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January 2015 News Events

Documentary portrays transition in rural U.S.

“Dryland,” a portrait of rural America in transition, through the eyes of a young man pursuing his dream and a town fighting to survive, will premiere in Spokane at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 6, at the Bing Crosby Theater, 901 W. Sprague.

The 62-minute film will screen during the Opening Night Gala of the Spokane International Film Festival (SpIFF).

The directors, Sue Arbuthnot and Richard Wilhelm of Portland, Ore., have received an Oregon Arts Commission Media Arts Fellowship and two Best Feature Documentary awards for “Dryland.” They and two lead cast members will be present to answer questions after the screening.

“Dryland’s” mission is to spark fresh conversation about the need to preserve family farms and reinvigorate local towns, while bridging gaps in understanding between urban and rural Americans, keen to participate in a sustainable future for agriculture.

Told over 10 years and filmed 75 miles from Spokane in Adams County, “Dryland” looks into desires and obstacles experienced by those who grow food—now just one percent of Americans. While Josh Knodel yearns to remain on his fourth-generation Eastern Washington wheat farm, forces of advancing technology, global economics and an increasingly extreme climate bear down on family farms around the country and the world.

His dream shatters when he learns he must leave home to find a job. Ultimately, through persistence and hard work, his family brings him home to continue the family’s legacy.

For information, call 503-287-3731, visit or go to

Plans are underway for 2015 Fig Tree benefit events

The Fig Tree has recruited hosts for 16 of 30 tables for the Benefit Breakfast on Wednesday, March 11, and for 20 of 30 tables for the Benefit Lunch on Friday, March 13, in Cataldo Hall at Gonzaga University.

The 2015 theme is “Sharing Stories That Inform, Inspire and Involve.”

Table hosts donate $100 to cover the cost of food for themselves and seven other guests they invite.  Guests enjoy a complimentary meal and are invited to donate a similar amount—or an amount significant to them—for the work of The Fig Tree.

The goal is to raise $50,000 from the events, along with $20,000 from sponsors to assure adequate staffing into the future for The Fig Tree.

The benefit events are an opportunity for people who were interviewed during the previous year to share how the stories had impacts on their work and lives.

“It’s a time to celebrate The Fig Tree’s mission of sharing stories of people who make a difference because of their faith and values, and of connecting people with resources,” said editor Mary Stamp.

“It’s also an opportunity to reflect about the media landscape today and its impact on our lives, our communities, our democratic society and our world,” she said.  “It’s important to be able to have tools to discern the difference between truth and deception through propaganda and control of media by corporate interests.”

The Sisters of Providence recently provided $1,000 in underwriting for the benefits, and Advent Lutheran Endowment Fund has given a donation of $1,000 to help reach the fund-raising goal.

For information, call 535-1813.

Resource Directory updates, advertisers sought for 2015-16

Fig Tree volunteers recently sent a mailing to congregations and ministries inviting them to update their listings for the 2015-16 Annual Resource Directory: Guide to Congregations and Community Resources.

The nearly 200-page publication is the most comprehensive resource directory in the region, covering faith, nonprofit, civic, government and community agencies, service providers, cultural organizations, support groups, retreat centers and other resources that serve and connect people to improve lives, said directory editor Malcolm Haworth.

“Each year we send by mail and email forms for people to complete to help us update the ever-changing data on organizations, people involved and contact information,” he said.

“We are coming closer to having a format for a searchable online directory to help people with specific needs find services to meet those needs,” said Lorna Kropp, webmaster.

Currently the information is online in pdf files organized by categories.  The electronic files have recently been updated.

Directory costs are underwritten by community and government agencies, congregations and businesses that advertise.

“Recently, we have had several requests for 300 and 500 directories, so we have fewer than 100 left of 10,000 copies we printed for 2014-15,” said Malcolm.

“We recommend agencies, colleges and businesses that want bulk quantities of directories to share with staff and clients to let us know in advance of their needs so we print enough copies,” he said. “The increased demand for directories means it is getting more use and being used as the ‘go-to’ guide on community resources because of how complete, accurate and inclusive it is.”

Directories are available free, but donations help cover costs, especially for large orders.

For information, call 535-4112 or email  The data is online at and click “directory” to access sections.

Taizé brother’s visit may lead to U.S. gathering

Brother Emile of Taizé will give a lecture on “Faithful to the Future: Yves Congar’s Vision for the Church” at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 10, at the Whitworth University Music Recital Hall.

Gonzaga University and Whitworth University will also host an ecumenical prayer service at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 11, at St. Aloysius Catholic Church, 330 E. Boone, followed by a reception and performances of Whitworth student musicians.

Taizé is an ecumenical community started after World War II in Taizé, France, to shelter refugees.  Today it is a monastic order with more than 100 brothers from Catholic and Protestant traditions from 30 nations.  Living in community as a sign of reconciliation among Christians, they are known for their worship, songs, prayers and service in the world among the poor.

Ben Brody, associate professor of music at Whitworth since 2003, invited Brother Emile, whom he knows from taking 15 students a year to Taizé in a study abroad on “Arts in Christian Worship.” 

Whitworth students who take the course spend a week in Rome and Florence, Italy, visiting museums and attending Masses; a week at Taizé, and a week in London in a youth hostel across the street from St. Paul’s Cathedral where they attend evensong every day.

Yves Congar, a chief architect of the Second Vatican Council, understood the church’s fidelity not only to the past but also to the future—a tradition connecting creativity, reform and the value of the human person, Ben said.

Brother Emile, who was born in Canada in 1956, joined the Taizé community in 1976.

At Taizé, he frequently leads Bible studies and workshops and teaches theology in the community in France. He is the author most recently of Faithful to the Future (2013). Brother Emile met Yves for the first time at Taizé in 1977, when he was a new brother.  He cared for Yves after he retired there and has studied his thought for many years.

Ben said that Taizé has an annual gathering in Europe drawing tens of thousands of young people.  They also now have American gatherings—one at DePauw University, one in South Dakota with Native Americans and one in Texas.

He is working with Gonzaga to host another American gathering in a few years, so Brother Emile is meeting to find out about resources to do to gather hundreds to thousands of American students.

For information, call 777-3214 or email

Holy Names Sisters invite congregations to join in prayer against human trafficking on Feb. 8

Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary are providing prayers and resources for the first International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking on Sunday, Feb. 8.

The reflections will commemorate Saint Josephine Bakhita.

The Vatican proposed holding such a day.

Yvonne Massicotte, coordinator of the SNJM Justice and Peace Network for the Anti-Trafficking Committee, invites people to gather in small groups for sharing prayers and reflections.

The objective of this event, which is personally supported by Pope Francis, is to sensitize people about one of the worst examples of slavery in the 21st century, said Yvonne.

Sister Eugenia Bonetti, a Consolata Missionary Sister, president of the association No Longer Slaves, met Pope Francis and asked him that one day of the year be dedicated to reflecting on and raising awareness of the sexual exploitation of human beings.  He asked what day she suggested, and she answered, “The Feast of Saint Bakhita on Feb. 8, because she was a slave.”  

Josephine Bakhita was born in the south of Sudan in 1869. As a young girl, she was kidnapped and sold into slavery.  Sold and resold in the markets of El Obeid and Khartoum, she was brutalized by her kidnappers. She could not remember the name her parents had given her. Bakhita, which means fortunate, was the name her kidnappers gave her.

In 1883, she was bought by an Italian diplomat who sent her to Italy to work as a servant for the daughter of a family friend who was studying with the Daughters of Charity of Canossa.

There Bakhita came to know about God, whom she had experienced in her heart without knowing who God was. In 1890, she was baptized and received the name of Josephine.

Later, when the Italian family returned from Africa to reclaim their “property,” Josephine expressed her opposition. When the family insisted, she remained firm. With the support of the Superior of the Canossian Sisters and the Cardinal of Venice, she won her freedom. Josephine then entered the novitiate of this Congregation. For the next 50 years, she led a life of prayer and service as a Canossian Sister until her death in 1947. 

Participants are encouraged to learn more about human trafficking, pray for its victims and the end of this slavery, demand slave-free products and buy fair trade, and advocate for legislation that protects victims.

For information, call 951-8551 or email

12 panelists share on bridging gaps in the community

Joseph King’s Consulting is coordinating the first annual Community Relationship Awareness Forum, “Bridging the Gaps in the Spokane Community,” featuring 12 panelists sharing insights at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 19, at The Red Lion Hotel, 303 W. North River Drive.

Panelists include Spokane Mayor David Condon, NAACP-Spokane President Rachel Dolezal, Spokane Community College Multi-Cultural leader Lori Hunt, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezevich, motivational speaker Kitara Johnson, Pastor Ezra Kinlow of the Holy Temple Church of God in Christ.

Others on the panel will be the Rev. Todd Eklof of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane; Julie Schaffer of the Center for Justice; Liz Moore, co-director of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane; Martin Meraz-Garcia, professor of Chicano education at Eastern Washington University; Tommy Williams, Jr., founder of Operation Healthy Families in Spokane, and panel moderator Scott Finnie, chair of the Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University.

For information, call 217-6426 or email

Winter Waters recognizes Watershed Heroes

“Winter Waters 2015: Restoring the Upper Columbia River” will celebrate the waters of the Upper Columbia River with desserts, music, advocacy and awards beginning at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 27, at the Patsy Clark Mansion, 2208 W. Second.

The event raises funds for water advocacy of the Upper Columbia River Group of the Sierra Club, and the Center for Environmental Law and Policy.

Recipients of the 2015 Watershed Heroes awards are Crystal and Janet Spicer, Canadian activists who are working to restore Arrow Lakes, and Allan Scholz, fisheries biologist and Eastern Washington University biology professor, who is working to return salmon to the Upper Columbia River.

Crystal and Janet formed the Columbia River Treaty Action Group to report on dead zones by the Arrow Lakes dams with no insects, birds, bats, mammals, amphibians, vegetation, fresh water phytoplankton, aquatic larvae or crustaceans.

Chemicals released from Teck-Cominco have reduced fish populations, and there is no agriculture in what was once the third most productive valley in British Columbia, with 26 communities and settlements, 13,500 homes and 10,000 years of First Nations archaeology, Janet said.

Crystal calls for including people in decision making about the Columbia River Treaty, which floods Canadian valleys for U.S. interests.  When reservoirs are drawn down, the area has dust storms, erosion, silting, more rain, winter fog, floating debris and little wildlife.

Allan received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin, and since 1980 has taught ichthyology, fisheries management, marine biology, biological thought and history of biology at EWU.  He has published articles and books on fish in Eastern Washington.  He is a leader in implementing the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program.

For information, email Katie Evans, or call John Osborn at 939-1290.

Flannery Lecture at Gonzaga University explores Catholic identity and religious diversity

The 39th Annual Flannery Lecture features Hill Fletcher speaking on “Love in a Weighted World: The Broken Heart of Catholic Identity,” at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 19, at Cataldo Hall at Gonzaga University.

Hill writes on the intersection of Catholic identity and various sites of diversity: religious diversity, gender, race and economic disparity.  Her books include Monopoly on Salvation? A Feminist Approach to Religious Pluralism (2005) and Motherhood as Metaphor: Engendering Interreligious Dialogue. (2013)

She served two terms as co-chair of the Roman Catholic Studies group of the American Academy of Religion.  Her current work deals with the relationship between religious diversity and racism, and the need for actively anti-racist theologies.

In addition to teaching graduate and undergraduate courses, Hill is faculty director of the service-learning program with Fordham’s Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice. 

In the world, competing forces of religious diversity and secularization sometimes lead people to question whether particular religious commitments are useful, especially when religious identities create divisions and perpetuate injustice.  Using research from interfaith studies, feminist theology, critical theory and Catholic tradition, she proposes the “cosmopolitan religious identities.”

For information, call 313-6782.

Religious Communities plan Open House 

“Wake Up the World!” is an Open House Day celebrating Religious Communities in Spokane from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 8.  Visitors may go to the Sisters of Providence Novitiate House at 1016 N. Superior; the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia at 1018 E. Sharp Ave.; the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration at 503 E Mission Ave.;  the Sisters of the Holy Names at 328 E. Mission Ave.; the Sinsinawa Dominicans at 227 E. Mission Ave.; the Poor Clare Nuns at 4419 N. Hawthorne St.; the Missionaries of Charity at 5008 N. Lacey St.; the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church at 6910 S. Ben Burr Rd.; the Franciscan Friars at 4420 N. Jefferson St., and the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in Jesuit House on Astor at Gonzaga.

For information, call 327-4479.

War correspondent, commentator to speak

After graduating from Harvard Divinity School 30 years ago, intending to follow the footsteps of his father and become a Presbyterian minister, Chris Hedges went to El Salvador where the military government backed by the United States was killing about 1,000 people a month.

“I decided to use writing as my weapon.  I would stand with the oppressed.  I would give them a voice,” he said of his decision that sent him to cover war for two decades.  He said that at his ordination as a Presbyterian minister in October 2014.

The Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane is hosting the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and writer for a presentation on “Wages of Rebellion: What Does It Take to Be a Rebel Today?” at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 10, at the Bing Crosby Theatre, 901 W. Sprague.  There will be a reception and dinner from 4 to 6 p.m., before his appearance.

From the vantage point of a world on the edge from the Arab Spring to movements against austerity in Greece and the Occupy movement, Chris investigates what social and psychological factors cause revolution, rebellion and resistance.  He says popular uprisings in the U.S. and globally are inevitable in the face of environmental destruction and wealth polarization.

A foreign correspondent for nearly two decades in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans, he writes and speaks on war, religion, American culture and empire.

He has reported from more than 50 countries for the Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, the Dallas Morning News and the New York Times, where he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years and where he won the Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism.

His bestseller, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, explores what war does to societies and individuals. In his books he examines faith and belief in American society.

For information, call 838-7870 or visit


Published by The Fig Tree, 1323 S. Perry St., Spokane, WA 99202
509-535-4112 / 509-535-1813

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