Our Home

About 6 months ago we entered into something that is undeniably “adult.” We bought a house!

And I have to say, after 9 years & 8 homes, it feels really good to be in a place that we can call our own. A place that allows us the freedom to make significant changes to walls & room colors & the yard.

We have lived in some really great houses & apartments. And most all of them really felt like ours. But this is different. This is our home. The one we searched for & the one that best fits the way we want to live. And the part of town we want to live in.

There is a deep-rooted peace I’ve felt about this home since we first moved in. We don’t know what life will bring us in the next years, but I feel like for the first time, I’m able to settle in & get attached to this place in a way that I haven’t before. And we love that we get to be a part of the history of this home that has been home to many other families through the past 89 years.

So, how about a tour! [WARNING: some of these are not-so-great camera pics]

2012-09-15_1347743123[a fabulous front porch, just waiting for some big, comfy chairs & a swing]

1-IMAG0016[kitchen organization]

1-IMAG0017[Where the coffee magic happens. (Thanks, Klendas!)]

2012-10-06_1349543649[One of the first home improvement projects-and we LOVE it!
It’s so great to have everything out & in easy reach of the stove.]

[What our room looked like before we moved in.]

1-IMAG0010[And after. The color isn’t quite a dark as it looks in this pic.
But it is a deep, gorgeous shade of teal & I absolutely love it.
Fun things to point out: nightstand made of old encyclopedias (Thanks, Deedra!),
& a duvet cover I made from a $17 sheet set from Target.]

1-IMAG0018[And one of my favorite parts…we’re only about a mile from downtown.
And we have some great views of the city from the back of the house.]


So come visit-we have an extra room & everything!



Fix Our Streets

I am a true political cynic, but living in Tulsa is changing that a little bit. I am realizing that on a local level there is true opportunity for normal people like me to have a voice, and the local nature seems to make less room for partisanship and dogma. I recently sent an email copied below to the mayor and council about Fix Our Streets. If you live in Tulsa and want to influence the future of transpiration in Tulsa this is one of your chances by letting council and mayor know your vision for transportation in Tulsa. – Ben

The recent debate over Vison2, and the upcoming debate over Fix Our Streets has caused me to think a lot about what type of city I would like to see Tulsa become.

Any individuals vision for a city could take up pages and be very complicated, so I have been trying to think of a concise way to state my vision. In a broad sense PLANiTulsa fits a lot of what I hope happens in Tulsa in the coming years. While I did not live in Tulsa when that document was create, I appreciate and agree with much of what is in it, and I truly hope that it is implemented. It seems that it would be very easy for PLANiTulsa to become a nice thing Tulsa talked about once and never be truly implemented without strong and continued dedication from city leaders.

Here is the summery of my vision: I want Tulsa to be a place that invests in all people.

If this is true then the decisions we make will be driven by a desire to equip people to reach their full potential. This sounds sort of fluffy and abstract, but it has real consequences, even as we look at something like Fix Our Streets and the transportation planning that goes into it.

If in our transportation planning we do not consider the needs of those who do not have cars (or, to a lesser extent would like to use cars less), we basically make the decision that we are only investing in those that have cars. If you don’t have a car then we will not do what we can to help you reach your full potential. When I read “Council Chairman G.T. Bynum spearheaded the request for the study, saying that it’s unlikely the city will ever have enough funding to make the bus system what it should be.” (http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=334&articleid=20121109_11_A1_CUTLIN980670) it is easy to read “we are unwilling to invest in people who ride the bus.” (In fairness to Counselor Bynum that TW article did not even give a true quote of what he said, much less give the context, so I don’t just take it at face value. Further, the article did not say if he was stating his opinion of reality, or his desires for transportation funding. It is not my intention to imply that he is somehow unsupportive of transportation options in Tulsa).

If we look at our transportation system (streets, sidewalks, trails, bus, taxi, etc) and find that it is hindering, or at the very least not helping, people reach their potential (http://www.tulsaworld.com/opinion/article.aspx?subjectid=61&articleid=20121026_61_A18_Tulsas783853) then we have an opportunity to invest in people.

Lets invest. PLANiTulsa calls for this investment: “Tulsans will have a wide variety of transportation choices. The system will be designed to provide everyone a variety of modes to choose from, including driving, biking, or riding frequent and reliable bus or rail transit”

I don’t understand the specific procedures, politics, etc around Fix Our Streets and other funding issues. But, I do know that now will always be the best time to start investing in the bus system, sidewalks, bike lanes (http://www.benandbethwest.com/2012/05/biking-in-tulsa/), trail systems, trains, trolleys, bus stops (http://www.benandbethwest.com/2012/04/tulsa-transit-a-marketing-problem/), crosswalks, streets, highways, and planning that will be an investment in all people. There are lots of people working to understand these issues (BPAC, Tulsa Hub, Fast Forward Plan, etc), please involve and listen to them as you plan for Fix Our Streets and other transportation needs in Tulsa.

When it comes specifically to Fix Our Streets I would like to see the BPAC SMART Goals implemented, and a true plan and effort made to sufficiently fund our bus system.

Tulsa Favorites

We have lived in Tulsa for a while now, so..it seems like its time to make a Tulsa Favorites list. So, here it is. Our Tulsa Favorites:

Pizza: Joe Momma’s. I don’t know if this is really the best pizza in town (I mean, Tulsa really likes it’s Hideaway), but for us when we first moved to Tulsa it become a familiar and comfortable place for us in an unstable part of life.

Controversy: Tulsa has its controversies, the annual holiday parade debate, downtown parking, the mayors chief of staff (or head lawyer or something like that) getting his son into the fire academy, QT at 11th and Utica expansion, form based code, police corruption, Councilor Ewing making the hipsters mad, EMSA spending, etc, etc. But my favorite is the Great Trash Debate of 2012 (and before). Think about this. We pay a fairly small fee every month and some people come in a big truck and take away all the stuff we don’t want. Every week. All we have to do is carry it 30ft to the street. That’s kind of amazing to me…i think we have it easy. But change it up and the end is coming. #firstworldproblem (yeah, my blog post gets a twitter tag…)

Favorite coming soon: Beth: The Phoenix Cafe. But is it really comeing soon? Ben: New trash service.

Mexican food: Ok, I just have to say this. Whats with Chipotle being called a Mexican Grill? It’s burritos with a massive USA twist (with massive being the key word 1,179 calories, 7 g fat, 125 g carbs, 2,656 mg sodium). Do they have anything like that in Mexico?

Best Taco: Beth: salmon puffy tacos at Elote.

coffee place: I (ben) don’t drink coffee…but i spend a lot of time in coffee shops. I like Topeca at the mayo. I like being downtown, its an ok place to get work done, they dont care if i sit there for 4 hours nursing one Italian Soda, interesting people coming in and out and they have sushi. Beth has categories:

Best Coffee: Topeca
Best Place to Work: Agora
Best Place to Read a Book: CHOCS
Best Coming Soon: The Phoenix Cafe

Street: Trenton between 15th and 17th

View of tulsa: Beth likes the Pioria bridge over the BA. I like Standpipe Hill. It has history.

car window guy: His name is Glass Dude. Call Chris King for his number, just keep in on the DL and bring cash.

sushi: Yokozuna…becuse that is the only place we have been. But i have to say, sushi deliverd by model train to your table has to beat it out….

retail shop: Beth likes Made. But she is not an impartal judge. They sell her really cool cards.

You know how newspaper alwasy do “The Best of Tulsa” or something like that? I never really understood why they had suff like dentest. I mean, have all the readers gone to every dentist in tulsa (there are like 476,947 of them) to find out which is the best? I know i have been to exactly one dentist in Tulsa, so I dont really think i can pick the best one. Really it should be called “The dentist who the most uraban tulsa readers go to award” None the less…

Dentist: Mint Dental. We randomly ended up at this place when they first opened, so we sort of feel like we have a part in it, the people that own it are really nice, and they don’t complain about how i never floss, so they get huge points for that.

fitness studio: Strength of Mind and Body

Themed Dentists: Dental Depot. It’s like a train station with a dentest in it. They should get a model train to go around and deliver sushi and a new toothbrush to their customers.

eye doctor: I have actually been to 2 eye doctors in Tulsa, so i can say that there is in fact an eye doctor that I like better: Dr. Riner

Uh..thats it, im not sure why we decided to end on eye doctor, I guess its the most interesting thing we could come up with….

Biking in Tulsa

Because of where i live now i have been biking on the streets a lot more, which has actually been kind of fun. At around the same time the city counsel passed a complete streets ordinance which means that there should be even more consideration given to biking and walking in tulsa. I have some ideas about what would be good for biking in tulsa.

There are lots of people who know a lot more about this then me who are involved in planning this stuff, but here are my few ideas…
First, so far i have found drivers in Tulsa to be courteous when it comes to bikes. I have had several times when drivers have let me merge in moving traffic, and I have not had any negative experiences so far. Not that i have spent much time in the streets, but so far so good. I think part of this is that i have decided to be really intentional about how i ride in traffic. I ride like a car, I obey traffic laws, and I take an entire lane when i feel like i need to in order to be safe or be seen (this web site explains what i mean by that).

The other day I saw the exact opposite of this. It was night time (as in dark) and i was driving down Yale (a busy arterial) in the left lane. Coming toward me riding in the gutter of the right lane was somebody on a bike, no light, dark clothes. I though I was going to see them get run over.

So, here are the first two things that i would like to see Tulsa do:

First, make explicit laws about how bikers are allowed to ride. Are bikes allowed to take the lane? Is there any situation where they cannot? Are the allowed on sidewalks?

Obviously some of these are already addressed in current law, but there are a lot of people who dont know the answers (like me…), so the second part is education first to bikers (like the guy riding the wrong way on Yale) and to drivers. I’m not so sure i know the best laws to make, there are plenty of people who have researched those issues, my concern is that once those laws are made they be effectively communicated to drivers and riders alike.

Secondly, bike paths, protected lanes, shared rodes, etc. There are lots of ideas and even some controversy out there about the safety and effectiveness of various kinds of bike lanes and paths. I hope that the city of Tulsa takes those differing views into account as they plan for bike infrastructure. They are issues that need to be understood. I might write some of my thoughts on this later…

I wonder what the possibilites are for an alternative grid for bikes. This grid would be made up of rodes that are designated as shared rodes (like 3rd going into downtown is now) that are not arterial. These could just be shared or could have designated lanes depending on the situation. The idea would be to find routes that allow fairly straight paths through neighborhoods (that is one of the hard things about riding through neighborhoods right now, you end up winding around a lot which is ok if your just out for a ride, not so good if your trying to get somewhere). So, there might be places where connecting two streets with some strategic short bike paths would make big improvements in the ability to bike quickly from one place to another. The truth is that a lot of this exists, its just not marked, which party just makes it hard to find. But, even more then that having an alternative grid that is marked and designated as shared roads seems to give legitimacy to the idea of biking on it, and would help drivers stay aware.

The second part of this alternative grid would be bike/walk paths that are designed to connect strategic places. These would create highways so to speak that would make getting across town quicker, much like 169 and the BA do for cars now. River Parks is a great example. The Mingo Valley Trail will be when its done. If the Mingo Valley trail was connected from 41st to 71st it would be possible to ride from where i live at 31st and yale to the 71st shopping area mostly on bike paths (where i would ride once i got there is a different matter…riding on 71st street to get to say…the movie theater…does not sound like fun at all…not that i go to 71st street much anyway). A few more corridors like that around town would be great.

One thing that would have to be paid attention to is how designated shared roads connect to the bike/walk paths. For example right now there are shared rodes on 34th street and 35th street that run into riverside. The River Park Trail is just a few hundred feet past riverside, but there is no way to get from 46th onto the trail without riding on the grass (not to mention crossing riverside in a way that is totally outside the normal flow of traffic). In this case crossing at 31st or 41st works perfectly well if you plan for it. The bigger point is that care must be given to how things connect together.

One place that needs carful consideration is highway crossings. The places where the surface grid crosses under the highways are particularly hard to figure out how to connect through them. The highways and IDL cut off a lot fo great ways to get form one place to another. From my perspective the problem is not that you have to ride a bit further to get to a place to cross, its that almost all the places to cross are crazy big intersections with lots of traffic going lots of directions. These can be navigated safely, but they are intimidating, which im sure turns a lot of people off to the idea of riding, and it does seem like they are some of the more dangerous areas. I don’t know that bikes and pedestrians need there very own ways to cross the highways, but carful attention does need to be paid to these areas.

This alternative grid for bikes seems great, but i actually have some doubts about it. Because everything in tulsa faces the arteries a grid the runs through the neighborhood does not really get you anywhere that you might actually want to go. 71st street shopping is a great example. So, in the end bikers and driver have to learn to coexist on any given road in tulsa, even the big arterial streets, or, the city has to be radically redesigned to make it so that everything, business and houses, are accessible from neighborhood behind it.

I think in the end this gets to the bigger idea of all of this. Planning for biking has to fit in with planning for growth, which has to fit in with planning for mass transite which has to fit in with planning for zoning, which has to fit in with….you get the idea. It all has to fit together. If biking is going to be a realistic form of transportation in Tulsa it has to be part of planning on every level (as does walking, and busses, and cars, whatever forms of transportation we as a city decide are important).

But, it seems that there is another set of issues, which is not so much about the mechanics and technicalities of how to build a bike lane, its more about accessibility, perception, and culture. People who drive and like cars have to not see bikes as a threat to their way of life, likewise, bikers have to not see cars as evil. The city has to legitimize biking through education, good laws and good planning, bikers have to acknowledge that bikes don’t work for everything and cars and trucks have to have their place as well. In the end this is all about developing a culture where it is possible to make a broad range of transportation choices…which seems way harder then building a bike lane.

Year in Review

Wondering how we’d sum up our 2010? How about a list?

We’re still enjoying the city life in Tulsa.

Ben started taking pottery classes. He really likes it!

We hosted some house concerts at our place. Jared Hard & Sara Swenson. You need to check both of them out right now.

(and while you’re at it go download some free music from Cass Harris.
We think all of these musicians are excellent & want as many people to know about them
[& fall in love with them] as possible.)

I (Beth) developed a perfectly normal (Ben calls it unhealthy) fondness for Topeca Coffee.
You need to check them out right now too.

In July we joined the rest of the family in Albuquerque to celebrate the life of Ben’s grandpa Troy.
A great man who lived & left a legacy of love & faith.

We went to a really amazing place called Dry Bones Denver in August.
We spent a week backpacking & delving deep into the city & getting to know the homeless youth
that Dry Bones does a great job loving & serving.
It was challenging on many levels & really wonderful at the same time.

I (Beth) turned 30!

(and now!)

In September we celebrated 7 really great years of marriage.
(There I am with coffee again…)

My friend, Leah, & I were accepted as vendors in the Indie Emporium.
We had so much fun & are making plans for more craft shows this Spring!  This is us at our booth. Stay tuned!

To really celebrate turning 30 I (Beth) went on a cruise with some really wonderful friends.
(That’s me in the floppy hat.)

And we closed out the year with the annual Ugly Sweater Party.
I didn’t get any pictures of the both of us, so this will have to suffice.

I am missing some important events, I’m sure. Like how Ben has started to freelance graphic design jobs. That’s been really cool. We’ve traveled some, eaten well, and have been enjoying where we are right now. It was a really great year, and we feel blessed to be where we are. And we are grateful for those that surround us.

The Letterpress Project

Remember how all I’ve been talking about lately is the Indie Emporium?

(It’s Oct. 29th & 30th…and tickets are now available!!! Click here for details.)

Well, I’ve decided what I’m going to purchase if I make enough at the IE.

This beauty: Paper Source Letterpress Machine

Just thinking of all the awesome cards I could make with this is super-exciting.

I’ll keep you posted.

Do you see what I see?

I’ve been busy (read: taken over the living room floor) creating cards & trying to build up my inventory in preparation for The Indie Emporium later this month. I am SO excited to be able to participate this year!  Some of my recent fun crafting finds have been vintage postcards.  Like these:

(Please forgive the quality of the pictures!!!)

This one is Pikes Peak in CO.

And check out the back!

Did you catch that date, friends? Aug. 24, ’08. That would be 1908. This card was mailed 102 years ago!

This one just makes me laugh:

Do you see what I see? Right on the edge of this gold printed design…is a big reindeer butt! (Does anyone else think that’s odd?) This one was mailed in 1909. 101 years ago.

These cards are old! And I’m really excited to turn them into newfound treasures for someone at this show.

1 year

I created this as part of my Final Project for our CQ Missional 10-month internship. Today marks 1 year of living in Tulsa for us, & that seemed worthy of a little reflection.

It’s nearly impossible to sum up a year like we experienced in mere words…that’s why I used pictures for my Final Project. I wanted to mark today as special, so after church I walked across the street to Chimis, paper in hand, & satisfied my craving for Mexican food. And as I walked back home I was struck by a couple of thoughts.

1) I LOVE seeing the skyline from that Chimis parking lot. Love it. It’s maybe one of my favorite views of the city.

2) One year ago, after a long day of moving all of our belongings to the city, we went to dinner with some friends at Chimis. I remember feeling very odd that after a very normal moment of, “Hey-let’s go grab some dinner,” we just walked across the street & were at a restaurant. “Hey-let’s go grab some dinner,” usually involved a 15-minute drive into town. Walking home from that meal felt like we were staying at a hotel somewhere on vacation. Where you settle in to your room, and then walk across the street to a restaurant. And today, as I made that same walk, it felt fairly “normal.” I kind of like that.