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October 2021 Newsbriefs


Fig Tree announces fall and 2022 events

The Fig Tree has plans for three events:

• The Fall Festival of Sharing from Oct. 21 to Nov. 30 is an opportunity for new and renewing sponsors to support the publication's mission of sharing stories, connecting people, fostering understanding and inspiring respect and solidarity among diverse people. The goal is to raise $7,500 on a Facebook fundraiser, texting, on the website or by mail.

• The Eastern Washington Legislative Conference, with the theme, "Mobilizing for Our Future," will be held Saturday, Jan. 22 on Zoom, given uncertainties about COVID and having drawn 180 online this year.

Decisions are still being made about a keynote speaker and workshops. The planning committee invites interested persons to join in helping make arrangements.

• The 2022 Benefit Lunch and Benefit Breakfast are planned for Friday, March 4, and Wednesday, March 9. It has not yet been determined if the events will be in person or online or a combination. Persons interested in helping with plans may contact The Fig Tree.

Copies of the 2021-22 Resource Directory may be picked up at The Fig Tree office or at grocery store racks where The Fig Tree is available. The directory and the COVID-19 resources are available online at

For information, call 535-1813 or 535-4112, or email or resource

Faith Action Network names policy leader

The Faith Action Network's new policy engagement director, Kristin Ang, begins work on October 4.

Kristin brings policy leadership experience as a port commissioner for Tacoma, and experiences as a Filipina-American immigrant and lawyer who collaborates with interfaith circles in Pierce County.

During the fall, she will be learning about FAN from cluster meetings, coalition partners and staff.

Kristin grew up in Pierce County, where she has been a community advocate, Port of Tacoma commissioner and Northwest Seaport Alliance managing member.

She was the first person of color elected as a Port of Tacoma commissioner, with the endorsement of the Puyallup Tribe. She is on the Port's environmental, DEI and tribal liaison committees, and on the executive board of the Central Puget Sound Economic Development District. 

Kristin, who earned a business degree at the University of Puget Sound and law degree at Cornell Law School, has been an advocate for sustainable development, civic engagement and human rights.

Believing in the power of faith, hope and love, she looks forward to engaging faith communities in fulfilling FAN's mission of building a just, compassionate and sustainable world.

For information, call 206-625-9790.

One River, Ethics Matter continues dialogue

One River, Ethics Matter, a multi-year ethics consultation on the Columbia River Treaty facilitated by the Ethics and Treaty Project, will be held online Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 17 and 18, beginning at 9 a.m. each day.

With the theme,"kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ - restoring ntytyix (salmon) to the Okanagan River and the Upper Columbia," the eighth annual "One River, Ethics Matter" conference will focus on treaty renewal, restoring salmon and the river, youth and climate change. It will explore remedial options related to the Columbia River Basin. Grounded in respectful dialogue, its goal is to further public understanding.

The conference alternates between the United States and Canada. In 2021, it is co-hosted by the Okanagan Nation Alliance and the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus.

It addresses the history of the Columbia River Treaty and the treaty review process within a framework that emphasizes social and environmental justice, collaboration for the common good, and the need for truth and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

Some themes are treaty-specific. Others include the history of Indian residential schools and calls to action of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

For information, visit

Transitions 'People Who Care' is online

Transitions decided to move the 2021 "People Who Care" event to 100 percent virtual at noon, Thursday, Oct. 14. The program includes celebrating 30 years of community at Women's Hearth, hearing from Hearth alumnae and a university professor who recently did research on the Hearth's drop-in model.

Speakers include people who have participated in programs and moved their lives forward and an update from the executive director, Edie Rice-Sauer, to invite participants to invest in the programs.

People Who Care helps fund Transitions efforts in Spokane to end poverty and homelessness for women and children.

Transitions promotes respect for human dignity, justice, community, and growth and wholeness.

Transitions will use its YouTube channel to stream the event and guests can participate in chat.

For information, visit

Vigil for Healing the Earth is Oct. 3

A Vigil for the Healing of the Earth will be held from 3 to 4:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 3, at the Old Mission Landing, down the road from Sacred Heart Mission at Cataldo, Idaho.

Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience of Eastern Washington and North Idaho (FLLC) organizes Healing of the Earth and Earth Day Vigils every six months. Those attending will hear from people affected by living on the nation's largest Superfund site from the Montana border to the center of Spokane.

"We hope vigils are times to build friendships, strengthen our resolve, and put our thoughts and prayers into actions for the Healing of the Earth," said Gen Heywood, convenor of FLLC and pastor of Veradale United Church of Christ in Spokane.

People may participate in a grieving circle on ecological devastation. They also will learn about groups working to overcome pollution and climate change, and be invited to join in the solution.

The event is at Old Mission Landing at exit 39 on Interstate 90. After going toward Cataldo's Old Mission State Park, attendees are to follow The Dredge Road to the end.

Founded in 2018, FLLC participants work to overcome racism, militarism, poverty and ecological devastation. Their goals are the principles set forth by the Poor Peoples Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival. All four barriers affect ecological devastation.

"The care of our planet crosses all cultures, class divisions, religions and non-religions," said Gen.

For information, call 408-593-9556 or email

PJALS raises funds for Salish School on Oct. 14

The Salish School of Spokane  Autumn Harvest Virtual Fundraiser, hosted by Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, Showing Up for Racial Justice Committee, will be held online at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 14.

 In a one-hour celebration of the school's work to revitalize the Salish language, the language of the original inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest, PJALS seeks to raise $3,000.

The school educates children and youth ages one to 18 through immersion classes in the Salish language to keep the language alive so future generations can speak their language and know their cultural heritage. They also offer free Salish language workshops for parents and community members.

For information, call 848-7870 or visit

Riverkeeper urges viewing GU website

Spokane Riverkeeper Jerry White reports that the Gonzaga Environmental Law Clinic website includes short videos on PCB pollution in the Spokane River. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), a carcinogenic toxic chemical polluting the river, accumulates in the fish.

He said the Spokane River currently exceeds State Water Quality Standards (WQS) for PCBs, and the Department of Health recommends limits on how many fish can be safely consumed. The Washington Department of Ecology and EPA set up a Spokane River Regional Task Force (SRRTTF) to clean up the Spokane River, but Jerry said it put polluters in charge of defining how pollution is addressed.

The website offers resources that give an overview of issues and explore the complexities. It documents the 10-year legal challenge between Sierra Club, Center for Environmental Law and Policy, and the EPA. As the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act comes in 2022, Spokane Riverkeeper seeks to defend the river and develop a Clean Water Act with clean-up plans and pollution limits that result in real clean-up, said Jerry.

For information, call 464-7614 or visit the website at

Kiantha Duncan hosts descendants series

Kiantha Duncan, NAACP Spokane president, will converse with Tina Wyatt, third great-grand niece of Harriet Tubman from 3 to 4:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 17, online.

Harriet escaped from slavery and helped others gain their freedom as a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad.

"I want to learn, beyond the romanticized story, what her aunt's life and legacy mean for the family," she said. "Is there a gene for advocacy and activism that passed on to her descendants?"

This presentation is part of the "Descendants Series" of the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) in Seattle with Kiantha conducting interviews.

In August, she hosted Arthur McFarlane II, the great-grandson of W.E.B. DuBois, one of the founders of the NAACP in 1909.  He was a civil rights activist, author and historian who lived until 1963. Arthur is a population health analyst at Children's Hospital of Colorado.

"Arthur shared pictures of his great granddad, including one of him with DuBois, who lived to be 91.  Arthur was five when he died," she said.

Kiantha invited him to be introspective about how DuBois as an activist might see the things he fought for 100 years ago and whether they had enough of an effect. She also wondered what that had to say about how activism of people in 2021 might be seen 100 years from now.

NAAM reached out to invite her to do the two series and has asked her to do four in 2022, which she hopes will be in person.

NAAM opened its doors in 2008, realizing a 25-year dream of having 36 affordable apartment units above a museum established to expand knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of African American histories, arts and cultures.

For information, call 206-518-6000, or email or visit

CdA Chorale plans concerts

Pent-up music will find its voice when the 70 Chorale Coeur d' Alene singers gather for the first time after more than a year since the pandemic started.The chorus plans two public concerts to celebrate new beginnings in music.

The first, "Sing On," is 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 26, at Peace Lutheran Church, 8134 N. Meyer Rd., in Post Falls. Three Christmas concerts are at 7 p.m., Friday and 2 and 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10 and 11, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 812 N. 5th St, in Coeur d'Alene.

The concerts are the first under the direction of the chorale's new artistic director Keith Whitlock, director of choirs at Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane.

The fall concert will highlight works by two contemporary American composers, Mack Wilberg and Elaine Hagenberg. The Christmas concerts will feature works by Randol Bass and Ola Gjeilo, a Norwegian-born composer who's been living and working in the U.S. since 2001.

There is a freewill offering at the Post Falls concert and there are tickets for the Coeur d'Alene concert available at or from a chorale member.

WSU students team up with Palouse Habitat on energy efficient homes

Washington State University and Palouse Habitat for Humanity (HFH) announce a long-term partnership to study practical ways to create affordable, energy efficient housing.  

They held a celebration Sept. 2 at the Uniontown build site, 503 Prairie Ave., as the final walls were raised in their first partnership home.

"How do our low- and moderate-income neighbors afford a home when there is a significant shortage of affordable entry level housing?" asked Jennifer Wallace, executive director of Palouse Habitat for Humanity. "It's a problem nationwide, and it's a problem here in our own backyard."

Habitat for Humanity is an international housing ministry that builds affordable housing.

One element of affordability, Jennifer said, is a home's long-term energy use. The group is addressing this challenge by building homes with extended eaves, high R insulation and low E windows.

"We know there is more we can do. The home building industry as a whole must do more, especially with the energy code just adopted by the State of Washington," Jennifer said.

The Housing Energy Affordability Lab, or HEAL, is a partnership to test energy use across a number of Habitat built homes.

The homes will be designed by WSU students and built with the help of staff and student volunteers.  Researchers in WSU's School of Design and Construction will study construction elements in the homes that might improve energy efficiency and affordability.

WSU's Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) has a key role in bringing about the partnership, working with faculty to incorporate service learning into their coursework.

"We can look critically at design, new materials, innovative methods, and find ways to make energy efficient homes affordable," said Ryan Smith, director of the School of Design and Construction and leads the effort. "Our research could improve affordable housing not just here on the Palouse, but worldwide."

Energy costs are expected to continue to rise, so improving energy efficiency in homes is going to be increasingly important for long-term affordability and comfort, he said.

"Those energy efficient elements have to come with an affordable initial price tag, or we defeat the purpose," he added.

The first home, HEAL House 1, is the Hansen family home under construction in Uniontown. For that home, the partnership has an added gift, materials designed for use in an energy efficient home left over from a WSU project.

"The gift of lumber and other building materials couldn't come at a better time," said Jennifer.  "The cost of materials has gone through the roof. With funds to build Habitat homes raised from the local community and online fundraisers, our income has reduced at the same time as costs are going up.  We don't currently have enough raised to finish the home, but are closer."

Students can register to volunteer through the CCE website:

For information, call 509-335-3066 for Ryan or 208-883-8502 for Jennifer or email or


Copyright@ The Fig Tree, October, 2021