The Blogful of Salt

Fellowship Of Reconciliation (FOR) honors PJALS with their “Local Hero” Peace Award at their Centennial celebration on November 7, 2015 in New York City

Friday, Nov 27, 2015 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

Fellowship of Reconciliationby Mark Hamlin

We were so honored to receive the news that the national Fellowship of Reconciliation would recognize PJALS for our work as part of their 100 year anniversary celebration events in New York City! I was excited to have our efforts publicly acknowledged and honored in this way by this very highly respected organization, of which PJALS is one of many world-wide affiliates.

I was asked to go to New York to represent PJALS to receive the award. I was excited to be going to New York, for my first time, but hesitated when I was told that I would need to give an acceptance speech. After my initial anxiety about that, I realized how important it was to share the work that we do at PJALS.

It was more than worth it as I enjoyed every bit of my time at all of the events. It started with the Centennial exhibit on Thursday evening for the opening reception at the Union Theological Seminary James Chapel. The exhibit of the history of FOR at the chapel was an amazing presentation of the events of the past 100 years of the FOR’s involvement in peace and justice efforts. I was inspired and very impressed with the work that went into the displays that covered the walls of the chapel. Read more »

Responding to Manufactured Fear

Friday, Nov 27, 2015 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

Whitman Nerudaby Whitman Neruda

This is in response to the Aug. 13 Inlander article, “Manufacturing Fear.”

First, our view as progressives is this: we don’t want big, intrusive government; we want an effective, responsive government and a human-scaled, people-first economy. We want to mid-wife a transformed America adept at non-violent communication and the skills that negotiate our differences, much in the way of a good marriage, out of love and respect.

We believe everyone has the right to talk about injustice, perceived or experienced.

The problem is too many people on both sides agitate and exaggerate, fear mongering and slandering their way through cyber space. They appear psychologically addicted to the adrenalin of hate. Read more »

Appreciating our Fall Volunteers!

Friday, Nov 27, 2015 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

Many thanks to these generous spirits who gave their time and efforts in September, October, and November 2015!

Anne Martin, Chris Nerison, Dale Raugust, Daphne Soto, Eileen Maiocco, Golie Jansen, Inga Laurant, James Robenstein, Jennifer Calvert, Lynn Sexton, Mark Hamlin, Maurina Ladich, Nancy Nelson, Obaid Abdul-Salam, Pauline Druffel, Phil Svoboda, Rowena Pineda, Rusty Nelson, Tim Connor, Valerie Waley, Ziggy Seigfried


Our priority areas for 2016-17

Friday, Nov 27, 2015 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

As determined by our member priority survey responses and our Steering Committee!

  1.  A Just Society: Smart Justice and Police Accountability
  2. Peace: Truth in Recruitment, Consciousness-Raising about Militarism, and Mobilizing against War!
  3. Human Rights Community Organizing: Building collective power with targeted communities.
  4. Ending the Death Penalty in Washington as our top legislative priority.

Exposing & transforming systems of violence & oppression to create beloved community and build a just and nonviolent world.


Peace & Justice Center as Stepping Stone

Friday, Nov 27, 2015 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

Pauline Druffelby Pauline Druffel

The 40th anniversary celebration of PJALS has special significance for me because I was a part of the early staff of PJC, the Spokane Peace and Justice Center (PJALS’s predecessor). PJC, started in 1975; I came on board in 1978 and stayed until 1982. The other day, Liz Moore asked me to write a piece for the Handful of Salt Newsletter about how my time at PJC has influenced my life since then. I recently had an experience of looking back over my life and identifying stepping stones that brought me to where I am today. I’m going to use that idea in what follows because I can see in hindsight that my experiences at PJC proved to be a major influence on my subsequent worldview. Read more »

The Telling

Friday, Nov 27, 2015 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

by Whitman Neruda

Inspired by the wisdom of Indigenous elders of the Southwest


Now is the time we circle for stories with just intention.

A winter spirit dance of dialogue and reflection

To remember who we are: Many voices, One Heart.



Moonlight on the water reminds us

There is no mistake so tragic it divides us,

No hardship we cannot endure.

Everything happening,

Has happened before.


Snow falls like voices of a choir

Singing hymns of a great turning inward,

The creation of space that matters

Where we can safely gather,

Share our dreams and memories,

Talk of journeys just begun

Or nearing an end.


Our bodies glow like candles in a circle.

Pour cold mountain water over your burning stones

And dream together.

Marvel at your pain.

Laugh about the surprise of love.

Our prayers are in the telling.

Welcome Andrew!

Friday, Nov 27, 2015 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

Andrew Lackby Daniel Geiter

Andrew Lack works with PJALS as an administrative assistant through the AARP Senior Community Service Employment Program.  Andrew is most passionate about three social justice issues. Discrimination has been a passion of his since he was very young. He has had strong anti-war feelings going back as far as Vietnam where he refused to sign up for the draft, and his passion has continued since. Smart justice has been is a more recent passion for him. In part he discovered it through his experience being homeless and seeing the way that society marginalizes those members of our society. Read more »

Welcome Cassandra!

Friday, Nov 27, 2015 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

Cassandra Guerreroby Jessica Silva

Cassandra Guerrero joined PJALS this fall as part of an internship through EWU’s Social Work program. She is from Moses Lake and moved to Cheney to pursue a higher education where she can make a difference. Cassandra has volunteered at Betz Elementary School where she mentored children at risk. She chose to do her internship at PJALS because she wanted to make a difference at the community level and not just on individualized problem and because she is tired of not acting upon issues that are important to her. Read more »

Welcome Jessica!

Friday, Nov 27, 2015 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

Jessica Silvaby Cassandra Guerrero

Jessica Silva joined PJALS through the EWU Social Work program for an internship with a community organizing perspective. Jessica chose a Social Work Degree because for five years of her life she lived in Mexico and saw all the hardships that people had to endure on a day-to-day basis and wondered how those people got there in the first place, then when she moved to the United States she was given the opportunity to gain an education. That’s when she knew she wanted to understand how to help people when they are most vulnerable. Read more »

Welcome Daniel!

Friday, Nov 27, 2015 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

Daniel Geiterby Moncerat Rodriguez

Daniel Geiter is a student from Whitworth University. His passion is fighting issues of societal inequity. Until the time he started high school, Daniel’s family was low-income. Daniel, who is white, says “I did not realize how much I benefited, solely due to my skin color. I started to hear about others’ experiences and how they have been treated when I got to college.” He felt a responsibility to try to secure equal treatment for individuals and believed he was capable of helping, which brings him to PJALS. Read more »

Welcome to Social Work Practicum Student Moncerat Rodriguez

Friday, Nov 27, 2015 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

Monce Rodriguezby Andrew Lack

Monce is a senior at EWU, doing her social work practicum at PJALS.  Monce is drawn to working within the juvenile justice system.  She also has always felt a close connection to Child Protective Services.

Monce is a graduate of the Toppenish School District in Yakima County.  She originally came to know of PJALS through a friend who had once worked with us as an intern.  She also credits her involvement with M.E.Ch.A. at EWU and participated in a PJALS peacekeeper training with them. Read more »

A Fall Full of Activity!

Friday, Nov 27, 2015 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

Heres’ what we’ve been up to together, made possible by members!

Gratitude Potluck & Membership Meeting, Sept 10

Hosted “Race: The Power of an Illusion” training, Sept 26

Welcoming 3 new Social Work practicum students! (see their introduction elsewhere in the blog!)

Young Activist Leaders Open House, orientation, fall retreat, and workshop!

PJALS 40th Anniversary Kick-off , Oct 15

Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation speaker Becky O’Neil McBrayer, Oct 20. Listen at

Action: Support Refugees & Civilians. No US Escalation in Syria & Iraq, Nov 5

Leadership Workshop: How to Effectively Communicate with Lawmakers, Nov 19

Action: Humanity is Indivisible, Nov 20


Becky O’Neil McBrayer shares her story: End the death penalty!

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

In October we were honored to host Becky O’Neil McBrayer, a member of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation and a board member of Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Becky lost her Mother and Step-Father to murder in 2006 while running an Oregon Supreme Court Justice campaign. Becky O’Neil McBrayer is the director of Community Programs a St. Andre Bessette Catholic Church in downtown Portland. She has served as a labor, civil rights, political activist, and campaign manager around the country.

Becky shared her story in an evening event and in an interview on KYRS radio show Praxis.  Click below to listen to the radio show.

Praxis 153: Capital Punishment & Cycles of Violence

A Time for Nostalgia

Tuesday, Nov 17, 2015 | 11:11am | Comment on this

Rusty NelsonRusty Nelson: On Peace & War

There was never time for nostalgia, here, even when I wrote this column every month. Just as PJALS was so often derailed from local projects by global violence and the siren call of war, my plans for a 40th anniversary recollection have been curbed by horrible attacks in Paris. Curbed, but not cancelled.

Here’s what must be said in November, 2015: The established powers of the earth continue to prepare for the same war, thinking we’ve learned from every tragic human sacrifice offered in the names of peace, panic and greed. Now, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our outraged allies to prove we have not yet learned the lesson of the Trojan Horse, never mind Vietnam or Iraq. Read more »

Smart Justice Spokane calls for investigation in jail deaths

Wednesday, Nov 4, 2015 | 4:16pm | Comment on this

Smart Justice Spokane has sent a letter about the five in-custody deaths of Peter O’Brien, John Everitt, Lorenzo Haynes, Scott Stevens, and Tammy Sue Hienen that have occurred this year. The letter, to the Spokane Board of County Commissioners, Spokane Regional Law & Justice Council, and Acting Criminal Justice Administrator Dr. Jacqueline van Wormer, expresses “We believe that the jail should be a place where everyone is safe and receives appropriate health care, including a health assessment at booking.”

Smart Justice Spokane requests investigation and transparency and concludes “We also request that Spokane County and the Spokane Regional Law and Justice Council respond to the findings, advise the community of its plan to make the jail safer, and describe how the efforts will be evaluated.”

Click here to read or download a pdf of the letter.

Rusty Nelson on Peace and War

Tuesday, Sep 1, 2015 | 4:16pm | Comment on this

Losing WWII


We did it, again. We observed the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A few of us gathered by the river and recalled the 70-year-old tragedy that still casts a pall upon the entire population of our planet. There was a brief but important discussion of several aspects of the bombings, mass premeditated murder and extended suffering of scores of thousands of Japanese civilians, and the thoughtful and determined way survivors have brought their cities back to life, not only as thriving commercial centers but as moral leaders for peace and nuclear disarmament.

That it has been 70 years is frightening. Not so much because so much time has passed for those of us already upon the scene and affected by the war, but because those with the power to pull the plug on this horrible science of death have not pulled the plug, but have run gleefully with doomsday technology spilling in their wake, like children playing with scissors and matches in a paper house.

We’ve built and tested A-bombs, H-bombs, big and bigger, with multiple warheads and billion-dollar delivery systems. Remember the nuclear subs with enough missiles and payload to destroy the entire planet with one attack from an undetected spot in the ocean? Remember the rail-mounted MX missile system proposed for Fairchild Airforce Base, back when there were nukes aplenty, already, for the ancient B-52s we saw over Spokane almost every day?

It’s been about 50 years, now, since Americans began peeling away layers of secrecy and President Truman’s coverup about the decision to use the bomb after the war was virtually over. And still, we beg that we not be told the truth. We don’t want to know that the Japanese had been ready to surrender since April and were being stonewalled by U.S. generals who couldn’t stand for the war to end without deploying our precious weapon, developed by some of the world’s finest scientific minds and thousand of laborers who knew only that they were being well-paid to somehow support the war effort in strange locations like Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Hanford. We don’t want to know that the second bomb, built at Hanford, was dropped on Nagasaki before Japan could comprehend what had happened at Hiroshima, much less accelerate its efforts to surrender. Or that Japan was counting on Russia to get the Japanese plan of surrender to the U.S., even as Stalin prepared to attack Japan and grab a share of spoils, while we were killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese to warn Russia to back off and quit pushing its luck, if a country with 20 million fatalities in the war might be said to have luck.

And so the Cold War was begun before the “Good War” was cold. And the Cold War brought more and larger nuclear weapons, more and larger fears and suspicions, more elaborate secrets, alliances and reasons to lavish the world’s wealth upon the race to nuclear destruction.

            45 years ago, it was painfully apparent that the nuclear arms race would kill us all, even without nuclear war, and 190 nations signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Perhaps the NPT has kept us from destroying the world, so far, and it probably saved Britain and France from going bankrupt trying to keep up, but the best language of the treaty is just words on paper. The U.S. and Russia kept up their deadly competition until the Soviet Union unraveled, and Russia decided it could keep us nervous with less extravagant gambles. China kept building, deploying and sharing with scary developing countries like North Korea. India and Pakistan acquired the technology and took their game of chicken to the global level. Israel, without ever admitting it has a nuclear weapons program, developed a competitive arsenal and refuses to tell anyone where its missiles are pointed, while demanding that the U.S. subsidize its military and keep Iran out of the nuclear weapons club, at any cost.

            26 years ago, we passed on the Peace Dividend from Russia’s withdrawal of the arms race. The U.S. chose to continue spending its treasure on war and preparations for war, sparing the military-industrial complex the inconvenience of a robust middle class.

            Last year, the Republic of the Marshall Islands filed suit against the nuclear powers who signed the NPT, the U.S., U.K., China, Russia and France, at the International Court of Justice and U.S. Federal Court. The little island nation of 70,000 people charges these populous and prosperous countries have violated the NPT and international law by failing to pursue an end to the nuclear arms race and ignoring the mandate for general and complete nuclear disarmament.

The Marshall Islands is facing a huge challenge, but its standing has been acknowledged, and who can say it lacks evidence to support its claims. Between 1946 and 1958, the U.S., alone, turned much of this territory into a radioactive wasteland with no fewer than 67 above-ground bomb tests. Many atolls were obliterated after populations were evacuated, and the Marshallese still struggle with related health problems. Yes, we have made payments to mitigate the inconvenience, but the Marshallese want us to honor the treaty to prevent another country from such a miserable experience, not to mention the atrocities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With corporations having taken control of nuclear weapons, one can only wonder what justice might look like in this case.

            This year, Japanese Prime Minister Abe was criticized for a lack of sincerity in his expression of regret for the attack on Pearl Harbor upon the 70th anniversary of the end of the war. Finally Emperor Akihito had to bow a bit more deeply and add a few tears to appease U.S. media. That’s supposed to make us Americans feel better about squashing two major cities, as if it had been retaliation for Pearl Harbor.  (Uncomfortable fact: the A-bombed cities harbored very few military personnel beyond the U.S. Navy prisoners of war who died in the Hiroshima blast.)   And Japan is under continuous pressure to build a globally competitive military.

          Next year, we will elect a new president with neither plans nor intentions to acknowledge or address the true costs of our greatest war crime, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Continuing costs include: enemy creation; perpetual limited warfare; thermonuclear weapon stockpiles; corporate-driven proliferation of military weapons; the radioactive aspect of war’s environmental devastation and the pathetic inadequacy of our elaborate schemes for storage and cleanup of nuclear waste; a vast, expanding, and lethal spy network, and; widespread hopelessness about institutional violence.

Once again, it is left to us. We must advocate and educate for peace, seeking and speaking the truth. It is a terrible burden, but it gives us hope and solidarity, and new resources are appearing all the time to help us deal with ignorance, greed and hopelessness. Don’t just oppose war, militarism, and institutional violence. Discuss alternative plans for security in your country, your neighborhood and your home. Share your plans with your friends, your social network, your government leaders.  We can’t let this go on for another 70 years. – R

The death penalty is at the tipping point

Tuesday, Sep 1, 2015 | 4:16pm | Comment on this

By Shar Lichty, Organizer


PJALS has worked for over 30 years to end the death penalty in Washington and we are finally nearing the finish line.

During the last legislative session our local group, Inland NW Death Penalty Abolition Group, coordinated with Safe & Just Alternatives to achieve significant gains toward legislative repeal of the death penalty. We gathered a record number of postcards for legislators in the 6th, 4th, & 7th legislative districts, we strengthened Republican support for repeal, and we brought the voices of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation to the table.

All of this left us in the best position for repeal we have seen yet and in a good position to continue the momentum forward during the next legislative session.

This summer we saw some victories in court that further strengthen our work. During the past few years, King County spent over $15 million pursuing the death penalty in three cases-all three ended with a sentence of life without parole. Two of these cases involved defendants in the Carnation Murders—the horrific murder of one defendant’s family on Christmas Eve, including two young children.  The other was the Monfort case—he was convicted of killing a police officer.

These three cases represent what most folks would call “the worst of the worst.” Capital cases require the jury to be willing to consider a death sentence and this was the case for the two cases that went to trial—and yet those juries returned with a sentence of life without parole. The prosecutor then made a deal with the third defendant for life without parole.

            When juries who are willing to consider a death sentence returning a sentence of life without parole for crimes like these it sends a loud message to prosecutors and legislators.

With the Governor’s moratorium, a prosecutor who was not able to get a death sentence for these horrific crimes despite the millions of dollars spent, and increased bi-partisan support for repeal of the death penalty we are likely at the tipping point in Washington State.

Will Washington be the next state to abolish this barbaric policy? Would you like to help us make that happen?

Here are a couple of ways you can make a difference:

  • Join us on Tuesday, October 20th from 6-8pm (location TBA) to listen to Becky O’Neil McBrayer of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation. Her story is a powerful example of the extra pain families experience when the death penalty is an option.
  • Join our Inland NW Death Penalty Abolition Group which meets on the 2nd and 4th Wed. of each month at the PJALS office to help strengthen our work during the next legislative session.

Respect Immigrants

Tuesday, Sep 1, 2015 | 4:16pm | Comment on this

By Adrian Murillo, PJALS Steering Committee


I moved to Spokane a year ago. When I first learned of the city’s “sanctuary” ordinance as it now stands, I thought to myself: I’ve landed in a city with a social conscience. I can do good work here. This tells me Spokane is for all.

Good progressive policy direction starts with our common ground, humanity’s shared needs and vulnerabilities. 99% of us populate this common ground struggling to survive, hopefully among hospitable people and neighbors.

But some people reject this common ground, swept away by reactionary and racist political currents. They insist true security requires social conditions of rampant suspicion and paranoia about the changing face of things.

The anti-immigrant group Respect Washington wants police and city employees to embody and implement their racism and vigilant cynicism, create a climate of fear and uncertainty. What’s next? The enforced display of armbands designating status?

But local law enforcement cannot solve a situation which is—in scope and scale—a complex, geopolitical issue.

As Hannah Arendt noted in The Origins of Totalitarianism: “The Rights of Man had been defined as inalienable because they were supposed to be independent of all governments.

There can be no social justice without communities of social conscience guiding policy direction towards the protection of the politically and economically vulnerable.

Nationally and locally, social conscience is spawning a greater awakening, gaining momentum, steadily climbing that moral arc towards justice for all.

No human being is illegal just as no baby is born illegitimate anymore; that way of thinking and talking has no moral standing in this changing world. There are documented and undocumented people and no one has the credible authority to burden and threaten the undocumented with negative, slanderous judgment, criminal stereotyping or racial profiling.

Protecting the victims of civil wars and drug wars, official corruption, the ravages of poverty and ecological ruin is nothing to be ashamed of. The message we must keep on sending is that we refuse to be the misers of love like the xenophobes among us.

I hope PJALS members and allies deepen their commitment to supporting and organizing Latinos in this area because despite the fact there are many kinds of immigrants in this area, it is Latinos and Mexicans in particular who get singled out by one local city council member and many right-wing demagogues like that pendejo Trump.

It is long past time to recognize and accept Mexico is family, connected by blood and history, and deserves to be seen as a primary relationship of the U.S.



PJALS 40th Anniversary

Tuesday, Sep 1, 2015 | 4:16pm | Comment on this

40 years…half a lifetime?

40 years…a long time to be in a career

40 years…a fabulous accomplishment for peace and justice in Spokane.


Yes–beginning in October 2015 , and culminating in October 2016–PJALS will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in substance and style.

We hope you can all join us for our membership meeting on September 10th

where we will honor our volunteers; as it is you who have been responsible for PJALS remaining a strong voice in our community today.

            So join us at the Community Building on Thurs Sept 10 at 7pm for a Gratitude Potluck for volunteer appreciation and gratitude to all who make PJALS such a wonderful community — as well as our annual membership meeting!

The kickoff for our anniversary year will be on Thursday, October 15 from 7-9pm.  Join us at the Magic Lantern Theatre for our screening of the documentary “A Force More Powerful” on Gandhi’s salt march.  This will be followed by  a short discussion of the film in the theatre.  Then we will gather in the Community Building for food, drink and continued conversation.

            We will continue to have quarterly gatherings on Thursday nights to celebrate our year, as well as our annual Action Conference and our benefit auction.

* December  17th  Peace Potluck

* February 26-27 Action Conference

* April 21 Potluck

* July 21 Potluck

* And our 40th Anniversary Celebration GRAND FINALE in October 2016. 

            We also plan to have monthly brown bag luncheon discussions.  These will include other segments of The Power of Force and guest speakers. 

We hope you will join us for these events and make a renewed commitment to become more involved with PJALS over the next year.  To volunteer for some of these great events, call us at 838-7870.

            We look forward to another great year of commitment  to peace and justice and recognition  of all past volunteers have done to promote the common good in Spokane and throughout the world. And we also look forward to planning and preparing for our next 40 years with passion and vision.


— Louise Chadez

How many Presidential candidates have you moved to add a position to their platform?

Tuesday, Sep 1, 2015 | 4:16pm | Comment on this

By Liz Moore, Director

I was reading Facebook posts and articles as I came home from camping, the day after Senator Bernie Sanders was pre-empted by Black Lives Matter in Seattle, after he and Governor O’Malley (also a Presidential candidate) had been challenged at Netroots Nation by Black Lives Matter. At the time, Sanders had no statement about racial justice on the Issues page of his website. He’s from Vermont, with relatively few people of color, and he lives inside the Beltway bubble, but still … he or his advisors should have recognized the need to lead on racial justice in the USA in 2015 as “the people’s candidate.”

It’s rather stunning to me that apparently no candidate was ready to lead on one of the most pressing issues of our time, an issue made pressing by grassroots folks in Ferguson and all over the country responding to the unjust deaths of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Walter Scott, and other Black people whose lives have been taken from them by law enforcement all over the country. Why is it necessary for Black Lives Matter to challenge people who want to lead our country to also lead on ending the deaths of Black people?

Since that day, both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush have also been challenged by Black Lives Matter activists. Sanders has articulated a powerful issue position that calls out “the four central types of violence waged against black and brown Americans: physical, political, legal and economic.”

But at the time, some white progressives responded to the BLM challenge in ways I found disappointing and distressing. I want to share my admiration and respect for the leadership and courage of Black Lives Matter.

In the same way that we at PJALS choose to spend our energy meeting with Senator Murray’s staff to urge her to support the deal with Iran, but only drop off petitions for the entrenched Rep. McMorris Rodgers, Black Lives Matter first seeks to move their likeliest ally, Senator Sanders, to raise expectations of him in order to raise expectations of other candidates. Smart.

I appreciated people I knew engaging thoughtfully, listening to each other and to the BLM leaders as well as sharing their own thoughts without imposing their opinions on others. I also read several responses that seemed to be coming from a significant arrogance based in the writers’ sense of being entitled and qualified to assess and judge the tactic. That arrogance put me in mind of Peggy MacIntosh’s classic “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack,” which includes passports, maps, and codebooks as well as a “Your opinion matters all the time” card.

Many white people who are working class, not Christian, women, GLBT, or otherwise the subject of discriminatory actions, prejudices, or policies of exclusion or oppression have our own realities of our own experiences. We can own our experiences without thinking that gives us experiential knowledge of the reality of Black people knowing every 28 days a law enforcement officer kills another unarmed Black person.

I saw more than one white person state they might not be an ally to Black Lives Matter anymore unless they were “won over” to support the tactic. What does that mean? Does it mean they’ll start believing Black lives don’t matter? What level of support is at stake? Does it mean they won’t “like” things on Facebook anymore? They won’t challenge racist statements made by co-workers or friends? They won’t work to change policies that disadvantage people of color? Ultimately, the choice to be or not be an ally in opposing racism is the most fundamental definition of white privilege. The choice (or threat) to exercise that privilege is quite a stunning comfort with that unearned privilege.

For those of us who are white who wonder or fantasize about what we “would have done” during the Civil Rights Movement: the time is now. This is the Movement for Black Lives. What will we do?

Calling Young Activist Leaders!

Tuesday, Sep 1, 2015 | 4:16pm | Comment on this

Calling Young Activist Leaders!

By Teresa Kinder, YALPista class of 2015 and PJALS Office Manager

Summer is quickly nearing an end meaning only one thing: it is time for a new Young Activist Leaders Program (YALP) class!

As a YALP graduate from 2015 I sincerely urge everyone to join YALP. YALP was instrumental in giving me the foundational skills of organizing and activism. The connections with other youth cannot be understated. YALP is the only place I can find where young minds can come and work together.

Last year’s cohort was made up of members of the labor movement, the LGBT community, social work students from Eastern Washington University, multi-generational PJALS members, and different racial backgrounds. We all came together showing the importance of intersecting our communities and building inter-community communication. Everyone is accepted for who they are. Every different perspective brings fresh insight and eyes to the struggles we all see. Without the meeting of different communities YALP would not be the same.

Are you or a young progressive you know interested in learning a new skillset to be a stronger activist tomorrow? YALP is looking to help foster and grow your skills at creating the change you want to see in the future. One YALP alumni commented, “Not only did this program give me numerous, explicitly useful tools for my activism, it refueled my spirit every month and encourage me immensely to stay involved and active. I was treated like my work really mattered.”

PJALS recognizes the importance of youth in getting our goals achieved. Perhaps some of your friends, children, or grandchildren need a little push to become an active participant in activism. Multi-generational PJALS members are a strong force to be reckoned with!

Disenfranchised youth gather to explore today’s oppression of their perspectives and their peers. Where else can you find a young group of passionate individuals who will be advancing social change decades into the future together?

Trung Nguyen said, “YALP gives the younger generation the chance to truly make a difference in the community. YALP proves that young people want to do more than sit around. We want to make a lasting positive effect.” Last year we learned how to run effective meetings, fundraise, gain media attention, public speaking, effective ways to mobilize our communities, and most importantly the significance of self-care.

Have your thoughts and feelings heard, join YALP now!


PJALS Turns 40, With A Purpose

Thursday, May 28, 2015 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

pjals logoBy Tim Connor

Where did the time go? This coming year will mark PJALS’s 40th year—hosting, organizing and generally radiating good works from Spokane.

To mark this remarkable milestone—of a transformative social change organization growing from a seedling to a mature oak in one of the nation’s most conservative regions—PJALS staff and volunteers are already headed in at least two directions.

The first is to compile and organize the photographs, articles, and event memorabilia that chronicle the organization’s rich history and personalities. The second is to make the most meaning and use of the anniversary as a springboard to the future, especially to recruit new PJALS activists and supporters.

To be sure, Spokane still has its social and political roots in Gilded Age economics and militarism. But it is becoming a more diverse, tolerant and worldly city as a result of the work that PJALS has initiated and supported over the years. The 40th Anniversary will be an opportunity to chronicle, celebrate and set new courses for change.

If you have stories, photos, and/or memorabilia from PJALS history, or if you’d like to join the Anniversary Team, please contact Suzy at For announcements about celebrations of our 40th, watch this space.


Greetings and salutations from the Young Activist Leaders Program!

Thursday, May 28, 2015 | 3:15pm | One comment.
Young Activist Leaders discussing self care

Young Activist Leaders discussing self care

By Jamie McDaniel

We have been working our hardest to prepare ourselves to be the greatest possible leaders of tomorrow. Last month we worked on reaching out to the community by means of public speaking and building a community power map. A community power map is an extremely important tool to utilize because it one of the most effective ways to analyze who holds the power and how we can sway them to see things are way.

For the month of May, we practiced the art of self-care — which as we all know is often overlooked in our line of work. My personal favorite aspect of this workshop was creating a “word box” in which we put many words that hold significant meaning to us so that in times of trouble, we can draw on one of our words to empower us.

The turnout for YALP has been excellent the past few months and many of us are gearing up and getting ready to attend our Young Activist Leaders Program graduation on June 16th. Let’s hear from some of our graduates:

Bri Gardiner would like all of our supporters to know, “YALP has been an amazing opportunity for me. It has not only connected me with other young activists but it has taught me how to make a difference!” Read more »

Fear, Itself and Other Dangers

Thursday, May 28, 2015 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

Rusty NelsonRusty Nelson on Peace and War

Earlier in my lifetime, Americans had an affinity for memorable statements of their elected leaders. In spite of philosophical, political, and religious differences, we could be inspired by catch phrases, warnings, and imperatives like Kennedy’s, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Eisenhower’s great popularity was no match for the spiraling power of the military-industrial complex, but we certainly remember his warning, today.

In the 21st Century, the messenger may have brilliant rhetoric and universal insight and still fall flat with a jaded and cynical public. Obama has electrified his fan base with his words and delivery, over and over, but he can’t find resonance with critics who are hung up on one or two issues that make him the enemy. We’ll go back decades, at least, for a presidential quote or go with a contemporary outsider.

It’s not surprising that Franklin Roosevelt, with four terms, is remembered for more presidential zingers than anyone else. FDR was an orator in the golden radio years, and he seems to have struck a chord, as the U.S. entered World War II, with his declaration that, “The only thing we have to fear is fear, itself.” It’s a legendary line, and most of us have taken it for granted as a wise slogan from a president determined that his country, his people will not tremble in the face of powerful enemies, hardship and sacrifice. I invite you to be a little cynical about the famous sentence. Read more »

Smart Justice Spokane Updates — Smart Hiring and community member voices!

Thursday, May 28, 2015 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

Smart Justice Spokane logo with wordsBy Liz Moore

In March, the Board of Spokane County Commissioners added two community members to the Spokane Regional Law and Justice Council (SRLJC), a change long advocated by Smart Justice Spokane to bring the voices of those impacted by the system to the decision-making body. Recruitment for these positions will begin soon — if you are interested or would like to encourage others to apply, please contact me and I’ll make sure you hear more!

The SRLJC also adopted its mission statement: “to create and sustain a cost-effective regional criminal justice system that builds a healthy and strong community by fostering the best possible outcomes for the community, including reducing recidivism and increasing system collaboration.” Adopted goals include: “Include community members, particularly those who are impacted by the system, in the reform efforts through meaningful participation on the SRLJC and its Subcommittees;” and “Evaluate and address racial disproportionality in the criminal justice system and have a commitment in all departments to achieve racial equity.”

These goals are important commitments to real change coming!

In April, Spokane City Council voted unanimously to support the City’s new hiring policy, which gives applicants with criminal records a fair opportunity to be considered for City employment. The Council asked the City to work with the Human Rights Commission to publicize the new hiring policy across the community, and 2) track city hiring data and report on the policy’s impact.

Congratulations and thanks to all the folks who courageously shared their own powerful real-life stories of the collateral consequences of convictions and incarceration. And thanks to all who emailed, called, and came to show support! As partners in Smart Justice Spokane, we’ve known from the beginning: nothing stops the cycle of crime like a living wage job! Our community works best when everyone in our community can work!


Spring Flowers!

Thursday, May 28, 2015 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

Here’s what you’ve been part of making happen just in the last 3 months:
* “My Name is Rachel Corrie,” a powerful production at GU with a full house & Craig & Cindy Corrie!
* Mothers & Families for Smart Justice founding meeting!
* Activist in Residence – the last of four workshops at EWU, with a total of over 500 student contacts and many great conversations with young folks passionate about social justice.
* “Arms of Compassion” around the NAACP
* International Women’s Day symposium outreach
* “Stand Against Racism” rally
* Chris Hedges exhorted the packed house at The Bing on the “moral imperative of revolt!”
* Smart Justice Spokane quarterly meeting with Center for Social Inclusion’s President Glenn Harris
* “Race: The Power of An Illusion” workshop with 100 folks, then the Train the Trainer with 42 amazing facilitators (pictured above)
* “Rise Up Singing” Opening Reception of our Action Conference, sponsored by Veterans for Peace
* Our 6th annual Peace & Economic Justice Action Conference featuring Judith LeBlanc’s “Fry Bread Theory of Social Justice” and super fantastic workshops!
* PJALS delegation in “No H8 Spokane” Unity March
* Police Accountability Coalition meeting with Police Ombudsman Commissioner Adrian Dominguez
* Earth Day outreach
* Peacekeeper training with organizers of May 1 Immigration March from M.E.Ch.A. de EWU
* PJALS delegation in May 1 Immigration March with M.E.Ch.A. de EWU leading!
* Young Activist Leaders workshops on “Organizing Our Selves & Our Work,” “Events that Kick A**,” “Public Speaking,” “Community Power Mapping,” and “Self-Care: Body, Mind, and Contemplation.”
* “Inside the Activist Studio: A Conversation with Winona LaDuke and Liz Moore” at EWU
* Welcomed St. George’s 2nd Grade class and helped them tour our block and learn about how our work relates to our community
* “Bread and Roses” Benefit Auction success!
THANK YOU! Your involvement and support makes a difference!

“Seeing Our Plans Turn To Action” – Practicum Reflection by Victoria Huckabee

Thursday, May 28, 2015 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

Victoria HuckabeeInterning at PJALS has been an amazing experience for me and I have learned about so many different areas of community organizing and macro level social work. I am grateful for every experience I had at PJALS from participating in police accountability meetings and activities to planning the Mothers and Families for Smart Justice group, and even making hundreds of event reminder phone calls. Interning at PJALS has taught me community organizing, leadership skills, and formed my professional identity. I feel confident and satisfied in the work I have done and in the work I will continue to do with the skills I learned at PJALS.

Looking back on the year I remember how little I knew about community organizing at the first event I was a part of, which was the Smart Justice Community Symposium. I remember feeling a little useless and somewhat in the way because I had so many questions and wasn’t really sure what I was doing. As the year progressed and I felt more confident in my abilities I began to own my projects and take pride in my work. When I compare my symposium experience to our most recent event, which was the auction, I am really able to see how much I changed and grew over the course of my internship. The auction was a very different experience for me than the symposium was. At the auction, I felt confident in the work I was doing, took charge of my projects, and stepped up to help out wherever I was needed. I also noticed a difference due to the relationships I built with members and volunteers and it feels great to be a valuable member of the team. Read more »

“A Sense of Needing to Contribute” – Practicum Reflection by Teresa Kinder

Thursday, May 28, 2015 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

Teresa KinderInterning at PJALS has provided me with a unique opportunity to learn mezzo and macro level social work practice. I learned what advancing social change really means and what working for a better tomorrow looks like. Students in my social work cohort question whether they are really making a difference. At PJALS I have never questioned if my work is making a difference. Being an intern has shown me my own faults and areas for improvement but also how to make a difference in the community.

At the start of the year I started at another internship. I remember hearing fellow interns Jamie and Victoria talk about all the work they were doing at PJALS and feeling a sense of needing to contribute to this work.

Starting my internship at PJALS, one of the first things I was a part of was a demonstration about the Department of Justice report on torture tactics employed by the Bush administration and developed at Fairchild Air Force Base. This small demonstration was my first look into the injustices perpetrated in our country and one action we can take to counter injustice. Read more »

“My Journey as a Warrior of Social Justice” – Practicum Reflection by Jamie McDaniel

Thursday, May 28, 2015 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

Jamie McDanielAs my year as an intern here at PJALS comes to a close, I have truly begun to notice the impact my time here has made on me as a person and how much of this practice I have soaked up like a little social-justice sponge.

An example of this is in my final policy class at school, now my fellow students seek me out and want to work with me on projects or ask my advice on assignments and perspectives. It is extremely empowering to know that people can turn to me for help and assistance on issues that are not taught enough in our Bachelor’s of Social Work program. I have enjoyed being able to share what I have learned here with everyone around me and it has truly been a unique and enlightening experience.

My fondest memories at PJALS are mostly made up of our rallies and protests. It’s the time where we put all the taxing office work into action, taking to the streets with a purpose. I can remember my first protest for Condoleezza Rice’s visit Spokane and how nervous and excited I was to finally get to be part of something great and bigger than myself. There are not any words to describe how it felt to shout chants into the bullhorn for the very first time. Read more »

Inside the Activist Studio with Winona LaDuke

Thursday, May 28, 2015 | 3:15pm | Comment on this

Winona LaDukeby Liz Moore

I loved talking with Winona LaDuke at Inside the Activist Studio at EWU at the end of April. I had heard her speak at EWU when she was campaigning for Vice President as Ralph Nader’s running mate. As the saying goes, I don’t remember what she said, but I do remember how she made me feel: excited, hopeful, like change was possible and regular people could make it happen. As soon as I met Winona, I began to feel calm and looked forward to talking with her more. She’s very warm and down to earth, not ego-oriented.

For me, Inside the Activist Studio capped off my second year as the Activist in Residence at EWU, a new program based in the Women’s and Gender Studies program. Just this year, over 600 EWU students were exposed to PJALS and social justice work; about 150 attended my panels and workshops on mass incarceration and criminal justice reform, and 200 joined our email list. Several will participate in our internships and Young Activist Leaders program, and of course some connections will last a long time and flower later. It is a position with a lot of freedom, and I’ve really enjoyed building relationships with some faculty and learning more about the campus culture. It was a huge treat to end my time in that role by talking with Winona LaDuke. Read more »

Do We Really Recognize Racism?

Thursday, May 28, 2015 | 3:15pm | Comment on this
Shuhadeh Street in Hebron

Shuhadeh Street in Hebron, where Palestinians, even those whose homes and shops front on the street, are not allowed to walk. They must climb to rooftops just a few feet ahead of where the picture stops in order to enter their homes.

By Marianne Torres

Oxford Dictionary:
Racism (the behavior) – Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior:
Apartheid (the policies that support the behavior) – A policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race.

We all know what racism is, don’t we? And that anti-racism work is a primary PJALS value. We recognize it when we see it. Isn’t it obvious on its face?

Well, not always….

We must not lose sight of the importance of eliminating racism in our own country, and stand in solidarity with the Black, Native American and Latino communities. At the same time, it’s critical that we recognize the racism we support so heavily with our tax dollars and that is the cause of unbearable agony beyond our borders. This critical support works both ways: when protesters in Ferguson were being tear gassed, Palestinians in the West Bank were sending them tips on how to deal with the tear gas. You can see in the documentary “al-Helm” what happened amongst a group of African Americans when they experienced the racism of the brutal Israeli military occupation. Opposing racism one place doesn’t diminish the importance of opposing it in another, but rather strengthens the mutual struggle.

A look at the term “racism” is in order first, as neither Palestinians nor Jews are a “race” but the actions used against Palestinians in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank function exactly as racism and must be addressed as such. Read more »

Drones Quilt Project Visits Spokane

Thursday, May 28, 2015 | 2:14pm | Comment on this

Drone Quilt Displayby Teresa Kinder

Veterans for Peace and PJALS brought the Drone Quilt Project to Spokane in March, memorializing the civilian lives lost to US Drone strikes. From newborn babies and young children to the elderly, no one is safe from US drones.

Five quilts were on display in the Community Building lobby, at our Peace and Economic Justice Action Conference, at Chris Hedges’ speech at the Bing, and at the Unitarian Universalist Church. Each square of the quilt represents a different life lost at the hands of a drone. The hundreds of patches represent a tiny minority of bodies who have been identified after a drone strike and some who have not been identified. It is important to remember that each of these squares represents an individual life that has been cut far too short.

The Quilt Project is a lasting reminder of our need for peace around the world. We are connected to individuals from around the world. Are we really so different from the individuals on these quilts? All of us have hopes, dreams, plans, family and friends; this is why we still struggle today.

Wisdom and Wishes from the Action Conference Youth Panel

Thursday, May 28, 2015 | 2:14pm | Comment on this
2015 Action Conference Youth Panel

Emanuel Flores, Jaclyn Arger, Charlie Johansen, and Judith LeBlanc at the 2015 Peace & Economic Justice Action Conference

At our Action Conference in March, PJALS Steering Committee member and YALP grad Taylor Weech moderated a panel with three young activists: Charlie Johansen is a Cheney High School student who graduated from our Young Activist Leaders Program last year. Jaclyn Acher is an EWU student. Emanuel Flores is a member of Young Emerging Labor Leaders. Here are some excerpts from the conversation from my notes!  – Liz

What is your vision you’re working toward?
Equity and strong communities. ~ Charlie Johansen.
Cultural awareness and not living in ideological monoculture – Jaclyn Archer.
Everyone should be able to go to work and be paid fairly and not bullied – Emanuel Flores.

What do you need from older activists? What do you not need?
I need your wisdom …not your cynicism. ~ Charlie.
I need scaffolding and practical support, help with organizing. I don’t need to be told what my generation needs. ~ Jaclyn.
I need understanding. I’m young and I have an opinion. Give me the opportunity to learn. ~ Manny

What gives you hope? What is most disheartening to you?
Community is essential. The most disheartening thing is futility and the systems that are in place and the disproportionate amount of power some people have. – Charlie
When regular folks have that aha moment and realize if they don’t get active, nothing good is going to happen. The most demobilizing thing is cynicism. Can’t stand it. — Judith
What I find disempowering is calls to revolution without practical follow-up. The empowering thing is: Together we will continue. We are not alone, and the persistence is continuing. — Jaclyn
The most disheartening thing for me is being told, “You failed.” What helps me is addressing my elders and getting a rub on the back. Mistakes are how you learn. — Manny Read more »

Mothers and Families for Smart Justice

Thursday, May 28, 2015 | 2:14pm | Comment on this

SJS logo with wordsBy Victoria Huckabee

Do you have an incarcerated loved one? Join the Mothers and Families for Smart Justice group! We are a group of people who either have an incarcerated loved one or have been affected by the prison system in some way and feel passionate about making positive changes to support people who are dealing with incarceration.

We meet monthly to support one another, provide community education, and advocate for policy change. Meetings are held on the last Thursday of each month at 6:00 pm at the Parish Center at St. Aloysius church located on the Gonzaga campus at 330 E. Boone Ave. Spokane, WA 99202. If you want more information please call Colleen at 509-230-7123. All are welcome!


War is God’s Way of Teaching Geography

Friday, May 22, 2015 | 5:17pm | Comment on this

by Dana Visalli

I recently flew from Seattle to Seoul, South Korea and thence to Hanoi, to join a two-week tour of Vietnam with Veterans for Peace (VFP). The tour is led by American veterans of the Vietnam War who now live in that country, working to in some way atone for the damage done there during that war.

The Vietnamese are a sweet, friendly, even kindly people, and it is impressive to recall how the western countries have treated them. The French colonized Vietnam in the 1860s and enslaved the Vietnamese people, forcing them to work for the enrichment of France. We have toured the prison that the French built for resistors, which included a guillotine for those who failed to grasp the god-given right of the French to rule over them. When the French tried to regain their ‘Indochina’ colony (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia) after WW II, the U.S. supported them (we paid most of the cost of the ‘First Indochina War’), then we invaded and brutalized the Vietnamese for 20 years after the French were defeated (the ‘Second Indochina War,’ 1955-1975).

As my plane crossed over the Japanese city of Tokyo on the way into Seoul, I realized that I was retracing a geography that I was familiar with largely from America’s wars. Read more »

Spokane Supports Pasco – End Police Brutality

Thursday, Apr 30, 2015 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

Join MEChA de EWU and Tri-Cities Community Solutions at 2pm in Volunteer Park Pasco, WA as we come together for the 3 month anniversary of Antonio Zambrano-Montes’ death.

Use the facebook event page to organize carpools.

Donate to support gas money via this button — PJALS will pass through 100% of donations via this button to folks who are carpooling.

donate now button


Support Smart Hiring for folks with conviction records!

Thursday, Apr 9, 2015 | 9:09am | Comment on this

Smart Justice SpokaneShow your support: Monday April 13, 6:00 pm at the Spokane City Council Meeting, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd

Share & invite your friends here!

In Smart Justice Spokane, we’ve known from the beginning that nothing stops the cycle of crime like a job! Our community works best when everyone in our community can work!

Please join us at the City Council meeting on Monday April 13 at 6 pm to show your support for the City’s new hiring policy, which gives applicants with criminal records a fair opportunity to be considered for City employment! The City Administration implemented the policy in December, but there was no publicity.

You can show your support by attending or by testifying! Read more »

Invest in People. Not the Pentagon

Wednesday, Apr 8, 2015 | 11:11am | Comment on this

We will be gathering at the Fountain in Riverfront Park for our Tax Day Action as a part of Global Days of Action Against Military Spending. Join us at 4:45pm on Wednesday, April 15th as we call on Congress to Invest in People – Not the Pentagon.

When we spend more than half of our federal budget on the Pentagon, it doesn’t make us more secure. Let’s stop pouring money into defense contracting, and look for comprehensive solutions that address the root
causes of conflict. Our security requires investment in education, good jobs, infrastructure, nutrition, health care, affordable housing and other services that provide economic security to our families and a brighter future for our children.

We will have visuals showing the breakdown of the federal budget, signs to wave calling for funding for people-not the Pentagon, and literature to pass out to folks in the community.

Facebook event to share with others.

For more information, contact Shar at

Rusty Nelson on Peace and War: Trying to Support the Troops

Friday, Feb 27, 2015 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

Rusty Nelson on Peace and War: Trying to Support the Troops

               It must have been several years ago because the signs we held said “Free Bradley Manning,” and we Vets for Peace didn’t have to defend Chelsea Manning’s transgender rights while bringing attention to the persecuted, military whistle-blower Americans were trying to ignore. At an event in Riverfront Park, I was approached by two burly young men who said they were active duty military and considered Manning to be a traitor. They thought the army intelligence analyst’s reporting a massacre by U.S. helicopter crews was insignificant compared to the release of other classified information to Wikileaks. At least they knew something about the case. But then, they issued a challenge they might like to have back, now. “If you want to do something for an American soldier, put our government to work to free Beau Bergdahl.”

How things change. Private Manning, known now as Chelsea, is serving a 45-year prison sentence while the soldiers she reported remain uncharged and unpunished. Sgt. Beau Bergdahl is back in the U.S. after a controversial hostage/prisoner exchange, awaiting a decision on whether he will be charged with a crime. The story is different from the one several years ago, and several men from his unit want to see Bergdahl punished for being a deserter and putting them at risk. Read more »

We are Tipping into Repeal

Friday, Feb 27, 2015 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

We are Tipping into Repeal

by Shar Lichty

              While I was working on the freedom to marry campaign I watched the nation reach a tipping point and a flood of states passing legislation following Washington successfully defending it at the ballot. I have been working on the death penalty for nearly 9 years and am witnessing the same thing occurring at a national level –we are tipping into repeal! Read more »

Our 6th Annual Peace and Economic Justice Action Conference

Friday, Feb 27, 2015 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

Our 6th Annual Peace and Economic Justice Action Conference

by Teresa Kinder, intern

March is bringing with it this year’s Action Conference that has become the largest gathering of over 200 progressive thinks from across Washington and neighboring states. This year we will be hosting 24 fabulous workshops on a broad range of issues focusing on education, action, and skill building.

Conference goers tell us the Conference provides a “great variety of programs and the opportunity to meet new people!” Another reported, “I met amazing people the mingle times were so productive and interesting. The energy at the conference and the reception was amazing. Wow! It is hard to feel hopeless about America’s current state when getting together to make a change like this.”

This year come and learn how you can build creative and effective actions in Eric Ross’s ‘Escalation of Creative Nonviolent Direct Action Tactics’ workshop. Also learn how to effectively talk to your legislators with Gloria Ochoa, Blaine Stum, Lori Kinnear, and Shar Lichty.

The Conference will feature workshops focusing locally and internationally. Join David Brookbank and Jan Treecraft in ‘Nicaragua: Cristiana, Socialista y Solidaria.’ Or, travel  with Mary Rupert and Larry Shook in ‘Journey to Afghanistan and Back with a Young Soldier.’

Join us March 20th for the reception before the conference for a great evening of socializing. Then come on Saturday March 21, for the Peace and Economic Justice Action Conference. For full details and to register go to Let your voice be heard.


Meet Our Action Conference Keynote–Judith LeBlanc

Friday, Feb 27, 2015 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

Meet Our Action Conference Keynote

By Shar Lichty

              We are thrilled to have Judith LeBlanc, Senor Organizer with Alliance for a Just Society as our Keynote Speaker at this year’s Peace & Economic Justice Action Conference. Check out our fantastic list of workshops and register now to enjoy early bird rates at

Judith is currently organizing a project to create a national Native leadership network to provide support for strategic planning and capacity building trainings in Indian Country.

She was the Field Director for Peace Action, a national grassroots organization representing 90,000 members committed to a fundamental change in U.S. foreign policy. She coordinated the Move the Money Campaign, an effort to organize grassroots coalitions of community, labor and peace groups to change national spending priorities from wars and weapons to fund jobs and public services as one of the steps towards a “new economy” that works for all.

She has worked on a national level for over 30 years on campaigns ranging from labor rights, racial justice to peace, and disarmament campaigns. She served two terms as a national co-chair of United for Peace and Justice, the national coalition that organized the movement to oppose the 2nd war in Iraq. In 2014 she received the National Priorities Project’s Democracy Champions Award.

Judith is a member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma. She lives in Harlem, New York.


Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation member calls for end to death penalty

Friday, Feb 27, 2015 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation member calls for end to death penalty

by Jamie McDaniel

              The night when PJALS hosted Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation member Pat McCoy proved to be an evening of powerful words which instilled the will to fight for the abolition of the death penalty in the community.

Pat McCoy invited us into his past to be able to see how he, as the loved one of someone who has been murdered, really feels about use of capital punishment on their perpetrators. His story having come out of Spokane made his message even more powerful because it hit literally so close to home. Pat’s sister was murdered in Spokane in 1974, a time when the death penalty was not legal in Washington.

Pat expresses that there is not a single member of his family that wishes the revenge, which the law thinks we all desire, was sought. He said, “We were satisfied that he was convicted and confined.” He expressed to us the importance of closure for the family, which is not done when a murder is put to death, but when the case itself is over so that the family can behind the healing process. With the help of Jason Ortiz, anot

her member of Murder Victim’s Families’ for Reconciliation, the audience was taught about the importance of what the death penalty really means in our society; both fiscally and personally.


Young Activist Leaders Program report: “Justice needs to be done in society!”

Friday, Feb 27, 2015 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

Young Activist Leaders Program report: “Justice needs to be done in society!”

by Jamie McDaniel, intern

             Greetings from your YALPistas! We have had an exciting and educational last few months in the Young Activist Leaders Program, and we are very grateful for our workshops! We are always looking forward to the third Tuesday of every month!

I know first hand that our young activist leaders are the coolest, most interesting and enlightening individuals out there. YALP member Kacy Kräcke says, “I think YALP is very useful when it comes to being a successful organizer. Everyone in this program knows the importance of what justice needs to be done in society.”

Another YALPista, Trung Nguyen, says, “YALP gives the younger generation the chance to truly make a difference in the community. YALP proves that young people want to do more than sit around. We want to make a lasting, positive effect.”

I could not agree more with you guys!


Welcome Social Work Practicum Student Teresa!

Friday, Feb 27, 2015 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

Welcome Social Work Practicum Student Teresa!

by Liz Moore

              Teresa Kinder is a senior at EWU, completing her social work practicum with a Community Organizing Internship at PJALS. “I was tired of seeing people around me thinking they couldn’t make a difference,” she says.

“I’m passionate about lots of social justice issues. Everything is so important, and for me it depends on what has momentum at the moment. I do love LGBT issues, anything around that is my passion.”

Teresa is a graduate of the Mead school district. Her first step to put her values into action was to attend a meeting with Washington CAN. She volunteered with them on paid sick days. “I had worked at Walmart and I saw what it was like to not have paid sick days. It was ridiculous. I saw people who were sick working, and I worked in meats, so sick people are touching your food all the time. I saw people who were taking care of their families, and if they missed a day of work, they wouldn’t be able to afford something for their kids, so no matter how sick they were, they were at work. It was a huge issue.”

“My favorite thing about being at PJALS,” says Teresa, “is hearing from so many people and learning about so many things I didn’t know were issues before. Anytime I see something where people are actually doing something and actually making a difference — I haven’t been around people before who are even trying. I’ve learned about things like race inequalities — I had always heard they were there but had never seen them, now I have learned and now I notice and see things that were always there. Another big issue I’ve learned about has been with people who were incarcerated, that had never occurred to me ever.”

Teresa says she’ll be different after this internship. “I feel like I’m not afraid to talk about issues anymore. I’ll have more skills and knowledge about how to run groups and organize anything in general.”


Welcome Social Work Practicum Student Jamie!

Friday, Feb 27, 2015 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

Welcome Social Work Practicum Student Jamie!

By Victoria Huckabee

           Jamie McDaniel is a senior in the Social Work program at Eastern Washington University. She is from the Spokane area and enjoys spending time with her family and her new dog, Momota.

She is passionate about human rights and loves protesting for anything she feels is a worthy cause. At PJALS she works mostly on abolishing the death penalty.

In addition to being a full time student and intern, she also works as shelter staff at Crosswalk Teen Shelter and is a visitation specialist at Empowring Inc Services. Jamie loves to travel and spent the summer exploring Ghana, the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands, France, Manaco, Italy Switzerland, and Denmark.

Jamie is still undecided about her plans after graduation, but she is considering graduate school and joining the Peace Corps.


PJALS at EWU—An Activist in Residence update

Friday, Feb 27, 2015 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

PJALS at EWU—An Activist in Residence update

By Liz Moore

Young people are curious, interested, have developed their own opinions already, draw on their own meaningful experience, and ask great questions. This is what I’ve observed speaking in classes and holding workshops at EWU last year and this year as the first ever EWU Activist in Residence. In January I spoke in 19 classes over two days, ranging from Philosophy to Chicano History to Feminist Methodology to Criminal Justice to African American Family. I jogged from building to building and spoke to over 300 students about PJALS, about whether the elite hold power or whether it’s in the hands of the people, and the what & why of Smart Justice Spokane’s campaign for criminal justice reform.

In every class and at every Activist in Residence workshop, I share  the Power Elite Model and the People Power Model from Bill Moyer’s book Doing Democracy. Heads nod as I described the power-holders at the top acting upon us through laws, myths, norms, and institutions. When I asserted that we individually and collectively have the autonomy and authority to decide to withdraw our consent and to challenge those in power, students smile and nod again. EWU students experience and assert these two realities on a daily basis as young people, people of color, low-income folks, and other facets of identity.

You’re invited to the final Activist in Residence workshop on Thursday March 5, 3:30 to 5:30 in Monroe 205: “Approaches to Activism: Making the Road by Walking,” a panel discussion with Jude McNeil, Sandy Williams, Blaine Stum, Reb. Deb Conklin, and me. Come join the conversation!

Welcome Social Work Practicum Student Victoria!

Friday, Feb 27, 2015 | 11:11am | Comment on this

Welcome Social Work Practicum Student Victoria!

by Jamie McDaniel

Victoria Huckabee is a full time social work student and single mother of two boys, Luke and Logan.

Her academic journey began pursuing a certification in American Sign Language which led her to the Bachelors of Social Work program at Eastern Washington University. She will graduate this spring. After graduation,  Victoria plans to enter the advanced standing program to pursue her Masters degree.

Victoria is committed to working for social justice on a large scale and push for reforms and improvements in the system. She is especially passionate about criminal justice reform and peace.

A fun fact about Victoria is that she has a pet sheep named Scout who thinks he is a dog!


“The Role of Religious Reconciliation for Stability in Iraq.”

Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 | 2:14pm | Comment on this

“The Role of Religious Reconciliation for Stability in Iraq.”

Thursday, January 29th, 2015,  7:00 pm. at Gonzaga University, Jepson Bldg. Auditorium

Free and Open to the Public

Pax Christi Spokane, the local chapter of the national and international Catholic Peace and Justice organization Pax Christi ( &  has invited Dr. Sarah AK Ahmed, of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME) and Mustafa Mahmood, a Gonzaga student from Iraq who volunteered with FRRME last summer, to speak on “The Role of Religious Reconciliation for Stability in Iraq.”   The event will take place Thursday, January 29th, 2015, 7:00 pm. at Gonzaga in the Wolff Auditorium, and it will be free and open to the public, although the main target audience is Gonzaga students. The objective of the event is to raise awareness of the complex situation in Iraq, which affects us not only globally but also locally.

The intended outcome addresses ways in which our community can build a more compassionate, inclusive climate around the cultural and religious diversity.

The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation not only provides medical care and humanitarian relief in the heart of Baghdad’s Red Zone, it works to promote peace through inter-religious dialog.   According to FRRME’s mission statement, “Without genuine reconciliation, there can never be lasting peace.”  The foundation works for reconciliation by engaging religious leaders in dialogue, and helping them use their influence to promote peace.  The founder of FRRME, Reverend Canon Dr Andrew White, chairs Iraq’s High Council of Religious Leaders (HCRLI).  “We understand that religion and politics are intimately linked in the Middle East, so a religious track is essential to a balanced peace process. When religion goes wrong, it goes very wrong. But if religion is part of the problem, it must form part of the solution – a wholly secular approach will not suffice.”  FRRME also runs a health clinic which works to reconcile Iraqis at a grassroots level through its model of employing Sunni, Shia, Christian and Jewish staff.

Sarah Ahmed is the Director of Operations for the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME) as well as the personal assistant to Rev. White.  She is a peace, human rights, and women’s right activist.  Of her experience in Iraq, Sarah writes, “what is happening to people in Iraq, from persecution to starvation to killing, is affecting the population in more ways than the rest of the world can even imagine.”  Besides her current relief effort aiding Iraqis displaced by ISIS, she also currently serves as a volunteer dentist in a medical center in Baghdad, providing quality health care free of charge to anyone who needs it, and she created the non-profit organization, Because, I Love Peace, which promotes peace through letters of love, hope and support to those struggling in Iraq (

Mustafa Mahmood is an engineering student at Gonzaga, who returned to Iraq in the summer of 2014 to work with Dr. Ahmed providing food and supplies to thousands of displaced minority Christian families.  Not only is Mustafa highly engaged in Gonzaga’s student body, he is also very active in peace and justice efforts within the Spokane community.  Mustafa is also a gifted poet whose writings eloquently communicate what it is like to be a refugee from a war-torn country (  Both Sarah and Mastafa are Iraqi citizens and belong to the Muslim faith.

The presentation on Thursday night will focus on the situation in Iraq, not only regarding the humanitarian crisis, but also most especially the religious conflict that permeates the life of the citizens, particularly regarding Christians and Muslims.  She will talk about FRRME’s work on religious reconciliation.  Mustafa will speak from a personal experience on being an Iraqi citizen, and his work with Sarah.  We hope to get Mustafa to share some poetry as well.  The presentation will conclude with suggestions on how folks can concretely support and nurture reconciliation among international students from the Middle East and those in the Spokane community.   They will end with an open question and discussion period.