Blue-Green Dream Team -- SPOKANE -- Most people will tell you that labor and the environment tend to get along about as well as, say, the Yankees and the Red Sox -- with nothing but hard feelings on both sides. Spotted owls lay pink slips on disgruntled loggers; factories dump toxic turds into our streams and rivers. Not everyone, though, thinks that clear skies and a decent living are mutually exclusive.
"That stigma is absolutely false," says Mike Petersen, director of the Lands Council, a local nonprofit dedicated to forest and water issues. "For years, we've let politicians try to divide us by choosing between good jobs and a clean environment." Which is why Petersen and former Kaiser Aluminum steel man Gary McKinney last week announced the formation of the Blue-Green Alliance. A broad coalition of environmental and labor interests, the Alliance will urge politicos to embrace what they call a "bigger, bolder vision for our state and nation."
That means, says Petersen, a system that looks for opportunities to put local folks to work improving the environment. It means investing less in foreign crude (and foreign jobs) and more in the American wind and solar energy business. It could also mean the approval of Initiative 297, which the Alliance has endorsed. "We need clean-up [at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation]; we need well-trained, high-paying union jobs to help us do that." The same goes for the mess up in Silver Valley, or the fetid waters of the Spokane and Coeur d'Alene rivers. "A good, clean environment means good jobs," adds McKinney.
Earlier this week, two of the colorful coalition's most high- profile members -- the Sierra Club and the United Steelworkers Union -- unveiled an energy plan they say could create 33,000 news jobs in Washington State while saving the average household $1,250 per year in energy bills.
Perhaps we can all just get along. -- Joel Smith
Broad Statement -- SPOKANE -- If only Nordstrom executives knew what was coming on Oct. 19. On Tuesday, American businesswomen will close their purse strings, stop trading on Wall Street and simply refuse to spend any money. What's the point of this "buycott?" It's to call attention to the fact that American women control almost $4 trillion in annual consumer spending, purchase nearly two out of every three cars, control exactly half the wealth in the nation and take exactly half of all business trips. But at the same time, there are only eight CEO-ships, held by women in Fortune 500 companies; women are underrepresented on boards for those companies, too.
The group called 85 Broads is calling on all U.S. women to participate in the Oct. 19 "Buycott." There are more than 85 of them; the group has more than 4,000 members, including professors and students at business schools across the country. Of course, even Janet Hanson, founder of 85 Broads, doesn't expect the "buycott" to have a negative impact on the economy and says she wouldn't want it to; but she does think it will raise awareness. Hanson says the "buycott" sends the message that having just eight women CEOs "does not reflect the purchasing power of half the population."
Some don't approve of the "buycott." According to Newsday, the president of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Nancy Ploeger, says encouraging women to protest indiscriminately isn't helpful.
Coralie Myers, economic development specialist with the Spokane Business Association, agrees. "The thing is, the ones it may hurt are the small businesses, and they are the least able to affect a change," she says. Myers explains that one of the reasons the number of women-owned businesses has shot up in recent years is because of the limitations in major corporations. Rather than participating in a "buycott," Myers says there are positive, pro-active steps women can take to support one another and make headway. In fact, the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is holding its annual meeting in Spokane this week.
"[NAWBO] is an effective lobbyist for women's empowerment in entrepreneurship," Myers says, noting that Spokane just received a grant to open a Women's Business Center, which will serve businesswomen throughout the Inland Northwest. "See, it doesn't have to be a negative thing." -- Cara Gardner
For more information about the Oct. 19 "buycott," visit secure.85broads.com. For more information about the Spokane Business Information Center and the Women's Business Network, visit www.smallbusinessspokane.org.