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“For the Rest of Them” by Moe’Neyah Holland

It shouldn’t be wet. I’m not talking about the smell or the comfort of it in the fog.  It’s the wetness that eats your bones and overshadows the lights. If it rains, people should still walk with their brothers and sisters under the spread of the earth. If it’s a true district that promises comfort in any weather, even Washington weather, one should feel at ease. In this thought, the theater district should succeed.

The discussion of the layout of the theater district shouldn’t be a conference meeting or the equivalent of the length of a congress session. There shouldn’t be a presiding officer or individual placards for the citizens of Tacoma. No one should stand for the role of an urban designer. Or pretend to, for that matter.

Thus, it might seem strange for a teenager to heighten the discussion of a district. Not absurd, though perhaps confusing. But in the triviality of urban design, one may focus on the range of middle aged adults. The importance of this is known, though the importance of teenagers in this plot, is not.

The same cement stepped on will be stepped on by the feet of the lower age range. With time, the designs will be there, but the adults not. Therefore, in the subsequent suggestions for the district, may the changes be noted for the younger age. Though the succession of people is seemingly slow, designs of urban plots should be timeless.

Move it closer. The sections, I mean. The buildings, the programs, the art. With this, I’m not suggesting a cluster of musicals and ballets. We shouldn’t create a clashing of schedules. Hydroflasks shall not be bumped. Starbucks drinks preserved. It’s more so the structure of constructions that should align with another. If a program or monument were to enter, the face of it should touch nose-to-nose with another. Really, eyebrow-to-eyebrow. Neck and neck. iPhone to iPhone. With cluster comes clashing, but with clashing, ideas can rise. Cultures mix. Change doesn’t occur with separation. If a program is to begin, drop it in the hallway of the district. Let its shoulders touch the other sponsors. Share the connections and the coffee.

These exaggerations may prove a bit unnecessary, but the point still stays. I should be able to walk anywhere inside the district without pain or checking the time. No one should have to leave one place of theatrics to visit another with the use of their car. With spatial preservation, art can cluster and thrive. The distribution of art can spread with feasibility and time. One won’t struggle to find the balance of reach, a lengthening of their arm needed to find a hold. Culture may spread naturally with the layout, and idle. The hopping of theaters can be common and cultured. Let one mix up Pantages and Rialto. They mean the same.

This opens up the idea of closed transportation. Of course, personal driving may very well still occur. But with proximity, instead of getting a blinding paper on your car, the idea of walking may seem more appealing. It ties to the environment as well. Sustainable transport is huge. If the growth of the district is a goal, one should look towards sustainable use of transport. Honking is hereby banned. Cars as well. Unless their exhaust pipe produces cold brew. Then they may stay.

It’s a transportation that’s inviting. People of all ages should walk in the theater district with ease. With frequent visiting, the turns and directions will be like home to them. And in that, they will find comfort. Make it easy to leave the cars in downtown Tacoma. Make it easy for a couple to hold hands for thirty minutes. Make the children whine for food and stop at a restaurant nearby.

Most of all, besides the technicalities and open discussion about spatial reservations, I would want to see culture rise. That’s what the bulk of this project should be.

When you think of the current theater district, it’s most likely the same idea of a person that comes to mind. A person with enough money to see the ballet; to listen to the new piece the symphony has developed. They’ll leave after seeing the live production. Nothing of them will be changed and nothing will be expected to change. For others, this is different.

They’ll leave the theater. Maybe they’ll walk. Maybe their car is far, steps away. Their life remains the same, and that’s okay. Except that it isn’t.

Except that the same person, ages younger, will visit the district and find the same face looking back. Nothing will change him. He’ll walk home with no change left in his pocket. There’s threads there in lieu of the ticket. He’ll have no privilege to become art or thrive in it. He won’t listen to classical music anymore. It’ll get to him eventually. Just like everything else. When the rain is especially pouring down buckets, when the line is too long, when the money is lost, it won’t be okay. And for that, we should avoid this disadvantage. Not write them off as burdens, but use them as learning tools for Tacoma.

Make it flashier. Remind them of a time when it was bright. Remind them of a time when the sun didn’t hurt their eyes. Don’t retire the buildings at the peak of night, but don’t waste them either. A downgraded Vegas perhaps. Without the provocative scene and excessive disappointment.

This isn’t specific. And it shouldn’t be. The touching of people and the comfort of them shouldn’t be overanalyzed.

So, save the culture.

Put the underdog first. Look at the priority of the older ages who swim in money, but not for long. Look at the boy in the hoodie instead. The gray one with the stain.

Put this group first and lower eyebrows at them. They don’t care. The accessibility of this district is vital. In the case that it isn’t widespread, consider the programming an enigma. And consider the boy in the hoodie, lost and without counsel.

Moe’Neyah Holland has lived in Washington her entire life, enjoying the coffee and the smell of rain.