Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gaza Teach-In Educates Olympia Community

Olympia - January 4, 2009
Gaza Invasion Teach-In at Traditions Fair Trade

Cindy Corrie, mother of Rachel Corrie, addresses a crowd of Olympians concerned about the Israeli invasion of Gaza; Steve Niva, professor of Middle East and International Studies at The Evergreen State College, Jen Marlowe, filmmaker, Sameh Matar, student from Gaza.

Over 100 people came to learn more about the Israeli invasion on the Gaza Strip on Sunday night. Sameh Matar, 16, a Palestinian exchange student attending North Thurston High School in Olympia, spoke about the news he has received from his family since the situation in Gaza has intensified this week. He has been living in Olympia since August. He spoke with his family just yesterday and is concerned for their safety.

"When I spoke with them, I could hear explosions around their house...everybody is hiding." Matar said that three or four years ago, everyone in his aunt's house was killed during an Israeli attack, killing everyone, including her husband and nine children. "The Israeli's said there was a Hamas leader there but there was nobody there...."

Speakers also included Steve Niva, professor of International and Middle East Studies with The Evergreen State College, who offered a policy analysis of the situation and Jen Marlow, filmmaker, who last visited Gaza six months ago. Marlow shared with the audience that she just realized, just moments before the evening's event began, that she had met and last seen Sami Matar at his home in Gaza when he was just nine years old. "Each time I go back, people in Gaza say how they can't imagine how things can get worse, but it always has, on each subsequent trip I take, and people speak nostalgically of how things used to be," Marlow said.

Marlow read emails she is receiving from friends in the region. One boy, Ali, is asthmatic and uses a ventilator, often run by a generator when the electricity goes out. She read another email from a ninth grader in Gaza whose friend of four years, Christine, died in the attack this week:"What if my parents can't protect me? An Israeli rocket hit my school this morning - every explosion shakes my house...depression and fear are filling our souls...I hope this war will end soon. Help us because we are all human beings...." Several in the crowd, including Sameh Matar, cried.

Cindy Corrie, mother of Olympian Rachel Corrie who was killed in the Gaza Strip five years ago, urged the audience to contact the media and legislators to voice their concerns. Corrie said that she and her husband Craig have been interviewed many times over the years by CNN, but the interviews have only been carried by CNN International and broadcast around the world, but not in the United States.

Corrie offered several avenues for action, handing out information sheets entitled, "25 Things to do to bring Peace with Justice" and "Make Your Voice Heard." detailing extensive contact information.Any checks made out to the Rachel Corrie Foundation with "Gaza" written in the memo section will be forwarded to appropriate medical and humanitarian relief agencies. For more information, contact the Corrie's at:

UFO Sighting in Olympia on Capitol Campus

Olympia - January 12, 2009

A strange UFO sighting on the Capitol Campus on the first day of the Washington State Legislative Session caught the attention of folks walking by, including Washington State Patrol Trooper Ted DeHart, who decided he better call it in....

In reality, the UFO was actually a solar car and piloted by Marcelo da Luz, a Brazilian native, who built it in 1999. Starting in Buffalo, New York, he has been on the road with it for 190 days. da Luz passed through Olympia before heading to Portland and eventually, Los Angeles. He has traveled in it to the Arctic Circle and around Alaska.

The solar car weighs only 470 pounds. Its 893 solar cells generate 900 watts, less watts than it takes to power a toaster. It goes 1 - 50 mph in six seconds and can reach a top speed of 75 mph. It can go 130 miles on a single charge, 300 miles in summer. "It's extremely comfortable to drive," says da Luz.

For more information about Marcelo's journey, contact him through his website at

Olympia's 150th Birthday Party

January 17th, 2009

"Celebrating Our Past...Embracing Our Future"was the theme at Olympia's 150th Birthday Celebration at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts (formerly the Liberty Theatre).

Fun was had by all - from our oldest residents to the youngest. A recognition of former council members, a magic show with Olympian Jeff Evans, balloon making, poetry read by local school children, cake, and historical displays rounded out the day.

Winnifred Castle Olson, one of Olympia's oldest residents, said, "You don't have to wait to be 92 to be a's determined by what you do and what you don't do...."