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Our nation’s political crisis: How we got into it—and how to get out

Works in Progress - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 8:54pm

Thoughtful people know that the US is facing one of the most serious political crises in our nation’s history. A narcissistic, grossly ignorant, and psychologically unstable huckster has gained enormous political power. Worldwide, people are worrying about how to get out of this mess. By February 20, 2017 the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation will post a much more thorough version of this article to the Nonviolence page at That article will answer three questions:

(1) How did we get into this mess?

(2) What’s going on?

(3) How do we get out?

This article briefly summarizes some answers to questions (1) and (3). The longer version of this article will develop those topics more thoroughly. Answer (1) of that longer article will provide more information and examples. Answer (3) will offer many additional insights to help us strategize and organize savvy, nonviolent remedies to help us get out of our current political crisis.

 (1) Underlying problems and a confluence of trends led to this crisis

Trump himself is not the problem; he is a symptom of underlying problems and systems that have been getting worse for a long time. For decades the U.S. has suffered from racism, sexism, anti-gay bias, anti-immigrant bias, ignorance of foreign policy, American exceptionalism, big business’ greed and corruption, economic inequality, and the mainstream media’s simplistic reporting.

In order to stop the Trumpism that has captured the US government, we must recognize the underlying systemic problems that have resulted in this blatant symptom. We must identify, resist and roll back those systemic problems which have led to this crisis. Demonizing one person distracts us from addressing these serious underlying problems and symptoms which have allowed Trumpism to dominate the federal government.

The longer article that will be posted to the Nonviolence page of, will provide information and insights about these topics:


Loss, fear, and anger

American insecurity despite military might

Corporate-owned news media and the dumbing-down of America

Two big, corrupt, dysfunctional political parties

The end of U.S. imperialism and selfishness hastened by Trumpism: “Pride goes before destruction.” (Proverbs 16:18)

(2) Acknowledge that the US nation and empire we have known were not sustainable

For decades, the U.S. Empire has been overreaching and has not been sustainable. We must help the American people understand this and change toward more humane ways of interacting with the world.

Despite US violence against other nations, we can no longer compel obedience. The last war we won, more than 70 years ago, was World War II. The Korean war ended in a stalemate truce but there was no legal end to the war. We lost the Vietnam War, and we have been losing other wars since then. The era of colonialism is long past. Since the Cold War other nations have stopped tolerating the only remaining superpower.

Trump’s America First rhetoric reflects his own narcissism and panders to US narcissism and American Exceptionalism A psychologically healthy and mature person–or nation–works to get along cooperatively and harmoniously with other people–or nations–and does not demand to be first. For example, I should not demand a Glen Anderson First policy that lets me cut to the front of the checkout line at the grocery store. An America First policy is not fair, sustainable, or realistic in a world with nearly 200 other nations. Narcissism is bad public policy.

Climate deniers reject both science and reality; they refuse to acknowledge the hard truth that we and our giant corporations are using natural resources at an unsustainable pace. When people deny hard realities, they are preventing themselves from planning how to solve problems, and they are setting themselves up for catastrophic failures. This refusal to accept reality means that the US is refusing to solve real problems.

The rest of the world does appreciate science, but regarding the climate, the US has become a nation of deniers. Denying climate science–just like denying human rights for women, Muslims, and LGBT people–is preventing our nation from moving ahead to a better future. Rather than making America great again, this anti-science bias will do the opposite. It will make us a backward nation that will allow problems to get worse and will let other nations  move ahead of us thus making America weak not great.

The “Loss, Fear and Anger” section listed in Part (1) above pertains to our nation’s declining standard of living along with other trends. Based on the list of quality of life indicators (life expectancy, access to affordable health care, etc.) we are already losing ground. Michael Moore’s clever film Where to Invade Next makes some interesting points and comparisons.

Perhaps Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ insights into the 5 stages of dying could help our nation cope with the loss of US Imperialism and nationalistic egocentrism.

Someone new to Alcoholics Anonymous is told that the first step toward recovery is to acknowledge the hard reality that they are addicted to alcohol. Likewise, the first step for Americans to start healing our nation is to acknowledge that the US’ economic system, imperialism, and militarism are not sustainable. They never were sustainable. No amount of bullying and lying can change this hard reality.

Trump’s extremism will hasten the end of the US Empire. America’s smug nationalism is doomed. Americans need to acknowledge and internalize the truth of Proverbs 16:18 which says, “Pride goes before destruction–and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

We need a fresh consciousness and modesty to actually let go of our overuse of natural resources, our abuse of the climate, our worldwide militarism, etc. We must internalize that reality intellectually and emotionally and reflect it in new public policy. Only then will we be truly free to explore fresh visions for the future instead of trying to hold on to the unsustainable past.

(3) Values and strategies can help us organize resistance and remedies

A confluence of trends led us to this current crisis. Better values and smarter strategies can get us out of it. There are things ordinary Americans can do to help our nation get through these hard times.

  • Recognize that we indeed can must and address the problems effectively
  • Understand how nonviolent, grassroots movements are powerful ways to achieve social and political progress
  • Work strategically and nonviolently with other people to accomplish our goals.

Instead of being merely reactive, let’s ground ourselves–and help to ground others–in our best values so we can move forward. Also, instead of getting trapped in partisanship and elections, let’s organize around the real issues.

The longer article will flesh out the following ideas.

Instead of piling on more ain’t-it-awful laments, let’s understand and organize. Clearly, the 2016 election results portend extremely serious dangers for human rights, social and economic justice, the climate, escalating militarism, and government corruption. We are in for hard times. When disaster strikes, a normal human reaction is to lament the horrible event. Since the 2016 election, people have been piling on a lot of ain’t-it-awful lamenting and reinforcing each other’s worst fears about what awaits us. That reaction is understandable, but it can crush our spirits. Instead of letting dread overwhelm and immobilize us, we need to think clearly and devise smart strategies for solving problems.

Some of Trump’s likely actions were already happening under Obama. Therefore, we must change the entrenched bi-partisan systems that caused these problems. Our society is trapped in a status quo of polarized partisanship that interferes with understanding and solving our problem. Both of the big political parties are corrupt and dysfunctional. Such bipolar partisanship is part of the problem. Democrats who criticize republican presidents give a free pass to democratic presidents when they do the same things. As president, Obama appointed many corporate big-shots to major executive branch positions, and he deported more immigrants than any other president in US history. For more examples see this article’s longer version. To move forward we must stop letting big business and the military-industrial complex dominate public policy altogether–not just when Republicans do it. Indeed, we must stop letting partisanship distract us from the real issues. The problems are not partisan, they are systemic with top-down wealth and power preventing bottom-up democracy!

Focus on systems not just individual politicians or political parties. The big problems we face are not just individual politicians or individual political parties. They are in big systems and institutions that are beholden to money and abuses of power. These big systems and institutions are long-standing and entrenched. So if we want to solve the underlying problems, we need to examine those systems and institutions and devise nonviolent strategies to fix or replace them. It is possible to start making progress at local levels, share news of our local successes, and then use this growing momentum to leverage progress at larger levels until we win significant goals nationwide and worldwide.

Progress comes only from grassroots movements not as gifts from the top down. All the political and social progress the US and other nations have achieved has come from movements organized at the grassroots level. The changes have not been gifts from the top down. The grassroots-based Civil Rights Movement became a very significant part of US history and culture. The movement’s grassroots efforts convinced Congress to pass major civil rights laws in 1964 and 1965. It also provided strong ripple effects for other emerging movements. It provided significant inspiration, insight, empowerment, skills, and volunteers for other strong grassroots movements such as the peace movement, the women’s rights movement, and the environmental movement. Movements build and learn from each other. This process is explained very clearly in the 2016 book This Is an Uprising by Mark Engler and Paul Engler. For more from them see their website:

Democracy is 5% voting and 95% grassroots organizing. Although people assume that voting is the heart of democracy, voting is only actually about five percent of democracy while the other ninety-five percent is community organizing and getting together to build grassroots movements. We must awaken the general public and educate them about the issues. We must inform people and devise ways to empower them to take nonviolent action. We must persuade the power-holders to do what we want. All of this requires us to be nonviolent and credible and to create safe opportunities for people to join with us. Nonviolent, grassroots organizing is a different way to build power. It is more powerful and effective than the heavy-handed kinds of power we commonly see. Indeed, nonviolence is a radical, creative alternative to the merely fight-or-flight strategies which we have been taught are our only two options. Nonviolence gives us a better–and more powerful–alternative!

Withdraw consent from illegitimate and abusive authorities. Thomas Jefferson recognized that we the people create the government and we the people can change or even replace it. Likewise, Gene Sharp’s research shows that oppressors lose power when people withdraw their consent and refuse to obey. Therefore, an important part of Gene Sharp’s advice is that we must figure out how to withdraw consent, nonviolently resist, and build alternative movements to supplant oppressive systems. The American people already worry about increasing oppression, social and economic injustice, environmental abuse, and political corruption. To protect ourselves from these problems and to weaken the power oppressors wield, let’s look for ways to withdraw our consent from oppressors in government, in the economic sector, and in other parts of our society. We can use Gene Sharp’s ideas to delegitimize and weaken all of the oppressive systems. See resources at www.aeinstein .org

Why and how our organizing must take the moral high ground and be scrupulously nonviolent. The right-wing forces of repression won votes by making people feel afraid. If protesters against Trump use violence–or even tactics that can be misunderstood or misrepresented as violent–they feed into that very same fear. These tactics will frighten the public into wanting to militarize the police, increase surveillance of dissidents, and violate our first amendment rights to speech and assembly. They will contribute to further polarization and repression. Oppressors send agent provocateurs to infiltrate movements and provoke violence because oppressors know that violence turns the general public against progressive movements. In order to protect our progressive movements, we must make sure we are scrupulously nonviolent.

Strategically smart, nonviolent grassroots organizing is very powerful! Nonviolence is not weakness, It is a different kind of strength. Decades ago the very savvy activist David Dellinger wrote a book about nonviolence called More Power Than We Know. Gene Sharp, the world’s best researcher on the power of nonviolence and how to use nonviolence to remove dictators from power, said, “Dictators are never as strong as they tell you they are. People are never as weak as they think they are.” See resources and information at his non-profit organization

The American people are not stupid; they are simply denied the information and empowerment they need. Ordinary people do have good values, but they don’t know how to act on them. During the Olympia FOR’s twice-weekly peace vigils, many people respond warmly and enthusiastically to our signs which convey positive, progressive values saying things like “All people are one human family,” “Human rights are for everyone,” and “We all share one earth.” See

Instead of cynical politics-as-usual, let’s try assuming that all people are basically good, and that all people are seeking what they see as best. If we assume that each stranger we meet is a person of good will, space for better interactions will open up, and people will respond to our positive vibe. We might bring more people into our progressive movements and make more progress toward building an effective majority to solve our nation’s problems.

Resources: Amazing numbers of high quality practical resources are available! Listed below are just a few of the many resources that can help us move forward. I invite you to use these resources and share them with the other people and non-profit organizations.

  • Understanding (and not getting stuck simply fearing and blaming) is a first step toward dealing with our new crisis. The Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation’s December 2016 TV program Healing from Political Blame, Shame, and Trauma, offers help in understanding and healing from the traumatic 2016 election season so we can move ahead humanely and effectively. You can find links to the show and a thorough summary in Word format on the TV Programs page of
  • To get informed, inspired, and started toward nonviolent, grassroots organizing, I highly recommend Olympia FOR’s January 2017 TV program, Nonviolent Grassroots Remedies for Our Current Crisis. It follows up from our December program with where-do-we-go-from-here insights and strategies. You can find links to the show and a thorough summary in Word format on the TV Programs page of
  • Many resources posted on the Nonviolence page of can help you understand nonviolence and use it effectively. I especially recommend those under the subheadings What Is Nonviolence?, Understanding and Using Nonviolence, and Using Nonviolence in the Real World.

Many non-profit organizations and their websites offer excellent information, insights, and resources. I especially recommend these:

For decades I have been recommending the amazingly smart resources by Gene Sharp and others at The Albert Einstein Institution. Their website is located at

Lutheran Peace Fellowship: Visit  Click the Resources link, then click the Nonviolence link.

Nonviolence International:

International Center on Nonviolent Conflict:

Campaign Nonviolence:

There are many, many excellent books and resources on this topic. Here are just a few:

Why Civil Resistance Works by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan (2011)

This is an Uprising by Mark Engler and Paul Engler (2016) (Also see

Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements by Bill Moyer, JoAnn McAllister, Mary Lou Finley, and Steven Soifer

A Force More Powerful by Peter Ackerman and Jack DuVall along with  the DVD/VHS series

Books by and about Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Books and articles written by Michael Nagler and George Lakey

Closing encouragement

In November of 2016 US voters vigorously rejected the status quo. But that does not mean that voters really wanted the cruelty, repression, corruption, and environmental damage that are being imposed upon us.

Instead, I believe that deep down most Americans actually have better values and that they can be helped to understand and support better values and better public policy.

The problems and solutions are more profound than any major political party or candidate recognizes. I believe that most Americans want a future that is radically better than either of the big political parties has been offering.

So instead of letting dread overwhelm and immobilize us, we need to think clearly and devise smart, nonviolent strategies for solving problems and achieving humane and sustainable goals such as peace, human rights for everyone, an economy that is honest and fair for everyone, an environment that is healthy and sustainable, and a society that practices nonviolence and compassion.

To build this bold new future, we must organize strategically savvy, nonviolent, grassroots movements. Nonviolence is bigger and bolder in vision and in methodology than anything politics-as-usual can offer.

Now is the time for us to:

Ground ourselves in our best values.

Study the theory and practice of nonviolence.

Study how to build powerful, nonviolent, grassroots movements for social and political change.

Inform and empower large numbers of ordinary people to come together into grassroots movements that will use strategic nonviolence to solve local and national problems.

Each person can do something!

Together we can accomplish much!

Glen Anderson is a longtime peace/social justice activist in the Olympia area and a founding member of the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation.



The post Our nation’s political crisis: How we got into it—and how to get out appeared first on Works in Progress.

Retrospective on the 2016 elections and beyond in the era of Trump

Works in Progress - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 8:46pm

My year in the Democratic Party

Up until 2016, I had been a lifelong leftist independent. I was radicalized by the anti–Vietnam War movement in late 1970 while studying to be a social worker at WSU in Pullman where I grew up.

Two years later, I was married and living in Boston where I joined the youth group of the Spartacist League, a Trotskyist offshoot of the Socialist Workers Party. Although I left the organization after a few years it would be decades before I felt any real passion to return to any form of political activism.

I was involved briefly with the effort to establish a US Labor Party in the late 1990’s after moving to Olympia in 1997. But that fizzled out. Then in 2000 I helped form the local Green Party (GP) to get behind the Nader campaign. I stayed in the Green Party for 8 years but left demoralized and without hope in 2008 after the state GP coordinating council voted to dissolve the party for a year. As the saying goes: “It’s not easy being Green.”

Then came the Justice Party and the campaign of Rocky Anderson in 2012. That was another misguided and failed effort and left me rudderless politically.

So it was 2016 when I got the spark back so to speak and joined the local Bernie movement.

It was then that I was encouraged to join the ‘Blue Hole’, the local Democratic Party. I was apprehensive but joined, then became a Precinct Committee Officer (PCO) and attended all the main meetings thru the primary: the precinct caucus, the legislative disctrict caucus (LD), the county convention, the congressional district caucus (CD) and finally the state party convention in June.

I started working my precinct for Bernie and coordinated 9 other precincts near where I lived in Lacey. I was elected to be a Bernie delegate at the LD caucus at the county convention. Following the state party convention I went with my friend Jeff to Philly for the Democratic National Convention joining the protests and rallies on the outside in union with the Bernie delegates on the inside.

When Bernie endorsed Hillary on July 12th, two weeks before what everyone thought would be a ‘contested convention’ that action felt like a betrayal to the vast numbers of Bernie supporters and the Bernie delegates booed him en masse at the convention when he tried to sell them the bill of goods.

I had joined the ‘Bernie or Bust’ group online which numbered in the ten’s of thousands and that movement did an immediate turn either in the direction of the Green Party’s candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, or the write in Bernie campaign. I went from a few dozen to 5000 friends on Facebook in the course of the election cycle.

Jill Stein had offered Bernie to be at the top of the GP ticket but he never responded to her offer. In many minds that would have been a historic race against Hillary and Trump and the beginning of an enlarged independent progressive party and movement.

Many argued that Bernie or his family had been threatened before the Philly convention to endorse Hillary or else but the truth was that he had promised the DP establishment he would support the winning candidate if he didn’t win the primary. He did so because he didn’t want to have a Trump victory as his legacy so he was playing it safe. He urged all his remaining supporters to continue to work inside the Democratic Party to transform it into a progressive party free from the corporate donors that had come to define most establishment politicians whose policies increasingly bent towards the donors lobbyists.

Unfortunately for the Bernie movement, Bernie’s endorsement of Hillary and subsequent ‘sheepdogging’ for the Democratic nominee deflated his movement to a large degree, loosing millions who had believed in him up to that point.

Meanwhile, those who followed Bernie’s lead and stayed in the DP fold have been organizing to take over the party and have succeeded to a certain extent—nobody knows for sure how much yet. In Thurston County, the ‘Berniecrats’ have taken over the party and been elected to all the offices in the party from the top (chair) down, including the state committee man/woman.

They achieved this by the diligent work of several highly competent progressive individuals with a history in the Democratic Party. They managed to recruit Bernie supporters to become a super majority of PCO’s in the 282 precincts in Thurston County. The PCO’s, along with paid members, get to vote on party officers and policies. In short, the Berniecrats have taken over the Thurston Democratic Party as of December 2016.

But on the other side of political power, that of elected officials, there is as yet not one true Berniecrat in a local county or state office, although several jumped in to run for office after the Bernie’s primary bid ended.

And of all the elected or appointed Democratic Party electeds at all levels, only a small percentage backed Sanders in the primary. And almost all of those voted for Hillary over Trump in the general election for fear of a Trump victory.

Meanwhile, following the shocking presidential election results, Jill Stein led an effort for the recount in three states that Hillary had lost by razor thin margins and raised nearly $7 million, mostly from Hillary supporters, which was several times the amount she had raised during her entire campaign.

A storm of criticism followed which included many of her previous supporters. But the outcome of the recount proved beyond a shadow of a doubt (to those that followed it thru to the end) that elections in those states were ‘rigged’ in any number of ways to assure a Trump victory (see Greg Palast on the 2016 voter roll ‘cross checking’ by the Republicans). For the big picture on election fraud follow groups like Election JusticeUSA, Black Box Voting, FairVote, Sane Progressive and others.

On the other hand, the Wikileaks revelations that came out just before the Democratic National Convention showed that key members of the Democratic National Committee had been illegally and unethically working ‘secretly’ to undermine Sanders campaign in favor of Hillary. Many on the Sanders team are convinced that if Bernie had been the nominee he would have beat Trump handily in the general election. We’ll never know because the nomination was rigged for Hillary from the start.

Following the general election the Democratic Party establishment—along with a few Republicans who don’t like Trump—have been pushing the tale that the Russians were the ones who leaked the hacked DNC emails, as a tactic to hide their own responsibility for the outcome.

And in a Stanford research study of the 2016 primary there is also convincing evidence that Bernie would have won an additional 13 states had the primary not been ‘rigged’ by those who backed Clinton. The study concluded that if Sanders had won even a portion of the those 13 states—and without using the ‘unpledged’ Super Delegate pre convention ‘preferences’, which went largely to Clinton and were prominently used by the mainstream media outlets to tilt voter views during the primary—Sanders would have gone into the national convention with the majority of ‘pledged’ state delegates which could have led to him becoming the nominee.

But still, the Super Delegates (top elected officials and top party officers, past presidents etc) get to vote come time of the national convention, they could still have tilted it to Hillary although that would have led to a major rebellion and total disunity in the party leading into the general election season.

As it were, the vast majority of Bernie delegates, most of whom had joined or rejoined the party only because of Bernie’s campaign messages against establishment politics, booed Bernie when he spoke before them at the national convention in Philadelphia. And many walked out of the convention after protesting the deliberations inside. Thousands of others protested outside during the convention. I was one of them.

While many Sanders activists left the Democratic Party (DemExited) after Bernie endorsed Hillary on July 12th, many decided to stay inside to fight for a change of party leadership and reform the party from the bottom up as Bernie was encouraging them to do.

The outcome of the election, however, while it shocked almost everyone in the Democratic Party camp, did not totally wipe out the Sanders insurgency. Many Sanders activists formed groups to carry on the ‘political revolution’ that Bernie had called for throughout the primary with an eye to take over the party from the local (county) level and up. This phenomenon is still in process.

Locally, even before the Thurston Democratic Party ‘reorganization’ elections in December, two Bernie orgs have been formed nationally to continue the fight for social, economic, environmental and racial justice that Bernie’s campaign highlighted.

There is Brand New Congress (BNC) which seeks to contest over 400 congressional seats in 2018 (R’s and D’s alike) which has been busily vetting candidates around the country and raised over $250,000 towards setting up the prerequisite staffs to further that goal. They are a national group and so far have vetted somewhere around 60-70 candidates for the 2018 congressional elections that will challenge establishment Democrats as well as Republicans.

More recently, in early January, a local chapter of Bernie’s signature group ‘Our Revolution’ was formed.

And in mid-January the group ‘Justice Democrats’ was formed by Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks and the host of ‘Secular Talk Radio’ Kyle Kulinski. In one month they have raised close to $500,000 and have teamed up with the Brand New Congress org in a common cause: to elect progressive candidates who vow not to accept corporate or Super Pac donations, instead relying on small donors and ‘people power’ at the grassroots level, modeled after Bernie’s campaign.

In addition to these Berniecrat groups, there is also ‘Indivisible’ which was formed by Democratic Party staffers after the election with the aim to resist the Trump’s administrations actions from day one. They model themselves as the Democratic Party equivalent of the Tea Party.

Locally, the Thurston County Progressives formed in August to keep the Bernie movement intact following the outcome of the primary race in Hillary’s favor. This is the only organization locally that is bridge building beyond the DP, although many in the leadership are still focused on funneling energy into the Democratic Party reform movement.

All of the above groups are largely focused on taking over the Democratic Party to steer it in a more progressive direction by getting rid of establishment politicians that rely on corporate donations and replacing them with real progressive that do not take corporate donations.

And by February 25th we will know who the Democratic National Committee—the 447 member committee of DP establishment VIP’s who get to vote—has elected as the next chair.

At the time of this writing, it looks to be between Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison, the head of the DP Progressive Caucus—endorsed by Bernie Sanders—or Thomas Perez, the former Secretary of Labor under Obama—endorsed by Joe Biden. The outcome will be telling of the extent to which the Bernie movement has had an impact on the top party leadership that went all in for Clinton last year.

In any case, for those who remain committed to the principles of the ‘political revolution’ from within the Democratic Party—that stuggle will continue to unfold in the years ahead.

Meanwhile, what has happened to the ‘left’ and independent groups and voices who have opted to carry on the fight for fundamental political change from outside the Democratic Party?

The most prominent groups are the Green Party, Socialist Alternative, the Progressive Independent Party, the Democratic Socialists of America, and many other preexisting or new movement groups such as FairVote and Election Justice USA.

And most recently, Nick Brana, former national outreach coordinator for the Bernie Sanders campaign announced an effort to ‘Draft Bernie for a People’s Party’ independent of the Democrats. But almost immediately after he started this effort, Bernie came on CNN and said he was focused on working inside the DP which undercut Brana’s effort. Still Brana believes that Bernie will eventually come to lead an independent party. Time will tell, but I am not hopeful given Bernie’s history of working side by side with the Democrats for the last 25 years since being elected to congress.

The Green Party candidate received 1.2 million votes or approximately 1.2 % of the total vote with Jill Stein’s campaign but failed to get the requisite 5%. Nevertheless, they have filed a case in federal court to overturn or change the rules of the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) which keeps all minor parties out of the national debates—effectively keeping them out of the running—with a requirement that they must poll an average of 15% in at least five major media polls to get in the debates.

A federal court recently ruled that the CPD must change their process for allowing candidates in the debates but it remains to be seen what if any reforms are instituted by the courts that force the CPD’s hands to allow qualified minor parties in future presidential debates.

How would things be different if the Green Party and Libertarian Party were up there debating on the national media stage with Hillary and Trump? Both parties likely would have cleared the 5% threshold in the fall elections and been placed on equal legal footing with the two major parties for upcoming elections. In which case, the minor parties would not have to fight for ballot access in all 50 states and would get substantial federal funding for their national campaigns in the next presidential election cycle.

My year in the ‘blue hole’ of the Democratic Party ended with the expiration of my membership (dues) on January 31st just as my role as a PCO ended after I recently moved to another precinct. So I am now finally DemExited and back with the Green Party for the time being.

Most of my Bernie movement friends have been absorbed into the local Democratic Party fold, working the ‘inside’ angle for progressive political change. A few came over to the Green Party to continue the struggle from the ‘outside’. These local trends are reflected nationally in differing proportions, state by state, city by city.

Bernie’s primary campaign movement—the movement for a ‘political revolution’—that grabbed the attention of millions of American was only the latest challenge to the Democratic Party establishement.

Whether it’s remaining active adherents, now splintered into several competing organizations, can come together and take over a significant portion of the party will only be answered over the next several years leading up to the 2020 elections.

The coming years will be yet another testing of the thesis purported by those who have watched these efforts come and go to no avail which is whether or not “The Democratic Party is where progressives go to die.”

Perhaps this time, things will turn out differently. We shall see.

Chris Stegman is a local activist with the Green Party and a member of Thurston Progressives. He can be reached at if you want to comment on this article. He welcomes all feedback, good, bad or indifferent.


The post Retrospective on the 2016 elections and beyond in the era of Trump appeared first on Works in Progress.

Syra Beth Puett, a life in theater

South Sound Arts - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 11:15am
L-R: Boolie (Robert Geller), Daisy (Syra Beth Puett) and Hoke (Malcolm J. West), photo by Jason Ganwich
The Lakewood Playhouse is proud to present the World Premier of Syra Beth Puett’s One Woman Show about her life both inside, and outside, of theatre – “MY HUSBAND LIKED BEVERLY BETTER.”  This Special Premier Presentation is also serving as a Fundraiser for Scholarships at our Lakewood Institute of Theatre.  Tickets for this Special Event, and Fundraiser, are Only $10.00 Each.
This beautiful story will be performed on Friday & Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2:00pm.  Performances will be March 17th through March 19th ONLY.   All Tickets are Only $10.00 Each.
Syra Beth Puett in The Lion in Winter, with Kat Christensen. Photo by Dean Lapin.
Syra Beth Puett in On Golden Pond with Clark Maffit. Photo by Dean Lapin.ABOUT THE SHOW: ​
Please Join Us for an evening, or an afternoon, for a special one woman show featuring stories and insights from Syra Beth Puett about her life both inside, and outside, of the theatre.
Although the show chronicles her experiences in Community Theater, it also reveals reasons she became involved in theater. She will introduce people and situations that informed the performer that she became.
Through these insights, you may just discover that she is not the actor, or person, that you thought she was.
This Special Presentation will also feature the return of Director Doug Kerr.  Mr. Kerr has an amazing history with theatre in the South Sound as a Educator, Managing Artistic Director, Mentor and Director for over forty years serving such organizations as Pierce College, Tacoma Actor’s Guild, Tacoma Little Theatre and the Lakewood Playhouse.

ABOUT OUR THEATRE: The Lakewood Playhouse was founded in 1938 and has established itself with theatre that is both intimate and epic.  The theatre is located within the Lakewood Towne Center, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd., Lakewood, Washington 98499.  For further information about “Syra Beth Puett’s MY HUSBAND LIKE BEVERLY BETTER” please contact the Box Office at the Lakewood Playhouse (253) 588-0042 or make any e-mail queries to John Munn, Managing Artistic Director, at
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Painting and Priming

Erica's Garden - Tue, 03/07/2017 - 10:37am


We have a giant spare room upstairs that has been designated the workout room as well as Jefe’s “office”. He NEVER spends time up here anymore…AND he has a gym membership. So, we have decided that it would be a good idea if I moved my sewing room up to this space so he can take over my current sewing room downstairs.


Ugh! Look at those curtains! I hate them!


I am super stoked. I love this room as it has great light and I am a sucker for sloped walls. It’s been this horrible lavender color since we’ve moved in and I am FINALLY getting around to repainting it (and getting new blinds!)

All of this painting is mainly prep for when we eventually get new carpet up here. However, I took this opportunity to upgrade my seedling closet. Here’s the before:


I think this room was originally painted a really bright orange (like the carpet you can see peeking out in the hallway), and the closet was a bright green. Barf. It’s a seventies house FO SHO.

I bought a shelving unit and more lights and got everything installed this weekend:


It was pretty shocking when I first plugged all of those lights in. I think I burned my corneas. We had to finish assembling the shelving unit INSIDE the closet, so this thing is pretty much stuck in there now. I don’t care…I LOVE it.

I’ve got the room halfway painted, and I still have to do the doors. My hand/arm is killing me from all of the painting, but I am so happy with the progress so far.

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Categories: Local Food Blogs

What went on with rural growth in Thurston County?

Olympia Time - Mon, 03/06/2017 - 8:22pm
Grand Mound from highway to today:

It wasn't a member of the Thurston County commission, but there was a county commissioner at a recent hearing on exempt well bills last month. One of our commissioners was there too, but the Mason County commissioner said (and I'm paraphrasing) that the county's economy needed a boost.

What she was talking about was that building houses, more people living in the rural parts of Mason County would give their county a boost.

Despite evidence to the contrary that rural residential development is good for the government bottom line or anyone's economic well-being (I mean other than homebuilders and realtors) it did get me thinking about the rural landscape and how it's either being put to work (with farms or logging) or put to rest (by building houses).

Here's an interesting chart I've been toying with for the last few weeks. It plots the acres of land in Thurston County in farms and logging against the population in the non-city parts of the county:

What I see are a couple interesting things.
One, no one seems to keep track of land in active forestry by county, which is really weird since it is literally taxed differently in Washington and county assessors should really care about that. I was able to find two data points, so it's just sitting on the chart as something I'd like to add in if I can find it.
Also, I also wasn't able to find was any sort of description of residential zoning by acreage, so I used general non-incorporated population as a stand-in. This might be slightly unfair since most of this population is concentrated up in Tanglewild. But, as you can see in the gif at the top of this post, even Grand Mound has seen some significant changes since then.
Two, the 1960s seem to be a big turning point in the change of how Thurston County's rural areas were in terms of a shift from farming to rural growth.
If you zoom in on the 60s, you see the drop off of farm acreage happening just as non-city residential growth picks up.
What is also interesting is that even as no it seems like farm acreage has stabilized, the non-city population continues to increase, which means the rural areas are either getting denser or they're overtaking acreage that isn't in active farming.
Lastly, and this is more of a fun fact than anything. I wrote years back about the unincorporated area east of Lacey was Thurston County's invisible city.
I used to talk about this when I was on the Timberland Library board of trustees about how we should expand library service between Rochester and Grand Mound (which is currently served by a kiosk). But, that if you took the two census tracts that surround Highway 12 between I-5 and the county line, you'd have the fourth largest city in Thurston County at almost 13,000 people.

Oceans at the Bottom of the Planet are Getting Warm

Small Blue Planet - Sat, 03/04/2017 - 11:34am

Click on the graphic to read more if the graphic is not giving you the message.

The post Oceans at the Bottom of the Planet are Getting Warm appeared first on Small Blue Planet.

Do worker bumble bees camp out?

Bees, Birds & Butterflies - Wed, 03/01/2017 - 9:17am
Rusty Burlew is a beekeeper friend who lives in the same county and writes a regular (at least weekly!) blog about bees.  While these days she writes mostly about honey bees, she knows alot about native bees as well.  Anyway, I replied to a recent post of hers about bumble bees -- Honey Bee Suite / Bumble bee answers ... -- and she asked me to elaborate on whether or not worker bumble bees (the colony females who are not queens) stay out at night rather than going home to sleep.  The short answer -- yes -- was not enough for me.  But rather than fill her comment section I decided to add it to our blog roll.  I can't say how broadly this applies to all bumbles -- it is but a single experience.

Bombus melanopygus is a big boldly colored early season bumble common in Olympia (and the maritime Northwest).  She particularly likes old bird houses filled with old bird nests. We’ve recorded queens as early as the third week of January, but the weather has to cooperate and this soggy winter we’ve reached March and not seen a one.  (To illustrate this blog I'm using some older photos of Nancy's.)

The story.  One spring years ago I was asked to move a bumble'd bird house because of its poor location. The box was originally just a birdhouse ornament on an arbor that also supported the mailbox. Occupied one or two years by some bird, then the bumbles found it. This bee house was jostled with each mail delivery and the occupants were unhappy -- pointedly -- about the jostle. So was the Post Office, who notified the owner that she'd have to alter the setup. Thus, one night I corked and bagged the bird bee house and moved it, to our home a mile away. I'd not thought it all through, and being night and all, I just set the box down on the back shed steps intending to mount it later.

A call brought me back the next day, where many bumbles — at least a dozen, (I didn’t count) — were huddled together where their home used to be. The bumbles were homeless, and the colony was deprived of many of its workers. The huddle looked like a big number in a small bumble colony, (though a tiny number for honey bees). I’d moved a box the year before, and that colony failed. With the failure in mind I went home for my insect net intent on returning the homeless bumbles to their community — and that was my third mistake.

The bumbles had lost their home but not their sense of territory. My effort at netting the homeless bumbles was met with mostly empty netting. But I gained personal evidence that the homeless bumbles were queenless WORKERS who, even in the cool of the spring, had slept out at night, and upon returning “home” were defensive enough still to sting, (painfully!).  I'm still not as skilled as I'd like when it comes to distinguishing male from female bumbles, but a sting is definitely gender specific.

My other mistake was I learned that raccoons thought my temporary location was just for them -- low hanging fruit in a pretty wooden box. I'm sure they were stung too, but for them the wax and honey and larvae were no doubt worth the price of admission. If I’d first visited the shed I’d have known that even if had I recaptured the homeless bees, it would have been for naught.

These days, when asked to move a bumble nest, I try to find other solutions.  Unlike honey bees, bumble bee colonies are annual -- only living months -- so mostly I ask folk to be patient.  Usually bumbles do not reuse an old nest site, because wax moths and carpet beetles and a whole array of hungry camp followers consume the nest even as the colony fades once the new queens and drones emerge.  In hindsight, moving the mail box would have been easier -- but if I had done that, there would have been no story to tell.

Here is video made by Nancy a couple of years ago of B. melanopygus in a bird box: Bumbles in a bird nest box (video)

Categories: Local Environment

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South Sound Arts - Sun, 02/26/2017 - 8:03am

Lacey Reuter’s “Harlem Renaissance” paintingsPublished in the Weekly Volcano, Feb. 23, 2017Harlem Renaissance,” oil on canvas by Lacey Reuter, courtesy American Art CompanyTacoma artist Lacey Reuter was only 17 years old when she created the “Harlem Renaissance” paintings now on display at American Art Company, says gallery director Tammy Radford. It’s an impressive body of work for anybody, especially a 17-year-old. There are five large paintings, each measuring 5-foot, 5-inches by 5-foot, and one mural-size painting at 6-by-11 feet that dominates one wall of the gallery.On the downside, as representative of the Harlem Renaissance, a major force in America’s cultural history, they are little more than a kind of scrapbook with pictures of a lot of the famous artists and writers and musicians who lived and worked in Harlem at the time, and the faces are not even recognizable but are identified by name, which seems childish to this reviewer. On the upside, these are vibrant, energetic and engaging paintings. Reuter’s drawing style is unhesitating. She combines flat areas and modeled areas and line in ways that provide an intriguing balance of variety and unity. They are colorful and exciting, a visual representation of the jazz music that was the music of the time and place — much like what Mondrian did in a more subdued and abstract manner with his “Broadway Boogie Woogie.”Compositionally they dance right up to the edge of chaos. Faces and objects easily get lost in the clutter. The only unifying elements are the color schemes (a predominance of blues in the smaller works and of tan in the large painting), meandering lines that move throughout in most of the paintings, and in the smaller works a circular arrangement of faces and other images. The Harlem Renaissance was an explosion of music, literature and visual art centered in Harlem, New York City, in the years between the world wars. Each of Reuter’s paintings celebrates one aspect of the Renaissance: art, music, writing, and theater; and the large, mural-sized painting combines them all.The “Harlem Art” depicts artists Sargent Johnson, Palmer Hayden, William H. Johnson and others with their names handwritten by their pictures and quotes from some of them such as from Hayden: “I decided to paint to support my love of art rather than have my art support me.”“Harlem Music” celebrates Fletcher Henderson, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith and others; “Harlem Theater” pictures Ethel Waters, Bojangles Robinson and Eubie Blake; “Harlem Writers” memorializes Booker T. Washington, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes and Zora Neal Hurston. It also pictures book spines with titles and quotes from works by some of the writers.The largest painting and by far the most impressive combines all the elements of the others. Dark brown and black figures flow across the bottom half of the canvas in a circular swoop while lighter, multi-colored concentric circles in the background solidify what would otherwise be chaos. The thin paint application and many transparencies are enjoyable to contemplate because of their subtlety and complexity, as are a series of almost invisible light tan faces that meld into the background. This is a sophisticated painting. Finding all the figures and words can be entertaining, but it is the exuberance of these paintings that make them worth seeing.Harlem Renaissance, Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Feb. 28, American Art Company, 1126 Broadway Plaza, Tacoma, 253.272.4327,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

CANCELED Thalia Field: Wednesday, March 1st, from 11:30 to 1:00 pm in Purce Hall 1

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Sat, 02/25/2017 - 3:21pm

A1QmlI6CQYLRESCHEDULED for fall 2017
Thalia Field‘s work lives at the crossroads of prose, essay, poetry, even theater. Her collections include Point and Line; Bird Lovers, Backyard; A Prank of Georges; Ululu (Clown Schrapnel); and Incarnate: Story Material.

Thalia Field is 3rd generation from the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. She worked in theater as a writer, director, and producer before beginning to write books. Thalia has lived and worked in Paris, Berlin, and New York, as well as spending many summers in Juneau, Alaska where she helped to start a summer writing project. Thalia has been teaching fiction and multimedia and interdisciplinary creative/critical practice in the Literary Arts department at Brown University since 2000.



Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Doubt at Lakewood Playhouse

South Sound Arts - Fri, 02/24/2017 - 9:42am

Kait Mahoney as Sister James and Blake R. York as Father Flynn, photo by Tim Johnson.Published in the Weekly Volcano, Feb. 23, 2017John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, A Parablehas earned the rare honor of taking home the trifecta of awards: the Tony, the Academy Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Chances are you’ve seen the film starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, but if you have not seen it live on stage — or even if you have — you should see Lakewood Playhouse’s stirring production.For starters, Shanley’s script is as tightly written and as full of intelligent insights and surprises as anything you’re likely to see on stage, and Erin Manza Chanfrau’s set design is outstanding. It is comfortable and attractive with three scenes set at an angle to make for easy viewing from any seat in the house, where there is seating on three sides. No set changes are required, so there is no distraction and no waiting between scenes. There is the high alter in a Catholic church, the principal’s office in the school next door to the church, and the garden bench between the two. On the back wall are painted stained glass windows. The height of the altar lends majesty when Father Brendan Flynn (Blake R. York) ascends it to preach, which is how the play opens.With quiet dignity, the priest ascends the altar and preaches a homily about doubt, saying it is all right to not know, that everyone must wrestle with doubt. Thus, he announces the theme that asserts itself throughout the play.The school principal, Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Connie Murray), suspects Father Flynn of inappropriate behavior with a student who is talked about but who never appears in the play. He is the first and only black student in the newly integrated school. She questions Sister James (Kait Mahoney), a young and innocent teacher, about the relationship between the priest and the boy. Sister James believes in Father Flynn. The boy’s mother (Diane Johnson in a single but powerful and surprising scene) comes to school at the invitation of Sister Aloysius, who is now more convinced than ever that Father Flynn is carrying on relations with the boy. Anything more said about the confrontation between Sister Aloysius and Mrs. Muller would be a spoiler.Finally, Sister Aloysius confronts Father Flynn, which he, of course, denies.York underplays the role of Father Flynn. He portrays him in a manner that invites the audience to like and trust him — as gentle, kind and self-assured, but with a tightly controlled underlying tension. From the beginning one wants to believe in him.Murray plays Sister Aloysius as cold and calculating, and so convinced she is right about her suspicions that it makes the audience suspect she is out to get Father Flynn, regardless of where or not he is guilty.The doubt stated in the title and in the priest’s opening sermon turns out to be about the moral character of each of the people in the story. Is there is a power struggle going on between the priest and the principal? Is his loving demeanor a mask?  No clear answers are given; the audience is left to puzzle it out for themselves, as the central mystery is not only Father Flynn’s guilt or innocence, but the motives and morality of each character in the play, not just Father Flynn and Sister Aloysius, but to a lesser degree Sister James and Mrs. Muller.Each of the four actors does an outstanding job of realistically portraying the unique personalities of these four divergent characters.Doubt was originally written to be performed not as a one-act but as a full-length play. It is my understanding that it is often broken into two acts, but Lakewood Playhouse’s managing artistic director John Munn said he and director Victoria Webb decided to run it as originally written, for which I applaud them. Breaking up the action for an intermission would have been damaging to the dramatic thrust. I was thoroughly engaged from the moment York walked on stage and ascended the alter, and I think an intermission would have taken the audience out of the action and lessened the dramatic impact. The play runs about an hour and a half. It is intense, emotionally demanding, and intellectually challenging. There is nothing light and playful about Doubt. It is heavy drama of the most intense sort, and beautifully produced.Doubt, 8 p.m., Thurs.-Sat. and 2 p.m. Sunday, through March 12, Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd., Lakewood, $15, 253.588.0042,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Read David Scherer Water's "Olympia"

Olympia Time - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 10:28pm

There are a few books about Olympia that I'd say were necessary to own. To be honest, most of the stuff written about Olympia is pretty bad. Either poorly written, poorly researched or just repetitive, not hoeing new ground. Rogues, Buffoons and Statesmen is on that list, not because it is entirely accurate, but because it is expansive. Confederacy of Ambition is also on that list because it is insanely well researched.

You can buy Olympia at (which is based in Portland).

Olympia by David Scherer Water is also on that list. Not because it is entirely accurate, it really isn't. It is mostly, strictly speaking, inaccurate. But, in the way that smaller details give way to larger truths, it is the most accurate book about the city we live in today.

Zach Mandeville's zine series Funwater Awesome was as close a true (but not really true) capturing of what is is like to live here nowadays.

"Olympia" is a thin volume, it won't take you too long to get through it. But, because the truths are so large and so well presented, I've had to backtrack and slowly take the entire book in.
Visitors, especially ones from cities with "bad" crime statistics have noticed Olympia's "good" crime statistics mask a difficult to gauge social unsafety. "I should feel safe here, but somehow this place feels terrifying. Why is that?"These are true things about Olympia, but usually they're put out by five or ten year residents that finally got tired of being polite about one aspect of the way we live here and are just reduced to being whiney. David, an Olympian of 25 years, spells them out with calm and without judgement (seemingly) and at times tries to dig down to or origins.

But then there is the Holy Sh*t Park.

I'm not going to say any more, other than to say that every one of us is blind. David is the only one that can see. I'm too far gone, and most everyone I know is as well. David sees reality in the case of this park. Just read the book, you'll see what I mean. I don't want to go over it too much, David will lose his patience.

14 percent of septics are failing because we saw the dye

Olympia Time - Mon, 02/20/2017 - 10:22pm
Wikimedia Commons
I wasn't going to write about this 14 percent thing because I didn't really think it needed explanation to begin with. But, there it is, still out there. Like a thing that exists, because it came out of the mouth of County Commissioner Gary Edwards:The main thing we need to get to the bottom of is what science brought this about because it has been alleged that 14 percent of septic systems failing each year — that is pure malarkey. That means at the end of a seven-year period we would have had 98 percent of septic system fail, that is pure ludicrous.Basically, there's a fairly good estimate out there that somewhere around 14 percent of septics system are polluting into streams and bays each year. This data, in the case of Thurston County came from an on-site study of septic systems around Henderson Inlet in the late 90s.

What county staff did was put a dye into the septic systems around Henderson Inlet and 14 percent of the tested systems leaked that dye into places where they shouldn't be leaking anything because septic systems shouldn't be polluting. But they did.

What that particular study didn't say is that 14 percent fail each year. Obviously, if you go around and test septic systems at one point in time and finding a failure rate, what you're doing is finding how many septics would be failing at any given point. 

Commission Edwards apparently picked up his bad math from Glen Morgan's blog.

What is a little more interesting is that the 1999 study took a look at two places, Henderson Inlet and the Thurston County stretch of the Nisqually reach. The Nisqually reach septics had an even worse failure rate, in the neighborhood of 20 percent.

Morgan took a shot at the 14 percent number by pointing out that repair permits issued by the county indicate that less that one percent of the septics in the Deschutes watershed had failed. That assumes a one to one ratio of permits for repair and actually polluting septics.

But, it would seem that a failing to the point of needing obvious repair and a polluting septic are not the same thing:
Sometimes a (septic) failure is obvious, other times it’s not so obvious and not an easy thing to confirm. When a failure is not obvious but water quality data or other information seems to implicate a system as a problem system, additional measures must be taken.  Dye testing is an effective way to verify a failure, but must be done correctly based on established procedures. Little is more definitive than seeing bright green dye flowing in a backyard or in surface water after passing through a property’s plumbing. Waiting for a homeowner to ask for a permit to repair their septic system is a very low bar to estimate failing septic systems. And, not all backed up or broken septics are polluting. And, certainly, there are septic systems that would work from the point of view of the homeowner but would leach pollutants.

Dye testing, the type of study that the 14 percent number came from, is much more accurate to asses the one thing that we're talking about here, whether a septic system is polluting.

Dr. Lina Aguirre presents Trends in Latin American Experimental Animation: Wednesday, February 22nd from 11:30 to 1:00 pm in Purce Hall 1

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Thu, 02/16/2017 - 5:45pm

Latin Animation picA vibrant selection of contemporary experimental animation from filmmakers in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Peru.  Curated by the Moebius Animación collaborative, these 16 short films produced between 2007 and 2014 represent an effort to map trends in technical, narrative, material, and sensorial/affective dimensions in recent experimental animation.

Experience a diverse selection of vibrant experimental animation from filmmakers in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Peru.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Sewing 2017 – The Fitting Shell

Erica's Garden - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 5:48pm

Photo Feb 15, 6 40 49 AM

So,…one of the other items that is taking up much of my brain space lately is sewing. I’ve had some super frustrating experiences the past few years and I’ve almost given up completely a few times, but I just…can’t. I thought I would try my hand with the Emery Dress because I am technically skilled enough to sew darts and sleeves and zippers, but HOLY COW.  It did not work. Like, at all. That bodice block did NOT work on my body. I decided to go back to a project I started last year, and that is following the Little Tailoress’ series Fun with Fit where she walks you through taking your measurements to use the Butterick 5627 Fitting Shell to create a block that works for you. I had completed the front and back bodice – successfully – but it all turned to shit when I added the sleeves. So…after much Googling I *think* figured it out. This bodice/sleeve fitting article on Threads was a lifesaver. My issue main issue was that my armhole was too low and I totally botched the sleeve alterations. However, by raising the armhole, it eliminating the pulling across my back when I moved my arms. It’s just a tad too high, however, as the armhole is a little too tight to be comfortable. Another very helpful article was one describing how to take excess fabric out from under the bust by altering the darts. You can see my mangled version above. Now I need to move on to the actual sleeves again. I rented a Threads fitting DVD from my libary that was SUPER helpful and now I know what I did wrong the first time. I think the main thing I got from that DVD was the instructors saying that your pattern, after you have altered it to fit your measurements, might not look at all like a standard bodice pattern. Hearing that from people who know what they are doing made me feel better. Also: Swedish Tracing Paper is magic. Also 2: I am getting really, really tired of making muslins.

The post Sewing 2017 – The Fitting Shell appeared first on .

Categories: Local Food Blogs

Me and Pat Conroy

South Sound Arts - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 5:53pm

I never read anything by Pat Conroy until a reviewer compared one of my books to his. Linda Linguvic, an reviewer from New York City wrote in her review of The Backside of Nowhere:  Frankly, I loved this book and actually found it better than Pat Conroy's latest, South of Broad because the characters seemed more real and not just stereotypes. Alec Clayton hit the mark perfectly, held my interest throughout and even surprised me at the end. Bravo!”
After reading that, I naturally I had to see what Conroy was all about. I’ve since read Prince of Tides, Beach Music and South of Broad, and I see the similarities. Same kind of quirky humor, same love-hate of the South. And we both go into detail about the family histories of our characters. Now I fear readers will think I’m copying him.
Ned Hayes, author of the best-selling The Eagle Tree, wrote in his review of my latest: “Tupelo is a haunting and personal tale, reminiscent of the best of Pat Conroy.”
I hesitate to say anymore because I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but as a self-published author with no money for promotion, I have to brag when I can. Here’s the thing I am exceedingly proud of: I think my “Freedom Trilogy” and Tupelo are in many ways better than anything Conroy has written, mainly because he over writes, and because his narrators are always too easily identifiable as Conroy himself and he/his narrators come across as both prideful and humble, but the pride is overarching and off-putting.

I hope you will read his books and mine and compare them for yourself. You might think I’m right, but maybe not.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

The Anarchy A

Mojourner Truth - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 8:27pm

Recently, people keep reminding me that the Circle-A symbol is associated with anarchism,...maybe even with Anarchism.

No shit.

One woman kindly commented on a post of the above sign to let me know that the anarchist crowd uses that, and she wasn't sure if I did it on purpose.

Ahh...yup. Thanks.

A sixty-ish photographer somberly asked me if I knew what that A-in-a-circle meant as he got a shot of my daughter and I at a rally. He looked grim when I confirmed:

Si, Professor.

Maybe especially around here, people think anarchist and they envision black bloc ninjas throwing rocks through windows, but there are degrees and species of Anarchy just like there are of any other -ism.

To begin with, some reject anything but little-a anarchy.

My anarchy dropped orthodoxymoronic Anarchism years ago. My anarchy fails the purity test (I'm a government worker, for Marx's sake). My anarchy doesn't mind government  preventing corporations from poisoning the earth and ripping us off, and it knows damn well that NO government just means the armed and greedy get their way. My anarchy begins in the womb, where no government should be tolerated, and lives in a body and mind that should not be violated.

My anarchy is old and likes naps, but it ain't dead yet.

So yeah, I'll continue to march with Womxn and support Planned Parenthood and protect Mother Earth with my "Dads Against the Patriarchy" sign. Lots of people have said they liked it, shot photos, and been very supportive. Lots of them know what the A means, some of them are really supportive, and a few people get uncomfortable.

Which is good. The Circle-A hasn't lost all its power.

Steamboat Island Community 4-H Club Informational Meeting

Griffin Neighborhood - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 7:51am
Please join us for an informational meeting to learn about the new Steamboat Island Community 4-H Club forming now! Kids currently in K-12 are welcome along with their parents.
4-H provides lots of opportunity for positive youth development. Come to explore projects such as: backyard nature, sewing, horseless horse, and social skills through Legos.
When: April 15, 2015 - 4:45 PM - 5:45 PM
Where: Griffin Fire Department Station 13-28113 Steamboat Island RD NWOlympia, WA 98505
For more information please email:

Naomi Punk, PC Worship, Mother Tongue and Broken Water

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 5:00pm


Welcome Naomi Punk back from their European Tour and send them off again w/ PC Worship down the west coast. Also playing is Mother Tongue from Rhode Island. with support from local favorites Broken Water. ?

“Also, the Homie, Shane Yee, and I will be doing an installation”- Scott Young

Show really starts at 8pm sharp :)

Facebook Invite


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Roasted Eggplant Ratatouille

Pure Hunger - Sun, 11/04/2012 - 1:00am

I have a confession. I love to mess up a perfectly good recipe, on purpose. I adore any recipe writer who is detailed and precise about their explanations and measurements. It helps me figure out how far I can veer before crashing into disaster. Becoming a decent cook is similar to any skill in life. Once you learn the basics you can begin tweaking, fiddling and meddling until you find your pulse. Your mark. Your touch. Typically, I try to follow a recipe exactly as written on the first attempt. Any attempt after, however, is fair game. Even at first attempt, I am liable to cut diagonally instead of vertically. I might add a handful of chopped basil instead of measuring it out precisely to 1/4 cup. I want to stay within the confines of the recipe without letting it confine my spirit, my passion for food. I, more than most, can become so lost in perfectly executing the details that I completely forget to enjoy myself. The final product may look and taste perfect but it will lack heart, soul and passion.

I’m really trying to remind myself of this lesson, especially lately. I fear I have gotten into a spell of looking a life as far to precise and perfect. As a set of skills I must develop and execute to succeed. As though anything in life that is executed perfectly, without heart, ever inspires anyone, including me. Inspiration is a feeling you get when you see someone else showcase a part of themselves that comes from a deep spark within. Perfection has nothing to do with that spark. This recipe falls right into that opportunity. Originally taken from Molly Wizenbergs book “A Homemade Life”, it is dictated with precision. She tells you how much to use, how thinly to slice and which way to cut and shape each vegetable. It doesn’t really matter. Really. I chopped and seeded with abandon. I measured and guessed. I threw in a bit of curry powered, garam masala and nutmeg. It still tasted delicious. In fact, I got so wrapped up in the process that I completely forgot to take a final picture. I think, in spirit, that is best. Then you never know what it was “supposed to” look like. You will only know what you created, how it tasted on your tongue and the way it made you feel when you were creating and that is all you need to know.

Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Arrange eggplant rounds in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Pour 2 Tbsp olive oil in small bowl and brush onto eggplant. Flip slices and brush second slices as well, taking care that each as a thin coating of oil. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping slices halfway through, until soft and lightly browned on each side. Remove from oven and cool. (You can do this step a day or two ahead and refrigerate)

Warm 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or large, deep skillet. Add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and just tender, 10—12 minutes. Remove it from the pan, taking care to leave behind any excess oil and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add onion. Add a bit of oil if pan is dry. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add bell pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, but now browned, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, thyme, and bay leaf and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low, over and cook for 5 minutes. Add eggplant, zucchini, stir to incorporate and cook until everything is very tender, 15-20 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Discard bay leaf and stir in basil.

Serve hot, warm or room temperature, with additional salt for sprinkling. This dish is even better a day or two later, as the flavors get time to mesh.

1 lb eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1-inch-thick rounds
olive oil
1 lb zucchini, trimmed, halved, lengthwise and sliced in to 1/2-inch thick half-moons
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil

Categories: Local Food Blogs

Apple Tarte Tatin

Pure Hunger - Sun, 11/04/2012 - 1:00am

I will begin this post with a great deal of apologizing. It will be the kind, however, that is done by any good friend that has been gone for far too long. The kind of apology that occurs after I knock the door, you open and I thrust a delicious dessert, still warm from the oven; begging to be drenched in vanilla ice cream and consumed. That is the only way to apologize for such an unexplained absence. I am not only apologizing to you, my dear friend, but to Molly Wizenberg. Writer of “A Homemade Life”, creater of the blog “Orangette” and my current personal hero. I believe the next few posts will be a direct copy of every recipe from her book. I can’t help myself. In my defense, she really should not have written such beautiful stories and recipes to match. As with any good idea, I want to try everything she writes about because she makes it all sound not only incredible, but familiar.

Familiar in the way you feel about your best friends spaghetti sauce and the way it always fills your house with the smell of love, comfort and safety. Familiar in the way that your favorite cookie recipe automatically makes everything feel right, even if they whole day fell to pieces. I want to make every recipe in Molly’s book because I feel like I know her and thus know the food she makes. I not only want to taste it all, I want to feel the way she feels when she eats it. Powerful stuff. So forgive the next few posts as I lavish adoration and attention. She may or may not be my idol right now, but I’m sure it will be evident the former is true.

I hope, only hope, to find some way to convey that feeling to everyone here. I want you to try these recipes that I create, not only because they will feed your bellies but because they will nourish your soul. I want to become familiar with y’all. In that spirit, I’m going to make it clear that my absence has occurred due to a family move to Austin, Texas. We are simultaneously settled, settling and unsettled. I’ve been inspired and found a renewed energy around being in the kitchen. I can’t wait to share what I’ve been doing. Tonight, however, I start with Molly’s Tarte Tatin.

It doesn’t look glamorous, and isn’t even the very first thing I would choose if waiting in line at a local bakery. I would be the fool in the end. This is astounding. My husband likened it to “creme brulee but better”. It is really best warm and served with a simple vanilla ice cream. I landed on this recipe because Molly described it as “a housewife in stilettos” and “it doesn’t dally with small talk. It reaches for your leg under the table”. Who wouldn’t want to eat something that is described with such passion? I know I am first in line. In fact, bakeries should really start describing their pastries in a similar manner…I would love to see what they invent.

Molly recommends puff pastry and I bought what I thought was puff pastry but was called Filo Dough. I’m not sure if they are really the same thing but it worked just fine. I just skipped the step where she asks you to roll out the dough really thin. I actually think I put to little dough in the pastry and would just put all of it in next time. It was still heart stopping and phenomenal…I can’t imagine how much better it would taste with even more dough. I may have just fainted from elation while writing that last sentence.

I also made a choice to buy whatever crisp, sweet apples I could find and used whole wheat pastry dough. Small changes but it didn’t seem to alter the incredible complexity of taste…as long as butter and sugar is involved…you are typically set. Since I don’t want to completely steal Molly’s thunder, I am making you go to her original post for directions. It’s the least I can do for a woman who talks about food the way a person might talk about a lover.

Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
5-6 large Apples
6 Tbsp (3 ounces) unsalted butter
About 14 ounces puff pastry

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