Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News Articles of the past week from the Cascade PBS newsroom. en Fri, 24 May 2024 16:14:55 -0700 Fri, 24 May 2024 12:15:26 -0700 Tech CEOs join chorus of criticism for Seattle housing plan <p>Leaders from 28 Seattle tech companies, start-ups and tech-adjacent investment groups have joined a growing coalition of Seattle organizations calling on Mayor Bruce Harrell to bolster his proposed housing plan and allow more density across the city.</p> <p>The CEOs’ letter, sent to Harrell and the Office of Planning and Community Development on May 20, comes one week after a group of more than 50 business leaders, affordable-housing advocates and community nonprofits sent their own letter to City Hall criticizing the mayor’s plan. The May 20 letter is identical to the earlier coalition letter, on which<a href=""> Cascade PBS previously reported</a>.</p> <p>The full list of May 20 signatories: AI Tinkerers, Allen Institute for AI, Anthos Capital, Arrived, Axon, Clearbrief AI, Cloud Paper, DreamBox Learning, F5, Flying Fish Partners, Forum3, Founders Co-Op, Logic, Madrona Venture Group, MediCoder, Mt. Joy, Outreach, Pioneer Square Labs, Qumulo, Redfin, Syndio, StatsIG, Tanium, Tola Capital, Truveta, University of Washington Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering, Unlock Venture Partners, and Zillow.</p> <p>Kelly Fukai, Washington Technology Industry Association chief operating officer, said Seattle’s limited and expensive housing stock hurts tech companies’ ability to attract and retain talent, and is consistently a top concern voiced by their member companies. The WTIA helped the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce organize the tech signatories.</p> <p>“We supported the housing levy, but strongly feel that the levy alone cannot accomplish the desired outcomes,” said Fukai. “Modernizing the Comprehensive Plan will ensure we don’t repeat mistakes of the past and puts us on the path to improving affordability, accessibility, equity and sustainability for decades.”</p> <p>Seattle is in the middle of its once-every-decade<a href=""> update of the Comprehensive Plan</a>, a document that dictates what kind of housing and how much of it can be built in each neighborhood. The city must finalize and adopt the plan by the end of 2024.&nbsp;</p> <p>When Harrell released his draft update of the plan in March, it was met with strong criticism from housing advocates, who said it would not allow enough new home construction in Seattle and, in turn, further exacerbate the city’s housing affordability crisis.</p> <p>A group called the Complete Communities Coalition organized the early May letter asking the Comp Plan to<a href=""> allow greater density</a> in all neighborhoods; to not concentrate all apartment construction along arterial streets; and to offer more incentives to developers to build income-restricted affordable housing without public subsidy, among other policy goals.</p> <p>The<a href=""> Complete Communities Coalition</a> includes business representatives, advocacy organizations and for-profit and nonprofit housing developers. It is led by the Seattle Chamber, the Housing Development Consortium, Habitat for Humanity’s local chapter, Tech4Housing, Futurewise, The Urbanist, House Our Neighbors, and NAIOP, a commercial real estate industry association.</p> <p>In response to the early May coalition letter, the<a href=""> mayor’s office told Cascade PBS</a> that they believe the current draft plan “achieves the goal of housing abundance and diversity.” But they also specified that the Office of Planning and Community Development still must produce more detailed plans for each of the Comp Plan’s seven “Regional Center” designations, which could be one way to increase density in parts of the city.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Topics:</strong> <a href="" hreflang="en">Housing</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Seattle City Government</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Technology</a></p> Josh Cohen Politics 97466 Fri, 24 May 2024 12:15:26 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News Poll: Almost half of WA voters are undecided on governor’s race <p>Six months out from the 2024 election, voters are still largely undecided on the first open Washington governor’s race in 12 years, according to a new <a data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="ea1f79a9-e582-4317-821f-f842f042f3a5" href="">Cascade PBS/Elway Poll</a>.</p> <p>While 76% of voters polled statewide said they were paying attention to the election, a full 47% said they still haven’t made up their minds on the governor’s race. When undecided voters were asked which candidates they were considering, Democrat Bob Ferguson gained some ground over Republican Dave Reichert. Including both groups of voters, Ferguson was leading the race 33% to Reichert’s 28%.</p> <p>Digging deeper into the data, the poll shows that among likely primary voters, the race is less close. Among those likely to vote in the primary, 42% said they would or could vote for Attorney General Ferguson vs. 29% for former Congressman and King County Sheriff Reichert, 8% for Democratic lawmaker Mark Mullet and 7% for Republican Semi Bird.</p> <p>Ferguson’s support is strongest among Seattle voters as well as people over age 65, college grads and those with middle income. Reichert’s support is strongest among people aged 51-64, residents of Pierce and Kitsap counties, men and those with income above $100,000.</p> <p>An unsure and divided electorate is just as clear in poll responses on the presidential election and the race for U.S. Senate. While President Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump 58% to 39% in Washington in 2020, the Washington statewide poll conducted May 13-16 shows Biden leads Trump 42% to 34%, with a third of each candidate’s supporters saying they could change their mind.</p> <p>The poll found Trump has 87% of the support he had in 2020, but Biden only has about 72% of his, reflecting more reticence among Democrats than Republicans to support their nominee, according to pollster Stuart Elway. Trump also leads among true Independents and Republican-leaning Independents.</p> <p>Asked how they’re feeling about the election more generally, 35% called it the most important election of their lifetime, another 46% said it was more important than a typical election, 12% said no more or less important than any other election, 3% called it less important than most and 5% had no opinion.</p> <p>Looking deeper into the data, Republican-voting Independents were the most likely to say this is the most important election of their lifetime. And Democrat-leaning Independents were the least likely to say that.</p> <p>The U.S. Senate race looks a lot closer than it did six months ago, with Sen. Maria Cantwell’s lead over Republican Raul Garcia shrinking from 43%-23% last November to 39%-30% in this poll. Cantwell looks stronger among most likely November voters, 45%-28%. Garcia, like Trump, does better among those less likely to vote, Elway notes.&nbsp;</p> <p>The latest Cascade PBS/Elway Poll surveyed 403 registered voters statewide by land line, cell phone and via text to online survey. The poll has a 5% margin of error with a 95% level of confidence, which means if the survey had been repeated 100 times, the results would be within five percentage points of these results at least 95% of the time.</p> <p>This poll was designed differently from most election polls. Voters were not asked, for example, “If the election was today, who would you vote for?” As Elway explains, this is a poll about the electorate, not about the election. “We give voters credit for knowing the election is not today,” he said. “This is actually more strategic information.”</p> <p>The poll offers some useful insights into how people in the middle of the political spectrum may have a bigger impact on this election than in past contests. “One of the things you’re going to see here is that some of the softer partisans and less-likely voters are probably going to make a big difference,” Elway explained.</p> <p>To get to this level of detail, the poll gets a bit granular on party identification. People who call themselves Independents or did not share their party affiliation were asked a follow-up question about whether they are more inclined to vote for Democrats or Republicans.</p> <p>That nuance allowed the poll results to show, for example, that while 71% of Democrats said they would or could vote for Ferguson for governor, only 46% of Independents who vote Democrat said the same. Reichert’s numbers are appreciably different: 64% of Republicans said they would or could vote for him, but 54% of Independents who vote Republican said they would or could vote for the Republican frontrunner.</p> <p>While most voters in Washington and around the country say the economy is the most important issue on their mind concerning this election, the other issues they’re worried about depend a lot on their party affiliation — but Democrat-voting Independents are talking about mostly the same issues as Democrats. Republican-voting Independents and the Republican base have one stark difference: Republican-leaning Independents are less concerned about immigration and more concerned about foreign affairs and crime than their Republican cousins.</p> <p>Democratic-leaning Independent Sofia Argeres, 25, of Seattle said the economy is definitely her No. 1 election issue. “I think it’s pretty horrible and frustrating. I’m making the most money I ever have in my life making pizza in a dive bar,” said the poll participant.</p> <p>“I graduated from college in 2020. Everything has been disappointment after disappointment. I’m really jaded about how everything is right now,” Argeres said.</p> <p>She’s leaning toward not voting in the presidential election and hasn’t decided on the governor’s race or the three tax initiatives on the November ballot. But, as she and everyone else has been saying, the election is six months away.</p> <p>“I haven’t done a ton of research yet,” Argeres said. “I feel like I’m the most apathetic I’ve ever been, which I’m disappointed with myself about. Even if I procrastinate, I do always vote and make an educated decision I stand behind. I’m just not there yet.”</p> Article continues below Related Stories <p><strong>Topics:</strong> <a href="" hreflang="en">Election 2024</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Elections</a></p> Donna Gordon Blankinship Politics 97436 Fri, 24 May 2024 05:00:00 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News Mossback’s Northwest: Lumberjacks, meet the Lumberjills <p>Twice in the 20th century, a Northwest wood came to the rescue in wartime. At the same time, the cutting of that wood triggered advances that changed not only how loggers worked, but also <em>who </em>worked in the logging business. One war brought the eight-hour workday, cut from 12 or more — and another saw a cadre of working women move into the woods. You’ve heard of Rosie the Riveter? How about Rosie the Logger?</p> <p>In the early years of flight, light, durable wood was what aircraft were made of. The Wright Brothers' famous Flyer, <em>Kitty Hawk</em>, which first flew in 1903, was made of Appalachian red spruce and ash. Aircraft builders soon realized that spruce made an ideal material for planes, and the demand for such planes increased dramatically with the start of World War I. The Allied forces needed raw material to take the fight against Germany to the air, and it turned out that the best material was Sitka spruce. These tall trees grow in the coastal Northwest from northern California to Alaska. Even before the U.S. entered the war, demand for spruce exploded and the region’s old forests had what was needed.</p> <p>The war coincided with labor strife in the Northwest woods as the radical Industrial Workers of the World — the Wobblies&nbsp;— and other unions sought to organize timber workers. Conditions in the camps were lousy, the hours brutal. America’s entry into the war also created a shortage of workers. The U.S. government stepped in and the military virtually took over the industry, driving out the IWW yet also improving some basic working conditions and imposing an eight-hour workday. In Vancouver, Washington, a special mill was built to process millions of board feet of Sitka spruce to keep the Allies in the air. The military formed both an army and a civilian unit, The Spruce Product Division, to make sure the supply of the wood was maximized. One hundred and eight million board feet of Sitka spruce was cut to fight the Red Baron and others of his ilk. As many as 30,000 soldiers worked in the timber division, not in Europe.</p> <p>Workers building airplanes during WWI took advantage of the flexibility of Sitka spruce wood. (National Archives)</p> <p>Sitka spruce was lighter than steel, flexible, buckle- and shatter-resistant. The virtues of the wood were well-known to Indigenous people, who built with it and used its pitch and resin for glue and waterproofing. When the first European explorers arrived in the region, they took tall, straight spruce trees for masts and, when Royal Navy rum rations ran out, crews brewed an alcoholic “spruce beer” in its place made by fermenting spruce needles with molasses.</p> <p>The post-WWI period saw the value of spruce continue for aircraft. Sitka spruce was planted in Scotland, where soil and climate were conducive. It made sense from a national-defense standpoint in the 1920s, but by the time World War II rolled around, aluminum had mostly replaced spruce in planes, especially warplanes. That metal, though, could also be in short supply, so again, Sitka spruce was drafted.</p> <p>Spruce and plywood were used in aircraft that carried troops and cargo into war zones, like the gliders used on D-Day. Britain’s de Havilland aircraft company designed a twin-engine, fast-and-light combat bomber, the Mosquito, that was made largely of wood, including Sitka spruce. It was called the “Wooden Wonder,” and some called it “Mossie.” (I wonder why that caught my attention?)</p> <p>Demand for timber and Sitka spruce boomed during the war years, and as in other industries, a large chunk of the labor shortage was filled by women. If the Northwest logging business had been dominated by Bunyanesque lumberjacks, the war years saw cadres of so-called “Lumberjills” enter the woods.</p> <p>Of course, they had been there for a long while. Historian Robert Walls says women have had a largely uncredited role in timber history. In WWI, some women had taken mill work and timber jobs generally held by teenage boys in logging camps — as whistle punks, for example. Whistle punks acted as signalers between those who “choked” the wood with cable and the donkey-engine operators whose machines then hauled the wood up and out of the logged zone. And women had long been cooks, bunkhouse maids and camp bookkeepers. As independent family logging operators came on the scene in the 1930s and flourished after the war, women’s roles continued — critical players much like women who run and work on family farms.</p> <p>Young women working as log drivers during WWII. (National Archives)</p> <p>With civilian and military demand for wood increasing with WWII, plus a shortage of men, women began to fill more roles: driving logging trucks and working in lumber mills. In the 1940s, a third of mill jobs in the region were filled by women, writes Walls. Timber historian Stewart Holbrook called it an “invasion of girls” doing “man-sized jobs.”</p> <p>In Britain, women joined in timber cutting and forestry as part of the civilian Women’s Timber Corps and the Women’s Land Army, often working alongside German POW’s. Some women from Canada joined work crews in the UK.</p> <p>And in British Columbia, women were also deployed. In search of more Sitka spruce, a group of lumberjills was sent to remote Haida Gwaii, then called the Queen Charlotte Islands. in northern B.C., to cut and process the trees which flourished there.</p> <p>Valuable spruce stands were often tricky to access. At one point during the war, the U.S. government considered raiding Olympic National Park for spruce. The new national park managers pushed back and were able to save the park’s trees. But not wanting to obstruct the war effort, park planners gave up the Queets corridor — land which had been purchased for a parkway but was not yet part of the park. It yielded 3,000,000 board feet of Sitka spruce. But soon wood was not needed for aircraft as aluminum supplies increased and the war wound down.</p> <p>But the search to cut and mill Sitka spruce played a role in major shifts in timberland labor —and helped to win two wars.</p> <p><strong>Topics:</strong> <a href="" hreflang="en">History</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Mossback</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Mossback&#039;s Northwest</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Multimedia</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Video</a></p> Knute Berger Mossback 97421 Fri, 24 May 2024 04:59:00 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News WA mom reclaims son’s story after University of Idaho murders <p>It’s just one booth among many at the bustling <a href="">40th annual Tulip Festival Street Fair</a> in Mount Vernon. Orange sunrise stickers on the booth read “Hug your people.” Copies of a children’s book called <a href=""><em>The Boy Who Wore Blue</em></a> are stacked high. Bracelets that say “Live Life Like Ethan” are displayed. And fresh-cut tulip bouquets feature only one white and yellow variety. This booth is all about celebrating the life of Ethan Chapin.</p> <p>“Ethan Chapin would want us to do something good with this,” Stacy Chapin said.&nbsp;</p> <p>Stacy is the mother of Ethan, one of the <a href="">four University of Idaho students</a> stabbed to death on Nov. 13, 2022, in an off-campus house. The crime was sensationalized in national headlines and the deaths of the four students quickly became true-crime fodder. For Stacy Chapin, starting <a href="">Ethan’s Smile Foundation </a>has been paramount in navigating her grief for her son. She has been able to cultivate space to honor her son’s true essence and legacy, which she feels was overshadowed by the notorious murder.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Chapins are Skagit Valley locals, originally from nearby Conway, Washington. But they’ve generally avoided the annual spring tulip-festival madness in this part of the state until this year, when they established the Ethan’s Smile Foundation booth.&nbsp;</p> <p>Throughout the three-day festival weekend, Stacy finds herself repeatedly approached by people expressing awe at her resilience. “How do you do it?” they ask.</p> <p>“We have to be a role model to our kids,” she said. “We have to show them and everybody, actually, that under the worst of circumstances, you have to do something positive.”</p> <p>From the left, Ethan and his triplet siblings Maizie and Hunter on a spring day in the Mount Vernon tulip fields, all sporting University of Idaho gear as they await the beginning of their freshman year together. (Photo courtesy of Stacy Chapin)</p> <p>Triplets Ethan, Hunter and Maizie Chapin shared a close-knit bond, participating in all activities together.</p> <p>They journeyed from Conway K-8 School to the University of Idaho, where they all rushed and joined Greek life. Idaho held a familiar charm for the Chapin bunch, who spent much of their childhood at their house on Priest Lake.</p> <p>Ethan was a star on the basketball court, enjoyed beach volleyball, and diligently worked in the tulip fields. His expansive circle of friends consistently set the pace, inevitably leading his siblings to follow in his footsteps. He and his brother joined Sigma Chi together. His mom noted that Maizie and Hunter have had to re-navigate their relationship, as Ethan was always the glue.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Foundation’s “Smile Spotlights” featured on its website showcase anecdotes from Ethan's friends, family and former teachers, illustrating the profound impact he made on their lives. It has become a space for people to gather and grieve.</p> <p>Stacy observes that these spotlights highlight the breadth of Ethan’s influence, with people describing him as inspirational, authentic, sociable, inclusive and warm.</p> <p>Sarah Dunn, his music teacher at Conway School from kindergarten through fourth grade, writes in a Smile Spotlight, “He wasn’t loud, but he had a natural way of drawing people out and making them feel safe. He smiled with his whole face.”</p> <p>Like many locals, Ethan worked in the tulip fields, where he met Reese Gardner. Gardner, a couple years younger than Ethan at the time, remembers showing up to work for free just because he loved working with Ethan.</p> <p>“He was one in a million,” Gardner said. “The lives he impacted were so wide. Without even doing anything, he was just himself.”</p> <p>To commemorate Ethan, Gardner thought planting tulips would be a fitting tribute. He carefully planted a selection of white and yellow tulips, sourced from a local grower and endorsed by the CEO of Tulip Valley Farms, Andrew Miller, one of Ethan’s former bosses, who christened the variety “Ethan’s Smile.” These tulips were strategically placed at several landmarks and across a field in Mount Vernon. Gardner explained that white represents friendship and eternity and yellow signifies joy.&nbsp;</p> <p>The colors stuck. Stacy believes they perfectly encapsulate her son’s sunny nature. The bulbs were sold nationwide.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Every day we receive messages saying ‘Look at Ethan’s Smile growing in my garden today,’” Stacy said.&nbsp;</p> <p>Selling tulip bulbs evolved into a scholarship foundation. Through the Foundation, Ethan’s parents, Stacy and Jim Chapin, raise funds to provide <a href="">scholarships</a> to local Skagit Valley students attending university.</p> <p>Gardner himself was among the first recipients of one of the Foundation’s scholarships. He used the funds to cover expenses at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he is pursuing a pre-dental track. Recently at Baylor he spotted a student in an Ethan’s Smile sweatshirt who was not a Skagit Valley native – a testament to the foundation’s impact.</p> <p>“For anyone that gets the scholarship, I hope they realize how special it is to receive a scholarship from Ethan’s Smile Foundation,” Gardner said. “It’s really such an honor, I cherish it.”</p> <p>Gardner recalled one night when his co-workers joined a group bonfire after work. Gardner wasn’t initially invited because he was a bit younger, but Ethan wouldn’t take no for an answer, practically begging him to come along. Gardner says now it really showed how inclusive Ethan was to everyone around him.</p> <p>Ryan Boon, a longtime family friend who has always admired the Chapin siblings, joined the same fraternity as Ethan and Hunter and recently received a scholarship from Ethan’s Smile.&nbsp;</p> <p>“It’s super-cool that in a way I get to represent Ethan and everything he stood for and what made him such a good person.”&nbsp;</p> <p>During the April 2023 launch of the flowers and the Foundation, the Chapins spoke out for the first time, with excitement buzzing for the Foundation and Stacy feeling she finally had something to share.</p> <p>She recalls a transformative moment four months after Ethan died that she shared with her husband at dawn. They acknowledged their two options: throw in the towel or confront it head-on. Retreat wasn’t an option. Since then they’ve committed to facing each day with their best foot forward, prioritizing their two children above all else.</p> <p>Maizie and Hunter will graduate from the University of Idaho next year, as members of the same class in which Ethan, a freshman when he died, was expecting to graduate.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I am just moved by their courage and strength,” Stacy said. “I can sit here and talk to you about what it’s like to lose a kid, but I cannot imagine being a triplet.”</p> <p>The Foundation’s logo is an orange and yellow sunrise to signify the time that Stacy and her husband spend each morning drinking coffee together, dedicating that time to Ethan and listening to his favorite songs.</p> <p>Tshirts and sweatshirts emblazoned with either “Ethan’s Smile” or “Hug Your People” were sold during the festival. (Aspen Anderson for Cascade PBS)</p> <p>On Mother’s Day 2022, Ethan texted his mom the song “Mother’s Day” by Morgan Wallen. That song and other favorites, “Something in the Orange” by Zach Bryan and “Wherever You Are Tonight” by Kenny Chesney, are played on a loop.</p> <p>In the 17 months since the multiple homicide that took Ethan’s life, the case has garnered widespread attention. Along with Ethan, his girlfriend, junior Xana Kernodle, and seniors Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen also were fatally stabbed at the house where the three young women lived, shocking the community of Moscow. The bluish-gray house has since been demolished, a decision the Chapins agreed with.&nbsp;</p> <p>A local grower also named a white and pink tulip variety “Forever Sisters” in memory of the three young women.</p> <p>Bryan Kohberger, a criminology Ph.D. candidate at Washington State University, was arrested weeks after the four were killed. He <a href="">pleaded not guilty</a> to four counts of murder and one count of burglary. The trial date remains undetermined, as Kohberger opted to waive his right to a speedy trial.</p> <p>Stacy Chapin recounts her lawyer warning her of the prolonged legal process ahead. She tries to detach herself from the breaking news surrounding the case.</p> <p>Aficionados of true crime also latched onto the case almost immediately, to Stacy’s chagrin. A number of books have already been written on it. An academic spoke about the Idaho case at <a href="">CrimeCon</a>, a convention for true-crime aficionados.</p> <p>“Why does someone who doesn’t know my son get to capitalize on his death?”&nbsp; Stacy said. “It kills me.”&nbsp;</p> <p>After doing some research, she realized that anyone has the right to her son’s story, and these books were legal. She pondered how, as his mother, she could take the narrative back and tell people about the Ethan she knew.&nbsp;</p> <p>One night she woke up abruptly and said, “I am going to write a book today.” Her children’s book about Ethan is titled <em>The Boy Who Wore Blue</em>.</p> <p>Ethan always wore blue, his designated “triplet” color, while Maizie wore pink and Hunter was dressed in green.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Everyone loved him; he was forever funny, laughing, easy-going and eternally sunny,” Stacy wrote in <em>The Boy Who Wore Blue</em>.</p> <p>She describes the book as something of a memoir, tracing the triplets’ journey from their birth through milestones like their first day of school, their time on the basketball court, all the way to Ethan's work in the tulip fields and even moving to Idaho.&nbsp;</p> <p>The book’s illustrations are all based on real photographs, presenting a collection of Ethan's favorite memories and offering a glimpse into his inclusive, fun-loving nature.</p> <p>“Life is short, so give it your best. Be happy, smile and encourage the rest!” Stacy wrote.&nbsp;</p> <p>Stacy noted that Maizie and Hunter will be able to pass down their brother's story to their own children, reclaiming ownership of the family narrative through this book. She refers to it as one of her greatest achievements.&nbsp;</p> <p>“It’s so bittersweet,” she said.</p> <p>During the fair weekend, the Foundation raised $15,000 and sold out of tulip bunches and sweatshirts. This sunny booth brought hugs and kind words.</p> <p>The scholarship program prioritizes local Skagit Valley students; those who knew Ethan; alumni of Conway School, which the Chapins attended; or students who plan to attend the University of Idaho. But the Chapins encourage all interested students to apply. The scholarship includes three short-answer questions, and financial awards this year will differ based on the applicant’s need.&nbsp;</p> <p>On April 30 the Foundation mailed the 2024 scholarships, providing around $50,000 to 33 students from the pool of 50 applicants.</p> <p>The trial for the case is ongoing. Stacy continues to maintain that her son was in the “right place at the wrong time,” believing Moscow, Idaho, was one of the safest places he could be. The Chapins cannot speak highly enough of the University of Idaho, and Jim and Stacy were even given honorary degrees.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I would not change anything if I could go back, even knowing the outcome,” she said. “We literally spent a lifetime with him … we are so blessed to have had him for 20 years.”</p> <p>The Chapins feel so lucky that they had spent so much quality time with their son for as long as they got him.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I told the kids at the beginning, this is not going to sink us,” Stacy said. “We are going to take a left turn, and our family looks a lot different right now, but by God we will persevere.”&nbsp;</p> <p>The Chapins plan to expand the scholarship and Foundation each year. They hope the Foundation will continue forever, and that one day Maizie and Hunter will take it on.&nbsp;</p> <p>Stacy waves goodbye as people begin to flock toward the fair booth. “Don’t forget to lock your door,” she says.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The Journalism and Public Interest Communication News Lab at the University of Washington gives advanced journalism students an opportunity to build a dynamic clip portfolio by reporting for any of 70 client news outlets in the greater Seattle area.</em></p> <p><strong>Topics:</strong> </p> Aspen Anderson News 97441 Fri, 24 May 2024 04:58:00 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News ArtSEA: NW Folklife Festival kicks off summer concert season <p>Memorial Day is upon us, and according to local custom, this weekend marks the beginning of our outdoor music season — regardless of whether the weather cooperates.</p> <p>That’s thanks to the sprawling <a href="">Northwest Folklife Festival</a>, which since 1972 has presented an electric cross-section of cultures across multiple stages. The free four-day celebration (May 24 - 27) enables the joy of discovery by presenting diverse musical traditions (blues, taiko, bayou, polka and neo-soul, as a small sample) and movement (tango, contra, swing and break-dancing), all within the Seattle Center grounds.</p> <p>My advice (besides bring your slicker): Pick one thing you’re interested in and leave time to drift around and stumble upon surprises, which might come in the form of a Celtic jam or an Afrobeat dance party.</p> <p>Side note: Just about the only music you won’t find at Folklife is <strong>Pearl Jam</strong>, but the steadfast Seattle band will be at Seattle Center soon after (<a href="">May 28 &amp; 30 at Climate Pledge Arena</a>). The grunge legends will be showing off tunes from the acclaimed new album, <em>Dark Matter</em>... and of course, playing the hits!</p> <p>For more outdoor music, STG Presents and Remlinger Farms kick off the brand new <a href="">Concerts at the Farm</a> series tomorrow with <strong>Portugal. The Man</strong> and <strong>Bomba Estéreo</strong> (May 24, doors at 4:30, show at 6 p.m.).</p> <p>Leaping ahead to the unofficial <em>end</em> of the outdoor concert season, <a href="">Bumbershoot</a> (Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31 - Sept. 1) released its music lineup this week. Among the mighty mix of bands are <strong>Pavement</strong>, <strong>James Blake</strong>, <strong>Cyprus Hill</strong>, <strong>Ladytron</strong>, <strong>Helado Negro</strong>, <strong>The Polyphonic Spree</strong>, <strong>Black Belt Eagle Scout</strong> and <strong>Kassa Overall.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>And on the far-out front: Bumbershoot’s new partnership with NASA promises “<strong>Songs for Space</strong>,” in which images from the <strong>James Webb Space Telescope</strong> will be shown in the PACCAR IMAX theater and paired with live vocal groups singing opera, gospel and Gregorian chants.</p> <p>L-R: Calder Jameson Shilling and Nathaniel Tenenbaum in&nbsp;‘<em>Sherlock Holmes and the Precarious Position’</em>&nbsp;at Taproot Theatre. (Robert Wade)</p> <p>But it’s not all picnic blankets and beer gardens in the local arts scene. As we move into the dreamy days of summer music festivals, some Northwest organizations are showing severe signs of financial stress.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Taproot Theatre</strong>’s current production —&nbsp;<a href=""><em>Sherlock Holmes and the Precarious Position</em></a> (extended through June 22) —&nbsp;is a lighthearted whodunit. But this week the organization sent out word of its own precarious position under the headline, “Costs of producing theatre surge, outpacing Taproot’s ability to keep up.”&nbsp;</p> <p>The press release reports that Taproot, founded in 1976, must raise $1.95 million (an increase of 62.5% since pre-pandemic budgets) by the end of December in order to produce the next season. The company has taken cost-saving measures such as reducing full-time hours and selecting plays with small casts, but director Karen Lund said she worries “Taproot will be forced to shrink to stay open,” and in the process will lose special arts initiatives such as those for youth and people with early-stage memory loss.</p> <p>This news echoed a similarly urgent tone coming from <strong>Hugo House</strong>, which in late April sent out a press release from acting executive director Pepe Montero, who explained, “... we ended 2023 with a significant deficit and financial uncertainty looming.” The longstanding literary center has done some belt-tightening “in an effort to right-size the organization,” Montero wrote, including reducing staff and “streamlining” the board. It is also opening the venue to rentals.</p> <p>And back in February, <strong>Bellevue Arts Museum</strong> issued a dire financial alert in the form of an emergency fundraising campaign called “<a href="">Save BAM: Keep Bellevue Alive</a>.” (Earlier this month, The Seattle Times took an extensive look at the organization’s <a href="">history of financial woes</a>.) In the press release, newly appointed executive director <strong>Kate Casprowiak Scher</strong> noted, “I think it would surprise my neighbors in Bellevue and beyond to realize we are so massively underfunded.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, <strong>Theatre Puget Sound</strong> announced “signs of hope amidst financial struggles” last week, when it avoided “imminent closure” after the board of directors voted to keep the nonprofit running. Executive director Crystal Yingling said the success of the recent “<a href="">SAVE TPS</a>” campaign offers “a longer runway to continue rebuilding from the ongoing effects of COVID closures.” That runway now stands at 18 months.</p> <p>While raising the alarm, the directors of each of these organizations expressed optimism that the necessary funds would come through — via grants, sponsors and individual donors. But the rush of critical financial news reveals the perilous post-pandemic state of many local orgs.</p> <p>Related: On May 21, <strong>ArtsFund</strong> and the <strong>Paul G. Allen Family Foundation </strong>announced the recipients of this year’s <a href="">Community Accelerator Grant</a> program, totaling $10 million in unrestricted awards divided among 811 Washington state arts and culture groups. Of the abovementioned orgs, Taproot and BAM each received $2,500; Hugo House and Theatre Puget Sound each received $17,500.</p> <p>A falcon strikes a pose on the ledge of 1201 Third. (Urban Raptor Conservancy)</p> <p>Last weekend I traded much of my usual art-surfing time in favor of watching a “<a href=";pid=falcons">falcon cam</a>” installed on a high ledge of the <strong>1201 Third</strong> building Downtown. A bird-brained friend had tipped me off to the live feed and I immediately became obsessed with the pair of floofy fledglings taking their first steps toward flight.&nbsp;</p> <p>Peregrine falcons — once nearly extinct due to the effects of DDT — are&nbsp;the fastest animal species in the world, with a top flying speed of 200 mph(!). They’ve been nesting in Seattle since 1994, and 1201 Third building management has partnered with the <strong>Urban Raptor Conservancy</strong> to make the fledgling process viewable from a safe distance. (You can watch <a href="">a second falcon cam</a> at the AGC building in South Lake Union.)</p> <p>If you’re squeamish, approach with caution — it can be a little “nature red in tooth and claw.” The first moment I tuned in, the parental falcon was tearing apart a pigeon for the baby falcons’ lunch. Dinner was a rat. Raptors don’t keep a particularly clean roost and they sleep splayed flat like passed-out drunks. (They are not dead, as I feared at first!) But falcon culture is fascinating, even now that the youngsters are taking off on their own.</p> <p>For more birds nesting Downtown:&nbsp;</p> <p>&lt; Celebrated novelist <strong>Amy Tan</strong> (<em>The Joy Luck Club</em>) shares the joys of birdwatching (and her own drawings) in her new nonfiction book <em>The Backyard Bird Chronicles: A Nature Journal&nbsp;</em>(<a href="">Seattle Public Library Downtown, May 29 at 7 p.m.</a>).&nbsp;</p> <p>&lt; <a href=""><em>I Dream, Therefore I Am Raven</em></a> (through June 1 at Traver Gallery) features new bird-centric blown and etched sculptures by Northwest glass legend <strong>Preston Singletary</strong>.</p> <p>&lt; At Steinbrueck Native Gallery near Pike Place Market, look for eagles and owls among the striking carved-wood masks by Tsimshian/Cree artist <a href=""><strong>Phil Gray</strong></a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Reminder: We’re halfway through our 10 artist reveals for <a href="">Black Arts Legacies: Season 3</a>! Missed this week’s artist? It’s cellist <a href=""><strong>Gretchen Yanover</strong></a><strong>,</strong> a classically trained musician who has found her own voice in an electric cello and a looping pedal. Stay tuned next week for another artist who’s made a <em>percussive</em> impact (that’s a hint!) on the Seattle arts scene.&nbsp;</p> <p>Sign up for the <a href="">Black Arts Legacies newsletter</a> to be among the first to discover each new artist in this year’s cohort.</p> <p><strong>Topics:</strong> <a href="" hreflang="en">Arts</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">ArtSEA</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Economy</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Features</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Music</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Things to do</a></p> Brangien Davis Culture 97461 Thu, 23 May 2024 16:20:07 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News Washington voters favor anti-tax initiatives — for now <p>The three tax initiatives destined for Washington’s November ballot are popular with voters, according to the results of a new Cascade PBS/Elway Poll.</p> <p>None of the proposals – to repeal the capital gains tax, to kill the cap-and-invest carbon pricing system, and to make the long-term care insurance program optional – gathered support from a majority of voters in the May 13-16 poll. But two of them got pretty close.&nbsp;</p> <p>Of the voters polled on the language of the three initiatives funded by hedge fund CEO Brian Heywood, 41% said they would likely vote yes to prohibit state agencies from imposing any type of carbon tax program, 31% would vote no (to keep the cap-and-invest program) and 28% said they were undecided. Those numbers changed slightly – 43% to repeal, 34% to keep the program and 23% undecided – when the poll asked a second question that explained some pro and con arguments for each position.&nbsp;</p> <p>Asked about the capital gains tax, 47% said they would vote yes to repeal, 36% would vote no, and 17% were undecided. Asked again after the poll outlined some pros and cons, only 40% of voters were in favor of the initiative, 41% wanted to keep the new tax and 19% were undecided.</p> <p>Of the voters polled on the state’s new long-term care insurance program, 47% said they wanted to repeal it, 25% were against the initiative and 28% were undecided. The numbers were mostly the same after the pro and con arguments were offered, with 45% for, 27% against and 27% undecided.</p> <p>Pollster Stuart Elway notes that it’s very difficult to predict how people will vote on initiatives six months before an election, but history gives him some clues.</p> <p>“Most initiatives, not all of them, tend to poll well at the beginning of the cycle and lose ground over the campaign,” Elway said. “I would expect these numbers to shift.”</p> <p>This latest Cascade PBS/Elway Poll surveyed 403 registered voters statewide by land line, cell phone and via text to online survey. The poll has a 5% margin of error with a 95% level of confidence, which means if the survey had been repeated 100 times, the results would be within five percentage points of these results at least 95% of the time.</p> <p>One of the things you can’t tell from these results is whether voters understand that a vote for the initiatives would actually be a vote against these taxes. Voters can easily be confused by initiatives to repeal earlier legislation because a yes vote is actually a rejection instead of an affirmation. And the campaigns for and against the proposals are just beginning, so feelings may change as people learn more about the potential impact of their vote.</p> <p>Patricia Kienholz, a Republican voter from Spokane who participated in the poll, said she has not decided how to vote on the initiatives because she hasn’t yet done her homework. Although she only votes for Republican candidates, she is more flexible about tax policy.</p> <p>“I’m not opposed to all tax increases. It just depends on what it is,” Kienholz said, noting that she is particularly ambivalent on the capital gains tax. She raised two children as a single mom and benefited from some state programs, so she understands the need to fund the state government.</p> <p>“I’m a Republican, but I’m a social scientist. I recognize the validity of social support and entitlements,” she said.</p> <p>This early polling, six months before the election, will likely make <a href="">supporters of the new taxes </a>and many in the state Legislature nervous. The state’s new cap-and-invest system has brought more than $2 billion into the state budget since the <a href="">first auction in February 2023</a>, and the capital gains tax <a href="">fed another $890 million</a> to the budget during its first year in 2023.</p> <p>The Legislature, which is required to spend most cap-and-invest income on environmental initiatives, <a href="">has allocated some of the money</a> toward buying electric school buses, helping utilities transition to cleaner energy, building hybrid electric ferries and giving some utility customers a rebate.</p> <p>The first $500 million collected from the capital gains tax each year is reserved for a state fund that pays for K-12 education and child care programs. The additional dollars are then expected to go into a state account that pays for school construction.</p> <p>Washington’s long-term care insurance program, WA Cares, <a href="">has been somewhat unpopular</a> since its inception. The program provides eligible Washingtonians with up to $36,500 per person, per lifetime to help pay for nursing care and other services they may need as they age. But many workers have opted out of the 0.58% tax on their paychecks since the program went into effect in July 2023. Supporters say making the program entirely optional may kill it, as the insurance business model depends on contributors to share the cost of outlays.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Another story about the poll will be published Friday on Cascade PBS. That story will include a link to all the poll data. </em></p> <p><strong>Topics:</strong> <a href="" hreflang="en">Crosscut/Elway Poll</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Election 2024</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Elections</a></p> Donna Gordon Blankinship Politics 97411 Thu, 23 May 2024 05:00:00 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News The Newsfeed: WA spearheads national guaranteed income movement <p><strong>Topics:</strong> <a href="" hreflang="en">Multimedia</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Video</a></p> Paris Jackson News 97406 Thu, 23 May 2024 04:59:00 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News Your Last Meal | The Leftovers with Kathleen Hanna & Food Not Bombs <p><strong>Topics:</strong> <a href="" hreflang="en">Food</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">food history</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">food podcast</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Podcast</a></p> Rachel Belle Politics 97396 Thu, 23 May 2024 04:58:00 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News Inside Seattle’s burgeoning community of literary translators <p>Anton Hur has translated horror, fantasy and historical fiction. He’s wrestled with what kind of voice a dragon has and how to create the appropriate tone for a person who’s depressed. And he’s co-translated <em>Beyond the Story: 10-Year Record of BTS</em> — a volume of 500-plus pages — with only a month to finish the translation.&nbsp;</p> <p>That last one was hard. “The book was being written as we were translating it,” Hur said. “Like logistically it was a complete, utter nightmare.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Hur said he did it out of gratitude to ARMY, BTS’s fan base, for buying, reading and talking about Korean books in translation.&nbsp;</p> <p>During his <a href=";eventid=169826399">public lecture</a> April 30 at the University of Washington, Hur spoke on the struggles literary translators share, including the disorienting experience of translating very different authors in successive projects.&nbsp;</p> <p>His visit to Seattle highlighted the city’s growing interest in literary translation, as its population becomes increasingly diverse.&nbsp;</p> The world of literary translation&nbsp; <p>Literary translation is a subset of the field that involves translating poems, novels and plays from one language to another. Unlike working on business documents or technical manuals, literary translation requires special attention to the author’s writing style.&nbsp;</p> <p>Translation differs from interpretation: While translators work with written texts, interpreters help people understand spoken language.&nbsp;</p> <p>By rendering books written in other languages accessible to new audiences, literary translators help increase appreciation for diversity.&nbsp;</p> <p>For Hur, translating Korean books into English allows him to share aspects of his home culture in a more complex and nuanced way. That philosophy helps him choose which books to translate.&nbsp;</p> <p>Renowned Korean-to-English translator Anton Hur. (Caroline Walker Evans for Cascade PBS)&nbsp;</p> <p>“My translation project as a whole is about showcasing a Korea that is not what the mainstream cultural production would have you believe,” Hur said. “As in I want to showcase a Korea that’s more diverse. That’s more feminist. That’s more edgy.”&nbsp;</p> <p>One book Hur chose to translate was Bora Chung’s <em>Cursed Bunny</em>, which critiques capitalism and other systems embedded in Korean society. It isn’t what people might expect from K-dramas, which present a Korea that is heteronormative, capitalist and reluctant to critique its own systems, Hur said.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The burgeoning literary translation field has found a growing home in Seattle, which has fostered an international reputation as a literary center. In 2017, Seattle was designated a <a href="">UNESCO City of Literature</a>, a title shared by only one other U.S. city, for its thriving publishing industry, independent bookstores and literary events, among other factors.&nbsp;</p> <p>Even Seattle-based Amazon has done its part to push international literature by launching <a href="">Amazon Crossing</a>. The imprint was <a href="">lauded in 2015</a> by The Guardian for publishing three times as many works in translation as its nearest U.S. competitor.&nbsp;</p> The trials of literary translation <p>Shelley Fairweather-Vega, a Russian-to-English literary translator, said she thinks people have become more aware that a translation isn’t just retyping a text in another language.</p> <p>“I have to generate a brand-new book or a brand-new poem in which all the words are mine,” Fairweather-Vega said. “So none of those were dictated to me. It’s only the ideas that are in place … it takes creativity. It’s working within constraints.”</p> <p>The nuances of language that a translator must navigate is what English-to-French translator Emy Chevalier thinks of when she wonders how AI will affect the translation industry.</p> <p>“I think it would be more useful to see [AI] more as a tool than as something that will take over, because it will never be able to translate an emotion or choose a very specific word that will have an impact on the reader,” Chevalier said.</p> <p>Despite the growing visibility of their work, literary translators’ wages haven’t kept up.&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2022, the Authors Guild’s voluntary <a href="">survey</a> of U.S. literary translators found that 63.5% of the nearly 300 respondents reported receiving less than $10,000 from literary translation in 2021. Only 11.5% of respondents relied on literary translation work as their sole source of income.</p> <p>Despite that low reported figure, interpreters and translators as a whole are in demand, with a median income of $57,090 in 2023, according to the <a href=",The%20median%20annual%20wage%20for%20interpreters%20and%20translators%20was%20%2457%2C090,percent%20earned%20more%20than%20%2497%2C100.">U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics</a>. This median income includes people who translate and interpret in more common interactions such as legal issues, medical appointments and schools. The field of interpretation and translation as a whole is expected to <a href="">grow by 4% over the next 10 years</a> because of the country’s increasing diversity, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.</p> <p>Fairweather-Vega observed that some literary translators think talking about money is distasteful because they see literary translation as an art, not as a profit-maker. She sees that attitude as self-defeating, she said.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We can still love it and still consider it an art form,” Fairweather-Vega said. “But we can also get paid for it.”</p> Literary translators in training <p>These shared experiences have helped solidify the local literary-translator community, especially visible during Hur’s visit, which drew a wide audience of students, professionals and community members.</p> <p>It was sponsored primarily by the <a href="">UW Translation Studies Hub</a>, a center funded by the Simpson Center for the Humanities that hosts events and lectures related to translation as well as develops translation-focused educational resources for graduate and undergraduate courses. Founded in 2019, the TSH grew out of an idea pitched in a <a href="">dissertation</a> by Katie King, who was pursuing her Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies at UW after returning from a stint in London and finding few groups in Seattle focused on translation of books, poetry and literature.</p> <p>Sasha Senderovich, one of three faculty members leading the TSH this year, said that one of its priorities has been engaging the public outside of the university, including local translators. Their work has paid off, he said.&nbsp;</p> <p>“All of the work over the past five years is very evident as we put together [Hur’s] visit,” Senderovich said. “Because the effortlessness with which people are agreeing to participate in various events is really stunning.”</p> <p>One literary translator who attended Hur’s lecture was Takami Nieda. An instructor at Seattle Central College, Nieda has recently been teaching a translation course. She said that the community college’s diverse student body includes many whose native languages aren’t English and who possess proficiency in other languages. This course is a way to leverage that and also challenge the status quo in which literary translators are overwhelmingly white – a conclusion supported by the 2022 Authors Guild <a href="">survey</a>, which found that 80.6% of literary translators surveyed were white.&nbsp;</p> <p>“It was important to me to actually reach translators of color, immigrant populations, because there is a whiteness problem in the translation field and so we wanted to kind of open up access for [the] publish[ing] industry, an industry which is by and large a white space,” Nieda said.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Seattle has had a growing immigrant population for decades – which not only shows increasing need for local translation services but also could provide a potentially diverse pool of translators. Five-year estimates across 2017-2021 found that about 22.1% of Seattle residents ages 5 and up spoke a language other than English, according to a <a href="">report</a> from the city’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs. The top 5 languages spoken in Seattle were Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Somali and Tagalog, the report said.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Seattle numbers mirror regional and national statistics. In Washington, 21.1% of households speak a language other than English at home, according to <a href="">estimates</a> from the 2022 American Community Survey run by the U.S. Census. The national average is 22.0%, plus or minus 0.1 percentage points.&nbsp;</p> <p>Aria Fani, another faculty member leading the TSH with Senderovich, said he sees the hub’s work as a lifeline for the humanities and foreign-language study at the university, which has seen drops in funding and enrollment in recent years.&nbsp;</p> <p>With those cuts, UW’s claims about being a humanistic institution that exposes students to the world and supports public-facing scholarship fall empty, Fani said.&nbsp;</p> <p>“They only pay lip service to that,” Fani said. “We actually do it. We bring in the community.”</p> <p><strong>Topics:</strong> <a href="" hreflang="en">Books</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">books</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">diversity</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Equity</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">literature</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">University of Washington</a></p> Julia Park News 97386 Wed, 22 May 2024 05:00:00 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News WSF says building new diesel ferries would create two-year delay <p>A suggestion by Washington gubernatorial candidates to build diesel-powered ferries instead of planned hybrid electric vessels — to save time — would actually create a two-year delay in adding boats to the fleet, according to an analysis by Washington State Ferries.</p> <p>The two Democrats and two Republicans considered the front-runners to replace Jay Inslee as Washington’s governor have all indicated they would be receptive to replacing the first two hybrid ferries with diesel-only boats, if that speeds the replacement process.</p> <p>But the change would do just the opposite — requiring more time to design and build the new boats if plans already in progress are changed.</p> <p>Last year, the Legislature put money in the state budget to build five hybrid ferries to cut back on carbon pollution in Puget Sound while replacing some of the least reliable boats in the system.</p> <p>The Washington State Ferries system says switching from hybrid to diesel at this point would delay completion of the first two replacement ferries from 2028 to 2030. In fact, the current plans call for completing all five hybrid ferries by 2030, while the delay would mean fewer new ferries would be ready at that time.</p> <p>The ferry system is struggling to keep 10 routes that criss-cross Puget Sound fully functional. The system requires 19 vessels during its peak usage period and 17 during the off-season. Eight years ago, the ferry system had 24 boats, but three were sold after they reached their design lifespan. The oldest vessels still in the system are 64 years old.</p> <p>With some ferries being maintained or under repair, the fleet usually has 16 to 18 vessels in service at a time. WSF aims to expand that to 21 to 26 vessels by 2040, 22 of which would be hybrid diesel/electric, to reduce the fleet’s carbon footprint by 76%.</p> <p>Washington State Ferries workers prepare to arrive at the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal on the Seattle-Bainbridge Island ferry. (Lindsey Wasson for Cascade PBS)</p> <p>Ferry breakdowns over the past year have created a greater sense of urgency to build replacements.</p> <p>“Everyone wants new ferries as soon as possible. … If we could go faster, we’d be probably doing it,” said Matt von Ruden, the WSF’s electrification program administrator.</p> <p>Switching from hybrid to diesel-only ferries is like trying to maneuver a huge ship in a tight space: It takes time. Part of the challenge is that the Legislature, not the governor, is key to making such a change.</p> <p>In 2023, the Legislature directed the WSF to build five hybrid ferries. Other legislation allocated $1.3 billion to build them. New legislation would be needed in 2025 to change the plans for the first two ferries, including reallocating money.</p> <p>The design work for the hybrid ferries is almost complete. WSF cannot recycle designs from its current Olympic-class diesel ferries built between 2014 and 2018, von Ruden said, because the propulsion system and electrical system suppliers for last decade’s ferries are now out of business. WSF would need to identify new monster-size propulsion systems for the diesel-only ferries, and redesign the vessel to accommodate them.</p> <p>Only after the redesign work is completed could the state provide good cost estimates for completing two diesel ferries by 2030. Then the Legislature would have to sign off on the new plans.</p> <p>“This is custom, complex engineering,“ von Ruden said.</p> <p>Washington also has already started the preliminary contracting process to hire one or two shipyards to build the five hybrid ferries. This process would have to begin again from scratch after the new design work is finished on the proposed diesel-only ferries, von Ruden said.</p> <p>The contracting process includes approaching shipyards to see who is interested in the project; visiting those shipyards to ensure they are capable of the work; then formally taking bids on the project and awarding the job to a contractor or contractors.</p> <p>Von Ruden said it normally takes roughly a year from picking a shipyard to working out the contractual details before construction begins. Then it takes roughly two years to build a ferry. Currently, construction of the first two hybrid ferries is scheduled to begin in early 2026 and finish in 2028.</p> <p>The front-runners in the governor’s race — Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, Republican former Congressman Dave Reichert and Republican Semi Bird — have all indicated they would be receptive to diesel-only ferries with Reichert actively pushing for the change.</p> <p>Ferguson campaign spokesman Erik Houser wrote to Cascade PBS: “He has not said that switching to diesel would be faster, just that if it is the fastest solution, we should pursue it as an option.”</p> <p>In a written statement Monday, Ferguson said: “I am committed to immediate action to address the challenges facing Washington State Ferries — from staffing needs to reliability of boats and facilities. Part of our plan for the ferry system states that my administration would ‘immediately issue two new ferry construction request for proposals (RFPs) for two boats to be delivered as soon as possible, including diesel ferries if this is the fastest solution, and a separate RFP for three hybrid-electric boats.’”</p> <p>Ferguson’s plan also includes having the head of Washington State Ferries report directly to the governor.</p> <p>“We have no reason to doubt the analysis from Washington State Ferries,” Ferguson said after being told that WSF says it would take longer to build diesel ferries at this point.</p> <p>In an email to Cascade PBS, Reichert said both cost and timing are important factors in this decision.</p> <p>“I would venture to guess neither the people of Washington nor our Legislature would have agreed to the ferry electrification program if they knew just how much it would set back the renewal of our fleet and the actual additional costs that came with it,” Reichert wrote.</p> <p>He noted that the first attempt to procure hybrid-electric ferries resulted in bids nearly double what WSF paid for comparable diesel ferries a few years earlier. Reichert added that since the request for proposals has yet to be issued, Washington officials do not know yet if the few shipyards in the U.S. with the experience to build these vessels would even bid on this project.&nbsp;</p> <p>Even though the contractor that built the propulsion system used in Washington’s Olympic Class ferries is no longer in business, Reichert thinks WSF should use that design and find another manufacturer of large diesel engines to work with. He thinks the ferry system should start working on a plan for a diesel ferry in preparation of a potential change during the 2025 Legislature.&nbsp;</p> <p>In a written statement to Crosscut, Democrat Mark Mullet said: “I’d want my own head of Washington State Ferries to guide me in what the choice would be. The boats we’re discussing were approved in the 2015 transportation package – the fact that it’s taking 13 years to get them in the water is unacceptable. It’s time for new leadership to expedite this process and be responsive to the needs of Washingtonians, so people can get where they need to go throughout our state, quickly. As governor, I’d work on much-needed improvements to this process.”</p> <p>Bird’s campaign didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment from Cascade PBS.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Topics:</strong> <a href="" hreflang="en">Election 2024</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Elections</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Transportation</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Washington Legislature</a></p> John Stang Politics 97381 Wed, 22 May 2024 04:59:00 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News Podcast | Meet Samuel Wolfe, the Origins season three filmmaker <p><strong>Topics:</strong> <a href="" hreflang="en">Podcast</a></p> Maleeha Syed News 97376 Wed, 22 May 2024 04:58:00 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News Seattle Animal Shelter accused of safety issues, retaliation <p>Kassandra Rocker really wanted a new best friend. The local animal shelter matched her with Grubauer – a 2-year-old Catahoula Leopard dog named after Seattle Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer – as a foster parent with the idea that it would lead to adoption.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We jogged together, and I got this, like, ‘Oh my god, this is my dog’ kind of feeling,” she said. “I had always dreamed of having a dog I could run with and it was amazing. I thought he was the damn cutest thing in the world.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Rocker had previously owned dogs, studied pre-veterinary medicine and worked at a veterinary hospital when she came to the Seattle Animal Shelter last fall. Yet it was not enough to prepare her.&nbsp;</p> <p>Grubauer had a history of biting, but Rocker said the shelter never warned her before she took him home. In their two days together, she suffered four biting incidents.&nbsp;</p> <p>By the last instance – which she described as a vicious attack resulting in her gushing blood – Rocker knew she could not handle Grubauer.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I still have a scar on my shoulders from a puncture wound, and I was so beat up. I was bruised everywhere. I was bloody, everywhere,” Rocker said. “I had to step out of myself and say, ‘You can’t handle this and that’s OK because there’s someone that can, I hope.’ It just needs to be known. You can’t just send Gru home with anybody.”&nbsp;</p> <p><em>This story is part of Cascade PBS’s <a href="" target="_blank">WA Workplace Watch</a>, an investigative project covering worker safety and labor in Washington state.</em></p> <p>Seattle Animal Shelter dog handlers allege such incidents reflect an increasingly fraught culture at the organization. Volunteers have accused shelter leaders of disregarding safety complaints, retaliating against those who voice concerns and failing to communicate clearly on policies or risks — endangering animals and their handlers while also taking a mental toll on those who keep the shelter running.&nbsp;</p> <p>More than 20 current and former volunteers and staff spoke with Cascade PBS, many asking to remain anonymous or be identified by first name only to avoid retaliation or damaging relationships within the local shelter community. Cascade PBS also reviewed nearly 100 recorded incidents of bites and dozens of records ranging from detailed animal files to email exchanges, including multiple internal reports detailing reforms that have yet to be completed.&nbsp;</p> <p>Shelter director Esteban Rodriguez said he was aware of issues with communication and the workplace culture, but those can take time to fix as a government agency. He emphasized he considers safety his top priority and pointed to department policies that are modeled on industry best practices.&nbsp;</p> <p>“It actually hurts me to hear that people are saying the culture is toxic,” he told Cascade PBS. “We have a list of things that we’re doing that we’re currently engaging on and that we’re actively pursuing so that we can create a culture that is inclusive, a culture where people feel that they belong, and they can do their good work.”</p> <p>But the mounting concerns have led many to leave the organization, taking with them at least a century of combined experience volunteering with the shelter.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I think it was sort of a progressive decline over time,” said Pavi, who volunteered at the shelter for a decade before leaving at the end of 2022. “It was just systemic issues. … It became clear to me that things were not on a path to change anytime soon.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Gail Williams hugs her newly adopted pit bull Ozzy outside the Seattle Animal Shelter. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)&nbsp;</p> Bite safety concerns <p>Most shelter workers will tell you: Bites come with the job. Working with animals means accepting a chance of being bitten, especially at a municipal shelter where they cannot choose which animals they take.&nbsp;</p> <p>But several longtime volunteers argue the shelter has adopted riskier practices for handling dogs with documented bite histories and should be doing more to prevent bites where possible.&nbsp;</p> <p>“It was pretty clear-cut that there was a change in policy in terms of what volunteers were allowed to do, and what kind of dogs we were allowed to walk,” explained a former volunteer with 15 years of experience at the shelter. “It’s only been in very recent times that volunteers were allowed to walk dogs with any bite history, and such significant bite history as they are being asked to walk today.”&nbsp;</p> <p>The volunteer said she suffered her first significant bite in 2019 despite having worked at the shelter for more than a decade prior.</p> <p>“Staff asked me to walk a dog that was on active bite quarantine,” she said. “They handed me a leash over this dog’s head, and it turned out reaching over their head was the trigger, and it just launched at my shoulder and got me. That’s just the kind of thing that wouldn’t have ever happened in prior years.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Shelter spokesperson Melissa Mixon provided data showing bites have increased slightly since 2018, both in the number and in the percentage of animals brought in. Mixon said the shelter could not provide consistent data prior to 2018. The highest count of bites in a year was last year at 27 bites.&nbsp;</p> <p>However, those numbers do not include bites to foster parents or potential adopters. Mixon wrote in an email that the shelter implemented a new policy last month to use the same form to collect bite data from all sources. It also includes recording the severity of the bite, which had not been a standard practice in recording bites.</p> <p>A dog bares its teeth and barks from inside its kennel at the Seattle Animal Shelter. A sign on her kennel explains that she is very reactive to strangers and other dogs. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)</p> <p>Many dog handlers also said they knew about bites that never got recorded in the animals’ reports. In a sample of records obtained by Cascade PBS, several injuries — including one bite — appeared on city incident forms that did not show up in the animal report, which is what is used to provide information to potential adopters and foster parents.</p> <p>Volunteers often expressed increased concern for foster parents and potential adopters who they said were not receiving adequate support or information, like Rocker.&nbsp;</p> <p>Grubauer’s history of biting began shortly after he arrived at the shelter in May 2023 when he bit a volunteer hard enough to tear through a sleeve and bruise, according to shelter records. He had also been returned to the shelter once for biting before Rocker took him, but the shelter never shared that history publicly either before or after Rocker had him.</p> <p>Instead, the shelter heavily promoted Grubauer, including in a guest appearance from the Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer on the shelter’s Instagram account. The video shows the goalie holding a leash and giving treats, while the dog attempts to wander.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Grubie is still up for adoption, so come by and check him out,” the player said, adding that other animals are also available if Grubauer is not a good fit.&nbsp;</p> <p>Some of the messaging mentioned that staff would review medical and behavioral history at the shelter with adopters and foster parents – which Rodriguez said was shelter policy – but Rocker said that did not happen for her. Even after Grubauer first bit her, Rocker said she kept quiet about what happened because she thought that she must have caused it.&nbsp;</p> <p>“It’s always the owner’s fault, and I always say that,” she said. “I was keeping it to myself because I thought I was protecting the dog, and I was like, he must have been traumatized so badly in his past that he has a switch going off.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Another adopter also returned Grubauer a few months later for biting, saying they felt his behavioral history and needs were not reviewed in enough detail, according to the animal report.&nbsp;</p> <p>Volunteers argued the disconnect between the shelter’s internal notes and what they shared publicly posed one of the biggest risks to both workers and visitors.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I’ve had a few cases where a dog would be described as pretty easy or pretty straightforward, but then you would read the file and it would turn out this was not the case at all,” Pavi said. “Some of it, you know, there could be an error of omission maybe. Maybe they’re running short on time and they didn’t intend to not convey that info, but there was a very casual attitude that goes back quite some time.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Pavi – who left more than six months before Rocker took Grubauer home – contended that the discrepancy between internal and external messaging goes back before Rodriguez came on as director.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Where things progressively got worse were these long-term dogs that had been at the shelter for a really long time and you know their behaviors, you know their needs, but nothing was actually being done to support those dogs,” she said. “Week after week, the same dog goes on the emails and eventually someone would ... feel bad that the dog was in the shelter for so long, and they would offer [to take the dog] and something terrible would happen. Like the script repeated a few times.”</p> <p>Volunteer Becca Werner walks Jerome in the neighborhood around the Seattle Animal Shelter, April 26, 2024. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)&nbsp;</p> Alleged retaliation&nbsp;&nbsp; <p>When former Seattle Animal Shelter volunteer Gauri met with shelter managers on April 20, she brought up concerns she had about the shelter’s handling of dogs with bite histories.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We want to make sure that everybody has access to dogs and animals,” she recalled telling the managers. “However, are we doing it in a way that we’re ensuring that these animals aren’t just going to anybody? … What are we doing to ensure that we’re vetting out people to make sure that dogs are going into safe homes and people are being kept safe?”</p> <p>Gauri said a manager had revoked her volunteer position by the end of the meeting. In response to questions about the meeting, Mixon wrote the shelter expects “input to be shared in a manner that is respectful.”</p> <p>Several volunteers said they faced retaliation for voicing concerns – the primary reason most asked to remain anonymous. For some, the concern for the animals tips the scales on the side of staying quiet so they can continue their work, whether inside the shelter or with other organizations.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I really feel for our volunteers because a lot of them are really at their wits’ end of not being heard and of fear for their safety,” an employee at the shelter said. “They’re afraid to speak up because they’re afraid of just being fired as volunteers because we did go on a little spree of just firing a bunch of volunteers anytime they ask a question that our leadership didn’t want to hear.”</p> <p>Volunteers described a pattern in which a volunteer would ask pointed questions or criticize a decision and shortly after be asked to meet in person with several managers or others in the city’s Finance and Administrative Services department, under which the animal shelter falls.&nbsp;</p> <p>“It feels like I’m walking into an ambush,” said a former volunteer who worked with the shelter for more than a decade. “I had heard from other volunteers that this is how they fire you, effectively.”&nbsp;</p> <p>She said she was told repeatedly that the meeting was not a time for her to defend herself. While she was not explicitly fired, she was told she no longer needed to foster, despite indications that they had been “desperate for foster parents.” She quit soon after.&nbsp;</p> <p>Kodiak peeks out from his kennel at the Seattle Animal Shelter, April 26, 2024. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)</p> <p>Another longtime cat volunteer, Ed Hutsell, said he was let go in 2023 after pointing out that he didn’t believe staff were collecting from previous cat owners a form that detailed behavioral history, which was key to finding a good adoption match. Hutsell said he had volunteered at the shelter for 12 years under three directors, and was asked to be on the hiring panel for a new volunteer coordinator only weeks before being let go.&nbsp;</p> <p>Shelter spokesperson Mixon said just four volunteers of nearly 600 had been fired in the past five years, adding via email that she “cannot underscore enough how rarely pausing or ending volunteer relationships occur.”&nbsp;</p> Seattle Animal Shelter director Esteban Rodriguez <p>Rodriguez said feedback from volunteers is valuable and that volunteers can bring concerns to the volunteer coordinator and up the chain of command from there if necessary. He also said he would encourage them to speak with the ombuds office or the city’s human resources department.&nbsp;</p> <p>“What we don’t want is we don’t want them going outside of that to other avenues, right?” he said. “Because then it doesn’t get back to the shelter, and we can’t actually fix the problem.”</p> <p>Gauri sent a letter detailing her experience with the shelter to the city’s human resources investigative unit. However, they told her they could not look into it because she was a volunteer – not an employee.&nbsp;</p> <p>Other volunteers, like dog foster parents Allegra Abramo and Catherine Weatbrook, said they were not directly fired, but noticed reduced shelter account access or communications after expressing concerns.&nbsp;</p> <p>Abramo, who had been a foster for nearly 20 years, said she stopped receiving emails for foster volunteers. When she asked about it, the foster coordinator responded that they were “unsure when or why this happened” but maybe there was confusion because Abramo “expressed a fair amount of discontent with the program.”</p> <p>(Abramo is a journalist whose work has been published at Cascade PBS, most recently in 2022.)</p> <p>Weatbrook volunteered as a foster parent for about a decade and was volunteering as a foster case manager when she noticed she was not receiving emails with new cases anymore.&nbsp;</p> <p>“You look around and go, ‘Gee, no one has called me in six months,’” Weatbrook said. “And that’s odd because I’m hearing that there’s many, many, many dogs in foster homes with brand-new foster parents.”&nbsp;</p> <p>She then found out they had stopped using volunteer case managers and emailed the volunteer coordinator at the time to get clarification and express her frustration. The deputy director emailed her back asking for a meeting to discuss her future with the shelter, Weatbrook said. Having heard about similar discussions with other volunteers, she quit.&nbsp;</p> <p>When asked, Mixon wrote via email: “It is not shelter policy, nor standard practice, to revoke an active volunteer’s access to shelter accounts.”&nbsp;</p> <p>A cork board at the Seattle Animal Shelter shows dogs that have been recently available for adoption. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)</p> <p>In early 2023, a group of volunteers from the dog foster team – including both Weatbrook and Abramo – sent shelter leaders a list of concerns and proposed recommendations. Seventeen volunteers – with an average of more than a decade of experience – signed the letter. Most of the signatories have since left the organization.&nbsp;</p> <p>The <a href="">letter</a> warned of declining volunteer morale, recent departures of experienced volunteers and increased risks to workers and the public from shelter practices on handling dogs with bite histories.&nbsp;</p> <p>“It seems only a matter of time before the City of Seattle is confronted with a lawsuit,” volunteers wrote in the letter. “We know that [Seattle Animal Shelter] leadership and management do not want anyone to get hurt. We want to work together to minimize the chances of serious injury, and take quick action to support those who do get hurt in the line of duty.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Shelter director Rodriguez said he believes that many of them left because they wanted to maintain the processes that they had developed.&nbsp;</p> <p>“They ended up leaving because we were taking ownership of that body of work, right? Because we needed to establish, OK, how do we get the best resources to our fosters. ... How do we include everybody?” he said. “They wanted to keep it the status quo, and I wasn’t going to keep it the status quo. We’re going to make a little bit of a shift and include more people, bring more people into our organization. That’s why I kinda say, well, there’s two sides to the story.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Several foster parents also told Cascade PBS they were asked to return the animals they were fostering after questioning or criticizing the shelter, and many chose to adopt the animal – whether they wanted it or not – because they said they did not trust the shelter to find it a good fit for adoption.</p> <p>“I grew up visiting that shelter,” said former critter volunteer Kari Pelaez, who quit in March 2023 after four years. “It was a great place to adopt from, and now I’m sad because I wouldn’t recommend anyone to go there. I don’t trust that they have the animal’s best interests at heart, and I know they don’t have the volunteers’ best interests at heart.”</p> <p>Safety concerns and other issues have been raised by current and former volunteers at the Seattle Animal Shelter. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)</p> Consultants suggest reforms <p>The shelter has hired consultants to evaluate its practices three times in the past two years. The Performance Dimensions GROUP provided a <a href="">report </a>in 2022. Maddie’s Fund – a national animal care organization – delivered its findings in May 2023, and the organization Rachel at the Shelter issued a report in July.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Every time things go badly in the shelter, they either hire a new layer of management or they hire a consultant to tell them what they’re doing wrong,” former volunteer Hutsell said.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Find tools and resources in Cascade PBS’s&nbsp;<a href=" " target="_blank">Check Your Work guide</a>&nbsp;to search workplace safety records and complaints for businesses in your community.</em></p> <p>The <a href="">Maddie’s Fund report</a> offered a mix of recommendations, with nearly half aimed at improving the organization broadly and the rest geared toward improving animal welfare and outcomes. Many of the recommendations in both categories involve creating or updating standard operating procedures, creating clear lines of communication and expectations and increased training.&nbsp;</p> <p>The report also specifically noted strained relationships within the shelter, and describes the issue as urgent. It recommended creating a clear procedure for reporting code of conduct violations and creating “an environment of openness and transparency where staff and volunteers clearly understand their role in conflicts.”&nbsp;</p> <p>“All staff and volunteers need to very clearly understand that [Seattle Animal Shelter] is committed to inclusivity and respect for staff, volunteers, and the public,” the report concluded. “There is a tendency amongst some staff and volunteers to disrespect or villainize others instead of utilizing a trauma informed approach and working to understand others’ situations and support them.”</p> <p>Similarly, the <a href="">Rachel at the Shelter report</a> – which focused on the shelter’s foster programs – included a section on foster volunteer communications and roles, saying that many volunteers expressed discontent with a lack of clear expectations and a “perceived discarding” of requests and concerns.&nbsp;</p> <p>“The natural power dynamic between leadership and their team or leadership and their volunteers (at any organization) complicates this,” the report elaborated. “When one party has the technical power to enact change that another invested party is advocating for and feels powerless to do anything about, that is a dynamic to be <em>very</em> conscious of.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Related recommendations included clarifying volunteer roles, centralizing documents, creating consistent meetings and allowing room for mistakes because “the lack of written processes have contributed to an environment where a not-insignificant number of volunteers feel they may have certain privileges revoked for crossing lines that were not clearly communicated to them.”</p> <p>Dogs at the Seattle Animal Shelter peek&nbsp;out from their kennels, April 26, 2024. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)</p> <p>Based on these reports, Rodriguez said he wrote a two-year plan to implement the recommendations. The plan – the first of its kind since 2014, according to Mixon – includes 245 action items and a timeline to be completed between January 2024 and January 2026.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We’re a city entity and things move a little slow, and that’s OK,” Rodriguez said. “But we are making progress, and we’re making progress in the right direction.”</p> <p>Shelter leadership had completed just 17 of the 245 recommendations within the first four months of 2024, putting the reforms behind schedule based on the benchmarks within the plan.&nbsp;</p> <p>Many recommendations carry over verbatim from the consulting reports. Some are clear, tangible items, such as creating an organizational chart for the foster team. Others are more broad or vague, such as “more emphasis on post-placement support” for foster parents.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Some recommendations also overlap. For example, two separate recommendations describe the need to create standard operating procedures for different volunteer roles, with different timeframes for each.</p> <p>A few of the recommendations addressed decision-making and communication for animals at risk of euthanasia.&nbsp;</p> <p>Rocker repeatedly said she feared Grubauer would be euthanized – even getting into arguments with her veterinary clinic co-workers who said they thought it was necessary.&nbsp;</p> <p>Grubauer went to a foster or adoption home and was returned 11 times in total, mostly over bites, according to his animal report. On Feb. 22, at just under 3 years old, Grubauer was euthanized.</p> <p>During her last biting incident, Rocker knew she couldn’t get Grubauer back to the shelter on her own. She said she called animal control at the behest of her girlfriend, and a police officer showed up to take him away. It broke Rocker’s heart.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I looked at Gru, and I looked in his eyes, and he was such a good dog. Like, I could feel it. It just didn’t make sense,” she said as her voice began to shake. “He was just laying down looking at me like, ‘Where is this guy taking me?’ And I just felt like I fucking failed him. But my girlfriend was like, ‘You didn’t fail him. They failed us.’”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the last name of Catherine Weatbrook.&nbsp;We have also corrected our characterization of injuries appearing in city incident forms that did not show up in animal reports.</em></p> Article continues below Related Stories <p><strong>Topics:</strong> <a href="" hreflang="en">animals</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Labor</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Seattle</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Washington Workplace Watch</a></p> Jaelynn Grisso Investigations 97361 Tue, 21 May 2024 05:00:00 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News Podcast | The Seattle native who brought serenity to skyscrapers <p><strong>Topics:</strong> </p> Sara Bernard Mossback 97301 Tue, 21 May 2024 04:59:00 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News Black Arts Legacies: Gretchen Yanover’s meditative cello movements <p><strong>Topics:</strong> <a href="" hreflang="en">black arts legacies</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Features</a></p> Jas Keimig Culture 97366 Tue, 21 May 2024 04:58:00 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News Refugees find a new home in majority-immigrant Des Moines school <p>When Baheer Hedayee came to the U.S. from Kabul, Afghanistan, after the <a href="">U.S. troop withdrawal in 2021</a>, he said his English level was at 5%. The 10-year-old remembers he couldn’t understand any of the words spoken when he started first grade at Parkside Elementary School in Des Moines, Washington.&nbsp;</p> <p>Two years later, he can speak English as well as he speaks his native Farsi. He argues that he is basically already 11 years old since his birthday is coming soon. He knows he wants to be a lawyer when he grows up. And he hopes to make the school soccer team this season and loves to talk about the different places his friends and classmates come from.&nbsp;</p> <p>A majority of his fellow Parkside students are immigrants and refugees or have asylum status. They come from a variety of countries: Afghanistan, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Russia and Ukraine. Several languages, like Swahili, Farsi, Pashto, Dari, Spanish, English, Arabic and more, appear on colorful signs and posters and are heard in school hallways.&nbsp;</p> <p>Global events, including the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 2021 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, have brought refugees to Washington communities like Des Moines. And nearly half of all refugees who come to the state are under 18, according to Sarah Peterson, office chief and state refugee coordinator for the Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance in the Department of Social Health Services. And those numbers have more than doubled in each of the past two years.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I think kids are often the reason why people come to the United States,” said Peterson. “On more than one occasion, I’ve had a parent say, ‘I came so that my child can have a better life.’”&nbsp;</p> <p>Baheer’s father, Ahmad Hedayee, 38, said his family’s life in the U.S. is amazing in comparison to what they would have had to endure if they had stayed in Afghanistan.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I have work, my kids come to school, my wife is going to college, everything is good and we’re really happy with this life,” Hedayee said.&nbsp;</p> First steps&nbsp; <p>More than 14,000 refugees and other humanitarian immigrants have come to the state in the past two years, according to Peterson. The largest subgroups are from Afghanistan and Ukraine, followed by Syria, Cuba and Venezuela. Most are coming to King, Spokane, Snohomish and Pierce counties so the immigrants and refugees can join existing communities of newcomers and receive culturally responsive resources and linguistic help.&nbsp;</p> <p>Over the past two fiscal years, the Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance has invested nearly $70 million to support more than 16 programs and services for eligible refugees and immigrants. Peterson said 91% of this money comes from the federal government and the rest from the state budget.</p> <p>Parkside principal Bobbi Giammona asks a group of second-graders to point out on the world map where they are from. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)</p> <p>The Hedayee siblings, from left: Baheer, 10; Sahaba, 4; Samya, 7; and Sama, 9, sit outside Parkside Elementary in Des Moines, April 29, 2024. The oldest three are students at the school, where a majority of their classmates are immigrants and refugees. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)</p> <p>Washington enrolled more than 4,000 Afghan children and 6,000 from Ukraine in the 2022-2023 school year alone. The large number of incoming students is difficult for both the state and the districts to track, so some schools may be missing out on the state funds available to support their immigrant and refugee students, according to Peterson. These programs are opt-in and schools need to apply for the money, but Peterson said some schools aren’t aware of this resource.</p> <p>The state also has difficulty tracking the impact this money has on communities since they can’t directly check with individual students and their families. They must rely on their community partners for updates. And a lot of this work is done quickly in response to emergencies, as they had to do when war broke out in Ukraine, so that adds another level of difficulty.&nbsp;</p> <p>First steps for these families – and the agencies helping them – are housing and then school.&nbsp;</p> <p>Schools and community organizations work together to support them, generally placing the newcomers with other people from the same country, religion and culture to ease their transition.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Parkside is my second home,” said Ahmad, who was hired as a bilingual interpreter by the Highline School District and then later as a paraeducator at Parkside to help teach English to immigrant students. “This very classroom we are in is where I started working,” he said of the classroom where incoming immigrant students learn English.&nbsp;</p> The journey <p>In Kabul, Ahmad worked as a general services assistant at the U.S. Embassy, where he was invited to apply for <a href="">Special Immigrant Visas</a> for himself and his immediate family. They left around the same time the U.S. troop withdrawal began. Most of their extended family remains in Afghanistan, but Ahmad says they keep in touch through video and phone calls.&nbsp;</p> <p>Although Baheer was only 7 at the time, he vividly remembers each stop along the way.&nbsp;</p> <p>He remembers his father waking all of them up at 2 or 3 a.m. and saying it was time to go. They drove their car to Kabul International Airport and carried their luggage filled with clothes, mementos and essentials. They waited outside in the summer heat until the late evening with “100,000 or 200,000 people” who were all trying to escape.&nbsp;</p> <p>Then they repeated this routine for the next two to three days, waiting to board a plane. The day before they were able to leave, Baheer remembers, he heard loud bangs and yelling from those he called “armies” – U.S. soldiers – to leave their bags and run inside the airport buildings for safety.&nbsp;</p> <p>Ahmad said those loud bangs were from a <a href="">suicide attack at the back of the airport</a>. His family was finally able to board a plane to Germany after days of uncertainty and anxiety. In Germany they spent almost two months sharing a large tent in a refugee camp with about 300 people, with no restrooms and having to ration food to the point of being allotted only one banana for two children or a large hard black loaf of bread for the whole family.&nbsp;</p> <p>Ahmad Hedayee talks with his son Baheer, 10, and his friends as they wait for a late bus to pick them up for school outside their apartment complex in Des Moines. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)</p> <p>Baheer said he wore the same outfit, including underwear, for 15-20 days without showering. They were given donated clothes and a blanket to keep warm at night, but look back at their time in Germany with grimaces, and have agreed never to return.&nbsp;</p> <p>When the Hedayees finally arrived in the U.S. in 2022, the whole family said they immediately felt welcomed by American soldiers at Fort Gregg-Adams in Virginia. The soldiers carried their bags to their hotel room and even bought them Afghan food, which Ahmad said they hadn’t eaten since beginning their journey.&nbsp;</p> <p>Baheer remembered feeling so happy to finally take a shower after wearing the same dirty clothes for so long. The family then was transferred to Pennsylvania, where Ahmad said they were taken to a room with a large table full of snacks like chips and candy. The children asked if they could have some, but, after having to ration their food in Germany, they took only one bag of chips and a piece of candy. They were elated to learn they could eat as much as they wanted.&nbsp;</p> <p>Ahmad requested a move to Washington since his brother lived here, and the International Rescue Committee set them up in an apartment complex close to Parkside Elementary, where Baheer and his sister Sama, 9, enrolled in January 2022.&nbsp;</p> <p>Jennifer McLaughlin, senior program manager for youth and education at the IRC, said the process of resettling families into housing and enrolling the children in school can take months, often with several relocations along the way. The IRC has a partnership with Highline School District; McLaughlin said they began their work with one middle school in King County in 2023, and now it’s the county with the most people they serve.&nbsp;</p> <p>Once a family is settled, they go through school orientation with a support team of social workers and staff members. This is also when families learn about the U.S. education system and a variety of other support services from language assistance to the school lunch program.&nbsp;</p> Challenges of refugee influx&nbsp; <p>More than <a href="">250 different languages</a> are spoken in Washington, according to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Many immigrant children are <a href="">eligible for the state’s Transitional Bilingual Instruction Program</a> when they start school here, especially if English is not their primary language.&nbsp;</p> <p>State law requires incoming students to be <a href=";full=true#28A.180.010">tested for their English language skills</a> within 10 days of enrollment. Rosann Rankin, Parkside Elementary’s multilingual learning specialist, scrambled to test all of the new Afghan students when they arrived in those first waves. Students are grouped with others at the same English level 45 minutes a day for 20 weeks, where they gain a language foundation.&nbsp;</p> <p>Parkside now has staff members who were parents of refugee students, or refugees themselves, who can speak Dari and Pashto and assist new arrivals. Since a majority of the incoming immigrant students are from Afghanistan, they pair up as language buddies to help each other outside of class.&nbsp;</p> <p>McLaughlin said one of the challenges schools face is accommodating the large number of students arriving at the same time. IRC tripled their funding and increased staffing from 16 to 34 this year, hiring people who were also refugees. The number of students they serve this year has doubled since last year, to 930 students.&nbsp;</p> <p>Her team has added trauma-informed linguistic support programs to their current student support to help students adjust to their new lives and improve their English.</p> <p>“Oftentimes these kids, they really just want to go back home. They didn’t choose to come here. America wasn’t a dream for them,” McLaughlin said.&nbsp;</p> <p>Samya Hedayee, 7, waits for her school bus with a friend outside their apartment complex in Des Moines. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)</p> <p>A sign at Parkside Elementary lists greetings in many languages including Chinook, Chinese, Farsi, Hawaiian and Arabic. The school encourages students to speak their home language in school just as much as they tell them to speak in English. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)</p> <p>Ahmad said this was the case for his children when they arrived at Parkside. The language barrier was difficult and frustrating for them to overcome.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I think everything is so different for them. Some of them have never been to school because of either the Taliban and/or COVID,” said Rankin, who also helps teach students English. “Some of them were in private schools in Afghanistan, [and] we have kids from cities and from rural areas.”</p> Support after school&nbsp; <p>Sarah Peterson from the state Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance said another challenge when it comes to refugee students is providing support outside of academics. At their current capacity, they’re able to provide funding to schools for academic purposes only, not for mental health support or counseling.&nbsp;</p> <p>School’s Out Washington and Lutheran Community Services Northwest are two organizations offering after-school programs for refugee students. School’s Out Washington is a nonprofit that receives funding from the state to invest in after-school or summer programs for students, including their Refugee School Impact Program. One Lutheran Community Services program, Refugees Northwest, helps students work on their English skills.&nbsp;</p> <p>Sama Hedayee, 9, boards the bus to Parkside Elementary, May 1, 2024. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)</p> <p>Students get on the bus to Parkside Elementary outside their apartment complex in Des Moines, where many immigrant and refugee families live. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)</p> <p>Fahmo Abdulle, youth case manager and program coordinator at Refugees Northwest, said Refugees Northwest does not have counselors or mental health professionals with the linguistic and cultural backgrounds to fully understand these students, but they do offer mental and wellness workshops for parents to help them deal with the trauma of escaping their country and coming to the United States. Other refugee organizations offer some mental health support, including Jewish Family Service, which has also worked to resettle Afghan refugees.</p> A school of several languages&nbsp; <p>The Hedayee kids now love coming to school to learn from their teachers and hang out with their friends, who come from many different backgrounds.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Especially Samya, every Friday, she asks me, ‘Is there school tomorrow?’ And on Saturday she asks again, ‘Is there school tomorrow?’ I tell her, take it easy, you will have time to go to school,” Ahmad said.&nbsp;</p> <p>Samya, 7, wants to become a teacher since she loves using her second grade homework to teach her mother English. Ahmad’s wife asked not to be named because her brother was arrested by the Taliban, and worries for their relatives who are still in Afghanistan.&nbsp;</p> <p>Samya Hedayee, 7, works on reading skills with her second-grade classmates at Parkside Elementary, May 1, 2023. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)</p> <p>She is currently taking language classes at Highline Community College. Everyone in the family including their youngest, 4-year-old Sahaba, can now speak, read and write in English and Farsi. Similar to other immigrant families, the children sometimes translate for their mother in everyday life, from talking to a delivery person to making doctor’s appointments.&nbsp;</p> <p>Bobbi Giammona, principal of Parkside Elementary, said the school encourages students to speak their home language in school just as much as they tell them to speak in English.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Kids who are bilingual can keep both,” Rankin said. “Their brains can do things that monolingual kids can’t, as well as stay in connection with their grandparents and parents so there’s not a divide in their family of who can and can’t speak.”</p> <p>Giammona said all staff at Parkside – from classroom teachers to librarians and music teachers – are GLAD-trained (Guided Language Acquisition Design), which allows students to communicate their thoughts in different ways, like drawing or using their home language, if they cannot express themselves fully in English.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A map on the wall at Parkside Elementary shows pins where immigrant and refugee students are from. Many Parkside families are from Afghanistan. (Genna Martin/Cascade PBS)</p> <p>The school library also supplies books in several languages to ensure that students keep their native language and read books if they’re not fluent in English yet.&nbsp;</p> <p>Ahmad and his wife tell their children to write stories in a notebook in Farsi to ensure they don’t forget their native language, since they’re mainly using English in school.&nbsp;</p> <p>“It’s important for them to remember their language for when we can go back to Afghanistan one day, so they can speak to my mother, their grandmother and all of our family there,” Ahmad said.</p> <p><strong>Topics:</strong> <a href="" hreflang="en">Education</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Immigration</a></p> Jadenne Radoc Cabahug News 97306 Mon, 20 May 2024 05:00:00 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News Podcast | A comedy roast of SCOTUS <p><strong>Topics:</strong> <a href="" hreflang="en">Cascade PBS Ideas Festival</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Comedy</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Podcast</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></p> Paris Jackson News 97351 Mon, 20 May 2024 04:59:00 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News Cascade PBS Ideas Festival | A Word: Race and Politics <p><strong>Topics:</strong> <a href="" hreflang="en">Multimedia</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Video</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Cascade PBS Ideas Festival</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">politics</a></p> Cascade PBS Newsroom Staff Politics 97341 Mon, 20 May 2024 04:58:00 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News Cascade PBS Ideas Festival | Radio Atlantic: AI Elections <p><strong>Topics:</strong> <a href="" hreflang="en">Multimedia</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Video</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Cascade PBS Ideas Festival</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">politics</a></p> Cascade PBS Newsroom Staff Politics 97331 Sun, 19 May 2024 05:00:00 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News Cascade PBS Ideas Festival | Revisionist History: Unlocked and Unloaded <p><strong>Topics:</strong> <a href="" hreflang="en">Multimedia</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Video</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">Cascade PBS Ideas Festival</a>, <a href="" hreflang="en">politics</a></p> Cascade PBS Newsroom Staff Politics 97321 Sat, 18 May 2024 05:00:00 PDT Cascade PBS News - Washington state & Seattle News