Recent local blog posts

Hallowzine: a benefit for the Olympia Zine Fest

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 3:42pm
Event:  Sat, 11/01/2014 - 7:00pm - 10:00pm

Hallowzine flyer

All proceeds go towards renting space for the Olympia Zine Fest, coming to downtown Olympia in 2015!  Thanks! logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Pink Elephant’s Gravecast 019

K Records - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 3:19pm
The Pink Elephant’s Gravecast is also available from Stitcher and iTunes. This episode of the Pink Elephant’s Graveyard is an exploration of music discovered on a recent West Coast tour by the Hive Dwellers  (of which Calvin Johnson is a member, along with Ben Kapp and Gabriel Will). We follow the Hive Dwellers from Washington […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

FCC Approves Sale of KGY1240 AM Radio

Thurston Talk - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 7:11am


Submitted by KGY Radio

The KGYBUILDINGFederal Communications Commission has approved the sale of radio station KGY 1240AM.  Sacred Heart Radio, based in the Seattle area, closed on the transaction today and will take over the operation and programming as of October 16.

Jennifer Kerry, President of KGY, Inc. noted that the station will continue at 95.3 on the FM dial and said that  “…we have moved the legendary programming and community involvement of KGY to 95.3 on the FM band and the sale of 1240 AM is a great opportunity to bring more programming diversity to Olympia.”

Sacred Heart Radio is a radio network originating at KBLE 1050AM in Seattle with additional stations in Yakima, Spokane, Kodiak and now Olympia.  The non-profit group is headed by Ron Belter.

There are no staffing changes anticipated in the operation of KGY 95.3FM.

Jennifer Kerry’s grandfather, Tom Olsen, bought KGY in 1939 and it has been owned by the family since then.  KGY, Inc. also owns KAYO 96.9FM, South Sound Country and will continue to operate both KAYO and the new KGY on 95.3FM. Both stations are managed by Jackson Dell Weaver.

“Reach Out at the Well” Returns to Downtown Following Successful Summer Event

Thurston Talk - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 6:58am



Submitted by Renata Rollins for Reach out at the Well

Free community fair aims to foster courageous community caretaking

artesian wellFollowing a successful first run, “Reach Out at the Well” returns to downtown’s Artesian Commons Park on Friday October 17 from noon to 3 p.m.

The free community fair is hosted by the Olympia Outreach Workers League, a coalition of nearly a dozen downtown service organizations who operate with generous volunteer support. Participating organizations setup booths and provide information on their services and volunteer opportunities.

“We aim to uplift the downtown neighborhood through strengthening relationships, cultivating networks, and encouraging volunteerism,” said Renata Rollins, event organizer and a coordinator with the Outreach Workers League. “It’s all about the ethic of courageous community caretaking. It takes a village to raise a village.”

All are welcome, whether seeking volunteer opportunities or a little help getting through a rough patch, or even just to get in touch with the Downtown Neighborhood.

With winter weather approaching, there’s a big push for volunteers at the local shelters, when they experience a swell in their overnight numbers.

“Volunteering is fun and provides community members with the opportunity to directly engage with children and families,” said Natalie Moran of the Family Support Center, which opened the family shelter, Pear Blossom Place, in July. “We welcome children to volunteer alongside their parents. Without the dedication and support of volunteers, the community’s largest homeless family shelter would not be possible.”

“We encourage groups, churches, schools and any other interested organization to consider volunteering together to cover a certain period of time,” said Meg Martin, shelter director with Interfaith Works, whose new Emergency Overnight Shelter opens November 1 at First Christian Church. “We are also looking for volunteers to share skills, information and teach enrichment classes as well. This is a great way to gain a better understanding of an important social issue that extends far beyond our downtown.”

The Downtown Neighborhood Association will join the fall event, along with returning groups such as Covenant Creatures, which gives out free pet food and supplies at the fair; several youth and family organizations; and free/low-cost health clinics and services. Sea-Mar Clinic will offer Medicaid enrollment for those who qualify. The Downtown Ambassadors will serve as official greeters, serving up free hot coffee donated by Burial Grounds.

The event runs noon to 3 p.m. on Friday October 17 at downtown’s Artesian Commons Park, commonly called “the Well,” at 415 E. Fourth Ave.


Thrifty Thurston Gets Scared at Local Haunted Houses and Corn Mazes

Thurston Talk - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 6:53am



By Alyssa Ramsfield

hanson motors sponsorNothing puts me in a better state of mind for Halloween than an old fashioned fright. Whether it’s a vampire awakening from his tomb or a scarecrow come to life, Thurston County is full of haunted houses and corn mazes to satisfy the need for a good scare.

olympia haunted house

Scary-Nights Haunted House makes it easy to have spine-tingling fun and support the community!

There is one haunted house that stands out as being the scariest place year after year, My Morbid Mind. Owner Kevin Noah strives to be the best haunt in all of Washington. This labor of love started as a backyard spine-tingling event and has grown to a mammoth barn packed to the brim with props, actors, and special effects. This year is better than ever boasting new ghosts and ghouls. While this spooky spot is considered a PG-13 attraction, on Halloween from 5:00 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. the lights turn on and the creatures hand out candy for the “Kids Walk Thru.” It’s the perfect opportunity to take the whole family for some frightful fun.

If you head south to Bucoda, you can support a great cause and check out the terrifying entertainment at Scary-Nights Haunted House. This event is three years old to the Bucoda location, but has been haunting areas around the Northwest for 15 years.  Tickets are being sold across the county with money going right back into the community. Two dollars from each ticket bought locally, will go to the Tenino Quarry Pool. Your screams of support are greatly appreciated at Scary-Nights.


olympia corn maze

Schilter Family Farm brings the land of Oz to life with this year’s corn maze.

Rutledge Corn Maze just gets bigger and better every year. The annual haunted maze starts as the sun falls behind the Black Hills. Actors and props are hidden amongst the maze making the route for escape a difficult task. Rutledge has also added a Zombie Paintball Hunt. Visitors can take out prop and actor zombies with mounted paintball guns as they ride through the farm. Family activities that are available include a kid-friendly trip in the maze and corn train during the day.

Fall Harvest Festival is in full effect at Schilter Family Farm. A big part of the 5-acres festival is dedicated to their corn maze. This expansive network of twists and turns takes an average of an hour to complete. This year’s theme is The Wizard of Oz. On October 18 and 25, the maze comes alive with The Dark Side of Oz. The Wicked Witch of the West takes flight along with her troop of monkeys swooping in on unsuspecting victims trying to find their way through the dark abyss. This special evening event is not recommended for the faint of heart.

Blood curdling screams and chilling thrills can be found across Thurston County. Be sure to check out all of these eerie venues before the clock strikes midnight on All Hallows’ Eve.

Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County.  The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community.  If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at  For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.


You Can Help Shape Olympia’s Future Neighborhood Centers

Thurston Talk - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 6:37am



Submitted by The City of Olympia

 Jennifer Crain.

The Wildwood Building, serves as a neighborhood hub.  Help plan more throughout the city. Photo credit: Jennifer Crain.

The City of Olympia is laying the groundwork for supporting successful neighborhood centers. These small-scale neighborhood activity hubs offer residents convenient shopping and other services within a half-mile or 20-minute walk from home, contributing to a healthy lifestyle, helping us reduce our carbon footprint, and fostering neighborhood interaction.

What kinds of neighborhood centers do you want in Olympia?  Fill out our short questionnaire on OLYSpeaks at This survey will be open until midnight on October 28, 2014.

The Olympia Planning Commission is tentatively scheduled to hold a public hearing on Monday, November 17, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall about initial exploration of the City’s neighborhood center regulations.

For more information, please contact Amy Buckler or Michelle Sadlier at 360.753.8314 or

The Posture of Pain

Thurston Talk - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 6:00am



olympia massage

Kenton Stuth, owner of In Touch Therapy, has been a licensed massage therapist for eight years.

We’ve all experienced it – a strain in our neck or a pinch in our lower back. These common discomforts can often make daily activities and chores strenuous and difficult. However, Founder and Clinic Director of In Touch Therapy, Kenton Stuth, says there are a few simple changes we can make in our daily movements that can help alleviate and even prevent these common pains.

Stuth says one of the most common complaints his clients come in with is in regard to neck pain. He says people often attribute pain in their neck to “sleeping wrong.” This is, however, a common misconception.

Stuth says, rather than “sleeping wrong,” people engage in activities prior to sleep that cause tenseness in the neck region. “I can’t tell people to stop sleeping,” he explains, so instead, Stuth suggests changing the activities you engage in prior to sleep that could be causing discomfort when you wake up. “It’s the daily, little things we do,” he says. “You don’t throw your back out from loading the dishwasher wrong. You throw your back out from loading the dishwasher wrong for 20 years.”

Stuth continues, explaining that, “People all have postures which contribute to their pain.” Being able to identify where your pain is coming from is a good place to start when trying to alleviate discomfort. Stuth says pain usually travels front-to-back and bottom-to-top.  So if you are experiencing pain in your back, look at your front, and if you feel pain in your knee, look at your ankle.

“The biggest thing that hurts people is bending over. When you bend over – at the knees or back – and twist at the same time, it puts a lot of pressure on the discs in your back. This can cause herniations and other painful conditions,” says Stuth. “Try to keep everything pointed the same direction. If you bend over and need to turn, bend, stand up, and then turn your entire body, rather than twisting while bent over,” suggests Stuth.

Stuth says a few other good rules of thumb to follow are:

  • Don’t lean over when you brush your teeth. And, if you find yourself leaning over anyway, use your hand to prop yourself up.
  • When you get out of bed, don’t sit up. Turn on your side, then push yourself up.
  • If you work at a computer, elevate the monitor so that it is level with your vision and your head is pointed straight ahead.
  • Find out which of your eyes is dominant and orient your office or workspace so that it accommodates your dominant side, alleviating strain.

These are just a few changes you can apply to the way you move your body during daily activities that will encourage healthy body movement and alleviate pain brought on by improper, repetitive motions.


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

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

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

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


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

Griffin Middle School Band to Perform at Disneyland

Thurston Talk - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 5:06pm



Submitted by Griffin School District

A “Support the Band” campaign aims to help all students attend.

Music is changing the lives of 90+ students from Griffin Middle School.  All of their hard work and practice is taking them from the school band room to Disneyland.  In May they auditioned, and over the summer they were accepted to perform at the Disney Magic Music Festival in Anaheim during their spring break – April, 2015.

Although rehearsal is underway, their bags aren’t packed just yet.  The students are reaching out to the community for support to help defer the cost of shipping their instruments, transportation to and from the airport, and for travel uniforms.  Most importantly, they want to help their fellow students who are in financial need.  In the coming weeks, students will be asking friends, family, and local businesses for donations.

Band Director, Jennifer Sagerser marvels at how far they’ve come.  “I’m so exited for this band.  It’s amazing to see how much they’ve progressed over the last couple of years.  Superintendent/Principal Greg Woods adds, “We’re so proud of them, and we hope the community will help these students realize this great opportunity.”

Donation checks should be made out to Griffin ASB – Disney Band Trip, and mailed to: Griffin School, 6530 – 33rd Avenue NW, Olympia, WA 98502.  For more information, please contact Jennifer Sagerser, Band Director, or 360-866-5837.

History of Washington’s Death Penalty discussed at Saint Martin’s University Harvie Social Justice Lecture

Thurston Talk - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 4:25pm


Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

prisoner saint martinsNick Brown, general counsel to Gov. Jay Inslee, will discuss the history of the death penalty in Washington State and the factors leading Inslee to suspend the use of capital punishment at the next installment of the Robert A. Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series on Friday, November 7. “Washington State’s Moratorium on the Death Penalty,” which is free and open to the public, will begin at 4 p.m. at Saint Martin’s University in Harned Hall, Room 110, on the Lacey campus, 5000 Abbey Way SE.

Inslee imposed the moratorium in February, an action that caught many people by surprise, but he arrived at the decision following a careful review and reflection of its application in our state. Since that time, there has been heightened, national attention on the death penalty and its fairness and cost.

Brown is a Washington native, having grown up in Steilacoom. He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, on an Army ROTC scholarship and received a B.A. in political science. He then attended law school at Harvard University.

Following his graduation in 2002, he entered the Army Jag Corps, where he went through Airborne School and served as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. He spent a year serving in Baghdad, Iraq, with the 3rd Infantry Division and left the service in 2007.

Before joining the governor’s office in 2013, Brown spent six years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, where he prosecuted violent crime, white collar, narcotics, and firearms cases. He spent the last two years as the office’s gang coordinator, working with federal and local task forces to prosecute gang crimes throughout Western Washington.

In his current role, Brown is the principal legal advisor to the governor, advising the governor and his staff on an array of legal matters. His primary responsibilities include: reviewing litigation matters; managing the governor’s judicial appointment process; providing policy guidance; advising the governor on clemency and parole decisions; reviewing legislation and serving as the lead ethics advisor.

The Robert A. Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series, now in its ninth year, was created by Saint Martin’s University Professor of Criminal Justice Robert Hauhart, Ph.D., J.D., chair of the University’s Department of Society and Social Justice, to raise awareness of social justice issues within the community. The series honors the work of Robert A. Harvie, J.D., former professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at Saint Martin’s.

For more information, contact Robert Hauhart at 360-438-4525 or

New Landscaping Will Improve Views and Safety at Port Plaza

Thurston Talk - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 4:18pm



Submitted by The Port of Olympia

landscape port of olympiaPort Plaza’s landscaping is being renovated to improve public safety, open view corridors, and ensure enjoyment for years to come. The renovation will begin in mid-October.

Since the Plaza’s construction and landscaping in 1998, much of the foliage has overgrown its space, creating potential safety risks and blocking view corridors.

The designer of Port Plaza’s original landscape, Robert W. Droll, created the current Landscape Renovation Plan. Puget Sound Landscaping is the contractor implementing the Plan.

Work on the project is expected to last approximately 30 days, depending upon the weather.

Thank you for your patience during the renovation process.

Brightside, Rookie Town, Trust Club, Wolf King, A Friend and Sullivan Street

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 4:00pm

Wednesday, October 15th, doors at 7pm

OCS Presents

Brightside –
Rookie Town –
Trust Club – San Francisco Post-Hardcore
Wolf King – Bay Area Blackened Hardcore –
A Friend –

Sullivan Street –

All Ages | 7PM | $5

Facebook Invite


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Dan Attoe: Wednesday, October 22nd, 11:30-1:00 pm in Lecture Hall 1

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 4:00pm


Dan Attoe was born in 1975 in Bremerton, Washington.  He grew up in parts of Washingon, Idaho, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and now lives in Washougal, Washington.  He received his BFA from the University of Wisconsin in ’98 and his MFA from the University of Iowa in ’04. Dan is represented by Peres Projects Berlin, Western Exhibitions in Chicago and Fourteen30 Contemporary in Portland, Oregon.  He has had several solo shows in Los Angeles, Chicago and Berlin, as well as several throughout Europe.

His most recent gallery solo shows were Landscapes with Water, at Peres Projects in Berlin in March 2014, and Dan Attoe at 1430 Contemporary in Portland in May 2014.  Dan has been in numerous group shows in galleries all over the world and several museums – including the Portland Art Museum.  He worked with and was part of the inspiration for a line of clothing by fashion designer Adam Kimmel in 2011.  Dan is also one of the founders of the art collaborative Paintallica whose most recent installation was at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. He enjoys the beauty and the culture in the Northwest and Portland where he sometimes teaches courses at Portland State University.


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Fall is in Full Swing at The Plant Place

Thurston Talk - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 3:21pm



Submitted by The Plant Place Nursery

Autumn colors abound at The Plant Place Nursery with shade and ornamental trees showing their best fall foliage.  Shrubs are also shining right now. Rhododendrons, Barberry, Oak Leaf Hydrangeas, and Smoke Bush all burst with blazing color at this time of the year. Probably the most well-known for iconic autumnal charm is the stately Maple tree.  At The Plant Place you will find Maple trees with names like Autumn Radiance, Flame, Crimson King, and Pacific Sunset.  The word lover in me would buy them for their name alone.  But you should come on out to the lot and see for yourself.

For the rest of October everything on the lot is on sale.  EVERYTHING is 20% off.  The retail lot will close for the winter after the last day of the sale which is November 1.

Come on over to 3333 South Bay Rd. NE Olympia, WA 98506.  Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00am-5:30pm.  Closed Sunday and Monday.

Plant Place Fall Color (1) Plant Place Fall Color (2) Plant Place Fall Color (3) Plant Place Fall Color (4) Plant Place Fall Color (5) Plant Place Fall Color (6) Plant Place Fall Color (7) Plant Place Fall Color (8) Plant Place Fall Color (9) Plant Place Fall Color (10) Plant Place Fall Color (11) Plant Place Fall Color (12) Plant Place Fall Color (13)

Here Come the Rains – You Can Prevent Clogged Street Drain

Thurston Talk - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 1:58pm


Submitted  by Thurston County  The fall monsoon will be upon us any day now — and when those first autumn rains hit, some 20,000 miles of drainage pipes and ditches and hundreds of thousands of street drains in King, Snohomish, Kitsap and Pierce counties will be put to the test. Although public utility crews work hard throughout the year to maintain drainage systems and get them ready for the storm season, a single big fall gale with high winds and driving rain can clog an overwhelming number of street drains with fallen leaves and litter, in a matter of hours. At such times, utility crews are literally swamped with work as they labor to clear clogged drains that can lead to flooded streets, potential property damage and dangerous driving conditions.  (Throughout the four-county area, it is estimated that there are several hundred thousand street drains—just in Seattle, there are nearly 80,000.) The good news is that every year during the fall and winter storm season, people around the region pitch in to help keep street drains clear of debris and protect their neighborhoods from flooding. Take Winter By Storm — a regional campaign to help people get prepared before bad weather strikes — is urging Western Washington residents to once again lend a helping hand to control stormwater in their yards and neighborhoods.
  • Among the steps residents and businesses can take to get ready for the storm season are:
  • Adopt a local street drain. Help prevent flooding in your neighborhood by raking drains free of debris.
  • When working in and around streets, be safe. Have a spotter to watch for traffic, and wear bright colors. Try and do your raking from the curbside. And never—under any circumstances— attempt to remove storm drain grates or manhole covers. If you don’t feel it’s safe to unclog a drain, or if you’ve dropped something down a street drain, please call your local public utility.
  • Maintain gutters, downspouts, rain barrels, private culverts — by keeping them clean, flowing and directed away from properties and hillsides.
  • Know the emergency hotline number for your local drainage utility to report sewer backups, major flooding and landslide issues.
  • Visit the Take Winter By Storm website,, for a downloadable house maintenance checklist which includes a number of other weatherization tips. is a one-stop emergency preparedness information hub that includes safety tips and regional resources related to high winds, heavy rain, snow, freezing conditions, power outages, flooding and more. For more information on the Take Winter by Storm campaign:
  • Visit us online:
  • Like us on Facebook: Take Winter By Storm
  • Follow us on Twitter: @WinterByStorm, #stormready, #winterprep View us on YouTube: Take Winter By Storm
About Take Winter By Storm The Take Winter By Storm campaign is a collaborative, public-private effort between King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties, Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light, Snohomish County Public Utility District, the cities of Bellevue and Seattle, State Farm, National Weather Service/NOAA, and other local retailers – which represent Washington state’s largest counties and city emergency management offices and utilities, the leading insurer of homes and automobiles, weather forecasters, first responders during disaster occurrences and local businesses. These organizations have joined forces in the major multi-media public awareness campaign to raise community awareness of hazardous weather and help protect lives and property.

Shelton School Board Proposes Transgender Student Policy at a Rowdy Board Meeting

OlyBlog Home Page - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 10:26am

I'm not sure how to embed the video here or I would have.  The rest of the story with video and the pictures are at



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The rights of things non-human

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

The case of corporations and nature

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Los derechos de las cosas no-humanas

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

El caso de las corporaciones y la naturaleza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LBA Woods Park at critical juncture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letter to Works in Progress

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

About the September 2014 Issue

To Works in Progress staff:

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

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

Thank you for the opportunity to express my thoughts.

Susan Todd, Olympia

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