The Blogful of Salt

Hearing on the Comprehensive Plan Update

by pjals Thursday, Jun 15, 2017 | 9:09am | Comment on this

Hearing on the Comprehensive Plan Update

Monday, June 19 at 6 pm, in City Hall Council Chambers

On Monday, the City of Spokane is updating a crucial guiding document. We have concerns.
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A sitdown with Lisa Brown

by Alyssa MacKay, Steering Committee Member Tuesday, May 23, 2017 | 7:19pm | Comment on this

I had the privilege of sitting down and interviewing former Washington State Senate majority leader, and our keynote speaker for our Head, Heart & Hands luncheon, Lisa Brown.

You’ve been a champion of vulnerable populations for quite some time and in your past work in the legislature. How did you get started down the path of wanting to help people?

“I would have to say that it probably related to growing up Catholic and being exposed to the social justice aspect of Catholicism. I think in many ways that was the root. I would add that I also had an amazing high school teacher. My hometown in rural Illinois appeared to me to be all white and I was growing up, in essence, during the civil rights movement, so I decided to do an independent study on civil rights. My teacher gave me an amazing reading list. I started reading  an autobiography on Malcom X and Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver so it really covered a wide spectrum. I think that the combination of my education and the religious piece is what first got me on that path. Where it really came together even more is when I started being a part of a study group on Central America in graduate school. We were studying what was happening in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and what was happening to Bishop Oscar Romero and the nuns that were killed there, etc. So, those pieces sort of came together and it’s always been an interest of mine since then.” Read more »

Peace and War: Supporting the Troops, Part 22

by Rusty Nelson Monday, May 15, 2017 | 6:18pm | Comment on this

Peace and War, March 2017

Supporting the Troops, Part 22

If you were asked for a practical solution to end war, where would you begin? If you had a solution to one of the most troubling problems of 21st Century America, how would you bring it to the attention of an authority with the resources and connections to implement it?

For me, with decades of involvement in PJALS and Veterans for Peace, these questions are not simple, overwhelming or rhetorical. In fact, I’m planning to burden you with some of the answers and ask for your help in finding more answers and more action.

Consider the “Marines United” scandal. Many of the Marines and former Marines involved in this boys-will-be-boys mass cyber-rape are undoubtedly among the loudest and most enthusiastic supporters of “the troops.” A few ring-leaders have lost government-related jobs, but it’s likely that a military investigation will fail to make anyone understand what the exposed women face as they try to recover from a profound and public humiliation. After all, why would a public accustomed to the horrors of war, and casual attitudes about objectification of women be outraged by these macho pranks? One could hardly expect our Commander-in-Chief to find anything wrong with war-weary Marines having a little locker room fun.

A recent New York Times commentary suggested having men and women Marines go through boot camp together would mitigate this flap, but that ignores the fact that more men than women are sexually assaulted in the military. Besides, boot camp is the first official time for military recruits to be totally stripped of dignity and dehumanized in order that they will follow instructions and commit acts outside previous moral boundaries. For most veterans, boot camp was the first injection of the Traumatic Stress virus.

Any genuine investigation of “Marines United” will uncover a multitude of problems for any apologist for the U.S. military establishment. Most distressing will be connectors to the worst nightmares of the dedicated flag-waver: Rape, known euphemistically as Military Sexual Trauma; Suicide, and; Post Traumatic Stress…disorder is officially added to this term to postpone the widespread understanding that PTS is not a disorder, at all. It is an injury that may be incurred by a civilian of any age or class through accident, natural disaster, or domestic violence, but is certain to be inflicted in military training and/or combat.

These problems are ours. They affect us as a nation and as individuals, whether or not we ever isolate or identify them as concerns of politics, security, health care, or economics. It’s not surprising that we observe, even study, some of these problems without recognizing them as such. Most Americans fail to recognize executions as murder, or counter-terrorism as terrorism. We have been taught to see the actions of our own government as benign, at worst, and the actions of our designated enemies as threatening, at best. This is a major building block of the scourge of PTS.

On behalf of Spokane Veterans for Peace, I invite you to join us in making five demands for supporting the troops and securing the future of our country and its people by reforming key elements of our military culture. Larry Shook, one of our own members, has helped us understand the challenge faced by our country and by those who suffer with moral wounds from military sources. His research, his work as an investigative reporter, and his personal struggle over the past half-century have helped him envision a way forward to benefit everyone:

  1. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) policy of treatment must be reformed in terms of reporting and benefits given to victims.
  2. Military Sexual Trauma (MST) policy must be reformed in terms of reporting and benefits given to victims.
  3. Reported PTSD and MST must be replied to and ruled upon within 30 days.
  4. Upon exit from the military, all personnel must be trained for the return to civilian life and considered for lifelong support.
  5. The draft or conscription must be reinstated and reformed to include all American citizens. Drafted persons holding positions of pacifism or forms of conscientious objection must be given non-combat options within the military.

Some of us have reservations about reinstating the draft, specific ideas for integrating differently-abled, voiceless, and privileged recruits, and caveats about lifelong support. However, we affirm this list as a profound and achievable improvement for a country muscle-bound by its military spending and clueless about real national strength. And I can confide in PJALS people that we fully intend to undermine public, political, and corporate support for war, the primary contributor to most of the world’s ills. (Larry and I have both written about other ways to end our country’s dependence upon war as its default foreign policy.)

Not surprisingly, this plan has been dismissed by Sen. Patty Murray. Almost any member of Congress would find it difficult to comprehend this as something to make our country safer and stronger. Elected officials universally declare their unwavering support for military members and veterans of U.S. armed forces, but when faced with changing violent, sexist, and racist government cultures, or even saving hundreds of millions of dollars, they follow the military dictum, CYA. That doesn’t mean, “Cover Your Allies.”

We are making our demands public to gain attention and respect from status quo lovers in Congress, the VA and Defense Department. Here’s where you come in. Help us mount a compelling social media campaign. Mary Kay McCollum, an emerging voice in this struggle whom you may know from our workshop at PEJAC, will be blogging on her story of MST and stories from other victims and survivors. VFP will have other reports and commentaries to spread. We need your suggestions for placement and correspondence, as well as your messages to our congressional delegation and contacts with their own stories about being set up for failure by the military juggernaut.

You may be ready to act, or you may wish to gather more information or start reading Mary Kay’s blog. Alert! Do not read her blog if you wish to maintain the popular, sanitized image of a U.S. military lovingly staffed by self-sacrificing heroes who have no personal ambition beyond the protection of our diverse and grateful population and carrying out the wishes of our flawless government. Otherwise, feel free to ask any member of Spokane VFP. We have a one-page rationale for the five reforms, resources for a closer look at policies and practices on PTSD and MST, and articles and books we think everyone touched by PTSD should read.

Spokane VFP #035 is a small group, but we cannot afford to think small. We are no longer willing to kill or injure anyone, but we are fighting for our lives and for others who don’t know, yet, what hit them. Most of us support PJALS and other social justice organizations and insist upon having a good time, even if we are saving the world. Find us at or on facebook at SpokaneVeteransForPeace#35.

Besides this project and preparing to release our second book, Vet Lit 2: So It Goes, around Memorial Day, we are trying to attract new people, veteran and associate members.  We just barely avoid the spectre of being a bunch of old white men, but we’re grateful for members of every demographic, whether they show up every time or faithfully support our efforts from home.  Membership is through, headquartered in St. Louis.   – RN

Tax Day March & Rally Impact Report

by Christina Walden Sunday, May 7, 2017 | 11:23pm | Comment on this

On Saturday, April 15th, I participated in the Reject Trump’s Budget: Tax Day March, Rally & Teach-In as a peacekeeper. This was my first experience as a peacekeeper at a PJALS event. I really enjoyed talking to many different marchers as we gathered together, but didn’t know what to expect throughout the event as we had discussed many types of scenarios that could occur in the training. I was pleasantly surprised that we had no real problems from those not involved. We had a wonderful group of people that respectfully engaged with bystanders and invited them to join us. This event really goes to show the great attitude of PJALS members. We had many passersbys who gave our group encouraging shouts, honks, and thumbs-ups. I enjoyed the fact that many Spokanites do care about the issues we were marching for and they were in support of our peaceful demonstrations. I look forward to being involved in many more, both as a participant and as a peacekeeper.

Advice for someone just getting involved – and for myself!

by pjals Thursday, Apr 27, 2017 | 4:16pm | Comment on this


By Liz Moore

For best results, read this in your head — or out loud! — in David Letterman style.


10. Trust Women. Trust Workers. Trust People of Color. Trust Trans Folks. Trust Black Women. Trust Immigrants. Trust Young People. Trust the 99%.

9. Invest in the Long-Term. Be conscious of how much energy you put into what’s urgent instead of what’s strategic.

8. Love Yourself. Love yourself. Love yourself. Love yourself. Love yourself. Love yourself. Love yourself. Love yourself. Love yourself. Love yourself. Love yourself. Love yourself.

7. Unlearn Oppression of All Kinds. How do you use internalized oppression against yourself? How do you use internalized privilege or superiority against others? Does class oppression tell you that you must “produce” in order to be worthy? Does internalized sexism tell you that you should be nice? Does internalized privilege tell you that you know better than someone with life experience?

6. Cultivate Your Consciousness of Power. How does power operate in your community? Who has power? Who doesn’t? How have those arrangements been maintained? Look inward as well as outward. Cultivate a consciousness of power in all directions & situations.

5. Do a Landscape Analysis. Once you know your passion, look around & do your research about who’s already working on that, what’s worked or not worked in the past, and why things are the way they are now. Don’t assume you need to launch a new effort or organization.

4. Listen. Nurture relationships. Use the “2-ears-1-mouth” rule: listen twice as much as you talk.

3. Be authentic. People can tell if you’re shining them on, and they don’t like it.

2. Practice Pro-Active Solidarity. Be consistent; develop a track record that makes you someone trustworthy. Show up, then show up again, then show up again.

And my number one piece of advice: 

1. Think of yourself as an organizer, instead of as an activist. An activist is someone who is themselves active – but an organizer is someone who moves others to act!


Cue the band!


With thanks to Rachel Dorfman and the Washington Labor Education Resource Center for inviting me to part of the Spokane Regional Labor Council’s Labor Education & Activism Program, and to my fellow panelists on the Community Activism for Working People: Rick Cologne, Sandy Williams, and Jim Dawson.

8 steps to take that don’t involve raining missiles on Syria

by pjals Friday, Apr 7, 2017 | 2:14pm | One comment.

What to do instead of sending Tomahawk missiles:

1. Ascertain who was responsible for the horrifying chemical weapons attack. The U.S. should fully support the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ ongoing investigation of the chemical weapons attack and work with the international community to bring the perpetrators to justice.

2. Reject the false choice that says “accountability” can only be found at the tip of an American bomb.

3. Use international law: Prosecution for violations of international law on chemical weapons belong in the International Criminal Court. The US must support this structure! And, military action without an international mandate violates international law.

4. Abide by our Constitution: Congress must debate and vote before US military escalation. As President Obama did in 2013, President Trump must turn the decision to Congress.

5. Support refugees & civilians! The U.S. must promptly resume resettlement of Syrian refugees and increase humanitarian aid to the region. Caring for Syrian children MUST welcome and support refugee children!

6. Recognize there is no military solution. DON’T ESCALATE the war — US involvement is a provocation for ISIS recruitment and escalation. Instead, STABILIZE by supporting asylum & increasing aid for refugees & civilians and investing in multi-party diplomatic talks. The Trump administration must immediately meet with Russia, Iran, and the Gulf States to revive international negotiations that will lead to a diplomatic solution.

7. Consider President Trump’s track record on human rights as a mountain-size grain of salt in hearing his justification for these missiles and any further escalation. Why would we start following or trusting now?

8. Don’t fall silent! In this country, wars and lead-ups to war have very often been used to silence critique and dissent. In the 11 weeks of Trump’s presidency, grassroots voices have been loud and persistent and have won some significant victories. We must not let war silence our critical thinking and our speaking out!

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From Vietnam to Syria

by pjals Friday, Apr 7, 2017 | 11:11am | Comment on this

By Whitman Neruda, written Nov 23, 2016

I first became aware of the Vietnam War as a boy on the brink of adolescence in 1965. Now, fifty-two years later, yet another even wider conflagration of war engulfs the Mid-East because of American racism and greed. War, either overt or covert, has never ceased in my lifetime.

When I think of the madness of more than 5 years of war in Syria, my mind goes to that image of the shell-shocked 4 year old boy covered in dust and sitting in the back of an ambulance. Or the image of the toddler washed up on the shore, face down and drowned, in a failed attempt to escape the holocaust of war with family and neighbors. As in Vietnam, we are destroying the cherished institutions of family and village/town life with airstrikes and drones not just in Syria but throughout the Mid-East either directly or through our support of “allies” and dictatorial regimes. As in Vietnam, and in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Now there is little to build on, save bitterness.” 

No one in my lifetime, none of our so-called leaders, has ever spoken out against the evils of war more eloquently than Dr. King. “We are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.” His speech, Beyond Vietnam, given in the spring of 1967 in New York, stands as the moral calculus of peace and justice work. He had reached the point where he realized silence is betrayal, that the war, though far from his original focus on civil rights, had to be ended.

“Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours. Read more »

Time to Break Silence

by pjals Friday, Apr 7, 2017 | 11:11am | Comment on this

By Whitman Neruda

Because April 4 marked the 50th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence, we gathered at the Community Building to listen to excerpts of that watershed moment in America history, a speech that proved prophetic while sealing Dr. King’s fate as a slain martyr. PJALS director Liz Moore moderated a panel discussion composed of Sandy Williams, publisher of the Black Lens news and Pastor Walter Kendricks of Morning Star Baptist Church and president of the Spokane Ministers Fellowship.

King was calling for an expansion of the civil rights movement to include the dismantling of what he called the three evils of American life: militarism, racism and poverty. He called for a moral stance that reached beyond national allegiances and the importance of speaking for the weak and the voiceless, to respond in compassion not just for the soldiers on either side but for those living under the curse of war. The Vietnam war was a symptom of a deeper sickness in American life.

Referencing the liberation movements of the 60’s in Third World countries, he recalled a quote from President John F. Kennedy: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable.” What we needed, he said, was a “radical revolution of values.” Non-violence is always a choice; “a beautiful symphony of brotherhood” is possible to achieve. Read more »