Author Archives: cforjustice

Spokane Riverkeeper Joins National Movement to Derail Outdated Train Infrastructure

This week, we joined Waterkeeper Alliance, ForestEthics, and other environmental non-profits in releasing a report exploring the harmful effects of old train foundations. Since 2008, a 5,000 percent increase in oil train traffic has caused a threat to our waterways. This increases the likelihood of environmental disasters.

Photo courtesy of Waterkeeper Alliance
Photo courtesy of Waterkeeper Alliance

Defects in the rail bridges could lead to an oil train disaster causing oil spills, fires and explosions. In Spokane, we have numerous rail bridges that cross the Spokane River and its offshoots through the downtown area.

From July until September of this year, Waterkeepers from across the nation took a deeper look at 250 railway bridges along known and potential routes of explosive oil trains. Of the 250 railways that were surveyed, 114 bridges— nearly half of the railways we explored—showed signs of significant stress and decay, such as rotted, cracked, or crumbling foundations, and loose or broken beams.

After looking at safety standards for rail bridges, we found that the federal government lacks oversight of inspections and repairs necessary for safe railway bridges. Through our investigation, we found that broad federal law, lax regulations, inadequate inspections, and a lack of authority combine to create a threat from oil trains.

As a result, we are calling for immediate, decisive action by the federal government on this issue.

“What the Waterkeepers have captured shines a light on the need for immediate, independent inspections of all rail bridges that carry explosive oil trains,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “People deserve to know the state of this infrastructure and the risks posed by oil trains rolling through their communities.”

ForestEthics has calculated that oil trains directly threaten the life and safety of 25 million Americans, while also jeopardising the drinking water supply for tens of millions more. Our collaborated report attempts to alert communities about this risk and calls for nationwide action and reform of rail safety standards.

We would like to see the Federal Railroad Administration ensure that no rail bridge be used for oil trains or other hazardous materials unless it passes a rigorous and recent third-party safety inspection with strict federal guidelines to ensure zero risk to our drinking water, our river and our community. For more information about what we found out, check out the official report here.

A note from the Spokane Riverkeeper: A huge thanks to our intern, Bella Colpo, for writing this blog post!

Why We’re Still “Fishing” For Clean Water in Hangman Creek

For thousands of years, Chinook salmon and steelhead made the incredible journey up the Columbia and Spokane Rivers, into Hangman Creek to lay their eggs. Salmon thrived in a creek with clean, cold water. However, with the current condition of the watershed, this is no longer the case. In recent years, only remnants of these fish populations can make it in the very few headwaters. Fecal material and eroded soil causes nutrients like phosphorus to deprive oxygen for aquatic ecosystems from the water and causing toxic algae blooms on Lake Spokane.

This is bad news for the fish, but also for anyone who enjoys swimming or boating in the creek.

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Agricultural pollution in Hangman Creek, June of 2015
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Hangman Creek runs muddy with sediment in the summer of 2015. Poor agricultural practices allow thousands of tons of soil to wash into Hangman Creek annually.

Poor land use and agricultural practices continue to prevent stream recovery and clean water that all Washingtonians are entitled to enjoy. Cattle commonly graze along the banks of the Hangman Creek and are allowed to pollute the waters that people swim and fish in downstream. Swimming or even boating in this water puts recreational users at risk and degrades the capacity for the creek to support aquatic life. Would you want to swim in a pool of cow dung in the summertime?

Even more concerning, essential trees and bushes have intentionally been torn away from much of the riverbanks in order to squeeze crops and livestock onto every available square foot of land, poor agricultural practices have turned wetlands and tributaries into drainage ditches. Thousands of acres of surrounding soils are intentionally left exposed and allowed to erode into Hangman Creek. Basically, the watershed is extremely damaged.

The Clean Water Act and Washington State law requires the recovery of clean water and habitats that support the trout and salmon. Obviously, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hasn’t been holding these standards in Hangman Creek. So we did something about it.

The plan to restore the Hangman Creek habitat lacks the accountability pieces that will assure its success. So we challenged the EPA to rework this plan in order to provide an enforceable, transparent, well-funded plan to make Hangman Creek fishable and swimmable.

After long hearing, council sends immigration-petition signatures for review

From The Inlander; article by Jake Thomas

July 14, 2015

The legitimacy of an initiative petition that would undo a city policy barring police from contacting or detaining individuals solely because they are suspected of being an undocumented immigrant was called into question by its opponents during a drawn-out and emotionally heated meeting of Spokane City Council Monday night.

During the four-hour meeting, the council heard from the initiative’s proponents, who insisted that they just want to see the nation’s immigration laws upheld, and opponents, who insisted that undoing the ordinance would make immigrants less likely to cooperate with police and broadcast an unwelcoming message from Spokane to the rest of the world.

The ordinance in question was adopted into city code by the council last October, codifying a 10-year-old police directive that put Spokane among dozens of cities with some sort of policy intended to steer local police away from enforcing immigration laws. The council had the options of voting the petition into law or sending it to the county to have its signatures verified and potentially placed on the November ballot.

But Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart, an opponent of the initiative, didn’t like either of these options. He questioned if the initiative would violate the city charter, calling attention to one of its provisions that would require a referendum on any change to city policies or ordinances that dealt with immigration. He also took issue with a “legislative history” that supporters added to circulated petitions without the city’s approval.


“[I]f you’re going out and collecting signatures and a biased legislative history is next to what should be non-biased [text], aren’t we really in essence violating the municipal code by collecting these signatures?” he said.

Councilwoman Candace Mumm recalled out-of-town signature-gatherers coming to her doorstep and presenting a petition with the “legislative history.” Mumm said she argued with the signature-gatherers for a half an hour about the legislative history.

Stuckart asked Mike Piccolo, a city attorney who previously advised the council, if they had the option of not sending the signatures to the county for validation. Piccolo told Stuckart the council didn’t have that option, and the legality of the initiative could only be challenged by a citizen group.

During the public comment period, the crowd that packed Council Chambers rose from their seats to show agreement with the parade of speakers appearing before the council.


Rick Eichstaedt, executive director of the Center for Justice, said he opposed the initiative because the police don’t want it, and it would be costly and ineffective for them to enforce immigration law.

“This petition violates the law, simply put,” he said, pointing to provisions in the city charter that prevented language not approved by the city from being added to petitions. He also alluded to a potential citizen group that was ready to challenge the petition.

Lisa Logan, community education manager at the YWCA Spokane, asked the council to keep this “dangerous anti-immigrant initiative” off the ballot and to oppose it if it made the ballot. She stated that women in immigrant communities stuck in abusive relationships are hesitant to go to the police out of fear that they will be deported. This policy, she said, made them more willing to trust police.

“I have to warn you that if this practice is changed, victims in our city will be killed for fear of reporting the violence against them,” she said.

Earlier that day, Spokane Mayor David Condon said that he supported the policy. He noted that immigration matters generally falls to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement and called on police to provide equal services to people regardless of immigration status.

“It is incumbent upon all employees of [the police] department to make a personal commitment to equal enforcement of the law and equal service to the public regardless of immigration status,” said Condon.

Supporters of the initiative, who were outnumbered by opponents, pointed to a recent incident in San Francisco, which has a similar policy in place, where a woman died at the hands of an undocumented immigrant. Supporters also routinely said they weren’t against immigrants or immigration, they just wanted people to do immigrate legally. Cindy Zapotocky, a supporter of the initiative, gave the city clerk a copy of Ann Coulter’s recent book Adios, America.

“This is an issue of law and order,” said Jackie Murray, the sponsor of the petition and daughter of a Jamaican immigrant, who added that Spokane has problems with human trafficking and drug cartels. “It doesn’t matter if they come from Russia, or China or Mexico or Ireland, if they aren’t here legally they need to go home.”

At the end of the meeting, Stuckart cited research from police organizations that supported the city’s policy.

He also recalled a guidance counselor at a local school approaching him and saying that a student was having trouble because his father was beating his mother and threatened to deport her if she called the police. The guidance counselor was able to have the boy’s father arrested because of the policy, said Stuckart.

“That’s a real world story in Spokane,” said Stuckart.

The council voted 4-1 (council members Amber Waldref and Mike Allen were absent) with Stuckart voting no to send the petition to the county.


You can find the original article here:

Two local advocates honored at Jazzed for Justice event

The Center for Justice honored two exceptional individuals at its 8th annual Jazzed for Justice event on Wednesday May 13.

Justice Hero Award recipient JoanJoan Medina, the founder of Brigid’s Cloak, was selected as this year’s Justice Hero Award Recipient. The individual that nominated Joan noted that Joan “works to provide food, compassion, and love to the homeless that slip between the cracks in Spokane by working with volunteers and going to them in the evening and providing hot coffee, sandwiches, books and some conversation. She is an unsung hero of Spokane.” As Joan was accepting the award she quoted a song called “Living Planet:” We can change the universe by being who we are.

Volunteer of the Year Award recipient MariThe Volunteer of the Year Award recipient is nominated and chosen by the staff of the Center for Justice. This year’s Volunteer of the Year Award was given to Mari Luna of Luna Legal. Mari is an attorney focusing on Dispute Resolution, Family Law, and Estate Planning/Probate/Wills. Mari frequently volunteers at the Center’s monthly Justice Night legal clinic, which takes place the first Tuesday of every month from 5:00-6:00pm at the Community Building, 35 West Main. Mari is an effective and passionate advocate, and is dedicated to her dreams of seeking and doing justice. When speaking about Justice Night, Mari said “I have been rewarded by clients’ words of thanks and expressions of gratitude.”

Thank you to these two amazing women, and all of the other phenomenal advocates in our community that were nominated! Your work makes Spokane a better place to live.

Holding On and Letting Go

By Kendel Froese, Development Director

I am excited to let all of our supporters know that I will be continuing my pursuit of justice as a student at the University of Washington School of Law this fall. As I have been going through this journey of studying, taking the Law School Admission Test, law school applications, and making the decision about where I will attend school, two quotes have inspired and encouraged me:

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I have learned so much during my time here at the Center for Justice, and have met countless passionate advocates that have impacted me along my journey for the last two and a half years and will continue to impact me as I start this new chapter. While I had thought about law school during my time as a Political Science undergraduate student at Whitworth University, I am not sure I would have made the decision to pursue law at this point in my life had it not been for working at the Center for Justice. I have seen how law can be used as a tool to advocate for and come alongside people in our world that are frequently ignored and lack power in our political system. Contrary to how law is typically viewed, I have seen how law can bring people together and bring us closer in proximity to individuals and issues that are desperate for our attention and our help.

The tool of law has become increasingly appealing to me as I have spent time over the last few years pursuing my passion for sexual assault advocacy by volunteering at Lutheran Community Services, the Spokane Regional Health District’s Needle Exchange Outreach Program, and the YWCA of Spokane. My life goal is to be a passionate and effective advocate for sexual assault survivors and women’s rights, and I feel confident that adding law to my toolkit will increase my effectiveness and allow me to impact individuals and our world in a more powerful way.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has been a part of my adventure thus far. I am finding the courage to grow up and become who I really am, and am grateful to everyone that has walked alongside me!

Of course, this new chapter in my life means that the Center for Justice is hiring a Development Director. For a link to the job description, please click here: CFJ – Development Director. If you have questions feel free to contact me at kendel(at)cforjustice(dot)org or Executive Director Rick Eichstaedt at ricke(at)cforjustice(dot)org.

All the best,

Kendel2 resized



Dave Dahl of Dave’s Killer Bread heading to Spokane to accept mayoral proclamation, talk second chances

by Mitch Ryals, Inlander blog 5/14/15

Dave Dahl, of Dave’s Killer Bread fame, will be in Spokane next week to promote the opening of the Fulcrum Institute’s new Ash Street Workforce Studio and accept a mayoral proclamation.

Dahl, cofounder of the Milwaukie, Oregon-based organic bread company, is known for his story of a second (and now third) chance after spending 15 years in and out of jail up until 2004. When he was released, he joined his family’s bread-making business, and with a renewed outlook on life and tons of ideas pinging around in his head, he opened Dave’s Killer Bread in August of 2005.

DKB is now sold in all 50 states and very financially successful. The company has grown to about 300 employees, about 100 of which are formerly incarcerated individuals like Dahl. He says he didn’t start the company with the intention of hiring ex-cons, but he was so grateful to the second chance his family gave him, that he felt he should do something for others in a similar situation.

Dahl will attend next Monday’s City Council meeting (6 p.m., Council chambers), during which Mayor Condon will announce Second Chance Week to promote the city’s new “ban the box” policy. It will be the first time Dahl will speak publicly since his most recent arrest after a mental breakdown in November 2013 in which he rammed a couple police cruisers with a black Cadillac Escalade.

Tuesday, Dahl will speak at a luncheon hosted by the Fulcrum Institute to promote the opening of the new Ash Street Workforce Training Station, a place where ex-cons can learn employable jobs skills and get low-income housing.

Judith Gilmore, community resources analyst for the Fulcrum Institute, says the station will host a silk-screen business and a greenhouse as well.

“If we’re going to provide second chances, we’ve got to do more than say ‘OK, you can wash dishes, flip burgers or spin a sign in front of my building,'” she says.

To that end, in addition to their focus on hiring convicted felons, DKB provides its employees with leadership training that would make them hirable elsewhere.

“The company has put a lot of money and resources into the continued growth of individuals who work here,” Dahl says. “We’re trying to find ways to give people opportunities to be better employees and have better lives, and not just felons, but whoever can use them.”

Gilmore says the Tuesday luncheon is filled up, but Dahl will also participate in a panel discussion Tuesday night in the City Council chambers (6 p.m.) to address how Spokane can best offer second chances to people trying to rebuild their lives after a felony conviction. Other panelists include Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, Breean Beggs, Rick Eichstaedt, Clyde Haase, Ron Anderson, Mary Logan, Layne Pavey, Vance Peterson and Kari Reardon.
Dahl will speak about the benefits of hiring felons and giving second chances, but he also points out that there are certain characteristics to look for. His message isn’t “you should hire all felons,” it’s more like “you shouldn’t exclude them from the job pool.” The most successful ex-con hires, he says, are the folks who have been working to improve themselves while they’re in prison and who’ve become active members of the community.

Dahl will also speak about mental health. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and says admitting it to himself and learning how to treat it changed his life.

“People with mental illnesses are not f——- up people.” he says. “They have a personality train that can be weakness, but a lot of times it can be a strength.”

He gives an example from his own life: When he first started taking antidepressants, his entire worldview changed. He was still in prison, but he didn’t want to kill himself anymore. He was happy and had a lot of energy and ideas. It was almost like a mania, he says, which can be very constructive and creative, “you just have to be aware of it and control it.”

Dahl says he’s turned down other offers to speak since his 2013 arrest, but he’s excited to be back in Spokane — he spoke at a business roundtable here about three years ago — and is proud of the work the Fulcrum Institute is doing. He doesn’t do it for the money (he certainly doesn’t need to), rather he does it as a part of his own healing.

“I’m selfish. There’s other ways to get paid besides money,” he says. “I get paid every time I feel the warm rush from people who tell me their lives were transformed because of my inspiration.”

Affordable housing for Spokane’s poor woefully scarce

May 1, 2015

For every 100 of Spokane County’s poorest residents – those who earn 30 percent or less of the median family income – there are 12 affordable apartments for rent.

But take heart. Things are getting better.

By 2019, that number is expected to climb to 13.

These are the conclusions of a new state report that illustrates the gap between need and availability when it comes to affordable housing in Washington. The report, prepared by the Department of Commerce, concludes that 36 percent of all Washingtonians are “cost-burdened” – paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Fifteen percent spend more than half their income on housing.

The gap in Spokane County is larger than the statewide average. A separate report focusing on the city of Spokane, prepared by a Gonzaga law student, concludes that around 6,000 households which could qualify for housing vouchers or subsidized housing aren’t receiving them, in part because of significant program cuts in recent years. Countywide, this figure is 16,000.

The author of the report on the city, Matthew Cardinale, concluded that Spokane has “a significant and growing affordable housing crisis, especially for low-income households making $15,000 per year and below.”

His report proposes several policy changes, including adjusting the tax credits to encourage more low-income rentals. Cardinale started the report while working as City Councilwoman Candace Mumm’s assistant, and the project was supervised by a city attorney and law school professor. It is now being discussed by policymakers and officials at City Hall.

“Where we need more is for people who can’t afford market rate rentals, based on their income,” he said. “They don’t need a case manager. They just need a place that is affordable, that is safe and up to minimal standards.”

It’s not clear what proportion of Spokane’s “extremely low income” population is homeless and in need of more extensive services, and how many primarily need just housing. But the need for the latter was highlighted in February 2014, when the Spokane Housing Authority opened up its waiting list for housing vouchers. It had 2,000 spots on the list, and more than double that number applied.

Not for housing vouchers – to wait for housing vouchers.

Cardinale’s report tracks the gap between the number of needy Spokane residents and the programs available to help them. According to 2012 Census Bureau figures, there are 14,820 families in the city earning $15,000 or less. That includes 8,331 households whose annual income was below $10,000.

But there are just 6,364 subsidized housing units in the city, and 2,391 federal vouchers. That leaves more than 6,000 households that could be “cost-burdened,” homeless or living in substandard housing, Cardinal concludes.

Cindy Algeo of the Spokane Low Income Housing Consortium said that countywide, around 28,000 families earned $15,000 or less in 2012, and about 12,000 of them received subsidy or voucher help.

“What about the other 16,000?” she said. “We don’t know about the other 16,000.”

Some are homeless. Some are paying hefty proportions of their incomes for rent. What’s certain, advocates say, is that there is a big gap between the need and the help.

Cardinale’s report is intended to encourage the City Council to consider policy changes, including changing the tax credit for multifamily developments.

Right now, those credits can go to developments that set aside 20 percent of their rental units for people making 50 percent of the region’s median income. Property taxes are waived for 12 years for developments that qualify. The City Council lowered those levels a couple of years back, but Cardinale believes they’re still too high, and would like to see specific requirements for inclusion of units for people earning 30 percent of the median.

His report mistakenly concludes that the city is subsidizing rentals that are above market rate, based on a misreading of a very easily misunderstood city statute. But the error does not change his view that the city needs to refocus the tax breaks.

“We need to target 30 percent,” he said. “That’s where the need is.”

Also among his proposals: requiring affordable housing impact statements to be prepared for legislation that affects housing; and adopting inclusionary zoning rules requiring affordable units in developments of 25 units or more.

However far his proposals go, Cardinale’s 116-page report is a valuable record of the state of housing costs for the thousands and thousands of Spokane families who live far below the region’s median standard of living. He did the work in part as a requirement for a scholarship, but said it wound up taking him months to complete.

“It was kind of like having a child,” he said. “I didn’t really anticipate how much work it was going to be until it was already too late.”

Shawn Vestal can be reached at (509) 459-5431 or Follow him on Twitter at @vestal13.

Partnership Supports Health of Poor

Barry Pfundt, Barry Pfundt, attorney for the Center for Justice.

SPOKANE, Washington – Unmet legal problems adversely impact the health of approximately 1 in 6 Americans, most especially the poor, according to National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership. A 2012 Spokane Regional Health District study demonstrated how Spokane’s poor have significantly reduced life expectancy. On Jan. 12, a new six-member community collaborative began providing free in-clinic legal services to address the legal needs compromising the health of low-income individuals in our community.

The partners include the Gonzaga University School of Law’s Center for Law and Justice, Providence Health Care, Empire Health Foundation, Washington State University Spokane, the Center for Justice, and faculty and residents at the Providence Residency Clinics. This one-year pilot program – funded by Providence Health Care, Empire Health Foundation, and WSU Spokane – will involve law students and medical residents working together to identify clients with health-compromising legal needs and use a team approach to address them. Faculty from GU Law and Providence Residency Clinics will supervise the students. The plan calls for 12 GU law students to work with 51 medical residents.

The students will work together to address issues such as safe housing – including unlawful evictions and landlord-tenant issues – and income maintenance concerns, such as obtaining and maintaining disability benefits. The National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership identified these concerns as among the most frequent challenges not being addressed. The partners’ first-year goal is to provide assistance to at least 100 clients with medical-legal concerns.

“If a child is getting sick because he lives in substandard housing, you could give him an inhaler to treat the asthma or you could help move him to a safe house where he isn’t being exposed to mold or other hazards,” explained Center for Justice Attorney Barry Pfundt, who will be supervising the new legal clinic. “We are not just treating symptoms, we are eliminating the root cause of the illness. And that’s something a doctor can’t always do by herself.”

In 2013, Pfundt helped launch the Center for Justice’s Health & Justice Initiative to increase collaboration between health care and legal service providers for the benefit of the community.

While serving patients is the core purpose of the new Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) Clinic, it will also provide unique opportunities for medical residents and law students. For law students, clinical programs provide an opportunity to work directly with clients, manage caseloads, and hone skills necessary as they begin a professional career. For medical residents, the program creates an opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary care setting that prepares them for the future. Studies have shown that the MLP model can improve health care job satisfaction by enabling health care providers to be more involved in discovering and addressing the root causes of poor health.

“The Medical-Legal Partnership gives WSU Spokane’s health sciences campus additional opportunities to invest in this community and to work, in a unique way, to improve health care in our city,” said Lisa Brown, chancellor of WSU Spokane.

“Spokane is a regional center for health services, and we also have some of our state’s highest rates of poverty,” said Pfundt. “The MLP addresses both of these facts – continuing our region’s leadership and innovation in health care, while addressing the health harming legal problems of those in need.”

Gonzaga University School of Law Center for Law and Justice

Established in 1974 as one of the first law school legal services clinics in the nation, the GU Law Center for Law and Justice is staffed by GU Law students and faculty that provide legal assistance to low-income, elderly, and nonprofit community members while providing law students with practical career training. On the web:

Providence Health Care

In Eastern Washington, the Providence Health Care regional network consists of 11 health care organizations working together to provide quality health and human services for Inland Northwest residents. Providence Health Care is a part of the not-for-profit, faith based Providence Health & Services organization. On the web:

Empire Health Foundation

An independent, nonprofit grant-making foundation that serves seven counties in Eastern Washington, Empire Health Foundation focuses on health access, education, research, and public policy. The Foundation is the largest private health foundation in the region. On the web:

Washington State University, Spokane

Washington State University Spokane is WSU’s urban health sciences campus. Located in the heart of the University District near downtown Spokane, WSU Spokane prepares the state’s future generations of health professionals, and houses world-class research that leads to healthier people and communities. On the web:

Center for Justice

The Center is a legal advocacy organization that helps thousands of local people with basic needs such as getting a driver’s license back or dealing with landlord abuses. The Center’s programs work to overcome barriers to employment, assist with getting families back on their feet, and keep governments accountable to those they are meant to serve. On the web:

For more information, contact Andrea Parrish, communications specialist at GU Law, at (509) 313-3771 or via email:

Posted on January 8, 2015 on Gonzaga News online.

Legal Intern Spotlight: Andrew

Center for Justice intern AndrewWe are honored every year to have amazing interns join us in pursuing our mission of advocating for a just community. Andrew has been a lively addition to our CFJ environment since May of 2014. He is a second year law student at Gonzaga Law School.

Q. Tell us a bit about your background.

A. I’m from Santa Rosa, California. It’s an hour north up Highway 101 from San Francisco in the Sonoma Valley, where I was born and raised. I went to Maria Carrillo High School where I was a stand-out in basketball. Focused on basketball, I continued on to Santa Rosa Junior College. After an interesting time there, I moved to Lewiston, ID to play NAIA Div. 1 basketball and study kinesiology. This interest was short lived, however, as I soon shifted focus from basketball to my individual and personal growth.

Q. Why are you passionate about Law, Justice?

A. I have a self-described “superhero-complex” – I want to save the world. I want to use my strengths in the civil service of others. The passage of I-502 back in 2012 really piqued my interest in the law, since it was such a huge shift in legal policy. In its passage, I saw an opportunity to make a contributory impact in an area with far-reaching consequences. I want to help an underground lifestyle to transition into a valuable community industry. Struggling to understand a shifting, amorphic body of law encourages confidence and hope in the face of adversity and uncertainty. Such a lesson contains applications outside of this singular focus yet within the universe of Civil Rights. It is my hope that such a lesson will make me a stronger, more effective advocate our community. This makes me passionate about Justice, and reinforces my passion throughout my study of Law.

Q. What, along your “river of life” would you say were the events or realizations that caused your river to twist or bend, leading you in your current flow?

A. I would say the successes in my life revealed my capacities, and my failures, like a river’s banks, guided my direction. I have found confidence that in the course of my life thus far, I can succeed at the things I strive for. Like a river’s constant flow, I have learned the value of hard work and tasted the fruits of persistence. If I keep genuinely working towards my goals and dreams I can reach them–almost as if they are just downstream. I need however, to understand the power of my life’s flow. When I ignore this flow, I figuratively kick and struggle to keep my head above water. In fact, ignoring the importance of flow is a challenge I still face. But, by being mindful of my life’s flow, I know I can tap into that power, potential, energy, whatever you want to call it, and achieve great things with seemingly little effort. The failures in my life showed me that my efforts to fight the flow can be wasted in futility. A flowing river is unlikely to abruptly change course, leap its banks, and begin and entirely new river altogether. Much like this metaphor, along the way the river of my life I began to see the limitations that basketball had for my future despite my achievements, and began to meet resistance on this “stream”. Listening to my internal dialogue, I began to divert my attention elsewhere. In so doing, my life’s “river” found a compatible groove in Law, so I continued on that course. There is a saying I heard some time ago that seems to ring true still, “Sometimes the best stroke of luck is not getting what you wanted.” Whether it is a failed relationship, a denied application, a failed job interview, or anything else, it seems apparent that if you remain true to yourself, then you will always be in the flow. I’m so grateful that I listened. Five years ago, I had never heard of Spokane. Now, I simply could not imagine myself living any other place.

Fall off the New Year’s resolution bandwagon? Well, get right back on!

  heartby CFJ Staff Member

Let’s face it. Staying, or rather getting healthy is a struggle for some of us. Many of us are overweight. Even so, for the majority of us, it doesn’t adversely affect our daily lives. Yes, in the long term, it’s not ideal. But we can live and work and get things done. Although we are not as healthy as we would like to be. There are those of you who say, “Just don’t eat so much.” That’s sage advice. However, it doesn’t work for some of us. It is easy for some to write people off as lazy or just not smart enough make changes. But there is more to it. What is a struggle for some is not even on other people’s radar. For some, food triggers addictive responses. We are all wired differently. We all need to practice compassion for ourselves and others, and give ourselves permission to forgive a “failed” diet or wellness effort and start fresh!

In our society, there is a lot of intolerance for people who struggle with their weight and a lot of unnecessary self-loathing that overweight people place upon themselves. People struggle with a myriad of things and we don’t always do what is in our own, or the worlds’, best interest. We sometimes do things that affect us negatively. For some it’s drinking too much, or it’s being too hard on your spouse or kids, or being nasty to your coworkers to get try to get ahead, and for others it is eating too much and not exercising enough. We all have our areas where we don’t achieve perfection. Not eating what you should all the time is actually pretty low on the list of possible offenses. So let’s give ourselves and others a break about it, shall we?

My New Year’s Resolution was this… “I am going to love myself a little more this year.”  It wasn’t, “I’m going to eat better.”

That said by eating better, I will be loving myself a little more each time I make a healthy choice. I am going aspire to continue to do these simple things and I hope it inspires you to make your own, “baby steps” to better health:

organicStep 1: Eat less processed foods. Processed foods are likely to have added fat, salt and sugar to make them more palatable. It is so much better for you if these things occur naturally in food than if they are added. Processed foods are also more likely to be refined which often removes valuable nutrients and fiber. Plus they are generally not fresh. There is lots of research out there that touts the benefits of fresh, whole foods for your health.


Step 2: Stay away from hydrogenated oils and chemicals in food. This goes right along with Step 1. However, when I do consume processed foods, I try to avoid those items. Hydrogenated oils wreak havoc on your body and are especially bad for your heart. And why would there be chemicals in our food? We are exposed to hundreds of chemicals every day in our personal products, in kid’s toys, in prescription or even over the counter drugs, in our drinking water, and in the air we breathe. These chemicals can accumulate in the body and cause disease. It is pretty basic, food should be just food.


appleStep 3: Eat one organic apple per day. Apples have fiber and can help you feel full. There are studies that show that apples have anti-cancer compounds and can lower blood sugar levels. They are one of the original superfoods.

So I encourage you to love yourself this year. And by taking care of your physical as well as your emotional health, you will be showing that love.