Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Just Below the Surface

Being unable to make the Seattle-trip, I spent a day in Downtown Olympia observing poverty and wealth. For a while I was actively looking for different representations. Anna Minor and I went out of our way to find any and all potential symbols. Wealth was the easiest, as those with the funds are more willing to flaunt them than those without.

We began at the waterfront. With all the boats, there was an abundance of potential.

Watery Driveway

As if owning a boat alone wasn’t enough, now it’s a house and a boat. This house boat with its paneled walls, lovely blue and white trim, and outdoor bench isn’t even the most luxurious part of this photo. The little sailboat, “Windrush” (and the surrounding boats) is only used when the owner has the time. The houseboat is in constant use, the others however, are weekend get-aways. Plus, as anyone who has ever owned a boat knows it is expensive: Bring On Another Thousand!

This means you, all non-boatowners.

Boat owning is a highly selective hobby. Well... not really. It's actually fairly simple if you have the money for it. Only those with the ability to own a boat breech the chain-link fence. This sign might as well read “Anyone who cannot afford a boat, get the heck out.” As if the height of the fence isn’t intimidating enough, there’s an electronic lock blocking all who are unworthy of the marina.

Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon

Unfortunately, there are no people in this area, which would have been ideal. The fountain of Downtown Olympia is frequently filled with children and their families cooling off on a warm day. The state-owned fountain is a symbol of the wealth of the city. Or at least the wealth in this part of the city.


After leaving the docks, Anna and I made our way to another part of Downtown. I’m honestly not sure which street or area we were at, but it was an immediate difference. The first think that was obvious was the lack of color in the walls. Buildings, as we walked farther, became more and more in need of repair. Finally, we came to this. Glass littered the ground under the two broken panels. The wooden thing is probably the source, but we have no idea what happened. We walked to the front of the building to find that it had been the old electric company.


Yes, this is probably obvious, but ignore the fact that it’s a food bank for a moment, forget that it’s designed for those in poverty. Instead, look at the building itself. Look at the ground and the surrounding area. Now scroll up and look at the fountain image. Go ahead… I’ll wait… What did you see? The waterfront has trees and art. There are decorations to improve the landscape and view. The area around the food bank is dull and lifeless. The only plants in the area is some wild grass around the telephone poll, and I can almost guarantee that wasn’t done to improve the landscape.

Window Shopping

We found ourselves back on the main road. It was well after lunch and we were both very hungry and were on our way back to my car. As we left, we passed by the boutique. The dresses in the window caught our eye. They’re adorned with some impressive sparkles—probably rhinestones—and already made of expensive fabric. These dresses aren’t used for daily outings. They’re special event dresses that are usually only worn once. I wish I had the funds to buy a $500-$1000 dress just to forget about it after one night.

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