The Blogful of Salt

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!

Read more »

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 »

Development Coordinator Wanted!

by pjals Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

We are seeking a half-time Development Coordinator to join our team!

Please see the description and posting below.

Development Director Job Description

A New Volunteer’s Take on People Rise Up!

by pjals Thursday, Feb 2, 2017 | 4:16pm | Comment on this

by Kate

When I moved back to Spokane just before the holidays, I made it a priority to get involved in local activism. Because I grew up in the area during the 1990’s, I knew just enough to look for the Peace and Justice Action League. PJALS was very welcoming to me as a newcomer and made it fun and easy for all us new folks to integrate our own ideas into the planning process for the People Rise Up event.

During the event, I had a great time running the Action Bar with the help of my fellow PJALS intern Bailey. The Action Bar provided visitors with a “menu” of ways to contact elected officials. It was a wonderful way to chat with people in the community and introduce them to a few simple ways to take action. I was also lucky to be able to hear most of the speakers, poetry, and music while tending the Action Bar. Hearing so many specific perspectives on how we can help our communities and make a positive change was very moving and motivating.

In the end, what I took away from the entire day is that I’m not alone in Spokane. My concerns about women’s rights, healthcare, immigration rights and so many other things are shared by thousands of friends and allies who showed up for the Women’s March, and by many people who stopped by to talk with us at the Action Bar. Our petition to local officials was signed by many people. Plenty of people also filled out postcards to send to our members of Congress which we plan to deliver personally at meetings with staff at local Congressional offices. Also, it was especially exciting to see how many people filled out Pledges of Resistance to get involved with volunteering for PJALS. I hope to see some of you soon, maybe at our upcoming Leadership Conference!

PJALS meets with Senator Maria Cantwell’s staff

by pjals Tuesday, Jan 17, 2017 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

PJALS meets with Senator Maria Cantwell’s staff

By Fitz, PJALS Steering Committee member and former YALPista

On January 13th we met with Senator Maria Cantwell’s Eastern Washington staffer *blank i forgot his name oh no* . We requested information on the following questions, the first one being why did she vote no on the recent prescription drug legislation. We were informed that this legislation was actually an amendment to the bill that would repeal the ACA and lacked provisions for FDA approval. Her staffer said that in general Senator Cantwell does in fact support lowering prescription drug costs. She receives one of the lowest dollar amounts from pharmaceutical companies and he stressed that over 90% of the Senator’s campaign donation base are not big corporate donors. Ultimately she opposes the bill as a whole that would repeal the ACA anyway. We also asked about accessibility of communication because one of our members had been told they couldn’t leave phone messages with the D.C. office. He assured us that was probably a simple mistake or misunderstanding and that leaving phone messages with him is always encouraged and that is what staffers are there to do. We also asked why she was silent on the issue of DAPL to which he said he would have to talk with the senator and get back to us. We gave him the names of the Trump cabinet appointees that PJALS most opposes particularly Sessions for Attorney General and Tillerson (former executive at Exxon) for Secretary of state with special mentions of Carson, Devoss for DOE and Mattis for DOD.

PJALS meets with Senator Patty Murray’s staff

by pjals Tuesday, Jan 17, 2017 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

PJALS meets with Senator Patty Murray’s staff 

By Fitz, PJALS Steering Committee member and former YALPista

On January 6th PJALS Executive Director Liz Moore, Organizer Shar Lichty and Steering Committee members Cly Evans and myself met with Patty Murray’s Eastern Washington staffer John Culton to share with him our priorities and hear about the senator’s current plan in light of the impending Trump Administration. We focused our asks around opposing the expansion of torture (specifically by opposing Sessions as the appointee for Attorney General), opposing any increase to the military budget at the expense of the social safety net and also supporting the protection of vulnerable populations against deportation and it’s connections to the privatized prison system.

John informed us that Senator Murray’s current lens for priority setting is one of damage control and that she intends to do all she can to protect the social safety net. She is hoping to increase her role as a voice of her constituents and her office is hoping to gather as many stories as possible of those that could be negatively affected by impending potential policy changes (for instance the defunding of Planned Parenthood or repealing of the Affordable Care Act.)

The senator ultimately sees the voice of the constituents as the best possible weapon against the negative outcomes of this election and she has expressed wanting to be a champion for that. “We will do everything we can to be that voice, to be the safe place, and I think we will see her become a lot less bi partisan.” Culton informed us. I believe we were all at least comforted by this statement and as Shar said “At this point we know that there is no negotiating with white supremacy.”  We hope to be a part of the effort to collect stories and voices that reflect our values. John informed us we were the first people since the election to express concern about the expansion of torture. Our collective voice is clearly one that is needed to be heard by our elected officials and I hope all of our members will help us in making that voice heard.