News and Updates

  • 07 Jun 2018 10:09 AM | Deleted user

    In today’s divisive political comment can we move beyond snarky Twitter exchanges and engage in civil conversation? League of Women Voters of Tacoma-Pierce County thinks so and has engaged in a year-long process and increasing number of partners to move toward action, while encouraging civility and demonstrating the power of conversation. 

    We've already highlighted the results but for those of you who want to know what process led to those results, read on! 

    Civility Forums 

    In early 2017 LWVT-PC joined with community partners NAACP, AAUW, and RAD (Restoring the American Dream) to hold a series of three public forums on the topic of civility. 

    The three forums, “Civility, Incivility and Civil Disobedience,” were:

    • Civility in Public Discourse—Whose Job Is It, Anyway?
    • Maintaining Civility at Home, at Work and on the Street
    • Political Civility

    This award-winning series was popular not just because of the topics but because of the format, which gave audience members the opportunity to discuss topics in small groups for one hour.  While some initially declared that a three-hour forum was too long, evaluations later suggested participants could have used even more time! A favorite part of each forum was the small group conversation.

    Community Conversations 

    Based on that feedback, the four sponsoring organizations decided to initiate public Conversation Cafes in the Fall of 2017.  These have been held twice a month, one in the Tacoma/Lakewood area and one in Puyallup each month.  These provide an opportunity for the public to discuss a wide variety of controversial topics within the safety of the Conversation Café model.  

    Ground rules include use of a talking stick, requiring the group to listen as each speaker talks, and other rules of civil discourse.  The topics have been:

    • Can Democrats and Republicans Actually Talk to Each Other?
    • What effect is the media having on civility in our conversations?  If this effect is not something we value, how might we get the media to change?
    • What is the state of public education in Washington? Is financial support of public schools sufficient?  Are there changes that should be made in the public education system?
    •  Bring Your Own Topic. What would you really love to discuss with people of different persuasions?
    • What are...or should be...American values?
    • Homelessness:  What is our individual or collective responsibility to work on and solve it?  Whose responsibility is it?
    • What are the things we value in the community we live in?  How can those features be preserved in the face of significant growth change?
    • How Can We Assure a Free Press?

    It was these initial successful endeavors that inspired and gave the participants the confidence to move from conversation and discussion into this actual problem solving, all while maintaining the civility that seems so elusive in so much of our current public discourse.

    Holding Forums 

    The next step was to move from conversation and discussion into this actual problem solving, all while maintaining the civility that seems so elusive in so much of our current public discourse. The success here was detailed in a previous post

    Follow Up Action 

    Following the successful forums and community recommendations, LWVT-PC sent a letter to the Pierce County Council outlining the recommendations stemming from the public feedback at the event.  

    LWVT-PC presented to the results of their work to the Pierce County Council's Human Services Committee. You can see their presentation online (starts about 20 minutes in).

    For more info on the process or the outcomes of this work, contact Cynthia Stewart, President, LWVT-PC.

  • 07 Jun 2018 10:03 AM | Deleted user

    Why take on the issue of homelessness?  It is a problem that everyone is talking about, which doesn’t seem to be getting better despite the resources being invested.  

    The League of Women Voters of Tacoma Pierce County spent almost a year building partnerships to collaborate on community forums on the issue of homelessness.

    After holding a series of successful civil conversation forums, the League of Women Voters of Tacoma-Pierce County and their community partners NAACP, AAUW, and RAD (Restoring the American Dream), decided to do a deep dive and some actual problem solving around the issue of homelessness. 

    Homeless CoLab Workshop  – October 20-21, 2017

    Led by League member Larry Seaquist the groups tried the “Community Laboratory” (CoLab) model  – a new method of engaging the public in a civil problem-solving strategic planning session. Based on role playing, the model gets to the heart of the matter very quickly.

    Using the CoLab model, LWVT-PC and partners held a session at which approximately 40 stakeholders currently involved in the homelessness issue met.

    The participants included shelter providers, city and county government officials, realtors, churches, McKinney-Vento Program liaisons, United Way, educators, library representatives, economic development experts, law enforcement, people experiencing homelessness and others.

    Working in mixed groups, each table was assigned a role: Opportunity-Makers, Homeless Communities, Rule-Makers, Housing Owners and Makers, Community Protectors and “Ministers of Chaos” (nay-sayers).

    Together, these stakeholders arrived at four consensus recommendations:

    1. Declare an emergency in the county and conduct a marketing/education campaign within the Pierce County community
    2. Establish a core group, a multi-jurisdictional, multi-sector hub, responsible for homelessness countywide.
    3. Provide support in the form of transit passes, access to hygiene and cell phones with expanded data service.
    4. Create a super-village of housing plus support services and a system to graduate people from homelessness through a phased approach back to permanent housing.  Use vacant commercial buildings to create this and employ homeless people to do part of the work.

    The stakeholder participants asked the LWVT-PC to take the lead on implementation of these recommendations. 

    As LWVT-PC began working the issues within the political system, an opportunity arose in partnership with the State Historic Museum to use the Tacoma Convention Center for an event and a forum was scheduled.

    Facing Pierce County Homelessness: Creating "HomeFULLness”  - April, 28, 2018.

    In line with the previous year’s activities, the partnership of four organizations, under leadership of LWVT-PC, held a public forum on the issue of homelessness, calling attention not only to the problem, but also to potential solutions.

    The one-day session included two plenary sessions, one at the beginning and one at the end, a keynote speaker from the Gates Foundation, and two sets of four concurrent sessions on specific issues:

    • Hard Times in Hooverville:  Homeless Settlements During the Great Depression
    • Closing the Affordable Housing Gap
    • Addressing Homelessness through Community Organizing
    • Road to Nickelsville (film and discussion)
    • Health Care and Homelessness
    • Racial Inequity in Homelessness
    • Coordination of Services for People Experiencing Homelessness
    • Homeless Youth
    There were 47 speakers and moderators involved in this program as well as 35 volunteers to support it.  Approximately 300 members of the public attended. Funding was provided by a number of community organizations.

    The next step, political action, was taken when LWVT-PC sent a letter to the Pierce County Council outlining the recommendations stemming from the public feedback at the event. LWVT-PC then presented to the results of their work to the Pierce County Council's Human Services Committee. You can see their presentation online (starts about 20 minutes in).

    If you have questions about these event or about holding events like them in your community, please contact Cynthia Stewart, President, LWVT-PC.

  • 07 Jun 2018 8:58 AM | Deleted user

    With increased public support for stricter gun laws after the Parkland and Mukilteo school shootings, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility filed an initiative to the people to enact safety measures the legislature failed to follow through on.


    Thurston County Leaguers participate in the March for Our Lives

    The initiative incorporates several gun safety measures – all of which League positions support – under the umbrella of increasing public safety.  Key provisions include:

    • raising the minimum age for purchasing an assault-style weapon from 18 to 21
    • requiring an enhanced background check, as required for handguns
    • waiting period up to ten days
    • disclosure of potential risks of guns in the home to be signed by buyer
    • require gun dealers to make safe storage devices available to buyers
    • Dangerous Access Prevention to prevent children and persons prohibited from gun ownership  vfrom obtaining unsecured weapons. This provision has the highest potential for saving lives, especially suicides. Twenty-eight states now require safe storage
    • mandatory safety training for assault-style weapon buyers
    • mandatory reporting of lost and stolen weapons.

    The initiative will be known as I-1639 and petitions will be available May 7. The state league board will consider endorsement of I-1639 at its May 18 meeting.

    The League endorsed I-594 for universal background checks in 2014 and I-1490 for Extreme Risk Protection Orders in 2016. Both passed by wide margins. This initiative will require 260,000 valid signatures by July 7. 

  • 06 Jun 2018 9:49 AM | Deleted user

    At League's Council 2018, held in Richland, we welcomed a keynote panel to talk with us about Hanford. The League's own Susan Leckband (LWV of Benton-Franklin Counties) serves as the chair of the Hanford Advisory Board. 

    In her presentation she explained what the Hanford Advisory Board is, who's on it, how it makes decisions, and why it exists. 

    Susan Leckband joined Alexandra Smith of the Washington State Department of Ecology and David Reeploeg of TRIDEC at the LWVWA 2018 Council 

    In her concluding remarks Susan told us, "Given the magnitude and longevity of the cleanup operations, it is imperative that we remain mindful to adhere to our most crucial priority, which is protection of public health and the environment, now and in the future. As a citizens' advisory board, we keep those values in mind as we advise the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington State Department of Ecology to complete the Hanford cleanup mission in a timely, safe, and cost-effective manner."

    To read more about the Hanford Advisory Board, please refer to Susan's slides.

  • 17 May 2018 9:31 AM | Deleted user

    The Membership, Engagement, & Leadership Development (MELD) Program Pilot Pod calls have gone well and, with Board and MELD Coach support, we have decided to expand the program state-wide in June. 

    On Friday, June 1 in Richland, the day before Council 2018 begins, we are holding a MELD Training Session with the LWVWA Board, MELD Coaches, and representative from all (we hope) 20 Local Leagues. The purpose is to build a strong framework to support the launch of the new Pods. This training session is separate from Council, includes lunch, and there is no cost. 

    We have divided our 20 Local Leagues (LLs) into five MELD Pods (we currently have five MELD Coaches). We aimed to create diverse groups with at least one LL from Eastern Washington, one large LL, and one LL who has not recently had a MLD Coach.

    2018/2019 MELD Pod Groups

    Pod 1: Yakima, Tacoma/Pierce, Cowlitz, Clark

    Coach: Judy Golberg, Board Liaison: Judy Davis

    Pod 2: Pullman, Snohomish, Skagit, Mason

    Coach: Barbara Seitle, Board Liaison: Joanna Cullen

    Pod 3: Spokane, Bellingham/Whatcom, San Juan, Clallam

    Coach: Kim Abel, Board Liaison: Mary Coltrane

    Pod 4: Kittitas, Seattle/KC, Jefferson, Whidbey

    Coach: Myra Howrey, Board Liaison: Lunell Haught & Katherine Murphy

    Pod 5: Benton/Franklin, Thurston, Grays Harbor, Kitsap

    Coach: Lynn Busacca, Board Liaison: Michelle Valentine

    Stay tuned in early summer for the launch of the Engaging Notes blog and MELD Page on the LWVWA website.

  • 17 May 2018 7:52 AM | Deleted user

    Who knew a housewife and mother of five could make such a difference?

    Certainly not Mary Ellen McCaffree, when she took on the problem of her kids’ ill-funded schools. In this one-woman show, you’ll join Mary Ellen’s deep dive into the legislative lion’s den of redistricting. As she is thrust center stage in the fight for one person - one vote, you’ll recognize political parallels to today – dysfunction, obstruction, partisan ploys, and also leaders firmly focused on We the People. Mary Ellen’s unexpected journey will inspire you to join the fresh voices rising today. On your mark, pick your passion, GO!

    Many Maps, One Voice, excerpted from Mary Ellen's book, Politics of the Possible, tracks the redistricting journey of Mary Ellen McCaffree, played by veteran stage actress Jane Fellows (Belle of Amherst, The Trip to Bountiful, Good Morning, Miss America). Timely and timeless, this is a show that's perfect for the 2018 midterms and the next round of redistricting. Many Maps is a call to civic engagement, citizen action and civility in the ongoing voting rights fight inherent in the census and redistricting. 

    Read more about the show and most importantly, buy your tickets today!

  • 10 May 2018 10:17 AM | Deleted user

    Planning to arrive in Richland on Friday for Council 2018? 

    The Benton/Franklin League has arranged a special, free tour of the Hanford Site Friday afternoon, June 1. This will be a road tour of the Hanford Site, with commentary along the tour route by an experienced Hanford Site tour guide.

    This tour is exclusive to League members and council participants. Please note: the Hanford tour and MELD training happen concurrently. It is not possible to attend both.

    Hanford's B Reactor

    The tour bus will pick us up at the Shilo Inn at 1 p.m., where we will be transported to the Department of Energy Visitor Control Office for badging. 

    Before the tour can start, visitors will need to show that they are US Citizens, 18 years or older. 

    Please consult the Required Forms of Identification for Hanford Site Access which outlines the ID requirements each tour participant must bring to be issued a Hanford Site visitor badge. Please note that anyone without proper ID will be unable to participate in the tour. There are no exceptions. 

    For any questions on the badging information, you may call the DOE Visitor Control Office at 509-376-3215.

    Following the badging process, the bus will depart for the Hanford Site tour. The tour route will pass by various areas of the Hanford Site, including Hanford projects and operations supporting the site’s current environmental cleanup efforts. The bus will return us to the Shilo Inn at approximately 4:00 p.m.

    If you have questions about the tour, please contact Karen Sinclair, Hanford Site Tour Coordinator, by email or at 509-376-2151.

    Reservations are required and must be submitted by noon on Monday, May 21.

    Sign up today to reserve your spot! (Sorry--to register for both the tour and the rest of Council, you will need to complete two separate registrations). 

  • 02 May 2018 12:57 PM | Deleted user
    Council 2018 is almost upon us. In addition to the Council activities themselves we have several events that are open both to Council registrants and to members of the public.

    The League of Women Voters of Washington (LWVWA) is pleased to invite members of the public to three events during our Council 2018: Engaging the Future weekend in Richland, WA.

    Friday, June 1, 12:45 pm
    Tour Hanford by Bus with Hanford Advisory Board (HAB) Chair and LWVWA Representative Susan Leckband, and technical expert.
    No cost; must be 18 years old and have picture ID; RSVPs required. 

    Saturday, June 2, 5:15 pm
    Social/dinner and keynote address: Hanford: a 360 Degree View
    $35; RSVPs required

    Saturday, June 2, 6:45 pm
    Keynote only: Hanford: a 360 Degree View
    No cost; RSVPs required

    Sunday, June 3, 1:00 pm 
    Book launch/signing of The State We’re In: Washington, the LWVWA Civics textbook for ages 11+

    Events will take place at the Shilo Inn Suites in Richland, Washington. For the Hanford tour, we will meet at the Shilo Inn and bus from there. Reserve your space on our event page. Please note that to reserve the Hanford tour and the rest of council, you will need to go through the registration process twice, once for each event. 

  • 02 May 2018 12:26 PM | Deleted user

    Interested in attending council but not sure your friends and family can survive the weekend without you? Bring them along!

    The Tri-Cities is filled with fun things to do so you can can fill up your own and your loved ones' free time. 

    Polly Parton, President of Benton/Franklin League, has shared some of her favorites.

    For even more ideas. check out the Visit Tri Cities website

  • 30 Apr 2018 3:53 PM | Deleted user

    In March, leading cyber-security and voting system vulnerability experts joined the League of Women Voters in a timely presentation on national and state election security concerns. What makes a voting system vulnerable? What changes can Washington state make to secure our elections? Check out the video and get more involved by connecting with LWVWA's work on this issue. 

    Co-hosted by the University of Washington Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity.

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