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Two years later… We are still Troy Davis

Works in Progress - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 9:53pm

An interview with Kimberly Davis and Jen Marlowe

In 2011, the ACLU stood in solidarity with millions of people across the country in demanding clemency for Troy Davis. But despite our appeal, on September 21, 2011, Troy was executed.

Two years later, our collective efforts to challenge the death penalty in the name of Troy Davis and others like him have been anything but futile. Since Troy’s execution, nine states have taken steps to repeal the death penalty, including two in the Pacific Northwest. Here in Washington State, Gov. Jay Inslee announced on February 11 that he was imposing a moratorium on executions as long as he was governor of the state of Washington.

“Equal justice under the law is the state’s primary responsibility,” Inslee said during his press conference. “And in death penalty cases, I’m not convinced equal justice is being served.”

On Wednesday, April 9 the ACLU of Washington will co-sponsor “I Am Troy Davis: The Human Face of the Death Penalty, ” two events hosted by The Evergreen State College (TESC) at 3pm and at Orca Books at 7pm.

The events, which are also co-sponsored by Fellowship of Reconciliation-Olympia, the Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (as well as multiple academic programs and student organizations at TESC, and the President’s Diversity Fund) will feature a discussion with Troy’s younger sister, Kimberly Davis, as well as Jen Marlowe, author of the recently released book, I Am Troy Davis, which Marlowe wrote with Troy’s older sister Martina, with Troy’s direct participation.

The ACLU of Southern California recently interviewed Kimberly Davis and Jen Marlowe for its blog, about Troy’s case, how it helped galvanize the movement to abolish the death penalty, and what work lies ahead.

ACLU: Where are we two years after Troy’s execution?

Jen Marlowe: Troy’s case really sparked an awareness about why the death penalty is so problematic in this country, and I think in the two years since there’s been a lot of really concrete steps that have happened that have moved our country progressively away from use of the death penalty—and certainly, I can’t say that that’s only because of Troy, it’s obviously not, but I absolutely think it was one of the galvanizing events in the abolition movement. That was one of the things he called on his supporters to do in his final words—he asked us to continue to fight this fight, and I think that he would find that we have, and that we’ve been very successful in it.

Kimberly Davis: I feel really good knowing that my brother’s case is continuing to change the world today. Troy told the family if the State of Georgia did succeed in executing him they would only take his physical body because he gave his soul to God along time ago.

ACLU: How have people responded to your brother’s story?

KD: My brother’s story has opened the eyes of many people across the world and has brought people of all origins together to work for one cause: to end the death penalty. It doesn’t matter the color of someone’s skin—we all came together to stand for one cause and continue to stand for that cause. People all over the world had their eyes on Troy’s case and if they didn’t understand the importance on ending the death penalty then, their eyes are opened wide now.

ACLU: How does the death penalty affect minorities and people of color?

JM: The death penalty dispropor-tionately affects minorities and people of color. Every study that’s been done in every state has affirmed that. It has to do with both the race of the perpetrator and the victim, as people of color are far more likely to be prosecuted with a capital charge than people not of color.

The race of the victim particularly impacts whether a death penalty is sought for an offender. If the victim is white, it is far more likely than if the victim was non-white. These are some really troubling indicators in this day and age of whose lives are considered more valuable and whose lives are more dispensable. Race and the death penalty have very troubling overlays, as do economics and whether or not someone has the opportunity to hire decent defense or has a public defender, who might be very good but nevertheless overworked and underfunded.

The nature of the crime is rarely what determines whether the death sentence is sought. Race, geography, and poverty are much more indicative factors, and that’s really troubling in the country that is supposed to stand by the central edict ‘equal justice under the law.’ The death penalty seems to be the sharp edge of a much larger, broken system, and it certainly does not provide equal justice.

ACLU: So in terms of concrete policy, what are we building up to?

JM: I think we’re building up to a repeal of the death penalty in the United States. It’s been happening step-by-step and state-by-state—momentum is growing and I think we’ll reach a tipping point, where as we continue to move, there will be a point where the rest of the country will follow—whether that will ultimately come from the U.S. Supreme Court or another way, we’re trending very clearly in that direction. In terms of repeal on different state levels, I live in Seattle—of course, the governor of Washington just did the moratorium—and then also if you just look at trends about the death penalty: prosecutors are seeking the death penalty less often, there’s fewer death sentences being imposed, there’s fewer executions, public opinion of the death penalty is at an all-time low according to Gallup—every single indicator is moving towards repeal, which is not to underestimate the amount of work that we have ahead of us.

ACLU: Kimberly, what changes do you hope to see?

KD: I hope to see the death penalty end all around the world and that we can come together to make sure there is not another innocent man executed. Not in my name.

Additional question: What do you think of the moratorium on executions instituted by Gov. Jay Inslee here in Washington State?

JM: I’m proud of our governor for making the right decision, and standing on the right side of history. Now we have to make sure that the state legislature also stands on the right side of history, and repeals the death penalty altogether. We will need to make sure that we let our state representatives know—loudly, clearly and unequivocally—that this is what we expect them to do.

Interview adapted with permission from the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California

Jen Marlowe’s website is, she blogs at View from the donkey’s saddle, and you can follow her on Twitter at @donkeysaddleorg.

Continue the discussion with Kimberly Davis and Jen Marlowe at one of the two Olympia I Am Troy Davis talks and book signings on Wednesday, April 9! See announcement on page 2 for locations and times.



ACLU of Southern California

Making waves: our trip to Hanford, WA

Works in Progress - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 9:51pm

That's right, friends, like all of our troubles, gravity comes in waves. For us earthlings they are so subtle that we don't feel them and so on Earth gravity seems comfortably stable. Far out in space though, black holes and neutron stars spiraling out of control produce waves in the gravitational field which astrophysicists believe we will soon be able to detect. In the fantastic realms of the universe, orbiting bodies and cataclysmic supernovae are causing the rubbery fabric of space-time to quivering.

My wife, Stephanie, and I traveled to the LIGO Hanford Observatory on the Hanford  Nuclear Reservation for the February 28 public drop-in tour and March 1 Family Science Day. These events to promote science education remind us that the scientists are reaching out in the spirit of learning. Our Plowshare friends hope to change nuclear weapons for peaceful use of resources. Notice! This is what has begun to happen at Hanford!

One of the world’s great scientific experiments is right here in Washington state. LIGO stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. Their website says, “[LIGO] is an instrument for sensing the presence of matter, whether shining or dark, in the distant reaches of the cosmos.” The project, funded by the National Science Foundation , is jointly operated  by the California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Gravity is so familiar that we rarely think about it. "Down" means toward the center of the Earth, "up" is directly away from the center. The Moon and other satellites orbit Earth in the same way that Earth orbits the Sun. When I throw a baseball up, guess what it will end up doing? As the Earth makes its way around the orbit, the gravity field changes with the Earth's changing position. Scientists speculate that the changing gravity field sends waves outward from here at the blazing speed of light. However, LIGO won't measure waves from mild processes such as planetary orbits; only high mass, high acceleration events like black hole mergers. Only high frequency waves will register on LIGO machines.

High frequency waves are so delicate and subtle that no experiment has yet to measure them. We can infer the effect a gravitational wave will cause because of the tides on Earth, which is so familiar to us here in Olympia. The tide results from the Earth spinning under the alternating pull of gravity from the Moon and Sun. But other stars and planets are so far away that we would need a very sensitive detector. A great collaboration among scientists have built the device called LIGO at the Hanford site, and a twin facility at Livingston, Louisiana, which is on the brink of making this long sought measurement. If you have surplus computing power you may even participate in this adventure with the Einstein@home project where volunteers help analyze the collected data.

There are a few other detectors and teams around the world that form a (sort of) network. The European Space Agency is making a gravitational wave detector for outer space that will cover lower frequency wave events and is expected to be more sensitive and certain to get that measurement.

The best sources of gravitational waves are massive objects in rapid orbits. Astronomers are confident that neutron stars and perhaps black holes in close orbit create strong gravitational waves. In addition, supernova explosions, thought to emit a pulse may actually produce some type of gravitational wave. The Nobel Prize in physics in 1993 was awarded to Russell Hulse and Joe Tyler for finding a pair of neutron stars, one of which is a pulsar, in close orbit which are spiraling inward toward eventual collision. Using Albert Einstein's equations of Relativity, scientists have calculated the energy of these waves and they expect that LIGO is close to sensing them.

Dale Ingram was our tour guide of this wonderful facility and he is a great spokesperson for the project. With a small group (six other visitors) we were shown around the entire place. Because LIGO is nearing the end of a tremendous upgrade, some components left from the initial science run are displayed around the visitor center for guests to study. Magnificent isolation tables steady the apparatus from earthly vibration and some extraordinary mirrors are there to see. We toured the clean room where instruments are being prepared at a fantastic degree of cleanliness. And we spent time in the brilliant control headquarters (like being aboard the bridge of the Starship Enterprise) where myriad of scientists were busy at testing the upgrade status. Even the lunch room was full of science demos and the air of professionalism of the whole place was the best I've ever seen—the Washington LIGO is a hub of astronomy at its finest.

At my request a veteran LIGO scientist made time for an interview and he enthusiastically described the project to Stephanie and me. Micheal R. Landry, Ph.D., explained the project from a knowledgeable perspective. Though the science of gravitational wave astronomy is well explained on the LIGO website, to meet a lead scientist who has dedicated his career to making sense of the world was a great honor (he even helped edit this copy and drew on his chalk board for us!) I paraphrase some of his answers here:

What is the economic value of this experiment?

“The manufacture of the finest quality instruments in the world creates work for an engineering industry that is a worldwide collaboration. The Hanford site—once a production area for nuclear weapons--now serves as one of the production areas for LIGO's quest for new knowledge. This work is primarily driven by curiosity and physics so we may understand the universe better. This additional window into the cosmos makes for better astronomy.”

Isn't University of Washington involved?

“There is an excellent gravity group at University of Washington which is working on its own short range gravity measurement experiment. That device is testing the universal constant of gravity to refine its known value and for modifications to Newtonian gravity. Their work compliments ours but is a separate operation.”

Has India recently joined the LIGO group?

“Here at Washington LIGO we are building an additional set of devices for the nation of India which is planning to set up the detector and join the network. Having another detector at a distant location will help triangulate the signals so we can better pinpoint wave sources in the sky. The distance also helps us separate seismic and other local noise sources from actual gravitational waves.”

How certain are we of detecting waves soon?

“Our upgrade is nearing completion; the new device, called Advanced LIGO is ten times more sensitive and as we continue to refine the device our detection power continues to improve. Depending on the mass and distance to some in-spiraling neutron stars the theory predicts wave strength close to our ability. As they are about to collide the signal strength increases to a chirp. When we will detect these chirps we can inform optical astronomers where to look in the sky to observe exciting events. Later this year we expect to begin test operations of the Advanced LIGO. These experiments are valuable tests of our understanding of nature according to General Relativity.”

Thank you, Mike and Dale and all the staff at the LIGO Hanford, for the hospitality and time. Saturday, March 1, we returned to attend the special event, Family Science Day. Some twenty volunteers gave demonstrations around the facility of the scientific principles being tested. I was excited to see many of these volunteers were local high school students. The crowds of visitors (two to four hundred guests) were local families with children of all ages enjoying the hands-on exhibits and interaction with science enthusiasts. It was a festive learning experience of the highest order. The sincere researchers at LIGO are trying to make a difference in the lives of people.

The specter of nuclear history and background radiation did not deter these brave people. The LIGO Hanford holds accessible, free public tours one Friday and one Saturday each month, several special public events throughout the year, and additional group tours available by appointment. The scenic drive from Olympia is around 250 miles and the considerate professionalism of the staff made this tour a memorable learning experience. We wish the scientists the best of luck in their upcoming science run. Lee Smolin in his latest book Time Reborn claims “Unprecedented measurements [may] not be governed by any prior law.” The folks at LIGO have done their homework, I'd bet they are on the brink of finding out.

And, extra special thanks to Works in Progress for supporting science learning and citizen journalism in our community.

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


Russ Frizzell

Why the lawsuit against the OPD was settled out of court: the art of long distance running

Works in Progress - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 9:47pm

“Awareness is two steps ahead. Paranoia is two steps behind.” —Kim Marks, forest activist; Beyond Bullets: The Suppression of Dissent in the United States by Jules Boykoff (2007)

In 2011, after years of activism led to a fabricated assault charge at a police brutality protest and relentless harassment, I filed a federal civil suit for false arrest against the Olympia Police Department. I wanted to set the record straight and expose a pattern of abuse that not only hindered my efforts, but which has haunted the Olympia community for over a decade. Days before the trial, Larry Hildes, my attorney who works with the National Lawyer’s Guild told me the City of Olympia agreed to settle my suit out of court. After careful deliberation I decided to accept the offer. Here is why.

We had witnesses lined up to testify that I was in no physical location to have struck anyone. We had enhanced frame-by-frame video evidence that proved that Officer Sean Lindros was not where he claimed to be when he was supposedly struck. I even had the black bandana I was wearing during the protest that Lindros claimed was blue. Unfortunately, despite the overwhelming evidence of my innocence, I was assigned a reactionary judge who issued pre-trial rulings that cut the legs out from under my case. Judge Settle refused to allow mention of Officer Sean Lindros’ history of deceit and excessive force, including an incident where he used a deadly sleeper hold on a man after punching and tasing him repeatedly, in addition to a wrongful arrest suit settled in 2012. Conversely, the judge empowered the defense to bring up irrelevant aspects of my past and politics to try to defame my character and avoid dealing with the facts of the case. 

As a student organizer during the Port Protests of 2006-2007, I saw first-hand the animosity that those in power held for people who dared to oppose the machinery of war and aggression. My friends and I put our lives on the line to block military stryker vehicles in the streets of Olympia to send a message that we refuse to allow Olympia’s public port to be used as a revolving door for war crimes committed in our name. In return, we got a street education in what being on the receiving end of repression was like. For some of us, from relatively privileged backgrounds, this was the first taste of tear-gas, truncheons, and rubber bullets in our brief sheltered lives. During this transformational process, our bodies became bloodied and bruised testaments to the lengths the state would go to eradicate dissent to preserve a bankrupt system of endless war and maximized profit.

When it was revealed that a military spy, John Towery, had infiltrated social movements and student groups from 2007-2009 there was massive fallout. Many chose to keep a low profile, some retreated from activist work entirely, while others were so traumatized they left Olympia altogether. Coming on the heels of protests that were as exhilarating as they were terrifying, this bombshell revelation was further compounded by the grim knowledge that the military was targeting our peaceful movement like it was an opposing enemy force, essentially converting the quiet downtown streets into a battlefield of brutality and repression. When further proof came to light that fusion centers were sharing the information that the Army had compiled on those engaged in first amendment activity at state, local, and federal levels, folks were justifiably concerned. Then when it was made clear that there was a pattern of fabricating violent charges against protesters in order to place certain individuals in a national domestic terrorist database, this wake up call lead to many a sleepless night.

For better or worse, I was one of the folks who kept organizing regardless of these unconstitutional attacks on our rights to speak out, associate and protest. Those who soldiered on in the face of overwhelming odds reasoned that if we gave in to fear and silenced ourselves, the establishment had already won. Initially, there was hope that exposing the system’s designs with smart detective work and press coverage could postpone the continuing retaliatory action by the state. Instead, in 2010 roughly a year after John Towery was exposed and warned of other spies still in our midst, the authorities gave me the “special treatment” they had meted out to countless others in the preceding years.

What began with my license plate being flagged and tagged by Washington State Patrol during a “routine traffic stop” coming back from the Tacoma Port Protests in 2007, escalated to my movements being traced, my facebook watched, and my residence infiltrated. In the proceeding years as multiple officers continued to call me out by name and gave me a flood of tickets on bogus pretexts that nearly bankrupted me, I knew something was awry. Then on April 6, 2010, Thomas Rudd, John Towery’s boss at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, sent an e-mail to then Police Chief Tor Bjornstad at the Olympia Police Department warning him of the protest where I was framed for assault on an officer. As my attorney noted, “It has now become clear that Rudd kept right on gathering information on activists in Olympia,” even after Towery was unmasked. Furthermore, Rudd was giving information about Olympia activists to the Olympia Police Department for the them to act on, either alone or in conjunction with the Army. This contradicted Rudd’s testimony three weeks prior to the protest at the Third Internal Review of the Force Protection Intelligence Group he had headed where Towery had played an integral role.

The frame-up by Olympia Police and an ensuing illegal eviction by my landlord under pressure from the city made me decide to hire a lawyer and turn the tables on a system that was purposefully destroying my chances of long-term survival.

In 2009, a handful of brave souls, tired of being caught in the cross-hairs of men who wanted to suppress their rights because they disagreed with the content of their speech, had taken the only course of action left: they filed suit to take John Towery and his accomplices to court. The thousands of pages of documents received in discovery in the Panagacos v. Towery case reveal a multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency counter-intelligence program that make COINTELPRO look like a game of hop-scotch.

It was finding out that others had decided to fight back in the courts that encouraged me to file suit against OPD to stem the tide of repression aimed at me, which I hope in turn will inspire others to speak out and refuse to suffer silently. Nearly three years after filing mountains of paperwork and reliving the traumatic experiences from that night, I accepted the City of Olympia’s proposal to settle my case and now I can move on to bigger battles.  Although the settlement was not ideal compensation for the suffering I experienced, my intention was never to bankrupt the City of Olympia but merely to force the authorities to acknowledge the merits of my case, paving the way for expungement of the felony I was given under false pretenses. While winning a courtroom battle would have been satisfying, I am also thankful that I will no longer have to endure the ridiculous sight of Lindros perjuring himself on the stand about the supposed “assault” he experienced that night.

It is unfortunate that I didn’t get my day in court this time, but from the start my case involved questions that could only be resolved as more evidence came to light through public records research and further legal action. The larger questions that loom about my arrest were never simply whether Officer Lindros lied about being struck, but who Officer Lindros lied for and why. With enough dedicated action and persistent pressure we may finally get an answer to those questions.

When all is said and done, the settlement and the surrounding press has already helped put the upcoming Towery trial on June 2 on people’s radars and if nothing else, that historic trial will certainly make the authorities think twice before stripping other activists of their fundamental rights.

Paul French, aka Strife, is an Olympia resident, a musician, and a member of the area’s vibrant activist community.

Paul French (aka Strife)

Legislature goes nowhere with climate change: what must be done to motivate legislators to take action at the state level?

Works in Progress - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 9:45pm

Maybe next year… 

It’s hard not to feel discouraged. In December 2013, Washington State’s Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup (CLEW), created by the 2013 Washington State Legislature to develop “a state program of actions and policies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” presented their opposing sets of recommendations—and now that the session has ended, we can only hope that they will continue their agreement to keep talking. Maybe next session something will happen.

Meanwhile, The Olympian reports that gas-powered leaf blowers will be banned from the Capitol Campus because they are noisy and because of their emissions. That’s sensible—no one likes to be around leaf-blowers, and it’s never clear where the leaves that get blown go anyway—but we need more from our state government.  Climate change threatens everything and everyone. Action is required.

The tough question is—action by whom?

Fortunately, the Congressional Progressive Caucus just released its new budget, the Better Off Budget. Reading the Progressive Caucus budget proposal is like reading a primer on what effective government can do. Two of the environmental policy aims represented in the Progressive Caucus budget are putting a price on carbon pollution by instituting a carbon tax and repealing subsidies for fossil fuel companies.

Both ideas were discussed in the Washington State legislature. The expert’s report delivered to the CLEW workgroup last October examined both a carbon tax and a cap and trade option. The carbon tax option made more sense and resulted in a bigger impact in terms of reducing green house gases, particularly since the transportation sector is the largest GHG polluter in WA state. That idea went nowhere this session. Nor did a bill re-introduced from last year’s session (HB 2038) to close the “big oil loophole” our state’s own fossil fuel company subsidy program.

Better government responses elsewhere

Some counties have made significant progress. Take King County. In his State of the County Address in February 2014, King County Executive Dow Constantine reviewed the effects of climate change on the county—80% of surveyed streams and rivers in King County exceeded the state temperature standard to protect salmon habitat; snowpack in the Cascade Range has decreased by 25% since the 1950’s; all major rivers in King County have shown higher flow and increased flood risk during fall and significantly lower flow in summer; Puget Sound has risen over 8 inches in the last century and local waters are becoming more acidic.

“We can no longer wait,” Constantine said. The related policy brief, “Confronting Climate Change,” lists what King County is doing—greening commutes, promoting smart growth, saving energy and reducing climate pollution, collaborating with others and building resilient communities. How can Constantine be so outspoken, so clear in his leadership? He won the last election handily, 78% to 21% for his Republican contender. The county council is predominantly Democratic, too.

States other than Washington are acting. Hawaii, for instance. In January 2014, Democrats, who control the Hawaiian House and the Senate, introduced a joint package bill that included the creation of an interagency advisory board to help the state prepare for climate change. Talking about climate change is normal. In the March 2014 edition of For Kaua’i, a free newsmagazine, Ruby Pap, a Coastal Land Use Extension Agent from the University of Hawai’i, focused her science column on the consequences of climate change for Hawaiians: “in addition to flooding, we can expect to see beach erosion, and saltwater intrusion into wetlands and groundwater. Homes, critical infrastructure such as roads and bridges, and other facilities will be threatened in increasing numbers.” Besides preparing for these events, Pap suggests that readers become involves in Hawaii’s smart growth initiatives to reduce automobile use.

Shifting public perception, driving political change

Given the scope of climate change and the need for systemic action, how can we compel our governments to act? If we wait until the sea level rises enough to wet the feet of major decision makers, it will be too late. Somehow, a case has to be made that current evidence and current understanding of what the evidence means for the future is enough to act upon. It has to become normal to talk about climate change and what we can do with and about it.

In February 2014, political activist Jim Hightower addressed the Progressive Congress, an organization founded by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and told them to be bolder: “don’t forget that cultural shifts produce political change, not the other way around…The great progressive movements… have advanced not only by good organizing, but by a steady altering of the public’s perception.”

The world’s largest general science society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), came out this month with a new strategy to make talking about climate change normal. It launched its “What We Know” public information campaign. The campaign stresses three messages: climate change is real; climate can change abruptly; and we need to act swiftly to reduce both the cost and the risk of inaction. The AAAS’s move is important. More of us need to be clear about how climate change is going to affect us, and what we need to do to slow it. It can’t be a problem for experts only anymore.

The clearer we are about what climate change means, the more compelling our stories will be. The more of us who tell them, the more likely it is that we can compel the state legislature to act—next year.

Emily Lardner teaches at Evergreen State College and co-directs The Washington Center for Improving Undergraduate Education, a public service of the college. 


Emily Lardner

Toilet paper and its discontents: class struggle and the Venezuelan Revolution

Works in Progress - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 9:42pm

The power of symbols

A society without toilet paper is a society in trouble, we all agree with that. Not having access to such a basic commodity of modern life suggests an uncomfortable place where scarcity reigns, futile long lines at supermarkets with empty shelves, wide spread poverty, unhappiness on citizens’ faces, and that third world “je ne sais quoi” not recommended by Condé Nast Travel standards. But equally important, if we believe that a society doesn’t have toilet paper, the actual relationship between our beliefs and material reality becomes irrelevant.

Iconic symbols, as we know, have the power to construct immediate meaning in our brain. But as Nietzsche noted long ago, symbolic constructions (and access to toilet paper is high in the chart of the contemporary mind) generate relations of things to one another, and to us, but not necessarily with the absolute truth. It is not accidental, as we’ll see below, the broad news coverage in mainstream media given to the shortage of toilet paper in Venezuela, and the supposed popular discontent against the government. For those without voluntary amnesia about moments of Latin American history, the current campaign—0first against Chavez and now against the new democratically elected Maduro--resembles in both tactics and content the campaigns against Allende in Chile prior to the establishment of the dictatorship of Pinochet.

The ubiquitous class struggle

Very few things in life can be placed outside the correlations of power and class interests in a given society. This is particularly true if we analyze the process of production, distribution, and consumption of commodities. Needless to say, TP is part of this economic cycle; tracking the “toilet paper blues” will help us unveil the real political content behind the current Venezuelan situation.

It is worth noticing that the nationalization effort initiated by Chavez has only affected a limited number of companies, mostly big companies such as the oil and other energy related industries. Most of Venezuela’s industry continues to be in the hands of private capitalist entrepreneurs.  The paper, and more specifically the TP industry is in hands of private capitalists; so are the means of transportation such as trucks, etc.; and most of the centers of distribution such as large supermarkets, are owned by private companies. 

Yes, there was a scarcity of TP in Caracas, but the shortage was artificially created with the political purpose of destabilizing a legitimate government. Similar tactics were used with other basic staples creating shortages of soap, flour, etc. The same political maneuvers were used in the early 70’s in Chile to project the image of a socialist government incapable of running the economy. It is not accidental that president Maduro responded by denouncing the shortage as right wing scheme, and proceeded to temporarily occupy the largest TP manufacturer in the nation, the Paper Manufacturing Company's plant in the state of Aragua.  Along with these measures the Venezuelan government ordered the purchase of 50 millions rolls to be distributed at no cost to the population. Maduro’s decision not only debunked the shortage argument but also the speculative plans of the TP companies. Yes, very few things, including TP shortages, can be understood if we detach them from a political/class struggle analysis.

Class struggle is not good or bad per se. The answer depends on which class interests we are struggling for. Are we for the interests of the few (the multinational companies, the traditional landlords, the industrial and financial bourgeoisie); or for the interests of most of the people (peasants, workers, and the dispossessed)?

The media, as the new battle field

It would be mistaken to believe that the main battlefront of the conservative and reactionary forces of Venezuela is through financing violence and agitation in the streets of Caracas. This tactic has been proved ineffective. As noted by Ciccariello-Maher in the March 24 issue of The Nation, “ Even the ferociously anti-Chavista blogger Francisco Toro of Caracas Chronicles has argued “middle class protests in middle class areas on middle class themes by middle class people are not a challenge to the Chavista power system.” Equally ineffective have been the recent attacks of extreme right groups against universities, libraries, and cultural centers trying to antagonize the student movement that favors Chavismo.

Nonetheless, the extreme-right and conservative forces have been successful in the orchestration of an international campaign of vilification and demonization of the Venezuelan leaders, first of Chavez and now of Maduro. Latin American and Miami based news and entertainment corporations such as ANDIARIOS, GDA, and PAL along with the conservative Spanish journal El Pais have launched a well-coordinated, vicious and continuous crusade of misinformation against the Venezuelan revolutionary project.  Their tactics include the mis-use and alteration of photographic and video material and unilateral and distorted news coverage about Venezuela.  Not to be left behind, the American media has been holding hands with the Venezuelan political right against Chavez since the beginnings of the Bolivarian revolution. Nothing new here, except that this amounts to a political aggression by conscious misrepresentation with the aim to destabilize Venezuela and prepare the ground for a violent military solution.

Arrogant hypocrisy the American way

There is something repugnant in Secretary of State John Kerry’s statements condemning the Russian occupation/annexation of Crimea. At a personal level he seems to have forgotten his role as invader in the military occupation of Viet Nam, and at a national level he also has forgotten the U.S. recent invasion of Iraq. Both countries located thousand of miles away from the U.S.

Equally offensive was his arrogant public declaration of March 12, 2014 when he practically threatened Venezuela and announced his support for the opposition and his willingness to make use of the “democratic clause” (i.e. military intervention) of the OAS (Organization of American States) against the democratically elected president of that country.  Kerry’s proposal was put to shame by 29 Latin American and Caribbean governments declaring their solidarity with Venezuela. Only the U.S., Canada, and Panama were against the declaration. When it comes to international politics Canada seems unable to think or act without the script prepared by its powerful neighbor, and Panama’s President Martinelli seems to wish for Latin America the same misfortune of being invaded by the U.S, as was his country in 1989.

Compliance no more

The American position against Venezuela is understandable, though unacceptable. U.S. power and influence in Latin America has become weaker due in large part to progressive-pro-socialist governments like Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. From a global perspective, these countries represent, with the exception of the Nordic countries, the only existing forms of government on the planet willing to challenge capitalism and globalization.

In the particular case of Venezuela, the progressive experience initiated by Chavez has meant among other things the following:

Intentional government policies designed to improve the well being of its people. Significant gains have been made in the areas of re-distribution of the national wealth, reduction of poverty, education, heath, and civil rights for minorities.

Expansion of democracy with the creation of more than 40,000 “Communal Councils” which according to the same article in The Nation by Ciccariello-Maher incorporate “Afro and indigenous movements, women’s, gender-diverse and students groups” —in other words, groups without previous political agency or representation.

Radical changes in the conceptualization of the role of the state, which is understood as an active instrument for the benefit of the majority of the population, and not as a tool to benefit a small group of wealthy people, which was the case prior Chavismo.

Radical changes in the conceptualization of the role of the armed forces of Venezuela (Chavez was in the military), which now play an integral part in the transformation of the country and defense of democracy via participation in economic development and social projects.

Active participation in creating a new type of solidarity among Latin American countries as a practice of resistance to U.S. economic and political control.

Class struggle, again

Ironically, Maduro has confronted the multiple acts of violence, provocation, and ideological warfare organized by internal and external reactionary forces against the government with a policy of dialogue and within the parameters of the democratic institutions in place. A survey conducted last week gives him a 57% approval rate, which added to his significant victory in the municipal elections (surpassing the previous margin by over a million votes) shows the real correlation of strength within the country.

There is a poster circulating in Caracas that shows thousands of housing projects in neighborhoods located in the foothills of the city. The poster creates the image of the latent power of the multitude that has been the main beneficiaries of Chavismo: the common people of Venezuela. At the bottom of the poster there is a legend addressed to the right wing opposition. It says: “If you keep bothering us, we may have to come down.”

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.


Enrique Quintero

Saint Martin’s Society of Fellows Welcomes Fulbright Scholar as Spring Colloquium Speaker

Thurston Talk - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 9:11pm


Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

Jeff BerkensteinThe Saint Martin’s University Society of Fellows cordially invites the community to join its members for the Society’s Spring 2014 Colloquium on Wednesday, April 9, at 7 p.m. The event, free and open to the public, will be hosted in the Norman Worthington Conference Center on the Saint Martin’s Lacey campus.

The celebration will feature distinguished speaker Jeff Birkenstein, Ph.D., a Fulbright Teaching and Research Award recipient and chair of the University’s Department of English. Birkenstein will speak on, “Notes on a Fulbright Semester at Petrozavodsk State University, Republic of Karelia, Russia.”

Birkenstein’s 2013 Fulbright grant enabled him to spend the fall 2013 semester at Petrozavodsk State University’s Institute of Foreign Languages, where he led advanced courses in English and taught courses on Russian and American short story literature. He has also been conducting joint research with Igor Krasnov, a professor at Petrozavodsk State University, on best practices for teaching the history of the modern short story across cultures.

“I just returned from 3-plus months in Russia, months spent teaching, writing, thinking, traveling, napping, eating, exploring and trying my darndest to be a cultural and academic ambassador — whatever that means,” Birkenstein says. “Although you may have noticed that when I first returned from Russia, I was walking around in a very surreal space — I would go back and forth between feeling that I was gone for five minutes and, alternatively, five years — I would like to share some of these thoughts about this experience.”

Birkenstein strives to break down walls between the classroom and the world. For example, watching a plane crash into New York’s World Trade Center live on television led to a conference and then a class (co-taught with anthropologist David Price), followed by a book: Reframing 9/11: Film, Pop Culture and the “War on Terror” (Continuum 2010), co-edited with Anna Froula (East Carolina University) and Karen Randall (Southampton Solent University, UK). Another example: a successful eater for his entire life, he uses these diverse experiences when teaching a course called “Food & Fiction,” which has, in turn, led to more writing, more traveling, more team-teaching and, of course, more good eating. Along with co-authors Froula and Randall, Birkenstein recently published The Cinema of Terry Gilliam: It’s a Mad World (Columbia UP/Wallflower is P). Birkenstein earned his doctorate in English, as well as a master of arts degree in Teaching English as a Second Language, from the University of Kentucky. He received his first MA, in English, from California State University, Long Beach. Birkenstein earned an undergraduate degree in English from the University of California, Los Angeles.

During the colloquium celebration, newly inducted members of the Society of Fellows will receive medals. Graduating Fellows will wear their medals with their regalia at Saint Martin’s commencement on Saturday, May 10.

The Society of Fellows, an academic honors organization at Saint Martin’s University, was founded in May 1971 by Father Michael Feeney, O.S.B., the University President, to distinguish members of the faculty and student body who, with their outstanding work in teaching and learning, contribute to the intellectual life of the University. Since its inception, the society has existed to recognize and encourage academic excellence throughout the Saint Martin’s University community.

Among its activities, the Society of Fellows publicly honors student achievement and regularly sponsors academic colloquia and convocations. It traditionally advises the University President on recipients of such academic awards as honorary degrees and the Martin of Tours Medal and it suggests, when requested, each year’s commencement speaker.


Internationally Known Pianist, Stephan Moore, Ph. D. to Conduct Music Workshop at Saint Martin’s University

Thurston Talk - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 9:00pm



Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

Stephan MooreThe Saint Martin’s University Music Program will be hosting internationally recognized pianist Stephen Moore, Ph. D., as he conducts a workshop on the Dalcroze approach to music education on Saturday, April 12, on the Lacey campus in Kreilsheimer Hall. Moore will also be a guest at the University’s final installment of the Music @ 11 series on Tuesday, April 15.

The “Putting It All Together” workshop will focus on beginner and intermediate levels of activities for teachers, students and  performers in movement, singing and improvisation.

Developed by Emile Jaques-Dalcroze in the early 1900s, the Dalcroze approach teaches an understanding of music through techniques that incorporate rhythmic movement, aural training and physical, vocal and instrumental improvisation.

The influence of Dalcroze has been felt worldwide within the field of music, as well as in dance, therapy, theatre and education. The comprehensive Dalcroze approach consists of three components: Eurhythmics, which teaches concepts of rhythm, structure, and musical expression through movement; Solfège, which develops an understanding of pitch, scale, and tonality through activities emphasizing aural comprehension and vocal improvisation; and Improvisation, which develops an understanding of form and meaning through spontaneous musical creation using movement, voice and instruments. It was Dalcroze’s intent that the three subjects be intertwined so the development of the inner ear, an inner muscular sense, and creative expression can work together to form the core of basic musicianship.

Registration for the workshop begins at 12:30 p.m., with the workshop to follow at 1 p.m. and concluding at 4 p.m. Pre-registration and ticket information is also available for the workshop, which is free for students at Saint Martin’s.

For the Music @ 11 event, Moore will perform a piano recital, “Carnival in Venice,” as well as conduct a master class on the Dalcroze approach with a focus on Eurhythmics. This event will be held in Kreilsheimer Hall at 11 a.m. and it is free and open to the public.

Moore is a piano performance specialist and associate professor of music at California State University, Dominguez Hills. He is a former tenured associate professor of the Oberlin Conservatory. He has performed nationally and internationally in Tokyo, Taipei, Hsinchu, Graz and Salzburg. Moore is co-author with Julia Schnebly Black of two books published by Alfred Inc.: “The Rhythm Inside: Connecting Body, Mind and Spirit” and “Rhythm One-on-One.” He holds a Ph.D. in music theory from Indiana University. His latest CD, “The French Connection” (2012), is a collection of French solo piano music. Moore holds the Dalcroze Certificate from the Manhattan Dalcroze Institute and the License from Columbia University, Teacher’s College. Since 1997, he has taught at the Marta Sanchez Summer Training Center (Carnegie Mellon University) and at the Northwest Dalcroze Summer Training Center since 1993. Moore also offers a three-week, intensive summer course in Dalcroze Eurhythmics at California State University, Dominguez Hills, for public school teachers.

University Associate Professor of Music Darrell Born, chair of the University’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts and the Music Program director, created the “Music @ 11” recital series, now in its ninth year, to raise awareness of the musical arts and provide opportunities for students and the community to experience various kinds of music in a recital setting.



Westport Winery’s Rapture of the Deep Wins at Capital Food & Wine Festival

Thurston Talk - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 8:39pm



Submitted by Westport Winery

Rapture of the Deep_Front_COLAWestport Winery’s sparkling cranberry wine Rapture of the Deep earned a gold medal and Best of Class at the Capital Food & Wine Festival in Lacey, Washington on Saturday, March 29. Rapture is made from 100% Ocean Spray cranberries and the wineries most award-winning creation. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this wine benefits Aberdeen’s Driftwood Theater.

The winery earned silver medals on Swimmer’s Petite Sirah with grapes from Jones Vineyard and Captain Gray’s Gewurztraminer from grapes from Red Willow Vineyard. A portion of the proceeds from these wines respectively benefit Grays Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center and the Grays Harbor Symphony.

The partnerships and collaborative relationships Westport Winery has built with their grape growers and local charities are integral to their remarkable growth and success in their six year history. Westport Winery was the first winery on the Washington Coast and remains the westernmost vineyard in the state.

Westport Winery and Vineyards By-the-Sea with its unique sculpture garden, lavender labyrinth, musical fence, 9-hole executive golf course, giant chess set, outdoor scrabble game, and grape maze, is located on the corner of Highway 105 and South Arbor Road halfway between Aberdeen and Westport. Their award-winning wines are exclusively available at this location. The tasting room, gift shop, produce market, plant nursery and bakery are open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The restaurant is open for lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and for dinner on Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information contact Westport Winery at 360-648-2224 or visit the website at

Appeals Court Upholds Food Co-op's Boycott

OlyBlog Home Page - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 7:50pm

From today's inbox:

April 7, 2014, Seattle – Today, the Washington State Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by five members of the Olympia Food Co-op against current and former members of the Co-op’s Board of Directors for their decision to boycott Israeli goods. The court held that the lawsuit was a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or SLAPP, and that participation in the boycott is protected by the First Amendment. The court also affirmed $160,000 in statutory damages, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs for the board members, and awarded attorneys’ fees for the appeal.

The lawsuit is part of a broader pattern of targeting pro-Palestinian activists in the United States, particularly in legislatures and across college campuses. “Those who would try to intimidate concerned citizens speaking out on behalf of Palestinian human rights should take note,” said CCR Senior Staff Attorney Maria LaHood. “The law and history are on the side of peaceful boycotts for social change, and today’s ruling reaffirms that this time-honored tradition is protected by the First Amendment. Instead of trying to suppress speech calling for Palestinian human rights, opponents should address such speech on the merits.” logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Tumwater Boys Soccer Matches Up Against Stadium in Relay for Life Fundraiser

Thurston Talk - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 6:29pm



By Tom Rohrer

les schwabAlong with his desire to be a strong and loving father, husband and son, Chris Miller is driven by another belief.

“I strongly believe that in my lifetime, there will be a cure for cancer,” said Miller.  Along with his wife, Christy, he serves as the co-captain and creator of Lords of the Track Relay for Life Team. “That’s why I do this, why (Relay for Life participants) do this….We’re driven by this belief.”

relay for life thurston

During the 2013 Together We’re Kick’n Cancer Fundraiser between the girls soccer teams of Tumwater and Olympia High School, the two squads came together to make the shape of the cancer ribbon.

Miller, a board member for Relay for Life of Thurston County, helped organize the annual Together We’re Kick’n Cancer fundraiser hosted by the Tumwater High School boys soccer program.  This year’s fundraiser features a match between Tumwater and Stadium High School of Tacoma. The match will be held on Thursday, April 10, at Tumwater District Stadium beginning at 5:00 p.m.  Those in attendance can make a donation at the door or through an on-site bake sale.

Started by former T-Bird head coach Bryan Winkler, the fundraiser was taken over by Miller along with first year Tumwater head coach, Brett Bartlett, and Tumwater Athletic Director, Tim Graham.  Winkler is now in his first season as head coach of the boys team at Clover Park High School in Lakewood.

Miller and Lords of the Track also organized a similar same fundraiser by hosting a match between the Tumwater and Olympia High School girls soccer teams, last fall.

The husband of a leukemia survivor who lost his mother to kidney cancer seven years ago, Miller believes fundraisers involving athletics brings the community together and helps set a positive example of good health.

relay for life thurston

A moment of silence was held during the 2013 Together We’re Kick’n Cancer Fundraiser match between Tumwater and Olympia High School. Expect a similar scene during eh 2014 fundraiser, which will be held at the Tumwater vs. Stadium High boys soccer match on Thursday, April 10.

“A sport like soccer is all about the team.  It’s just like Relay for Life, where it’s essential you work as a team.  You have a team full of people striving towards a common, positive goal, so there are these parallels that make it very easy for the public to relate to,” said Miller, who continues to play in the Southwest Washington Soccer Association league. “It also promotes nutrition, exercise and healthy living.  We know that nutrition and exercise can have an effect on cancer, so again, you have these parallels,” adds  Miller.  ”People see these kids participating in a healthy activity and that can be very inspiring.”

Miller was drawn to Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society due to the organization’s stance on working towards a cure for all cancers, not just one particular type.  Miller appreciates the emotional power of Relay for Life and sees the same positive aspects in the soccer fundraiser.

“At (Relay for Life) everyone has a similar story or set of circumstances.  We are there for a common cause.  You can go hug, pat on the back or talk to anyone and people will share their emotions with you,” said Miller. “With this game, Tumwater and Stadium will be opponents, but they’re in this journey together.  They have a common cause and know that together, they are having a positive effect on their communities.”

Earlier this season, Miller worked with Olympia High School senior soccer captain, Bryce Winkler, to create a similar fundraiser for a match between Olympia and his father’s Clover Park team.

“I’m great friends with Bryan and Bryce and to see that event come to life, it was pretty special.  I’m very proud to have helped Bryce and even more of him,” Miller added referencing Bryce’s commitment to the sport and completing his senior project.

Traditions started by the Winkler’s, such as the two opposing teams gathering arm-in-arm at midfield for a moment of silence, will take place at the Stadium vs. Tumwater match.  During halftime, the two teams will listen to a speech from an individual involved in Relay for Life that has been affected by cancer.

relay for life fundraiser

Chris Miller is organizing a Relay for Life fundraiser during Thursday’s game between Tumwater and Stadium High School.

“It’s a way for the kids to get another perspective and to hear someone else’s story,” Miller said. “This is about informing the public about the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life and how special those organization are.”

The Thurston County area has a rich history of supporting such fundraisers and so far, Miller has noticed that tradition continued.  Nearby school districts have also posted information about the fundraiser.

When he took over the job, Bartlett reached out to Miller about continuing the fundraiser.  According to Miller, the support from Bartlett and Graham both has helped keep the fundraiser going.

“They have both done so much and it’s really amazing seeing them go out of their way to make sure this happens,” Miller said. “The work they’ve done, it’s almost indescribable for me to talk about.  They’ve been very special.”

As a child playing youth soccer, Miller remembers playing his best when his parents were in the stands supporting him.  Miller now gets to carry that tradition on as his son Ryan Dow-Murrey, a junior, is the T-Birds back-up goalie.

“I can’t make the away games normally, but I’m at every home game and will support him there,” said Miller, who has another son in sixth grade. “I know how important it is to have your parents there because I was once in that same position.”

Working to set a positive example for his children to follow has always been a main objective for Miller.  Miller is hoping to continue setting that example by working towards another goal that will have a positive impact on their future.

“My goal is for them to live in a world without cancer, a world with more hope,” said Miller.  “I think we can get there.”

For more information on the Together We’re Kick’n Cancer Fundraiser, please click here.


Tumwater’s Office Bar and Grill – A Perfect Pit Stop for Washington Beachgoers

Thurston Talk - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 6:17pm



Submitted by the Office Bar and Grill

olympia bars

Located on Mottman Road, The Office Bar and Grill is a popular gathering spot.

What’s halfway between Seattle and the sandy beaches of Washington, with no swimming but a free Sunday pool? It’s Tumwater’s Office Bar and Grill. If you are looking forward to some summer fun, you can drive 65 miles (from Seattle), take a break at The Office for a delicious Burger and a quick game of pool, then travel another 65 miles to the vacation beach of your choice. In Olympia, take the Mottman Blvd exit off 101, cross the freeway and turn south on Mottman Blvd. The Office is located in the first block, across from South Puget Sound Community College.

Westport is one of the closest Pacific Ocean beaches to Seattle and a favorite of local surfers, with lots of great hotel rooms and vacation rentals available. The beach is a wide, long stretch of sand that’s perfect for strolling. On a cold day you can build a beach fire with the abundant drift wood and settle in with a bottle of local vintage and some fresh fish. This area is known for tasty crab, tuna, salmon, prawns, and oysters. Have fun and see you at the beach!

Appeals Court Upholds Olympia Food Co-op's Boycott of Israeli Goods

Olympia Food Coop - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 1:32pm
Hello friends,

We received notice yesterday that the Court of Appeals has upheld Judge McPhee's ruling in favor of the 16 co-defendants (Board, former Board, and Staff members) of the Co-op who are being sued over the decision to honor the Israeli products boycott. For more information about this latest ruling please click the link to the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Categories: Local Food Blogs

Nadine Narindrankura at Media Island, Olympia WA, 4-9-2014 AT 7PM

OlyBlog Home Page - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 11:51am

Nadine Narindrankura,  Dine’ Nation  will be talking about Peabody coal/Black Mesa/ Big Mountain. Nadine is a young Dine’ woman who is part of the fight against the horrors of Peabody coal’s relentless 30 plus year assault on Dine’ people and Mother Earth, and is interested in meeting with Native people here to talk about Peabody and in learning more about the struggles against Coal especially on tribal lands here .


Media Island ,816 Adams St SE, Olympia, WA 98501
(360) 352-8526 logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Hirsch Center for Integrative Medicine: Transforming Community One Patient at a Time

Thurston Talk - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 6:00am



olympia alternative medicine

Dr. Evan Hirsch

The Hirsch Center for Integrative Medicine stands apart the moment you walk through the doors. It is a place where the relationship between clinician and patient begins at the threshold- for you are welcomed, not by a receptionist, nurse or assistant, but by your health care provider- and so begins your journey to better holistic health.

A Provider for Any Need

The health care practitioners at the Hirsch Center for Integrative Medicine (HCIM) provide care across all types of issues, patient ages, and health perspectives. They collectively have been trained in both conventional and natural medicine, integrating knowledge from a variety of healing modalities.

Primary care needs are met by Dr. Evan Hirsch, Dr. Louise Boxill and Anne Rhody, PA-C. Evan Hirsch, MD, the center’s founder, is Board Certified in Family Medicine and Integrative Holistic Medicine with additional trainings in Functional Medicine, and Medical Acupuncture.

Dr. Boxill, completed her training as both a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, a Nurse Practitioner and a Medical Acupuncturist. She is passionate about Women’s Health and uses her expertise to “serve, listen, teach and coach women and families to reach their highest health goals.”

olympia alternative medicine

A welcoming entry greets patients to The Hirsch Center.

Anne Rhody, PA-C, moved her family from Oklahoma to join the practice. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge to assist people in dealing with the toughest cases, like Autism, Fatigue, and Fibromyalgia using tools such as, IV therapy, Oxygen Therapy and Far Infrared Sauna. She was a bio-molecular chemist for seven years before pursing coursework in Applied Kinesiology and Craniosacral Therapy.

At HCIM primary care can be augmented with consultations from ancillary care providers. David Lerner, EAMP, MTCM, provides Functional Medicine expertise on cancer support, as well as digestive, hormonal, cardiovascular and autoimmune conditions. He helps patients create a whole-life wellness plan combining specialty lab testing, nutrition support and food-based supplements.

Working with Doug Walsh, MEd, NTP, brings patients to a new level of understanding about the role food plays in their health. As a nutritional therapist, he guides people to “transform their lives by transforming the way they eat.

olympia alternative medicineRobin Aisha Landsong, LMP, is a Craniosacral Therapist who works with children, adults and families. She treats patients who have experienced many forms of brain trauma or discomfort including injuries, accidents, headaches and migraines. Robin is also an artist and is currently working on her second book. Her expressive artwork is hung along many of the walls at HCIM.

Patients are emotionally supported on their journey towards better living through the work of integrative health coach Stacy Hirsch, MES, ACC. Hirsch partners with clients on their path of self-discovery. Her clients are people learning to identify and manage stress in their lives; people recovering from autoimmune or chronic health conditions; and people who want to create more connection, more peace, and to live their lives with more vitality.

When talking about the mission of the HCIM team, Stacy says, “We want to give people permission to expect this kind of care. To say ‘I want more from my healthcare and to understand the role they play in making that happen..

Warmth with Every Touch

HCIM is situated in two buildings, joined by an outdoor courtyard. Across from the patient exam offices is the newest expansion of the center, Evolve Medical Spa. The spa was renovated in partnerships with local businesses and artisans, continuing HCIM’s belief in the power of community.

olympia alternative medicineThe spa offers many different kinds of services and products. It is a place to find high quality supplements and environmental health products for enhancing heath and home. There is an oxygen therapy room, as well as a far infrared sauna that is open to both HCIM patients and the general public. As with many of the HCIM offerings, appointments can be scheduled online. The spa is also home for massage therapist Kenda Stewart, LMP. Stewart has extensive training in various massage techniques and her work often combines deep tissue, shiatsu, lymphatic drainage, and Swedish massage.

A Class for Every Community

The practitioners and staff of the Hirsch Center for Integrative Medicine believe in the power of community not only for patient support, but as it extends to the larger community as well. They sponsor outreach programs on evenings and weekends. Classes and group discussions are lead both by HCIM providers and other community leaders and educators. Recent events have included talks by Doula Diksha Berebitsky of Blissful Birth Initiations on Placenta Medicine, The Psychology of Color by the Red Door’s Lara Anderson, Nonviolent Communication by Liv Monroe and the Center’s Doug Walsh spoke about Food Allergies, Sensitivities and Intolerances.

IV Therapy RoomBeginning in April, HCIM is partnering with local Homeopath, Patricia Kay, MA, to offer a 12-week class on Cell Level Meditation based on the book she co-authored, Cell Level Meditation: Breathing with The Wisdom & Intelligence of The Cell. David Lerner will also be offering a 21-day Community Detox and Cleanse to support patients and the public in doing the important work of detoxification for better health.

The Hirsch Center for Integrative Medicine strives to heal and serve the community by nurturing it one individual at a time – Whole Body. Whole Health. Whole Family. Whole Heart.

Hirsch Center for Integrative Medicine

3525 Ensign Road NE, Suite G and N

Olympia, WA 98506



Fresh Lobster, Fish Under a Tent at Bayview Thriftway

Thurston Talk - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 6:00am



By Mary Ellen Psaltis

shellfish olympia wa

Bayview Thriftway will move their fresh fish outside on Friday, April 11 for their lobster tent sale.

Lucky us. We can eat fresh fish without exerting much effort. Simply go to either Ralph’s Thriftway or Bayview Thriftway and point to what you want.  There are icy beds topped with halibut, shrimp, salmon and more. This Friday, April 11, Bayview will pitch a huge tent in the parking lot for their giant lobster sale. You can pick ones that are cooked or still alive. Hoping for clams or oysters? They will be there, too. If you call the meat department any day this week before 5:00 p.m., you can order ahead to make sure you get exactly what you want. The sale begins at 9:00 a.m. and will last as long as the fish do.

Did you know that one cup of cooked lobster provides 28 grams of protein, which is about half the daily needs for a woman or a man. There’s not much fat on a lobster – likewise, you won’t find much fat in its meat either. Yes, there is sodium and cholesterol but also B12 and potassium. And, at 130 calories it’s diet friendly.

Many dine on the sweet meat of lobster with only a bowl of drawn butter nearby (that’s where the calories are hiding). Some may add pressed garlic to the butter. Your choice. A glass of crisp wine, a stack of napkins and a sunny afternoon are perfect ads. My gourmand friend suggests lobster pairs elegantly with slices of avocados and mangos.

Both Storman grocery stores are stocking halibut (already caught and cleaned.) This fish is another nutritional powerhouse and pure deliciousness when it comes to a creamy, fresh taste. You won’t find a tent in the parking lot at Ralph’s, but you will find help and choices inside in the meat department.

When you eat fresh fish, you reap the benefits of optimum nutrition with versatility and excellent taste – all in a single meal. Inside both Storman locations are salad fixings, wine and whatever else will make your fish feast complete.

Eat Well – Be Well


Gardner’s Seafood & Pasta has come to our aid by offering a zesty recipe for halibut.

Owners and sisters Sarah Felizardo and Chelse Pagel, are preparing this in their restaurant, but you can make it at home. Thanks for a fabulous recipe.

Gardner’s Halibut with a Roasted Mango and Habanero Salsa

olympia fresh fish

Prepare a mango salsa to top halibut.
Photo credit: Gardner’s

Season halibut with salt and pepper and prepare to your liking. Grill, bake, pan sear, etc.  We use a flat grill.

Salsa Recipe

1.5 pounds of cubed mango.  Fresh is preferred, but frozen can be used.

1/4 medium red onion diced

1/4 red bell pepper diced

1/4 cup honey

1/8 cup sugar

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/8 cup fresh lime juice

1 habanero, roasted, take seeds out and dice

salt and pepper to taste

Grill the mango and habanero until slightly charred. Let cool.  Combine all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until desired consistency. Can be served over halibut warm or cold.

Maybe you are in the mood for crab cakes.  Budd Bay Café Executive Chef Adam Setterstrom has provided a classic recipe.


Fish Tale Brewery

Fish tacos is another way to use halibut.

Budd Bay Café’s Crab Cakes

1 pound Dungeness crab

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 egg

1 cup panko

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce

¼ teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

2 cups panko for breading

Drain the crabmeat, if necessary, and pick through it for shells. Remove. Put the crab in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk mustard, mayonnaise, garlic, parsley, egg, Worcestershire, Tabasco sauce, pepper, salt and Old Bay seasoning. Scrape the mixture over the crab and mix gently until well combined. Gently break up the lumps with your fingers but do not over mix.

Sprinkle the panko over the mixture and mix in thoroughly but gently; try not to turn the mixture into a mash. It should still be somewhat loose. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate from 1-3 hours.

Shape the crab mixture into 2 ounce cakes about 1 inch thick. Carefully roll the cake in panko. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat canola oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the cakes to the pan. Cook until dark golden brown on the underside – about 4 minutes. Flip the cakes, reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking until the other side is well browned, about 4-5 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over the cakes.


GRuB Garden – The Greenest Investment You’ll Make This Year

Thurston Talk - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 5:30pm



Submitted by Cecelia Watkins for GRuB

grub gardenThe large room is full of people, standing and sitting, some with hands in pockets and others holding gently onto their kids. A nervous but excited air permeates the space, and one man begins.  “Collard greens,” he announces. “Yep, definitely collard greens.” The original question was what vegetable people were most excited to grow this year. Someone across the room shouts, “Wait, what are collard greens? I mean, what do you do with ‘em?” Someone else laughs and says, “They eat them down South a lot. Cook ‘em up with garlic and a little oil and they’re good to go!”

The location is St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in the heart of Lacey, and the event is the first Kitchen Garden Project (KGP) Gardener Orientation of the season. Every year GRuB (Garden-Raised Bounty), a local non-profit, builds at least 60 vegetable garden beds with people in Thurston and Mason Counties. For the past 20 years, GRuB and its KGP have been building these beds free of charge, in partnership with families and individuals of low-income. This year, GRuB is trying out a pilot program in which they build gardens for people of all income levels, on a sliding fee scale. This project, dubbed Food Investment Gardens (or FIG—because everything needs a good acronym at GRuB) will generate earned income for the non-profit, and support community members in jump-starting their 2014 garden.

We all know gardening is supposed to be a good thing, but the question is, how good? What kind of an investment are you making when you commit to a vegetable garden, and what kind of returns can you expect? The prospect of starting a garden can be daunting, and requires sizable upfront costs: lumber for a raised bed, nutrient-rich soil, tools, watering equipment—or a hefty payment to GRuB. So is it worth it?

Let’s begin by looking at a garden’s impact on physical health. Tending a garden can involve a lot of low-impact movement and stretching, which makes it an ideal physical activity for people who find more intensive movement a challenge. In the words of a KGP gardener, “My daughter and I have had an amazing summer outside because of our gardens. We spent quality time together outside planting, weeding, watering, sometimes eating dirt. We got outside so much more that we would have before the gardens… the gardens brought together everyone in our lives.”

grub kids gardenYou can also design your garden to meet your own physical needs—if you want a great work out, you can install a big in-ground garden, which will inevitably get you sweating. On the other end of the spectrum, if you struggle with mobility you can raise your garden beds up to waist height and tend them from a chair. Either way, it is exercise with a purpose and context beyond your own physical ability—you aren’t just moving in place in the gym; you’re using your body to grow food. Additionally, in both cases you’re outside, hopefully basking in the sunshine, and soaking up vitamin D. Committing yourself to a garden could be the best thing you do for your body this year.

As far as being good to your body, the dietary benefits of gardening are well-known for being fabulous.  Having an abundance of fresh vegetables right outside your kitchen means you will inevitably cook with them more often. Plus, once you taste lettuce that you grew yourself, you’ll never want to go back to the store. Many new gardeners actually report that their fresh garden veggies are so flavorful and delicious they find themselves using less oil, creamy dressings and salt: good veggies means simpler, more healthful meals.

Kids who will sneer at vegetables in the school cafeteria will rejoice at picking their own cherry tomatoes and eating them like candy. One KGP gardener said, “This story happened more that once: the looks on my children’s faces. I would show them something I’d picked, [and say] ‘That came out of our garden!’ and they would echo my words with their voices full of a mixture of excitement, wonder and delight.” Beyond getting you and your family to eat more vegetables, by growing your own you’ll have full control over what goes into your soil, on your plants, and into your bodies. Even those of you who doubt your thumbs could nurture anything green may surprise yourselves—between good soil and a sunny Pacific Northwest summer, it can be hard to go wrong. If all else fails, you’ll inexorably have more kale than you know what to do with.

Gardening is also proven to relieve stress and reduce depression. In one study, participants did a stressful task, then either read a book indoors for half an hour or worked in the garden outside. After the half hour was up, the gardening group’s stress was significantly lower than the reading group. The gardening participants had also returned to a fully positive mood. Another study found that seniors who garden regularly have a 36% lower risk of developing dementia, thanks to the combination of walking around the garden and learning new gardening skills. A study from the University of Essix shows that as little as five minutes of outdoor, mild physical activity will improve mood and reduce stress.

grub gardenOkay, sure, so a garden is good for your health, but what about your wallet? Is it possible to actually save money through backyard vegetable gardening? The short answer is yes, it’s possible. The longer answer is, it depends on how gardening savvy you are. National Gardening Association estimates point to the average gardener doubling their investment, producing $100 worth of veggies for a $50 investment. The Department of Agriculture gives the average number as $10 of crops grown for $1 of seed. Burpee seed company argues that a gardener can get an average return of $25 worth of produce for every $1 worth of seed you plant (with green beans being the most lucrative at $75:1 investment and potatoes being the least at $5:1).

In recent years, GRuB’s Kitchen Garden Project gardeners have weighed everything they’ve produced from their three 4×8 foot raised garden beds, and calculated generating over $600 of produce (averaging produce cost at about $2/pound) in one year. The beds should last around five years, meaning some $3,000 worth of produce. The gardens themselves, including seeds and vegetable starts, cost GRuB about $500 to put in.

Of course, the variable that isn’t factored into any of these equations is time. If you have a 100 square foot garden, you’ll find yourself working several hours each week to fight back weeds and keep your veggies happy. Once we put a monetary number on your time and include it as a garden input, suddenly the math gets skewed—unless you’ve got magic thumbs, your veggies will probably pay significantly less than minimum wage by the hour.

Lucky for us gardeners, when we’re out with our hands in the dirt, sun shining on our faces and kids laughing, it’s easy to not worry as much about money. Investing in a garden isn’t a guarantee that you’ll grow produce worth much more than the initial price—between deer, cats, and curious kids, things can go wrong. Things can also go very right.

Investing in a garden is a guarantee that you’ll spend more time outside, breathing in fresh air and waving hello to passing neighbors. A garden investment has a terribly high risk of improving your overall life satisfaction and personal well-being. Plus, it’s a guarantee that any curious kids who might be around will learn the powerful lessons of patience, appreciation, and wonder. You might just re-learn a few of those lessons yourself. Yes, starting a garden is an investment, and although it may not bear fruit financially, it will definitely bear many other things—including vegetables.

GRuB’s mission is to inspire positive personal and community change by bringing people together around food and agriculture. This year we are supporting even more of our community in making the investment in their land, their health, and their food by offering sliding scale gardens for purchase through the Food Investment Garden (FIG) pilot project. GRuB can get you growing with seeds, vegetable starts, and gardening workshop access in addition to building your new garden.

Contact to get your order in today —help make this project a success and make an investment not only in your own well-being, but in the well-being of our community.



Naturescaping for Water and Wildlife Field Class

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 2:37pm
Event:  Sat, 05/03/2014 - 10:00am - 5:00pm

Learn about sustainable landscaping techniques that will save you time and money while attracting birds and butterflies to your garden and protecting water resources. “Naturescaping for Water & Wildlife” will be offered on Saturday, May 3, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Olympia. A classroom session will be followed by a field trip to local private gardens; bus transportation will be provided.

Seasoned horticulture experts Linda Andrews, a professional landscape designer, and Erica Guttman of Washington State University Extension will lead the class. Topics include how to make a landscaping plan; design ideas for outdoor living spaces; managing drainage, slopes and other trouble spots; how to reduce unnecessary lawn; how to create habitat for birds and butterflies; and selecting water-wise plants for all four seasons.

The class is free, but advance registration is required as space is limited. Visit for online registration; or contact 360-867-2167 or The class is co-sponsored by WSU Extension's Native Plant Salvage Project and Thurston County Stream Team. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

The Adventures of Cyndi Nelson and Her Seniors

Thurston Talk - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 1:20pm



By Barb Lally

sunset air“Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Realtor Cyndi Nelson reads mystery novels, watches NCIS, and helps seniors with their housing needs. To her, they are all adventures that involve problem solving and putting together the pieces of a great puzzle.

With a calm demeanor, Cyndi tells tales of exciting experiences that led up to what she calls her passion, helping seniors make smart decisions for a new phase in life.

olympia realtor

Cyndi Nelson is a Realtor with MVP Realty Group, a member of the Senior Action Network and finds working for seniors her greatest adventure.

Despite an “Ozzie and Harriet” middle class upbringing, Cyndi has always had a thirst for adventure. Her first job was working at Bruce’s Poodle Parlor on the beach in California, followed by a lengthy list of new experiences and places that rival the storybook Alice.

There was a job as a court reporter in Alaska, selling billboards in California, opening a daycare center in South Lake Tahoe, a stint as a dispatcher and jail matron at the Eldorado County Sheriff’s office and then a return to Alaska to work for a state legislator. Gathering no moss, next stop was Boston where her husband, Carl, was earning his masters degree at Harvard and Cyndi worked for Ernst and Young. And that’s not the half of it.

Eventually, the Nelson’s settled in Olympia. Soon after, Cyndi did more than just get her real estate license, she found her greatest adventure.

She has not moved since.

Hooked on Helping Seniors and Their Families

Two years after getting her broker’s license in Washington, an estate attorney asked her for a market analysis on a home when its owner had passed away.

“It was an amazing, quaint place and the property had a huge barn,” Cyndi describes. “But it was packed with clutter and toxic debris.”

The wheels began to turn in Cyndi’s head. “I recommended that the family put a couple of thousand dollars into clearing and cleaning the place to increase its value. The property sold for $40,000 more than they expected. I was hooked. I had put the pieces of the puzzle together for them to get the most value for the home. That’s the thrill of it all and I have been working on estates and for seniors since.”

olympia realtor senior

Cyndi Nelson helps Rose put together the pieces of the puzzle on the sale of her home.

Today Cyndi will tell you with a flash of her winsome smile that she will only admit to being a senior for the discounts. She was born on the early cusp of the baby boomer generation, between 1946 and 1964, a demographic that makes up nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population and faces its own challenges.

“Boomers are now a ‘sandwich’ generation. At 65, not only are they caring for their elderly parents but they also have kids who are moving home because of the economy. They get caught between the two.”

“Fortunately, our son Adam was just accepted to grad school, but my brother, sister and I are supporting our parents, a financial pressure that affects our own future,” Cyndi says knowingly. “We all ought to pre-plan for those years and not make the same mistakes.”

Resources help solve the senior puzzle

As a member of the Senior Action Network (SAN) and with years of experience helping seniors, Cyndi has gathered a network of experts who help her clients with any phase of their moves and care.

olympia realtor

Cyndi and Rose walk the Chehalis Western Trail on one of their visits.

“It is not just about real estate,” says Cyndi, who has earned the Realtor designation of Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES). “When seniors make changes in their housing there are other lifestyle decisions. The possibilities are exciting and the options are many.”

“Some want to sell their home and use the equity to move into one of the many assisted living choices here,” she continues.  ”Seniors who own their home ‘free and clear’ can choose to rent it out for monthly income. Some may need to de-clutter and move into a ‘right-size’ home. And, there are seniors who want to stay in their home or buy a second home, using a reverse mortgage. I know people in the area who are experts for all those options and more.”

She often visits one of her senior clients who lives at The Firs in Olympia to give her an update on the sale of her home. Rose finds it comforting and often tells Cyndi that she just couldn’t do it without her.

“She goes above and beyond,” Rose says without hesitation. “There aren’t many people who would do as much as she does.”

Cyndi tries to explain to people what her work as a Realtor means.

“When people ask me, how did you get into sales? My answer is that this is as far way from sales as you possibly could be,” Cyndi firmly states.

“We facilitate. You can’t sell anyone just anything and have peace of mind. It is all part of the big puzzle of a person’s needs and wants. When you put the pieces together it makes a great picture. I find it rewarding to help the senior community with a new picture of their next big adventure in life.”

To learn more about Cyndi Nelson, call MVP Realty Group at 360-915-9123.


Washington Guaranteed Education Tuition: GET the Outlook

Thurston Talk - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:57am



GET-OutlookThe Guaranteed Education Tuition Program, GET, is the second-largest and fastest-growing prepaid tuition plan in the nation.  At the close of the 2013 enrollment period, there were over 152,000 accounts.

Currently in its sixteenth year, families who enrolled their young children in the college savings plan are now sending their students off to college which means that GET has paid out nearly a half billion dollars from over 34,000 accounts of students attending colleges, universities and technical schools in all fifty states and fourteen foreign countries. Washington families are resoundingly choosing GET as part of their college savings planning and are reassured by the unique state guarantee.

Just as families debate how to fund their child’s college education so do lawmakers discuss the issue of funding higher education in our state. “There were some tense moments during the 2013 state legislative session as lawmakers wrestled with the challenge of how to fund higher education,” said Betty Lochner, GET Director.

“We’re happy to report that as the session progressed, several legislators, state officials and citizens spoke up and made it clear that this important program should be preserved for future generations,” added Lochner.

It became apparent that GET is a valuable asset to Washington families and plays a critical role in making a college education possible for our state’s families. Not only does offering a college savings plan to our Washington State residents assist in making college more affordable in the long run because you pay a lower price now for future, more expensive tuition and reduce the need for student loans in the future but it helps motivate children toward higher education.

Students who know they have a college savings account are seven times more likely to attend postsecondary education.  GET helps in setting financial and educational goals.

For more information on the GET program or how to enroll go to the GET website, call 800-955-2318 or email

Enrollment is open through May 31.


Signs of spring (Olyblogosphere for April 7, 2014)

Olympia Time - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 6:03am
1. Sue Gunn, despite sounding environmentalist, is still holding the conservative line in Thurston County. At least according to Ken of Lacey.

2. One little post about Moving to Olympia becomes the meta-fight of the city.

Says one:

Statistically we have a much higher population of youth homeless than is common.
Says another:

You're still focusing all of your energy onto the symptom and not the problem.
And, another:

Young people choosing irresponsibility in life shouldn't be the burden to bear of those who are responsible enough to pay our own way through life. Move to Olympia. Get more of this. Just don't move here without a job. Seriously.

3. Ryan Williams lives around here and he's a pretty good writer. The Myth of the Day Off. Look, here are all of the books by him.

4.There are a lot of local guys in professional baseball. More than you think.

5. Via Olyblog, through a tweet by me, copying and pasting an email I got which included an attachment of an essay by Bethany Weidner. Things are getting warm in the Planning Commission.
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