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A Parade for Peace

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Here’s what Michael Kinsley from Seattle’s Politico had to say about the shooting in Tucson:

“No one is suggesting that one of those voices in the assassin’s head was John Boehner’s cigarette growl or that Loughner had even heard of Sarah Palin when he started saying nutty, paranoid things. No one is suggesting that he got the idea that the number six is somehow indistinguishable from the number 18 from the 2008 Republican Party platform. The suggestion is that we live in a political atmosphere in which nutty views (President Obama isn’t a U.S. citizen.) and alarming rhetoric (“Second Amendment remedies” are the answer to disappointment at the ballot box.) are widespread and often go unrebutted. The suggestion, finally, is that the right is largely responsible for a political atmosphere in which extreme thoughts are more likely to take root and flower.But all of this is now too uncivil to bring up. So wherever could Loughner have gotten his paranoid contempt for government? Who told him that the government was this hulking, all-powerful “other” determined to control and ruin his life? Official answer: He’s crazy! What more do you need to know?…”

Just last week a similar attempt occurred at our Martin Luther Kind Jr. March. I first think of the catastrophe that would have occurred if this backpack bomb was indeed successful, and then of the heroes it took to thwart the attack. Now that Spokane has stopped showing up on CNN and The Rachel Maddow Show, it’s time for us to take a long hard look at the why this potentially tragic event occurred.

So many are blaming this event on the way political discourse has taken shape in the past could of years, others are attributing it to a complicated mental illness. Because the insight in to the mind or minds that planted the bomb in downtown Spokane is limited, it’s time for us to reflect on what acts of hatred could spawn from such a peaceful message.

I take the utmost pride in Spokane because on the variety of neighbors. It is when the variety of neighbors begin to do damage to others that I start to question our city.

What’s next? Is it our political rhetoric? Is it the Inland Northwest’s history of white supremacy? Regardless of last week’s bombing catalyst, we need to reflect, as a community, on the language we use to to discuss opposing political parties. More so, we must reflect on how we confront this attempted together.

What can you do to support peace, love and safety in the coming years? What can we do to ensure an attack like this is never successful?

Learning to Love Spokane Again

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Spokane can be a hard place to live. OK, Spokane is a hard place to live, for me at least. Since I’ve stopped writing the Spovangelist, which wasn’t intentional, I’ve fallen off the Spokane wagon– causation or correlation is up to you. Probably since I lost my job in April due to the federal sequester, I’ve lost interest in the daily goings on, the gossip, even the woes of urban planning. I make jokes about being a “Sequestrian” or “Funemployed” but it actually just blows. For a while I embraced the darkness, using it as fuel for other projects I had been dying to do, but now it’s just pure darkness.

Spokane is hard for a lot of reasons, partially because it can be so easy. Easy to fall into a daily schedule of: wake-up, read arbitrary stuff on the internet, attempt to get some work done, maybe go for a walk, try to finish whatever work thing I started, take a nap, walk down the block for cigarettes (SORRY MOM) and coffee, then back to Googling weird stuff. Maybe after all of that, I might make it down to Baby Bar for some awkward run-ins with everyone I’ve ever met or perhaps Mootsy’s if I want to smell toilet deodorizer. Side note: Mootsy’s bathroom graffiti says “Alayna sux dix”, so obviously I have a fan club.

It’s a hard habit to shake; difficult to reengage in our city.

I don’t really mean to whine, it’s a classic, “It’s not you, it’s me” situation. I know I shouldn’t complain anyway; Spokane already gets enough flack for things it really has no control over, or at least things it’s working on (#weallbuildthis, right?). But I’m whiny and apparently have blame issues. Hating on this place is kind of cliché anyway, everyone has done it, will do it, or is doing it right now.

Clichés are often clichés for a reason, but as I turn this conflict over in my head time and time again, I find that this particular cliché is tired. And so am I. I’m tired of resenting a place I once loved. As short of a blood oath as I can come, I’m recommitting.

I spent the last few weeks talking to friends, acquaintances, and my cat about why we all still live here. We came up with a few good reasons to stay. A lot of the reasons people listed had to do with the great opportunities here. They don’t always present themselves, that’s part of the trick: you have to seek them. But once you find them, you can build whatever your heart desires. Also the Santa Fe chicken sandwich at the Elk.

Point is: hey guys, I missed you.

Community Candid

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This is what community looks like:

Sometimes you just get hit with an “Aha!” moment and all the talk and striving and scheduling pays off. THIS is community in action, you say to yourself. Right here, this is what it is all about!

Most recently I felt it at Jon Snyder’s campaign party, and then at the Terrain artist reception and Sustainable Uprising before that. It is usually when something special and unexpected is happening that brings a variety of people into a context where they have something meaningful to share.

By Joe Preston of Hairline Media

We’ve attended dozens of events where speakers, bands, comedians, journalists, politicians, authors and several other semi-famous figurehead types tour through our city, and they always seem especially pleased to have discovered a new audience in Spokane. Some open with jokes about misconceptions they’ve heard about the area, others admit that they had no idea what they were in for. At the end they comment how “It’s nice to see people actually dancing,” or “Those were some really excellent questions that I’m not usually asked.” Are these platitudes repeated by all traveling spokespeople, or does Spokane truly defy expectations?

The same wow factor seems to run through the audience as well. Spokanites often appear a little shocked and excited to realize they aren’t the only ones around who are interested in the topic at hand. It’s like the gold fish and the proverbial castle, it’s a surprise every time! I hope this freshness factor never wears off. I hope event-goers never get to a point of jadedness where their expectations outstrip any possible measure of human performance.

Spokanites know how to genuinely *appreciate* special gatherings – we are raised to elevate them to almost a cultish cultural practice, i.e. fighting over lawn chair real estate at the Torchlight Parade. We seem somehow immune to the “too cool for school” attitude that plagues more urban environments. It this a saving grace? Is it in my head? Who knows, you tell me.

Meanwhile, you can savor some more community eye candy from the Sarah Kramer dinner at One World.

Awesome. Authentic. Apple.

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Last Thursday, SSYP did a “Beer With Jennifer Hall” event at the new Main Market Co-op downtown. It was the first opportunity we had to get up on the roof during construction.

The plans for the store will simply blow you away. Their/our website (I say “our” as a reminder that membership means partial ownership) is chalk full of interesting information and other opportunities for learning. Check it out and support with an early membership to hasten the grand opening of the store!

3 Deadly Excuses to Stop Stalling Spokane

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When you ask people in the park what they like about Spokane they say “it’s not too big” and “doesn’t have traffic like Seattle”. Some think Spokanites are “friendly” while others point out our access to nature and recreational resources.

On the flip side, comments about barriers to Spokane’s success contain equally generic and uninspired viewpoints. But this set of assumptions has a much more dire effect on our regional mindset. Let me challenge the basis of the top three most cherished Spokane excuses:

1) Spokane just needs more time.

PROGRESS IS NOT A FUNCTION OF TIME

Ask yourself “How many thousands of years was China under dynastic rule?” It is naive to assume some natural process of growth towards more democratic and/or sustainable societies. These practices do not develop on their own. They result from cultural patterns that are directly influenced by a complex variety of real world circumstances. THIS is where the focus should be kept, not asking “Is the time finally right?” I would agree with the truism that “timing is everything” – but this nugget of wisdom shouldn’t be taken proscriptively.

Creating your own opportune moments is a powerful skill to develop. If we can get past the limit imposed by this ‘glacial time assumption’ the challenge becomes identifying methods that accelerate the process of change itself. The social time scales of the past should not be inappropriately applied to the ever-changing possibilities for the future.

2) Spokane needs new people.

NEW BODIES WON’T REPLACE OLD ATTITUDES

Often I hear it said that we have to “be patient” and wait for all the old fossils to die off before things can really start to move ahead. A variation on this idea is that Spokane needs to import a bunch of “enlightened” Californians or outside corporate talent to cancel out the effects of suspicious natives or make our economy sing.

It is hopelessly narcissistic to assume that attitudinal barriers to change will disappear with certain members of the society that espouse them. Let us not forget that these people have children (often times a larger number of them) and ideas about the what makes the world tick have a funny way of transferring through generational lines. At some point social activists will have to suck up their uncertainty and (gasp) actually engage the criticisms they despise.

3) Spokane is too poor.

HOW WE SPEND IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TOTAL SPENDING

First off, as an American city, Spokane has a lot of fat to burn. The question is how we burn it. Are our dollars squandered on flat screen TVs or invested into energy efficient dishwashers? Do we allow our limited money to be vacuumed out of the local sphere by national and international corporate conglomerates, or do we circulate our dollars faster and more effectively in our own vibrant micro-economy?

Culture change can be spearheaded on a shoestring. The question must involve how to win hearts and minds, the money will follow. Just ask a preacher! Let’s remember one doesn’t loose weight by buying a fancy gym membership, one actually has to work out to get rid of those pounds.

Bucking up.

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This is what I looked like before I was sad.

OH MY GOD JANUARY. It is so awful. There is science proving how awful it is — or “pseudoscience,” at least. According to Science, the most depressing day of the year hasn’t even happened yet — it’s on January 21st.

Factors include things like weather, holiday debt, motivation and days since falling off the New Years resolution wagon. There should also be something about “likelihood that you are hacking up a lung.” And “number of fights you’ve had with friends and/or strangers on the internet in the past week.”

Having moved through the preliminary stages of utter despair, including

pretending to just be having a bad week
getting drunk on bad beer several days in a row
coming to terms with the semi-permanent nature of the situation
and
unfettered self-pity,
I have now moved into a considerably more pleasurable stage: self-comfort. This is the part where you stop just feeling sorry for yourself and do something about it. Like eat scones every day, regard attending one yoga class in a week as a Feat of Strength, and read long-form articles about Lindsey Lohan making a low-budg film.

I’m even using my favorite mug — which (neurosis alert) I use as little as possible to prevent it from ever breaking or getting lost — on the daily.

It’s wonderful. I am pretending/recognizing that I have a disease, and treating that disease by treating myself awesomely. Which leads me to wonder why I don’t do this all the time.

Being inexplicably sad has led me to living more wholly. For now, as a survival technique. But later, maybe just for fun.

For Som: Grief.

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I am taking a walk with someone today whom I have only begun to know. He’s saying something about “my twin brother and I…”

“–Wait. You have a twin brother?”

“Did. He died, oh, about three years ago.”

“…”

I fumble through the awkward what-do-you-say’s in my head and settle on, “How is that for you?” Only because my time was up and I had to say something.

“Honestly, it hasn’t been awful. I reached acceptance really early.”

“Oh.” I don’t have a response for that because nobody has ever answered with anything other than: “Awful. Devastating. Catastrophic.”

I do the panic thing and start rambling on about my own experiences with grief because what the fuck else is there to do. He says he felt guilt about not doing grief right until a friend told him however he’s doing it is doing it right.

SomWe get back, he takes off and I open my laptop to Facebook.

“We’ve lost Som Jordan,” posts someone.

“What do you mean, lost?” says someone else.

Nobody is talking about cause of death, which means it’s suicide. I know that already but I pretend I don’t know and ask around just hoping it’s something else.

The paper later reports that Isamu “Som” Jordan, a huge influence in Spokane’s music and journalism scene, was found in his home this morning. Cause of death: apparent suicide.

There is this prevailing struggle with how did he possibly not see the glow around him that everybody else saw. Everybody’s posting this music video he made with Flying Spiders. The only text they include is the song’s title: “Spokane’s Finest.”

I know nothing about anything about this situation. I do know it’s not coincidence that those people we think are invincible, brilliant, miles above us — our icons — also often suffer very deeply. Searching for truth does not turn up unicorns and rainbows.

Now that that’s said, I want to talk about grief, and that you should do it however you want.

You don’t have to cry to care. You can go to a vigil or not go to a vigil. Nobody gets to tell you you didn’t know him well enough to grieve or that you’re not grieving sufficiently or right.

Today, as I grieve the loss of a friend, a lot of grief from past losses tumbles onto me as well. It all feels very messy and maybe someone would tell me I was missing the point.

When people pry about the details, some may say they’re missing the point. Maybe they are. Or maybe they have questions because they care. Because suicide is not a thing we talk about much, and it’s confusing and it hurts and maybe they feel like answers will make it hurt less. (Spoiler: It will very likely make it hurt more.)

When people spit out platitudes on the internet, some may say they’re missing the point. When they do, or they don’t, organize a benefit concert. When they speculate. When they try to talk about suicide in general or death in general or grief in general. When they do or don’t cry.

This is the messy that we’re challenged to navigate with grace: simultaneously grieving and giving others the space to do their own version of that. There are a lot of us because Som had a generous spirit. Let that be a good thing.

Can’t Count on the County

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The Spokane County Commissioners are at it again. To raise awareness about the Earth Day celebration on Saturday, the planning committee wrote a proclamation for the county. Most proclamations are a feel-good affair but this year organizers decided to write a call to action for climate change. Here is the original document:

Spokane County recognizes the natural environment as the foundation of a healthy community, society and sustainable economy.

Under growth management, this county works with environmentalists, community groups, businesses and individuals to protect the land, air, water, and wildlife and maintain sustainable development in this region in order to safeguard the environment while enriching quality of life for all county residents and future generations.

Global warming is a reality and we must act to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and develop a robust clean energy economy based on alternative energy and fuel.

In its role as a government entity, Spokane County will demonstrate corporate citizenship and public leadership in ways that are supportive of global warming adaptation and mitigation by employing critical policies on land use, public transit provision, environmental management and economic development directed towards stimulating fuel and technology markets with low carbon impact in mind. Spokane County provides tools, resources and incentives designed to inspire residents to reduce their carbon footprints, live green and make every day Earth Day.

As individual residents we can take action in our daily lives to combat global warming by making energy-conscious choices such as using renewable sources of energy, making our homes more energy efficient, avoiding pesticides and herbicides, choosing to use alternative sources of fuel and transportation and educating future generations about these practices.

The county’s participation in this fortieth Earth Day provides all Spokane County residents the opportunity to learn how to take these actions and much more.

Now, therefore, we the Board of County Commissioners of Spokane County, Washington do hereby proclaim Saturday, April 23, 2011 EARTH DAY in this vibrant county.  We encourage all residents to join us in celebrating the earth, learning how we can take action to prevent the adverse effects of global warming, protect our healthy natural environment and continue to build a thriving community of residents empowered for environmental protection.

But when County Commissioners read the proclamation, any mention of global warming was gone and the document was significantly softer:

Yeah, yeah, yeah: The Spokane County Commissioners have an anti-science agenda. The public largely understands that climate change is a problem; they largely accept the science.  On climate change, the Spokane County Commissioners have traditionally been a mess – a familiar mess, stuck between their increasingly loopy base and less than 50 percent of the American mainstream. But here, in Spokane County, their base is full of flat-earthers that don’t believe the scientific consensus.

Don’t tell that to Earth Day Spokane. Just like the successful “Taking It To The Streets” block party last year on Main Ave between Division and Browne Streets, one hundred organizations  are participating, representing that environmental change begins with personal responsibility, leading by example, and becoming involved in the decision making process. There will be live music from 11 a.m.-midnight, street performers, good local food, children’s activities, organization tabling, spoken word, information gathering, eye-opening experiences, speeches and the 2 p.m. Procession of Species parade.

RSVP on Facebook to Earth Day Spokane

Alice in White Park

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Maybe I’m exposing my own ignorance here, but what on earth is this White Park that shows up in Google maps? Clearly “Gloven Field” is incorrect (it is supposed to be Glover Field) but White Park is news to me.

Spanning much of the land that is slated for eventual development by Greenstone, we wonder if the above area would be more appropriately labeled White Parking Lot.

I wonder what documents the Google team draws upon when they create these maps? Was there a White Park on the books somewhere back in our City’s history? Not apparently. Searching for White Park Spokane results in a bunch of directions to Aubrey L. White Park up by the Little Spokane.

A Local Calling

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By Crystal Clark

This old phone box was standing on the corner of First and Jefferson, crying out for a bit of attention. A quick whip of string and tin can later we have a play on outmoded technology and the connections we make in our modern lives.

My son is a natural in front of the camera, that stance is all his own. The way his left knee bends and head tilts recall his no fuss attitude.

As of today, the tin can is no longer hanging there. Given the area the phone box is in, I’m guessing the can was clipped from it’s string for recycling money.

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