K.B. Spangler has a new book out this week--one that's not connected to A Girl and Her Fed. (Digital only right now, but a print version is coming.) seananmcguire wrote a short Twitter thread in response when Spangler announced the new book's availability; the key takeaway about the actual writing is "If you want some of the most elegantly written, internally consistent, funny, touching, TRUE science fiction coming out today, you should take a look at @KBSpangler. She's the real deal, y'all. She's writing shit that breaks every rule, and still works."
In related news, I just spent a vile amount on US-to-Canada shipping* to get a print copy of Rise Up Swearing (so far the only compiled volume of AGAHF) and a little pin of Bubbles, the Fed's digital clownfish...avatar? (I'm blanking on the correct word. "Avatar" is applied to something else in that 'verse, though, IIRC. Hmm.)
I was spared having to decide, in this time of "yes, I swear, I'm trying to cut back on spending", whether I was going to get a "Literalists do it with their genitals!" shirt; the shirt is currently unavailable (as in, no longer showing up on the site at all, not just out of stock). My wallet is grateful.
*Ordered directly from the AGAHF store, and she was as appalled as I was at the shipping cost. It wasn't surprising, though.
The first week at Casual Job is over--all two days of it! (Four hours yesterday and eight today.) I'm having some tech frustration at the office that would take ages to type up and is not terribly interesting, but I'll say that I really, really hope the person who sometimes does on-site IT support for us is around on Monday, because WOW, calling the help desk was useless. -_-
So far at Hal-Con I've seen several people wearing geeky shirts from stories I know, and things like a Sailor Saturn costume down in the mall food court. (A moment of respectful silence for the food court workers this weekend, who'll be slammed.) But the best was when Ginny and I were running down from work to get lunch and ran into someone in Tohru cosplay! The cosplayer mentioned that she was off to get her Yuki and Kyo, but Ginny and I were then unsure if she'd meant plushies of the boys in their cursed forms or fellow cosplayers.
Loading out for a weekend set of shows in Kennewick with Leannan Sidhe – if you’re in the area, here’s the Facebook event, c’mon out! Leannan Sidhe is a trad- and trad-style band, so playing a renfaire is something they do on the regular, even if very little of the music is actually Renaissance-specific, and the weather is supposed to be great. See you there!
My question today is about academia and/or job opportunities and being single. I am a PhD candidate in a Very Good University in the US, and I will be on the academic job market in a year. I have a very good publication/presentation/committee/topic situation, so I should be doing fairly fine. However, my field is totally dominated by men, mostly from quite conservative countries/cultures. It’s even worse in industry (I have work experience pre-PhD and an internship).
Now, I am absolutely sure I don’t want to get married or have a cohabiting partner or “serious” relationship of any sort. If anything, I identify with relationship anarchy. I am happy like I’ve never been, and I feel like I’m thriving and my best self arises when I am alone and free. I do have many short and long romance stories with like-minded folks who are in the same line of thought, but I don’t have or want any “boyfriend” in the sense that other people seem to want me to have (focused on dating – getting engaged – moving in – marrying).
Usually, in academic conferences, in the informal networking events, or in my department, I get asked when I will be on the market, and if I prioritize going back to my country or staying in the US, this kind of things. I think it’s all fair game and I am thrilled some Big Names in the field show interest in me! But sometimes they ask things such as “will you have a 2-body problem?” or “well, eventually you’ll want to marry, right?” or “our school is in a city with plenty of young men!”. Or more bluntly “how come you are not married yet?” (my age – early 30s – is not a secret). I know those (mostly old, mostly men, mostly conservative) professors may just be trying to be nice(?), but I can tell by the way they look that I don’t fit in what they think is “a good woman” or “a normal person”.
I have told some (younger – some younger than me) professors in my department that I don’t want to marry and they all reply condescendingly “you’ll change your mind!” But they are not the ones who’ll make my hiring decisions (although they’ll write me letters of recommendation) and so I am not that much concerned. What about those from other schools who may want to hire or not hire me a year from now when I am on the market? When I have 5-minute interactions and they ask me topic/advisor/ideal placement/marital status. Should I tell them “I don’t want to marry” and out myself immediately as not-their-idea-of-good-woman? Should I tell them “oh I haven’t found anyone yet” and then lie (or risk that someone will try to set me up – it’s happened before!)? Should I just smile awkwardly and say “I don’t know!”? I also feel that, when I say I don’t want to marry, the person in front of me thinks I am lying. What if I tell them “no, I don’t want to marry, but I do want to have kids and I am very well informed about sperm banks and adoption agencies”. Will this kill forever all my job opportunities because of the single mother stigma?
It’s all a paradox, because they don’t like women because of the whole marriage and maternity thing, but they don’t like it either when women don’t conform to their standards of womanhood (wifehood?).
How can I navigate this? I do want to have a good academic placement but I want to know who won’t be supportive of my lifestyle to avoid their departments. But also, you know, academia is sometimes hard and there isn’t much choice of placement for a candidate. So at this point I mostly want to say something that won’t close all the doors but will make my point clear enough.
Any help will be welcome! Thanks so much!
Future Professor Badass
Dear Future Professor Badass,
As tempting as it would be to say a robotic “That is a sexist question” or give a long rambling Boring Baroque Response involving your theories of Relationship Anarchy whenever this comes up, here is the strategy I actually advise:
Them: “Will you have a two-body problem?” (For people outside of academia, this means will you need the university that wants to recruit you to also factor in a job for your a fellow-professor spouse) or “But surely you intend to marry someday?” (Ugh) or “Good thing there are lots of young men here!”
You: “Thanks for asking. I’m lucky that I don’t have to consider that right now in my search and can just look for the best fit for my work.”
Them: “How come you are not married yet?” (This is a weird, rude question but I too have had older people from outside the US ask me this as if it’s a normal question. Then again, we in the US ask people what they do for a job right away, for this week’s Manners Are Relative reminder).
You: Smile awkwardly and say “I don’t know!“, as you suggest! Or, “It just hasn’t been a priority!” or “Search me!” or “I love being single” or “Has my grandmother been talking to you? It’s a question under much discussion in my family, believe me” or “Haven’t felt like it, I guess!”
Whatever you say, keep it light and vague. The more you can answer calmly and confidently, without apology, the more people will take your cue in how they react.
I know all of this is sexist and invasive and weird and assumes heterosexuality when it should not but the individual people who ask you this think they are being kind and even helpful, especially if they are trying to recruit you to their campus. They want you to be happy and anticipate issues that they might have to work around so that you will want to stay forever at their school. They want to figure out if they have the budget to hire you and a spouse if they want you badly enough. They don’t want you to take the job and then leave in a year because it’s a romantic and sexual wasteland or because there’s no industry in the town except for the university and your (theoretical) partner can’t find work. It can be awkward attempt to mentor you, at least in some cases, so if you can find a way to be vague but positive and deal with the intentions (rather than the effects) of the question it will help you connect.
I wish it were not so, but right now you need a job so someday you can be the colleague who doesn’t ask newcomers these questions (or asks in a way that is actually helpful).
Answer with your vague positive statement, some version of “It’s not my biggest priority right now, which makes me feel very lucky! I have the luxury to just think about finding the right fit for the work I want to do. I know not everyone has that. ”
Then ask them questions about their lives.
- “When you moved to [City Where University Is Located] what was it like to get your bearings?”
- “Any advice for settling in in [City]? Where do the people who love it here shop/eat/hike/live?”
- “Was it a difficult adjustment moving from [Country of Origin] to [City]? What was the biggest surprise?”
- “What are the things about [City] that really make you feel at home?”
- “Were you married when you moved here? How does your spouse like it here? What do they do?”
- “How did you and your spouse meet?”
- “Did you have to deal with a two-body problem? What was that like? How does the university generally deal with those?”
- “What do you remember most from your first year of being a professor here?”
You can turn the conversation to their research or their teaching or questions about the students or the department, too. People like to be asked questions about things they are experts on, and in my experience professors like this even more than most people. Use their weird question as an opportunity to make a human connection and find out more about them as people and the place as a place to live and what you’re getting into. Be remembered as someone pleasant to talk to, focused on her work, and someone who asks good questions and is a good listener.
You’ve got this and you don’t need to make excuses for something that isn’t actually a problem. Good luck in your search.
And being an “Audible Deal of the Day” means you get to spend very little to get the book — in this case something like $3. The deal as far as I know is limited to the US and maybe Canada, and it’s only for today. So if you want it at this price, you need to jump on it. It’s perfect for the folks who love audiobooks, or for the folks who have never tried audiobooks but would be willing to give them a chance at a low price point, or for the folks who simply want Wil Wheaton to read to them in those dulcet tones of his.
Here’s the link to the audiobook. Enjoy!
Fiction writers — novelists, short storytellers and aspiring novices — tend to be white in Seattle. To Sonora Jha, Hugo House’s writer-in-residence, writers of color have been underrepresented. While she is now seeing more diversity within classes at Hugo House, its mission could be the latest victim of gridlock in Olympia.
The fallout of the Washington State Legislature’s failure to pass a $4 billion capital budget last summer, has created worry for the organization.
“Hugo House is kind of like an extended living room. … It’s more than a gathering place, it’s about making local connections,” said Jane Wong, a former Hugo House instructor and a poet. “It’s not a bubble, but a familiar space for new writers, emerging writers … It has this warmth to it.”
The recent struggles for Hugo House all trace back to a 2016 Washington Supreme Court decision — the so-called Hirst ruling — which blocks landowners from digging new wells if they can’t prove it won’t threaten nearby stream levels needed for fish. The ruling essentially halted construction of homes and businesses in many rural areas.
In 2017, Washington Senate Republicans threatened to deny the state budget’s passage for $4 billion worth of construction-related projects if House Democrats wouldn’t give them the deal they wanted on the Hirst issue. The House Democrats’ final offer fell short of what the GOP wanted.
This resulted in the GOP’s refusal to pass the $4 billion capital budget. That proposed budget included $900 million for statewide school fix-it work, $130 million for work at the University of Washington and several other Seattle projects that range from classical music venues to a Filipino community center.
Those stalled Seattle appropriations also included roughly $1 million to help build a new Hugo House.
Three Seattle authors — Linda Breneman, Frances McCue and Andrea Lewis — founded Hugo House in 1996 as a place to nurture writers. They named the establishment after Seattle poet Richard Hugo, who died of leukemia in 1982.
The original Hugo House resided across from Cal Anderson Park in a building built in 1902 that had previously held a funeral home and a theater.
“It was a cool Victorian building, but it was falling apart,” said Tree Swenson, executive director of Huge House. The old Hugo House had wasted space and tended to flood.
For now, the organization resides in First Hill, next to the Frye Art Museum. The old structure was torn down and is set to be replaced by a six-story condominium building, with the first floor dedicated to Hugo House. Whether or not they move back hinges on if they receive enough funding.
The first floor will have six classrooms instead of four, a modern auditorium and will be designed to accommodate more students and event attendees simultaneously. A limited liability corporation of Hugo House supporters will own the new structure.
Hugo House has raised about $4.8 million for construction, but it still needs slightly more than $1 million to start the work. That happens to be the amount the Legislature was supposed to appropriate before the state capital budget stalled.
Another “million is a pretty heavy lift for us…We don’t have deep-pocketed donors. We’re more of a grassroots organization,” Swenson said.
Consequently, a move-back date in early 2018 has been delayed indefinitely, and plans to expand classes and accommodate more students are in limbo as well.
Hugo House had been going through a growth spurt. In 2014, it served 2,125 writing students of all types — doubling its 2012 figure. It also hosts about 100 literary events a year.
“There nothing remotely like this in the city…It strengthens the community. It creates awareness around what is happening with local literature,” said Peter Mountford, a former Hugo House writer-in-residence and published novelist.
The students ages range from the teens to 80-year-olds — a much wider spread than students in college creative writing classes. Many Hugo House students also tend to be more interested and invested in these classes compared to some college students who take creative writing as an English requirement, said Wong, who has taught at Pacific Lutheran University and now Western Washington University.
Many writers who attend classes and events are looking to connect with other writers. “Writing is one of the most solitary of the arts,” Swenson said.
Writers say Hugo House fosters the back-and-forth of ideas, criticism and encouragement — especially when writers hit inevitable mental blocks. It also allows for beginners to dip their toes into writing.
“Hugo House is a great [place] get away from the solitude and bounce ideas off people,” Mountford said. “It keeps me fresh as a writer.”
No end is in sight on the deadlock regarding the Hirst ruling and the capital budget. So far, each party has been unmovable and persistent in criticizing the other side on the issue.
While Democrats have a decent chance of taking control of the Washington Senate in a November special election for the 45th District in Seattle’s northeastern suburbs, the Senate GOP would still hold a trump card.
Even if the Democrats passed a capital budget, the Legislature would still need 60 percent approval of the bonds needed to finance that package. The Democrats significantly fall short of that percentage in both chambers.
So for now, Hugo House’s future will hang on whether the two sides — with track records of endless deadlocks — reach a compromise on both the Hirst and capital budget issues.
Washington state’s vibrant and diverse economy doesn’t hint at it. Neither does Seattle’s red-hot construction and tech boom, nor the sheer wealth of some of our residents. You’d never know it by the tens of thousands of people moving to Puget Sound for the plentiful jobs and outdoorsy lifestyle.
But, Washington has a tax problem.
It simply can’t seem to raise enough money to fund basic services. Especially not in ways that feel fair to most people or even meet what courts say are the fundamental expectations for important services.
Three times in a row (Washington has a budget session every two years), the Legislature has ended at an impasse over taxes and funding. In 2017, legislators blew through three special sessions and came close to a government shutdown before finally passing an operating budget but calling it quits without a capital budget for long-range construction and maintenance projects.
The state Supreme Court famously had to step in and force the Legislature to spend billions more on K–12 education. The state is under a similar court order to improve mental health services, and the Department of Social and Health Services is in chaos and underfunded. Washington’s spending on higher education is less than recession levels and state environmental and salmon restoration programs are threatened.
Conservatives generally say there is enough tax money, and that it’s a question of spending priorities, but the Legislature hasn’t been able to agree on cuts that would bring services in line with spending. And Republican leadership has worked with Democrats on compromises that address — at least partially — the requests for additional money for services.
Liberals and progressives say Washington is simply not producing the tax revenues required to service a state with 7.2 million inhabitants. And progressives and conservatives alike agree that the state’s tax system is in desperate need of repair.
The problem? There are several.
First, our tax system is an antique. It was created during the Great Depression, when the state had to cope with falling property taxes.
Washington relies more heavily on high sales taxes than any other state, and 77 percent of its revenue comes from a consumption tax of one kind or another. But that tax base is shrinking as a part of the state’s $477 billion economy.
People don’t buy taxable goods like they did 20 years ago. The purchase of taxable goods, as a percentage of personal income in Washington state, has declined by almost 20 percentage points since 1980, a full 10 percentage points in the five years following 2007’s market crash. We are a service economy, and services are not normally taxed as sales. Consumers are also buying online, where taxes are not always collected.
“It’s a Ford Pinto in a Tesla world,” is how Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, a member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, describes the state’s tax system. “We have an economy today that is wealth-oriented, and is service-sector-oriented — the two aspects that we don’t really tax.”
Secondly, our system is inadequate. It can’t raise enough money — at least not without accepting reductions in what is expected of government.
“We [Washington] are on a course from being a relatively high-tax state to a being low-tax state, on par with some of the southern states,” says economist Dick Conway, whose firm, Dick Conway and Associates, has analyzed and forecasted Washington’s economy for over 35 years. That’s a real change in how Washingtonians think of their state.
From 1995 to 2015, however, Washington slid from being 11th highest among states to 36th place in effective state and local tax rates as a percentage of personal income. In a recent analysis of Washington’s tax system, Conway places the blame — in part — on ballot initiatives (later ruled unconstitutional) that hindered the Legislature from raising taxes for nearly 20 years, but also on the inadequacy of the sales tax.
Conway estimates that Washington, by taxing below the national norm for states, missed out on $4 billion in fiscal year 2015 tax revenues alone (the most recent year he examined), and perhaps as much as $27 billion since 2005.
In contrast, consider Minnesota. With a population and GDP 30 percent less than Washington’s, Minnesota state’s budget is 5 percent larger. Or Colorado, with a GDP and population also 30 percent less, Colorado’s state budget is 20 percent larger than the Evergreen State’s.
Both Minnesota and Colorado are among a majority of states that combine an income tax with a smaller sales tax in a more broadly-based tax system.
The state also loses out with the Business and Occupation Tax (B&O), another consumption tax applied to a business’s gross receipts.
The B&O tax, says analyst Paul Guppy, with conservative-leaning Washington Institute for Policy Studies, is “probably the biggest problem in our tax system. The most complicated, the most unfair, the most regressive. Because businesses have to pay the tax even when they lose money.”
The most astounding part of the B&O is that many industries pay so little of it. In an effort to spur investment, various state leaders over the years have carved out exemptions for the biggest drivers of the state economy — aerospace, technology, timber and agriculture — loopholes worth billions of dollars in tax revenue.
That’s typical of our broken tax system, says Sen. Carlyle. “We have high rates, narrowly applied, with hundreds of exemptions.” He believes a more sound system would have lower rates, more broadly applied with few exemptions.
Which brings us to the third challenge: equity. Not only are we not bringing in enough money, but our antique tax structure is grossly unfair.
Washington has the most regressive tax system in the country, according to Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonpartisan think tank that works on state and federal tax policy issues.
Sales taxes hit lower income households the hardest, with the poorest 20 percent of the population having 16.8 percent of their income sucked out by state and local taxes, versus the top 1 percent paying a mere 2 percent.
Even conservatives agree.
“Our tax system is regressive,” says Paul Guppy. “So the deal is, the higher your income, the better the deal.”
But Guppy doesn’t believe there is a shortage of tax revenues, citing a recent growth in sales tax revenue from an expanding economy. That idea is fueled by proponents of government growth, he says.
But we’re still left with the question of how to rebuild the state’s capacity to pay for basic services, and though many in the Legislature feel that they’ve addressed the McCleary education mandate with billions more in spending, the Supreme Court has yet to agree.
It’s no wonder that some louder voices are talking about a state income tax, long considered the third rail of state politics. Opponents point out that the state constitution only allows income to be taxed uniformly — no graduations, no exemptions. Seattle has recently challenged this notion, with the City Council unanimously passing a city income tax that will address incomes over $250,000. Observers believe the bill is certain to tee up a court challenge.
Meanwhile, taxpayers seem to be losing their patience with the current policy, which is not only broken on the state level, but promotes a system of government à la carte — hundreds of independent taxing districts piling on local sales or property taxes without accountability or transparency. King County’s Proposition 1, a tiny sales tax increase for arts access, was defeated in August, a sure sign that the local governments adding on to the state tax has reached its limit.
Now, many Washington residents seem to be focusing on rising rates, on fairness and equity, and another basic question: What do we gain by luring business with promises of tax breaks and zero income tax, even while a regressive tax code prevents us from necessary investments in K–12 schools, taking care of our most vulnerable, higher education and the environment?
This story originally appeared on KCTS 9 IN Close.
There are many exquisite images in Women in Photography, the current exhibition at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, but it’s not any single photograph or even one artist that makes this exhibit remarkable. This is a show that places the definition of “curating” under a magnifying glass and examines every fractal edge. It blends boundaries, highlights diversities and celebrates a coherence that is both figurative and real.
The co-curators ― Linda Wolf, an internationally known Bainbridge Island photographer; Greg Robinson, chief curator at the museum; and Amy Sawyer, the museum’s curatorial associate — have fused the show into the museum space in a way that captures a visitor’s eye before they even step into the building. Meghann Riepenhoff’s enormous one-of-a-kind scrolls hang behind the windows that help define the museum’s façade, challenging passers-by to wonder what else they might find within these walls.
Once inside, anyone expecting to see textbook examples of photographs may be puzzled by Riepenhoff’s art, which uses one of photography’s earliest processes, the cyanotype, to create one-of-a-kind images that look more like paintings than photographs. She creates her images by coating paper with basic photographic chemicals, then laying the paper on seashores to let waves wash over it. This process initiates a chemical reaction that she has chosen to let go unabated.
Inside the main gallery, the exhibit bursts into full view: nearly 100 physical prints of all shapes and sizes, three Instagram feeds, and two video pieces. It may sound overwhelming, but there is a solidarity to the whole that invites one to linger and revel.
The ten women in the show are all from the Puget Sound area, and each has found a way to claim a personal vision for what it means to live here. C. Davida Ingram’s performance video Procession presents white-clothed African-American women making their way through Seattle’s King Street Station, starting and ending with one or more figures looking at the world from the building’s uppermost reaches. There is no narrative to the video, but the message seems to be “We’ve walked in a world where whiteness surrounds us, but we move gracefully through it on our way to the top.”
On the opposite side of the entryway are Megumi Shauna Arai’s eye-catching photos/ink painting series. Partially created in the gallery by inviting visitors to use large sumi ink brushes to paint over her photographs, the works assault our normal concepts of photography, with ink purposefully splashed and dripped on the walls. The black squares are in stark contrast to Ingram’s identity video, but both pieces seem to be investigating the same concept: what makes us who we are?
Mary Randlett is known for her quintessential black-and-white landscapes of the Northwest, but here she presents a more painterly side with prints that resemble ink wash paintings. They’re a perfect contrast to Arai’s bold ink washes, but both have a common ancestry rooted in ancient artistry.
Janet Neuhauser provides yet another reminder of photography’s history with softly focused pinhole landscapes that are at once Northwest-specific and every place. There’s something about the long exposures she used that produce a timeless quality―blurred waters, indefinite edges, vistas emptied of people or other signs of civilization.
Part of the new generation of photographers, Ashley Armitage has 52,700 followers on her Instagram account. Many of her photos are of her friends, who become knowing partners in her art by allowing their lives and their bodies to be shown without the filters of commercial society. Her work honestly portrays the female form without conforming to common beauty standards that hide body hair, rolls of flesh, stretch marks, and other features found on millions of women and girls.
Marilyn Montufar’s portraits are often extensions of her life―lovers, friends, fellow travelers―but also of life writ large. Her work explores human nature and the lives of communities that were once on the edges of society. Her photos depict seemingly ordinary people with an authenticity that renders them in a distinctly personal way.
Some of the most arresting images in the show are Heather Boose Weiss’ large, square prints in which mystical lights of unknown sources captivate otherwise darkened lands and skies. It’s hard to tell if she just happened to be in the right place at the right time to witness these lighting events or if she was able to create some of them by design. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Weiss has imbued her images with what Minor White called equivalence―something that acts as a metaphor beyond what is being shown.
Featured throughout the exhibit are photos of two matriarchs of Puget Sound photography, Marsha Burns and Linda Wolf. Burns is a long-time master of stylized portraits and portrait-like images, and in spite of her longevity, she’s sadly under-recognized except by those who follow art photography.
Burns is represented by either very large portraits or small scenes that expose their subjects but leave it up to the viewer to find the meaning. In both, there is an intimacy of the relationship between the viewer and the photographer that accentuates her ability to transform people into corporal emblems of individuality.
Co-curator Wolf has rightfully included her own works in the exhibit and we’re the better for it. Best known for her photos of musicians, she’s chosen to show here the remarkable breadth and depth of her work. At different times she’s been a street photographer, a portrait artist, a creative director and an activist. There a consistency throughout all of her work, though: an intelligence in her vision that obliges us to first appreciate the good in the world around us.
In 1981, Wolf was one of the founders of Women in Photography International, the first organization to intentionally promote the careers of women in photography. She told me, “Back then we had to fight for every scrap of recognition we could get, and in some ways, things haven’t changed that much.”
This show is both an elegant expression of the long history of women photographers in the Northwest and a glimpse of new artists creating directives that reflect 21st-Century visions. That the curators could blend those two forces so well into a single space makes this a show not to miss.
Women In Photography continues at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art through October 1.
( Rosh Hashanah )
It's genuinely disorienting to encounter all these spaces where I don't have to educate anyone or fight to be seen for who I am. Other people have already done that work, and leaders have clearly been receptive to it. (Rabbi Lippman is queer, but I don't assume that cis queer people will be welcoming to or understanding of trans people, especially nonbinary trans people.) I get to just show up and be a human being in human community. What an immense privilege. What a gift. Honestly, that might be the thing that gets me to stick with this—just the pure pleasure of being in a place where I didn't personally have to claw out a space for myself.
Josh met me and Kit in the park and we walked for a while (GMaps Pedometer says I walked 3.2 miles today, most of it pushing a heavy stroller with a heavy toddler; my feet and arms are very tired). I teased him that he should be glad I didn't make him meet the rabbi. But this is my thing, really. Maybe it's my latest three-month hobby. Maybe it'll be more than that. We'll see.
In case you forgot, I’ll be at Borderlands Books (my favorite place in SF) at 3:00 pm this Saturday to read to you from my new book The Uploaded, sign whatever you put in front of me, and to, as usual, go out for hamburgers afterwards.
(And if you’re extra-special-good, I may do a super-secret advance MEGA-preview reading of The Book That Does Not Yet Have A Name. Not that, you know, you shouldn’t be rushing out to your stores to buy The Uploaded right now.)
I will, of course, bring donuts after my massive DONUT FAIL in Massachusetts, which I still wake up in cold sweats about. I will bring you donuts or die.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
This past March, two police officers were standing on either side of the entrance to the firehouse in White Salmon, giving out numbers to count how many people were attending a city council meeting on one of the most controversial topics residents had seen in years. With a renovation to the town’s city hall underway, meetings had to be conducted in a small, fluorescently-lit room, where more officers were stationed inside.
With White Salmon’s population of just 2,500, the 60 who showed up was notable, especially on a spring night when a brutal wintry mix pelted the town in southcentral Washington’s Klickitat County. Many came in opposition, but even more had come in support of a proposal spearheaded by a newly energized group of women.
After the 2016 presidential election, the women organized and asked the city council to issue a public statement that White Salmon was a safe city for immigrants. It wasn’t a “Sanctuary City” declaration, but a reaffirmation from the city that it wouldn’t discriminate.
White Salmon Mayor David Poucher had delayed the vote for two meetings and sought legal counsel to rewrite the group’s original declaration. This night, though, the city council members would vote on the new declaration, a somewhat watered down version of the original.
As people filtered into the room, some wore “Make America Great Again” hats; one wore a “Killary for Jail” T-shirt.
“It brought out the old guard, the Republicans that I remember from 30 years ago,” says Michelle “Mike” Mayfield, a co-founder of the group, the Columbia Gorge Women’s Action Network. “They felt threatened by it.”
A few came from neighboring towns to speak against the declaration. In the public comment, one woman lamented, “Illegals bring STDs into the community.” Local pastors, some of the women and even a 16-year-old boy spoke up in support of the declaration. But an ongoing theme emerged in the public comment and was reaffirmed by council members’ statements: We don’t need this because we already don’t discriminate. The immigrants shouldn’t feel scared.
The White Salmon City Council voted the declaration down, 3-2, with only Councilmembers Tao Berman and Kimberly Hoppus voting in favor.
But in Bingen, just one town over, the declaration passed with no issue, and was embraced by Mayor Betty Barnes, who went on to translate it for Latinos, who make up about 25 percent of the local population of 700 people.
It was a defining moment for the women who had pushed the resolution forward, and it turned an idea into a full-on movement, seeking to bring new perspectives into local government in a county where Republicans have long held sway.
Where is Klickitat County?
Klickitat County sits along the Columbia River at the southern edge of the state and in a lot of ways it is a microcosm of the United States today. It’s a long county, about 100 miles from one end to the other, and only has a few towns from east to west: Goldendale, Lyle, Bingen and White Salmon. The biggest is Goldendale, which has a population of 3,500. There is an east-west, blue-red divide. Klickitat’s so close to Oregon that it’s often working across two states (all of the media, except for local papers, comes from Oregon).
“I would say from the east side of the county all the way to about Lyle, which is just before White Salmon, you’ll have mostly Republican activism,” says Susan Kelsey, the Klickitat County Republicans’ vice chair. “Then it switches over to Democrat and we’ve seen a real surge in activism since President Trump came into office.”
To get to White Salmon from Seattle, you have to take I-5 down to Portland, get on I-84 and cross a rickety metal bridge over the Columbia Gorge. The small town sits across from Hood River, Oregon, up high with incredible views of the Gorge. The area is known for its windsurfing: In the early 1980s, windsurfers came in and started buying up houses. The animosity between the locals and windsurfers, or “boardheads” as they were called, began.
“There are always winners and losers … what happened here was like what happened everywhere — the timber industry declined greatly and family-wage jobs disappeared,” says Shelley Baxter, a local Democrat.
At one point, the county had the highest unemployment rate in the state of Washington, but then it was buoyed by the arrival of Insitu in 1994, which designs, develops and manufactures customized, unmanned aerial systems. The company, which was bought by Boeing, is headquartered in Bingen. The sleek, modern building looks out of place, sitting next to the gorge with mountains framing it.
Today, affordable housing is hard to come by and property values have tripled as the company has expanded and brought in more jobs. Just this year, Baxter says, there have been 115 new housing permits in White Salmon — a hefty increase from previous years.
The county went 53.9 percent for Trump and has a long history of voting Republican, but with newcomers comes change. Politically, that change is mainly impacting the west side of the county. With Klickitat County divided in three districts, White Salmon is in the county commission’s District 1 and tends to lean blue, while the other two go red. Still, because the entire county gets to choose county commissioners, District 1 has elected a male Republican commissioner for as long as anyone can remember.
Many candidates in the area run as independents even though they are Democrats, but that usually doesn’t result in a win, either.
“I think a Democrat would have a hard time running here and I think we would do better if we could find moderate Republicans to win elections,” one woman pointed out. “Democrat is a bad word around here.”
Republican Vice Chair Kelsey has a hunch that part of why rural counties lean Republican is because the party is less pushy. “It’s less intrusive, less regulations, most families are generational and they are used to taking care of themselves,” she says.
Kelsey sees the new movement of women of the Columbia Gorge Women’s Action Network as activists trying to take control of the area, and she and other local Republicans aren’t just sitting back. As with the White Salmon City Council controversy, they’re coming out and making their opinions known.
“Many [Republicans] feel that we can make our own decisions and I think sometimes the activists come in and try to take over, and tell you what you can and can’t do, from the perspective that they know better,” Kelsey says.
The constant push-and-pull in the county has stifled some of the new Columbia Gorge network’s big plans.
City council: women running
Back at the City Council meeting, Amy Martin, 28, was getting angry as a few council members stood up and spoke about why they wouldn’t support the declaration. One council member said the entire room should make personal declarations.
“The council’s mind was made up before they walked in that room and there was nothing that was going to change their votes,” Martin says. “I was upset with the lack of message they gave back. Here I am sitting with a majority of people who showed up and wanted it to go through and we were ignored.”
Not feeling heard, and hoping she could make a change on a local level, Martin channeled her anger into a 2017 run for the White Salmon City Council. Never one to shy away from a debate or sharing opinions, Martin doesn’t see herself as a politician. In fact, she says she finds the word “icky.”
Southern bred and a former chef whose favorite food to cook is “anything that warms your heart and fills your belly,” Martin gives off something of a cool-biker-chick-with-soft-edges vibe. Living in Virginia, she’d go shoot guns once a week and spend as much time outside as possible. When she moved to White Salmon four years ago, the outdoors stuck, but outings at the local gun range got to be too much with what she remembers as “anti-Obama, stand up your rights, Trump is the savior” rhetoric.
She moved to White Salmon on a whim from the South and this past winter, finally broke down and got a puffy jacket, a sign that she is here to stay for a while. White Salmon is a community she loves, but she fears what it could become.
“We have no policy on short-term rentals and I think we need to hone in on affordable housing and availability so we aren’t faced with a housing crisis,” Martin says. “In the last couple months I’ve seen housing prices shoot up, and I have friends who’ve been looking for houses for over a year and can’t find anything.”
It wasn’t just Martin who got fired up after the city council meeting. Marla Keethler, 37, was pissed off too.
During last November’s election, Keethler was on a road trip from New York City to White Salmon. She and her husband, Ryan, had decided to move to a place with a slower pace where they could immerse themselves in the community.
When Trump won, she was in Omaha, Nebraska, where she says the mood was celebratory. At a Starbucks the next day, a man was reading a brand new copy of Donald Trump’s “The Art of the Deal.” They walked into a McDonald’s and caught two employee’s mid-conversation, talking about how excited they were that Obamacare was going away.
A week later, settling into her new life in White Salmon, she met a woman at the grocery store who told her about the new group of women that was forming. As she attended their meetings, she began to get into a groove and felt like part of the community.
Then the inclusivity declaration happened, and for the first time, she felt resistance to new people, like herself.
“Both sides talked about how this was a place where everyone knew their neighbors, but having come in as a newcomer, I found some circles that welcomed me,” Keethler says. “But I had to put myself in situations to find those connections.
“The new growth scares some of the older residents, but I hope that if I am elected to city council, we can make it more about inclusion and getting people to meetings, but then grabbing a drink or coffee afterwards.”
Keethler says that being a newcomer is an obvious flag she carries and she won’t be running away from it. She isn’t the kind of person to run away from anything, as you’ll figure from a simple conversation with her. Keethler is a straight-shooter. She spent 15 years in sports television, and in a male-dominated industry she says she often had to shout louder than everyone else.
“I would say something as an idea and watch somebody repeat it and because they were a guy, it would be heard differently. They could lose their cool and that was applauded, but if I lost mine, it was seen as inappropriate or too combative,” Keethler says.
It was not being heard, once again, that fueled her run for the city council.
“It wasn’t a conversation where you felt like the city council was listening to what the room was saying,” she says of the spring meeting. “It felt like the minority versus the majority, and the city council voted the exact opposite of what the majority of the room was. So you walked away feeling like this wasn’t a conversation in a community, and the city council should be a reflection of what the community is.”
There are currently three women running for city council. If all three succeed, there would be a 4-1 female majority for the first time in the town’s history.
Columbia Gorge Women’s Action Network
The spurring of women into action here since the 2016 election is part of a larger regional and national trend. Amplify Washington, an organization that recruits and provides training to people of color, women, young people and LGBTQ candidates for office, said the number of people interested after the election has exploded. They typically do six trainings a year all over Washington and Oregon, and get 35 people to attend on average. So far in 2017, every training has sold out and there are plans to do 23.
Seattle will elect a female mayor for the first time in 91 years and it isn’t the only city. The Seattle Times’ Danny Westneat wrote recently that we’re on our way to the “year of the woman” in Western Washington politics.
Emerge America, which focuses on training Democratic women to run for office, says they’ve seen an 87 percent increase in women applying for their training programs. Since election day, 24 states reached out about opening new affiliates, including Washington, which ended up raising funds and training women in the shortest amount of time the organization says it has ever seen.
In White Salmon, the women organizing at the hyper-local level have created a movement that is shaking things up. The Columbia Gorge Women’s Action Network founders Mayfield and Kirsten Dennis, were both looking for support after the election, so they separately invited friends to dinner. Soon, after being introduced by mutual friends, they brought everyone together to talk through what had happened and what they could do.
A closed Facebook page was created, and as they received request after request to join, they realized women wanted a place to get involved and take a stand. When they organized the first meeting in December, more than 100 women showed up, and the Facebook group is now over 2,000.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Dennis says. “In our group there are a lot of the older women who went through this [organizing] in the ’60s and are like, ‘we are doing this again?’ And then a lot of young people … we hear that comment a lot, that they’ve never seen this many people want to be this active. Women here are very motivated.”
Over the summer, attendees dwindled slightly, but the core group remained engaged despite the blowback they received for introducing the inclusivity declaration at the city council meeting.
While they are sometimes described as a “liberal activist group,” the members want to be nonpartisan; they say it’s impossible to get anything done toting “Democrat” on their backs. A few Republicans have attended meetings, but there aren’t any plans in the works to run Republican candidates.
“Tensions are high, and it can be hard to find common ground,” Dennis says. “We don’t want anything we try to do to be seen as immediately really negative. We are trying really hard to avoid certain words or else we won’t make the kind of impact we want to make.”
Sitting at a brewery, a few of the women would say something and then immediately look behind themselves to see if anyone had heard. It’s a small town and people talk, so the messaging can get twisted. Som Republicans in the area thought the inclusivity declaration was a sanctuary city declaration. Words like “liberal” and “progressive” are off limits and rather than “regulation,” many Network members use “protection.”
They’re walking a fine line, and it becomes more clear with every meeting or rally they organize to try to force change.
Stirring up the sheriff
If you walked into Sasha Bentley’s home, you’d know right away that she is a traveler. Before settling down in White Salmon two years ago, she and her husband, Chris, traveled to every country in Southeast Asia except East Timor and Brunei.
Normally, she says she wouldn’t consider herself a local after only two years in one place, but with how quickly she has become entrenched in the White Salmon community, she is rethinking that. Upon first meeting, you might wonder if Bentley, 29, is in a bit over her head — but there is a deep intensity bubbling just beneath her surface.
After the election, she spontaneously decided to run for the Klickitat County Democratic Party chair in a reorganization meeting, and she won. From that moment on, she has been ruffling feathers in the county.
In early March, she too learned how Klickitat County reacts to activism. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) introduced nine model state and local law enforcement policies and rules to support and protect immigrants. Bentley wanted to know if the sheriffs in Klickitat or neighboring Skamania County to the west would adopt any of them, so she planned a discussion between the local law enforcement and the community.
It was again well attended by many Republicans in MAGA hats and Trump gear. A local gun and fish club wrote in its newsletter that members needed to attend to protect their rights, despite it being solely about immigration.
Things quickly turned tense. In an exercise, attendees wrote down an outcome they wanted to see from law enforcement. After the reading of one note that said “The ACLU out of our county,” several people clapped. The White Salmon Enterprise wrote, “Multiple members of the audience were hostile and disrespectful to others throughout the discussion, often speaking over facilitators and issuing personal opinions while others spoke.”
When asked if he would institute any of the nine policies, Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer said he wouldn’t be “letting the ACLU bully me into doing what they want.”
It was similar to the inclusivity declaration. The sheriffs and some in the crowd wondered: Why do we need to declare we will follow some of these policies if we already do a good job of treating immigrants fairly?
“The big argument from the sheriffs was that they already do this,” Bentley says. “What I don’t understand is: A declaration is just saying you do it and you’ll continue to do it so it should be easy. If you do it already, then why not just declare it?”
The meeting ended up discouraging Bentley from arranging public events, but also opened her eyes to the dynamics of local politics. It did reaffirm she would be in the county for the long haul. She started a nonprofit called Klickitat Advocacy, where immigration is a priority issue.
A few days after Trump’s early September announcement that he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, Bentley was at it again, organizing a Defend DACA rally along Highway 14 near White Salmon. She and more than 20 others showed up and held signs saying, “We support DACA” and “Defend DACA” — all as smoke from wildfires burning on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge engulfed them.
“After the election and all of Trump’s policies, I knew I needed to start some kind of local nonprofit,” Bentley says. “I had to do something.”
It will soon be a year since the presidential election. The women will organize a forum-style candidate’s night as the November city council election approaches. They’ll be campaigning for both Martin and Keethler in an attempt to sway the council in their favor. Regardless of whether they win or not, the future in Klickitat County seems likely to be more female than it ever has been.
Local Sightings Film Festival
Celebrate films from all over the Pacific Northwest at the 20th annual Local Sightings Film Festival. The festival kicks off Friday night with Early Mistakes- Live! (think more illuminative bloopers and the stories behind them, featuring local talent), followed by a free opening night party. Dozens of shorts and features, including the docs Hype! and No Man’s Land (about the Bundy family occupation of national lands in OR) will be shown on the big screen. Special presentations to look forward to at this year’s festival include the Indigenous Showcase: Sandra Osawa Retrospective (artists in attendance!) and an all-forum consuming and interactive performance by local dance artists zoe| juniper. And that’s just this first weekend! Check out the full schedule here.
If you go: Local Sightings Film Festival, Northwest Film Forum, Sept. 22-30 ($12)–N.C.
Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off
Last year on a flight, I sat next to a guy who worked in Deadhorse, Alaska, near the Arctic Circle for part of the year. At the annual Alaska State Fair, they celebrate the accomplishments of the locals –including growing the largest pumpkin. Because of the proximity to the Arctic Circle, summer days are VERY long and the pumpkins are, appropriately enough, VERY large. “I saw a picture of my coworker’s family with the pumpkin,” he told me of the 1,469 lb winning beast, “and his ENTIRE FAMILY was sitting on the pumpkin.” This weekend, head to Elysian Brewery in Georgetown for our own local pumpkin weigh-off, sanctioned by the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, where local growers compete for the largest pumpkin. Spectators can enjoy pumpkin painting, food trucks, a music performance by folk-icana band The Hasslers, and, of course, Elysian beer on tap. And, note: next weekend’s Great Pumpkin Beer Festival will take place at the Seattle Center, with over 80 pumpkin beers on tap and 100% of proceeds going to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Elysian Brewery in Georgetown, Saturday 9/23 from 12-4, Free
If you go: Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off, Elysian Brewery, Sept. 23 (free)–N.C.
Dirty Dancing Movie Party
Maybe it’s the soundtrack? Maybe it’s the relatability? Maybe it’s the acting. . .? All right, it’s definitely the soundtrack. And the fact that Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, and Jerry Orbach all hit peak sex appeal at exactly the same time: 1987. Regardless, for many people (including me) Dirty Dancing has staying power. As part of the 2nd Annual (nationwide!) Art House Theatre Day, SIFF will be showing the low-budget-turned-cult-classic at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Watermelon Bellinis will be available at the concession stand, and festivities will include singing along to music videos AND a watermelon carrying contest, followed, of course, by a showing of Dirty Dancing on the big screen. Here’s something to help you prepare:
If you go: Dirty Dancing Movie Party, SIFF Cinema Uptown, Sept. 24 ($14)–N.C.
Beauty is Experience: Dancing 50 and Beyond
What does it mean to be a dancer of a certain age? Writer Emmaly Wiederholt and photographer Gregory Bartning explore the question in their new book, a three-year creation that includes interviews with 50 dancers aged 50 to 95. Among the interviewees are a handful of locals: Rubina Carmona, Mark Haim, Shirley Jenkins, Wade Madsen, Tara Stepenberg, Christian Swenson, Iris Tansman and Deborah Wolf. The book’s author and photographer and some of the local dancers will be in attendance.
If you go: Beauty is Experience: Dancing 50 and Beyond, Cornish College of the Arts, Sept. 24 (Free)–F.D.
Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix
Roy Choi, the “street cook” creator of the gourmet Korean taco, is profiled in this new children’s picture book. Food ethnographer and book co-author June Jo Lee talks about how Choi revolutionized street food. She’s the co-founder of READERS to EATERS, the book’s publisher that aims to promote literacy through stories about food.
If you go: Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix, University Book Store in Seattle’s U-District, September 23 (free)–F.D.
Correction: This column has been updated; the film Lane 1974 is not being screened as part of Local Sightings.
This article is made possible with support from the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.
Offence. Volskaya industries. Backfill, with about 2:30 to go; first point taken, first third of second point taken, but they've been flailing. I grab D.va, and they waste about 2:15 just raggedly charging in, ignoring my group-up requests - tho' I did get the enemy to blow a few of their ults. And once I announce that my nerf is up, my team finally groups, mostly because hey, about out of time.
I lead the charge in. I get one and a mech with my nerf. One of our team gets someone else, I don't know who. I get my mecha back, charge in, kill a third.
Their Reaper drops in with his ult and kills FIVE OF US. Quadruple kill. It is, in fact, play of the game.
But he does not get me. I am the only member of my team alive.
I kill every remaining member of the enemy team and take the point in overtime, while the entire rest of my team is dead.
I gold in objective kills, but I don't even card.
I cannot imagine what that looked like to everyone else.
--The first few days back are usually pretty reasonable. (I could conceivably even be home for supper tomorrow evening!) Thankfully, today I was able to finish and submit the half-volume that's due tomorrow, so that's not hanging over me...but I'll need to go pick up my and scruloose's con passes, and then on Friday, no matter what time we wrap up at the office, I'll be going straight from there to the convention. I even made it as far as looking over the schedule and making notes this evening, although in practice I rarely make it to more than a small percentage of the panels and talks that catch my eyes. So many people. O_O (The "rarely" applies to cons and similar things in general, as this is only my second Hal-Con.)
--When I was poking around in my tags the other day to see if I could figure out when I stopped bouldering, I came across this 2013 post about Claudia from when she and Jinksy were about five months old. Oh, my kitten. *^^* (*finds baby!Claudia!kitten icon*)
--I have this half-formed theory that Casual Job is the appropriate excuse to actually start figuring out lipstick, since I really haven't, despite buying a bunch in Toronto. The defense I have to offer is that I'm usually at home living in pajamas when Casual Job isn't on (I'm very glad I'm not one of the many people who needs to Get Dressed to successfully work at home--although if it'd help my focus, you bet I'd do it), and when I go out it's usually either quick errands (hard to convince myself to bother) or to have dinner out with someone (and I know people eat and drink with lipstick on all the time, but it turns out I find it intimidating to consider needing to immediately touch it up while out if it smears/wears off).