One of the long-standing complaints about the Tri-Cities — especially from young adult transplants relocating for work — is that there’s nothing to do, nowhere cool to eat and drink and a nonexistent hip arts and culture scene found in bigger communities.
Well if they’re still complaining, they’re just not looking.
We’ve arrived at a time in the Tri-Cities where people have taken matters into their own hands and created just those kind of spaces — from homegrown restaurants and craft breweries to arts spaces.
One of the more interesting of the recent crop of cultural hangouts is Confluent in Richland.
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Confluent, which opened in February, is a makerspace. Don’t know what that means? You’re not alone. To break it down to the most simple definition, a makerspace is like a community center with tools. You get to make stuff. Cool stuff.
The confluence website includes this: “Under the blazing sun by the blue rivers, we find the fun in failure and the courage in collaboration.”
The mission statement is to “facilitate the education and growth of artists, inventors, technologists and hobbyists by providing the space, tools, safety and education to enable the creation of art, technology, culture, business and community.”
The space also houses the DrewBoy Creative art gallery, which has drawn hundreds of people to its opening receptions, and showcases the works of locals.
At Confluent, you pay a small monthly fee to use the facility and its equipment, from 3-D printers to pottery wheels. It’s a great way to try new things. To use the equipment, you must pass a test or take training. From there, the only limit is your creativity.
Robots, duct tape, lathes and various parts and pieces of things waiting to be remade into something else are all the types of things you will find there. A class called “Intro to Blender” has nothing to do with making margaritas but will teach you the basics of a nifty 3-D computer graphics software.
Confluent, at 285 Williams Blvd. in Richland, is the only facility of its kind in the community. This is the kind of thing that trickles down from larger cities as it becomes more popular. But many times these kind of trends for arts and creativity have missed us entirely.
Confluent is a nonprofit started by some folks who wanted to see something different in the Tri-Cities, a space for collaboration and creation. These are folks who describe themselves as “kind of like the Avengers but without all the drama.” These people are cool.
The first on their list of core values is to “make it awesome, for everybody.” Enough said.
Excuses that there is nothing trendy or cool are no longer acceptable. From spaces like Confluent to the distilleries and restaurants to recreational outlets that have opened in recent times, the cool factor is out there. You just have to try it.