Hella Bus Blog
Just a friendly reminder: applications are flying in for the Summer Fellows, and we want yours to be one of them! The Early Application deadline is April 4th, so coming up juuuuust around the corner. Remember: you can either apply online right here or download the application here, print it, and mail it in.
Maybe you know someone who should absolutely have the skills and experiences that the Summer Fellows provide. You know what you should do? Nominate them! Just head right over here and fill out our nomination form - it's easy, breezy, and oh so satisfying.
Summer Fellows! Take over the world!
Written by Genna Watson and Will Canine
"Food connects everybody. If you have an issue with someone’s gender, someone’s sexual orientation, someone’s religion – it doesn’t matter – y’all eat."
- Cristina Orbe
Eating. We love it. And when great, healthy, and sustainable food meets great young people? Wowza. That's why when we heard about FEEST (the Food Education Empowerment and Sustainability Team), we hopped on the first bus around (our own, of course) and raced over to get a taste. This latest installment of our ongoing youth-focused series Who Do You Love? looks at the epically delicious foods, youth empowerment, and community development that FEEST cooks up on a weekly basis.
FEEST is a youth-run organization/collection of culinary geniuses housed in the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center that builds community by gathering once a week to prepare and devour a delicious meal made with ingredients from their own organic garden. The group also trains youth to educate their communities about making healthy and sustainable food choices.
Mariana and FEEST's fearsome collection of chickens
First, the Bus toured the FEEST garden and talked to superstar gardening intern Mariana Morales, who showed us some freshly planted onions and beans. “I think that more people should have their own organic gardens instead of buying other things,” Mariana says. “It’s hard to have a garden, but there are just so many benefits.” She often takes home the skills that she learns at FEEST. “At home, I tell my mom, “Here’s this new recipe I learned, you should try it out!” Mariana has also started a garden at her own school clueing her fellow students in to the world of sustainable agriculture. She hopes it will someday become a part of the school’s biology curriculum.
After the garden tour, we sat down with Cristina Orbe to discuss FEEST and the ways its programs put food, education, and empowerment around one communal table.
What is FEEST?
“Here, [youth] learn not only to cook food, but to be in the community and have a positive environment where their voice is really important, where their ideas are really important, and where they can see the power of their ideas turn from “I really want to cook some potatoes” into this amazing dish that satisfies a group of people.”
“The other element [of our program] is a youth leadership team where we hire eight interns in four different areas – journalism, event-planning, gardening, and kitchen. Those youth go through a training program where we build them into young leaders that do stuff like advocate for different issues that they think are important in the community... They promote FEEST to their friends through outreach, they plan a summit, they do projects like taking what they’ve learned and sharing it with a pocket of the community they think could use the information.”
How else do you interact with the larger community?
“In this past year our youth were asked by the Delridge District Council to come ask questions of the Mayor at the Town Hall. We brought them together and just started talking about what issues are facing the community and what it looked like the Mayor had on the table… They asked the Mayor questions and he was so impressed that he invited them to his office for further discussion. In that discussion they tackled school food, and they had him explain more in depth what his levy was, and also said “You need youth on a panel for oversight and creation of those levies. Because we’re the ones experiencing it, and we need to be heard!””
FEESTers cooking up a storm
How does food relate to empowerment and sustainability?
“Food connects everybody. If you have an issue with someone’s gender, someone’s sexual orientation, someone’s religion – it doesn’t matter – y’all eat. So it's incredible how food can be a binding thing, how people so different from each other can connect over food… I believe that food should be a part of all movements that you want to last, because it's the one thing that will keep people together – breaking bread together. Tribes are built on that idea, cultures are built on that idea. The Bus can steal that idea!” [laughter]
“Empowerment is key for people to be able to recognize the places that power is pushing on them, so they can go, “Who am I in this, and who else do I want to be?” It's about being able to look at each other and walk with people hand in hand toward what you want the future to look like. And it could look like more of the same, but you have to protect that. Or it could look like the next level of what they want to achieve.”
“I think that building strong communities is key to sustainability. One of the ways that we try to do that here is we grow food in the garden, we cook that same food, we compost that food, and then we use that compost. We have a circle here. I think true sustainability is not looking at each other in competitive ways and instead looking at the ways we can have mutually beneficial relationships with each other.”
What movements do you consider FEEST a part of?
“I think we’re a part of the healthy food movement. I think we’re also past of the urban farming movement, and the youth empowerment movement... Though not overtly, I feel like we’re also an anti-racist and social justice kind of group… We don't appear at protests, but we have Muslim and LGBTQ and Jehovah’s Witness kids all in one room, all getting along with each other.
What are you working on right now?
“This year we’re working with YMI, Southwest Youth and Family Services, and Highpoint Community Center, collaborating to form a youth summit. The youth summit is totally planned by youth... The whole point of us having this workshop is to get youth to feel empowered to critically think about what’s occurring on in their community, and come up with creative solutions in a community environment, and to look at policies – to begin to get a youth voice together, and to put a spotlight on the type of youth engagement we do in this community… Adults are facilitators, but youth are the minds and the hands.”
For more info and how to get involved with FEEST, contact Cristina Orbe at email@example.com.
That right there was our third installment of our new series, Who do you love? (find the first two here and here) A lay-o'-the-land of sorts of some of the most active, innovative, and inspiring young people in the state. This is a chance to highlight amazing work, give credit where credit is due, and begin to evaluate the state of youth-engagement in Washington and where it can go in the years to come. Know a great group that deserves a spotlight? Send ideas to alex [at] washingtonbus [dot] org.
It's a great time to be doing cool things with cool people. You heard it here first.
Well good news! Planned Parenthood is hosting a rally this Saturday - presenting one such opportunity for said "cool" people and things to interweave. It's a hugely important time to show broad-based support for family-planning and affordable health services, and this is one of the best ways to do it. Here are the details:
Where: Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill (11th & E Howell St)
When: Saturday, 3/19 from Noon to 2:00pm
Who with: You, your best friends, your future best friends, acquaintances, friendly-seeming shoe clerks (movie reference? anybody?), and, of course, the Bus.
And, as a reminder that this is a mens health issue too...
The rally to end all rallies is going down tomorrow in Olympia featuring all the coolest people and causes you know! Find the details and RSVP here.
Hello Washington Bustonians! I usually like to share the various hi-jinks and wackiness of our state congress. I mean who else other than legislators gets to spend weeks working on the rules for traffic cameras, sneezing policies, and pet goldfish regulations? But damn Olympia, ya'll got down and dirty this week! Now I have no choice but to cover actually important issues. Life's never perfect I guess.
BOOM! Education Reform
Washington is embarking on a grand journey! The pot' o gold at the end of the rainbow is an education system that moves kids smoothly from kindergarten to college. House bill 1521 & 1546 have been moving through committee with near unanimous support for both. Gregoire has a plan as well that is being pushed in HB1849/SB5639. Here is an explanation of the bills by the League of Education Voters. Also, our national Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote an article for our Seattle Times supporting Gregoire's plan. But wait! Our State Democratic Party Chair has been talking some smack about Arne Duncan's education policies: catch the blog-of-war here.
BAM! Environmental Review
Environmental reviews are the best we've come up with to regulate the environmental impact of development. Whenever new buildings and land-uses are proposed, the state will perform an review of the environmental impact of the project, approve/deny the project, and publish their reports publicly. On one hand - this is a necessary barrier between ourselves and our land - a trip wire for environmental abusers. But on the other hand, it is the bane of your existence when you're on the reviewing end of these things. Bureaucracy to the max I will say. The general complaint is that they are too slow and tedious to be worth it. Right now, in times of slow business, the legislature has come around and started complaining about this too. They want to exempt most large projects from review. Erica over at Publicola has a great skeptical look at the whole sha-bang-bang.
POW! Pregnancy Center Bill Is No More
The question was, should faith-based pregnancy centers have to disclose that their pregnancy services are limited? Should they have to disclose their religious affiliations? The legislature says the bill didn't move on because there wasn't support in the Senate.
BANG! Public Sector Workers
Interesting bill came through Olympia that would try to limit the bounty of public sector workers in Washington, part of the new & un-proven idea that public sector workers just aren't sharing in the recession enough. However much it smells cheesy, Spokane's rep. Baumgartner says "it's not Wisconsin."
WHOOSH! Transit Funding
With the Trans Alta coal bill now signed, sealed, and delivered, Rep. Marko Liias (woop woop!) has now put forward another superbly sensible bill: creating strong long-term funding sources for public transit. "The Local Transit Act" he calls it. Sounds lovely. And a hi-five to Scott White for creating a companion bill in the Senate!
It's Friday, and it's time for our first and only installment of the Hella Bus series:
Dodo-related items of interest
Item 1) I've been reading this book about dodos recently, mostly because one of the quotes on the back cover described it as, "as close as science writing get to a thrilling adventure yarn." Being pretty much clueless about most things science myself, it's the perfect introduction to all the crazy things that happen to animals and the crazy people who figure all the crazy stuff out. And some stuff we should probably all know about evolution, extinction, and why Charles Darwin was kind of a jerk. Highly recommended.
Item 2) The two-man (give or take) band the Dodos' new album is streaming online on All Songs Considered. I was a huge fan of Beware of the Maniacs and Visiter and I'm happy to say, it sounds like they're back to their best!
After what was for me a pretty disappointing album in Time to Die, many might have thought that the Dodos might go the way of their namesake (zing!). Always virtuosic musicians, thankfully they've emerged from the mostly false feeling sheen of their last album and regained that sort of banging on trash cans on the street corner rhythm aesthetic that made them stand out from the pack. On first listen, it sounds like they've also put at least a little more effort into the vocal melodies and lyrics (some of their past lyrics were truly cringe inducing).
And it features the always amazing Neko Case on backing vocals, which, as NPR notes, is always a good idea.
The Snoqualmie Valley School District Elections Board
In the Snoqualmie Valley school district, just like everywhere else, every vote counts. That may be a bit of a cliche at this point, but sometimes elections like this roll around and knock your electoral socks off.
Here's the play by play of the roller-coaster ride that was the Snoqualmie Valley School Bond Spring Election (or, as the kids call it, the SVSBSE):
On the line: $56.2 million of dedicated funding for a new middle school.
The Requirements: 60% approval to pass.
Initial Results: 9,957 ballots were accepted, with two rejected by the elections board. With all the ballots counted, the school district found itself just one yes vote short of a school bond. That meant it was time for a recount!
The Recount: Three more ballots were accepted, two yes and one no, meaning it passed right? WRONG! You math wizzes at home might remember, the vote needed 60% of the total ballots cast to pass and when those 3 ballots were added, suddenly it was, you guessed it, still one yes vote short.
The Summary: That means one vote decided the difference between one middle school, and no middle school in Snoqualmie Valley.
The bond will be back on the ballot in April to try again. Please quit stressing me out Snoqualmie.
Here’s one thing we love: solidarity. Nothing is more beautiful - and sometimes hilarious - than young people standing together to make the world a better place. Often cited as the attribute that gave labor unions the power to take on big companies and make weekends and overtime pay the reality they are today, solidarity is the state of supportive exuberance seen in Egypt and Wisconsin, of understanding that ignores divisions and focuses on a common struggle in the face of adversity. In our second installment of Who Do You Love? the Bus had a chance to see just such solidarity in action...
The U.W. chapter of the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) is among the most vibrant chapters of one of the largest national, student run organizations in the country—and the only student run student-labor solidarity movement in the US. Standing with workers making athletic apparel for the University, UW USAS has helped improve the conditions for workers from Latin America to South-East Asia to right here in Washington State.
With our curiosity thoroughly piqued, the Washington Bus sat down with student-organizers-extraordinaire Garrett Shishido Strain and Allie Padgett in a small, back alley coffee shop in the U-District to discuss their organization’s victories, strategies, and plans for the future.
Washington Bus: What is UW USAS?
Garrett: We run strategic labor solidarity campaigns. …Collegiate institutions have always been at the forefront of social change, whether it’s the anti-apartheid movement or the civil rights movement… We’re thinking the same way about the global economy.
Washington Bus: So we did a quick Google search for “Seattle” and “sweatshop,” and the only thing that came up (ironically?) was American Apparel. Why Sweatshops in Seattle?
Allie: We define sweatshop really broadly so we really just define it as any corporation where workers are being abuses or mistreated or oppressed because of the conditions of the global economy.
Garrett: The defining characteristics of a sweatshop—poor working conditions, poverty wages, a lack of benefits, etc.—these are things that are not only characteristic of sweatshops in the third world, but also working conditions on our campuses, right here. …USAS is about struggling against sweatshops wherever they may be.
The Washington Bus: Could you tell us about one of your big victories?
Allie: After a lot of hard fought battles, there is a new line of sweatshop-free clothing apparel, Alta Gracia—it is the first union made collegiate apparel ever. It’s made in the Dominican Republic, and the workers there get living wages, healthcare benefits, have a very strong union—its really a big victory for the whole apparel industry.
Garrett: It was basically all USAS that was responsible for Alta Gracia existing—Knights Apparel wanted to have a brand that met students standards. They caught wind of USAS’ campaign in solidarity with workers in the Dominican Republic and decided to form a partnership to open a factory that is meant to be the first collegiate apparel factory where workers have union representation.
Washington Bus: what is USAS doing right now?
Allie: So, there’s this corporation called Sodexo, and they are the twenty-second largest company in the world—yeah, they’re HUGE—and there is currently a national campaign going on to kick them out of universities across the country. They have been cited with numerous workers rights violations, human rights violations—things like poverty wages, lack of healthcare benefits, racial discrimination, and steeling from public universities. And so we are trying to use our power as students to make the company change their business practices.
Washington Bus: How do you bring together so many people to do such big things?
Garrett: We do “big tent” organizing, which essentially means that USAS isn’t about going out and being like ‘you look like your radical! Come join our group!’ Its about taking people from a place of political apathy or fear or just an unwillingness to participate. In that sense we’re all about politicizing the student body and bringing people into the student-labor solidarity movement who would never have been there before.
Allie: It’s about finding out what the person you’re talking to is interested in and seeing how that relates to the work that we’re doing, and not just assuming why you know they should be interested. Labor is so connected to everything we do that if you just sit down and have a conversation with someone, you’ll find some common ground.
To us, USAS offers a new inkling of how solidarity can look and feel. Defining and discussing the “common ground” that connects laborers across the world, students to a factory thousands of miles away, or protesters in Cairo and Madison seems to be one of the most basic tasks of a progressive movement. And we are proud that USAS—an organization run by and of young people—is leading the way. Want to learn more? Check out there website and get involved!
That right there was our second installment of our new series, Who do you love? (find the first one here) A lay-o'-the-land of sorts of some of the most active, innovative, and inspiring young people in the state. This is a chance to highlight amazing work, give credit where credit is due, and begin to evaluate the state of youth-engagement in Washington and where it can go in the years to come. Know a great group that deserves a spotlight? Send ideas to alex [at] washingtonbus [dot] org.
Hello loyal riders of the Bus! Thank you so much for joining me on this ever-so-gray Monday. Don't go outside, stay in front of the computer, and get your favorite pair of congressional sweats. Once again, Olympia is coming to you!
Fore and Firstmost, there is some partying in order! WE PASSED THE CLOSE-DOWN-COAL BILL!!! The current version has the Trans Alta coal plant gradually shutting down between now an 2025. Woo hoo, let's just bask in the glory of these balloons for a minute (p.s. next non-renewable resource to worry about, our voice enhancing helium)
So how'd we do it? By showing that enviros care about the economy too! That's right greens - we can never forget that other green. I have to say that this a serious victory for progressives in Washington - debate over budget cuts has completely swamped any attempt at progress, such as cleaning up our state's environment.
Sometimes watching bills get watered down as they move through Congress can be a disheartening experience; it is like watching a friend watering your favorite at-home-cactus. It's like... dude... that cactus doesn't need water! But in this case, the democratic process sculpted a bill that a broad swath of Washingtonians could get down with. Make sure to check out the final bill that passed: everyone's favorite thing about it is $55 million in job retraining, new energy alternatives, and community investments.
Bravo Rep. Marko Liias for starting this conversation. Cheers to Sen. Rockafeller for the new bill. Hi-five to Republican Dan Swecker from Centralia for signing on and defending investment in your community. And last but not least, a round for the Washington Environmental Council, Sierra Club, and all who worked to this agreement, and towards cleaner air and water in Washington State! Gotta love it.
Meanwhile, the state congress continues to legislate all over the place. Here are a few highlights from last week:
Apparently this bill would overhaul the whole education system. Wait, what?!?! Sounds like something worth looking into, eh? We'll take a closer look on Wednesday if the bill survives.
There is one. Or so says Rock the Vote vice-president and Bus hero Thomas Bates. He's referring to new laws being pushed by the New Hampshire's House Republicans to limit the ability for college students (and others) to vote in their state. The Washington Post:
"One bill would permit students to vote in their college towns only if they or their parents had previously established permanent residency there - requiring all others to vote in the states or other New Hampshire towns they come from. Another bill would end Election Day registration, which O'Brien (New Hampshire's Republican speaker) said unleashes swarms of students on polling places, creating opportunities for fraud."
Fraud - that's the crux of the argument for proponents of the laws, although the speaker caught on tape saying, "Voting as a liberal. That's what kids do," and "they just vote their feelings," suggests there might be some very different concerns at work.
New Hampshire students have been out in numbers protesting the bills at the capitol.
Now, full disclosure, we like young people. Don't freak out. We thought you knew. And when we hear state legislators referring to young folks as, "people with a dearth of experience and a plethora of the easy self-confidence that only ignorance and inexperience can produce," the importance of our work to bring more young voices to the table just becomes all the more clear! Read the full article here.
Not your grandmother's legislative issue forum*
*Actually it may be, I know nothing of your grandmother
That's right, the eminent folks at Greater Spokane Progress are throwing an Eastern Washington Legislative Issues Slam! It's all the enjoyment the Denny's Lumberjack Slam, minus the food poisoning.
Just in case you were worried, there will be no tedious, endless, monologues allowed - instead progressive champs will be making their cases for the importance of their issues in the most artful, persuasive, possibly shocking way possible in order to win the votes of the audience.
A great way to get to know what Eastern Washington progressive champs are working on, with as I said - little to no likelihood of food poisoning!
But yes, details!
WHEN: Wednesday, March 16 5:30-7:00pm
WHERE: nYne Bar & Bistro, 232 West Sprague Avenue, Spokane
COST: Free, but donations to support Greater Spokane Progress are encouraged.
Turns out newtexplore.com is neither a haven for lizard biologists nor a local resource for places to spay your pet. It's Newt Gingrich's altogether eerie website for promoting-the-fact-that-he's-considering-the-possibility-that-he-might-run-for-president. Think about that, then look at this picture:
Now write a thesis on postmodernism.
In this old democracy, we're constantly faced with the challenge of connecting the issues we care about, with real world things we can do about them.
On that note, felt like we had to highlight the pure awesomeness of our friends at the Statewide Poverty Action Network and the goodness they're stirring up for young people in Washington. Their latest project, known as Teens in Action, is empowering young folks from Seattle Interagency Academy Southwest, an alternative school in White Center, to make the leap from learning in their government class, to advocating in Olympia.
Find out more here!