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Fig Tree benefit events raise half of donations


The Fig Tree’s annual Benefit Breakfast and Benefit Lunch in March provide half of budgeted donations for the year.

“Just as public broadcasting’s appeals on air, the benefits allow The Fig Tree a venue for celebrating our unique, nonprofit communication media, both to celebrate our model of media, to introduce it to new people and to invite donations,” said Mary Stamp, founder and editor since 1984.

Seeking to “Deepen Our Roots,” the events will invite several speakers to share how The Fig Tree media are engaged in “Communicating Credibly,” modeling media responsibility.

The Benefit Breakfast begins at 7:15 a.m., Wednesday, March 14, at Cataldo Hall at Gonzaga University, and the Benefit Lunch begins at 11:45 a.m., Friday, March 16, also at Cataldo Hall.  The programs that share The Fig Tree story begin at 7:30 a.m. and noon.

“Media may seem remote from direct service, but it’s clear that if people are informed they are inspired and become involved in caring for people and providing a myriad of direct services,” Mary said.  “It’s particularly evident in times of natural disaster.  The mainstream media focusing attention on the immediate devastation motivates people to give.  After media attention wanes, it’s up to media like ours to tell the stories of how the faith and nonprofit communities continue to be involved in restoring lives and hope for years.”

Mary also pointed out that often coverage of the faith community by secular media emphasizes the negative—the abuse, hypocrisy, divisions and other stories that are sensational enough to sell their media.

“The Fig Tree focuses not only on communicating credibly, but also on communicating that, despite people and institutions that fail, people in communities of faith continue to care, reach out, serve, overcome divisions, challenge bigotry and greed,” Mary said.

“Does everyone in faith communities live up to their teachings, principles and ideals?  No, but many do,” she said, “but a surprising number do—giving us a plethora of stories to share.”

Readers and supporters can participate not only by attending the Benefit Breakfast or Lunch, but also by hosting tables.  Whether one hosts table, anyone can invite one or more people to come to learn about and support this unique venture, she added.

For 2012, The Fig Tree is expanding its online presence—including some redesigning of the website, increasing presence on Facebook and contributing to Twitter.  In addition, The Fig Tree is already, has been and will continue to be working with several interns, students at Whitworth University, Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University and other schools, to give them practical experience in The Fig Tree’s model of journalism.

“We need to prepare young journalists for the new entrepreneurial forms of responsible community journalism, rather than just finding a job reporting or editing according to the old ways of doing journalism—ways that often discredit and reduce respect for religion and that tend to trap people in entrenched either-or political camps that threaten our democratic society,” Mary said.

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