May Movie Nights and Discussion
Since I Been Down
Available for viewing May 2-7, run time 1 hour 45 minutes
In 1993 Washington State was the first state to implement the “three strikes” sentencing policy. In this film we meet Tacoma’s Kimonti Carter, “former president and a current member of a prisoner-initiated program, the Black Prisoners’ Caucus. At 34, Kimonti founded TEACH (Taking Education and Creating History), a remarkably innovative prisoner education program.”
We see Kimonti and a group of his peers maneuver through a pathway of few and narrow choices, “joining gangs as early as 11 years of age. The community is profoundly impacted by the city's disinvestment in housing, education, and employment,” as well as by criminal justice policies in the 1990s.
The film’s narrative, told by the people who have lived this reality, “unravels intimate stories from interviews brought to life through archival footage, cinema verité discussions, masquerade, and dance. It explores why children sometimes commit violent crime, and how these children – now adults – are breaking free and creating a model of justice that is transforming their lives, our humanity, and the quality of life for all our children.” Watch the trailer here, and register to view the film and participate in the May 5 discussion here. You can also find it on our event calendar on our website, lwvskc.org. A discussion guide is here: http://sibd.us/discussionguide.
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New Date for the Annual Meeting!
Saturday, May 21, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. via Zoom
Plan to attend the annual meeting of the membership of the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County (LWVSKC). Log in to the website as a member and register here!
It is here that members decide on the issues that set the direction for the coming year; elect and meet new officers and directors; approve the budget; vote on bylaw changes; and decide on the adoption of new studies and positions. While five percent of the membership makes up the required quorum for all votes, a strong grassroots voice requires all members to be engaged. The Carrie Chapman Catt award will be presented to a member who has contributed significantly to the League over the years; 50-year members will be honored; and our leaders and volunteers will be recognized for their dedication to making democracy work.
The annual meeting provides an opportunity for all of us to regroup and to renew our commitment in order to support each other. It is a time to reaffirm the mission and principles of the League and to set goals. It is only with the continued support and participation of the members and units that the LWVSKC can realize its mission.
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We’re Having A Party!
Tuesday, May 24, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. via Zoom
Come to our party! Have you registered yet for our party on May 24? If not, now’s the time! LWVSKC’s “Defending Democracy Across Generations” online party is where you want to be!
It’s time to gather and review our past and look to our future. We all have a role to play in strengthening our democracy. This party is an opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments and support our continued work.
Invite your friends, family, co-workers — anyone who believes in our mission and wants to defend democracy and empower voters. All are welcome to this party!
Party Details! The party (6-7:00 p.m.) is free to all members!
Additionally, you can enjoy a pre-party Happy Hour (5:30-6:00) package for a small fee. Each package includes an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage and an array of appetizers for one, or for two people to share lightly. You can engage on your own online with others, or potentially meet in small groups and order several Happy Hour packages to share before the main party starts. During this time, you’ll be able to socialize with friends and enjoy a surprise or two. Happy Hour packages must be ordered by May 15.
Finally, you can book a “table” (private Zoom room) for a group of friends, or perhaps a Unit, to share throughout the party for an additional fee. Your private room will be your special space to share conversation, catch up and talk about the party. All that book a room will have the opportunity for an extra surprise too! Private room reservations must be made by May 15. If you haven’t already registered, register here!
Pre-Party Raffle Sales! Yes, we’re having a raffle too! Before the party, up until May 22, raffle tickets will be sold in person by various LWVSKC members and our Administrative Manager, Allison Feher, through the office. Raffle tickets are only $10 each! We will be raffling off surprises every 10 - 15 minutes during the party so you will definitely want to purchase several raffle tickets to participate in the fun! To find out where to purchase your raffle tickets, contact your Unit Leader or Barbara Tengtio at email@example.com.
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Thank Election Workers: Letter to the Editor
On Sunday April 17, the Seattle Times published LWVSKC’s letter to the editor, reprinted below:
There are many public threats to U.S. democracy. From the Jan. 6 insurrection; voter purges; closure of polling places in low-income, diverse communities; to state legislatures determining they can overrule election results — there’s a lot to be concerned about.
Less well publicized are the countless threats to the safety and even lives of election officials — and their children — by extremists. One in six local election officials have experienced threats. In Washington state, our elections director was threatened.
These essential workers are confronting a huge brain drain, with 20% of local election administrators saying they are likely to leave their jobs before the 2024 presidential election, according to a survey released in March by the Brennan Center for Justice. Unsurprisingly, nearly two-thirds believe that false information is making their job more dangerous.
Election workers are the backbone of our democracy! Please join the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County in thanking these heroes, especially King County Elections Director Julie Wise and her staff, for their professionalism and bravery.
(Signed) Heather Kelly, Seattle, president, League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County
Want to join in? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org to express your support.
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Take Action On Climate!
Callie Ridolfi, Chair of City Climate Action Committee
Wondering how you can help protect our planet? Look no further! You don’t even need to step outside to make a huge impact and protect our water, air, and future. Just take a few easy actions in your home using our new climate action tool. Don’t wait — sign up today!
Climate change is a serious threat facing our nation and our planet. We support climate goals and policies that are consistent with the best available climate science and that will ensure a stable climate system for future generations. LWVSKC’s City Climate Action Committee is committed to increasing the democratic engagement of residents of King County in order to address climate change. We are teaming up with Community Climate Solutions to provide this climate action tool for our region.
For climate success, both individual household actions AND policy changes are needed. Our cities need to reduce carbon emissions dramatically to meet the targets of 50% reduction by 2030 and 95% by 2050. To meet these goals, the public must be involved and empowered.
Through changes big and small we can reduce carbon emissions. As you see the positive impact you can have, we hope you’ll be empowered to advocate for policy change at the local, county, state, and national levels.
Join by signing up today and make a difference in your community!
This climate action tool has been rolled-out in over 35 cities in 10 states, including Shoreline and Spokane here in Washington State. For most cities, residential emissions account for 40-60% of emissions, with smaller communities often having 60-90% of emissions coming from residents. That means mobilizing and engaging residents to take action is a critical component of the climate solutions pathway. If you have input or questions for our City Climate Action Committee, feel free to contact Jerri Gordon at email@example.com or Callie Ridolfi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Membership, Engagement, & Leadership Development (MELD)
Are you interested in connecting with other League members from across the state?
The Membership, Engagement, & Leadership Development (MELD) Network is the LWVWA’ s way of building in another communication channel between the local Leagues and the state and national boards on a monthly basis. LWVSKC is looking for a representative to join a MELD pod!
Local League MELD Team Representatives (time commitment 2-5 hours per month) would have the opportunity to:
Participate in monthly Pod calls.
Share monthly summary of personal and Local League successes/challenges.
Share news from other local, state, and national Leagues with the LWVSKC board and members by attending monthly LWVSKC board meetings.
Offer coaching and resources to help the League with membership, engagement, and leadership development tasks.
This opportunity is perfect for a new member who wants to get more involved in the League!
Please contact Lauren Pixley, Volunteer Coordinator, at email@example.com for more information.
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Do you know a fellow member in need of cheering up?
Perhaps you know someone who is recovering from surgery, struggling with work or family, or just having a trying time at the moment.
If so, please fill out this form, and the LWVSKC Bright Light will reach out to the member with a note to cheer them up, and remind them that they’re part of our League community.
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Connecting With the Community
This month, President Heather Kelly interviewed LWVSKC veteran and past President Nancy Bagley.
Watch this Zoom interview here. A transcript follows.
HEATHER: Okay, so today is Monday — May? Nope, March. That's an example of something I'll edit out. Today is March 28. And I'm here with Nancy Bagley, longtime League member and supporter to learn about her League story. So, Nancy, thanks so much for making time for me today. I really appreciate that.
NANCY: It’s a pleasure, Heather.
HEATHER: Yeah. So do you remember the year that you joined the League?
NANCY: Um, I do — it was 1972. And that will be 50 years this fall.
HEATHER: Oh, my goodness. So you're coming up on our lifetime membership award?
NANCY: Well, we’ll see … yeah, that's true. I'm glad … I hope to make it. I'm pretty close.
HEATHER: Yeah, I have a good feeling, so. And you joined the Seattle — I know it was the Seattle League at that time, right — not Seattle-King County.
NANCY: It was the Seattle League. Mercer Island was part of the Seattle League. But it was called the League of Women Voters of Seattle. And I joined shortly after we moved to Seattle. We were … it was a new area for us. And I wanted to get acquainted with the city, and get involved. And I knew about the League through my older sister, and she had been active in the Minnesota State League. And I'd heard a lot about League, almost too much. But then, when I started trying to figure out what was going on, in Seattle government, I felt, well, I should join the League. So I did. I called it up and joined
HEATHER: That … that’s so wonderful. Okay, so where did you move from?
NANCY: We were in Maryland. Rockville, Maryland.
HEATHER: Okay. Got it. You know, it's so funny, that story, because that's actually exactly, almost exactly my same story, of coming to the League, as sort of a Seattle transplant, and just really wanting to understand my new town on a deeper level, and be more engaged politically. And it was like, I found a home with the League, and it felt like the right fit. It’s so funny, some things don't change, right?
HEATHER: So what, when you first joined the League … what was it like? How did you, kind of, integrate into the community, and get into the flow?
NANCY: Well, I joined a unit, and it was the University Unit. And I joined that particular unit because they had child care. They met at the university. I forget the name of the church, but a university church that had – amazingly – had drop-in child care. And so, it was a wonderful group of young mothers who wanted to get together and discuss issues. And were involved, just getting involved in the League, and made some lifelong friendships with many people in that League in that unit, and so that was a real help. And, as later on, as I moved on in League, there was always a question of child care, and what can we do about child care? And I think that's an ongoing issue. And, of course, times were different in the early 70s. Women's options were just beginning to really expand, at least from my point of view, and … but there were a lot of women at home with young children who wanted to get involved in the community and the League was a perfect way to do that.
HEATHER: Yeah, you know, it's funny, because I hear … you're not the first person I've talked to that's, kind of, spoken nostalgically about the days in League when we did child care better. And of course it's an ongoing need. And it's … I would be so interested to understand better, like, how that fell away and what we can do to recreate it, because it's an access issue. It's an equity issue.
NANCY: It is.
NANCY: Well, child care is an ongoing issue that … that we saw during the pandemic, the need. I think in the case of the League, that program at the church ended because they couldn't function with drop-in child care, and the revenue wasn't predictable. And, so, they had to drop it. And, so, anyway, I think that it's an ongoing issue. It seems that young mothers with children are working for paying jobs more than looking for volunteer opportunities. And, so, it's a different situation. But I think there are certainly potentially members who are at home with young children, who would like to get out and attend some interesting meetings, and be able to have a place for their children.
HEATHER: Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, I think, you know, I used to bring my son to the Social Justice Committee meetings, because he was a pretty portable kid, I’d just bring some activities for him. But it was thrilling for me, to just have him in the same place where there were so many fabulous women talking about issues that really mattered to me, and for him to like, see that, but of course, I was always sort of, like, you know, with a young kid, it's always kind of a ticking time bomb. Like, you never know, if you're gonna have to get up and leave the meeting. And so I always felt like I was half-in, sort of half-out, of the meeting in terms of my own participation, and, you know, wishing for a different, better model for women who are willing to work and give us their time. God bless them! Anything we can do to make saying yes easier, and make the League a more welcoming place for them. I feel like, you know, it's so important to prioritize. And we have fabulous grandparents amongst us, too, who maybe we could even get, like, a child care tree going. A phone tree going. Well, okay, so then, how many kids? How many kids did you have?
NANCY: I had two sons.
HEATHER: Okay, same! Yup. I'm sure they kept you quite busy.
NANCY: They did indeed, yes. They’re all grown up and have families of their own and live right here in Seattle, which is a great joy to us.
HEATHER: Oh, that's wonderful! So, okay, so do you find that you're doing to them what your sister did to you? In terms of speaking relentlessly about the League trying to recruit them?
NANCY: Well, they certainly heard about it over the years. I haven't convinced them to join the League. Of course, back in the day, men weren’t even allowed to join. And, um, I haven't recruited their wives, they have other interests. So, that’s it.
HEATHER: And so I guess you'll just have to keep planting those seeds in subtle, and not so subtle, ways. So, then, you were kind of the “queen” of the waterfront. From a League standpoint, you represented us so well, in that effort. You and your husband both.
NANCY: Thank you. We really were a team, and we had a committee, too. But that was very late in my League career.
HEATHER: Yeah, I was gonna ask, what did you do in between? Like, were there other projects that you worked on?
NANCY: Oh, loads of other projects. I really liked getting involved in issues that led to action. Started out with energy. It was a big issue in the early 70s. It wasn't … we hadn't heard about climate change yet. Hadn't really thought about health effects. But, it was that we were running out of fossil fuels. And we needed to conserve, and we needed to find alternatives. This is back in the early 70s. The state League did an NP study, chaired by Lucy Copas. And I served on that committee, and then served on the City Light Rate Advisory Committee, and those were exciting times for energy conservation. The League endorsed, and pushed the City Council, to say no to a nuclear power plant that was proposed. You're new to the area, but there was a … Washington Public Power Supply System planned a series of nuclear plants, and this was one that they wanted Seattle to buy into. And there was a lot of talk about conservation. And some very brave Council members stood up for it, and they refused to participate. Later, the whole thing went bust, and the whole supply system went bust. So it was a courageous decision and the right decision. So it was fun to be involved in that, energy, at that point, and, and then oh, all kinds of issues.
I think another important issue for me was land use planning, and downtown land use planning. And in the early 80s, after we came out of a recession, there was just a building boom, and building heights were going way up. And a lot of us were alarmed, and a lot of other organizations too, and tried to get some controls and some better planning. And it led to a downtown land use and transportation plan that put the city, in the downtown, into zones, that had height limits and protected the retail core. And of course, now we see there's, there's a lot to pull downtown back. But there was a time when that really, really helped the downtown focus on keeping the retail core, without the very tall buildings, put the tall buildings in the financial district, protect Pioneer Square, protect the market area, zone the venue regrade for development, and protect the waterfront. And, and of course, the League had been following the waterfront, the harbor front, way back before my time.
But an important thing that happened before … I was involved with the Shoreline Management Program. And I think that came in through a Citizen Initiative that the League was involved in. Anyway, that called for cities to set up shoreline master programs. And Seattle did that. And just in time, because we already had one hotel built over the water — Edgewater squeezed in before there were some controls put on. And then there were plans for hotels out over the water, condos out over the water, and so the League was active in pushing back. This was long ago. And so we've always been interested in the waterfront. I remember I was looking through my notes and saw that the land use community, I think, led a waterfront walking tour, part bus tour and walking tour, in 1995. And we'd ended up with lunch at one of the restaurants. But we just had always had an interest in having it done right. There was a lot of concern about preserving the working waterfront, having water-related uses on the waterfront. Hotels don't have to be on the waterfront, housing shouldn't be on the waterfront. A lot of cities have given in, and have condos all over the water — Boston is an example. And so Seattle fought against that. They did allow housing in the uplands. And that was a questionable decision, maybe, but, so there is housing … the uplands are up, you know, away from the shoreline. But so we do have housing there.
But, so, then … the thrust turned to, you know, what should be done with the waterfront, the working waterfront, the fishing fleets and all, were not coming to the central waterfront. And that's when – before I was involved – they started planning … this is back in, I think, 2003, 2004. And League members, League leaders like Jan … um, I’m losing her name … and Lois Lochran, who was a member of our committee later, back in the early 2000s. They were working with the city as they started to do a, they called it, a “visioning.” It happened to the waterfront, and there were plans afoot about what to do about the viaduct. If the viaduct comes down, what should we do? And so there was a lot of planning around that. And that started way back, and so I was, you know, peripherally involved over the years in the waterfront, and then I got more involved because … I'm just so unhappy I can't remember Jan's last name ….
HEATHER: You know it'll come to you as soon as we hang up.
NANCY: She was a past President, very active in League. And she was terrific. And she was leading the waterfront effort. She was on the Citizens Committee, the Mayor's Citizens Advisory Committee. And we had a forum on the central waterfront in 2012, that she organized and drew together material for, and started thinking about really getting serious about the planning. And she passed away in 2013, in spring … is this more than you want to know?
HEATHER: No, not at all. I mean, I, I soak this up like a sponge. That all of our … I mean, so much of the wealth of our organization is in the heads of our longtime members. So that's for me, this project is all about getting that knowledge and passion out and shareable for those of us who are new, so we can learn. But one of the things I was going to ask you is because, you know, for me, a driving principle, with the League's DEI policy is when we're, when we're doing advocacy, really focusing on: okay, who are the impacted groups, like, who does this benefit? Who does this hurt, you know, kind of going through the checklist? And I'm wondering, like, it sounds like for you, the waterfront was like a shared resource that was something about the city that made the city really special. And I'm curious, like, who did you feel like you were protecting it for?
NANCY: Well, for the citizens of Seattle, and the region. And not for tourists, but we certainly welcome tourists. But the idea is, it should be a place where families, people out for a walk, can connect, and the viaduct had always cut off the city from the waterfront. I mean, people still went there, but it was a revelation when that, why that came down. And we could connect to the … from the downtown to the waterfront again. But it's the way the League had always looked at parks as a real resource. And we've always followed parks issues. We don't have a park committee now. I think our land use did that, in a very strong part … we used to have a member who attended every Parks Board meeting,
HEATHER: Wow! She should have just been on the board!
NANCY: So there was a lot of interest in parks. And so we were very concerned about why Waterfront Park was the one area that was designated as a public park. And so that's how … we wanted to protect Waterfront Park. It was the design, which happened, I guess, before I moved to Seattle. The original Park was … never quite worked. There was a lot of cement. And it never really quite worked. And so as people were thinking about the whole, redoing the whole waterfront, keeping that … redoing that waterfront as a real gem was important.
And so as I was saying before, after Jan passed away, that very next fall, I saw in the paper that there was going to be a scoping meeting for an environmental impact statement for, I forget what they called it then, it was the waterfront redevelopment or something. And I thought well, who's gonna go to that scoping meeting? And there really wasn't the committee anymore. So I talked my husband into going with me. He has been a League member for many years. But he … I think it's as long ago as men could join, he joined. We have a household membership. And he got more involved after he retired. He worked with the League on litter issues. You've done research on litter.
And then we went to the scoping meeting. And just thought, well, we need to carry on the work that had gone on before. We saw in the drawings … we were looking at especially at the park, because we were interested in that. And there was a mysterious rectangle drawn out into the water. And we said well, what's that? Well, nobody seemed to know. It was a kind of meeting where you went from easel to easel, and there were staff people there, and talking about it.
And we said, well, what's this rectangle out in the water? And well, we’re not sure … and so we decided to kind of plunge into that. It turned out that the aquarium wanted to expand, had always wanted to expand. And their idea was to expand south … right into the water. And of course, the Seattle Shoreline program protects views from public parks. And other city policies do too. And so we had good grounds to work on.
Anyway, that was, that was our, my most recent issue that I worked on for League. And very satisfying, because we feel like that, working with League …. You know, if it had just been my husband and I, we wouldn't have gotten anywhere. But we managed to pull in some past League presidents to our committee, and we had a good little committee set up. And we'd started meeting with City Council members. And, you know, representing the League. And of course we kept in with the Board, and formed a committee and, and reported regularly what our work was. But it was important to have the organization, a respected organization like the League that we were speaking through, it wasn't just Charles and Nancy, it was the League of Women Voters. So when I got up and testified, it was on behalf of the League, and the League has more clout. Over the years, I think it's waxed and waned, but more than people realize. And so that … it was very important that we had that organization behind us. And the City Council listened and asked questions.
And lo and behold, another site was found for the expansion, and it's on land. And it's right across the street from the aquarium. And it turned out, well, that's what they really always wanted to do. And they're going to build a beautiful ocean, Pacific Ocean pavilion that's gonna fit right into the overlook walk. And it's going to be wonderful.
HEATHER: I'm so excited for that expansion. And I love that you were supportive of it, too. And it was, like, about finding a place for it that also protected the waterfront as, like, a shared resource. Because, you know, once you start covering it up … and it's not that much, you know, it's not that long of a stretch of boardwalk. It really is a precious resource.
So I wanted to ask you then … okay, so I've read criticism, I forwarded you an article. And for those of you who are listening, after this recording, I'll post the link in the transcript too. But, from The Urbanist about some of the concerns that are developing around how, you know, Alaskan Way is being sort of expanded into this big thoroughfare for cars, on top of the, you know, the tunnel that went in. Is that … how do you feel, like, the project has evolved? Is it how you would have wished, or? I'm just interested in your perspective.
NANCY: First, I have to say that that article was misleading. First of all, it was a diatribe against the Seattle Times, and against the tunnel. And those are separate issues. They were responding to a very positive editorial that the Seattle Times had put out.
The transportation section of the waterfront plan was something that was designed by the city and state engineers. This was not part of the public participation. The League did not comment on the transportation. It was set up (that) first of all, the viaduct would come down. The deep bore tunnel was agreed on, actually decided by the governor, the mayor, and the city executive. The decision was made without really much public input.
There's a lot of criticism of the tunnel. Now that it's built, people are using it, and it does replace some of the viaduct traffic. The tunnel was never meant to take all the traffic off the waterfront. The tunnel doesn't even have any entrance and exit throughout all of downtown. It's meant for through traffic. And so there had to be traffic, for getting along Alaskan Way. And to the stadium, and to … back up the other way to Elliott. Anyway, it was designed to accommodate the traffic that would be … but it would be pushed back under the viaduct. There is just a short section that has very many lanes, because of needing two lanes for ferry traffic.
You know, this whole project was complicated. We're rebuilding a ferry terminal. First we had to rebuild the seawall before we could do anything. Now we're rebuilding the ferry terminal, then we're constructing … we took down the viaduct, constructed a tunnel, constructing new roads. And the article made it sound like the whole waterfront would be eight lanes of traffic. And really, it's not eight lanes all the way down. And it's going back where the viaduct was.
As part of the agreement for the city, and there's some state funding for this too, is that we would develop a promenade, a wonderful, they're calling it a park now, but originally it was a promenade, and it has … they're growing trees now that will be planted that will be fairly substantial. So there's going to be greenery, there are going to be ways to cross, you know, you don’t have to cross all of the lanes. Anyway, it's … you can go to waterfrontseattle.org and find pictures of what's, what's planned. And so the transportation planning was done first, then came the design for the amenities for the whole boulevard. And that's the part that the League was involved in and commented on.
And, you know, here we are only partway into the project. They had to do all these other … relocate utilities, all kinds of stuff that had to be done, and then building the roads. And so none of the greenery is in, none of you know, they're making a wonderful little beach by the pergola down at the end of the street. It's going to be lovely, but they're waiting to get the plants just at the right age to put them in. Anyway, it's going to happen in stages, and hopefully by the end of 2024, it will really … unless there are backups. And as far as we know, they're moving ahead. I suppose it could slide some more. Of course, the original schedule was much earlier. The tunnel got held up. That got stuck, you know, you know, you weren't sure, maybe but you heard all about it, probably. Anyway, it's a mammoth project. So to judge the whole thing on the roads that are going in now, I have to say really isn't fair.
HEATHER: So you would urge patience and a wait-and-see approach. All right, that makes sense. I do hope that the designs that I see, that the final product, you know, really honors them, because it just looks so beautiful. And I mean, you know, really would be a testament to how forward-thinking Seattle is as far as, you know, alternative forms of transportation and public transit, although that's also an area of progress. But biking and pedestrians ….
NANCY: That will be our future, and so, you know, it's moving through the final processes of design and approval. And the construction schedule. I think the last I heard was to go through … pretty much done by 2024. I don't know that the aquarium … the aquarium is a separate project. That's another separate project. And there was a … well, we could go on and on, but, anyway, the aquarium is a city-owned facility, but it's run by a 501c3 organization, the Seattle … it's called SEAS, S-E-A-S, and they are a 501c3, so they are … There’ll be some city money for the aquarium, but they are having to do big fundraising for that. Philanthropy is a big part of the funding for the waterfront project. The funding plan was put in place years ago, and has had … I don’t know if you want to get into that … but anyway it's been worked on. And it's there, it’s not that we’re just going to have to drop it, for lack of funding.
HEATHER: Yeah, I know, I think, you know, there’s been so many unforeseeable glitches, with the whole life … across the whole lifetime of the project, and it’s sorta like we are we are, we’re not gonna just stop in the middle. We’re almost gonna realize a final vision. You know, it’s so hard when the financial landscape changes in ways that, you know, were – maybe – foreseeable, some of them, but certainly other factors, completely out of the blue. So I guess one final question for you is, across the arc of your League career, obviously you’ve learned and seen a lot. What advice would you offer to new League members, and/or younger League members, about what, you know, it means to be in League?
NANCY: Well, I would advise getting involved. I think it’s fun to be on a committee! I was in a unit for many years, and certainly recommend that for meeting people and having discussions. But it’s also fun to delve into issues. And I think as you get into it, you’ll find things that particularly interest you. If there isn’t a committee, and there’s some interested people, League is very open to starting a committee. We’re a multi-issue group. I mean, that has sometimes been a challenge, but, on the other hand, we’re volunteers, and we can’t be forced to work on something we don’t want to work on. Find something that interests you, do some research, and if you see something that needs to be done in the city, look at the League positions. We’ve got a range of positions, on everything you can imagine. So there’s probably a relevant position. I loved study. I started out on a study, I loved studying and research. But I’ve always been an advocate that it should lead to action. It’s no fun to just have a body of positions that we just sit there and are proud of. We want to monitor city government. City government needs a watchdog, and the League is good at doing that. You know, “if you see something, say something”! There’s a lot that can be accomplished by a small group of people, with the League behind them. Of course you stay in touch with the leadership of the League, with the Board, we have a whole process that can be daunting, but it helps us function well, I think. So I encourage people to study, but then get ready to take some action. And I think we’ve made a difference over the years on so many issues. Certainly on land use planning, downtown land use, we were influential. And lately on the waterfront. Those are two things that I’ve been involved in, but tons of other things. We had a wonderful League member who called herself “the garbage lady,” Harriet Woods, and we did a study of solid waste — finding that it would be possible to recycle, that we should have curbside pickup of food waste. This was way back. In the early 80s I think. So, you know, there’s so many issues where I think … it isn’t as if the League has done it all. But when the League lends its support, it can make a difference. So I encourage new members to do that — get knowledgeable at first, join a unit for sure, get to meet people, attend the forums, and then get involved.
HEATHER: That’s great. I love that idea of, you know, seizing the opportunity to use the League, and the League’s reputation, even just to turn the voices of a small group into a bigger voice. Because to me that’s ... I’m an advocate, you’re speaking my language. I love to find channels for making change. And it’s so neat to be doing that at the local level, because it … you can see the impact that you have. It feels very, um, personal. Well, thank you again so much for your time. I mean, my goodness, over the years, all of your support. I just … I can’t wait to see what you do next, quite frankly.
NANCY: I might just take a break, you never know.
HEATHER: I suppose you’ve earned that.
NANCY: I’ll always stay in the League, and get involved when I can. Thank you so much for taking … I’ve enjoyed talking with you, Heather. I want to thank you for the fine job you’re doing as League President. I know what a big job it is, I did it myself. It’s so important, and it really helps to have leadership that is helping new members find the way to go, and … so, thank you.
HEATHER: Yeah, absolutely. I’m learning a ton and really enjoying myself, so. I appreciate it. All right, well, have a wonderful rest of your week, and, um, stay tuned to The Voter.
NANCY: Yes, I surely will.
HEATHER: All right, take care, Nancy.
NANCY: Okay, bye-bye.
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Heather Kelly, President
The verdict is in: We are long overdue for a party, and Spring Party is right around the corner! This is a time to let our hair down and celebrate our accomplishments over the past year and our vision going forward. We have so many exciting surprises and prizes to share with you all! So dust off your dancing shoes — or go barefoot! — gather your friends around the computer at home, and get ready for a fun-packed time together — with special cameos from special guests!
April’s board meeting was a veritable buffet of updates, exercises, and discussion. We began with a communication exercise. As with many teams, our communication styles vary. We all need to feel heard, understood, and respected — even when faced with challenges or deadlines. To practice these skills, board members broke off into small groups. One person spoke for three minutes on a chosen topic. Then, the listener took one minute to reflect back what they heard. Some board members appreciated how their listener interpreted their words, while others preferred hearing their words reflected back verbatim. Just taking time to practice listening set a great tone for the meeting!
Our other major focus at the April meeting was on next year’s budget. We’re going to plan for in-person events and hope for a healthy community to make that happen! We’ve also heard from you that maintaining a virtual option – especially for forums – is really important. Hybrid events appear to be the wave of the future, so we’re researching ways to make those successful. Have you attended an amazing hybrid event? We’d love to hear what worked — or didn’t! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your experience.
Speaking of the budget, we also brainstormed how to fund our DEI work for next year. This is a new and necessary line item for us. Times are tight, so we are getting creative! If you know of a grant writer or a DEI funding source, please pass your ideas along to our development team at email@example.com! We are also in conversation with LWVWA and LWVUS about how to push forward with this critical work more effectively.
The day after our board meeting, I hosted a social hour at Green Lake, but the rain had other plans! We escaped the weather at my house. It was such a pleasure just relaxing together! I realized COVID has cut out the socializing we’d enjoy at in-person board meetings. It’s time to build that back into our lives!
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Units Unite Us
Sarah Beth Miller
Our nine small discussion groups (Units) meet once a month to discuss topical issues and connect members to outreach activities.
Any member can attend any Unit meeting.
Check our website calendar for locations and times — including our virtual-only Unit!
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Getting to Know Our Units: First Hill
Led by Madeline Betz, our First Hill Unit invited its Seattle City Council Representative, Andrew Lewis, (7th District) to share a Zoom meeting on April 8. Unit members spoke to their elected representative about their concerns about a new encampment in neighboring Freeway Park, especially as the nearby portable toilet on Seneca Street, with water for sanitation, disappeared last fall. Members also spoke about the issue of increased crime downtown in spite of more police attention to the area. Interested in what Andrew Lewis had to say to the citizens he represents? Here is the recording.
First Hill Unit also is starting Adult Civic Education! Using civics questions from the U.S. Naturalization Test to highlight knowledge gaps, First Hill member Ingrid convinced her fellows to join small book discussion groups to read, study, and discuss The State We’re In: Washington, now in its 8th edition. This text is published by the Washington State League of Women Voters, and you can read it online in an ADA-compliant version, or order it from www.LWVWA.org. The First Hill Unit study groups will meet on April 18 and plan to continue into June. Why so many weeks of study, you may ask? Many of you know that our First Hill Unit meets in a large room at Horizon House, a senior living center. Well, both of the largest rooms are having overlapping renovations, so Unit members will just adapt, and move to several smaller spaces for our Adult Civic Education.
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Units Revitalize! Meets Again In May
Sarah Beth Miller
Our LWVSKC Units are active — they register voters, promote civics education, attend forums, participate in Observer Corps, and more! And with every monthly unit meeting that’s held, our unit members are engaged in the essential work of democracy by discussing and debating current issues, and educating themselves and their communities: this is the foundation of all League work.
It requires time and effort to stay informed and fuel our mission of empowering voters and defending democracy. How can units avoid “overwhelm” and stay curious and vital? This May (date coming soon!) we’ll be having our fourth Units Revitalize! meeting. This is an opportunity to focus on the issues which we’re most concerned about; to explore the best ways to engage members; and to build stronger connections with our communities and among ourselves.
More details about the Units Revitalize! meeting to come! Send questions and suggestions for agenda items to Sarah Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com!
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Get the Word Out!
LWVSKC's Communications team is looking for a Voter Editor. Think you might be interested? Contact Lisa Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Talking To Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know
By Malcolm Gladwell
Reviewed by Vicky Downs
Gladwell shows us we are very likely to make a mistake if we judge a person we have never met before. For example, a cop in Texas was told he should stop any car that violated the law. An African American woman from Chicago was heading to an interview for a job at a university in Texas where she had graduated several years before. The cop pulled her over and said she had “failed to signal a lane change.” He asked her questions and she answered. However, once she lit a cigarette, the cop asked her to put it out. Soon she was arrested and jailed. “Three days later, she committed suicide in her cell.”
We learn that the cop and the woman were “mismatched.” The cop thought he was acting exactly as he should … by the book, and she wasn’t complying. She saw the stop as a question of racism. This mismatch led to her death.
In the late 1930s, Prime Minister Chamberlain wanted “to see if he could avert war.” He went to Germany and met Hitler for the first time at his Berchtesgaden home. There, Hitler ushered Chamberlain to his study along with the translator. Chamberlain, back in England reported he “felt satisfied now that each of us fully understands what is in the mind of the other.” He returned two more times, and at one point said that Hitler “gave me the double handshake that he reserves for especially friendly demonstrations.”
Like many of us, Chamberlain believed that “information gathered from a personal interaction is uniquely valuable.” After all, most of us would never hire babysitters for our children without first meeting them in person.
In contrast, Churchill “never believed for a moment that Hitler was anything more than a duplicitous thug.” Churchill had experienced the Boer War and knew what duplicitousness looked like. He and Hitler were matched. Chamberlain was an English gentleman who saw a “gentleman” side of Hitler that did not exist. They were mismatched.
In Seattle, we remember Amanda Knox. Her roommate, Meredith Kerchner, was murdered during their year abroad in Italy. The murderer, Rudy Guede, “was a shady character who had been hanging around the house where she lived, and the crime scene was covered with his DNA.” When Kercher’s body was found, he fled to Germany.
The focus quickly turned to Amanda. “There was never any physical evidence linking either Knox or her boyfriend to the crime,” and the investigation was “shockingly inept.” It took the Italian court eight years after the crime, for Knox to finally be declared innocent.
Why was Knox charged? “We tend to judge people’s honesty based on their demeanor.” Knox did not act as expected. She was “an immature young woman.” Years later she wrote in her memoir “I was a quirky kid who hung out with sulky manga-readers, the ostracized gay kids, and the theater geeks.” After Kerchner’s murder her friends “wept quietly, hushed their voices and murmured their sympathies.” Knox didn’t. She was a mismatch.
Our problem is, if we don’t know how to talk with strangers, we’re often quick to blame them. The African American woman, Sandra Bland, might still be alive if the cop, Brian Encinia, had learned how to deal with a “mismatch.” Basically, we need to learn more about “the other” before assuming we know him or her.
Perhaps we should not quickly judge people who don’t vote as we do. In fact, Gladwell suggests it is sometimes best “to allow the stranger to remain a stranger.”
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