Four of eight speakers for benefits share comments
Margo Hill – Eastern Washington University and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
I appreciate how The Fig Tree newspaper tells human stories. An important part of our work with Missing Murdered Indigenous Women is that they are real people, mothers, aunties, grandmothers and daughters who are missing, but no one tells their stories or reports that they are missing.
The Fig Tree took time to explain the complicated jurisdictional issues from federal and Indian laws because of the patchwork quilt of Indian lands. Because people do not understand, law enforcement and attorneys are uncertain, so they do not act quickly to investigate or prosecute crimes.
It is important that the public understands that indigenous women are not missing because they are bad—prostitutes or addicts—but because they are stuck struggling with poverty and mental health issues.
We didn't ask for our lands to be broken, jurisdiction to be confusing or our people to be relocated to cities. The Fig Tree told those parts of our story.
Mary did excellent journalism in the interview and research to tell the story. After reading it, a transit official, who sees women trafficked and abused, said he was impressed by my work.
The Fig Tree got the story out to people so they can make a different world. A teacher came up to me at a store and said she was impressed with what I was doing. She had brought her sewing machine to help a girl in her class sew a ribbon skirt to solidify her connection with her culture.
Mark Finney - World Relief Spokane:
The March Fig Tree features a front page article on Deacon Chalo Martinez. I never met or heard of him before, but as I read the article I felt like I knew him a bit. I felt proud that Spokane has a leader like Chalo. I was inspired to continue seeking ways my ministry, as a pastor at Emmaus Church and director of World Relief Spokane, can make a difference, just as Chalo does in his ministries in Spokane and the region.
Stories tell us who we are. They tell us who our neighbors are. Stories tell us what it means to be part of a community. They tell us who we are together as a community in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.
The Fig Tree is an important voice, because it shines a unique light on our city and region. It tells us who we are and who we want to become.
The Fig Tree is distinct from other area media because it focuses on "faith in action." It shares stories that are happening here, and that are inspiring and aspirational. When I read about work on homelessness, immigration, caring for creation, racial reconciliations and refugees, I am encouraged by what is taking place, and I am inspired to do more to put my own faith into action. The Fig Tree inspires me to act.
In my role leading World Relief Spokane, I see how The Fig Tree inspires others to act. People say they read about refugees, volunteers and churches who are engaged with World Relief and are making a difference. World Relief has connected with volunteers and church partners thanks to stories.
We've seen community leaders find their voices and call others to action by sharing their experiences with others.
Thank you to the staff, board and everyone who supports this valuable ministry. I am grateful for ways you inspire me to act, and connect me with others who are committed to put their faith into action.
Linda Hunt – The Krista Foundation
While preparing my comments, Mr. Rogers' song, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood" came to mind.
To me, The Fig Tree invites readers into our neighborhood, introduces us to one another and helps us see why each person or organization brings gifts to the community.
In the early 1990s, I was director of Whitworth University's writing program. I was to hire adjuncts. I'd heard about Mary Stamp and her skills as a journalist, publishing and writing in The Fig Tree. I asked her to interview for the position. She shared her vision and commitment to this fledging newspaper and her determination to focus on that. "I want to give it my all. It's not easy." Period. End of conversation. Her clarity of vision and actions are exemplified in her determination to share "faith in action throughout the Inland Northwest." It made me want this new newspaper to flourish.
Month after month, year after year, Mary stayed true to this vision and brought other writers and supporters into it. While health experts have been concerned with a "loneliness epidemic" arising in a digital world, The Fig Tree continues to show many ways we are and can be connected to one another.
Each month, it introduces us to citizens in the interfaith community and organizations concerned for the common good. I see Mary as our Spokane Mr. Rogers, fulfilling the wish "Won't you meet my neighbor?"
As a journalist, she encourages going "beneath headlines" and helps readers understand what motivates and energizes people to give to their passions.
Mary interviewed me for features on the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship and as author of Soul Space: People and Places that Make a Difference. Her penetrating questions, genuine interest and desire to communicate our story are gifts.
In the recent issue, her writing makes me want to meet Chalo Martinez, the deacon who works with Hispanic parishioners. She led with his belief that "there are many faces in God's House," and told his family's immigration story, and his work for years as a parole officer with gang members and the criminal justice system.
In the same issue, I met Suzi Hokonson, Eric Henningsen and asylum seeker Lewis Gewgeh Nuah and learned of their journey. I also met 95-year-old neighbor Donna Simanton and learned of her lifelong advocacy for peace, and Naghmana Sherazi, a Muslim Pakistani scientist who was determined to open doors in organizations when she was new to Spokane. I would love to meet each of them in person.
The ads are equally informative, a main street bulletin board in the neighborhood. I learn of upcoming conferences, creative businesses, a calendar of events, places for retreats and more.
Our lives are richer knowing stories of individuals and organizations who exhibit commitment and put their faith in action. Truly our own monthly hope-filled beautiful day in our Spokane neighborhood.
Dainen Penta - Center for Justice
The Fig Tree connects people, shares positive, uplifting stories of the great work in our communities, and inspires action. In this time of uncertainty, it reminds us there are many amazing individuals and groups in our community.
During college, while a small, trusted group of friends showed me what unconditional love really looks like, there were unfortunately also many judgmental voices that reflected xenophobia and homophobia, and those voices often felt deafening.
The Fig Tree has helped restore balance for me and demonstrates the restorative power of faith communities. The collective power of so many in Spokane to embrace me and others who have felt shunned or shut out by other Christians has been redeeming for my soul and for my heart, and affirms why I returned to Spokane after so many years.
While media can feel disheartening, positive stories in The Fig Tree feel like a breath of fresh air. That's why it's critical that our community donate to ensure that the great work of The Fig Tree continues.
Donations may be sent by mail to The Fig Tree, 1323 S. Perry St., Spokane WA 99202, or online at facebook.com/donate/611050986413388/.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, April, 2020