Tag Archives: Features

‘Church on the Yard’ – Filthy Rags Shepherds Prisoners on the Journey From the Inside to the Outside

by M. Anthony Davis


When Alphonso Bell and Charles Champion founded Filthy Rags Outreach, a nonprofit dedicated to gang intervention and prevention, their initial goal was to engage fellow inmates in a religious journey towards spiritual growth. The two met at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen where they are both currently incarcerated. 

“I really never seen men that came from a gang background making progress towards spirituality and finding themselves,” Bell says. Bell transferred to Stafford Creek Corrections Center, where he and Champion founded Filthy Rags Outreach, from Walla Walla State Penitentiary. He wanted to help inmates get into an atmosphere of spiritual growth and self-discovery.

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Abortion Pills Are Now Permanently Available by Mail — What That Means for the PNW

by Megan Burbank


On Dec. 16, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permanently lifted a dispensing requirement for mifepristone, one of two medications commonly used in medication abortions, allowing the drug to be dispensed through the mail. At the time, many media outlets framed it as a new broadening of access to medication abortion. But the rule had already been temporarily lifted, and its newly permanent status reflects a longstanding effort on the part of reproductive health providers to make the medication available more widely. But even with the permanent rule change, access to medication abortion remains wildly varied. Here’s what you need to know.

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Seattle’s Heating Oil Tax: A Missed Opportunity for Environmental Justice

by Tushar Khurana


In September 2019, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed a law that would tax home heating oil sold within the city and could eventually require residents to upgrade or decommission their heating oil tanks by 2028. The legislation was introduced to meet the City’s climate goals by hastening the transition to cleaner electric home heating across the city. It was also lauded in a mayoral press release as a “bold and thoughtful approach” to environmental policy that “help[s] our most vulnerable residents move off heating oil.” Revenue from the tax is intended to fund rebates for homeowners and help provide 1,000 fully paid electric heat pump installations for low-income residents.

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Here’s What Could Happen in Washington if Roe v. Wade Is Overturned

by Megan Burbank


With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that legalized abortion in 1973, abortion access could be newly restricted as soon as this summer. But abortion won’t be criminalized overnight. Because there’s no national anti-abortion law, reversing Roe would leave the future of abortion access up to the discretion of state legislatures. That means 26 states would likely ban the procedure, but in Washington State, abortion care would continue.

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Cascadia’s Climate Champions Learn They Can Win at the Local Level

by Peter Fairley

(This article was originally published on InvestigateWest and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


Acting on international calls to freeze fossil fuel infrastructure, citizen activists working with environmental justice groups and Indigenous nations are pushing local governments to rewrite the rules for building everything from airports and gas stations to industrial zones. 


“We were here before the airport was. They forget that,” says Rosario-Maria Medina, a community activist in the South Seattle neighborhood of Georgetown, just north of bustling Boeing Field. When Seattle’s first commercial airport opened in 1928, Georgetown had been a vibrant community for more than half a century.

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All Those ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Comparisons Ignore the Reality of Anti-Abortion Laws

by Megan Burbank


On Oct. 2, hundreds of activists gathered in Seattle’s Westlake Park to protest Texas’ six-week abortion ban, Senate Bill 8. Similar rallies took place in every state that day, in what the Women’s March framed as a response to “the most dire threat to abortion access in our lifetime.” Nationwide messaging from the Women’s March had encouraged attendees not to bring weapons, images of wire coat hangers, or Handmaid’s Tale-inspired costumes.

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Weekend Long Reads: The Link Between Social Media and Depression

by Kevin Schofield


This weekend’s “long read” is a study by Massachusetts General Hospital and 10 academic partners trying to determine if there is a link between social media use and depression. Spoiler: The researchers found some specific correlations, but they raise many more questions than they answer.

The researchers recruited 8,000 people on the internet to participate in the study. They surveyed the study participants on which of eight social media sites and apps they used and also asked participants to complete a commonly used assessment of whether someone is showing signs of depression, called the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (or PHQ-9). The assessment asks nine questions about specific symptoms and assigns 0–3 points per question, depending on how often the patient exhibits each symptom. The higher the PHQ-9 score, the more severe the signs of depression.

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In the Duwamish Watershed, Communities Respond as Coho Salmon Face a New Threat

by Tushar Khurana


Every year, salmon journey from the open waters of the North Pacific, pass through estuaries along the coast, and swim upriver to spawn in the freshwater streams and creeks in which they were born. Yet across the western coast of North America, coho salmon are dying in large numbers as they return to urban watersheds. In West Seattle, a team of citizen scientists are surveying salmon to understand how many are affected.

Since 2015, small teams of volunteers have gone out every day in the fall to document returning salmon along a quarter mile stretch of Longfellow Creek.

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Weekend Long Reads: The Problem With Police Violence Stats

by Kevin Schofield


This weekend’s long read is a research paper from the leading medical research journal in the U.K., The Lancet. The paper, however, has local roots: It was authored by researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The paper attempts to ascertain the accuracy of statistics on U.S. deaths caused by police in the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) official repository on births and deaths.

The NVSS collects data from death certificates, including the cause of death. Usually a physician fills out the death certificate, but it could be completed by a coroner or medical examiner instead if there is suspicion of crime, foul play, or police violence. However, that creates a conflict of interest, as the paper describes, if the same government responsible for police violence is also responsible for reporting it.

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Weekend Long Reads: COVID-19 and the Flu

by Kevin Schofield


This weekend’s “long read” is a column from Dr. Arnold S. Monto, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Our hopes that COVID-19 could be eradicated, he says, were based on faulty assumptions, and we now need to shift to planning for how we will deal with the virus for the foreseeable future — much the same way that we manage influenza.

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