Really really big park
The Whatcom County Council has approved a huge new park around Lake Whatcom east of Bellingham. The park system will plan some 55 miles of trails, according to the Bellingham Herald. The 8,880 acres are more than all of Seattle's parks combined or, as Crosscut's Bob Simmons wrote once, large enough to hold 16 Discovery parks.
The pope is a what?
Pope Francis I is, in a sense, tied to the Jesuit colleges in the Northwest — Seattle and Gonzaga — since he is a member of the church's Jesuit order. But Jesuits almost never are bishops, much less cardinals.
The president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, the Rev. George F. Lucey, sent out an email calling it "an historic day." The Rev. Pat Howell, S.J., rector of the Jesuit residence at Seattle U., will talk at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday about the new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina. In an email, he said he's preparing furiously for the event (at Wyckoff Auditorium in the Bannan Building):
He is the first Jesuit ever elected Pope, and in this regard, it's rather unusual, since every Jesuit takes a simple vow not to seek or accept ecclesial honors, namely not to be a bishop. Exceptions are obviously made when the pope insists that this particular Jesuit is the right person for this diocese, [which happens] often enough in missionary countries where there are fewer priests. So not only is it unusual for a Jesuit to be a bishop. Until now, it's been unheard of for a Jesuit to be pope.
It's highly significant that he takes the name of Francis I. Francis of Assisi tried to more faithfully follow in the footsteps of Jesus with a life of great simplicity and poverty. The name also reminds us that the two highly successful interfaith gatherings of world religious leaders were both held at Assisi — one under John Paul II and the other under Benedict XVI. Assisi, the home of Francis, has come to symbolize the desire for peace and understanding among all people of faith.
He also said the new pope has been active in social justice causes.
Popes and conservatives have a history of distrusting the Jesuits for their scholarliness and engagement with the world. Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com has a balanced, somewhat upbeat first impression of the choice. The Stranger — reliably — tells us that the new pope is just as bad as the last one. Fair points about church belief on homosexuality, marriage and gender matters in general. But it could be a case of media orthodoxy remaining unwavering in its assessment of a changing world.
Climate change bill
Gov. Jay Inslee's hopes for legislative action on climate made progress in Olympia today — of sorts, anyway. Crosscut's John Stang writes:
The Senate voted today to create a taskforce to tackle climate change in Washington by a 37-12 vote. Fourteen members of the 23-Republican-two-Democrat majority coalition — including Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina — joined 23 minority Democrats to pass the bill. Ten of the most-conservative Republicans, plus majority coalition member Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch and aisle-crossing Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, opposed the bill. It is opposed by some major business lobbying organizations.
The Senate bill — introduced by Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island — is a compromise. The Senate weakened the governor's role in the effort, removed language about seeking clean energy sources and expanded the scope to consider the state's current efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Inslee is worried about the economic losses the state might suffer due to climate change. Health costs, loss of irrigation from smaller snowpacks, the death of shellfish due to ocean acidification and a rising risk of forest fires will likely cost Washington's economy $10 billion by 2020. Another version of the bill is going through the House.
It's rainy in Seattle. So, of course, we want to get away somewhere. So, what if you really want to get away from all things Seattle? Like, even ... Starbucks? Monica Guzman at The Seattle Times just put up a fun look at where in the U.S. is as far away from a Starbucks location as possible. Spoiler alert: We will only tell you that you'd be in a really great national park.
From mayoral hopeful to Chinese sports impresario
Former Seattle Supersonic star James Donaldson is heavily engaged in teaching and sports in China, now spending eight months a year there, according to the locally based [contextChina] news site. Donaldson took a decent shot at becoming mayor of Seattle in the 2009 primary. Bet he's having more fun with the China ventures.
Mariners' strong suit: Ads
The Seattle Mariners have their new ad campaign posted on their website. Hopefully, this is the year when the team finally has both a good ad campaign and a good team.
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