Recent local blog posts

Massive Proposed Development in Lacey Draws Public Comment; Public Comment Extended to April 3

Janine's Little Hollywood - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 11:55pm
 Above: Theresa Nation, representing the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife presents testimony today regarding the proposed Oak Tree Preserve development at a hearing held yesterday and today at the Thurston County Fairgrounds in Lacey. Numerous homeowners from the area attended and also provided comment. Written public comment has been extended to April 3.

By Janine Unsoeldwww.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.comOak Tree Preserve LLC of Bellevue proposes to subdivide 258.5 acres of land in Lacey into 1,037 single-family residential lots. Multiple tracts will also be developed for storm water drainage, preservation of some oak tree habitat, parks, open space, alleys, and landscaping. The area is addressed as 3346 Marvin Road SE, which is generally on the east side of Marvin Road SE bordered by the Burlington Northern Railroad on the south and the McAllister Park subdivision on the north. It is within the Lacey urban growth boundary.Through a process of four phases, City of Lacey domestic water and sanitary sewer utilities will be extended into the subdivision to serve all lots. A Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance (MDNS) for the project was issued on December 2, 2014. The MDNS establishes mitigating conditions for school impacts, soil contamination, traffic impacts, and timber harvest.The project is proposed to be developed in Thurston County's largest oak stand of 64 acres. The Washington State Department of  Fish and Wildlife comments called for preserving 100 percent of the oak habitat. Only 55 percent of the oak habitat is being preserved under the proposed plans.
Project History
The project, under previous owners, was vested in 2009. The property changed hands in 2012. In May, 2014, Thurston County received a revised application listing the new owner and met with county staff.  Staff provided comments and thus the application was considered to be a revision of the original application. Written notice of the public hearing was sent to property owners within 300 feet of the site and others on March 9. Notice was also published in The Olympian newspaper on March 13.The McAllister Park Homeowner Association had two appeals. On March 23, within 24 minutes of the beginning of the hearing held at the Thurston County Fairgrounds, Mark Quinn, president of the McAllister Homeowner Association, and the Association's attorney announced to Hearing Examiner Sharon Rice that the group had settled the SEPA appeals, surprising Rice. Quinn and the attorney then left the building, leaving the rest of the time to the developer to explain the development. One appeal challenged the county's decision to issue an MDNS. The appeal asserted that impacts to traffic conditions on area roads, Oregon white oak tree habitat, and storm water drainage were not adequately addressed. The Association stated that the proposed subdivision is likely to create significant adverse environmental impacts and asked that the issuance of the MDNS be overturned and that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be prepared. A motion by the applicant to dismiss the oak habitat and stormwater issues was granted by the Hearing Examiner on March 4. The second appeal by the applicant challenges MDNS mitigating condition numbers 2 and 3. These conditions pertain to testing and possible cleanup of soil contamination including contamination related to the former Asarco smelter in Tacoma. The applicant believes these conditions are unlawful to the extent they impose requirements on the applicant that exceed state law. The proposed development will impact children and families attending Evergreen Forest Elementary School, Nisqually Middle School, and River Ridge High School.In a letter sent to McAllister Park Homeowner Association (HOA) members prior to the March 23 hearing, Quinn discouraged homeowners within his association from speaking at the public hearing, notifying them that the group had reached an agreement with the Oak Tree Preserve LLC owners. “Late yesterday afternoon, the McAllister Park HOA signed a preliminary settlement agreement with Oak Tree Preserve, LLC, the applicant proposing to build 1,027 homes just south of McAllister Park.  The agreement provides essentially everything we asked for in terms of traffic calming in McAllister Park, including several features in OTP (Oak Tree Preserve) and a couple of other revisions to the plat not related to traffic like increasing the size of the buffer between the subdivisions and putting better controls on construction traffic….“I believe the agreement is the best that we could have hoped for without stopping OTP altogether or closing the road, things that appeared to us virtually impossible considering the cost to the HOA and the risks involved.  Although few of us like the idea of a huge development just to the south, our main objective from the beginning was to insure adequate traffic calming in McAllister Park.   I believe we have achieved that.  After the dust settles, we plan to continue pursuing solutions to the larger Marvin Road traffic problem with neighboring HOA's.   “We are not able to distribute the preliminary agreement (attorney's orders) but a more formal agreement should be available in a couple days. “The agreement requires that we drop our SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) appeal of traffic issues and voice no objection to approval of the preliminary subdivision. Based on our acceptance of the settlement, we ask all MPHOA members to refrain from participating in the Plat Hearing on March 24th.  The agreement further stipulates that the MPHOA will not appeal OTP land use approvals.   “These restrictions do not apply to homeowners in adjacent subdivisions, who are still welcome to attend the public hearing and voice their concerns about the Plat and traffic….One thing that we asked for and the developer agreed to, not related to traffic, was to increase the buffer to 25 ft. between OTP and homes in McAllister Park and Evergreen States.    For McAllister Park Residents we will be able to have a full discussion of the settlement and ramifications at our annual meeting in early May,” wrote Quinn.   The hearing continued on Tuesday with public testimony beginning at 1:00 p.m. Theresa Nation, representing the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, spoke first, followed by residents from several nearby homeowners associations, including Evergreen Estates, The Seasons, Eagle Crest, Laurel Oaks, and Lake Forest. About 20 speakers focused their comments on the traffic impacts of the massive proposed development that one person described as “out of sync with other developments in the area,” while others addressed the lack of proper public notification and environmental impact issues.  Liz Kohlenberg, Olympia, commented that many of the materials needed to comment on the subdivision were not on the county’s website, such as the previous Critical Areas Ordinance. A couple of speakers asked how the county was planning to serve all these people, noting the current lack of law enforcement to handle current property crimes.Elizabeth Rodrick, a wildlife biologist representing the Black Hills chapter of the Audubon Society, stated that in Washington State, 35% of pre-settlement oak habitat remains, and 16% of what remains is on private land. “Local government plays an essential role in protecting oak habitat....several bird species are associated with large oak sites, and the roads for this development increase fragmentation and should be re-routed,” she said. Rice closed public comment shortly after 3:00 p.m. Rice, the developer and staff, and county staff responded to public comment.Rice said she will reach a decision on April 24. Acknowledging that county staff will need time to put additional materials on the county website, Rice gave staff through March 27 to post the needed documents, and extended public comment through 4:00 p.m. on Friday, April 3.  Written comment may be sent to Cami Petersen, Land Use Clerk, Resource Stewardship Department, Thurston County Office of the Hearing Examiner, 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Building One, Second Floor, Olympia, WA 98502. Refer to Case: #2009103087.
For more information, contact go to contact Cami Petersen at or (360) 754-3355 ext. 6348 or TDD Phone: (360) 754-2933.
Full Disclosure: Janine Unsoeld is a board member of the South Puget Environmental Education Clearinghouse (SPEECH) and presented written and oral testimony on behalf of the SPEECH board of directors opposing the Oak Preserve Development proposal. Presenting a variety of points, SPEECH believes that the Mitigated Declaration of Non-Significance should be retracted and a full Environmental Impact Statement prepared. 

Saint Martin’s University Men’s Golf Concludes CBU Invitational

Thurston Talk - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 4:59pm



Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

On the final day of the CBU Invitational, the Saint Martin’s University men’s golf team had a final score of 312 to finish 12th out of 15 teams.

The tournament field includes four nationally ranked teams in No. 3 Chico State, No. 9 Simon Fraser, No. 20 Western Washington and No. 23 Dixie State. Northwest Nazarene was the other Great Northwest Athletic Conference school in attendance.

For the first time this season and in his first spring invitational, freshman Andrew Raab was the top finisher for SMU as he finished 23rd with a three-round score 225, to finish nine-over par. He had a final-round score of 79 with his best score of one-under par 71 coming in the second round.

Austin Spicer was the second finisher for the Saints as he shot a 78 in the final round to finish 47th overall with a 36-hole total 230. Matthew Hedges and Brodie Bordeaux both finished tied at 61st for the Saints with final scores of 236. Hedges had a final round score of 80, while Bordeaux had the best round for SMU as he shot a 77.

Rounding out the scores was Patrick Whealdon, who moved up in the final round to finish 72nd with a three-round score 240. He shot a 78 in the final round.

The Saints will hit the links next at the California State University, Stanislaus Invitational in Turlock, Calif., on April 13-14. That will be the last invitational for SMU before the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on April 20-21.

Westport Winery Earns Excellent Rating in Tempranillo Evaluation

Thurston Talk - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 4:50pm



Submitted by Westport Winery

westport winery

A popular wine, Jetty Cat Red, is one of 36 varietals made by Westport Winery.

In the spring 2015 issue of Wine Press Northwest, Westport Winery’s Jetty Cat Red earned an “Excellent” rating as part of their review of Northwest Tempranillo-based wines. An “Excellent” rating represents “Top-notch wines with particularly high qualities.”

In addition to 16% Tempranillo from Airfield Estates Vineyard, this blend includes 34% Petite Sirah from Jones of Washington, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon from Mays Discovery Vineyard, 11% Sangiovese from Red Willow Vineyard and 7% Syrah from Discovery. Mike Sauer at Red Willow is credited with planting the first Tempranillo in Washington State in 1993.

Described in their tasting notes as “Wall Street rich and ultra-luxurious, with a bit of attitude,” the winery suggests Jetty Cat be paired with their restaurant’s Italian Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms. Since the tasting notes also include musical pairings, the selection of Cat Scratch Fever by Ted Nugent seems a natural choice, as a portion of the proceeds from this wine benefits the Harbor Association of Volunteers for Animals (HAVA). Jetty Cat previously earned a Double Gold medal and Best Class at the 2014 Savor NW wine competition.

Westport Winery’s award-winning wines are exclusively available at the winery. The tasting room, gift shop, produce market, plant nursery, bakery and wedding venue are open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The restaurant is open for lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and for dinner on Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information contact Westport Winery at 360-648-2224 or visit the website at

Launch spring at the winery’s unique sculpture garden, lavender labyrinth, musical fence, 9-hole executive golf course, giant chess set, outdoor scrabble game, and grape maze, all located on the corner of Highway 105 and South Arbor Road halfway between Aberdeen and Westport. You will see why Westport Winery was named Best of the Northwest Wine Destination.


Dub Narcotic Internship 2015-2016

K Records - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 1:07pm
This could be you! If you are chosen as the Dub Narcotic Studio Electronics Intern for 2015-2016. Details below. Dub Narcotic Studio Electronics Internship Description: Dub Narcotic Studio offers a 3 quarter (Fall through Spring) internship focused on audio electronics repair and recording studio maintenance. Internship work will include: Completing hands-on electronics projects of progressing […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Shipwrecked in Federal Way

South Sound Arts - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 8:55am

Donald Margulies’ “Shipwrecked” at Centerstage TheatreL to R: Terry Edward Moore, Elinor Gunn, Chris Shea
L to R: Elinor Gunn, Chris Shea, Terry Edward Moore
Terry Moore. Photos by
Michele Smith LewisI’ve never seen anything quite like Shipwrecked!by Donald Margulies at Centerstage in Federal Way. The full title is Shipwrecked! An Entertainment. The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as told by himself.) I like that it’s called “an entertainment” rather than a play. That tells us something important about the writer’s intent and the manner in which this entertainment is presented.
It is like something wild put on by a traveling troupe of actors in the days of Shakespeare performed from a wagon whose sides drop down to become a stage complete with thunder machines and other fantastical contraptions with which actors create sound effects as they went along.
Before even mentioning the story and the actors, I need to make it clear that Benjamin Baird’s set, lighting by Amy Silveria and clever costumes by Rachel Wilkie set this performance up as something more like a Vaudeville entertainment than a traditional comedy or drama. And believe you me, it is a comedy.
It is billed as a true story told in first person by Louis de Rougemont (Terry Edward Moore). But whether or not it is a true story, indeed, becomes a major point of contention.
Louis (French name but raised by his mother in London) steps onto a makeshift stage in front of a pair of bed-sheet curtains and introduces himself to the audience and proceeds to tell the tale of his adventures while a pair of thespians (Elinor Gunn and Chris Shea) act out the parts of everyone else in his life from his mother to his pet dog.
Louis was a sickly child nursed by a loving mother whom he loved. But his love for his mother didn’t stop him from leaving home with no plans for ever returning as soon as he was old enough to go out into the world seeking adventure. He signs on with a ship hunting pearls, is shipwrecked in the Coral Sea and washes up on shore in Australia where he saves a lost Aboriginal woman and her children, marries her, spends 30 years in Australia where, among other things, he rides giant sea turtles like horses, and finally goes back home to London where he writes the story of his life’s adventure which becomes a worldwide sensation resulting in his telling his tale on stage throughout the land—which is what the “entertainment” we’re watching purportedly is.
Ably directed by Roger Curtis, the three-person cast is outstanding. Moore is totally believable as the fanciful Louis de Rougemont. His voice ranges from majestic (great projection and enunciation) to tender. No matter how fantabulous the adventures he relates, he makes it seem as if he absolutely believes it. Gunn and Shae are a whirlwind of frantic action as they circle through many parts from Louis’s mother and the swashbuckling sea captain (Gunn) to Louis’s pet dog and a myriad of men and women (Shae) with quick costume changes, and meanwhile operating all of the Foley equipment which amazingly captures the sounds of swishing waves at sea, thunder, and the myriad city sounds of the streets of London.
I cannot praise this entire production enough. I drove up from Olympia, and it was definitely worth the trip. I loved every minute of it. It runs 90 minutes with no intermission, and the time flies by.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through April 4WHERE: Centerstage at Knutzen Family Theatre, 3200 SW Dash Point Road, Federal WayTICKETS: $30, seniors and military $25, youth 25 and younger $10INFORMATION: 253-661-1444,
Also see Michael Dresdner’s review.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Treefort Welcomes All Your Friend’s Friends!

K Records - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 4:04pm
Treefort Music Festival is happening this weekend in Boise, ID. and All Your Friend’s Friends [KLP255], the NW hip hop compilation released by K last autumn, is a big part of it. If you are planning to attend Treefort Music Festival dunt miss out on two All Your Friend’s Friends [KLP255] live-on-the-mic events Saturday, Mar. […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Mini-Golf at the Library

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 12:42pm
Event:  Fri, 04/17/2015 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm Join us at the Tumwater Timberland Library for an exciting game of mini golf. Each player will putt through 9 holes. Stop by the library starting April 3 to get your free ticket and tee time. Program paid for by the Friends of the Tumwater Timberland Library. The library is normally closed at this time and will only be open for this logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Arbor Day Celebration

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 12:40pm
Event:  Sat, 04/11/2015 - 10:00am - 12:00pm Children and families are invited to celebrate Arbor Day at the Tumwater Timberland Library by making some simple tree-related crafts. While supplies last, the City of Tumwater will also give away free tree seedlings and other Arbor Day logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week

Thurston Talk - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 7:52am



Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet 

Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week - Myrtle

Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week – Myrtle

This lovely young lady is Myrtle, an eight-year-old, cream colored boxer mix. She has been a sweet, loving girl with everyone at the kennel but she would not be good with small children.We have been told that she is OK with cats.

Myrtle has a few pounds to lose to get her girlish figure back.  She would love to find an older adult who is looking for a companion for daily walks and snuggles on the sofa.

We have lots of great dogs and always need volunteers to help them. Contact Adopt-A-Pet dog shelter on Jensen Road in Shelton at or contact us at or (360) 432-3091.

Rain Gardens – One Way You Can Help Keep Puget Sound Clean

Thurston Talk - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 6:59am



By Melanie Kallas Ricklefs

tumwater auto spaLiving near Puget Sound, the water is a part of who we are and what we do in our everyday lives. We are fortunate to have scenic beaches, bays, and coves to explore by boat, kayak, or paddle board. While paddling, we peer into the depths of the water looking for signs of the aquatic life that is so abundant beneath the surface. While Puget Sound offers many opportunities for recreation, it is also home to shellfish and salmon, which provide food and jobs for so many people in our community.

Puget Sound is a delicate ecosystem, and it is impacted by stormwater runoff. According toPeople for Puget Sound, a program of the Washington Environmental Council, stormwater runoff is the largest source of pollution in Puget Sound waters. In fact, Puget Sound Starts Here states that approximately 75% of the pollution that impacts Puget Sound comes from stormwater runoff that starts in our neighborhoods. Data from both of these programs comes from research by Washington Department of Ecology.

rain garden how to

Joy Gold volunteered her time to plant a rain garden with the Native Plant Salvage Foundation. Photo courtesy: Erica Guttman.

Stormwater runoff is rainwater that falls on surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways, yards, and roads, and flows directly into streams, lakes, rivers, and ultimately Puget Sound. As stormwater flows over impervious surfaces, it picks up pollutants, such as oil, grease, metals, fertilizers, pesticides, and pet waste, and delivers them directly into our waterways. These pollutants can impact marine life, decrease salmon runs, contaminate commercial shellfish beds, and diminish aquatic habitats.

Fortunately, there are ways we can help keep our waterways and Puget Sound clean. One of the most effective ways to reduce stormwater runoff from our own yards is to plant rain gardens. A rain garden is a shallow depression filled with a special soil mixture and planted with flood and drought-tolerant plant species. A rain garden is fed by a stormwater management system that collects stormwater from impermeable surfaces and directs it into the garden through a series of pipes or rock-lined swales. A rain garden is designed to allow water to pond for a day or two during storms to allow for maximum absorption, filtering and evapotranspiration of stormwater.

rain garden

Volunteers planted a rain garden at the Thurston County Fairgrounds to manage stormwater runoff from a large parking lot near the Administration Building. Photo courtesy: Erica Guttman.

Erica Guttman, Senior Extension Coordinator and Educator for the WSU Extension Water Resources Program and Native Plant Salvage Foundation, explains that rain gardens are effective because the plants and soil work together to manage the quantity of stormwater and treat the pollution that comes with it. The soil used in constructing a rain garden is rich in organic matter (from compost) which helps to trap pollutants, and allows the filtered water to soak into the ground. “When rain gardens are created, the native soils are amended with about 40 percent compost, which introduces more healthy soil biota to process pollution and allow time for that filtering to occur before the water soaks into the ground,” describes Erica.

The plants in a rain garden absorb and process pollutants, release water into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration, and prevent erosion along the sides of the rain garden.

According to Guttman, rain gardens can reduce the level of many pollutants in stormwater by 90% to 100%. Some pollutants are absorbed and broken down by soil microorganisms and mycorrhizae, while others are trapped in the soil structure, absorbed by plants, or evaporate through volatilization. Rain gardens allow the filtered stormwater to percolate into the groundwater, thereby recharging aquifers with clean water for streams and aquatic life.

Plants recommended for rain gardens include native and non-native species that can survive local conditions without the need for fertilizers or pesticides. All of the plants in a rain garden must be drought tolerant to survive our dry summers, while those in the deepest portion of the garden must also be able to tolerate saturation during the winter months. Rain gardens are mulched to prevent erosion and weed growth, conserve water during drought season, and provide a continual source of organic matter to the soil as the mulch breaks down.

rain garden how to

One year later, the rain garden at the Thurston County Fairgrounds was well-established. If you’d like to visit a rain garden, feel free to stop by the Fairgrounds. Photo courtesy: Erica Guttman.

Many of the plants recommended for inclusion in a rain garden have beautiful flowers, and provide habitat for birds, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. These plants include trees, large and small shrubs, perennials, and ground covers. Using a mix of these types of plants can result in a unique landscape feature with layers of vegetation that create habitat zones around the garden.

No matter how far you live from a visible waterway, you can make a difference in the health of the Puget Sound ecosystem by installing a rain garden. All stormwater runoff eventually ends up in a local waterway impacting aquatic plants and animals. If you live on a property dominated by mature vegetation, such as forestland, you may not need a rain garden as the native soils and vegetation are already absorbing and filtering stormwater.

For more information on rain garden establishment, check out the Rain Garden Handbook for Western Washington. Additional resources include the Native Plant Salvage Foundation’s website which has videos about rain garden establishment and Low Impact Development (LID) for more tips on protecting our waterways. Guttman will teach a free rain garden workshop on April 23 to educate landowners on proper rain garden establishment.

Solar, the clown and food are real. Cop humor and zombies are not (Olyblogosphere for March 23, 2015)

Olympia Time - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 5:52am
1.The Sky Like A Scallop Shell loves. I mean LOVES! Solarpunk. So, come as no surprise, Procession is Solarpunk.

2. Yeah sure, they were cute. But the who Zombie thing up at the campus was totally overblown. Style over substance and no, they did not take over "Olympia." Just the legislative building. And, they were lobbying for a tax cut. So boo.

3. Gale Hemmann writes up a neat post over at Thurston Talk. Seriously, the ethnic markets of Olympia and thereabouts.

4. I appreciate the effort. But, that's an embarrassing effort. I can imagine what you were going for, but not good.

5. And, this is worth linking to just because Jusby posted something. Our favorite clown!

Propane company propositions Longview port

Works in Progress - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 10:23pm

Longview citizens ask port commissioners to “decline to sign” agreement with Haven

It’s an all too familiar scene here in Washington State as yet another fracked product from North Dakota wants access to our public ports. This time it’s a special meeting at the Cowlitz County Expo Center in Longview, Washington on Thursday evening, February 19th.

The hall is filled with 250 to 300 people, the majority of whom are anxious to express opposition to a psychic, economic and physical threat to their community’s security and work life. In front are the seated and typically silent public officials, this time three Commissioners from the Port of Longview. The meeting’s chair, Commissioner Bob Bagaason, readies his gavel to discipline any public impertinence then gives the floor to yet another corporate front man who, without hearing any gavel, takes up more time that he is allotted.

Who is not in the hall?

George B. Kaiser is among the 100 richest people in the world and the richest person in Oklahoma. He took over his father’s Tulsa based Kaiser-Francis oil company in 1966. By 2010, it was the 23rd largest nonpublic energy exploration in the U.S. In 1990, he bought the Bank of Oklahoma which was in FDIC receivership. Now his bank holding company is in nine states and his ownership share is around $2.3 billion. Overall, Mr. Kaiser is worth about $10 billion.

Pierre F. Lapeyre, Jr. and David M. Leuschen are “graduates” of Goldman Sachs where they founded that investment firm’s Global Energy and Power Group in the 1980s. In 2000, they founded their own energy and power focused private investment firm, Riverstone Holdings, a joint venture with the Carlyle Group. Since that time they have created a series of multi-billion dollar energy funds including the 2006 acquisition of Kinder Morgan, one of the largest pipeline operations in the U.S. Their main focus has been taking advantage of the fracking/horizontal drilling revolution in domestic shale oil fields. Riverstone has $6.1 billion committed to investments in energy storage, transportation and processing.

Mr. Leuschen lives on a 160,000 acre Montana ranch, funds his own charitable foundation and through it supported Nature Conservancy’s successful effort to buy a million acres in the Lolo and Flathead National Forests. Mr. Lapeyre resides at his Redding, Connecticut 24 acre estate with 9,832 square feet of livable space currently assessed at around $5.6 million dollars.

Riverstone Holdings and Kaiser Midstream, which is owned by George Kaiser, partnered with Sage Midstream in 2012. Then in April, 2014, Sage Midstream created Haven Energy Terminals, LLC. Greg Bowles is the President of both Sage Midstream and Haven, which are based in Houston, Texas.

This brings us to the Expo Center and Mr. Bowles on a Thursday evening in February.

Mr. Bowles wants to transport the otherwise flared propane and butane from the North Dakota Bakken shale oil fields to the Port of Longview on 100 car unit trains using pressurized DOT 112 tanks that would arrive every day and a half, 20 or so a month. Then, unload the trains at Berth Four in the middle of the Port’s eight berths, store it in a state of the art tank designed for “middle east” security and later transfer the liquified gas via pipelines to 900 foot ships slightly bigger than Panamax tankers three times a month for export to those countries that don’t have a natural gas distribution system like the U.S. Finally, Mr. Bowles wants the Port of Longview Commissioners to sign a lease with Haven Energy Terminals on March 10 so the permitting process can begin.

As you can imagine, the question and answer period with Mr. Bowles was both frustrating, yet enlightening for audience members. Mr. Bowles, of course, was not about a profitable return on the half billion dollar investment by Kaiser, Leuschen and Lapayre. Rather he was about “jobs”, “safety” and “the environment.”

Here’s a few of the exchanges between audience members and Mr. Bowles.

Q. What is the blast zone on the tank car if the whole car went up?

A. It would depend on how the car went up.

Q. What is the safe speed at which this unit train can run?

A. 5 mph inside the facility. Don’t know speed on main line.

Q. Are pipes from tank to ship permanently fixed.

  1. (no answer)
  2. How thick are the tank cars?
  3. Don’t know. (He can find out later)
  4. Are private investors evading taxes? Is the money “clean?”

A. Riverstone is a registered investment adviser with the S.E.C

Q. 900,000 barrels in the storage tank. What is the evacuation distance?

A. The local fire officials will know.

Q. Why not place this in a less populated area like Barlow point?

A. We considered it, but not suitable.

Q. If a tank car is on fire, how much water would you need?

A. The fire department will determine this.

Q. We are due for a 9.0 earthquake. We are in a liquefaction zone. What would happen?

A. It would depend on the location of the quake.

Q. How will the tank ships effect the spring salmon run on the river?

A. A Coast Guard study waterway suitability assessment will determine that.

Q. Will there be another hearing after Coast Guard and Fire Department report is finished?

A. (Addressed to Commissioners): No answer.

After the question and answer period, comes another ritual familiar to those who participate in such “special meetings,” a tightly regulated two minute comment period in front of silent public officials. Though this effort is rarely effective, people continue to speak; it’s what’s available. Besides, despite the rush to Olympia during legislative session, the public ports are ground zero in this state for the political struggle over fossil fuel extraction, their bomb train transport and overseas export.

Terminal opposition

Spokespersons for ILWU Local 21, President Jason Lundquist, Vice President Michael Wilcox and Labor Relations Committee representative Darin Norton each state their Local’s opposition to the project. They have met with Haven for the past year, but find them misleading with no answers to their questions. They don’t think this project is a good fit for a break bulk port. [Break bulk is cargo that must be loaded individually and not in shipping containers or in bulk such as oil or grain.] The proposed facility has an inherent danger, doesn’t generate enough revenue, will cut the port property in half and turn the Port of Longview into a landlord.

Health professionals like Dr. Kelly O’Hanley, Regna Merritt from Physicians for Social Responsibility and Alona Steinke from Vancouver point out how trains delay emergency vehicles at crossing, spew cancer causing diesel particulates particularly susceptible to school children near the rail lines, pose a catastrophic risk far beyond any capacity to respond and create sacrifice zones for the twenty-five million Americans who live in the blast zone.

Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, an organizer for Columbia River Keepers, states that if all proposed fossil fuel terminals are built it would mean thirty-five more ships a month in the river, all of which, including the VLGC propane tankers, could shut down other river traffic with safety zones as they transit the 66 miles from Longview through the notoriously dangerous Columbia River bar to the Pacific Ocean. Jasmine’s point is reinforced by retired Captain Phil Massey who tells the Commissioners they must not sign any lease before the Coast Guard study is completed.

Diane Dick, a close observer of the Port and President of the Landowners and Citizens for a Safe Community, points out that this project is not in the Port’s publicly developed Schedule of Harbor Improvements and therefore should not proceed. She also notes that the Commissioners are contemplating a decision that will effect communities all along the rail line from Spokane south to Pasco and down the Columbia River to Vancouver. Diana Gordon from the rail town of Washougal points out that both her city government and school district have passed resolutions of concern about these dangerous trains.

There are a few folks who speak in favor of the project. A spokesperson for JH Kelly, a union contractor in line to build the facility, wants SEPA and FERC process to vet the project so the community can live safely. A Trustee from Lower Columbia Community College thinks the vetting process will lead to a more educated and better paid work force. The head of the Economic Development Council believes the permitting process will be very thorough and that the Haven Energy Terminal project will mean local jobs.

The port decision

As the meeting winds down, Commissioner Bagaason states the Port will meet here again to vote on the proposed lease with Haven. Community leaders like Diane Dick have not seen the proposed lease and have no idea if the Port intends to make it public before the vote. Don Steinke, a community organizer from Vancouver, points out that if the Port signs such a lease they will, like the Port of Vancouver, be obligated to advocate for the project through the entire permitting process just like the Port of Vancouver advocates for the Tesoro/Savage Bakken oil marine terminal in spite of massive community and political opposition.

Even with their formal silence, it appears the Port Commissioners are preparing to sign the lease. They have negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Cowlitz County as a co-lead in the process for a SEPA determination. The MOU identifies their respective point persons for this process, chooses the international engineering firm, Parsons Brinckerhoff, as the third party environmental consultant for the SEPA analysis and enters into a “Staffing Agreement” with Haven covering the costs of SEPA compliance. Nevertheless, the Port is still accepting comments on this proposed project until March 10, 2015 when they say they will vote on the lease and at least one of the Commissioners is up for election in August.

Dan Leahy, a resident of Olympia’s Westside and proud member of the Decatur Raiders.



Players inspired by players

Works in Progress - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 10:18pm

Advancing social justice through the actions of activist athletes

We usually have a warped version of the way things used to be. I heard somewhere that the more you access memories, the less accurate they become. With that in mind, the early 90’s were a fantastic time to be a kid. According to my mind’s eye, my childhood was filled with skittles, rollerblading, learning how to flirt with girls and a whole lot of basketball.

I did in fact spend hours on the basketball court. Usually I played with other military brats, but often it was just me, the ball, and the hoop. I like to think I did this out of pure dedication and love of the game—a young boy with dreams of basketball glory and that if I stayed on that court just long enough I could manifest my own real life role in Michael Jordan’s Playground. For those who may not remember, the movie came out in 1991 and documented MJ’s rise to his first finals victory alongside the narrative of another young African American kid when he was a cut from his high school basketball team.

There’s a memorable scene between the kid and MJ in which I replace myself as the kid like this: I play basketball all day with my friends and stay long after everyone else goes home. I shoot bricks until sun starts to drop behind the high-rise apartments. I can’t allow myself to go home on a brick so I take one last shot. A swish! And the ball rolls to the feet of Michael Jordan who gracefully picks it up and says, “Nice shot, I see you’ve been practicing,” he says with a championship smile. I gaze in amazement. “I know you like to play alone. You don’t mind if I shoot with you, do ya?”

In anticipation, I have not only been practicing my jump shot, but also the look I would give MJ—a look of calm bewilderment.

“I’ll take that as a yes.”

I feel it’s safe to say that millions of other kids have had eerily similar delusions.

During this time, MJ was climbing to the top of the NBA and to a billion dollar industry as well. His influence would eventually dwarf any held by his sports contemporaries. Kids around the world consumed him with fervor.

For many people of my age, Michael Jordan played a significant role in our understanding of the world. Not only did he set the standard of greatness, he also represented a wholesome success. He was flash, brilliance and hard work, all wrapped up in a handsome persona. None of his off court fumbles ever penetrated the psyche of an eleven-year-old kid.

Michael Jordan taught many kids many different lessons. The one with deepest repercussions, however, wasn’t his ability to come through at clutch moments, but his absence from any matter concerning social justice.

There was plenty of opportunity. In the early 90’s, while Michael Jordan was building the foundation of a dynasty, the U.S. military was busy developing the Gulf War, apartheid was coming to a close, and NAFTA was being signed.

It may be unrealistic to imagine MJ taking a stand on carpet bombing and trade agreements, but we also saw the uprisings in Los Angeles over police brutality and Magic Johnson was making headlines by announcing he had contracted HIV. These were two pivotal moments in history and two occasions we heard little if anything from not only MJ but the majority of well-known sports figures.

Perhaps the defining example of MJ’s dedication to social ambivalence was in 1990. When asked if he would support black candidate Harvey Gnatt in his attempt to unseat Senator Jesse Helms—a politician who opposed the creation of a national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—Michael Jordan declined, later telling a friend that “Republicans buy sneakers, too.”

Regardless of their decision to engage in civic dialogue, professional athletes have an impact on our culture. Whether they take the social ambivalent route of MJ or the loud and proud approach of Muhammad Ali, their choices have far reaching effects on a population obsessed with sports. Now that I have outgrown of my Air Jordan’s, the point is beyond why MJ failed to support Harvey Gnatt, but what roles should professional athletes take in creating learning environments for the children who aspire to be like them?

Fortunately today we don’t have far to search to find examples of prominent athletes sharing in the legacy of Ali, Bill Russell, Arthur Ashe and others. A significant number of athletes and star athletes are deeply involved in their communities’ issues both on and off the court. The Jordan wanna-be’s of today have plenty of well-rounded role models from which to choose and that over recent months the actions taken by high-profile athletes have profound benefits for people working towards social change.

When the failure to indict Darren Wilson and Daniel Panteleo sparked a national outrage over police brutality, basketball player Derrick Rose wore a shirt stating “I Can’t Breathe” in a game against the Golden State Warriors. This prompted LeBron James (LBJ) of the Cleveland Cavaliers to comment, “It’s spectacular, I loved it. I’m looking for one.”

LBJ wore his shirt soon after, along with fellow player, Kyrie Irving. The Brooklyn Nets, whom they played against, had also donned the shirts. President Obama applauded James’ effort saying he “did the right thing.” In a display of just how far the conversation about sports and politics has come, Obama continued,

“We went through a long stretch there where [with] well-paid athletes the notion was: just be quiet and get your endorsements and don’t make waves.”

Soon enough, high profile players all over the NBA could be seen commemorating the lives of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley and the all the other black men, women and children who have been murdered by police. The Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers all had players who showed support for victims of police brutality.

Lakers franchise player, Kobe Bryant, said it wasn’t about race but about justice. “It’s important that we have our opinions. It’s important that we stand up for what we believe in.”

Derrick Rose, who had previously been active in his hometown of Chicago, spoke poignantly about his decision, “I grew up and I saw it every day… I saw the violence every day.”

Basketball stars weren’t the only ones to participate in the conversation. Prior to the Garner decision, five NFL players for the St. Louis Rams raised their hands in the “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” action during their pregame introductions. Washington Safety Ryan Clark said, “Brown could have been any one of us. He could have been any one of our brothers, our cousins…”

College athletes also speak out

Beyond the world of men’s professional sports, collegiate athletes broadened the response by wearing a variety of shirts with similar messages. We can see the direct impact such actions have on both teams and their communities.

On November 29, Knox College Women’s basketball player Ariyana Smith [who The Nation called the “the first athlete activist of #BlackLivesMatter”] courageously performed a one-woman demonstration at the Knox College v. Fontbonne University game held in Clayton, Missouri. During the national anthem, Ariyana walked with her hands up in a ‘hand ups, don’t shoot’ gesture towards the American flag and laid on the ground for 4.5 minutes to bring awareness to the police killing of Michael Brown, whose body was left in the street for 4.5 hours. She was suspended for one game. A few days later the college reversed the decision after talking with other members of the team.

In an interview with a local television station, Ariyana said, “I could not go into that gymnasium and pretend that everything was okay.”

On Saturday, December 13, the University of California’s women’s basketball team, wore shirts that read Black Lives Matter and We Are Cal on the back. On the front of their shirts each player had the name of an African-American who was killed by police or by lynching, along with the date of death.

This statement put police brutality in a historical context. Although it was somewhat at odds with the viewpoint of their NBA counterparts whose comments were directed more towards support for the family and “justice,” the women at Cal added to the national conversation about the root of the problem between police and people of color. By providing examples throughout US history, the women demonstrated that the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner were not isolated incidents, simply the most recentin a long line of police violence against communities of color.

On December 13, in a game versus Michigan, the Notre Dame Women’s basketball team wore pre-game warm up shirts that read “I Can’t Breathe.” They also posted pictures on Twitter, accompanied thequote, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

The women were supported by their coach Muffet McGraw. In a post-game press conference, McGraw addressed the teams decision to take a stand, “I was really proud of our team…You have to be willing to stand up and fight.” Mr. McGraw add, “These are the lessons that I want them to learn. I want to have strong, confident women who are not afraid to use their voice and take a stand.”

Having the support of their coach is undoubtedly a major factor in allowing student athletes to feel empowered, knowing they have the ability to help make change.

Activism at the junior level

No team at the collegiate or professional level appeared to have dealt with the amount of controversy that was created around the decisions of some high school basketball players around the country. One of the more inspiring examples of athletes taking a stand came far from any ESPN reporters or corporate-sponsored stadiums.

In Northern California, the Mendocino Girls and Boys basketball teams were disinvited to a tournament hosted by nearby Fort Bragg High School. The athletic director at Fort Bragg High informed the team from Mendocino they wouldn’t be allowed to play over concern that players planned to wear “I Can’t Breathe” shirts. Fort Bragg officials said they worried about the reaction some people would have to the shirts and that they were too small a school to deal with such a situation.

A couple days later, the teams were re-invited to the tournament. The school district reversed its ban indicating the shirts would be allowed as long as they caused no problems. A First Amendment lawyer, who represented one of the players, shared that the reversal by the Fort Bragg School District came just moments before she intended to file a federal court motion arguing that barring the shirts violated the free speech rights of the student athletes.

In the end, the girls team did not participate in the tournament, but the boys team did. Regardless, the decision by the athletes to stand up for something they believed in caused ripples throughout Mendocino county as well as leading international coverage of the situation and certainly local residents have been impacted, including the coach of the Mendocino girls team,

The girls offered a thoughtful explanation for their decision in a public letter:

“The Mendocino High School Varsity girls and boys basketball teams made the decision to wear the shirts without the initial encouragement of any parent, coach or other adult. We, the players, wanted to express our support for the people who face prejudices, racism, and police brutality daily in our country and convey our concern about these injustices to the public.”

These girls provide an inspiring example of the capacity of student/athletes to take the lead and continue the conversation.

Across the country, in Hartford, CT, “I Can’t Breathe” shirts received a different reaction when worn by members of the Weaver high school basketball team. Their coach, Reggie Hatchett, referred to the influence of NBA players in their decision.

“LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, some NBA teams and others, like the Notre Dame women’s team, have worn the shirts. So Weaver will, too,” Coach Hatchett continued, “Wearing the shirts shows our pride in our team’s multi-ethnicity…We are socially responsible and aware of what is right.

“When you have young men under your wing, there’s a serious responsibility not just to teach them sports, but also make them understand the community that they live in.”

Students meet resistance

On December 12, another group of student/athletes were inspired to wear “I Can’t Breathe” shirts to demonstrate solidarity with those who are fighting against racial inequities in the criminal justice system. High school basketball players from Salt Lake City—Kleahl Parker, Daurice Mouelle and James Kauli—watched NBA players wearing the shirts and were moved to join the national conversation.

Although they had their coaches support and permission, the school’s administration did not agree. Though the students were welcome to wear the shirts to school, as basketball players they would be representing the school and the shirts would not be allowed.

During a game on December 18, the boys wore their shirts during warm-ups and started the game in them. During the second quarter, the assistant coach was approached by the principal who told him the boys couldn’t wear the shirts while on the bench. None of the boys removed their shirts.

At halftime the assistant principal met the boys at the locker room door and informed them wearing the shirts was a violation of Utah High School Activities Association rules. The boys who were wearing them agreed to either removed or covered them.

[Ed. note: Though a few days later the school’s administrators admitted they had errored and that the wearing of the shirts do not violate Association rules, they maintained the ban because the basketball games are school-sponsored.]

The boys promised to keep wearing their shirts even if they were under their uniforms because they wanted to educate people about the effects of racism. As young black men living in a predominantly white area, the boys had their own experiences with racism.

Student Daurice Mouelle stated, “Every time when I go out, my mom is always telling me to be careful. Don’t do anything stupid because of all of the things that have been happening. People judge you by your skin color, even though they don’t know you. And you never know what might happen to you when you go out, even if you’re not doing anything bad.”

The courageous actions of athletes

The students from Salt Lake City and other athletes from around the country are a vital part of the broader #blacklivesmatter movement. The moments that are experienced in and around the wearing of the shirts—the dinner conversations that were sparked, the interactions between students, school officials and community members, the sense of empowerment that often accompanies defiant acts—encourage young people to have confidence in themselves and in their beliefs.

The student-athletes learned a valuable lesson in participatory democracy and civic dialogue. Because of the courageous acts of these young people the community at large was exposed to lessons in dealing with adversity, engaging in political debate and expanding comfort zones. Moving forward, it’s important to remember that these examples are part of a revolutionary process, not to be consumed and tossed aside but to be valued and continued.

Regardless of who instigated the momentum, we do know that “basketball season as usual” was interrupted for many communities around the country.

These days I still spend a considerable amount of time on the basketball court demonstrating that some things never change. I still put up more than my fair share of bricks; however, I no longer have skittle-induced dreams about larger than life athletes materializing before me and whisking me off to basketball stardom. This time around I think of Ariyana Smith more often than Michael Jordan and the profoundly different playground that she and others have provided for the young basketball players of today.

Asaya Plumly is a local educator, anarchist and over the hill basketball player. A direct link to his unedited version can be found on his blog at


Big change this year for Procession of the Species

Works in Progress - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 10:17pm

For the first time in two decades, Earthbound Productions—producer of the Procession—will not be providing a free community art studio in preparation for the beloved community event in April. According to Earthbound Productions director, Eli Sterling, community use of the art space had produced only about 10 percent of the props and costumes last year. And this is a good thing.

When the Procession first began in the mid-nineties, it was based on a 20-year plan—a generation in human time. Its goal was to provide an invitation to the Olympia community to participate in celebrating and reconnecting to the natural world. The originators hoped that the Procession would be culture changing and become an ingrained tradition within the community. Sterling claims the community has come to know the “Three Rules” and have repeated them to those who have trespassed. No words (written or spoken), no live animals, and no motorized vehicles.

In his letter to those involved in producing the Procession—some since the very beginning—Sterling wrote, “first and foremost, it is still incumbent upon all of us to ensure that the Procession’s invitation—to joyously celebrate our place in this miracle of the natural world—remains as safe and welcoming as it is heartfelt and encouraging…Secondly, as a non-profit organization, we are still saturated with the production expenses and requirements that necessarily accompany any endeavor that is as large and multi-facetted as the Procession of the Species Celebration.” [Ed. note: Please consider making an online tax-deductible donation ( to support this Olympia institution.]

As far as the possibility of a community arts studio in the future, Sterling believes that, even without the Arts Studio this year, they “have provided a marvelous inspiration of creativity, imagination, and sharing for 20 years and that the development of Procession art in our community will be as delightful as ever… However,” Sterling went on to say, “we need to remain in watchful review of how the community’s artistic expression is progressing without the availability of a subsidized core facility.”

For information on the Procession and possible specialty workshops involving luminary, music, or dance, please go to or call 360-705-1087.


David Cobb came to Traditions Cafe

Works in Progress - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 10:16pm

On February 12 David Cobb came to Traditions Cafe in beautiful downtown Olympia to speak on the current movement to amend the US Constitution. David is an attorney and activist. In 2002 he ran as a Green for Texas State Attorney General and he was the Green Party candidate for president in 2004.

Traditions was packed with ‘Move to Amend’ supporters and local residents coming to learn about this movement. “The system is rigged,” David said, “and I use every tool available to create nonviolent systemic change.” David’s two hour talk was a mini college course in democratic process versus the multinational corporate “rule” over us. “The wealthy elite are stealing our commons,” he said, “economic and ecological crisis is here.”

The “Move to Amend” is a big step to repair the crisis situation we have found ourselves in. This beginning process is the petition drive to gain the grass roots support required to force Congress to address the issue. The prepared amendment has two parts. First, it establishes that rights belong to people and not to corporations. Second, it will limit the money corporations or wealthy individuals donate to political candidates and make all donations be publicly disclosed. Because of the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court, an amendment is required to establish these measures.

“Amending the US Constitution is about the most difficult act we can do in our democracy.” Recall the failed Equal Rights Amendment for women in the 1970s. Without a very solid grassroots base for this amendment, it has no chance. David Cobb is one of the most encouraging people I have ever met but now it is up to us. A vibrant conversation in every community will be needed to push the amendment all the way through ratification.

All the details of the “Move to Amend” can be studied on their own website, Video archives of David’s talks and many other events can be found here under the media tab. To create exposure and begin the conversation, David says, is vital at this point in the process. Across the country there have been 299 local resolutions and one state resolution to support the amendment. Now is the time for the state of Washington; for us to consider which way we want our future to go.

“The founding fathers of this country were well aware of the danger of corporate rule and they put strict limits on what corporations could do,” David said. The Supreme Court has withdrawn those important limitations in the Citizens United ruling. If we care about the meaning of self-governance and democracy by the people, this is assuredly the time to act. There is a small but enthusiastic group of individuals struggling to gain the needed signatures on a petition around Olympia. But what is needed most is for people to educate themselves on this topic and talk to each other about what kind of world we want to live in.

“The CEOs, who are so addicted to power, have nothing to fear from us,” David said, “accept that we need to withdraw the unhealthy power they are addicted to. The popular democratic movement was really building itself until September 11th whence the US people withdrew into themselves. Now we can look to the global south to be reminded of how vital grass roots democracy is to people”

David Cobb has maintained a vocal and dynamic forward march in support of ideals that people around Olympia sometimes take for granted. Economic justice and ecological preservation are not winning because people are always distracted. As the crisis roles over into catastrophe we will be required to do mournful clean up or we can take democratic action now.



How to stop an oil train: Looking back to construct a social movement

Works in Progress - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 10:12pm

It’s clear this state of ours is in trouble. We have a governor and legislature refusing to fund basic education even in the face of a contempt order from the Washington State Supreme Court. At the same time, the governor and the legislature refuse to face the fundamental threat to our communities from BNSF oil trains even as one video after another show these same Bakken oil trains lighting up a small town in West Virginia. All we get from them is a bogus safety bill while the governor facilitates five new oil terminals and expanding oil refineries. And, on top of all that, the Democratic Party and its environmental front organizations want to give new property rights for carbon emissions to our biggest fossil fuel burning corporations.

Meanwhile at the national level, corporate rulers like Robert Rubin, Hank Paulson and Thomas Steyer plan on how to use this new risky environment of flooding coastal real estate and rising temperatures to make new profit centers and the National Academy of Science legitimates research on how to send sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere to reflect back the sunlight since it doesn’t appear any real effort to stop the burning of fossil fuels will be successful.

Naomi Klein says only a new social movement can get us out of this mess, but how does one construct such a movement when we remain fixated on the ever increasing environmental disasters and a non-responsive political class extracting profits from our public resources.

Social movement construction

Social movements arise out of a perceived failure of the political class to remedy some social injustice, like when farmers saw that the railroads controlled the production and distribution of their produce. Or when WWII vets faced the contradiction of having defeated a racist Nazi regime only to be confined within a racist system at home. Or, when those same vets came home thinking the end of war meant peace rather than continuous war. Or, now when our political class refuses to face the climate crisis with anything other than how can they make money off this new risk.

Perception of a social injustice is not enough, however. Some people believe social movements arise only when things get a lot worse. I don’t think so. Social movements don’t arise simply because an injustice gets worse. They arise in specific contexts: when organizers apply resources or charismatic leadership emerges or indigenous leadership attached to a community base moves against the injustice.

Whether it is any one of these or the combination of all three factors, social movement organizers need to answer four questions: who, what, with whom, and how? Who is the movement, the “we.” What does the movement want, its vision. Who are they going to get it with, the strategy. And, what is its method of enforcement, its tactic.

In order to answer these four questions, social movements need to be constantly creating and re-creating several key social movement components.

Autonomous Space

An autonomous space, within which movement participants can come to some new social analysis of the situation they are confronting, as Lawrence Goodwyn says. Sometimes that’s all I felt we could accomplish at the Labor Education Center I ran at Evergreen. A space that pushes out all the distractions that keep working people from thinking and planning. The Farmers Alliance used the cooperatives for this space. The Grange used their halls. The IWW used their reading rooms. The Knights of Labor used their Assemblies. The Civil Rights Movement used Highlander Center in Tennessee. Labor in Wisconsin used their School for Workers at the University. The US Social Forum promoted Peoples Assemblies for this space, as did Occupy Wall Street. Somewhere there has to be space for thinking not dominated by the corrupt political class, a space where analysis and strategy can be thought out.

New organizational forms

You don’t get new policy with the same institutions. Social movements create new organizational forms. And, the extent to which these forms mirror the society they want, they are successful. The Congress of Industrial Organizations was a new form to organize industrial workers across race and gender lines. The Civil Rights Movement created new local alliances that went beyond the existing ministerial structures. SNCC was a new organizational form parented by Ella Baker. The Women’s Liberation movement came out of consciousness raising groups. The Seattle WTO protesters rejuvenated “affinity groups”and developed convergence centers. The OWS utilized governance assemblies, like the Peoples Movement Assemblies of the US Social Forums. Rising Tide is a new formation linking indigenous struggles to environmental justice, as is Idle no More. Or, the Cowboy Indian Alliance fighting the Keystone XL. Or the newly formed Solidarity Roundtable on Oil in Washington State.

Recruitment devices

There needs to be a mechanism to attract people to the movement, to the organizational form. The farmers alliances used roving “lecturers”. The Townsend movement used a commissioned sales staff. Much of the organizing in the mid-1930s used radio programs. The AFL-CIO unions used hired organizers. The Black Panther Party used free breakfast programs and free health clinics. The alliance of unions and environmental groups used the March to Miami cross country bus trip. Indigenous nations are using reinvigorated traditions, like the Lummi Totem Pole Journeys.

Internal communication

Without a strong internal communication system, one that is owned and controlled by the movement itself, the movement will be defined by its enemies. Sending press releases to media outlets owned by your enemy is beyond counter productive. The Farmers Alliance sent out “lecturers.” The Seattle Union Record, which announced the Seattle General Strike of 1919, was a daily newspaper owned by the labor movement itself. The key communication device that linked the sitdown strikers at GM’s plant in 1936 to the community was the Women’s Emergency Brigade. Many of the CIO union drives were assisted by foreign language newspapers and cultural associations. The people who shut down the WTO Ministerial in Seattle used the intimacy of the affinity groups, impenetrable by provocateurs, as well as flags to denote levels of danger.

Independent finance

Successful social movements need money and it does make a difference where it comes from. If it doesn’t come from the movement’s base, independence and the movement itself is jeopardized. The labor movement had union dues. The Civil Rights Movement had church donations. The Townsend movement had fan club purchases of booklets, pins, etc.

A major difficulty with social movements resourced by external funders is that movement priories get distorted and disconnected from its potential base. Who pays the piper calls the tune.

A new political voice

The pinnacle of social movement development is the creation of a new political voice, one that articulates the movement’s social vision emanating from that “autonomous space.” Practically all social movements eventually created such a voice. The Populist movement’s Peoples Party, the Progressive era’s Progressive Party, Huey Long’s Union Party, the Civil rights movement’s Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, Black Power’s Black Panther Party, the anti-nuclear Citizen’s Party, the environmental movement’s Green Party or the neo-conservative’s Tea Party.

A difficulty with many resource-based movements in the US is their attachment to an organizational form with a federal IRS 501 c3 designation or to an existing political party, both of which stymie the development of an independent political voice. Nevertheless, as is clear from the recent Wisconsin movement or our own contemporary fight to stop oil trains, absent a new political voice the movement will get suffocated in the existing framework of two-party politics.

Capacity to withstand governmental repression

As is obvious, the capacity and enthusiasm for governmental repression of social movements is growing by leaps and bounds. The post WWI Red Scare, Hoover’s FBI, the post WWII McCarthy era, the Red Squads and Cointelpro of the 60′s and 70′s, or today’s ICE police and Homeland Security state all represent the government’s protection of the political class. We saw this most recently in the nationally coordinated police attack on the Occupy Wall Street encampments. One of the greatest accomplishments of social movements is their ability to continue to build and expand their infrastructure and their community base knowing that repressive forces are acting against them.

Transforming existing resources into power instruments

This is a concept I learned from Aldon Morris, author of Origins of the Civil Rights Movement. It’s something that movements do. The Farmers Alliance transformed cooperatives into representations of the economy they promoted. Radio programs became recruitment devices. The Civil Rights Movement transformed a church into a movement center. Martin Luther King, Jr. transformed the language of the Church into an immediate demand. Greyhound buses became Freedom Rides. Breakfast programs became schools. Parks became general assemblies. What will trains become?

…the more things stay the same

Social movement history seems to have come full circle. The great populist uprising of the 1880′s and 90′s focused on finance, on creating a financial system attached to the existing economy. Here we are 100 plus years later and we are faced with the same problem. Finance has disconnected itself from the real economy and accumulated massive wealth selling debt to the rest of us. Now they are planning on creating new financial instruments to buy and sell pollution, steal indigenous land for “carbon sinks” profit off adaptation of coastal cities to rising sea levels or building new energy capacity for air conditioning in the Northwest.

I was asked a couple of years ago to give a talk about how local history informs modern social movements. I’ve always been amazed by this intersection.

The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, for example, focused on the 99% and the 1%. That’s what made it so extraordinary to read a Farmer’s Alliance song book from the late 1870′s, and see a song entitled, “Labor’s Ninety-Nine.” Here’ the first and final stanza.

There are ninety-nine that live and die in want, hunger and cold.

That one may revel in luxury and be wrapped in its silken fold.

The ninety-nine in their hovels bare. The one in his palace with riches rare. The one in his palace with richest rare.

The night so dreary, so dark, so long. At last shall the morning bring.

And over the land the Victor’s song of the Ninety and Nine shall ring.

And echo a far from zone to zone. Rejoice, for labor shall have its own. Rejoice, for labor shall have its own.

After 140 years we are back to the same 1% controlling it all. But we also have 140 years of historical struggle to create new social movements and challenge their hold on our future.



This Body

Works in Progress - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 10:09pm

This Body will only comfort, all;

This Body will not hurt anyone;

This Body has Siddiqan’s inspirations

This Body has a great farmer’s noble pursuit;

This Body has Shafi’s humbleness and mystery

This Body has a medicine man’s passion;

This Body feels pleasure in growing Wholesome food & sharing;

This Body feels other fellow-being’s Pain & suffering;

This Body is in Harmony in a Natural world;

This Body will sooth people’s grief & sorrow;

This Body will absorb the pain, suffering, humiliation, & hatred;

This Body will only share the Pleasure, the Spirituality, the Humanity;

Hope for Real Peace, gives this Body reason to live!


The Abyss of Society

Works in Progress - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 10:06pm

I am a victim of the system.

A system structured

To torture;

Wringing out my last ounce of dignity.


You’re a victim of the system.

You’re enthralled;

Wrapped in chains,

Pulling out and downsizing your humility.


Day after day after day: time runs away!

All of us see it fly,

Yet no one voices out

A demand to retain it.


Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday

(Redundancy and repetition)

All of us conform

And no one thinks of changing it.


Graffiti on the street,

Let us know of the oppression.

Graffiti on the wall

Asks for revolution and organization.


Where do these rebels meet?

What happened to the uprisings,

Protests and outcries?

Where they all swallowed by globalization?


Indeed the system tells us we’re free

When we buy healthcare,

When we buy education,

When we buy our right to exist.


Would you not agree?

Every person chases the idea of fitting in

They are zombiefied and colonized,

Unwilling to resist.


Its demands are at its core:

To study for a printed diploma.

High School, College, University

PhDs, M.A.s and B.A.s


The horde of the bore

With white picket fences,

50’s pinup wives and

Bread winning husbands full of B.S.


What then? To retire? To Die?

Fifty, Sixty, Seventy, Eighty;

The decades pile up

Yet the empty contents evaporate.


The warning signs do not lie.

We see them as we travel

down the road, but we hide

Behind screens when we should retaliate


against the system: that cushiony nest,

that exaggerates and decapitates

our agitated lives

with pages bleached with regret.


The unrest becomes a pest,

Stench oozes from the walls

With hypocrisy and a twofaced dagger

That strives to slowly forget


the loneliness and the mistake

That was made

By listening to the abysmal society’s

Regulatory decadence;


Yet if it’s not too late to partake

In this fight and struggle,

Wake soon from your slumber

And voice out for justice, NOT SILENCE!


All who want it scream “Aye!”

As the rusted chains of that intangible

entity crumble beneath the wheels

of a revolutionary bus.


Realize and act on what you and I,

Together can achieve

Before the system and the structure

Swallows and forsakes us.


Yelm Co-op Beats the Odds to Break $1 Million in Sales

Thurston Talk - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 7:39am



By Heidi Smith

awesome rvIf the Yelm Food Cooperative were a children’s story, it would probably be The Little Engine That Could.  This, after all, is an organization that opened in 2007 – with just $26,000. “That’s a very small amount to start any retail, let alone a grocery store that has a lot of inventory and equipment,” say General Manager Barnaby Urich Rintz. “Most will start with ten times that amount before they get a brick and mortar location.”

yelm food co-op

Kate Morgan is one of three managers, including Jutta Dewell and Debbie Burgan, who run the Yelm Food Cooperative under the leadership of General Manager Barnaby Urich Rintz.

Manager Debbie Burgan puts it more bluntly. “We were insane,” she says. “I was sent to three different seminars to find out what you needed to start a co-op. Every single one said you needed a minimum of $1 million.”

All the more remarkable, then, that the Co-op recently broke $1 million in sales and continues to grow.

Their story could be a case study in how to create success with minimal resources. Among the store’s managers, a consensus exists around key factors that have led to where they are now.

Loyal Members and Customers

“One critical factor is our shoppers and the support we received from Yelm and the community in general including customers ranging from Rainier to east of Lacey, Clearwood, and more,” says Rintz. Manager Jutta Dewell agrees. “We have a very dedicated group of members and customers,” she says. “They shop here first. They only go somewhere else if we don’t have what they need.”


The Co-op was started by an all-volunteer group back in 2005. “Especially in the early stages, there was a lot of ingenuity among those people to find the kind of equipment they needed, to set up critical expenses like insurance that was cost effective,” says Rintz. “They used the membership dues as wisely as possible and picked the most practical location in light of such a small budget.”


yelm food co-op

When the new store first opened in 2012, eager customers explored the aisles.

For the first five years of its existence, the Co-op resided in a small commercial building where anyone attempting to navigate an aisle would literally rub elbows with someone coming the opposite direction.  “It was important to open a storefront in order to begin building a history and reputation within this community,” says Rintz.

But in 2012, the store moved to its current – and much larger – location at 308 Yelm Avenue, which it shares with local landmark Gordon’s Garden Center. “Moving here was really important,” says Dewell. “We could never have dealt with $1 million in sales in the old store.”  Rintz adds, “This location is much better equipped to handle a higher volume of sales, in terms of space and atmosphere.”


Originally, the co-op was a member-owned corporation. In 2012, the board of directors asked the membership to vote on becoming a non-profit community service organization with a focus on education and food. The idea was a hit; 96% of the members who voted favored the new vision. Rintz credits the board with “moving to reevaluate operations and make the next step in growth.”

Part of that growth was hiring Rintz, who joined the Co-op in December 2012. “We really, really needed a general manager who knew the business and could change things that needed to be changed,” says Dewell, who has been with the store since its inception. “Having Barnaby has made a huge difference.”

yelm food co-op

The Wine Cellar of Yelm has been a highly successful department within the Yelm Co-op, with regular wine tastings on Saturdays and during special events.

Burgan echoes that sentiment. “Barnaby has been such a strong manager,” she says. “He’s brought a lot of experience and a world of understanding of how co-ops run. He’s bringing a level of professionalism that I’ve always wanted us to have. I can see that changes are working.”


As they’ve grown, the co-op has surveyed its customers, analyzed buying patterns, and adjusted accordingly. “We offer products that are hard to find in the Yelm area – non-GMO, organic, and local items,” says Rintz.  “Our success has proven that the demand from the consumer is large enough to support the store.”

“We’re moving diligently to promote GMO awareness in our products, ask questions about our vendors and eliminate items that include RBST, because that’s what our customers want,” says Burgan.

The Future

While reaching $1 million was significant, reaching $2 million would make a world of difference for the store and its members. “We want to offer improved services, specifically prepared foods, a deli, and a meat department that has fresh meat instead of frozen,” says Rintz. For that, they need equipment which is beyond their current budget.

yelm food co-op

Co-op employees and working members enjoy the ambiance and elbow room provided by the store’s location at 308 Yelm Ave. in downtown Yelm.

Breaking the $2 million threshold would also be the first step in allowing the store to apply for membership with the National Grocers Association, which would provide multiple benefits, including buying power. “If we can get the buying power that other co-ops have, our buying structure changes,” says Burgan. “That benefit would get passed on to our members.”

She doesn’t believe that reaching the new goal will take long. “We just need all our members to be buying 80% of their groceries from us,” she says. “If we’re not carrying what you want, let us know about it.”

Given what this small group from a modest rural town has achieved so far, the odds are in their favor.

As a non-profit organization, the Yelm Food Cooperative gladly accepts donations from anyone who shares their vision of a sustainable, food-wise community.  Contact General Manager Barnaby Urich Rintz at

Stella Parker – Capital High School Senior Achieves Despite Adversity with Epilepsy

Thurston Talk - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 7:15am



By Katie Doolittle

color graphicsWhen Stella Parker graduates from Capital High School later this year, her diploma will symbolize years of determination and learning. In this, she’s just like other members of the class of 2015. But since Parker’s road to academic achievement has been a little bumpier than most, her arrival at this educational milestone will be all the sweeter.

Why is that? Parker has epilepsy.

“To be honest I don’t even know how hard my life is because I’m constantly living it,” she says. Yet Parker is fully aware of the gifts she’s managed to wrestle from her challenges. “I am assertive and strong with the initiative to get where I need to go and do what I want to do.”

capital high school

After graduating from Capital High School, Stella Parker plans to attend South Puget Sound Community College.

Capable and committed students like Parker are the reason American public education offers Individualized Education Programs (or plans), otherwise known as IEPs. Think of an IEP as a contract drawn up and then revisited annually with input from family members, school staff, and the learner herself. Ideally, the goal is to provide the lightest support needed for the greatest success possible.

Unfortunately, that ideal is not always realized. Parker’s mother, Govinda Rossa, shudders to remember what her daughter experienced before entering the Olympia School District. Rossa says, “I’ve lived in a lot of places and I don’t know if people around here realize how lucky they are. This is the best school system I’ve ever seen.”

Parker’s out-of-state educational experiences could best be summed up as ineffective, insensitive, and sometimes unsafe. One school even kicked her out, telling Rossa, “It’s just too hard on us. Keep her at home.” Rossa recalls past IEP meetings as occasions for shame, frustration, and tears.

But when Parker started at Capital in January 2013, Rossa was shocked by the delightful difference. Their first IEP meeting opened with these welcome words: “‘Well, we’ve explained to all the teachers how to handle a seizure. Here’s our plan.’ I had never been treated so respectfully before. My daughter had never been treated so kindly and they had never been so accommodating.”

Principal Chris Woods has a simple yet poignant explanation for why the staff works so hard to support students. “We often talk about what we would want done for our own son or daughter if they were the ones we were meeting about or teaching in our classes.  It’s pretty easy to go the extra mile for a student when you view them through the lens of a parent.”

He adds, “Capital High School belongs to our students and we want to help create an environment where they feel valued, free to learn and cared for.”

capital high school

Capital High School teacher Donna McPeak describes Parker as “a young lady with an awesome personality, great sense of humor, and strong will and determination to achieve.”

Certainly, this has been the case for Stella Parker. She says, “I really appreciate how understanding the teachers and students are. The day after I have a seizure, nobody says anything except ‘are you okay?’ and that’s just the way it should be.”

Holly Steele, school nurse, describes it as a “privilege” for the whole health room staff to have watched “Stella blossom over the last two years… we are very proud of her and believe she has a bright future ahead.”

For Parker, that bright future will begin at  South Puget Sound Community College. And after that? “I would like to maybe teach children or help disabled students learn,” she says.

As Transition Coordinator at CHS, it’s been Pam Tebeau’s job and pleasure to assist Parker with this next step. Tebeau says, “Together we have been working with the Disability Service Coordinator at SPSCC to learn about accommodations, supports and career options. Stella has been steadfast in self-advocacy and I believe that through this process, she has grown tremendously.” Tebeau describes Parker as “an extraordinary young lady” and finds it powerful that “instead of asking the question, ‘Why me?’, she asked the question, ‘Why not me?’”

capital high school

Pam Tebeau is the Transition Coordinator at Capital High School.

Tebeau also mentions fellow staff member, Donna McPeak, who’s provided constant support and encouragement to Parker. McPeak was Parker’s first case manager as well as one of her classroom teachers. As Tebeau notes, “She did not give up or give in when things got tough for Stella and believe me, things got tough. Donna expected nothing less from Stella than her very best.”

As Parker’s high school career winds to a close, McPeak has nothing but gratitude for the opportunity to work with her. “Thank you Govinda for trusting in CHS and sharing your daughter with us. What an honor!” This supportive teacher goes on to say, “Stella, you have made CHS a better place by your presence. You model every day the following traits at CHS: perseverance,  positive attitude, strength of focus, sense of humor, and the power of the support of family. You are a powerful young woman and I have been honored to work with you. You have taught me a lot and I can honestly say as you travel onto your next challenge, Stella, you will not be forgotten here at CHS, but especially not forgotten by me.”

Congratulations, Stella Parker, and best of luck in all your future endeavors!


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