Spokane Alliance Annual Letter
Thank you for making 2017 such an important and successful year for the Spokane Alliance! Much has been accomplished and as always, there is much to do as we look ahead to 2018.
What we achieved together really is because of what you bring to the table. You contribute dues. You volunteer your time. You inform us as to what is important and why. You participate in leadership trainings, and then become the leaders within the Alliance. You show up at actions when called upon. And this makes all the difference when we demonstrate our solidarity around the issues we have chosen to support, and as we work together for the common good.
2017 was busy!
We started the year off with the enactment of the City of Spokane’s first-ever Sick and Safe Leave ordinance, the result of a multi-year organizing effort to provide benefits for 40,000 low-income workers. We successfully fought a last-ditch effort by opponents to postpone the new sick leave coverage for a year. You showed up in large numbers at City Hall to tell council leaders a delay was unacceptable.
At our February retreat, we discussed the changing political landscape in the country and how it might affect our work. We planned a Delegates’ Assembly for our member organizations, which represent over 20,000 people. You showed up and at that assembly, we agreed to continue our work on All In For Washington, a multi-year campaign to the Legislature. We are asking that the Legislature clean up our upside-down tax code to ensure that all of our communities can truly thrive.
In response to our focused campaign with allies around school safety, Spokane Public Schools school board voted unanimously to provide a public statement to the community in response to bullying that had increased around the time of the national election. The board agreed to disseminate the statement in the format we requested so that it could be understood easily.
In a big win for the Spokane Alliance’s Public Safety & Mental Health Research Action Team, a plan to build a Mental Health Crisis Stabilization Facility was approved in concept this summer. Both the City of Spokane and Spokane County have agreed to pledge funds. The team worked over three years researching and promoting this idea. The new facility will enhance public safety, better serve those in crisis due to mental illness, allow for better use of police resources, and create an alternative to utilizing overcrowded, expensive emergency rooms.
We have re-energized our Jobs Team of labor leaders to advocate and provide the necessary guidance and insight that will lead to the successful implementation of the Apprenticeship Utilization Ordinance, passed by the Spokane City Council in December 2016. We are also reviewing the implementation of the local Responsible Bidder Ordinance, which is meant to ensure that only responsible, qualified contractors are hired to work on the taxpayer-funded public works projects for the City of Spokane.
During our summer listening season, we learned that many of you, across all member organizations, are very concerned about the broad issue of healthcare. We have launched a new Healthcare Action Team that is meeting with community leaders, health experts, providers, and elected officials to research how to improve healthcare access in Spokane. You are invited to participate in this effort.
We have joined with a coalition of labor leaders and church communities in the Tri-Cities to form a new Alliance chapter, which will serve new members and expand our organizing capacity in Eastern Washington.
Alliance leaders are working with parents of special-needs children to organize within Spokane Public Schools to develop a stronger voice, making sure that the policies and resources are in place to ensure that all children are treated fairly and have equal access to an education.
We are in the initial stages of working with a group of leaders from the faith, education, and non-profit communities to explore how we might use the principals of relational organizing to strengthen the community and impact some of the deep-seated challenges of poverty that impact the West Central neighborhood.
As we work on these new campaigns, we are also strengthening relationships within our member organizations. This fall, we completed one of our largest two-day leadership trainings with 26 attendees representing 15 organizations. We will have another local two-day leadership training, May 2 & 9. We are also recruiting members to attend the weeklong, regional training in Canby, Oregon April 22-27.
Please contact us if you’d like to know more about any of these Spokane Alliance initiatives and events. Your interest and participation are vital to our collective success.
And as always, that success depends on your continued support. We rely on our donors -- large and small -- to fund our work. Your financial donations to the Spokane Alliance remain in Spokane and help strengthen our ability to transform our community, enhance our democracy, and to keep our organization going and growing.
You can make individual donations through our website, or by mailing your contribution to Spokane Alliance, 1526 E. 11th Ave., Spokane, WA 99202.
We are grateful for your generosity, your trust and most importantly, for your commitment to organize for the common good.
WFSE Local 1221
Karen Dorn Steele
Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane