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Forty years is a time to reflect, renew


40 days of Lent is a time for reflection.

Israelites wandered 40 years.

40 symbolizes a time of transformation.

In 1985, a year after starting The Fig Tree, I was a United Church of Christ delegate to visit East and West Germany 40 years after World War II. It was a time for remembering, repenting, reflecting, reconciling, renewing, restoring and rebuilding.

As The Fig Tree embarks on its next decade, we have been remembering, reflecting, renewing and reimagining our life in the future with visions for new media.

As 19 folks involved with The Fig Tree over our 40 years shared their intersection with our mission and stories, memories and energy emerged, including reminders of how our stories empower people.

With media coverage in the 1990s, Spokane, Northeast Washington and North Idaho gained a reputation for racism and antisemitism. We needed to know about the Aryan Nations, but most media missed the many people who challenged white supremacists on an ongoing basis to help end their reign of terror in the region.

White supremacists still exist, but the area developed one of the strongest human rights communities in the nation. The Fig Tree persists in covering that story.

Out of participating in the 40th-year delegation to Germany and coming face-to-face with horrors of the Holocaust and communist propaganda and suppression, we have uplifted Spokane's Holocaust educators message of "never again," and promoted media literacy efforts to help people recognize propaganda.

For decades, the region lived in the shadow of Hanford that took uranium from hillsides of the Spokane Reservation, poisoning its people in a continuation of genocide,while making bombs to drop in Japan and then test in the Pacific.

Now Spokane is home to many displaced Marshall Islanders and many tribal people who have struggled to clean up radiation on their lands and to find treatment for their cancers. The Fig Tree continues to cover that story.

A couple with Spokane roots trekking in Nepal were asked to sell some knit jackets. They started a fair-trade wholesale business that multiplied with a fair trade store, many vendors with ties around the world, annual fair trade festivals and efforts to improve the lives of women handcrafters. The Fig Tree in telling stories of the local people and their global partners has empowered the region's fair-trade community.

The Spokane area has had powerful civil rights leaders—working to teach children, start newspapers, repeat "I Have a Dream," rename a street, raise disparities, challenge police, organize MLK Day rallies and marches, gather for worship, build a nonprofit center, start a gathering place, mentor at-risk youth and more. Those stories in Fig Tree pages have given visibility to those lived experiences.

For years we have followed the stories of the area's Indigenous people, the salmon people, who know the land and rivers. We have shared their voices and vision of having rivers be valued for more than power and irrigation—for their interactive ecosystem functions that affect the lives of everyone. We continue to share the stories of needing a voice to restore salmon, canoe traditions and river health.

We shine a light on everyday concerns, injustices, struggles and people in order to make them visible, heard and real. We share about issues to act on and people to be in solidarity with.

We consistently cover the voices of women of all ages and backgrounds, because many media leave out women's visions and equalizing nature as mothers, grandmothers, daughters, aunties. Too many women continue to suffer in the shadow of stereotypical, sexy, abuse inviting images of women that undermine their credibility. We have many women reporters, editors and interviewees.

We respect and cover the voices of elder, middle-aged and young people to broaden our vision. Founders Sr. Bernadine Casey SNJM and Jo Hendricks wrote editorials into their 90s. We are committed to nurture young writers, too.

We call our editorial approach peace and solutions journalism, covering the nuances not extreme divisions, the everyday not the unusual, anyone not just celebrities. We connect the global and local—multi-faith, multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-generational, multi-gender, multi-perspective people to give new eyes to cherish the wonders God has created.

Mary Stamp - Editor

Copyright@ The Fig Tree, March 2024