Recent Local Blog Posts

More crime in Thurston county between 1990 and 2011 results in even more prison sentences

Olympia Time - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 5:58am
I'm sure my dad is going to have something to say about this post, but I found some interesting statistics while looking for something else this week. I was poking around, looking for county level statistics to create a Washington level "general happiness index." I wasn't planning on tracking it across time, just finding some quick list of the happiest of the counties.

So, crime rates in Thurston County, take a look:

What's going on here is while reported crimes grew at a slow rate between the early 1990 to a few years ago, the total number of criminal sentences by our county courts went way up. What explains this?

Stiffer mandatory sentences? This phenomena may have led to courts imposing stiffer criminal penalties over the last 20 years.

"We've now got TONS of houses and nowhere to walk"

Olympia Time - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 6:16am
Read the results of the new survey. It is fascinating to read people chatting about what kind of things they like to see in a "community center" in their neighborhood.

Hopefully, the new comprehensive plan moves our neighborhoods into creating more of these vibrant areas. Think of the Wildwood building on Captiol Way, the Co-op on the west side or the San Francisco Bakery on the Northeast.

Or the desert of any sort of walkable community on the Southeast side.

At least on my side of town, there has been some serious real politics dealing bad news to this sort of thing. In my neighborhood, Briggs Village, the developer seriously dialed back what on paper was supposed to be a pretty impressive urban village. Some apartments over commercial. Some multistory commercial. Maybe even parking basements. But, now we're likely going to get a shiny strip mall sort of thing.

Hopefully, it turns out okay. But, in the long term at least, it was supposed to be a move to develop the area quicker. For now, we have no movement on those lots yet.

A few miles away, the LBA area was supposed to see a similar development with a nice walkable commercial/community area. But, neighbors to the proposed development rose up and stopped it.

Ironically, those very neighbors live a massive wasteland of walkable community areas. Between the Pit Stop Market (on 18th) and the Chevron on Yelm Highway, there is literally no place to buy a gallon of milk on foot for thousands of Olympians.

We want community. We want places to walk. We want to have tight neighborhoods that are forward facing and nice. We want character.

But, developers dial back grand plans and suburban car house dwellers defend trees in the face of new diverse neighborhoods.

However we advocate for neighborhood centers needs to realize the real politics that have created acres and acres of houses with nowhere to walk.

A massive explosion in 1934 (mostly because I'm out of blogging topics) and some cool watermarked video

Olympia Time - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 5:48am
I'm literally posting this because I am lacking something for this week's second post. I was hoping to find a tsunami map for Budd Inlet or some reflection on homeless students, but came up short.

I had nothing prepared, nothing inspirational for you. So, this is just a smidge of some Smith Troy out of context and some interesting video.

From Historylink:
On Wednesday afternoon, June 27, 1934, 10 people are killed and seven are injured when two explosions demolish the J. A. Denn Powder Company plant on Hawk’s Prairie, eight miles east of Olympia.  An 11th victim, the company chemist, will die from his injuries the following day.  Thurston County authorities investigate the accident, but so little of the plant remains that the official cause will remain a mystery.


Smith Troy, the Thurston County coroner as well as a deputy county prosecutor, began an immediate investigation of the disaster.  He was assisted in the inquest by Claude Havens, Thurston County Sheriff; William A. Sullivan, Washington State Insurance Commissioner, acting as ex-officio state fire marshal; and E. Patrick Kelly, Washington State Director of Labor and Industries.
During an interview, Troy told reporters: “So little remains of the plant and surrounding buildings, about all we can hope to do is question survivors.  It will be difficult to determine the causes, but we may discover who, if anybody, was responsible for the blast” (The Seattle Times).

The rights of things non-human

Works in Progress - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 10:24pm

The case of corporations and nature

A Tale of Two Countries
In September of 2008 Ecuador became the first nation on earth to recognize the Rights of Nature. Two years later, the United States Supreme Court ruled that corporations and people have the same rights. In terms of their history and current economic political significance, the two countries could not be farther apart: Ecuador is small Latin American country with a growing but quite small developing economy; and the United States, in spite of its current economic problems, continues to be the world’s most significant economic and military superpower.

Ironically as it may be, the two countries have something important in common: both of them have opened a space within their legal systems to non-human objects, by recognizing Nature and Corporations as people-like bearing entities. By doing so the two countries have posed important questions regarding the entitlement, extension, and bounds of the human rights map and territory.

A Brief Genealogy—Ecuador
The Ecuadorean Constitution defines Nature using the Quichua language signifier Pacha Mama or ‘mother earth’, a pre-Columbian linguistic utterance that aims to express the indigenous perception of nature as a nurturing mother to be respected and revered.

The idea of natural preservation in Ecuador is not new. It officially originated in 1936 with the designation of the Galapagos Archipelago as a National Park. This original measure was ‘insular’ both figuratively and realistically speaking, when we compare it to the current Ecuadorean Constitution, which in Article 10 states:

Persons, communities, peoples, nations and communities are bearers of rights and shall enjoy the rights guaranteed to them in the Constitution and in international instruments. Nature shall be the subject of those rights and the Constitution recognizes for it.

And further, in article 71:
Nature, or Pacha Mama, where life is reproduced and occurs, has the right to integral respect for its existence and for the maintenance and regeneration of its life cycles structure, and evolutionary processes. All persons, communities, peoples and nations can call upon public authorities to protect nature to enforce the rights of nature.

United States
In the American case, the personification of corporations has a more recent lineage than the Ecuadorean personification of Nature. The most immediate ancestry of this legal prosthetic of humans on corporations was “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission” which ruled that corporations have the same rights as individuals. According to NPR’s Nina Totemberg:

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 First Amendment decision in 2010 that ex-tended to corporations for the first time full rights to spend money as they wish in candidate elections — federal, state and local. The decision reversed a century of legal understanding, unleashed a flood of campaign cash and created a crescendo of controversy that continues to build today.

Do people really count?
It may be important to consider the possibility that the existence of a universal human nature that would justify the existence of universal human rights is historically a relative new concept. The concept of ‘human rights’ practically did not exist in antiquity, and rights (of any kind) tended to be rather selective and exclusivist (think of women and slaves in the past). Historically people have counted very little. The American Philosopher Richard Rorty notices:

For most white people, until very recently, most black people did not count. For most Christians, until the seventeenth century or so, most heathen did not count. For the Nazis, Jews did not count. For most males in countries in which the average income is less than two thousand pounds, most females still do not count.

In the United States, the ‘people don’t count’ record does not get any better. The idea that Blacks were not really human allowed the Founding Fathers to think of themselves as enlightened humanists, and not as cynical and hypocritical violators of the constitution they have just written down. Even when blacks were recognized as people with the abolition of slavery in 1865 (The Thirteenth Amendment), this situation remained unchanged. Prejudice, stigmatization and discrimination practically continued—with small degrees of variation—for a hundred and eighty eight years, from 1776 to 1964 when the Civil Right Act was signed.

But in Ecuador the ‘people don’t count’ record does not get any better. Although slavery was formally abolished in 1821, (simultaneously with Colombia, and Venezuela), the semi-feudal and semi-enslavement conditions of production and existence inherited from the Spanish colonization continued to affect most of the indigenous people. This state persisted also with small variations until the first half of the 20th Century.

The Role of Culture and Politics
Historically it wasn’t a ‘self evident truth’ about human nature that made possible the acknowledgement of the rights of people. The determinant factor was closely related to the ways society was organized at any given historical time, and who controlled power at the time (generally speaking those who controlled it write the laws). But also, and most importantly, it had to do with the actions and struggle of those who challenged that power and made possible changes within the system, or the replacement of the system itself. Think of the Civil Rights Movement in the first case, and the French Revolution in the second. People count when they make themselves count.

Do things count?
Given the tortuous history of ‘people’s rights’, the granting of rights to non-human entities (Nature and corporations) rests apparently on even more trembling grounds, since neither decision can be defended or criticized on superior moral considerations. Both decisions came to be as the result of legal resolutions of two different independent states at a particular time in their individual history, deciding to transfer human rights to inanimate things.

In the Ecuadorean case, Nature is granted rights as the result of a wide leftist coalition of popular forces in opposition to neo-liberal forms of political and economic organization. In the United States corporations acquire the same rights of people as an expression of the power and insatiable appetite of the capitalist neo-liberal elites of this country. Things count depending on how we use them.

Who Should Have Rights?
Nature or corporations, who should have rights? Well … they both do at the time, so the question is void of meaning. A better question probably is, which right bearing entity would be more beneficial to larger numbers of people? Or, because of that reason, which one should be deprived of those rights and how do we make it happen? You have the right to choose and most importantly, the right to do something about it. A few days ago hundred of thousands of people marched all over the world (eighty blocks long rally just in NYC) to express their concerns about climate change. They are doing something about nature and at the same time expressing their rights.

Enrique Quintero, a political activist in Latin America during the 70’s, taught ESL and Second Language Acquisition in the Anchorage School District, and Spanish at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He currently lives and writes in Olympia.

Los derechos de las cosas no-humanas

Works in Progress - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 10:23pm

El caso de las corporaciones y la naturaleza

Historia de dos países
En septiembre de 2008 Ecuador se convirtió en la primera nación del mundo en reconocer los Derechos de la Naturaleza. Dos años después, la Corte Suprema de Estados Unidos dictaminó que las empresas y las personas tienen los mismos derechos. En cuanto a su historia y significación política y económica actual, los dos países no podrían ser más diferente: Ecuador es un pequeño país de América Latina con una economía en desarrollo creciente pero todavía reducida; y conversamente, los Estados Unidos, a pesar de sus actuales problemas económicos, sigue siendo la superpotencia económica y militar más importante del mundo.

Por irónico que paresca, los dos países tienen algo importante en común: ambos han abierto un espacio dentro de sus sistemas jurídicos a los objetos no humanos, mediante el reconocimiento de la naturaleza y corporaciones como entidades con derechos similares a los de personas. Al así hacerlo los dos países han planteado importantes interrogantes con respecto al derecho, extensión y límites en el mapa y el territorio de los derechos humanos.

Una Breve Genealogía—Ecuador
La Constitución ecuatoriana define la naturaleza utilizando la frase Quichua Pacha Mama o ‘madre tierra’, una expresión lingüística precolombina que pretende expresar la percepción indígena de la naturaleza como madre que nos cuida y que debe de ser respetada y venerada.

La idea de la preservación natural en Ecuador no es nueva. Se originó oficialmente en 1936 con la designación del Archipiélago de Galápagos como Parque Nacional. Esta primera medida era ‘insular’ tanto en términos figurativos como reales, especialmente cuando la comparamos con la actual Constitución de Ecuador, que en su artículo 10 establece:

Las personas, comunidades, pueblos, naciones y comunidades sonportadores de derechos y gozarán de los derechos que se les garantizan en la Constitución y en los instrumentos internacionales. La Naturaleza será objeto de esos derechos y la Constitución los reconoce como tales.

Y más adelante, en el artículo 71:
Naturaleza o Pacha Mama, donde la vida se reproduce y se produce, tiene derecho a que se respete integralmente su existencia y el mantenimiento y regeneración de sus ciclos de vida estructura y procesos evolutivos. Todas las personas, comunidades, pueblos y naciones, pueden recurrir a los poderes públicos para proteger la naturaleza para hacer cumplir los derechos de la naturaleza.

Estados Unidos
En el caso estadounidense, la personificación de las corporaciones tiene un linaje relativamente más reciente que la personificación Ecuatoriana de la Naturaleza. El antecedente más inmediato de esta prótesis jurídica de seres humanos en las corporaciones se dio en el caso legal llamado “Comisión Federal Electoral versus “Citizens United”, que dictaminó que las corporaciones tienen los mismos derechos que las personas. Según NPR Nina Totemberg:

La Decisión 5-4 de la Primera Enmienda de la Corte Suprema en 2010, que extendió a las corporaciones por primera vez el pleno derecho de gastar el dinero como deseen en las elecciones de candidatos—federal, estatal y local. Esta decisión revocó un siglo de entendimiento legal, desató una avalancha de flujo de dinero para las campañas, y creó un crescendo de controversia que continúa hasta el presente.

La gente realmente cuenta?
Puede ser importante tener en cuenta la posibilidad de que la existencia de una naturaleza humana universal que justifique la existencia de los derechos humanos universales, es históricamente un concepto relativamente nuevo. El concepto de ‘derechos humanos’ prácticamente no existía en la antigüedad, y los derechos (de cualquier tipo) tendieron a ser antes que nada selectivos y excluyentes (pensemos en las mujeres y los esclavos del pasado). Históricamente la gente ha contado muy poco nos dice el filósofo norteamericano Richard Rorty:

Para la mayoría de la gente blanca, hasta hace muy poco, la mayoría de la gente negra no contaban. Para la mayoría de los cristianos, hasta el siglo XVII, más o menos, la mayoría de los paganos no contaba. Para los nazis, los Judíos no contaban. Para la mayoría de los hombres en los países en los que el ingreso promedio es de menos de dos mil dólares, la mayoría de las mujeres todavía no cuentan.

En los Estados Unidos, el récord de que “la gente no cuenta ‘ no es mucho mejor. La idea de que los negros no eran realmente humanos permitió a los Padres Fundadores el pensarse a sí mismos como humanistas ilustrados, y no como infractores cínicos e hipócritas frente a la Constitución que acaban de escribir. Años después, incluso cuando los negros fueron reconocidos como personas con la abolición de la esclavitud en 1865 (La Decimotercera Enmienda), esta deplorable situación se mantuvo sin cambios significativos. El prejuicio, la estigmatización y la discriminación continuaron -con pequeños grados de variación- durante ciento ochenta y ocho años, de 1776 a 1964, cuando se firmó la Ley de Derechos Civiles.

Pero tampoco en Ecuador el record de que «la gente no cuenta” luce nada halagador. Aunque la esclavitud fue abolida oficialmente en 1821, (simultáneamente con Colombia, y Venezuela), las condiciones de semi-feudalismo y semi-esclavitud en la producción y la existencia, heredadas de la colonización española, continuaron afectando a la mayor parte de los pueblos indígenas. Este estado se mantuvo también con pequeñas variaciones hasta la primera mitad del siglo XX.

El papel de la cultura y política
Históricamente no fue la existencia de una ‘verdad evidente “sobre la naturaleza humana que hizo posible el reconocimiento de los derechos de las personas. El factor determinante estuvo relacionado con las formas de organización social en un momento histórico dado, y con las clases sociales que controlaban el poder en dicho momento (en general quienes controlan el poder escriben las leyes). Pero también, y esto es quizás lo más importante, la forma de derechos existente tenía que ver con las acciones y la lucha de aquellos que desafiaron el poder e hicieron posibles cambios dentro del sistema, o el cambio de sistema. Se piense en el Movimiento por los Derechos Civiles en el primer caso, y en la Revolución francesa en el segundo. La gente cuenta cuando se hacen contar por si mismos.

¿Cuentan las cosas?
Dada la tortuosa historia de «los derechos de las personas», la concesión de derechos a entidades no humanas (Naturaleza y corporaciones) descansa incluso en terreno mas tembloroso, puesto que la decisión no puede ser defendida ni criticada basándose en consideraciones morales superiores. Ambas decisiones llegaron a ser como el resultado de las resoluciones judiciales de dos estados independientes y diferentes, que en un momento determinado de su historia individual, deciden transferir los derechos humanos a cosas inanimadas.

En el caso ecuatoriano, la naturaleza tiene derechos como el resultado de una amplia coalición de izquierda de las fuerzas populares en oposición a las formas neo-liberales de organización política y económica previamente existentes. En los Estados Unidos las empresas adquieren los mismos derechos de las personas como una expresión del poder político y del apetito insaciable de las élites neoliberales capitalistas de este país. Las cosas cuentan en función de su uso.

¿Quienes deben tener derechos?
Es la Naturaleza o las corporaciones que deberían tener derechos? Bueno … ambas los tienen en este momento, así que la pregunta es vacía de significado. Una pregunta mejor seria si nos preguntáramos, cual entidad con derechos sería más beneficiosa para un mayor número de personas? O, por esa misma razón, que entidad debería ser privada de estos derechos y que podemos hacer para que esto suceda? Usted lector tiene el derecho a elegir y lo que es más importante, el derecho a hacer algo al respecto.

El sábado pasado, cientos de miles de personas marcharon en todo el mundo (ochenta cuadras de llenas de gente en largo mitin sólo en la ciudad de Nueva York) para expresar sus preocupaciones sobre el cambio climático. Ellos están haciendo algo acerca de la naturaleza y, al mismo tiempo, expresando sus derechos.

Enrique Quintero fue un activista politico en America Latina durante los años 70. Luego trabajó como profesor de ESL y Adquisiciòn de Segunda Lengua en el Distrito Escolar de Anchorage y Profesor de Español en la Universidad de Alaska. Actualmente vive y escribe en Olympia.

LBA Woods Park at critical juncture

Works in Progress - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 10:22pm

Will there be adequate open space and parks available to meet future need?

The 150 acres of woods surrounding LBA Park (located off Morse Merriman in SE Olympia) are the last large forested area within Olympia and its UGA that is not already a park. The owners of the two parcels that comprise the woods (Bentridge and Trillium) have expressed their willingness to sell, but unless the City acts quickly to secure the woods, the developments planned for those parcels will proceed.

The LBA Woods Park Coalition has now gathered over 5,200 signatures of area residents asking the Olympia City Council to purchase the woods for a park before these woods are lost to housing developments.

The City’s Parks, Recreation, and Arts Advisory Committee voted unanimously with one abstention to move forward with a study of the feasibility of purchasing the Bentridge parcel.

The LBA Woods are a true gem. The woods have more than four miles of wooded trails through varied terrains, including mature forest (a dozen or so trees over 36 inches diameter) and alder groves. Hundreds of people walk and run there. It is especially popular for walking dogs, and the gentle slope trails are accessible to seniors. Black Hills Audubon birders have identified fifty-eight bird species in the woods. The woods provide critical habitat for birds and wildlife that residents enjoy seeing in their yards and streets.

A significant body of new scientific research has shown that walking in larger forest parcels provides a number of surprising health benefits. Those benefits include: immune system boost, lower blood pressure, reduced stress, improved mood; increased ability to focus (even in children with ADHD), accelerated recovery from surgery or illness, increased energy level, improved sleep.

City polls have consistently found that city residents state their number one parks goals to be nature and trails.

The demand for open space forest trails will nearly double in the next 20 years. Over that period, Olympia’s population is projected to increase 20,000 and Thurston County’s by 120,000. This begs the question, if Olympia does not act now to secure the woods, where will the children play? How will we address the nature-deficit disorder that will increasingly undermine our physical and mental health.

Funds exist to purchase the parcels. In 2004, City residents approved the “voted utility tax” to raise about $2 million a year until 2024 for parks. The voters’ pamphlet and the City mailer stated that the tax-generated park funds would be prioritized for park acquisition before the remaining lands are lost, and estimated the funds would acquire about 500 acres, mostly open space. To date, the City has acquired only 51 acres. The City can use the park acquisition funds from the voted utility tax to finance purchase of the Bentridge parcel now, which is currently on the market for a favorable price of $6.5 million. As Jane Kirkemo, the City Finance Director, has explained, the City could issue a bond anticipation note now to pay for the parcel, and pay off that note in 2016 when it sells a new round of general obligation bonds that would in turn be paid off using the voted utility tax revenues.

If the City supplements its bond funds supported by the utility tax with funds from other sources such as County conservation futures and state grant programs, the City would likely be able to purchase Trillium also by 2016.

Flat areas on the edges of the LBA woods can potentially address the City’s longstanding need for rectangular sport fields and an off-leash dog park without compromising the existing woods and walking trails. The City is conducting a site suitable study now that would confirm those uses.

Shortly after the study is released in November, it is expected that the City Council will make a decision whether to proceed to buy either of the two LBA parcels.

Council members indicate that heartfelt and thoughtful emails and letters are the most persuasive. If you want to help save the LBA woods and create LBA Woods Park, please write the City Council at Letters to the Olympian are also helpful.

For more information or to sign the LBA Woods Park petition or to donate, please go to

Brian Faller is a board member of the LBA Woods Park Coalition, which may be reached at .

Letter to Works in Progress

Works in Progress - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 10:21pm

About the September 2014 Issue

To Works in Progress staff:

I am grateful for Works in Progress and what you provide to our community. I found the the Hobby Lobby article informative and insightful. I was however troubled by the cover of the September issue. The Celtic cross (the cross with the circle at the intersection of two lines) is figured twice on the cover and is clearly the most predominant. This Celtic cross symbol is used primarily by the Episcopal Church and also the Roman Catholic church. The Hobby Lobby Green family seems to be affiliated with Assemblies of God churches and my Internet search finds no indication of their use of the Celtic cross symbol.

I think the Episcopal Church has been in the vanguard of inclusion, acceptance, and equality. I am Episcopalian and I was saddened to see this symbol associated with the Hobby Lobby story.

Thank you for the opportunity to express my thoughts.

Susan Todd, Olympia

Zahid Shariff 1939-2014

Works in Progress - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 10:20pm

Gentle, soft-spoken former Evergreen professor inspired his students in the cause of social justice

Political science professor, Zahid Shariff, had a gift for connecting with students during lectures at The Evergreen State College. Former students recall Shariff’s gentle demeanor and soft-spoken voice required them to lean in and listen close as he relayed what one described as “the most intensely beautiful things. Every sentence was poetry.”

“Zahid set minds free,” says Michelle Ryder, a former student who graduated from Evergreen in 2009 and works for a nonprofit in Bonney Lake. “His classroom always held the promise of building a better self, of connecting heart, mind and experience and situating them in lived reality and the broader struggle for global social justice and equality.”

Shariff, 75, passed away late Sunday, August 10, 2014, at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia. A funeral service and burial were held Tuesday, August 12, 2014, through the Islamic Center of Olympia.

Shariff served 22 years on the Evergreen faculty. His colleagues remember him as a devoted advocate for his students and campus community, and as a keen, respected observer of geo-political events and trends.

“Zahid could be counted on to give his all to his students,” says Lin Nelson, a sociology professor at Evergreen. “He helped build thoughtful, reflective and wise classes, and did much to cultivate human rights work on campus and in the community. He will be missed so very much.”

“A true intellectual and a gentleman in both senses of the word, Zahid was a proper man who was gentle with people,” adds Larry Mosqueda, a political science professor at Evergreen. “He was also a favorite of students. I was proud to be his friend and his colleague.”

“Zahid was generous with his time and knowledge, mentoring new Evergreen faculty, and inspiring them with his dedicated approach to teaching,” says Therese Saliba, professor of Middle Eastern studies at Evergreen. “Even after retirement, he stayed intellectually engaged with book discussion groups and post-retirement teaching.”

Shariff brought a real-life perspective to his classes on colonialism and imperialism. Born on March 7, 1939 in India, his parents and eight siblings were required to move in 1948 as part of the Partition of India. The family re-settled in Pakistan, where Shariff earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Karachi University. Shariff pursued his studies in New York City, earning a Doctorate in Public Administration from New York University in 1966. He then returned to Pakistan to participate in efforts to build a modernized, peaceful nation.

In 1971, Shariff accepted an offer to teach at Brooklyn College in New York. In 1977, he and his family moved to Illinois, where he earned tenure as a political science professor at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. In 1991, he relocated to Olympia to begin his teaching at Evergreen.

In addition to several nieces and nephews, Shariff is survived by two sisters, Hamim Aftab and Farida Shariff; two daughters, Syra (Jim) Postelnick and Nina (Lance) Helgeson; two step-sons Evan (Ann) Schofer and Jonathan Schofer; and three grandchildren, Mollie and Mark Schofer, and Lucas Helgeson.

“Our family feels profound gratitude for the love and support that our father, brother and uncle received from colleagues, friends and students throughout his time in Olympia, and especially in his final days,” Syra Postelnick, Shariff’s daughter, says in a family statement. “We will all miss his intellect, generosity, gentleness and beautiful smile.”

Colleagues, family and friends are planning a memorial at The Evergreen State College in the fall. Memorial donations may be made to Evergreen’s Annual Fund, which supports the First People’s Foundation and other student scholarships.

—Zahid Shariff’s family

Ode to GRuB

Works in Progress - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 10:20pm

GRuB doesn’t just feed the hungry food
Or the youth truth
They serve up hope for the future too
Their staff walks on water
Blue and Gaffi made sure was collected
In an up cycled rain barrel
They don’t just grow food on that farm
Or hope or futures
They grow wings on the backs of solitary angels
Once slumped over lost in despair
Now found on their knees with dirt in their hair
Smiling friends everywhere
And just like disenfranchised youth with pink hair
They lifted me up
Through the dirt of a ten by ten garden plot
Next to a housing project
But then real projects
Happened around a picnic table of volunteers
In the self-esteem and sense of community we built
You see we planted and grew respect in each other
It seems they grow nothing but deep roots and wings
Because everyone who is given the opportunity
To just be
At an urban farm run by old Evergreeners
Comes back to roost
Like a pigeon homing in on personal growth
And seeds of truth
And I have the tag on my leg as proof
That’s why I keep coming back
Giving them time and money
Because they gave me the bounty any good farm grows
But they did it to my heart mind and soul
And it doesn’t rot or expire like things you desire
You can’t buy GRuB’s brand of food on any shelf
I know I had some myself

Lennée Reid is a truth seeker, nature lover, poet and spoken word artist. She has one child and lives in Olympia. She can also be found on YouTube.

Big changes at Bread & Roses

Works in Progress - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 10:20pm

Since its inception in 1982, Bread & Roses has provided hospitality to the poor and homeless of our community in a wide variety of ways. When I joined the household as a live-in volunteer in 2003, the Cherry Street community kitchen and day center had just closed and the new Advocacy Center was getting started. Shortly after that, our Devoe Street men’s shelter was replaced by Catholic Community Services’ Drexel House. We published the Voice of Olympia street newspaper for several years. Other organizations have also benefited from our support, including the Tenants’ Union, Partners in Prevention Education, EGYHOP, the Family Emergency Shelter, SideWalk, and Interfaith Works. Throughout it all, we have continued to provide hospitality at the Women’s Guesthouse shelter.

We took a break from sheltering for the month of August to provide a break for the live-in volunteers, to deep clean the house and to conduct much-needed repairs. (This is the first such break in decades—literally every day for over fifteen years, live-in volunteers have shared life in these houses with our homeless guests.) We also used the month to reflect on our mission, our history, and our role as providers of hospitality.

The demand for our shelter services has changed significantly over the last two years. Rent assistance programs at SideWalk and at the Community Action Council have been highly successful at quickly moving the homeless off the streets and into permanent housing. Overall shelter demand among women has fallen so quickly that when we closed our doors in August the only impact was that the Salvation Army filled a few of its empty beds. For this and other reasons, we will not reopen as a shelter in September.

Bread & Roses will continue to offer hospitality, but in a new way. Beginning this September, we will provide affordable housing to low-income people who have demonstrated a sincere commitment to service. We will rent rooms to low-income students, Americorps volunteers, and other community volunteers, and provide an environment tailored to support their service and encourage collaboration.

Residents will also benefit from the combined wisdom and experience of Selena, Phil, and Meta, the hosts at Bread & Roses who, along with many current and past board members, have contributed significantly to the creation of a long list of local projects. Our hosts are a vital asset of this intentional community who will mentor and develop a new generation of social justice leaders and activists.

There is still a very serious and specific need for shelter and intensive, long-term services for homeless women with severe disabilities. We’ve found that an increasing percentage of the women who seek shelter have complex needs that cannot be met at Bread & Roses.

An unprecedented number of our guests in the past 18 months moved to adult family homes or other supportive housing, were hospitalized, or were admitted to inpatient treatment facilities. At least five of our recent guests required mobility assistance devices, in a house where every bed is at the top of a flight of stairs.

One guest experienced severe and frightening hallucinations on a daily basis; most days she was unable to prepare food for herself, bathe or tend to other necessary self-care tasks. It took us four months of persistent advocating with mental health providers to get her access to appropriate medication, and another month before she was hospitalized. While it has not been unusual for us to have one or two guests each year with similar issues, during those same four months we had eight other guests with serious mental health symptoms, two of whom were developmentally disabled young adults, and at least four of whom struggled with active substance abuse problems.

These women deserve accessible and affordable treatment and permanent housing. In the absence of adequate support services, we cannot provide hospitality to such high-needs individuals without risking their safety and ours. Nor can we count moving them to an apartment, without those services, a success.

Fortunately, our advocacy efforts and the efforts of others have paid off: The local mental health system is preparing for long-overdue reforms, the county is recognizing the need to create permanent supportive housing, and increasing inpatient treatment and psychiatric beds has become a priority at the state level. Lastly, the Interfaith Works shelter is opening a year-round location this November and will be admitting the most vulnerable among the homeless. Despite these positive developments, we will continue to advocate for a functional, responsive, and well-funded safety net for the most vulnerable in our communities.

Over the next year, as we host our first intentional community of service volunteers, we will continue to examine how we can best serve the community. We invite you to become part of that conversation. There are a lot of possibilities and we are certain – with your continued support – that Bread & Roses will be as vital and as valuable as ever.

B&R is a 501(c)3 non-profit inspired by the Catholic Worker movement and dedicated to serving the homeless, poor and marginalized of Thurston County. Over the years, thousands of generous people throughout this community and beyond have contributaed to the success and accomplishments of B&R. Current live-in volunteers are Selena Kilmoyer, Meta Hogan, and Phil Owen. We continue to operate from the original House of Hospitality and Guesthouse on 8th Avenue on Olympia’s east side. You can contact us at, or call Meta at 360-259-9619, Selena at 360-951-0326, or Phil at 360-545-3174

The Aberdeen City Council passes resolution opposing crude oil in Grays Harbor County

Works in Progress - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 10:19pm

Resolution No. 2014 — A resolution in opposition to the transport and storage of crude oil in the City of Aberdeen and the Grays Harbor Estuary

WHEREAS, between April 29, 2014, and May 21 2014, there were four derailments on the Genesee and Wyoming rail line between Centralia and Aberdeen that raise serious questions about the capability of this rail line to handle current export commodities let alone the 150 car unit trains of explosive Bakken and tar sands crude oil;

WHEREAS, the Genesee and Wyoming railroad has admitted that they were unaware of the poor condition of the railway and the rail bed of the line through Grays Harbor County;

WHEREAS, in July 2013 a line of DOT 111 tank cars filled with Bakken and tar sands crude oil derailed in Lac Megantic, Quebec resulting in the destruction of 40 buildings and the deaths of 47 people;

WHEREAS, the emergency response teams of the city of Aberdeen as well as the surrounding cities, are not adequately equipped to handle explosions and fire from railcars carrying crude oil or other flammable petroleum distillates;

WHEREAS, various groups and organizations such as the Washington State Council of Firefighters through their legislative lobbyist Geoff Simpson, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 77 SeaTac through their business manager Lou Walter, the International Longshoremen and Warehousemen’s Union Local 4, Vancouver through their president Cager Claubaugh and Railroad Workers United, Spokane through their Steering Committee member Robert Hill have registered strong opposition due to safety concerns, to the transportation and storage of crude oil anywhere in the state of Washington;

WHEREAS, catastrophic explosions, spills and death due to derailments of tankers carrying Bakken, tar sands and other crude oil have also occurred in Castleton, North Dakota, New Brunswick, Canada, Aliceville, Alabama, Lynchburg, Virginia and other sites within the year since July 2013 and could occur in any town along the rail line including Aberdeen;

WHEREAS, the seafood industry accounts for nearly half of the region’s economic value and that industry would be irreparably devastated by spills of crude oil into the waters of Grays Harbor;

WHEREAS, shipments of fruits, grains and other vital commodities are experiencing delays and stoppages due to precedence being given to crude oil trains resulting in goods damage and higher prices;

WHEREAS, agencies of the United States government, including the Federal Railroad Admiration (FRA), have, in July of 2014 proposed an overhaul of safety standards for transporting crude oil and alcohol by rail due to the safety concerns over railroad conditions and the conditions of the DOT 111 tank cars; NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE MAYOR AND THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ABERDEEN: Based upon the previously unknown dangers to the health, welfare and safety of Grays Harbor communities and citizens, the city of Aberdeen strongly urges the Port of Grays Harbor not to execute any new leases for facilities or storage tenninals that would accommodate crude oil transport or storage within the Port properties and to carefully examine the terms of any existing leases to determine if grounds exist to tenninate provisions which would allow crude oil transport or storage facilities.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the city of Aberdeen strongly requests that cities and other governing bodies responsible for permitting crude oil transport and storage facilities deny future permits in light of the new information regarding rail safety and the volatility and explosiveness of the crude oil products involved and to carefully examine the terms of any existing permits to determine if revocation would be justified based on this information not being presented at the time of the original permit requests.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the city of Aberdeen strongly urges the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board to analyze and study the potential economic effect of crude oil train traffic on the displacement of existing economic activity and the potential loss of access to rail transport by local and regional shippers.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the city of Aberdeen urges Governor lnslee, in accordance with the Centennial accord between the federally recognized Indian tribes and the state of Washington established in 1989, work directly with the Skokomish Indian Tribe, Chehalis Confederated tribes, the Nisqually tribe, the Squaxin Island tribe, the Quinault Indian nation, the Shoalwater Bay Tribe and other such tribes as are necessary to protect their treaty rights and fishing resources which are threatened by proposed oil terminals, expanding oil refineries and the routing through their territories of crude oil unit trains carrying Bakken, tar sands and other crude oil.

PASSED and APPROVED on September 24, 2014.
(Aberdeen City Councilman Alan Richrod reported, “The resolution passed unanimously to great applause.”)

Gee, I’m Oh So Hungry

Works in Progress - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 10:19pm

It tastes good this shit they shovel, I swallow
Mon Santo Clause (That’s lawyer speak)
Stuffing stockings with poison year round
(Know Yer Law Everyone) = KYLE
We Haul Insecticide (,) Leaking Everywhere
Hey, Insects, Go to Hell
Hi, I have the munchies and
will eat anything
Everything in SIGHT
Smoking Increases Guys (and girls
(and gods)) Hunger and Thirst
GMO so hungry and STONED
September Today Or Nearly Every Day
Feed me
Give Me Osteoporosis
Go Make Olives
Go Massacre Orchards
Go Marr Oranges
Graze My Oates and heather
Hall & Oates
You’re a rich girl and you’ve gone too far
‘cause you know it don’t matter anyway
You can rely on the old man’s money
You can rely on the old man’s money
God Made Oxymoron

Kenneth is an Evergreen grad. He spends his days sleeping, reading outside with cat in lap when weather allows, buying records at Rainy Day, and working on art projects. He spends his nights stocking products at a convenience store.

This is how we roll: what makes Works In Progress happen

Works in Progress - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 10:19pm

Works In Progress is in a symbiotic dance with the local community–a perfectly imperfect waltz that reflects the skills and understandings of those who participate. Birthed from activists almost 25 years ago, WIP may sometimes jolt and jerk, linger or trip, but it always finds a way to move forward.

Often mistaken for a traditional publication with a staff of reporters, it’s not uncommon for people to send in topics or events they think need to be covered. This is understandable. US culture assumes the best way to get things done is to pay someone to do it. But is that really what motivates people? Or does it just get in the way of what actually needs to be done?

Consider this: If given a choice, would Boeing employees choose to continue building giant jets that pollute the atmosphere or would they rather work in an equally giant factory that produces inexpensive, electric, enclosed tricycles for the masses to reduce pollution and save the planet?

The people who are involved in Work In Progress do so because of who they are and what they believe. It is a labor of love and purpose.

Please consider becoming involved in some way.

Works In Progress (WIP) was established in 1990 by the Thurston County Rainbow Coalition. At that time, activists/groups did not have an effective way of communicating with each other or the progressive community. Most folks did not own personal computers and cell phones were still the size of large bricks. The only way to reach people in the area (outside of KAOS) was The Olympian, which was then owned by the politically-conservative Gannett Corporation—today’s largest US newspaper publisher best known for its national publication USA Today. Needless to say, little was mentioned in the daily paper about progressive activities in town. In fact, in 1990 little was mentioned about anything going on in Thurston County. Gannett’s The Olympian, “affectionately” called The Zero, The Zip, or The Five-Minute Read, was the primary reason for WIP’s creation.

In May 1990, the first issue of WIP was printed at the Shelton-Mason Journal—then owned by the Gay family—40 minutes away in Shelton. About a dozen of the original WIPsters went along to witness the hand delivery of the layout pages to the Journal office. Works In Progress would continue to be printed at that location for the next 23 years.

From the beginning, Works In Progress gave voice to many stories that would not have been covered by the commercial press. Notable among them was the construction of the DNR building with non-union labor. Mark Bean, union organizer for the Carpenters’ Union, provided coverage of the hard won struggle to convince Washington State to require contractors bidding on state government projects to hire union labor. Another was the only published photo (Kendra Jennings Mapp) of the takeover of the legislative building in protest of the first Iraq invasion in 1991. And there were many more that can be found on WIP’s website.

At present day, WIP continues to publish the works of writers in the social justice community and encourages both writers and readers to participate in the production of future issues. Social justice is a neverending cause.

Works In Progress has a minimal amount of structure or, as it might be said, as little as we can get by on. The organization’s structure is primarily formed by function. Most people have taken on regular roles of responsibility and the others work in WIP when they have time or on a specific project. Both types of participation are valued as one gives stability and the other, variety.

As an all-volunteer organization, no one can be told what to do or where to go. (It’s occasionally tried, but if the person doesn’t want to do it, it ain’t gonna fly.) So while there traditionally has been a focal person that people tend to look toward, in reality, all are in charge and no one is in charge simultaneously. Daunting, you may think, and yet pretty amazing that the paper has lasted more than two decades. And people really do want to make a difference even though it may mean not making a buck. (While we do care about people’s financial survival and will compensate when possible, with this nonprofit, funds are not always available. In fact, rarely. Our apologies.)

With this loose structure, it is very important that people attempt to maintain positive attitudes. Sometimes this is hard as things can become difficult since we are all human and perfectly imperfect. There will be miscommunications, disagreements, and, every once in a while, a bad decision. As the saying goes, “shit happens.” Yet this, too, shall pass and WIP will carry on.

We ask that people are respectful of different levels of understanding. We’re all working on figuring things out; some have just been on the path a bit longer. In addition, it’s also important that people be aware of the baggage they may carry from personal experiences that can harm their abilities to interact with others. We can sympathize with those who have experienced sexual abuse, domestic violence, rape, military duty, child abuse, and other painful situations. Unfortunately, Works In Progress is not an ideal place to work through one’s personal issues. We highly recommend counseling (and not just for our sakes).

Submitting your work to WIP
Some people have claimed to feel a bit intimidated in submitting content to Works In Progress. Let us explain why this is unnecessary.

WIP’s original purpose was to provide people in the social justice community a way to communicate to each other. From there it soon added its intent to become a voice for the disenfranchised as well as a forum to explore issues of importance. While some who participate may have professional skills, the majority do not. People who submit work to WIP are not paid, at least, not by us!

Works In Progress does not have reporters. It is only in the last year that we formed the Writers’ Group whose members have, at times, volunteered to write assigned stories, but this is not usual. Most of the content in WIP is written by individuals in the community who have chosen to spend the time and effort to share what they believe is important for others to know.

The following is what’s most essential to keep in mind when writing for Works In Progress:

Works In Progress is committed to stories misrepresented or ignored by the mainstream media. We value local, well-researched news stories, accounts of personal experience, and reflections by local authors. Opinion pieces, also valued, are often best supported by facts, examples, and sources, and we encourage writers to include these elements to submissions. We’re also looking for graphics, poetry, cartoons, and articles that push the boundaries of conventional journalism.

Another thing to remember is that there are WIP members who edit submissions and will work with authors to maximize readability and clarity. We want you to look good, too.

For more information, please contact Works In Progress at olywip@gmail. We are also on Facebook.

WIP ‘s working groups

Writers’ Group
The Writers’ Group is probably the most dynamic of WIP’s organization. Peopled by regular WIP contributors, the group is primarily focused on content (articles, photos, graphics, and other submissions). This is an opportunity for individuals to discuss their planned contributions, topics that should be covered in WIP—if possible, and by whom—and photos or graphics to accompany content. This group also shares the responsibility of editorial decisions with the Editing Group and works to improve coverage of issues important to the progressive community. This group meets for one hour at Traditions Café at 5:30 pm on the first Thursday of the month.

Distribution/Outreach Group
The Distribution/Outreach Group is a lively group that has the tasks of overseeing the physical distribution of Works In Progress and community outreach, which includes tabling at local events. In both duties, people skills and self-motivation are equally important because, at many times during each month, distribution members are the public faces of WIP.
This group meets the second Thursday of the month when neccessary. Location varies.

Editing Group
The Editing Group makes editorial decisions regarding content submitted to Works In Progress. It is responsible for editing articles, fact checking, and working with authors to resolve any problems regarding their submissions. Most of the work is done during the two-hour meeting on a Tuesday evening, though a few articles may require more attention during the next couple of days. Those individuals with editing skills and an attention to detail are highly valued. This is a great group if you love to nitpick. (We’d appreciate it!)

Layout Group
The Layout Group is the most isolated group as its primary responsibility is the digital layout of the paper edition. Individual members work separately on computers using the publishing software InDesign and communicate primarily by email and phone. Most of the efforts by this group is during the week before the last Monday of the month. The amount of work required for each individual is negotiated. Active Layout Group members who are involved in the layout of pending issues are required to attend that issue’s editing and proofreading meetings.

Proofreading Group
The Proofreading Group is the friendliest collection of people in WIP and even more nitpicky than the Editing Group. Responsible for finding errors big and small, they are also the most quiet and sometimes not at all. They are also responsible for revising headlines, when needed, and making last minute decisions on just about anything regarding the pending issue.
This group meets at 1 pm on the Saturday before the last Monday of the month. Red pens are provided.

Website/Social Media Group
The Website/Social Media Group is the lastest addition to WIP. It is responsible for maintaining the website, which includes updating the website, uploading the digital issue each month, and promoting WIP on social media. WIP is eager for more people to become involved in order to move Works In Progress more fully into the 21st century.

For more information on any of the above WIP groups, please contact us at

Aunt Alicia (Olyblogosphere for October 13, 2014)

Olympia Time - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 8:11am
1. Alicia Elliott will save Olympia.

New investment opportunity. Threaten development of something, raise the hackles of your neighbors, Alicia Elliott will buy you out. Its the modern Olympia Aunt Sally.

2. Support Zinefest!

3. The best Olympia blog ever reads my mind. What if! What IF!!!!!

4. Yeah, big surprise here. Every place in the world is more nuanced than it seems at first.

If you came here from New York, Austin and then Portland and moved to Olympia "because you liked its look" and then were disappointed.

You deserve that disappointment. It isn't our fault. Grow up.

5. I don't mind the debate on the LBA Woods. Let's debate parks! I'm against spending money on it now. And, I actually like the proposal for development (because it was better than the straight up burbs that had been built in that area).

But, this is annoying:
LBA Woods are a true gem--an old-fashioned Commons of sorts in that the property is privately owned, though it is neither gated nor posted with no-trespassing signs or welcome signs. Because it isn't even true:
...the developer (D.R. Horton, a nationwide company headquartered in Delaware) has chosen to fence users of LBA Park out of the trails.We can debate whether it should become a park, but the owner wants you to stay off their property. That's their right man.

3 reasons why I wish I could tell you to vote for none of the above in the Clerk race, but I won't

Olympia Time - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 6:24am
1. For the love of Pete, would someone return a damn email?

I know I'm not anyone that important, it isn't like I contribute money to that many (if any campaigns). But, I emailed both campaigns months ago about what I consider to be a pretty big issue. And nothing. Not even an "I got your email, I'll get back to you later" or a "No, this isn't that big of a deal."

Just silence.

2. Could you make the race any less relevant to voters?

This race is so damn insular, the one time (one time!) I ever received any communication about this race from anyone connected to the campaigns, it highlighted an issue so low and degrading, that I would never repeat it here. Suffice to say, this race has been issue free.

Even the one difference that the campaigns bring up publicly is about an internal court system. Really? An internal office data management system? Wow. Killer stuff.

Here's a better issue to chew over.

3. I feel like I shouldn't even be voting in this election.

This post is starting to become a trip around my own favorite issue, but be patient with me. Yes, I feel that public access to court records should be easier than it is and that county clerks should serve the public in this regard.

And, when I poked around, the Whatcom County clerk provided the best answer to why he makes court records free and searchable online:

We wouldn't charge for someone to come into the office to look at a file. If they chose to make copies, there would be a cost and staff time. I believe it actually saves money by freeing up staff time to do more important tasks. We have had significant reductions in force over the past several years. Further, it provides equal access regardless of financial resources.The difference here is that the clerk in Whatcom county is appointed, while the clerks here are elected. I'm not sure it makes sense, but that means an appointed clerk is more willing to provide for the public than an elected one.

The only reason this makes sense to me is that an appointed clerk would possibly see their role as providing services to the public and the county as a whole. While, an independent, elected clerk would be interested in protecting their own budget and the structural power of their office. So, a creaking and old document management system that doesn't serve the public, but rather charges them for public documents, possibly makes sense.

So, I suggest you vote in this election and vote for Linda Enlow. At the very least, she seems like she's willing to change the office.

But, what we really need is a clerk that is willing to go out on a limb like the Whatcom County Clerk. And, we need to change the law that allows clerks to charge crazy fees for public documents.

But, in the end, support a Home Rule effort for Thurston County. This would allow us to rewrite how Thurston County government operates. And, if we decided to change the clerk position to an appointed one, we could do that.

Smith Troy once arrested the man that was running against him for county prosecutor

Olympia Time - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 6:44am
Smith Troy, the 1930s era Thurston County prosecutor, is one of the most fascinating historic figures, must have had brass balls. Seriously, he could not have lacked for guts.

I'd  certainly not argue that he was always on the angel side of things. But, when he acted, he seemed to act with no consideration of alternatives. Full forward.

Like the time in fall of 1938 he arrested the person who was running against him for prosecutor for campaign against him:

Sure, Gruhlke might have stretched the truth. But, it is hardly a lie to say the prosecutor should have arrested more prostitutes. And, no matter how he phrased it, that is pretty much all that Gruhlke said.

And, even if Gruhlke said "I know for a fact that Troy decided not to arrest women of the night!" it is a strange image of a prosecutor running for office arresting his opponent.

Gruhlke quickly and phased Troy down:

But, then months later, after Smith won another term, the parties kissed and made up. Smith was only just over a year away from being appointed state Attorney General. He had just prosecuted a high profile attempted murder case and he had empanelled a grand jury looking into misuse of state funds. And, he arrested someone for campaigning against him.

And, in the end, he got an apology from the man he arrested.

Thomas Brents and Cascadia

Olympia Time - Thu, 10/02/2014 - 5:25am
Its a fairly old trope in Washington State history and civic life that the name Washington State is pretty horrible. Our own state and territorial founders wanted Columbia as a state name, but eastern politicians hung the name Washington around our neck as a way to avoid confusion with the other Columbia.

I hope I don't have to tell you how well that lack of confusion thing worked out.

But, along the way, there were a handful of other suggestions for names, including (you guessed it) Cascadia. Our territorial representative, Thomas Brents, suggested in 1885 that a new name accompany the territory when it gained statehood:

Cascadia, in allusion to its many grand waterfalls and to the name of its principal range of mountains, the cascades (sic).Brents was a bit early in his urging for statehood, and he also suggested that we bring in the northern part of Idaho along with the rest of the state. This was an obvious suggestion by the Walla Wallan Brents, as it would have tipped the balance of power in the new State of Cascadia to the east (given Idaho's mining industry and eastern Washington's agriculture).

Future historians rejoice! (Olyblogosphere for September 29, 2014)

Olympia Time - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 6:37am
1. There are fake bees. Nothing to be scared of, Janet Partlow blogs. They aren't even the scarier of bugs. Just flies that want to be left alone.

2. Like the first rain calling coho back to the freshwater, they call Mojourner back to the blog. Or, something like that.

3. Rebels By Bus is just a cool idea and a cool blog. Some day I'm going to make the public transportation trip to this one state park in Grays Harbor. And, I'll blog about it, in honor of the Rebels. Until then, read their recent updates.

4. I've been piecing together historic storylines the last couple of years. I've often thought how easy it would be if the less famous had some ways to easily translate their thoughts. Some people have their collected notes and letters boxed up and kept at libraries. But, if you didn't publish your collected thoughts and put them in your community library, you're out of luck. Elaine Nelson made me think that I'm glad we live now, Facebook, twitter, and other things will be a boon for historians.

5. Rignall, Washington is a place. I have to learn more now. Thanks.

Smith Troy project. This guy is facinating

Olympia Time - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 5:27am

I've been poking around for the last few years, learning everything I can about Smith Troy, one of Olympia's most infamous politicians. This is one fascinating guy. I'm going to write way more about him as I start to bring focus on my own thoughts about him. But, just to get started, here are some Smith Troy facts:

1. He was appointed Washington Attorney general when he was 33 years old. And, this is after years as the Thurston County prosecuting attorney. So, he started really young.

2. At one point in the 1930s, Smith was both the prosecutor and the coroner. Also, the sheriff was taking some time off, so he filled in there too. He was the law.

3. His wife committed suicide when she jumped out of a window at the old St. Peter's Hospital on the westside.

4. After he lost reelection in 1952 for AG, he was the lawyer behind Lemon v. Langley, which brought back dozens of state agencies that had moved from Olympia to Seattle.

5. In addition to being a track star at the University of Washington, he was a student leader in the effort to fire long time and legendary Husky football coach Enoch Bagshaw.

6. After 20 years of political retirement, Troy came back in the 1970s and served as the Thurston County prosecutor again.

Two big things from the Scottish independence vote for Cascadia to think about

Olympia Time - Mon, 09/22/2014 - 5:48am
I am pretty reluctant to get anywhere near the Cascadian Independence movement. I know they're serious people, thinking hard about a really true independent country. I'm not one of them, but I appreciate Cascadia (obviously) and I appreciate they're work, but only as a venue to sharpen our concept of Cascadia. Whatever political system we're using, there is plenty of work in the near term to get done.

And, I think, in the jet wash of the recent Scottish Independence vote, there are some lessons for Cascadians (seeking independence or not).

1. Rural vs. Urban divide doesn't need to divide us. 

Whether you're like me and drawn the line at the Cascades, or draw in a much larger swath of the interior west, there's a sharp divide between rural and urban up here.

There was a similar urban/rural split in the Scottish vote. Essentially, poorer urban areas went for the breakup, while richer rural areas voted for union. This is ironic because the political party that sparked independence originally had support in rural areas.

In Cascadia the rural urban divide is based on a non-Cascadian Republican/Democratic political divide. But, as we've seen in some local election results, rural and urban voters can get together to elect particularly Cascadian politicians. 

2. Changing politics will change politics.

In the short term, the people who want an independent Cascadia should focus on just making Cascadia better. More people voting, more people engaged, a better politics. If, once we get more people involved at all areas of politics and government, we still want out? Then cross that bridge them.

The Scots began to see themselves differently, as representing a different sort of politics:
In the meantime, pro-independence activists have managed to capture the hearts and imaginations on many voters in Scotland in a way that the unionist camp has not. Drawing inspiration from what are considered to be the fairer and more prosperous Nordic countries with high levels of democratic participation, many in Scotland became involved in the campaign at the grassroots level.
Scotland Independence vote was built on the back of a new sort of politics:
The idea of the public as passive, inert spectators and with it the notion of politics as a minority report pastime, no longer holds. Instead, across the country a new energetic, dynamic political culture emerged which reshaped public debate and conversations.

It could be seen in the massive turnouts which saw poorer and disadvantaged communities turn out in record numbers. What I called ‘the missing Scotland’ – the voters who haven’t voted in a generation or more – re-emerged as a potent political force which has the potential to reshape long term politics. It was also seen in the re-imagination of public spaces, the emergence of flash mobs and protest, and a culture of celebration and carnival on the Yes side. The other dimension found expression in ‘the third Scotland’ – the self-organised, independent minded supporters of independence – who have had a very different and distinct politics from the SNP. These groups: Radical Independence Campaign, National Collective, Common Weal, Women for Independence and several others, saw independence not as an end in itself, but as a means to an end.

They brought DIY culture, network politics, flat organisations and part of a new generation of young people into public life. They did things which were messy, fuzzy, creative and fun. They staged happenings, art installations, and national tours across Scotland, and in the case of Radical Independence they door stepped and challenged Nigel Farage when he came to Edinburgh last year. All of this contributed to a different kind and feel of politics which circumvented the ‘official’ version which was a high bound to command and control as any part of Westminster.
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