Media in Democracy -- SANDPOINT, Idaho -- Media is arguably the greatest teaching force on the planet, reaching hundreds of millions of people everyday with images and words that construct our realities. That's why there is an important discussion going on about the responsibility media has as an agent of democracy and community support structure. On Tuesday, May 25, that discussion will come to Sandpoint as part of a series put on by the Public Forum on Sustainability, which is a grassroots movement dedicated to introducing the local community to concepts of sustainability. The forum, Mass Media and Grass Media: The Community Voice, will include a panel of local media experts who will discuss current media theories, as well as practical solutions to maintaining responsible media.
"We'll have representatives from local media share how they're serving the community and how people can connect with it to create a community that we all want to live in," says Paul Fosselman, committee volunteer for the Forum on Sustainability.
Part of the discussion will center on how to keep independent, local media from becoming beholden to those who are more concerned with profitability than ethical responsibility.
"We've been lucky," Fosselman says. "The kind of media we have is pretty open, whereas other areas are locked down to the highest bidder."
Mass Media and Grass Media is Tuesday, May 25, at the Sandpoint Public Library, 1407 Cedar St., Sandpoint, Idaho, from 7-9 pm. The forum is free and open to the public.
Politicking -- SPOKANE -- Get ready for Rock the Vote to rock 'n' roll at Spokane Community College on Monday, May 24. Rock the Vote is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that seeks to engage young people in the political process. The goal is to make "being political" cool through freedom of speech and artistic expression.
"I know that, especially on our campus, no one really knows who their legislators are," says Stephanie Freatman, SCC student council member and Rock the Vote participant. Freatman partnered with other students to plan a Rock the Vote event on campus.
"One of us decided to have a rock concert in the amphitheater because we haven't used it in 10 years. It's called Music for the Masses, to complement the students here and give something back in a fun way," Freatman says. Along with four bands, Matchbook Romance, the Matches, Maxeen, Boys' Night Out and Mang, the students added politics to the mix. State legislators will be on hand to talk issues; anyone can sign up to vote and several campaign representatives will be present, too.
Rock the Vote is at Spokane Community College on Monday, May 24, 11 am to 1 pm in the Lair (Bldg. 6) and the outside amphitheater. It's free and open to the public. College students with ID can win prizes given away by local radio stations.
More Than Spilled Milk -- OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Last month the organization American Rivers published its list of the nation's most endangered rivers; that's one top ten list our region doesn't want to make. However, both the Snake River and the Spokane River were included as the third- and sixth-most endangered rivers in the country. Ecologists have long known the reasons underlying our rivers' pollution: In addition to sewage overflows, a century of logging and mining have pumped PCBs into the water. And just this week, the Department of Ecology cited the Army Corps of Engineers for infractions during the last five years involving more than 33 oil spills from nine dams along the Snake and Columbia rivers.
"I'd say this has been a long-term problem," says Mary-Ellen Voss, public information officer for Ecology. "[The core] had significant spills: a 3,000-gallon spill in August 2000 at Chief Joseph Dam; a 2,000-gallon spill just this last January at the Dulles Dam; and an 1,800-gallon spill near Pasco at the Snake River in June 2000."
Voss says the spills of the past five years could have been avoided.
"We're finding the oil leaks from generators, transformers and hydraulic systems and the associated parts," she explains. "In a very high percentage of cases, they can be prevented, and the reason we sent this notice of violation is to formally address prevention, preparedness and response."
Voss says the Corps has recently begun to collaborate with Ecology.
"Our real concern is if the Corps has a spill tomorrow, they don't have the equipment and training to respond effectively," she says. "We will provide guidance."