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What Makes YOUR Heart Sing?

                It’s been almost two years since we heard the first reports of a virus that raised concerns.  Now there are new fears as we slog through the Delta variant and look ahead to the unknown Omicron variant.  For our young children, it must feel normal to see people wearing masks, keeping distant and listening to adults discuss concerns and argue over whether mandates are warranted or if experts can be trusted.  But humans need joy and humor and love and hope, especially now, when it seems harder to come by.

                 While going through a very difficult time, I discovered a way to stop the loop of anger, hurt, and frustration rolling through my brain on repeat.  I went outside and walked no matter what the weather or how I was feeling. At first it required a self-pep talk to put on my shoes and open the door.  I plugged in my music (cassette if you want a timestamp),  altering my path through my neighborhood and expanding the distance a bit further with each excursion.   Then a day came when a crocus, reaching toward the sun caught my eye.  I smiled knowing spring was showing its face.  When I walked through town and a neighbor honked, I waved and smiled.  Walking past the school playground listening to children playing was a tonic.  I began to look for those pinpricks of wonder every single day.  I was seeing the world again outside the hurt and anger that remained.   Those tiny gifts gave me hope, and I knew it was going to be okay, not the same, but still okay.

                It’s a habit now, taking a moment to savor the unexpected, how the angle of light changes a landscape, the first arrival of a hummingbird, hearing the neighbor’s grandkids playing king of the hill or just walking outside and seeing the stars overhead.  Those little things are not so little.  Each is a gift, there for savoring, ready to play the melody that makes our hearts sing.  Gifts that appear even during a pandemic that shows no sign of ending soon if only we open our hearts to them.  

This Christmas we plan to be with family, that is gift enough.  Enough to make my heart sing, no packages under the tree required, those are easily forgotten. I want the gift of a song in my heart, and maybe a few photos to remember the day. 

My wish to each of you for the New Year is peace, joy, hope, love and all the little things that make your heart sing.  Your outreach, comments, encouragement to Marie, Carrie, Nancy & Geoffrey and me, provides hope and keeps us going.  Pend Oreille County is better because of your engagement.

Thank you, and stay well,

Kat Schutte, Chair

Pend Oreille County Democrats

P.S.        There will be no meeting in December.   Mark your calendars for our January 12th meeting when Ann Marie Danimus will speak about her campaign for the seat currently held by Cathy McMorris Rodgers.               

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Labor Day Message, 2021

“Labor Day marks a new epoch in the annals of human history,” wrote Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, in the New York Times in 1910. “Among all the festive days of the year…there is not one which stands so conspicuously for social advancement of the common people as the first Monday in September.”  Labor Day’s surprisingly radical origins (nationalgeographic.com)

I’m writing to you on this Labor Day because our county party needs your help and today seemed an appropriate time to ask for it.  Labor Day had its beginning in worker turmoil when workers had few rights, no safety nets, no voice.   Forget 9-5, shifts were 12 hours a day, 6 days a week.  Immigrants and young children were exploited for their cheap labor.   Ironically, Labor Day was created to placate workers with the hope of ending threats of a major strike.   Labor Day became a time for the last hurrah of summer, with one more get together or get-away before families are fully committed to back-to-school schedules.   The pandemic has opened eyes to the inequities in employment opportunities, wages, benefits and working conditions.   Labor Day is about individuals not corporations.  I believe that the Democratic Party, while not perfect, believes in opportunities and still works for the working stiffs, the underserved and underrepresented. 

I have been told, “I don’t want anything to do with politics.  One party is as bad as the other.” followed by words meant to be reassuring, “But I still always vote for Democrats.”  The challenge with those statements is that if you aren’t both engaged and involved, you can’t make the changes you want to see in the party.  Voting is vital and appreciated, but I am sure you have noticed there aren’t too many candidates with (D) behind their name in our District let alone our County.  Have you asked why that is the case?

For decades I took the party for granted.  I did not consider what it took for candidates and referendums to show up on the ballot. I congratulated myself for being an informed and consistent voter. I now understand that my complaisance allowed the local party to wither.  I was wrong; Democracy only works if we participate.  We want to know what you need from us.  What would make it easier for you to participate?  What changes are you looking for?

And yes, we need you as well.  At the August 29th Special Meeting, I was elected to the position of Chair, replacing Mandy Walters who resigned at our August 15th meeting.  That leaves the Vice Chair position open.  Our current bylaws state, “The Vice Chair shall assist the Chair and act in the place of the Chair when appropriate.”   The Vice Chair serves on the County Democrats Executive Committee, the purpose of which is to “provide direction to the Pend Oreille County Democrats.” 

The goal is to have officers who represent a cross-section of the population, currently Geoffrey Thompson, Committeeperson, is our only male.  All other officers are CIS gendered females.  We are seeking Vice Chair candidates who support the Democratic Party’s ideals.  We encourage any person who is interested to step up.  If you are not ready to be Vice Chair, perhaps you would be willing to attend meetings, join in our outreach movement, or help fund our efforts, or even become a Precinct Committee Officer.  I would love to speak with you one-on-one.  Please call, text, or email me with your thoughts. 

Next Meeting, September 11th, 2PM, preceded by Exec Meeting and Movie Night Out planning group. Agenda & Meeting documents will be sent out in the next few days. Not on our email list? Go to Contact Us to sign up.

It’s on us to make a difference

  1. Turn in your ballot – either in the mail by 8/1 or in a drop box before 8 PM on Tuesday 8/!!   Our website has LINKS to info, and you can reach out with your questions via email or phone
  2. Sign up to make phone calls (or possibly texts) to encourage registered voters whose ballots have not been received yet to turn them in.           Use the link or Kat via email/phone/text or message from the website.
  3. Still looking for two or three hearty souls for the Ione Down River Days parade, we have one truck and 4 volunteers. use this link or call Kat
  4. Volunteer at our fair booth – Aug 18- 21. use this link or Kat via email/phone/text
  5. Show your true-blue optimism in our efforts to rebuild our local party – signup & pay your $30 dues or ask for a sponsored membership – via ActBlue link on our website:  or snail mail: POC Democrats – PO Box 1838, Newport, WA 99156
  6. Kat POCDemocrats@gmail.com, 509-671-4303, if I don’t have your #, I won’t answer, please leave a message with your name and affiliation to the Dems.

THANK YOU!

Reflections from the Chair Here We are Again- May 2022

         I am having flashbacks to the mid-1970s, when gas prices rose because of scarcity thanks to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) raised the crude oil price 70%.  The action was taken in response to the weeks-long Yom Kippur War pitting Egypt and Syria against Israel – and exacerbated by discord between OPEC and U.S. oil companies.  For a while instead of a hello you were greeted with: “Anybody know a station that’s open?”  I’m guessing many of you have memories of waiting in line for a few gallons of gas – or finding out they had just run out.  That decade began with gas prices at an average of $.39/gallon and ending at $1.19/gallon.

         Different century, different triggers, same impact.  Pain at the pump.  The 70’s, were an interesting decade, from the “Boeing Recession” with thousands of layoffs, Nixon’s presidency to disco, ending in high inflation, and mortgage rates in the double digits.  I worked at Boeing and was attending University of Washington; both encouraged carpooling and taking the bus.  We did without, house-shared, and hung out with friends at home more.  Sound familiar? We also listened to evening news – with the fairness doctrine in place, read newspapers delivered to us and had discussions around the dinner table.  We trusted mainstream media.
         Was it a better time?  Not necessarily.  Those dinner table discussions were often divisive, with fingers pointing across the aisle. School integration was off to a bumpy start, the denigration of our environment was recognized, and protests continued. The difference was norms were upheld, President Nixon resigned and by doing so admitted his guilt.  And the senate was functioning more as originally designed than in recent decades, allowing debates, discussion and decorum – and working across the aisle.

         Then, like now, people felt adrift in uncertainty, darkness and fear. I am asking each of us to look around and evaluate where we are and how we got here.  This is not a time for disengagement and inaction.  The county is at a crossroads.  We can abdicate responsibility to those sowing discontent and fear, or we can stand in the light.  Get rid of the Us and Them mentality and work on our personal impact.

        Let’s find our passion and use it for good, seek facts, open up for change, volunteer, speak out against lies and hate.  Together let’s choose love, create change, let our presence be known.  We got through it before, we can do it again.  In the meantime, on Thursday, May 5th, 11AM ‘til we run out of seeds, we will be at the Newport Post office registering people to vote and handing small packets of sunflower seeds to show solidarity with Ukrainian citizens.  Please join us or stop & say hello. Can’t make that?  How about:

Engagement/survival/positive impact ideas:

Join a service organization or volunteer for an open position on a board – share your passion and expertise

Pick up the trash in the ditch in front of your property and get some exercise, bring the crushed aluminum cans to the back of the Newport Library & they will recycle & use the proceeds for the community garden project.

Recycle aluminum, metals, electronics, paper and cardboard.

Don’t toss items in usable condition – donate or have a yard sale

Don’t buy cheap wear-and-toss clothes – buy quality and classic and wear it out – or try thrift store shopping – depending on the store – 3 possible benefits: pocketbook, less landfill, supporting a nonprofit

Combine trips and limit mileage, walk, ride your bike, ride share

Listen to and talk with neighbors, friends and especially the younger generation

Take on a local issue, world, national or local. 

Political change

Vote

Support local party and candidates, attend meetings, join a committee, make phone call, write postcards, take on an issue that resonates with you.

Run for Precinct Committee Officer open board seats and elected positions –

Attend Volunteer for, participate in Fund / FUN Raisers – like the 5/22nd Sunday Trivia in Usk

As my wise Father would say – you can’t complain if you aren’t doing anything to change it.  Small steps count.

We are here for you.

Kat

Member Challenge

We are over 50% there as of 7/7/2022 – it’s a stretch but we can do it!

A CHALLENGE: if we can get 100 paid members by August 1st we will arrange a MOVIE NIGHT OUT at a local theater – 100 members = <4 per precinct. With your dues we are assured that our fixed costs are covered with left over to support candidates and our community. IF we don’t make our 100 member goal – we will offer a FUNdraiser movie night instead. Whichever – it will be a great way to celebrate being a proud POC Democrat