Recent local blog posts

Pondering Whitman’s Spiritual Democracy and the contradiction in his attitudes toward race

Works in Progress - Sun, 08/09/2015 - 10:33pm

Toward being a more effective anti-racist ally

One afternoon in spring, I found myself transported on one of those delicious, if not addictive “cyber wends”—a Google search run wonderfully amok.

Spiritual Democracy is where I landed, captivated by one bold statement:

“Spiritual Democracy puts the idea of democracy back where it belongs, as a shining example of the human spirit at work in the evolution of human culture and social architecture.”

Our tumultuous times scream out for some kind of lifeline for sanity of society, its systems, we its people. Bring it on! Bring on Spiritual Democracy!

Among the early American visionaries who spoke of the need for a “spiritual synthesis”, harkening back to our nation’s forefathers idea of unity, e pluribus unum, ‘out of many, one’, was Walt Whitman. Most interesting, is that the supreme authority for the Constitution’s framers is not the Bible, or any other religious volume, but the God of Nature as the author of our individuality. James Madison, one of the chief architects of the Constitution fought courageously to prohibit the emergence of a “national religion” by insisting on the “full and legal rights of conscience,” which he believed should not be infringed upon by any judicial or governing body.

Spiritual Democracy is the simple recognition of God in each person’s nature—a truly democratic notion. As we all come from nature, we are all carriers of divinity. Whitman’s belief was that Spiritual Democracy is the science of a God that must by necessity begin and end with nature—and this means our inner nature as well as our outer nature. Whitman’s brilliantly inquisitive mind was able to treat the creeds or various schools of religion all as manifestations of God. It is said that in response to the question: What religion is the most universal? Whitman answered: all are equal. In his famous poem, “Song of Myself”, Whitman expressed this concept succinctly: In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass.

What Walt Whitman envisioned through Spiritual Democracy was nothing less than political, economic and religious equality for all, a raising of collective and individual unitary consciousness… “a thought that rises, independent, lifted out from all else, calm, like the stars, shinning eternal. This is the thought of identity—yours for you, whoever you are, as mine for me.” Democratic Vistas, Whitman.

Walt Whitman’s edited and re-edited opus, Leaves of Grass brilliantly encompasses all the aspects of life, casting a wide net enfolding gender, sexuality, race. He choose a new style of poetry writing that few people had seen before, a poetry that doesn’t rhyme, isn’t comprised of short or fix metered lines. A bold open vehicle to expound on the nature of the spirituality of global democracy— to speak a truth beyond the times, the era in which Whitman wrote:

Poets to come! Orators, singers, musicians to come!

Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for,

But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater that before known,

Arouse! For you must justify me.

I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future,

I but advance a moment only to wheel and hurry back in the darkness.

I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping, turns a casual look            

And then averts his face,

Leaving it to you to prove and define it,

Expecting the main things from you.

The liberal, visionary, Whitman was amazingly effective in conveying an egalitarian and antiracist sensibility in his poetry. While his poetry pointed towards his hopes for America’s democratic future, Whitman the journalist, was a most conservative public figure, bogged down by the racist stereotypes of his contemporary society. Whitman was a descendent of a slave-owning family, and had, since childhood, been conditioned to look upon blacks as an inferior and subordinate race… There is evidence to suggest his inherently bigoted perspective on race, would linger in his ideas until the end. Whitman’s “Song of Myself” is a mirror reflection of both the poet and the public persona amalgamated into one long verse, which declare:

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / I am large, I contain multitudes.

Interestingly, I found myself taken aback when confronted with this apparent duality, contradiction in Whitman. Pondering the paradox, led into a prayerful discernment about my authenticity regarding others of different color or creed. What really are my prejudices? Where are my ‘growing edges’?

Inserted into this personal introspection was news of a local tragic event, still unresolved: the violent maiming of two young men of color, shot by an Olympia police officer.

In response to this particular violent action, the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation invited “people of good will (especially white folk)” to participate in a workshop, facilitated by Sammy Harvell, the intention being that individuals can learn to become better anti-racist allies.

I listened deeply, and left the workshop with additional wisdom voices to learn from as well: Tim Wise, You Tube—“White Like Me” and “White Privilege”; and Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow.” Also, Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation’s August 2015 program is entitled “Racial Justice Insights for White Folks,” and is available on their website

I find a beautiful similarity in the poetic vision of Walt Whitman and the crisp, clarity of Lila Watson’s wisdom:

If you have come here to help me, then you’re wasting your time…. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.

I am grateful for the willingness to open to new learning, deeper understanding of my historical ‘whiteness’, constructive ways to engage in being a more effective anti-racist ally, and a rich appreciation for the God of nature within each of us.

Selena Kilmoyer is a member of the Interfaith Works Board.


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Local acts of terrorism performed by Americans

Works in Progress - Sun, 08/09/2015 - 10:30pm

Police Brutality

Imagine an unarmed Caucasian male lying dead in the middle of the street for hours, just after being shot for unknown reasons by a police officer. After his body was left in the street uncovered (not showing any dignity), it was rushed away in a suspicious unmarked SUV instead of a coroner’s van. Of course this would never happen in the wonderful country we call America. The problem is that this did happen; it happens every week in America against Black and Brown people. These unthinkable killings are a part of well-known epidemic called “police brutality”. Police brutality has been around for at least a hundred years.

Police brutality has always been a problem within the Brown and Black communities. Growing up, children in the brown and black communities originally were taught to never be alone with police officers or if being pulled over always remain silent. If a crime is committed against a brown or black person by a police officer it is well known that the police officer will usually get away with the crime committed. Every year there are 1,100 deaths associated with police brutality. These killings happen within the intercity or urban areas. The Justice Department filed 26,556 file complaints dealing with police brutalities in 2002.

This epidemic hits a little closer to home with me. I am outraged by the killings and not as a Black woman, but as a veteran of the United States military. As a veteran, I fought for the freedoms that The United States of America holds so deeply. Every person who lives in the U.S.A. has certain rights as a human being and no police officer has the right to violate those human rights. Police officers have lost focus on what their real job is, which is to protect the local streets, not to become a menace to society, or a thug or gangster with guns. As a veteran, I feel that the police officers who are committing these crimes against regular civilians need to be tried in a court of law, and the punishment should be to become a service member to the community for free.

Recently in Los Angeles, California, police officers were caught on camera punching a “special needs woman” in the face. The horrible action was taped by Jermaine Green who is an Army veteran. The police officer tried to take Green’s phone away from him to get rid of the evidence. The police officers asked if Green had any warrants out for him.

Green replied, “No, I am a veteran who just came back from a tour overseas.”

In an interview, Green spoke about the military and how it had certain rules and procedures on how to handle situations. Green also spoke about how a military person would face a Uniform Code Military Justice (UCMJ) if any of these difficult and dangerous procedures were broken ( When I was in the United States Air Force, we were warned that if we accidently shot a regular civilian or violated any person’s rights while deployed, it would fall under the Geneva Conventions. Any violations under the Geneva Conventions are grounds for that service member to be tried in court through the UCMJ. Military members are held by strict rules and police officers should have the same set of rules to live and work by.

After reading this article, one might think all police officers are bad individuals. Along with the police brutality against regular civilians, there is also brutality against good police officers who report abuses of power.

Laura Schook was fired for exposing corruption, Shanna Lopez was fired for reporting a cop who was a sexual predator, Joe Crystal was fired for turning in fellow cops for brutality, and Cariol Horne was fired for stopping a fellow cop from beating a handcuffed suspect. These upstanding officers are great examples of what integrity and workmanship is.

On 23 January 2015, Domenico Lillo (a Beyonne, New Jersey police officer) was arrested by the FBI for violating Brandon Walsh’s civil rights in an unwarranted attack. This one example gives a glimmer of hope that the federal government is trying to stop police brutality in the United States. Police officers should have to know the constitution along with the state and local laws, so there will not be a question of whether the police have violated any person’s human rights.

On April 4, 2015 Walter Scott an unarmed black man was shot and killed by a white police officer , Michael Slager. In Charleston, South Carolina. Slager claimed Scott grabbed his Taser and tried to run with it, leaving Slager no choice but to shoot and kill Scott. A bystander caught the whole intent on video and proves that the officer was lying about what happened. On April 10, 2015 the police department placed officer Slager under arrest and charged him with murder .

Sadly, police brutality is a continuing epidemic within the United States of American. I believe a restructuring of the police forces and how they are run is needed to change this problem. Retraining and a more detailed knowledge of state and federal laws is a must at this point. Also, demilitarizing is key; the government needs to not teach police forces the same moves and tactics that the military uses in war situations.

Antoinee Benjamin an Evergreen grad, mom, and is interested in food science.


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A senator named Bernie: A primer

Works in Progress - Sun, 08/09/2015 - 10:28pm

Bernie Sanders is a self-avowed socialist and running to be the next president of the United States. Normally, this wouldn’t be worth the time to discuss but it’s notable because it looks as if he has a distinct chance of winning. To read the coverage of his campaign, the surprise may lead you to think he came out of nowhere but part of the reason he’s making such a splash is that for his whole political career he’s been saying what the American people finally seem willing to hear. Our electorate is waking up to the underhanded and insincere tactics that are so common in our political system, and they desperately want something different.

He’s been the junior Senator from Vermont for the past eight years and prior to that, he was the state’s sole delegate in the House of Representatives for sixteen. His entire tenure in politics has been as an independent and while he makes a habit of caucusing with Democrats, this is a reflection of his progressive ideals rather than any political allegiance. He doesn’t hesitate to speak up when he thinks a Democrat is in the wrong or a Republican is in the right—he’s far more interested in issues than personalities. Though he has been working with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren on legislation to help rein in the financial sector, Oklahoma’s Republican senator, James Inhofe, has called Sanders his “best friend in the Senate” and said “on a personal level, I like him”.

In a political landscape defined by complaining to the media rather than engaging the opposition with diplomacy, this dedication to bipartisanship is a breath of fresh air. Bernie demonstrates adeptly the difference between being populist and being popular.

For many, awareness of Bernie began in 2010 when he delivered an eight-and-a-half-hour speech from the Senate floor in protest of a bill to extend the Bush tax cuts for an additional two years. He took the opportunity to express a litany of complaints, framing issues such as the price of home heating oil in terms that reflected the concerns of his constituents. While there are times when many of his colleagues would likely enjoy being able to dismiss his firebrand approach to issues as cranky New England recalcitrance, he gets away with his politically dangerous rhetoric for more than just his friendly, affable nature.

He insists on framing issues in terms of how people are affected by them and evaluating policy based on its practical consequences. And more than just being fiercely independent politically, he also manages to avoid the influence of lobbyists by simply refusing their money. Salon recently gushed that Bernie “is perhaps the only politician in world history who’s ever said, ‘I don’t want money from the billionaires'”. These aren’t hollow words. When he talks about the problems in our country, he doesn’t hesitate to link labor woes to the Walton family and environmental problems to the Koch brothers or to point out that they are the richest two families in the country and citing greed as their primary motivator.

Bernie has made getting big money out of politics a central issue in his presidential campaign and has been fighting against the Citizen’s United Supreme Court ruling since it was handed down. Rather than making the usual fund raising rounds of presidential hopefuls, he has been travelling the country making stump speeches to crowds which are already attracting audiences of 10,000 people. And rather than the typical platitudes people have come to expect, he’s talking about income inequality, a living wage for workers, tuition-free publicly-funded college education and the environment. People aren’t just listening, they are opening their wallets to fuel one of the most impressive fundraising efforts in American politics.

So far this election cycle Hillary Clinton has raised $47.5 million. Bernie Sanders has raised $13.7 million which may seem disappointing by comparison. But while Hillary left the Department of State two and a half years ago to promote her book and chat with donors, Bernie has only started campaigning this year with a significantly lower profile. He’s also out raised all of the Republicans currently collecting for a presidential bid, although this is a little more complicated. Many Republican donors are taking a wait-and-see approach to this election cycle. Some are even signaling the possibility that they could end up backing the Clinton campaign, particularly those linked to the financial industry who are concerned about Republican candidates taking up populist anti-banking rhetoric. Their possible support isn’t particularly surprising considering Clinton’s banking friendly positions reflective of her years as the junior senator from New York and her largest contributions coming from the finance sector.

While campaigns are just getting started and it’s still a long way from anyone receiving the billions of dollars in contributions that are expected for this coming election, what really sets Bernie’s approach to funding apart is in the volume of donors. He’s received money from hundreds of thousands of individuals and is demonstrating that politics can turn on more than just the bottom line. In addition to packing rallies and making $40 donations add up, the Sanders campaign has received more than 100,000 requests to volunteer. This is largely a matter of stated intention as the campaign hasn’t begun coordinating at that scale, but it is truly a remarkable accomplishment. The Clinton campaign has signaled that it will begin shifting focus to small dollar donors however, Bernie seems poised to make irrelevant the fundraising gap that comes from rejecting super-PAC style politics.

What Bernie has shown is that a campaign is far less expensive to run if you have a message people will promote without being paid. The Clinton campaign has already had to dig deep into its battle chest and is outspending the Sanders campaign almost two-to-one relative to their respective fundraising totals with Clinton having spent more than Sanders has raised to date. And that doesn’t count super-PAC spending, which is far harder to account for.

This election cycle is already reflecting a radical shift in how American politics is conducted. What Bernie has shown is that the true cost of accepting corporate cash is in what a candidate isn’t allowed to talk about. Part of what Clinton has been struggling with is that all of the issues that are resonating most strongly with voters are topics her financial ties and past political activities prevent her from addressing. She can’t talk about aggressive reform in either campaign finance or banking. She’s been on the wrong side of gay marriage. And her time at the State Department puts her in a precarious position with regards to issues of surveillance and open government.

Perhaps her biggest weakness is something that should be her greatest political triumph. Back in ’93, health care reform was central to the national agenda and as first lady, she was tapped to head the effort on behalf of the White House. Bernie Sanders was in the House of Representatives at the time and put together a proposal to expand Medicare to cover all Americans based on the recommendations of two Harvard Medical School doctors’ analysis of the Canadian health care system. Hillary expressed in no uncertain terms that this was simply not an option she was willing to consider because of the influence of the insurance industry. After twenty-two years and three major attempts at reform, health care costs are still a serious topic of discussion. It’s going to be rather hard for her to debate an issue she has already failed to address effectively with an opponent who has been championing a better plan all along.

Bernie Sanders has made a career of prioritizing being right over being popular while showing that, at least in politics, it’s better to be likeable than rich. It’s a strategy which may well win him the presidency.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I too have used the form on the Sanders campaign website to indicate a willingness to volunteer. However, I have heard nothing from them aside from the regular campaign emails. Unless it’s stuck in my spam filter.)

Gabriel Withington is an artist, factotum and applied mathematician who writes computer programs for consulting clients when he’s not prattling away about social justice issues on Facebook.



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Robert Reich’s You-Tube Economics

Works in Progress - Sun, 08/09/2015 - 10:24pm

Watching videos as a first step in changing our economy… A do-itself-yourself introvert’s house party

Reich’s new digital stool

In a tradition that reminds us of the speakers at Hyde Park in London, when the American economist and political commentator Robert Reich delivers public speeches, he carries around a wooden stool on which he stands while he speaks. Because his height is slightly below five feet high, there is a practical reason for Mr. Reich’s comportment; he wants to make sure he is able to reach the microphone, but more importantly, he wants to be heard and seen because he believes in the importance of his message. Reich’s new video series on economic issues accomplishes just that. Within the context of the upcoming presidential elections, the series bring to the American public the possibility of viewing and discussing at home the absurd thinking of American capitalism and its nefarious consequences of inequality and racial injustice.

Democracy as fiction or function

After taking a look at the long rosary of presidential candidates (the Republican Party itself has 16 at the moment of this writing), one cannot avoid noticing the ‘family resemblance’ among them. Practically all of them, with insignificant variations, seem to carry the political birthmark of defendants of corporations and American oligarchy. They all seem busy singing the same version of a political discourse that insures the perpetuation of the current levels of social inequality and discrimination within American society, as well as the current restrictions on democracy by a national state focused not on the wellbeing of its citizens but on their spying and ideological control. All the mainstream candidates seem to be busy constructing democracy as a political fiction.

In the opinion of the writers of this article, only one voice currently expresses a radical contrast with this type of discourse—the voice of socialist Bernie Sanders who’s political platform seeks not only a significant reform of the functioning of the political economy of capitalism, but a widening of the functioning of democracy to bring it close to its original purpose. We also believe that the economic critique elaborated by Robert Reich is close to the general political umbrella proposed by Sanders. It is in this spirit, a spirit of transformations that are not only possible but immediate and necessary for the elimination of inequality and racist injustice, that we bring to our readers the main concepts and the related points of struggle necessary to transform the economy and the nation.

Robert Reich and the—teach-ins

Many readers of this paper probably watched Robert Reich’s documentary film, “Inequality for All,” that came out in 2013. A series of short videos produced by, an organization founded in 1998 by Joan Blades and Wes Boyd to support a “censure and move on” campaign in response the revelations about President Bill Clinton’s affair with a staffer, builds on those arguments and extends them, featuring Reich as narrator and illustrator.   Over the July 18-19 weekend, according to Brian Stewart, director of media relations for, more than 300 people hosted house parties, with the agenda of watching and discussing these videos. In lieu of a house party, we summarize them briefly here for your consideration.

  1. Raise the minimum wage

Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour is fair—no one working full time should find himself or herself living in poverty. If you work a full week, you ought to earn enough to support yourself and your dependents . Reich points out that half the minimum wage earners are women, and half are 35 or older.

  1. Help working families

Provide equal pay for equal work so that women and men who perform the same duties are paid equally. Give workers regular hours, reversing the trend toward on-call workers. Provide universal childcare, both preschool and after school care. Provide paid family medical leave. In short, “enable workers to be good parents”.

  1. Expand social security.

Fewer worker pensions plus lower wages plus increased prescription costs means a retirement crisis. Two-thirds of seniors get at least half their income from social security, and one-third rely on social security for 90% of their income. Currently, income over $118,500 is exempted from social security taxes. Change that—in other words, “scrap the cap.”

  1. Bust up the biggest Wall Street banks

Currently, 5 banks control 44% of US banking assets, which means they wield tremendous influence over policy making. Bust them up with anti-trust laws, as happened to oil companies in the early 20th century. Banks that are “too big to fail” are simply too big. And implement a tax on every trade—a transaction tax.

  1. Reinvent education

Reich’s analysis here has a broader brush: stop endless testing; focus on helping students become better problem-solvers and cultivate their curiosity; limit class size to the low 20’s; and provide early childhood education, including community schools that function as health care sites, counseling centers, and offer after-school programming.

  1. End corporate welfare

Public interest has to take precedence over moneyed interests, which requires ending subsidies and tax breaks for oil, coal and gas; agribusiness; big pharmaceuticals; big Wall Street banks; and hedge fund managers. Only 12% of the federal budget goes to individuals and families, and at least that much goes to corporations. The balance needs to tip—people are the government’s top priority, not corporate welfare.

  1. Strengthen unions

Unions improve working conditions for everyone. In the 1950’s, a third of public sector workers were union members; in 2010, the number had declined to about 7%. The decline of the middle class in the U.S. mirrors the decline in union membership. We need to make it easier to join unions, make it illegal for companies to punish union organizers, and, more important, pass a federal law that overturns state-based right-to-work laws. Workers in states with ill-named “right-to-work” provisions have lower wages overall and are less likely to have employer-sponsored health insurance or retirement plans.

  1. Prevent the growth of a privileged aristocracy—raise estate taxes

Currently, the first $10,860,000 that a person inherits is tax-free. If you happen to inherit an estate valued at $10,860,001, you would pay tax on $1. Rather than eliminating the estate tax, as advocated by Republicans, Reich argues that we need to re-establish the estate tax rates of 1998, when estates over $1,748,000 were taxed. Right now, the richest 1% of Americans own 44% of America’s wealth. Taxing estates help correct that schism.

  1. Make polluters in the carbon business pay

Currently, carbon producers don’t pay for the consequences of their pollution, not for asthma, nor for polluted groundwater, nor for changes in climate. We have to change that, by taxing carbon. And we need to pull public money (and our individual investments) out of carbon producing companies. We have to change the economics of pollution.

  1. End mass incarceration

Incarceration as practiced in the U.S. is, as Reich says, “wrong and racist,” and it’s bad for the economy. We have 5% of the world’s population, and 20% of the incarcerated population. We’ve bought into a “lock-up, lock-out” system, where people of color are disproportionately locked up, and then, because of felony-restrictions, locked out of society permanently, unable to borrow money for college, get a mortgage, find a job, or even vote. We need to “ban the box”—the checkbox on applications that asks whether the applicant has prior felony conviction. We need smarter sentencing policies, including an overhaul of mandatory minimum sentences. We need to stop militarized policing. We need to stop building jails (and invest that money in education.)

  1. Provide Medicare for all

Medicare is more efficient than private health insurance, and more people should have access to it. Two trends are inarguable: health care costs are increasing, and the post-war baby boom is aging. If everyone were allowed to sign up for Medicare on their health care exchanges, the system could use its increasing bargaining power to bring overall costs down and move us in the direction of a single-payer system.

  1. Get big money out of politics

All of these policy changes require politicians’ support, and so the first big battle is to reverse the Supreme Court ruling holding that money is equivalent to speech and cannot be regulated, by passing a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United. In the last presidential election, 16,000 households contributed 40% of the money that went to campaigns. The predictions are that the upcoming election will be more expensive, and more vulnerable to tighter control by a smaller group of wealthy elites. We need—at a minimum—full disclosure of campaign contributions. We need a federal match for small donations to achieve an alternate stream for funding campaigns. Most of all, we need to overturn Citizens United.

These twelve ideas form the basic platform of the “teach-ins” organized by Reich and They outline the straightforward policy changes necessary to relieve inequality and systemic racism, and to transform our economy and our nation by questioning the absurd thinking of capitalism.

Emily Lardner lives in Olympia, where she teaches and writes.

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.

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There’s plenty of action on Pluto

Works in Progress - Sun, 08/09/2015 - 10:19pm

In the not-too-far cosmic distance…

We had a lot of luck on Venus

We always had a ball on Mars

We danced around with borealis

We’re space truckin’ round the stars.

   —Deep Purple, “Space Truckin'”

Why do we see so much hoopla in the media about Pluto? Well there are a great many people who take science seriously. It’s a very good turn for anyone as weary as I, of the distorted stream of tragedies in the news. Could exploration again become prominent in the lives of people?

NASA has accomplished a long term project in the New Horizons mission that no one could have be certain about. The technology of space travel has passed a milestone of success which to many people’s minds proves that exploration is feasible and worthwhile. Upcoming missions will continue to thrill the millions who pay attention.

Pluto is so far away that the New Horizons spacecraft has taken nine and a half years to arrive. The time lag for radio signals from the New Horizons spacecraft is over four hours. After all, Pluto is nearly 40 times farther out from the Sun than Earth is.

My favorite source for solar system news is the Planetary Society website You don’t need to be a member to keep up with all the news that the Planetary Society presents. However, if you’d like to become one, the $37 membership fee goes for supporting public space science and exploration and you can receive the Planetary Society magazine.

The Kuiper Belt region where Pluto resides is home also to thousands of smaller icy comets and debris. Beyond the orbit of Neptune, the Kuiper Belt is a larger, colder version of the asteroid belt, which is between Mars and Jupiter. In the Kuiper belt there are more known dwarf planets. Pluto shares many similarities to planets, spherical shape and moons, however it is a common member of a large debris field and not the largest member.

The drama of NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft is quite astounding. In order to keep the budget in check, NASA constrained the instrumentation on New Horizons. But the sensational achievement of successfully launching a probe to such a precise fly by, so far away is exquisite. Because of the distance and limited instrumentation, it will take another sixteen months for New Horizons to radio back all the data it has recorded on its historic fly by.

When we have so many immediate concerns right here in our own neighborhood, how should we take all that time to chase around distant objects in the Kuiper Belt? Some of our resources need to be dedicated to long term thinking because our children and grandchildren will be there. As human encroachment overwhelms ecosystems around the globe, unlimited real-estate lays unutilized directly beyond low Earth orbit.

With technology like NASA possesses today, space colonies are entirely within reason. Mars has a surface area as great as the land surface area of Earth, not counting ocean surface area. The moon has an area comparable in size to North America. Humans can populate these areas without needing to wipe out indigenous people and ecosystems. Also, an essentially infinite volume of space for establishing orbital platforms exists.

Besides the need for comfort and security, humans need intrigue and adventure. Without these, people invent every sort of superstition and conspiracy to fill the need. We attack others, we complain about things we don’t understand, we live in fear of all kinds of absurd dangers. Our civilization will be far more healthy and wealthy when we focus more on building the interplanetary economy. Valuable resources are orbiting around all over, just waiting to be collected.

The moon and Mars both are immediately ready for habitation with the requirement for domed habitat and sophisticated gardening. The region of Pluto is more suited for long range space observing and comet patrol. We have the ability to safeguard Earth from devastating meteor collisions, if we can keep up the long term thinking. For that we have to keep improving on spaceflight technologies and cooperation with international neighbors and immediate neighbors.

The United States has all but lost its leadership position in space exploration. Going it alone was never a good strategy anyway. International cooperation builds relationships as it builds success. The science content of the New Horizons mission is valuable enough to have made it worth doing alone. Sharing the cost and sharing the profits would multiply the return in good relations.

During the planning stages of the New Horizons project, two additional moons around Pluto were discovered too late to be included in the mission. Another two of Pluto’s moons were discovered after the probe was already half way there. The number of mysteries about our solar system continues to astonish everyone who keeps watching. With or without our help, the world keeps expanding to include greater realms of space and planets.

The Planetary Society is preparing to send up a solar light sail as soon as next year. With this technology, spacecrafts will be able to roam around the solar system like the sailors of old—riding the wind. This time it will be the solar wind. There will be no end to adventure then.

The main obstacle is not really the will of the people. Around the world thousands of people tried to sign up for the one way ticket to Mars. Who is lagging are the bankers who have locked up our world’s financial resources in austerity packages. Likewise the paranoia of the homeland security industry which always needs to be spying on others and pointing weapons. These folks will also profit by expanding their vision of the world and participating in ventures of future space colonization activities. By walking on the moon, Neil Armstrong founded a legacy for all earthlings.

There are of course many more hurdles to overcome. The number of unknown factors in space pioneering is staggering. Accidents like we’ve witnessed with the space shuttle are liable to occur again. To reduce the chance of these tragedies will require dependable engineers, well educated scientists, and dedicated management. Our steps forward need to be taken carefully, but not timidly.

Leadership in space exploration should be shared between dependable technicians and adventurous young people. When the people support these courageous representatives with the same vigor we use to support our favorite sports team, then we will all win. These heros of the future are going to be making real contributions to our civilization. This is something we have been needing for a long time.

The New Horizons mission to Pluto is happening right now. The lightsail and the one way ticket to Mars are coming up next. And in the works there is the James Webb Space Telescope ready to vastly improve on the fantastic success of the Hubble Space Telescope. The excitement of our place in history is so electric that my hair is standing up. Yes, take care of your local estuary and watershed, but also keep an eye on the adventure ahead of us. It is going to be spectacular for real.

Russ Frizzell is an activist living in Olympia since 2010 and a graduate of The Evergreen State College where he studied Physics and Cosmology.


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Olympia Community School’s Innovative Progressive Elementary Education Expands

Thurston Talk - Sun, 08/09/2015 - 4:50pm



Submitted by The Olympia Community School

Olympia Community School Kids BeachThe Olympia Community School has hired a third highly skilled and experienced teacher as the 41-year-old independent community school expands to meet rising demand for a progressive elementary education from pre-Kindergarten (age 4) through 4th grade, with an anticipated addition of 5th grade the following year.

The school will hold an Open House for interested families on the evening of August 26, 2015 to meet the three teachers and learn more about OCS.

Wendy Dunlap, who most recently was the lead 3rd grade teacher at the independent Hutchison School in Memphis, Tenn., will join the OCS team in the fall to teach the upper grades classroom (3rd and 4th grades), said Stephanie Griffiths, president of the OCS Board.

“We are very excited to have Wendy join the OCS community. She has 16 years of teaching experience with 3rd and 4th graders at three very different independent schools. Wendy’s professional references, former colleagues, and parents describe her as a strong leader, an excellent listener, and a highly talented teacher.”

“She brings a deep understanding and commitment to our innovative approach to teaching and learning – providing a nurturing environment for each child, teaching an integrated, theme-based curriculum of science, math, reading, writing, and art, and encouraging a deep appreciation for community and stewardship of the natural world,” stated Laura Citrin, co-chair of the hiring committee at OCS.

“Wendy joins our two beloved veteran teachers, Becky Schmid (kindergarten), and Jeriann Schriner (1st and 2nd grades), forming an excellent team of highly qualified, gifted teachers,” said Citrin, noting that all three teachers hold a Master’s degree in teaching or education.

Dunlap said she was pleased to find such a unique school in Olympia, where she is relocating with her family for the progressive social climate and the beauty of the natural environment in Washington.

“I look forward to joining one of the most established and successful community schools in the area,” she said. “I appreciate the collaborative approach to give every child the tools she or he will need to learn, the emphasis on experiential learning, and the active participation of parents in their children’s education. I would imagine that this kind of classroom with its low student-to-teacher ratio would be very appealing to former homeschoolers and those looking for an alternative approach to elementary education.”

Since 1973, the Olympia Community School has offered a balanced educational experience incorporating academics, arts, nature appreciation, and social and emotional growth. The school approaches education holistically, where learning is fun and natural in a process of exploration and discovery. Narrative evaluations and parent-student-teacher conferences put an emphasis on student self-assessment and self-reflection. The maximum class size is 14 students, providing a classroom environment where each child is known, appreciated, challenged, and supported as an individual by teachers.

An all-year school theme, chosen with the direction and interests of students at the beginning of the fall, integrates student learning of math, science, and literacy. Field trips to the Food Bank, museums, the library, local farms, and natural areas, as well as weekly alternating enrichment classes such as Spanish, yoga, music, dance, and Aikido are also part of the OCS curriculum. Special OCS traditions (like the 100th day of school, and the Gaelic festival celebration of Samhein), buddy reading between older and younger children, student-led workshops, and recesses in a forested area make OCS a unique, creative, and empowering place for students “where a love of learning grows.”

OCS’s next Open House will take place from 6-8pm on Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at the school, located at 1601 North St SE at the corner of Henderson Blvd SE in Olympia. OCS is currently enrolling in all three classrooms: two-year Kindergarten classroom (ages 4-6), 1st/2nd grade combined classroom, and 3rd/4th grade combined classroom. Come meet OCS’s teachers, hear more about the teaching and learning at OCS, talk with current parents and students, and tour the school.

For more information, visit OCS’s website at:, or email OCS at

Capital City Marathon to Fund Healthy Living Grants

Thurston Talk - Sun, 08/09/2015 - 4:40pm



Submitted by The Community Foundation of South Puget Sound

Working through the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound, the Capital City Marathon will make grants to nonprofit organizations for projects that increase the practice and understanding of healthy living.

These grants will focus on personal health and fitness.  Projects submitted should promote physical activity, such as running, good nutrition, positive health habits and personal growth through accomplishment.

Applicants must be nonprofit organizations that meet the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound’s grant eligibility requirements.  Applicants must complete the grant application form and requirements prior to September 4, 2015.

Possible grant-worthy projects include teaching a sport, preparing for a competition, creating a new class or community offering, or an event focused on training, nutrition and fitness.

Further information is available at  Applicants may direct questions to Anne Kirske at the Community Foundation, or Jim Lux, board chair of the Capital City Marathon, 360.704.0912.


About the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound

Founded in 1989, The Foundation is dedicated to moving philanthropy forward by helping individuals, families and businesses realize their philanthropic goals.  The Foundation currently stewards over $17 million in assets within 84 separate funds.  The Foundation guides donors setting up endowments, scholarships, and other funds.  Donors trust The Foundation to monitor current and emerging regional needs and to identify organizations capable of meeting these needs.  The Foundation invests donors’ charitable gifts with local agencies providing important services to strengthen the community—both now and in the future.  For further information please visit or call us at 360.705.3340.

Westport Winery Selects Jen Bauer as Head Winemaker

Thurston Talk - Sun, 08/09/2015 - 4:38pm



Submitted by Westport Winery

Jennifer Bauer joins Westport Winery as the new head winemaker.

Jennifer Bauer joins Westport Winery as the new head winemaker.

After an extensive search Washington’s Westport Winery selected Jen Bauer as their head winemaker. The Roberts family received applicants from around the world for this position. Bauer was their top choice.

Winery co-owner Kim Roberts said, “Jennifer had significant awards in her resume for grape wines. She also had a depth of experience making fruit wine that we wanted on our team. When we spoke on the phone I had an immediate connection with her.”

With offers from a variety of wineries, Bauer said she chose Westport because, “I hope to make wines almost as great as the Roberts family; smart, elegant, great structure, and fun with lots of attitude.” They agree that Jen’s irreverent sense of humor is a good fit with the family’s unconventional approach to the business of making fine wine.

Blain Roberts said, “Jennifer is a remarkable young winemaker. But beyond that we needed to find someone who would fit in our family. Jen has a great sense of humor and loyalty that we all appreciate.” Kim Roberts added, “It is our responsibility and privilege as a family and winery to honor the grape growers with whom we partner. We believe Jen will help us on that quest.”

Prior to joining the Westport Winery team Bauer was the assistant winemaker at Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City, South Dakota. Before that she worked in California at EOS Winery in Paso Robles, O’Neill Vintners & Distillers in Parlier, Wild Horse in Templeton, and Pyramid Brewing in Berkley.

Jennifer has a degree in Ecology in Systematic Biology with concentration in Water Chemistry and Microbial Ecology from Cal Poly.

Westport’s Director of Winemaking Dana Roberts will collaborate with Jennifer as he takes the role of Chief Operating Officer for his family’s winery. His sister Carrie is the Chief Financial Officer.

When you visit Westport Winery Garden Resort be sure to explore the unique sculpture garden, lavender labyrinth, musical fence, 9-hole executive golf course, giant chess set, outdoor scrabble game, and grape maze, all located on the corner of Highway 105 and South Arbor Road halfway between Aberdeen and Westport. You will see why four times this has been voted Best of the Northwest Wine Destination.

These award-winning wines are exclusively available at the resort. The tasting room, gift shop, produce market, plant nursery, bakery and gardens, are open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The restaurant is open for lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and for dinner on Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information contact Westport Winery Garden Resort at 360-648-2224 or visit the website



Thriving at Home: Accepting Assistance is the Key to Remaining Independent

Thurston Talk - Sun, 08/09/2015 - 3:28pm



Submitted by Sarah Lane for FirstLight HomeCare

Accepting assistance at home is a key to remaining independent and living on your own.

Accepting assistance at home is a key to remaining independent and living on your own.

Remaining independent doesn’t mean you have to be self-sufficient and do everything yourself. Knowing your limitations and when to ask for help is often the key to prevent injury and retain your quality of life as one ages.

Home care can also provide valuable respite time for family caregivers. Repeated surveys show seniors prefer to remain at home and age in place. Most people prefer to live in their own home and community where they can live by their own rules, stay near to their friends and remain in a place that is familiar.

To remain at home, many adults need only a small number of services to function independently, such as help with home maintenance, light housekeeping, laundry, shopping and cooking. Assistance with daily routines, such as bathing, dressing, grooming and eating can also help maintain independence.

Sometimes, recovering from an illness or injury – even surgery – can make it difficult to perform daily household tasks. Caregivers can offer a helping hand that makes regaining or maintaining independence easier with personalized support and sincere encouragement from experienced caregivers.

Small adaptions can also allow seniors to remain in their home. These adaptions include grab bars in the bathroom, carpeted stairs, chairs that are easy to get in and out of, additional lighting, and relocating objects to easy-to-reach cabinets or shelves.

Home care companies can provide services in a variety of situations, not just for the aging. Companies also customize caregiving services for people with disabilities, those recovering from surgery, injury or rehabilitation, new moms just home from the hospital or families of deployed military personnel—anyone who needs assistance to make life easier. A professional caregiver can also offer a break for family members who are acting as caregivers.

After my bunion surgery last year, my foot was in a boot and I was unable to move around the house or drive. Having someone there to help with meals and laundry, and take me to my doctor appointments for a few weeks was essential to my recovery.

If you have decided to hire outside support for you or a family member, you might struggle with where to start to find an outside service and even one you can trust. Gina Kaurich, a registered nurse at FirstLight HomeCare who has worked with seniors for more than three decades, offers some important items to consider:

  • Hire a company that has bonded, insured and professionally trained caregivers.
  • Use a company that conducts background checks to ensure that the caregiver you hire has been carefully vetted.
  • Ask your doctor or your parents’ doctor. Most medical professionals have had long term relationships with caregivers and can provide recommendations on companies or individuals.
  • If you hire a caregiver directly, you will want to be certain you understand the liability associated with employing a caregiver, particularly if this person will be driving you or your loved one to appointments.
  • Sarah Lane

    Sarah Lane

    If you are hiring a company ask for recommendations. Check them out online. Call actual clients that have used their services to see what their experience was like.

“Thriving at Home” is a monthly column by Sarah Lane, a certified Home Care Aide and owner of FirstLight HomeCare — South Sound.  To learn more about home care,respite caredementia care, or any of the non-medical home care services offered by FirstLight HomeCare, give Sarah a call at 360-489-1621 or go to


Hawks Prairie Home Furnishings Helps Local Youth In Need Get a Good Night’s Rest

Thurston Talk - Sun, 08/09/2015 - 6:00am



hawks prairie furniture

On Monday, July 20, Hawks Prairie Home Furnishings donated six mattresses to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County. The drop-off was made at the Lacey location, but the donation benefitted children across Thurston County.

Since 2001, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County have provided safe, nurturing places for Thurston County youth to grow and thrive. From its humble beginnings serving just 45 kids in what was once the bus drivers’ lounge at Tumwater High School to its now four locations across Thurston County that collectively serve more than 2,700 youth each year, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County make a big difference in the community — but the local branch of this national organization doesn’t do it alone.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County rely on individual and corporate donations, grants and special events in order to provide safe environments where local youth can learn and grow. While monetary donations are paramount to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County’s success, there are other ways individuals, small businesses and corporations can help transform the lives of the local youth. In addition to money, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County look to the community for donations of computers, toys and even home furnishings to improve home life for local kids and teens.

When locally owned Hawks Prairie Home Furnishings in Lacey decided it wanted to make a donation to help local youth in need, owner Jeff Olson and Lorie Gizinksi, one of Hawks Prairie Home Furnishing’s valued employees, turned to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County. Lorie says the Lacey-based business chose to donate mattresses because, as a furniture store, the company couldn’t think of a better way to help local youth than by helping improve the quality of their sleep. “Most elementary school age children require 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night,” explains Lorie. “With days packed with new academic and social challenges, a good night’s sleep is vital to development, function, alertness, learning and behavior.”

Hawks Prairie Home Furnishings selected the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County as the recipient of its donation due to the organization’s extensive involvement and reach throughout the community. “They were able to quickly find six kids in need of new mattresses,” says Lorie. “Our mattresses were dropped off at the local Lacey branch, however they identified children across four branches in Lacey, Tumwater, Olympia and Rochester.”

olympia furniture store

Hawks Prairie Home Furnishings started as an outlet store with one employee in 2008 and has since grown to include two locations and a full-time staff of more than 25.

Hawks Prairie Home Furnishings made its donation earlier last month, but the local furniture store is just getting started. The company is constantly donating to many charities and organizations all over Thurston County in various ways of raising cash to donating merchandise for the organizations or auctions. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County’s Director of Operations, Shellica Trevino, says these kind of donations are life changing.

Shellica says one of the children who received a mattress was a young boy whose family was in the process of moving. “[The family] had already incurred a lot of moving expenses,” Shellica says. “Their son needed a new mattress, but they couldn’t afford one.” Hawks Prairie Home Furnishings’ donation was the difference between one young boy sleeping on a mattress better suited for the junkyard and a mattress that would help him get the good night’s rest all growing children need and deserve.

For Hawks Prairie Home Furnishings, giving back to the community is important, and it’s something the furniture store has been doing for years. “We have a history of contributing to groups and supporting local youth, and we’re thrilled to keep up the tradition,” says Jeff.

On Thursday, September 17, Hawks Prairie Home Furnishings will give back to the community once again during Hawks Prairie Home Furnishings’ 8th anniversary celebration and the 1st anniversary of its new store, Northwest Home Furnishings, in Olympia. Jeff says the two stores will be offering special customer loyalty offers and a raffle. “All proceeds from the raffle will be going to a local non-profit dedicated to helping youth of Thurston County,” says Jeff.

“Hawks Prairie Home Furnishings has had an amazing amount of support from the South Sound community, and we are honored to be able to return it and show a little love to a world-changing group — and surprise a handful of great kids in the community,” says Lorie.

To learn more about Hawks Prairie Home Furnishings in Lacey and the way it and Northwest Home Furnishings support the community, visit Hawks Prairie Home Furnishings’ website, call the store at 360-455-8845, or visit the store Monday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5:00 p.m.


It’s Moving Time with Maid Perfect

Thurston Talk - Sat, 08/08/2015 - 9:57am



Submitted by Drew Freemantle for Maid Perfect

The Maid Perfect cleaning team can help make your move smooth.

The Maid Perfect cleaning team can help make your moving day easier by taking care of the cleaning.

Summer is definitely here. This is the season for backyard barbecues, vacations, fun days at the lake with friends and – moving. Summer is a great time to move because people usually have an extra vacation day they can use and don’t have to worry to much about the rain.

In the past, my wife and I went through a period when we moved just about every six to twelve months just for a fresh start and change of scenery. Now I am by far no expert on moving but in my past experience I have found that it is always the little items at the end of the move that take the most effort and we are usually already exhausted by then. By the end of the day your old home is a mess and your new one is cluttered with boxes, so what do you do? Order a pizza, find the DVD player and look for the box that has your DVD’s in it.

You fall asleep and wake up at six am because you have to go back and clean the home you just moved out of. Now maybe you were renting it or maybe you are selling it but in any case it has to be really clean. You spend all day cleaning it and go out to eat because you still can’t find the box with the dishes and haven’t had a chance to go shopping. It’s all done and it is time to go back to work.

Now here is a better scenario. You get a big truck or hire a moving company and you have Maid Perfect worry about cleaning your previous home. Here is an example of just one room’s worth of details that go into one of our move-out cleans.


  • Clean refrigerator inside and behind
  • Clean out oven and clean or replace burner rings
  • Pull out and clean behind stove
  • Wipe out and clean the inside of the cabinets
  • Clean floor and base boards
  • Remove scuff marks on doors
  • Clean microwave and vents
  • Dust everything top to bottom
  • clean window sills and windows

Please feel free to call us at 360-402-6248 or visit our web site.


More than 26,000 Visitors Beat the Heat at the 2015 Thurston County Fair

Thurston Talk - Sat, 08/08/2015 - 9:52am



Submitted by The Thurston County Fair 

 Tony Porter

Photo credit: Tony Porter

A total of 26,250 visitors defied sizzling temperatures in the 90s and had tons of good old fashioned fun at the 2015 Thurston County Fair. While attendance in 2015 was not as strong as the past two years, it’s nearly equal to the attendance in 2009 when a record-breaking heatwave kept temperatures in the 90s during fair week.

“There’s no denying that some Pacific Northwest residents begin to melt when temperatures pass the 90 degree mark. But in my book, more than 25,000 people coming to the event despite temperatures near 100 degrees is a success,” said Josh Cummings, Thurston County’s fairgrounds coordinator. “And the hot weather isn’t the only story. We had more than 600 animal entries this year at the fair—that’s double the number of animals entered in the 2009 fair. That’s a huge success, and I think it demonstrates how deeply rooted the fair event is in this community.”

Community participation in the Thurston County Fair has steadily grown in the last five years, making the Thurston County Fair one of the signature summer events in the South Sound region with a rich history that reaches back to 1871—before Washington was even a state. This year, 614 animals were entered to compete in various club and open class contests at the fair. In 2014, 585 animals were entered, and in 2009, 297 animals were entered.

The near-record heat was in full force on Friday, July 31 when 3,900 hearty fairgoers enjoyed fun in the sun and the fairgrounds recorded a high temperature of 102 degrees. The average high temperature in Lacey during the 2015 Thurston County Fair was a stifling 97 degrees, compared to an average fair week temperature of 89 degrees in 2014. Even the 2009 average high temperature of 93 degrees during fair week was below this year’s mark.

2015 Thurston County Fair Attendance:Thurston County Fair

  • Wed, July 29 attendance – 7,900 (9,450 in 2014 – 9,300 in 2013 – 8,400 in 2012)
  • Thu, July 30 attendance – 5,150 (7,200 in 2014 – 6,500 in 2013 – 6,100 in 2012)
  • Fri, July 31 attendance – *3,900 (102 degrees) (6,300 in 2014 – 5,000 in 2013 – 5,100 in 2012)
  • Sat, Aug. 1 attendance – 5,200 (7,850 in 2014 – 6,800 in 2013 – 5,700 in 2012)
  • Sun, Aug. 2 attendance – 4,100 (5,900 in 2014 – 5,750 in 2013 – 3,500 in 2012)

Other 2015 Thurston County Fair Highlights:

  • The 26,250 fairgoers this year brought in an estimated $185,000 in revenue. While that’s slightly less revenue than the 2014 and 2013 fair events, it is equal to the revenue brought in during the 2009 fair event when temperatures soared into the 90s and even above 100 degrees on opening day.
  • To help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the annual Market Animal Sale, all participants with animals that made weight were presented with a 25 year anniversary belt buckle. The 2015 Market Animal Sale brought in more than $81,000—that pushes the 25 year total revenue over $1.5 million, which has benefited thousands of local 4-H and FFA youth over the years.
  • While overall attendance in 2015 was down compared to a much cooler 2014, the number of visitors who paid at the gate was up by 500 compared to last year. (Overall attendance includes season pass holders, vendors, volunteers and exhibitors. “Gate attendance” includes only those visitors who paid the daily admission price at the gate.)
  • Winners for this year’s Dessert of the Day contests include:Thurston County Fair
    • Elizabeth Stottlemyre, 2015 winner of the Chocolate Cake Contest—Adult
    • Jacie Fabela, 2015 winner of the Chocolate Cake Contest—Youth
    • Sarah Osborne, 2015 winner of the Cookie Contest—Adult
    • Abby Salmon, 2015 winner of the Cookie Contest—Youth
    • Alyssa Cook, 2015 winner of the Spooner’s Berry Best Pie Contest
    • Kathi Pugh, 2015 winner of the Cupcake Contest—Adult
    • Analiese Green, 2015 winner of the Cupcake Contest—Youth

Since 2009, the Thurston County Fair has been a self-funding program of Thurston County government, with all of its operations paid for by the revenue from fair week, along with revenue from weddings, parties, business meetings and a whole host of other events that are held at the Thurston County Fairgrounds throughout the year. If you’re planning a party, business meeting, event or trade show, go to to find the fairgrounds facility that’s the perfect fit for your event.

Join us at the Thurston County Fairgrounds for the Holiday Bazaar on November 27 and 28, the 2016 Secondhand Safari on May 7, and for the 2016 Thurston County Fair August 3 ̶ 7. For more details about these events, facility rentals, and other events and occasions at the Thurston County Fairgrounds throughout the year, contact the Fair Office at (360) 786-5453 or visit


Judge Chris Wickham Elected to NCJFCJ Board of Directors

Thurston Talk - Sat, 08/08/2015 - 9:36am



Submitted by National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ):

Chris Wickham

The Honorable Chris Wickham

The Honorable Chris Wickham, superior court judge for Thurston County Superior Court, Washington, has been elected to the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) as a member of the board of directors.

Judge Wickham has served as Family Court Commissioner and then Superior Court Judge in Thurston County, Washington since 1991. He has participated on various boards, committees, and task forces in Washington State including the Gender and Justice Commission, Board of Judicial Administration (co-chair with Chief Justice Madsen 2012-2014) and Certified Guardian Board (chair, 2010-2012). He has been a trainer and technical advisor nationally in the areas of domestic violence and elder abuse since 2002. Judge Wickham is a graduate of Cornell University and Hastings College of Law.

Judge Wickham continues to serve as faculty for the NCJFCJ’s National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence, which has educated more than 60,000 judicial officers in handing domestic violence cases since 1994.

“Judge Wickham has been a constant leader in the NCJFCJ, and it was a natural transition for him to now lead in this new way on the board of directors,” said Judge Darlene Byrne, NCJFCJ president. “I look forward to our years of service together, knowing we will do good work together for children and families in this country that seek justice from our family courts.”


About the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ):

Founded in 1937, the Reno, Nev.-based National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, is the nation’s oldest judicial membership organization and focused on improving the effectiveness of our nation’s juvenile and family courts. A leader in continuing education opportunities, research, and policy development in the field of juvenile and family justice, the 2,000-member organization is unique in providing practice-based resources to jurisdictions and communities nationwide.

YWCA of Olympia Seeks Women & Business of Achievement

Thurston Talk - Sat, 08/08/2015 - 9:02am



Submitted by the YWCA of Olympia

women of achievement groupThey have changed policy. They have increased access to education.  They have stood in the face of adversity. They have empowered women. They are Women & Businesses of Achievement.

The YWCA of Olympia is pleased to announce that nominations for their 21st Annual Women of Achievement Celebration are now being accepted. Past honorees have included Lynn Grotsky (Pizza Klatch), Rev. Marti Ensign, Senator Maria Cantwell, Senator Karen Fraser, Governor Christine Gregoire, and Olympia Federal Savings President & CEO, Lori Drummond. Three Girls Media won the first ever Business of Achievement in 2014.

The YWCA of Olympia will once again honor women throughout the South Sound who have inspired and shaped the community. Nominees will be considered based how she models her life in line with the YWCA of Olympia mission:  The YWCA of Olympia strives to eliminate racial and gender inequity and advance the social and economic status of all women and girls.

A special category is dedicated to women who are dedicated to the elimination of racism and promotion of racial justice. The YWCA’s commitment to racial justice is one of the common threads that unites YWCAs across the country. Eliminating racism is one of the two central principles of the YWCA mission, along with the empowerment of women. At the core of the YWCA’s work is the recognition that not all women, or all people, are treated equally. For this reason, the YWCA of Olympia seeks to honor a South Sound woman who works towards racial justice.

The YWCA of Olympia also seeks to celebrate outstanding businesses that recognize that the value of women in the workplace is simply good business.  We welcome nominations for both private and public businesses and large and small companies in the South Sound (Thurston, Mason & Lewis Counties).

Nominations are due to the YWCA of Olympia by 5:00pm on Wednesday, August 19.  Nominations will be accepted via online application at Additional forms of the Nomination Application (Word, PDF) can be obtained by calling the YWCA at 352-0593 or by sending an email to

Honorees will be formally announced to the community in early September.  The 21st Annual Women of Achievement Gala, with an entirely new format, will take place on Thursday, November 5.

For more information about the Women of Achievement Celebration, contact Cherie Reeves Sperr, Community Engagement Director at 352-0593 or

Ready, Set, Spa at Tranquility Dental Wellness Center

Thurston Talk - Sat, 08/08/2015 - 6:00am



Tranquility Dental Wellness Center

Every inch of Tranquility Dental Wellness Center’s Lacey office is designed with serenity in mind. Photo courtesy: Tranquility Dental Wellness Center.

Do you look forward to going to the dentist? Probably not. Even if by some stroke of luck you’re one of the fearless few who can endure the dentist’s chair (and drill) without breaking a sweat, chances are you would rather be doing something else than have a gloved hand chisel away at your pearly whites.

But what if going to the dentist was something you actually looked forward to? At Tranquility Dental Wellness Center in Lacey, Dr. Lori Noga and her team work hard to make their patients feel at ease, trading in their fear for comfort, relaxation and good health.

With a spa-like approach to dentistry, Tranquility Dental Wellness Center offers its patients a different kind of dental experience that starts the moment they walk through the door. Upon arrival, patients are greeted by one of Tranquility Dental Wellness Center’s friendly staff members and invited to lounge with a calming cup of tea or mug of coffee before being escorted to one of the of the center’s soothing dental rooms.

Before saying “aahh,” each patient is offered a heated massage chair and other amenities like Tranquility Dental Wellness Center’s most popular offering, a paraffin wax hand treatment, or aromatherapy to further calm their nerves and relax their senses. Noise cancelling headphones, Pandora and Netflix are also available to help drown out any unpleasant sounds from the dentistry equipment.

This unique approach to dentistry is Dr. Noga’s way of helping patients feel comfortable during their dental visits. “I truly believe dentistry doesn’t have to be so terrifying,” she says. “I absolutely love when the patients I treat realize this. The most rewarding day is when I have a patient who comes to us so fearful they can barely force themselves through the door and then come back for subsequent appointments and tell me that they came without the aid of any medications or without needing laughing gas.”

When a visit to the dentist becomes an excuse for spa treatments and pampering, suddenly the novocaine and drills don’t seem so bad. “My whole vision and mission is to take the fear out of dentistry,” says Dr. Noga. Of course, patients don’t have to have “dentophobia” to enjoy the amenities offered at Tranquility Dental Wellness Center.

Because Tranquility Dental Wellness Center offers all of its spa amenities complimentary, a dental appointment can become that special spa experience you know you deserve but would never schedule otherwise. “We want our patients to feel like royalty,” says Tranquility Dental Wellness Center’s Marketing Director, Tawni Allen. And with Botox and Juvederm treatments now available, patients don’t even have to have a dental appointment to enjoy a total spa experience.

Tranquility Dental Wellness Center dental room

Each of the dental rooms at Tranquility Dental Wellness Center are outfitted with heated massage chairs, Pandora, Netflix and soothing lights to put patients’ minds at ease during their dental visits. Photo courtesy: Tranquility Dental Wellness Center.

With its soothing, calming atmosphere, Tranquility Dental Wellness Center is also a great option for helping children get comfortable at the dentist’s office. Allen says Dr. Noga and her team all take special care to help children feel comfortable and cared for during their visits. “We try to make it fun for them,” says Allen. “A lot of times during a first exam we won’t do anything but lift the chair up and down, play with the air, play with the water and work on building that relationship with them,” she says. And children always have the comfort of Ali the Alligator to snuggle up with during their visits — they can even brush her big, white teeth.

In addition to the dental center’s many spa-like amenities, Tranquility Dental Wellness Center is also a one-stop shop for cosmetic dentistry and oral surgery, all in one convenient location. Whether you need a root canal or a smile makeover, the team at Tranquility Dental Wellness Center can do the job.

With the help of Dr. Reza Tahernia, patients in need of oral surgery don’t have to schedule their extractions or root canals at a different office. Dr. Tahernia has years of oral surgery and endodontic experience which compliments Dr. Noga’s skills. Once a patient establishes good oral health, they can start thinking about other ways to improve their smile — and that’s where Dr. Noga shines.

Dr. Noga takes great pride in helping her patients achieve their best smiles through a variety of cosmetic procedures ranging from teeth whitening and implants to Invisalign — for a self-esteem boosting grin — and more. Paired alongside spa treatments like Juvederm and a paraffin wax hand treatments, patients leave Tranquility Dental Wellness Center feeling healthy, relaxed and beautiful, or as Allen would say, “like royalty.”

Specializing in cosmetic dentistry, oral surgery and everything spa, Tranquility Dental Wellness Center in Lacey isn’t your typical dental center — it’s an experiential escape that you’ll actually look forward to.

Tranquility Dental Wellness Center relaxation room

The calm, serene environment at Tranquility Dental Wellness Center in Lacey doesn’t feature a waiting room; the spa-like dental office has a “relaxation room” instead. Photo courtesy: Tranquility Dental Wellness Center.

To learn more about Tranquility Dental Wellness Center or to schedule an appointment, visit Tranquility Dental Wellness Center online or call 360-339-4373. All dental insurance plans are accepted and Tranquility Dental Wellness Center has the ability to bill medical insurance for more complex procedures.

Tranquility Dental Wellness Center

8050 Freedom Lane NE #C

Lacey, WA 98516



Things don’t have to collide

The Plum Palate - Fri, 08/07/2015 - 2:22pm
Several weeks ago, I started a new post. Meaning that I pasted a link to a thought-provoking article into the text field, saved it, and decided to come back to it later. Which I did. (Here I am!). But now that I want to write, that ghost entry isn’t there. I can’t remember the article […]
Categories: Local Food Blogs

Benaroya Hall organ recital and Pike Place Market

benaroya.8.4.15Six times a year the beautiful Benaroya Hall in Seattle (home to the Seattle Symphony) hosts a free organ recital.  This picture shows the amazing 4,490 pipe organ, which is located at the back of the concert stage.

Before arriving at the Benaroya, the Rebels ate lunch at the Westlake Mall Food Court… lots of choices, reasonably priced.

benaroya.8.4Just before the concert started, the lights changed to this lovely pattern.  Very nice!  Today’s musical theme was “Bach and beyond”, featuring (of course) J.S. Bach, but also subsequent composers who were influenced by his work.  The organist, Joseph Adam, narrates the program telling the audience a bit about each piece.

Directly after the organ recital, we stayed for a 30 minute tour of the hall.  We learned many interesting facts, such as the Hall hosts approximately 700 events a year!  The building itself is lovely, with so many thoughtful details.  The picture on the left is the lobby.  The windows in this area were tested in Boeing’s wind tunnel.  benaroya

A few other tidbit facts:  The gorgeous wood covering the halls walls are from ONE tree (veneer cut in credit card thickness).  The hall is surrounded and supported by huge steel and rubber drums, which provides both soundproofing and earthquake protection.  During the Nisqually earthquake of 2000 the orchestra was practicing, and had no idea an earthquake was occurring.

pike place marketAfter the tour, most of us headed to the Pike Place Market, a couple blocks north of the Hall.  Yes, summer is crazy busy at the Market… but… we slogged through the crowds.  The flowers were magnificent.  The energy high.  Sharlene caught a photo of me in the Market :-0

Thanks, Sharlene, for taking all of the photos in this post!

Categories: Local Environment

Evergreen Makes The Princeton Review’s Best 380 Colleges

Thurston Talk - Fri, 08/07/2015 - 10:25am



Submitted by The Evergreen State College

The Evergreen State College was named a "Best Buy" college by Fistke Guide, the only college in Washington; one of three on the west coast.

The Evergreen State College was named “One of the Best 380 Colleges of 2016″ by The Princeton Review.

one of The Best 380 Colleges of 2016

The Princeton Review has named The Evergreen State College one of The Best 380 Colleges of 2016.

Seven Washington colleges and universities have been included in the guide. In addition to Evergreen, Gonzaga University, Seattle University, University of Puget Sound, University of Washington, Washington State University and Whitman College made the list.

As part of the guide, The Princeton Review puts forth 62 ranking lists that provide students with details about campus and academic culture, size, type and quality of residence halls, dining and more. These sub-lists give college applicants, “a way to see the types of colleges that could help them achieve their future goals and dreams,” said Robert Franek, Princeton Review’s Senior VP-Publisher. “Our goal is to help applicants choose and get into their dream college—the college best for them.”

“We believe all 380 schools in the book are academically outstanding,” the guide’s editors note. “But we don’t think academics should be the exclusive reason for choosing a school—and in most cases, it isn’t. Among other crucial factors (such as location, cost and size), the campus culture is very important. The schools featured in The 380 Best Colleges—our picks of the cream of the crop colleges and universities—comprise only the top 15 percent of all four-year colleges in the nation. These are all very different schools with different and wonderful things to offer.”

According to the guide’s “Inside Word” on Evergreen, “Students… are commonly some of the strongest performers from their high schools…The school’s unique and self-directed academic cur­riculum favors those students who can adequately handle the responsibility of creating and developing their own educational path.”

The review notes that students describe Evergreen as welcoming, with a “booming extracurricular life” and a “thriving local art and music scene.”

Students also gave high marks to their faculty. “My professors have been A++, if Evergreen gave grades,” one student was quoted as saying, in a reference to Evergreen’s unique narrative evaluation process in lieu of letter grades.

“While no single college guide or ranking tells the whole story about a school,” said Evergreen spokesman Todd Sprague, “we’re pleased that The Princeton Review has once again cited Evergreen as one of the best colleges in the nation.”

Port Makes Course Correction Due to Changing Economy

Thurston Talk - Fri, 08/07/2015 - 10:17am



Submitted by The Port of Olympia

Port of Olympia logsTwo significant changes to the national and global economies are impacting the Port’s 2015 operating income. In response, the Port has acted to defer many projects planned for this year. Taking this precaution will actually result in the Port having a larger year-end cash balance than was estimated in the original 2015 budget.

Increased Value of Dollar and Decreased
Value of Crude Oil Affect Global Trade

The strong U.S. dollar is causing U.S. goods—such as northwest wood products—to become more expensive in the global marketplace and therefore less competitive with foreign-produced goods. This may contribute to a decrease in exports by the Port’s wood products customers.

A strong dollar as well as the Middle East’s increased oil production has lead to decreased oil prices. Low oil prices affect the production of U.S. oil and therefore may affect a Port customer’s importing of ceramic proppants which are used in oil well development.

Today, crude oil is approximately $46 per barrel. Last August, when the Port began developing the 2015 budget, a barrel of crude was $96. This is a 52% decrease. The Port did not anticipate the unprecedented drop in oil pricing which is unseen in recent history.

Staff Defer Projects to Improve
Year-end Cash Position

As a result of reduced imports and exports at the Marine Terminal, the Port’s operating income is $1.2 million below what was originally forecasted for mid-year. The Port is responding by deferring $13.2 million of Port capital investment projects that had been planned for 2015. Due to this deferral, no borrowing is expected.

The anticipated result will be an improved year-end statement of cash amounting to $3.7 million more than was originally forecasted, for a total ending cash balance of $9 million.

The Port is beginning work on the 2016 budget and is taking into account the likelihood that the dollar will remain strong and oil prices will remain low throughout next year.

For More Information

See the Port’s 2015 Operating Budget and Capital Investment Plan, 2015 Second Quarter Financial Report, 2016 Budget Timeline, and other pertinent Port financial information at

Wunderkammers invade the Seaport Museum

South Sound Arts - Fri, 08/07/2015 - 10:01am

Artifacts, False Memories and Projections curated by Lisa KinoshitaPublished in the Weekly Volcano, Aug. 6, 2015“illumination” mixed-media by Lisa Kinoshita. Courtesy the artist.The exhibition WUNDERKAMMER: Artifacts, False Memories and Projections is so uniquely integrated into the projects and collections at the Foss Waterway Seaport that separating the exhibition, curated by Lisa Kinoshita, from the maritime museum’s collections is a scavenger hunt filled with delightful surprises.The show is a collection of Wunderkammers created by a group of the South Sound’s better-known artists including: Renee Adams, David Blakesley, Justin Gibbens, Chuck Iffland, Steve Jensen, Alexander Keyes, Lisa Kinoshita, Nicholas Nyland, Holly Senn, Jessica Spring, Brent Watanabe, Mishele Dupree Winter, and Robert Zinkevich, plus collaborative works by the teams of Marc Dombrosky and Shannon Eakins; Alice Di Certo and Kyle Dillehay; and Jenny Pohlman and Sabrina Knowles .And what, you might ask, is a Wunderkammer? Fair question.  Explorers of the Renaissance age collected natural specimens and a variety of cultural, scientific, and religious artifact to fill the cabinets of curiosity, or wunderkammers, of European royalty. They were like museums in a cabinet or collections of strange oddities —precursors, perhaps, of Joseph Cornell’s artistic boxes.Some of the wunderkammers in this exhibition were built by the artists and some were found or collected by them, many are combinations of found and built assemblages, and all are fascinating. Most relate in one way or another to bones, feathers, skin, body parts and archeological finds. There is a morbid and grotesque fascination to many of them."Recycling" glass and mixed media by Alice Di Certo.Some of the works are free-standing pieces that are not really wunderkammers at all but relate in spirit, such as Jensen’s carved boat funerary objects —free-standing sculptures on plinths that are made of such things as driftwood, chain, boat resin, and a skull, all eerily beautiful. Or Senn’s nests made of shredded book pages and Spring’s accordion-fold books. Or Pohlman and Knowles’ strange wall-hanging sculpture “Homage to the Bush Doctor’s Market,” two rusted chains draped across a four-or-five-foot expanse of wall from which hang a collection of blown-glass vessels with translucent or frosted surfaces within which can be dimly seen various collected items. Also draped from the chains are items such as beads, feathers and boxes. The work is based on healing markets in Zimbabwe seen on a trip to Africa. It is strangely reminiscent of glass art by William Morris.Another intriguing find is Kinoshita’s “Illumination,” a watercolor, ink and pencil drawing of a man, and a calligraphic quote from Pope Francis on pages of sheet music identified by the artist as the libretto from “La Bohéme.”And then there’s Watanabe's indescribable tiny video projected onto a picture of a woman. Kinoshita says it is “intentionally infected with a virus so over the course of the show it will pixillate, degrade and possibly disappear.”There is so much more that I wish I had space to describe, if I even could describe it. See it for yourself, you will be glad you did. Plus, the collection at the museum is something everyone should see. Give yourself plenty of time to investigate everything in the collection.WUNDERKAMMER: Artifacts, False Memories and Projections, , 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.,
Wed.- through Sat. and noon to 4 p.m. Sun.,  through Aug. 30, admission $5-$8, free to members and children under 5, 705 Dock Street, Tacoma.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment
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