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Know Your Ropes

Hilltop Summer Walk Series
June 22 - August 31st, 2016

Know Your Ropes is a temporary sidewalk mural and walking path in Hilltop, launching in June 2016. The path will be marked by a continuous rope graphic painted on the sidewalk, and along the twists and turns of the path, it will connect mariner knot graphics throughout the neighborhood.  These knots serve as interactive stopping points, connecting the community to place-based stories, and will invite neighbors to explore the neighborhood by foot.  

The murals will also serve as the starting locations for a series of summer walks, hosted and led by different community members and organizations.  In addition to these guided walks, we will also provide printed maps, available at area businesses, for self-guided tours.  

Through this piece of interactive art, the project encourages people to walk more, using this new walking path to invite people to experience the neighborhood in new ways.

The project will be installed in early June, and we'll launch the mural with a community kickoff walk on Wednesday, June 22. 

We hope to see you walking the neighborhood this summer! 


The artwork for Know Your Ropes is inspired by classic forms of mariner’s knots and is symbolic of tying the neighborhood together. The six major knots depicted were drawn directly from found imagery in the “Book of Knots” style, and were chosen for their beauty, as well as usefulness. The bowline in particular (installed in front of People’s Center) is considered one of the most useful knots, and is sometimes even called the “king of knots”. Some of the knots depicted are more obscure or known by multiple names, but all are realistically portrayed. The six knots featured in the mural are: stevedore, alpine butterfly, bowline, ojal alto, two half hitches, and sheet bend. The visual quality of the subject also lends itself to the purpose – the graphic rope imagery of the mural naturally creates a walking path, punctuated by knots, and made more interesting by twisting, turning, looping, and smaller knots along the way. Visually, the mural is also meant to be an organic and fun addition to an otherwise mostly geometric environment with lots of straight lines, pavement, and hard edges. The rope meanders down the sidewalk, temporarily disrupting the urban order of Hilltop.



Oliver Doriss - Lead Artist/Fabricator

Anneka Olson - Planning

Rebecca Solverson - Planning

AM Independent - Design

Whitney Henry-Lester - Audio

Michael Ball - Video

Josh Jorgenson - Support


Tacoma Housing Authority
Hilltop Business Association
Harvest Pierce County
Hilltop Action Coalition
Peace Community Center
Fulcrum Gallery


Know Your Ropes: Hilltop Summer Walk Series

Join us for these informative summer walks, guided by neighborhood leaders and focusing on community topics relating to the past, present, and future of Hilltop.  Walks are Wednesdays at 6pm, and start at a different "knot" along the Know Your Ropes sidewalk mural.

Community Launch Walk 
Wednesday, June 22, 6pm - Fulcrum Gallery, 13th and MLK

Celebrate the launch of the Know Your Ropes sidewalk mural with a walk led by public historian Michael Sullivan from Artifacts Consulting.

Reception to follow at Fulcrum Gallery. 

Business on the Hilltop - Live, Work and Play!
Wednesday, July 13, 6pm - New Look Apartments, 11th and MLK

Led by Kevin Grossman, Hilltop Business Association President


Hilltop for the Next Generation
Wednesday, July 27, 6pm - People's Community Center, 16th and MLK

Led by Brendan Nelson, Hilltop Action Coalition President



A Walk with THA: Design, Affordability, Community and Justice
Wednesday, August 17, 6pm - EB Wilson, Ernest Brazill and M Street

Led by Michael Mirra, Director, Tacoma Housing Authority and Andrea Cobb, Tacoma School Board and Tacoma Housing Authority


Murals and More: Community Art on MLK
Wednesday, August 31, 6pm - People's Park, 10th and MLK

Led by Rebecca Solverson, Public Art Specialist, City of Tacoma


Audio Storytelling by Whitney Henry Lester



As an accomplished artist, Oliver has designed lighting and interiors for public spaces as well as private establishments. His creations exist in many personal collections nationwide.   Mr. Doriss has produced works for artists and designers such as the celebrated Dale Chihuly, and Donna Karan. His one-of-a-kind sculptures can be found in leading contemporary galleries around the country.


Anneka Olson is an active transportation advocate, bicycle educator, and community builder.  She is passionate about projects that bring together different disciplines, tell place-based stories, and connect folks to their neighborhoods in new ways. 


AM Independent is a multi-disciplinary design studio co-owned by Sean Alexander and Zachary Marvick. You can see more of their work at the link below.


Whitney Henry-Lester loves documentaries, places, and food. She grew up in New York's Catskill Mountains, and her work has taken her to Chicago with the Third Coast Audio Festival and CHIRP Radio, to Ecuador with Radio Intag, to Brooklyn with Heritage Radio Network, and across the country in an Airstream trailer with StoryCorps.


Rebecca Solverson was born and raised in Tacoma. She currently works for the city as a Public Art Specialist, managing public art projects. Previously, she worked for Spaceworks Tacoma and ArtsWA, and she currently serves on the board of the Tacoma Tool Library.


Josh Jorgensen is a former elementary school teacher and graduate of UWT’s Urban Studies Program. Since moving here in 2011 Josh has been involved with a number of planning and urban design implementation projects focused on improving the livability of Downtown Tacoma, the Hilltop neighborhood, Hilltop Business District and Hilltop subarea.


Do you have a question about this project? Please contact us and we'll get back to you ASAP.

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