We Hold These Truths... -- SPOKANE -- It's hard to believe that it was just 85 years ago that women in the United States gained the right to vote. Only after activists in the suffrage movement successfully persuaded Congress to treat all men and women equally in the eyes of the law -- back in 1919 -- did American women get to walk into the ballot booth. That's part of the reason the Spokane Women's Coalition is still celebrating National Women's Equality Day, which is today, Aug. 26.
"We're [sending] the message to women not to take their right to vote for granted by not voting or not getting involved in issues," says Monica Walters, executive director for YWCA and member of the Spokane Women's Coalition. The coalition is made up of a variety of local organizations in the region that support women's rights and women's equality. Beginning at 5 pm today, the Spokane Women's Coalition has invited all women and their families to a picnic in Comstock Park (on the east side of the park, between the wading pool and the tennis courts) to celebrate the continued effort toward equality. Voter registration forms will be available -- postage paid -- for anyone who hasn't yet registered.
"We won't be talking about partisan issues," says Walters. "It's really to celebrate how far we've come and [to remind people] that it's not a time in our national history to take our rights for granted."
Our (In)Famous Rivers -- WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Trout Unlimited, a national conservation organization, is taking what some might call the high road by releasing a report called "Settled, Mined and Left Behind," listing 10 watersheds that have the most potential for positive change instead of listing the most hopeless cases; Washington state's Kettle and Methow river basins, and Idaho's Salmon are three of them.
"These watersheds are included not because they are the most polluted in the region, but because they hold the potential for significant, rapid progress," says Rob Roberts, Trout Unlimited's western field coordinator.
Though it lists which rivers have the most potential, rather than the ones that offer the least hope, Trout Unlimited doesn't tiptoe around the fact that there's work to be done. The organization cites runoff full of heavy metals as the biggest cause for concern for the Kettle River; around the Methow, cyanide salts from more than 150 abandoned mines are the biggest challenge. The report calls for more grassroots activism.
"Significant progress can be made when people combine their efforts to restore the health of the land and waters that sustain us," added Chris Wood, Trout Unlimited's vice president for conservation programs.
Crop to Cafeteria -- PULLMAN, Wash. -- What could be better than food grown and consumed locally? How about keeping the entire process, from crop to cafeteria, within a few miles of each other? That's exactly what Palouse farmers Fred Fleming and Karl Kupers are doing with their wheat crop. A WSU wheat breeder specifically designed a strain of wheat to grow in Eastern Washington, where Fleming and Kupers farm it in an environmentally sound manner that carries the Food Alliance certification. Then the wheat is milled and sold to a variety of local businesses, like HearthBread BakeHouse, Luna (a Spokane restaurant known for its delicious breads) and the Farmer's Daughter Country Store and Bakery (in Airway Heights).
"It's a really versatile, usable flour," says Tessa Wicks, with the Farmer's Daughter Country Store and Bakery. In addition to using the flour to bake the store's retail products, like muffins and French bread, Wicks says they've started selling bags of it to customers.
"We've gone through 15 [bags] since last Thursday," she says. Fleming and Kupers also sell their wheat back to WSU, where it was originally developed. And it's been a hit in the cafeteria.
"[WSU dining services] found out it was excellent baking flour, and kids started to make comments on the quality of the pizzas," says Fleming, noting that when college kids compliment cafeteria pizza, he's knows he's done something right.
Corrections -- In last week's article, "Fruits of Labor," profiling Republican congressional candidate Cathy McMorris, we mistakenly reported that she supported Right-to-Die legislation. In fact, McMorris opposes any such legislation.
Also last week, in "Political Cage Match," we mistakenly referred to Tom Keefe as chairman of the Spokane County Democratic Party. He is past chairman, but no longer holds that post.