SPEECH President's Message
by Janine Gates
My 24 year old son brought home a copy of the Green Pages one day, saying I should read it because it was right down my alley. This powerful local publication was a sight for sore eyes, printing articles that educate and inform the community about environmental, social and political issues. Prior to this, I had already made a decision to seek out opportunities to give back to the community and help preserve our beautiful Puget Sound...and here was that opportunity! I am very grateful to, and thank the SPEECH staff for allowing me to be a part of this dynamic non-profit organization.
This is how new SPEECH Board Member Gail Sheikhizadeh introduced herself to our organization. In March, Gail was one of several people who came to our annual meeting to check out our homey office space and enjoy great food. She came as a friend as Laura Hendricks, a Sierra Club member, who wrote the article in our last issue about geoduck farming.
Our annual meeting was very productive and those who came, came to serve. Gail told me that she has spent the first 60 years of her life appreciating nature, and now that her eyes are opened, she's going to spend the next 60 years defending nature.
So with enthusiasm like this, Gail was overwhelmingly elected vice-president last month at our board meeting. Four other new board members, Krag Unsoeld, John Newman, Rick Fellows and Steve Robinson were also welcomed. Mark Bergeson, Joanne McCaughan and I were re-elected as treasurer, secretary and president, respectively. Please see our bios and pictures, as we receive them, along with each quarterly issue of the Green Pages, on our website at www.oly-wa.us/greenpages.
There's a lot of environment to defend in the South Sound.
Last weekend, I took a two hour tour with Olympia residents Lou and Gus Guethlein who live in SE Olympia in the Chambers Lake Basin area. This was a refresher tour for me - proposed projects were still on the drawing board and I wanted to know why.
With my satchel full of pertinent city staff and hearing examiner reports, maps and project descriptions of proposed developments like Chambers Lake Residential, Newman Park, Trillium, Bentridge Village, Smith Lake, and more in hand, I listened to their concerns, asked questions, and took notes.
Gus and Lou are tremendous assets to the community. They obviously care deeply about their neighborhood, city, county, and the environment. They were both very organized and thoughtful in the way they presented their concerns. They make their concerns known in a respectful way to our local elected officials.
Gus and Lou have been at it for a long time, pointing out to city staff, current and past city council members and county officials that such proposed developments with high groundwater levels in a rural area of Olympia are inappropriate. There are other environmental reasons to question these developments, related to traffic, a lack of nearby school capacity, and essential services required to accommodate such growth. Maybe Gus and Lou are getting tired of the battle, but they don't show it too much. They're in it for the long haul.
Then here comes someone like Gail. Her kids have just grown up and she's ready to take on her part of the world. It's exciting to see and it's up to organizations like SPEECH to not let Lou, Gus, and Gail down.
However we can help, we have a role to play, through our organization and the South Sound Green Pages to enable them to have a voice that reaches thousands.
SPEECH is poised to start its 21st year with renewed energy. Collaborating with other community organizations and offering the Green Pages as an independent voice to individuals and organizations is what we do best, so look forward to more issues of local content produced by you!
If you would like to volunteer or help SPEECH in some way, please let us know. We would especially appreciate your continued financial contributions to keep us going. Remember, Gail says she's going to keep at it for another 60 years, so let's hold her to it!
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