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How Bikes Will Help Save Our Economy

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Tonight Spokane participated in the worldwide Ride of Silence honoring those who have been injured or killed while cycling on public roadways. Earlier today, I got my bike back after repairs after I was hit by a car. I shook the entire way on my first ride since the collision.

There’s no shoulder on Sprague Avenue where I was riding, but cars revved their engines passing me: universal driver-to-cyclist code for “getthef—outofmylane!” So maybe today is a good day to talk about why we should prioritize bicycle safety in Spokane, even in a recession, as an investment in our city’s economic wellbeing.

In a low-income city where many don’t have access to a reliable car, increasing bicyclist safety is necessary to our economic success — but bike infrastructure costs money, so bicycle advocates must make a sound economic argument for how we’re asking to spend taxpayer money during a time when those taxpayers are tight on money themselves.

To do so, our community should be quantifying the return we get from our investment in bike infrastructure like we do for motor vehicle infrastructure, then making smart choices about how to maximize that return. Unemployment is at 10.5% – our citizens are primarily concerned about economic growth to create jobs. A successful case for investing in bike lanes will address how bicycle infrastructure can aid in our city’s economic recovery.

Fiscal conservatives are most likely to support taxes when they’re a measurable investment in the economic health of our community. With regard to transportation infrastructure, many fiscal conservatives don’t buy the “you’ve gotta spend tax money to make money” adage unless it’s for motor vehicle infrastructure. I agree that functional, safe and efficient roads are essential to economic activity, but the case for transportation infrastructure shouldn’t be limited to serving motor vehicles.

For the same reasons we have to spend money on roads for cars, we have to spend money on bike infrastructure. We increase individuals’ ability to be employed — then spend the money they earn — by supporting bicycle transportation. It’s as easy as copy-and-pasting the argument made for freeway projects: If we can’t get goods and people to the same place at the same time, we don’t have an economy.

Take the argument made by Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI) for the North-South Corridor project in Spokane:

“Maneuvering up and down Division Street while dodging trucks won’t be an issue anymore – for anyone. The North Spokane Corridor gives freight mobility an easier, faster route for truck loads traveling north to south, or south to north. Getting to Interstate 90 will now be much easier, and much safer.

Constructing the corridor creates jobs, which pay money, which circulates throughout the community. The workers pay for housing, utilities, food, vehicles, household furnishings, apparel, medical services, and so on. Many of those purchases are taxed, which helps our city budget. The corridor will also open the opportunity for businesses to open up along the route, thus helping grow the East Spokane and Hillyard District.”

GSI makes the argument for moving consumers and freight — and, equally importantly, the economic need for those very consumers to be employed. I’m not so sold on the idea that work projects will revive our economy, but we should to consider how mobility impacts employ-ability.

If you can’t get to work, you can’t work. In Spokane, the cost of a car trumps convenience for a lot of people — our median household income 7.25% below the national average and 16.9% below the Washington State average. Especially for low-income people who already face significant barriers to employment, lack of transportation can be a deal breaker. If “dependable transportation” doesn’t appear on a job application (and it often does), the requirement is implicit.

The same argument goes for consumption. If it’s harder to get places, you go to fewer places and buy fewer things — or only go to a few places to buy things. This is particularly problematic for businesses who exist on cars-only corridors like Division and Hamilton, and for places hard to access by bus.

Sure, biking isn’t ideal for everyone, but it’s a quicker and cheaper option than a car or even the bus for many people — for example, people who live and work within city limits. It’s great for people who work Downtown and can’t afford to park a car downtown for eight hours a day. It’s great for people who zip between appointments in and around Downtown. It’s great for people who have a car but ride a bike to work for the exercise when convenient. And by “great” I don’t just mean “super, super fun,” I mean cheap, convenient and thus, good for our economy.

Notice that I said “supporting bicycle transportation,” not “striping bike lanes.” That’s because it’s not bike lanes that increase cyclists’ safety, it’s the number of cyclists on the road. The more of us there are, the safer we all are. More people will bike when they feel safer on the road. The solution to that chicken-and-egg situation is to take action that makes people feel safer, so that we actually become safer. Sometimes that does mean paving a bike lane, but we’ve got to get past the idea that this is bike lane wars.

Many contentious bike lane debates can be solved with shared lane markings, or sharrows. They work in places where bike lanes don’t, like in urban areas where streets are too narrow to include a bike lane. The cost of many bike infrastructure projects, like sharrows or bike lanes, can be significantly reduced by adding those features as part of road improvement projects.

Education, like offering bike safety workshops, and accessibility, through programs like earn-a-bike programs or helmet subsidies, can be achieved in partnership with bike shops and non-profits at a super low cost to taxpayers.

However we decide to spend our taxpayer dollars on making bicycling more accessible to Spokane residents, we should regard it as an investment in our economic future.

Dark Side of the Sun

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Spokane is a city full of khaki, blue and gray. When people deck themselves out in black around here it is often meant to signify something. To some it is anti-social and threatening. To others it is a sign that someone isn’t bound by confining social norms and is more likely to accept you for who you are.

Next time I’m riding around without my backpack I’ll just follow suit and clasp my U-Lock around my neck. Problem solved!

The Power of Positive Biking

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A while back I received the following:

Dear Spovangelist,

We came across your blog today and thought that you might want to know about a cycling jersey we are selling that is stirring up quite a buzz. The new jerseys at www.sharethedamnroad.comsend a message to aggressive drivers.

If you decide you want to write a little something about us for your blog, let us know and we will reciprocate a link back to you!

Best regards,
Jonathan Ciaccio

While I am an avid commuter and have been nearly run over on a few occasions due to driver rage or inattention, I’m not sure if I would wear one of their pre-printed shirts around town.

While I dig the inverted “Thanks!” on the front of the jerseys, certain Spokanites can get touchy behind the wheel, and I feel like the “more flies with honey” truism is particularly true in our town. Why not take the non-violent communication route?

I totally appreciate the purpose of avoiding accidents, raising awareness and keeping people safe, and am therefore more excited about Share the Damn Road’s customizable shirt options. What do you think about the following:

“One More Parking Spot”

“One Less Disease On Your Dollar”

“Please Pass Me : )”

“<- These Two Lanes Are For You”

“Go Ahead, Check Out My Legs”

“Biking For The U.S.A.”

“Zipping Between Potholes Since 2007″

“Visualize Green Lights”

An Open Letter to the Spokanite in all of us

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This is a letter written by the woman I have the biggest lady crush on. She’s darn cute, super smart and is the lead singer of a band. If she and I both had not found our respective significant others I would ask her to run away with me (except not away, like to Browne’s Addition or something.) Caroline Francis Schibel is the lead singer of the band Mon Cheri, my dream girl, and someone that gives a damn about our fair city.

 
Photo Credit: The Inlander

“I’ve been thinking a lot about Spokane lately (especially my love/hate relationship with it) and of course after much debate (and internal struggle) a light bulb went off in my head and I literally almost fell out of my chair when I realized *gasp! “My love for this city is stronger than my hate!”… DUH, that’s why I’m still here. Now I suddenly want to aid in making Spokane a better place, legitimately (you can smack me for not thinking of this before, I deserve it).

Here is the crisis our city faces: all of the cool people with their neat ideas and their entrepreneurship LEAVE SPOKANE to make it big somewhere else. Do the math! If everyone with a good idea leaves (at least 90% of them do) then Spokane will continue to just chug along as it is, sputtering its remaining drops of creativity into damn near nothingness. Not acceptable. I’ve seen many promising people start to try to dabble in the non-existent scene that is Spokane (only a “scene” about twice a year when events like Elkfest and Terrain happen, and thank God for those eh?) and when Spokane doesn’t respond, said promising people leave and become Seattle-ites or Portlanders, which is basically like a giant F YOU to those of us remaining here. So I’m going to propose an idea for you entrepreneurs: STAY. No, it’s not going to be easy. Yes, the city can be hard to work with and can make owning and running your own business kind of like digging your own grave, but we have to start somewhere, right? Besides, I’m really good with a shovel (and using it to knock sense into the city runs across my mind constantly.) I’m willing to NEGOTIATE rather than fight, and I have a really hard time taking no for an answer.

All joking aside, the most recent events to make me despise my beloved city (heh) involve The MAC and The Empyrean… WHY do we act like we hate the arts and the local businesses so much? I see the glimmers of hope, I see people starting to try to do something with Spokane, and I get so damn excited. Then, something weird happens with the sprinkler systems (or lack thereof…seriously?) or there’s a budget cut or a sudden lack of funding, and we’re left with the bitter tears of those people who put so much work into a business that would absolutely THRIVE in other cities but gets turned on by its own. Doesn’t that make you angry? At least a little bit?

It sure makes me angry, especially since Spokane has so much potential (think Garland area, the ever adorable Perry District, Browne’s Addition, South Hill, Downtown etc). This place is cheap to live in, and it’s begging for more people to realize that it can also be a cheap place to THRIVE in. Hell, Spokane is even considered to be one of the safest places to live in the US (as far as natural disasters go, that is); and if we could just hurdle this stupid meth habit crap, we’d really top the charts!

So I want to hear your ideas. I want to know how you think we can band together and reach out to more than just the 10% of us that always get involved… it’s all about growth, right?! I know that I could get some people from the Valley excited about making Spokane better (don’t scoff at the Valley, that’s my childhood turf!), and using our amazing networking skills, we could actually get a TON of people in-and-around the area involved.

I know that people in Spokane are already starting to try to make this all happen, so please don’t think that I’m not acknowledging the massive effort a lot of you have already put forth in making this a better place. I just don’t want it to hit a wall: I want it to break all those damn walls down and start thriving. I want to feel good about loving this city as much as I do. I want to see people succeed, I want to see them gain support from their community! I don’t want the barriers of “valley” vs. “city”  or “South” vs “North” or “punk” vs “hipster” to hold us back either: we’re going to need all the help we can get.

I want to get involved, that’s for damn sure.

So the big question is: Who’s with me, and where can we meet for beer?”

Caroline Schibel

Member of Mon Chéri

Lover of Spokane, WA

Preach it, sister. I’m with you.

06 DIY Headboard Ideas – Creative Inspiration For Your Bedroom

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06 DIY Headboard Ideas – Creative Inspiration For Your Bedroom

Your bedroom is your sanctuary. It is much more than just the room you sleep in. It is the place where you feel safe and relaxed, and it should be a reflection of yourself. And while the mattress is very important for a good night’s rest, the headboard is the piece of furniture that describes you. It is exactly why your next apartment improvement project should start out with DIY headboards. And below we offer you 6 DIY headboard ideas for a feature piece that is going to make a statement!

Old Door Headboard

We all love the warm feel a wooden headboard gives. And instead of spending a lot of money on buying a new one, making your headboard out of old doors is the way to go about. Many apartment improvement ideas include reusing objects you are attached with, and old doors add a sentimental value to the whole project as well. Give them a little sending, paint them, or for a rustic feel, leave them as they are. You really can’t go wrong!

Rustic Shutter Headboard


If you have a taste for the unordinary, then a shutter headboard is just what you need. Regardless of whether you use your old shatters or a pair of reclaimed ones, recycling them will result in a nice rustic headboard that will leave visitors in awe. Not to mention, this will be one of the quickest, easiest DIY projects you’ve ever completed. Paint the shutters in a color you like, let them dry, and then attach them to the wall with screws. It’s that simple.

Simple Pallet Headboard


Not only are pallet headboards easy to make, but they are not costly at all. In fact, the pallets won’t cost you a dime if you are lucky enough to get them from a lumber yard. Or from the neighbor that just renovated the house and threw them in the dumpster. Color the headboard to match your furniture or walls, or simply use vinyl wall decorations to enhance their beauty. Everyone will be jealous of how chic and amazing your bedroom looks.

Floral Headboard


It is a particularly interesting project for all of you that want to give your old wooden headboard a new shine. It can easily be done by simply painting some floral motifs onto it. But first, take your table saw to give your wooden headboard an extra smooth sanding and also add a water-based sealer. It is a great project to include your kids in, grab your paints and brushes and make your very own design.

Lovely Fabric Covered Headboard


If you want to make your bedroom a bit more elegant, then opting for a fabric covered headboard is a must. It all starts with the base: plywood, or your old headboard. Then get your glue gun and glue some foam on top of it. Now you only need to attach batting to the plywood and foam and then cover all of it with fabric. Do make sure the fabric is ironed before stapling it; otherwise, you might lose some of that elegance you are aiming for.

Plywood Headboard


And we’ve saved the best for last. A headboard that requires minimal effort, but is just as awesome as any other headboard: the plywood headboard. This minimalist headboard is a dream-come-true if you are the industrial and Scandinavian décor. Simple, yet eye-catching, a true example of how sometimes less is more!
We can all agree that investing time and effort into a DIY headboard is the first and most important step in the apartment improvement process.

Social Desegregation – Mixing it up in our high school cafeterias

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Growing up on the North Side I went to Mead – “Spokane’s preppiest high school” (with Ferris coming in a close second). To make a typical story short this environment rubbed me the wrong way so I spent half my time at M.E.A.D. Alternative just across the street.

Alternative schools are often unfairly stigmatized in the larger Spokane community. Upon announcing my departure from Mead I was informed that I was “making a political, social and academic mistake.” Many wrongfully assume that Alternatives are programs of last resort. Negative stereotypes include that students fit the following categories: teen parents, juvenile delinquents, kids with violence/anger issues, substance abusers, or students that are just plain lazy.

Whether this sentiment persists out of a sense of self-congratulatory superiority or plain old ignorance we’ll never know, but I propose a simple solution to significantly shake things up:

What would happen if the entire student body of M.E.A.D. Alternative walked across the street one day to join their mainstream peers in the cafeteria for lunch? This is not as trivial of an act as you might first think. The social divide between these groups can feel like a gaping chasm at times, and there is reason to expect mainstream admins would make excuses to oppose the event if it were ever actually suggested.

The sight of thirty or so misfit young people marching into “the Mall” to mingle with old friends and intentionally make new ones would be quite the spectacle. I predict there’d be a moment of shock as mainstreamers wondered “What is going on here? Who are THEY?” This would quickly dissipate as the alternative students dispersed around the room to say hello.

It would take a lot of guts on behalf of M.E.A.D. kids to assert themselves in this way and I suspect many would not feel comfortable doing so. But what an effective approach it could be! Who wouldn’t want to

Authors: Jenny from Articlehack.com

Comparing Calories

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By Brother Merriweather

Here at the Spovangelist we’ve devoted a lot of attention to the food consciousness emerging in our community, from flourishing neighborhood gardens to the delicious products of Spokane area farmers. Many of us would agree that learning about the path of our food from seed to stomach is a satisfying experience. Yet with new revelations about the true cost of manufactured food, Spokanites have even more to gain from local production and consumption than we might realize.

A University of Washington study published in July shows that nutrient-dense foods are growing ever more expensive per calorie than refined grains, sweets, and fats. Basically, this means that fresh produce and whole foods are increasing in price much faster than Doritos, Hot Pockets, soda, Pop Tarts, and other “foods” chemically engineered to intrigue our taste buds.

This price disparity has a disproportionate impact on people who live on fixed incomes from sources like Social Security, Food Stamps (EBT), or Women, Infants and Children’s supplements (WIC). If the study’s forecast about escalating price disparity is accurate, people with fixed food budgets will continue to see their dollars being incapable of purchasing enough healthy food to feed themselves and their families.

Why should budget-constrained families be consistently forced to make unhealthy food choices? Even those of us who are not living at the poverty level often choose processed foods to make ends meet. Healthy food might seem unreasonably pricey, but consumers are actually shielded from the hidden costs of processed food. 30 billion dollars are spent every year supporting corn and soybean production, which makes foods containing high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated soybean oil (trans fats) much cheaper. The actual cost of processed food is higher than it appears on the supermarket shelf.

 

Obesity in Washington and elsewhere is most prevalent in low-income families, which really drives home the point that empty calories from cheap food aren’t worth it. When people try and sustain themselves on high-calorie, low-nutrient food, we end up with paradoxically overweight and malnourished families. If we focused efforts on making healthful foods available to people at all income levels, costs related to obesity and health would also drop dramatically. After all, fresh fruits and vegetables are nature’s medicine; these foods are actually health protective, reducing the likelihood of obesity and subsequent medical expenses.

Of course, the first step to a national push for universal access to healthy, nutritious food starts here at home. Within Spokane, I have been inspired by the movement for affordable nutrition being spearheaded by organizations like p.e.a.c.h., Plant a Row For the Hungry, and One World Spokane Cafe. Second Harvest also plays a crucial role, offering “Food $ense” classes to educate families about healthy eating on a limited budget.

 

Sun People Dry Goods Garlic and Cover Crop Workshop in East Central

Sourcing food locally is an huge step in the right direction in battling the price disparity between healthy and unhealthy foods. Keeping food production close to where we live cuts down on delivery and storage costs, and when direct relationships with farmers are formed, can even cut out costs associated with food brokers and packaging materials. When we support local producers by shifting our dollars to our local food system, we expand the local economy, increase our access to affordable, healthy food, and help to relieve the unfair burden of ill health on vulnerable members of our community.

A Political Departure: Comment on the Sustainability Action Plan

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While the Spovangelist is weary of polarized two-party politics, we are not apolitical and we certainly aren’t afraid to jump in on important civic dialogue when something groundbreaking is at stake.

The Spokane Sustainability Action Plan (SAP) is just such an effort. It is the first attempt by a U.S. City to undergo a comprehensive public planning process that addresses the challenges of peak oil and climate change simultaneously. That’s right folks, we are a trend-setting city in something other than hosting history’s smallest World’s Fair!

What follows is my appeal to the Spokane City Council to approve the recommendations of the Mayor’s Taskforce.

This letter is written in direct response to a ten point criticism circulated in a Spokane GOP party memo. Local Republican talking points are included verbatim in bold below.

Locking our city into a huge process of “sustainability mandates” from the State Dept. of Ecology is a mistake. See Cap and Trade legislation pending and the awful Senate Bill 5735, the Cap and Tax bill which passed Wednesday. We want to keep our local government flexible and local!

1.) In no way do the sustainability recommendations “lock in” local government. Strategies and guiding principles are by definition flexible (this is pointed out in the plan) and open to interpretation and change based on new information as it becomes available. The members of the Taskforce anticipated this criticism when they explained: “This Action Plan … is not a bundle of regulations and mandates. The Plan is a portfolio of principles, strategies, and recommendations.” Furthermore, guiding principle #3 says to “Lead with incentives and education before mandates.” Because of this it is *inappropriate* for the GOP to sing the ‘big bad government’ song in opposition to this plan.

It will cost taxpayers BIG TAX DOLLARS to retrofit governments office buildings to make them more energy efficient when the return on investment will be dubious. Corruption and cost over runs will, as usual, be rampant. Our region has the cheapest, most plentiful and least polluting energy in the world…hydropower! We sell to the entire western U.S. and east to Chicago, then up into Canada and down in to Mexico. BEST PLAN?? Expanding the dam system electrical output which would be easier and very beneficial to our region.

2.) The Sustainability Action Plan specifically includes guidance to adopt only those energy efficiency measures that have desirable and demonstrable cost-benefit outcomes. Asserting that “big tax dollars” will be marshaled to some inefficient end is *simple paranoia*. Plans to improve the economic vitality of our City now and into the future should NOT be abandoned due to wrongs in the past that make certain Republicans feel that all local government is “rampantly corrupt.”

The suggestion that hydropower be pursued as an alternative to the Sustainability Action Plan does not make sense and does not hold up. The plan puts in place a strategy to determine the best approach to advancing local clean energy alternatives. Clearly this will involve more than just hydropower. Furthermore, Strategy #5 to “Conserve water everywhere” was included in part to protect our capacity to tap into hydropower sustainably. Hydropower is no silver bullet, what is needed is the comprehensive framework provided by the plan.

It will cost us businesses in our region when they are forced to “retrofit” their own buildings to make them more energy efficient. (Savings will be small compared to costs of renovations.) Is bankrupting one half of all local businesses and the resultant job losses really worth it?

3.) I have scoured the Sustainability Action Plan looking for any hint calling to “force businesses to retrofit their buildings.” The fact of the matter is that NO SUCH SUGGESTION EXISTS. The opposite is portrayed in explaining how the City will be a model for the surrounding community, and how green collar jobs could be created through strategic partnerships. Private sector businesses can choose to adopt or reject green practices as they see fit. Claiming that half of all Spokane business will automatically go “bankrupt” is nothing less than *counterproductive misinformation*. Please keep in mind that much of the opposition you may have encountered is based on an incorrect understanding of what the plan actually entails.

Changing over to electric cars and buses could be very expensive. Is it worth it? Is it needed? Will this really make the environment in Spokane cleaner? Our city is already purchasing ten new electric buses to do a “trial run”. Do our city officials really need the State Dept. of Ecology to tell us when to do this and how to do it?

4.) Valid questions about the best approach for achieving a leaner City fleet will be answered by “Developing and implementing a plan to increase the City’s use of electric vehicles.” Given the detailed strategies for efficient and effective planing set forth by the SAP, as well as innovations in measuring financial performance and total cost-savings, you can be confident that changing over to electric cars and buses will be well justified before it actually occurs.

Do citizens really want all government to function primarily around environmental concerns? Do we want BIG GOVERNMENT watching us to make sure we comply?

5.) Again, playing the “big bad government” card is silly in regards to the Action Plan as already explained. Questions about citizen desire have clearly been answered:

“The Task Force received more than 800 unique contributions to its base of information in the form of Work Group recommendations, citizen comments, citizen and staff complaints about current City practices and policies, and general suggestions.”

“Each contribution was inventoried, addressed and prioritized during the nearly year-long planning process.”

“A well-communicated public outreach plan produced significant citizen input that guided the overall direction of the final recommendations. The process yielded one simple message, accepted by members of every constituency the Task Force encountered during its work: Strive for good stewardship and efficiency in all things.”

FOX Business news announced on Tuesday…..Spain, one of the :”green showcase” countries, has now put out a study of some of their innovations. Among other surprises, for every green job produced, the cost was 2 traditional, “fossil fuel” based jobs.

6.) Drawing a 1:2 trade-off between “green” jobs and “fossil fuel” jobs is *over-simplified* at best. Sometimes emerging green industries do not directly impact traditional markets, and many studies demonstrate that “Green Collar” jobs are of a higher quality and greater growth potential than so-called “non-green” jobs. The many research sources drawn upon by the Sustainability Taskforce are clearly more credible than an off-handed broadcast by FOX Business News.

The Mayor’s sustainability study was based on UN and their surrogate ICLEI studies that based their science on “global warming” scientific models that are now showing signs of being faulty. The earth may be cooling, not warming. The science is still in flux. We need to wait and not make dire changes to our government structures based on fads or junk science.

7.) As a trained scientist I find the unsupported claim that global warming is a “fad” or “junk” science *downright embarrassing*. The people and the City of Spokane simply can not afford to be on the wrong side of science and the wrong side of history with regards to this important issue. According to Princeton researchers, by the time I am 73 the global average temperature will have climbed by 9 degrees Fahrenheit – and that is assuming that the the current rate of carbon emissions stays constant (this conservative estimate does not include projections for the growing demands of the developing world). Even if you consider yourself a “hardened skeptic” when it comes to global warming, please watch this video that logically argues the only responsible decision is for a proactive response.

One big premise upon which this report was based is that we are running out of oil….and that our dependence on foreign oil is a huge problem. Is it? How much oil is possible to drill in the U.S. and offshore? In the next ten years, will technologies improve to make safe nuclear power more attractive and plentiful? Are wind and solar panel energy dependable and constant? Are they sufficient to give our people and industries in the U.S. enough energy to still be a super power, or will we become a broken, corrupt, poverty-stricken socialist country like Brazil and Indonesia, where these plan models were created by the UN agencies? (Our Mayor signed an international agreement to implement international standards in Spokane.)

8.) The impacts of peak oil are not a matter of “if” they are only a matter of “when”. Many experts concur that we will never produce as much oil in a month as we did in July of last year. Even in the most optimistic nuclear power scenarios (nevermind toxic outputs and security concerns), the pervasive use of fossil fuels in all aspects of material production and transportation can not be ignored. Legitimate questions about wind and solar energy will be given a framework for consideration under the Sustainability Action Plan.

Suggestions that going green somehow risks “a broken, corrupt, poverty-stricken socialist country like Brazil and Indonesia, where these plan models were created by UN agencies” not only sounds *alarmist*, it smacks of *xenophobia*and a dogged unwillingness to even consider global best practices.

Avista has been an enthusiastic participant in the Mayor’s Sustainabililty Task Force process….why?

9.) Avista has been actively involved in developing the SAP because:

“Our history of responsible stewardship reflects the spirit of the region. You and others like you — who care about things like conservation, recycling and the natural beauty around us — embody that very spirit. We do it because it is the right thing to do, because it’s what you expect of us, and because, honestly, the next century depends on it.”

If you look at the “fiscal note” attached to the state cap and trade bill, you will see that expenditures will involve hiring new government officials who will build a whole new series of government agencies to monitor “sustainability.” Thus, government at the state as well as our local level will expand, and expand, and EXPAND! This will cost taxpayers more money. Do citizens really want more government that will be more intrusive?

10.) The proposed Washington State Climate Action Plan is in no way linked to the Spokane Sustainability Action Plan. The local plan does not call for a carbon exchange market. Opposition to one plan should not be confused with or transferred to the other.

________________________________________________________

In closing I would like to make one last plea for the adoption of this plan that has nothing to do with environmental concerns. It has everything to do with the impact on COMMUNITY TRUST AND FAITH IN PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT that will be had by your decision.

 

The introduction to the Sustainability Action Plan states:

“This initiative included dozens of meetings and many individual hours invested by the Task Force, meeting four hours every three weeks since April 2008. Such community participation shows that Spokane is a valued home, well worth the time and energy invested to ensure its future as a livable city.”

If in the face of public testimony you refuse to adopt this plan,you will effectively be issuing a vote of “no confidence” in the value of public participation in local government. As a local community activist and former City volunteer, I can’t caution you enough against sending such a devastating message to the broader Spokane community.

As you probably would agree, an effective City depends on the active involvement of all its citizens. This ensures accountability, innovation, responsiveness and collective capacity. While I myself am an avid sustainability advocate, I choose not to participate in the Mayor’s Taskforce precisely because I feared that the resulting plan would not be incorporated into City operations. Instead I chose to invest my limited time and energy doing independent organizing work that focused on relationship building among my immediate neighbors and peers. I was concerned that the Taskforce would consume an enormous amount of time attention and energy, only to ultimately burn out and embitter local sustainability proponents.

 

I want to believe in our ability to work together to achieve regional resiliency and well-being. In order to bring my disenfranchised young friends into this process with integrity, I need to believe that our vision will be taken seriously, and that our efforts will not be tabled or ignored. Please help me rekindle my confidence in local government as a viable means by which to achieve positive change. Please approve the Sustainability Action Plan.

Sincerely,

The Spovangelist

City of Sarah Palin Valley

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I thought this photo snapped with a friend’s iPhone was worth sharing.

Make of it what you will.

Can you say SPOKE(a)N(e)?

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Spring 4-Ward: Local Micro Media Part 2

Spovangelist reader, freelance writer and Gonzaga student Brittany Wilmes beat us to the punch on this story. Read her insightful interview (excerpted below) with SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine editors Tyson and Sara Habein.

To summarize, SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine is a monthly .pdf publication that features the people, places and events of Spokane’s “creative community”. Taking a broad view of what that includes, SPOKE(a)N(e) goes beyond the typical music and visual arts coverage to include DIY fashion, community radio, graphic design, poetry, photography, film, offbeat theater and even news from the local comic community, to name a few.

The electronic format allows the magazine to include multiple full length interviews, an approach that is largely absent from the Inlander’s arts and culture coverage. Even better is the intriguing mix of established and emerging artists that are featured. Our favorite interview question is “What do you like about the Spokane creative community, and what would you like to see more of?” This angle gets at the heart of the optimism and dedication local creatives have for Spokane’s growing scene.

The absence of printing costs also allow for multiple page photo series that feature the work of Tyson’s YellowHouse Photography. Such prolific local eye candy makes up for the publication’s rather simple and utilitarian black/white/pink block layout design.

As with most Spokane style shoots (see Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living Feb. ‘09), a subtle urban vs. rural theme runs through these sets.

What adds an extra dose of authenticity to SPOKE(a)N(e) is the circumstances under which it is produced:

T: It’s very lo-fi. We’re working with Photoshop 6 and old, ancient software.
S: We’re on a dial-up connection. We live out in Rockford.

T: There’s two of us, but I have a day job and we have two kids.

T: I like the amount of variety that’s in Spokane. We’re both from Montana, and where I grew up, in Billings, it was very rare to see something non-traditional – that is, that wasn’t oil-based landscape paintings or high school kids starting a punk band.
It’s great to see art that’s unique, like spoken word artists and folks making their own clothes. It’s pleasing to see people in Spokane who don’t mind freaking out the grandmothers of the world.
S: Coming here, in some ways, the scene is just a little bigger. The size of the city provides a greater likelihood of there being variety.
T: I think Spokane is on the cusp of being a vibrant, creative community. I think it’s looked down upon in the Pacific Northwest, but it will depend upon who decides to stay and give it a go here.

In an effort to attract more independent contributors like Lloyd Phillips and Alex Toney, SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine is now offering 1/4 page ad space for writers to do with as they please. What would you use it for? We like that the SPOKE(a)N(e) staff aren’t afraid to self-promote and ask for revenue in exchange for the attention of their audience.

Looking forward, SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine seems like it is here to stay. While their efforts aren’t all that sophisticated to start, simplicity is a key part of long term viability. Basic business sense is also an important part of micro media longevity. And with longevity comes the confidence and trust of the community.

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