theme (other than Haiku, which I guess was a theme) I decided to let the postcard be my inspiration.

last year, I created a single watercolor postcard that I printed copies of, but it was kind of boring to just have one card. This year I thought I’d print up four or so.

Instead, I decided to grab up all of the postcards I’d been using for practice and then paint enough to complete the fest, err… project…

Some of my cards were pretty crude technique practice that I wasn’t about to toss because those Strathmore cards aren’t cheap, and some I liked. I figured that since it’s about the poetry, folks wouldn’t mind amateur watercolor; At least I didn’t buy them at Walgreens (not that there’a anything wrong with that) As I stated to the group when I came up with this idea, “at least I was feeling something when I painted them”)

I got all 31 cards out in the intended time frame as well as 13 bonus cards sent to random participants (to several of the international participants who often don’t get as many cards, friends I’ve made through the fest and one side project)

So here is 2017 amateur watercolor inspired Haiku…

Mermaid – Aug 1

Song of the siren
Dangerous yet beautiful
Draws you to the rocks

Jaw – Aug 2

Skull found on the ground
Gnawed on by small animals
From death comes new life

Jellyfish – Aug 3

Iridescent float
Mesmerizing, yet deadly
Gaze from a distance

Coffee – Aug 4 (there is a legit coffee stain on the card)

Must find energy
Nectar of the sacred bean
Morning ritual

Starfish – Aug 5

Lying on the pier
Fleshy bits exposed to gulls
Tossed back in the sea

Spring blooms – Aug 6

Weary of the cold
Rain and gloom so oppressing
buds promise rebirth

Chicken – Aug 7

Scratching and Pecking
Their antics are so silly
Hope to make you smile

Solstice – Aug 8

And so it begins
sultry days getting shorter
Summer is fleeting

Do Fish have lips? – Aug 9

Rising to the top
hungry lips emerge
hoping to be fed

Plant Sex – Aug 10

Pistils ripe, swollen
Stamens shamelessly displayed
Plants say, let’s get laid

Black Eyed Susan – Aug 11

Colorful surprise
cheerfully wave in the breeze
bringing summer joy

Seastacks – Aug 12

Ancient sentinels
Carved by the wind and water
wearing down each day

Berries –  Aug 13

Guarded by sharp thorns
juicy treats burst in the mouth
for those who are brave

Seahorse – Aug 14

Pregnant papa swims
preparing to birth the young
Gender role of note

Daisies – Aug 15

Please do not eat them
Old enough to understand?
Four boys and a dog

Crow – Aug 16

There is a murder
in the tree in my backyard
raucous and noisy

Lavender – Aug 17

Fragrance in the breeze
wafts along the city street
so sweet and calming

Amanita – Aug 18

Psychedelic trip
hidden on the forest floor
deadly indulgence

Sunflowers – Aug 19

Garden attraction
stately and magnificent
beauty and bird food

Butterfly – Aug 20

emerging from the darkness
life is short, fly free

River – Aug 21

From the greatest heights
flowing, changing the landscape
down to the ocean

Orca – Aug 22

Fins break the surface
glistening as they frolic
a joy to behold

Lupine – Aug 23

A chill in the air
as summer begins to fade
they will not give up

Crocus – Aug 24

Snow still on the ground
Pop! There is its lovely face
a spring harbinger

Two trees – Aug 25

Town where I grew up
guarded by high sentinels
gracing the hilltop

Cold water – Aug 26

Friend from out of town
Oh sweetie, we don’t swim here
we just look at it

Sequoia – Aug 27

Towering above
reaching up to the heavens
inspiring all

Faerie Moon – Aug 28

In the dark of night
there is much that is unseen
mysteries unfold

Bird – Aug 29

Gracefully takes flight
it escapes our earthly bonds
oh to have that gift

Storm – Aug 30

A change in the air
the sky, alive and roiling
almost upon us

Fire – Aug 31

Glow in the distance
destruction is imminent
as is rebirth

Bonus Cards

1 –Rainbow Peace – part of the #dearyoungperson project sent to young people in Charlottesville Virginia after the violence.

Dear young person.
You are not alone
The world shares your pain
Is outraged on your behalf.
We stand with with you and yours
Hate, bigotry and violence will not win
Because we stand with you
You are not alone!

2 – Forest Sunset

By the campfire
sun sinking below the hills

3 – Waterfall

Gently cascading
mist and runoff quench plants thirst
for water is life

4 – Peach

Winter down under
this juicy august peach is
a bit of summer

5 – Wonderland

Wilderness healing
step by step, nature soothes souls
The trail waits for us

6 – Eclipse

waiting for totality
blocked, yet it still shines

7 – Cherry Tree

City Oasis
petals floating in the breeze
falling like pink snow

8 – Coast

Eagles soar above
azure waves crash against cliffs
power and beauty

9 – Skull

In a dusty box
what once flew across the skies
serves to educate

10 – Forest

Shady darkness rules
mushrooms, moss, cool scented air
natures cathedral

11 – Beach

Life is chaotic
a journey to the ocean
heals the weary soul

12 – Rainier

The mountain is out
describes fabulous weather
she brings us great joy

13 – Space

My motivation
missing, nowhere to be found
Engulfed by black hole?


And thus ends another August filled with art, poetry and being excited about checking the mail.

Next year, perhaps I’ll be able to do better than 13 bonus cards.

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It is ALL of our Responsibility!!!

Yesterday, I read a post from a friend, who is a POC stating that she was standing in her apartment crying; that is how stressful, fear inducing and overwhelming it is to be Black in America right now.

I can’t imagine how terrifying it is to be: a person of color, Jewish, trans, gay, or a member of any other marginalized group right now. I’m sad, angry, depressed, frustrated, despondent, furious, disillusioned, overwhelmed and losing hope myself, and I don’t have to fear for my life/safety when I leave the house.

I am calling out racism and bigotry everywhere I see it, from one on one conversations with fellow white people in hopes of making them understand that silence is violence, to writing/calling my congress critters, to donating money to organizations fighting for justice.

For every person who is able to express how scared they are, how many more are suffering in silence?

How many people who are just trying to live their lives feel this way and aren’t comfortable sharing it out?

How can we as a nation allow this shit to continue?

We MUST stand up against hate, we MUST stand up against discrimination. We as white people with privilege MUST use that privilege to dismantle the system that allows not only the overt displays of hatred and bigotry, but the underlying issues that cultivate it.

The KKK, neo-Nazis, any group that is based in hate and superiority is a CANCER that has no place in the body of this country.

Anyone or group that supports or makes excuses for these people, up to, including and especially the current occupant of the White House need to be shut down. No, there aren’t “many sides”. There are two sides, “right” and “wrong”.

For those of you who “don’t want to be political”. That’s privilege right there because it doesn’t affect you personally.

You want to respect/let people have their views because you’ve known them since 2nd grade? You’re part of the problem.

You want to get out of taking action by claiming to support “free speech”? The first amendment does not protect speech that incites people to violence/to commit illegal acts.

You need to SPEAK UP! To your friends, racist uncle, neighbors, and political representatives. Those who support hate need to be shunned. They need to know that they have no place in a civilized society and that we won’t suffer their attitudes/actions.

Your silence allows this shit to continue, unchecked.

Your silence is violence.

Which brings me back to the beginning of this little missive.

We all have friends who are hurting, scared, disenfranchised and who are being targeted by the hate that the current occupant of the White House has emboldened and empowered.

While we need to keep fighting the big fight on all levels, we must not forget those who are suffering the most.

Check in with them, tell them you love them, tell them you will fight for them. Don’t expect them to tell you how to do that, but listen if they do.


Update on the Ferry Park situation – and sign up for a meeting with the Sector 1 Lt.

Because of everyone’s increasing vigilance and demands that the city pay attention, listen to us and take action, we now have a temporary stop gap in place with TPD SET patrols. They’ve been coming back at dark and clearing out the park.

You can view the previous call to action here:

The first night, there were confrontations and some attempted to goad the officers. They responded with humor and grace.

Last night a crowd started gathering in the park in the late afternoon. A bit after sunset, TPD arrived and about half of the really bad players skulked off.

Initially the rest just set up camp on the corner and it looked like another long night with 40+ people blocking the intersection, yelling, fighting, dealing drugs racing cars and spinning brodies in the intersection, but they finally wandered off

I caught a bit of cell phone FB live feed… It’s public for now, but I’ll set it back to friends only once anyone who wants to look at it and/or save it has the chance.

Typical night at Ferry Park. (not really typical, this is a much smaller crowd than usual)TPD came and ran them out of the park, but it appears they're going to hang out on the street corner and the numbers will grow, often to 40+ shit goes on until the wee hours of the morning… blocking the intersection and not letting people drive through. Also open drug dealing, fights and asshats spinning brodies in the intersection and racing up and down the streets.

Posted by L. Lisa Lawrence on Wednesday, July 26, 2017

you can actually save FB Live Feed videos by copying the url into a browser window, then changing the www into a m (for mobile) so the first part of the address would look like

Once you do that you have to play the video before right clicking to get the option to “save video as”. If you don’t hit play, you’ll only get the “save as” option and it won’t save in video format.

It looks like the temporary measures are breaking the cycle, but we need a permanent plan.

Lt. Standifer of TPD sector one has been instructed by his superiors to reach out and meet the community to talk about long term solutions. (something his predecessor Rob Jepson did regularly, he was awesome)

A meeting will be scheduled very soon.

He has asked for email addresses for those who would be interested in meeting about this issue and coming up with a long term plan.

You can email your address to him and let him know you want to be at the meeting and/or receive notifications at

I am hoping that this means he will be better about listening to and working with community members.

There’s only one way to find out….

Tacoma’s Hilltop, Ferry Park, S 14th St is Out Of Control! TAKE ACTION!!!

The area on S 14th Street from MLK to Cushman is the current hot spot for narcotic trafficking, illegal explosives (can’t very well call this stuff fireworks) blocking the streets, fights and harassing people.

Cars are regularly racing and spinning brodies in the street.

This goes on well into the wee hours of the morning.

For the last several weeks, one can not even drive down Sheridan Ave past S 14th St because the street is blocked by large crowds of people.

I saw a group of young males literally chase a woman who was asking them to quiet down back into her house, sexually harassing her and telling her to “fucking get used to it.”

This element now OWNS these streets and Ferry Park.

The know they own it.

If and when TPD shows up (they have been trying a little bit more lately once you can get past the people at South Sound 911) they are ineffective.

They either just drive by, stop their cars without getting out, or contact one or two people and then leave with the problem still going on.

Last night they left Ferry Park with 20 people still blocking the street, yelling, fighting, blasting music and drug dealing.

On the rare occasion they actually break up a crowd, they never come back. These crowds know this and they return in greater numbers, bolder than before.

We have been advised by our TPD CLO Martin Price to dial 911 because these narcotics trafficking groups were displaced from the Stop Mart.

The reason for calling 911 is because it is a crime (usually multiple crimes) in progress and that’s the only way it gets recorded for statistical purposes. The folks at LESA/South Sound 911 are getting a bit better about taking the calls and not just blind transferring to the non-emergency number but it’s still a great exercise in frustration to try to deal with them (I sure they don’t like it any more than we do right now because we are freaked out and angry when we call and don’t have the details they want from us – Seriously, there are 40 people in the middle of the street, there is a fight, do you really think I’m going out there to get details as to who is doing what? Have the officers look for the huge, loud violent group of people in the middle of the street, it’s quite obvious from blocks away.

The point is.

This is being allowed to continue.

It is getting worse not better.

We are not getting any help (or sleep, or peace or feeling of safety in our own homes)

Something needs to be done.

It needs to be done NOW!

Those of you who have lived here any length of time remember the beating death of Eric Towes.

It’s only a matter of time before the drive by shootings increase again and/or someone is beaten to death, again.

We must hold TPD and our alleged city leaders accountable.

So here’s what we can do.

Dial 911, tell them that CLO Martin Price has instructed that this be a 911 call and that these groups are known narcotics traffickers.

Call every time. They won’t have documentation that it is a problem without the calls no matter how frustrating and time wasting they are.

Contact your local CLOs

Contact your city council representatives

Take photos, better yet video, and post/send it to local media outlets.

Tonight will be even worse than last night, so I’ll be taking video and hashtagging #tacoma #hilltop #unsafe #crime

We MUST take action!


When Mothers’ Day Is Anything But Happy

Tomorrow, mothers will be served breakfast in bed, taken out to brunch and children of all ages will happily send cards, flowers and good wishes to the women who raised them.

Social media, well… all media will be filled with reminders of the day, stores will be filled with shoppers, restaurants will be overflowing with mothers and their children and even your local street corner may be occupied by someone selling mothers’ day flowers.

It will be a day of love and happiness.

But not for everyone.

It will be a day of inescapable pain for many.

Women who have tried to conceive and been unable

Mothers who have lost children

Those who have lost their mother

Those who were abused or neglected by their mother

Those who are estranged from their mother

Yes, a woman who has been unable to conceive can adopt, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t feel a great loss and/or inadequacy for not being able to do what many traditions deem to be the most important and sacred duty for a woman. Add to that, the fact that the average cost of adoption in this country ranges from $34,093.00 to $39,966.00 which is a hefty debt to take on, on top of what it costs to raise a child and it’s not so simple or even possible for many.

For a woman who has lost a child by miscarriage, illness, suicide or accident, Mothers’ Day is nothing but overwhelming pain, loss and (unfounded) guilt. We all expect to outlive our parents, but no one expects or should have to bury a child.

While we all expect to outlive our parents, it doesn’t make that loss any less traumatic and life altering.

Many more suffer in silence because they were neglected or abused by their mothers. It’s still considered taboo to speak about such things, and often when the victims of such behavior choose to share with those they trust, that trust is most often, albeit, unintentionally violated by well meaning but misguided advice to forgive and get over it. It’s not that simple or perhaps even possible, and if you are ever tempted to give that little nugget of advice to someone… Don’t.

For those whose abusive, or neglectful mothers are still alive, they may have made the painful decision to sever ties for their physical and emotional health and that of their families. No matter how grievous the offenses against them and no matter how many other options were exhausted first, they are wracked with guilt and don’t need someone telling them that they should “reach out” on Mothers’ Day. Again, if you’re tempted to offer this advice… Don’t

Those of you who are or still have their mothers, embrace that day, tell and show them how much you love them.

If you are a mother, hug and kiss that child and tell them how much you love them and how proud you are of them (bonus if they are of an age where they pretend to hate it 😉

None of us will begrudge you the happiness that we lost or were never afforded. We don’t want to ruin the day for you. If we care about you, we want you to have your happiness because we never know when life will change or end and that happiness is fleeting.

I share this, in hope that you will not, in an effort to help, make this day harder on someone who is estranged from their mother or has bad memories of their mother.

I share this because many people (far more than you would likely ever imagine) will be in pain tomorrow, most of them will not tell anyone how painful Mothers’ Day is for them out of fear of ruining the celebration for others and/or the fear of being judged and given unsolicited, inappropriate and damaging advice.

I share this so they will know that their experiences and pain are valid and that they are not alone.



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I Adulted! A Morning After Tax Deadline Triumphant Oratorio

I Adulted!
A Morning after tax deadline tribute sung to the tune of the Halleluiah Chorus

*My apologies to George Frideric Handel






I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted!
I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted!

Filed just before the midnight deadline
I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted!
Filed just before the midnight deadline
I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted!
Filed just before the midnight deadline
I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted!

I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted!
I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted!
Filed just before the midnight deadline
I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted!

Filed just before the midnight deadline
(I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted!)
I Adulted!

The evil schedule C
I have slain
I am now triumphant
Over tax forms
Over tax forms

And I won’t have to do this till next year
And I won’t have to do this till next year
And I won’t have to do this till next year

And I won’t have to do this till next year

The IRS can just go bite me I Adulted! I Adulted!
You got my money but not my soul I Adulted! I Adulted!
The IRS can just go bite me I Adulted! I Adulted!
You got my money but not my soul I Adulted! I Adulted!
The IRS can just go bite me I Adulted! I Adulted!
You can just go and bite me

No penalty
No penalty
No penalty
I have escaped your trap for one more year

I stayed up late well past my bedtime
Did the right thing I Adulted! I Adulted!
I feel like crap and need lots of coffee

IRS can go bite me
IRS can go bite me
I feel like crap and need lots of coffee

but it was worth with, it was worth it so very worth it
(IRS can go bite me)

I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted! I Adulted!
I Adulted!


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Mourning the Loss of an Icon

I’ve never been one to linger over the death of celebrities.

Yes, I’ll feel sad, I’ll probably go to YouTube and watch a few videos, reminisce about what work of theirs I enjoyed and then move on with my life, because while yes, it is sad, I didn’t personally know them and I have limited time and energy.

I’ve often been perplexed by the outpouring of extreme grief for someone the person who is despondent over the loss of doesn’t personally know; I’ve always felt that the excessive time energy and resources spent in mourning, would be better focused on people we know in real life; our friends, families and communities.

I have always felt that “celebrity worship” in general was over the top and that we’d all do better to give more time and attention to the things and people who are in our real lives, every day.

While some of it seems excessive to the point mental imbalance, I understand that characters in films or books become familiar and inspire us, and that those in the music industry literally created the soundtrack of our lives.

As we get older, more and more of those who had impact on our lives die, some before their time. In many ways, these losses represent the death of our childhood, coming of age or other important times in our lives. It’s also a harsh reminder of our own mortality.

The world is rapidly changing, people are more divided than they have ever been (in my lifetime) and many of us fear greatly for global political stability, the economy, the environment and those who are marginalized and often victimized in our society and it’s natural for the loss of something that helped us through hard times or inspired us to have a significant impact when we’re already sad, stressed and worried.

I noticed something interesting with the latest loss of a well known and beloved person. Not only was her work and her most beloved character being mourned, but she was being mourned as a real person, not just a character, a person who did good work on behalf of others, who used her celebrity status to help fight the stigma of mental illness, who was a feminist role model for young women and was a tireless advocate for others.

For myself, when I feel the loss of anyone, be they a family member, a neighbor or someone whose art influenced my life, I am going to carry what they meant to me and stood for out into the world.

For carrying on their work, shouting their message to the rooftops and making sure that their struggles and hard work were not in vain is the best way to honor their lives and death.


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