Monday, April 27, 2009

Janine Gates Enters City Council Race

Above: Janine Gates

For Immediate Release: April 27, 2009
Contact: Janine Gates (360) 791-7736 or

Community Organizer Janine Gates Enters City Council Race

Business owner and long-time community organizer Janine Gates has announced that she is running for Olympia City Council Position #5. Her website address is

Gates’ top priorities will be to improve council responsiveness to citizen activism and restore public confidence in the council’s decision-making process. “We have so many smart people in Olympia who offer their expertise but are often made to feel they are the opposition. If elected, I would welcome and encourage citizen participation, respect the information gathered and work as a team toward a common vision for our community,” says Gates.

Gates says she will be attentive to small business concerns and will work to pursue incentives to help downtown businesses succeed. She is also interested in actively involving the public in the update of Olympia’s Comprehensive Plan.

Gates is self-employed as a photographer,, and caregiver for the elderly. She is a member of the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce and a past member of the Lacey and Shelton Chambers of Commerce. Gates is also the volunteer president of the South Puget Environmental Education Clearinghouse (SPEECH) which publishes the South Sound Green Pages. As a freelance journalist, she publishes a local news blog,

Gates organized the successful “Envision Downtown Olympia,” forum with varied stakeholders last June. She plans to hold regular information gathering meetings with the public.

Gates says she opposed increasing heights on the isthmus in downtown Olympia from the very beginning. “I have lived downtown or near downtown for most of my 25 years in Olympia. I support significant housing downtown, but not on the isthmus. We can, and will, find more appropriate locations for housing,” says Gates. She was the first citizen to testify in front of the Olympia City Council against the proposed rezone. Gates supports Senator Karen Fraser’s isthmus-related legislative efforts.

Gates graduated from The Evergreen State College in 1987 with a B.A. in Communications and Community Development. Gates has previously worked for state agencies and the Legislature. She has two children.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Artswalk and Procession of the Species 2009

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves....what an awesome day!
Downtown Olympia

Eli takes the salmon home through the Heritage Park Fountain after the Procession.

Created by the community for the community, the Procession of the Species is a joyous, artistic pageant, embracing the languages of art, music and dance to inspire learning, appreciation and protection of the natural world. At its very heart, the intent of the Procession is to elevate the dignity of the human spirit by enhancing the cultural exchange that we and our communities have with each other and with the natural world...and to do that through imagination, creation, and sharing. - Earthbound Productions.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Janine Gates Photography at Artwalk - Procession this weekend

Above: Sunrise from Mt. Sinai, Egypt

For Olympia’s Artswalk, Janine Gates Photography will be at the Governor Hotel, 621 Capitol Way, Friday, April 24, from 5:00 p.m. - about 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, April 25 from noon to about 2:00 p.m. Gates will be featuring pictures from her recent trips to Turkey, Jordan and Egypt.

In April/May 2007, Gates took her son to Turkey and Jordan. In the summer of 2008, she took both her children, son Tristan, then 13 and daughter Jiana, then 18, to Egypt and Jordan for six weeks.

“Both trips were just incredible. We are still mentally processing the experiences, and I’m always discovering something new in my images, depending on my mood. We have lots of stories to share. We hiked three hours in the middle of the night with only the night sky lighting our way, to the top of Mt. Sinai in Egypt to watch the sun rise. It was a very surreal, spiritual, mentally and physically challenging, exhilarating experience. It was just the three of us and a Bedouin. At various points, my daughter threw up, I was carried, at one point, because I was completely falling apart, but Tristan did quite well, fueled by several Snickers bars,” says Gates.

Above: Jiana and Tristan head down Mt. Sinai after the sunrise.

Gates makes her photos into greeting cards and prints of all sizes, framed and unframed, which will be available for sale. Go to for usual greeting card locations and a sneak peek at some of her images.

Artswalk is a free, city sponsored event held twice a year. Over 15,000 people are expected downtown, which runs from 5 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. on Friday, April 24 and from noon - 7:00 p.m on Saturday, April 25.

Above: Procession of the Species 2008

The Procession of the Species takes over the streets about 4:30 p.m. and thousands more will enjoy the festivities. It’s not too late to make something and be in the Procession of the Species! The Procession art studio is located downtown off the alley near Olympia St. and Capitol Way, near the Olympia Center. For more information, go to or call (360) 705-1087.

It is best to walk downtown or take public transit for Artswalk. Programs with detailed information are available all over the downtown area, featuring hundreds of artists and performers throughout local businesses. For more information, contact the City of Olympia at (360) 570-5858. For bus route and schedule information, contact Intercity Transit at (360) 786-1881.

Above: Hundreds of flamingos in the streets - Procession 2008

Graffiti: A New City-Community Partnership to Clean Up City

by Janine Gates

Above: This stop sign shows signs of having been cleaned.

Amy Stull, City of Olympia Police Community Programs staff, revealed a proposed city-community graffiti busting partnership at a public meeting of the Olympia Coalition of Neighborhood Associations last week at the Downtown Fire Station.

The partnership with public and private entities has been in the works for about two years. It is an exciting effort to address the difficult problem of graffiti.

"The Northeast Neighborhood Association has been a case study on how to best organize and maintain a graffiti reporting and abatement program," says Stull. Stull provided the group with an overview of the city’s new enhanced graffiti tracking information, available at

The city has also established a new graffiti hotline, and the city police department will have the responsibility of contacting the appropriate person who should clean it up.

Graffiti has become an increasing problem in Olympia. Etching of glass has also occurred. “We weren’t doing a good job of tracking graffiti. It wasn’t being logged and it was extremely labor intensive for a neighborhood to take pictures of graffiti and to clean up,” says Stull.

It is sometimes confusing who’s responsibility that would be, so partners include Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and Qwest, because taggers often target traffic signal boxes and utility property. Representatives from those organizations also attended the meeting and spoke about their efforts. "The graffiti makes us look bad too," said Casey Cochran, PSE Communications Manager.

Above: A power equipment box on 9th Ave. SW near Capital Mall.

“Tagging,” as it is called, is a crime. The best defense against graffiti is to clean it up. Taggers do not get satisfaction when their work is painted over or removed. The city says it is very important to document the vandalism by taking pictures, and documenting the time that the vandalism occurred so authorities can investigate the crime.

If the graffiti is on private property, the owner is responsible for clean up,” city code enforcement officer Chris Grabowski said. “We’re the last resort for graffiti clean up. There are only three of us for the city - one for the Westside, one for downtown, and one for the Eastside - so it will take about a month for a code enforcement action to get results on a graffiti case,” said Grabowski. Grabowski explained the process for enforcement and penalties for continued disregard for city notifications.

“In general, neglect of property will attract all sorts of crime,” said Stull. Something will happen, Stull says, “if it looks like you don’t care, or no one is watching.”

Neighborhood association members commented on an example of one partnership, as an example of how citizens can work with businesses to address mutual issues of concern. Abbey Realty provided the Northeast neighborhood paint in exchange for regular monitoring and painting over of a frequently tagged fence on an undeveloped parcel that they own.

Asked why graffiti is left up for so long, Grabowski said the biggest reason is because the property owners are absentee landowners. Number two, the elderly or disabled might not realize their fence, for example, has been tagged, because they don’t get out very often. And, Grabowski says, "a lot of property owners are dragging their feet because they have already painted over it three or four times and they’re sick of going it.”

Stull showed the group some slides of local graffiti and explained the difference between gang graffiti and regular graffiti. Only 10% of local graffiti is gang-related. Sometimes, having a mural painted on a troublesome wall will solve the problem. Stull also recommends not having a plain, gray wall looking ready to tag, and suggested painting it a different color.

The city’s Public Works department also provides free graffiti removal kits to recognized neighborhood associations and Block Watch neighborhoods.

Rick Knostman, City of Olympia traffic and operations supervisor under the public works program, oversees signs and signals. Knostman said it costs the city about $12,000 a year to clean up stop signs alone. In 2007-2008, the city had to replace 2,400 stop signs, more than 50% due to vandalism. The average stop sign should last 10 years under normal conditions. The stop signs need to be cleaned professionally, due to minimum reflectivity requirements. Each time a stop sign is cleaned, it loses a little bit of its reflectivity.

Don Law, neighborhood representative for the East Bay Neighborhood Association, credit’s the mural along East Bay Drive as solving their most troublesome spot for vandalism.

Above: Mural on East Bay Drive.

Rhonda Ayers, Program Coordinator for Community Youth Services (CYS), says she is excited about this new city-community partnership to fight graffiti. “We just received stimulus money to start a new youth program from May 1 through the end of August to employ 25 youth so they will give back to the community.” The money became available to CYS under the federal Workforce Investment Act.

“Under supervision, the youths will work part time, possibly fulltime, cleaning up the city of graffiti, and doing some landscaping and maintenance. Anytime we can engage our youth in constructive activities, the less recidivism we’ll see. They can take pride,” says Ayers.

Above: A mural in downtown Olympia depicts scenes from the annual Procession of the Species.

For more information and to find out how you can get more involved in cleaning up your neighborhood, contact Amy Stull, Police Community Programs, Olympia Police Department as (360) 753-8049 or

Website Lists Exact Address of Area Sex Offenders

by Janine Gates

Do you want to know exactly where a registered sex offender lives in the cities of Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater or Yelm? Go to and you will receive instant information based on actual case reports that have been entered by police in these jurisdictions.

Amy Stull, City of Olympia Police Community Programs staff, offered the information as a tool for citizens at Monday night’s public meeting of the Olympia Coalition of Neighborhood Associations at the Downtown Fire Station.

“People educating themselves and seeing what they can find is good,” says Stull, who admits even she was surprised to find the exact address of registered sex offenders on the program. She has informed her supervisors of this, in case they were not aware, she said.

Asked to clarify this information later, Stull said that the website information for these crime reports comes from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. Stull said she wants it clear that "retaliation against registered sex offenders is against the law and if there is retaliation, it might jeopardize the public's access to this information in the future."

Citizens can also receive email notices of local Level II and Level III registered sex offenders through the city’s notification program. Notification of sex offenders who move into a neighborhood is not automatic. These notices give only the block address of where the sex offender has registered. To be put on this list to receive notification, contact Jennifer Kenny, City of Olympia’s Neighborhood liaison at or (360) 753-8031 or see the city website at for more information.

The website also provides the block locations for a whole host of offenses, including sexual assaults, thefts, breaking and entering, robberies and property crimes. The information can be sorted by crime, date, and distance between the crime and your home or place of business. “For example, we had 619 reported vehicle prowls last year. One-half of those vehicles were unlocked,” said Stull. She added that vehicle prowls are up 60% this year as compared to last year.

Jeanne Marie Thomas, neighborhood association representative from the South Capitol Neighborhood, said that her car was recently prowled. Her car, she admitted, was unlocked. Small change was stolen, and she reported it, but she did not get a case number. Thomas asked Stull if that crime data would be on this website.

“No,” said Stull. “You don’t get a case number if you just say there’s nothing you want done in response to a crime. You get a case number if you file a report.” It is, however, important to report crime to police so they are aware of crime patterns in the neighborhood, said Stull.

Asked about the crime report summary published in The Olympian on a periodic basis, Stull said that is good, general information, “but the information for this website comes right out of our files.”

For more information about the Olympia Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, contact The next meeting of the full coalition is June 1, 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. at the Downtown Fire Station.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hummingbirds - The Great Indicator of Spring

by Janine Gates

Above: A male rufous hummingbird on a lilac bush.

A few days ago, I took exciting pictures of male rufous hummingbirds in my yard and of course I knew what kind they were because I pulled out my trusty, little Birds of the Puget Sound book written by local birder, naturalist and author Bob Morse. There’s a rufous, right on the cover. Morse’s latest book, released this last fall, is Birds of the Inland Northwest and Northern Rockies.

I contacted Morse, who lives in Olympia, not only because I wanted to brag about my pictures but I wanted to get his insight on why my neighbor and I have noticed what seems to be a particularly heavy invasion of stunning hummingbirds this year. Their buzzing and crazy aerial fights look and sound like battling WWII planes.

“Hummingbirds are the great indicator of Spring. I put up my hummingbird feeders on Valentine’s Day. Red reminds me that it’s that time of year again,” says Morse, who was happy to share his knowledge.

“It is usually soon after that some males arrive on their migration up north. They will stoke up on nectar and take off after a few days to continue their journey to breed in Alaska or northern Canada. A week or two after they depart, the local hummingbird residents return," says Morse.

“For years we have only had rufous hummingbirds in our community. And, while other communities like Seattle and Tacoma have the Anna’s hummingbirds in the winter, it has been only in the last year or two that we have started to see a number of Anna’s in the Olympia area during winter. That's why it's important to keep our hummingbird feeders up all year so the Anna’s can survive the cold winter evenings. There are few blossoming flowers at that time of year so the feeders really play a key role in their survival during the winter.”

Above: A male rufous humminbird finds my rosemary bush a real treat.

I went to Wild Birds Unlimited, 1200 Cooper Point Road, to check out their feeder selection. Three staff members and the owner, Ruth Pagel, were busily helping several customers, many of them congregating around the hummingbird section. Wild Bird Unlimited sells many types of feeders.

“The feeders don’t have to be red, and there’s two basic styles: saucers or jars,” said employee Francoise Hudson-Damm. “I personally feel perches on a feeder are worthwhile. The hummingbirds will perch and drinking longer.” Hudson-Damm says hummingbirds are fussy. "It’s important to keep the feeders clean. In my experience though, they won’t drink from it if it’s spoiled.”

Above: Wild Birds Unlimited employee Francoise Hudson-Damm stands next to the hummingbird feeders.

Five year employee Rachel Bjorklund says business has been good, despite the closure of the nearby Linens N’ Things. “The store is doing fine, with customers coming over from the post office and Party City…and I think this year we are having more hummingbirds than usual. I was walking around Nisqually last weekend and you couldn’t walk anywhere without hearing them buzz you.”

A customer, Victor Sorge, of Lake Cushman, came in looking for a “Perky Pet” jar replacement for one of his feeders. He says he has 40-50 hummingbirds near his house. “It’s like being inside a beehive when I’m sitting on my porch. Sometimes they run into me!” He says his hummingbirds go through a 32 ounce jar every two days.

Bob Morse had suggested I go to Bark & Garden Center, 3334 Mud Bay Road, to see employee Betty Moynahan, who developed a special handout which lists the local plants and flowers that can be planted to attract hummingbirds. I went there today and it was very busy, but there she was, right next to the perennial plants that attract hummingbirds.

Moynahan’s list is in blooming order, stretching from the Flowering Quince and Red Currant which usually blooms in February through the Trumpet Vine which usually blooms in August or September.

Above: Just one option at Bark and Garden Center to attract hummingbirds.

Moynahan agreed with Wild Birds Unlimited staff. There seems to be more hummingbirds this year. “The whole winter has been strange. I had a whole bunch of hummingbirds this Spring but I had to put out feeders early because the flowering quince and currant were late to bloom,” says Moynahan.

She showed me that the flowering currant was popular today, and they only had two little pots left.

So get out, enjoy the sunshine, fill your feeders, or get some plants that attract hummingbirds, and enjoy the show.

Above: Another male rufous hummingbird takes a break.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Public Hearing on Thurston County's Proposed Budget Cuts Draws Over 200

by Janine Gates

Above: Jonathan Mitchell, smiling, sits next to Dylan Kuehl, who testified against budget cuts to the Thurston County Specialized Recreation Program tonight.

The room at the Thurston County Courthouse was filled to its 185 person capacity and an overflow room was opened to accommodate those wishing to testify at the three hour public hearing held tonight to discuss the $5.4 million budget cuts facing Thurston County. This represents a 7.1% cut from the county's $76 million general fund budget.

The general fund is 20% of the Thurston County budget, and is funded primarily from property and sales taxes, both of which have fallen due to the recession. Locally, sales tax revenue is down 22% from 2007. Initiatives have limited property tax growth to 1% a year, which the county says is not enough to keep up with inflation.

Thurston County Commissioner Chair Cathy Wolfe opened the hearing saying, “We are committed to keeping up with our state mandated requirements, which include the court system, elections, tax assessment and collection. We’re going to do the best we can until we get out of this (economic) situation,” saying she hoped property tax will become more stable but even so, “we must live within our means.”

Jim Lazar, a local economist, said the proposed budget cuts to parks and public health are "unacceptable" and offered solutions. "You need to consider imposing transportation and parks impact fees...and consider a temporary wage reduction to county employees." Lazar suggested imposing higher percentage cuts on the higher paid employees. Lazar said there are 57 employees making over $100,000 per year, over 100 making between $80,000 - $100,000, and over 300 employees making between $60,000 - $80,000. The total savings, Lazar said, equals about $4.2 million. Lazar said the entire cut could be restored through the passage of a voter approved levy lid lift.

While most everyone seemed resigned to the reality that cuts need to be made, many spoke passionately against certain cuts, most notably, to the Thurston County Special Recreation Program. Many young adults with various disabilities spoke to the commissioners, advocating on their own behalf, much to the joy and cheers of their supporters.

Dylan Kuehl, 25, spoke against any budget cuts to the Thurston County Specialized Recreation Program. “Without this program, I will feel isolated because there will be no place for me to go. I will feel like a black sheep because I will be alone with no friends. We need to look out for each other. We’re like a big family. If you take away this program, then we won’t be a family anymore. I am worried that I will feel sad and probably need more counseling.” Kuehl, who has Down’s Syndrome, runs his own visual and performing arts company and is a volunteer at the Olympia Food Co-op.

His mother, Terri Rose, also spoke against any budget cuts to the program. “In November 2008, the funds were cut, forcing the organization to lose valuable staff and causing closure of a four day residential camp for people with disabilities. The campers loved this program and provided respite for families and providers….With fewer quality respite opportunities, it’s quite possible that parents and other providers may be overwhelmed with this task.”

While the county has funded the Special Recreation Program through the end of 2009, Rose asked, “What happens on January 1, 2010?” Rose recommended that a citizen advisory committee be formed to work closely with the commissioners to assure that when funding does become available again, that it be used for restoring the specialized recreation program.

Anthony Zoccola, 24, and his parents, Terry and Susan, also spoke passionately for the program, which is under the umbrella of the Thurston County Parks and Recreation Program.

Susan Zoccola has voluntarily coached the Thunderfish swim team since 1994 through the Thurston County Aquatics Program. Susan, who earned the Kiwanis Citizen of the Year award in 2005 for coaching the Thunderfish, said she has a swimming roster of 40 special needs people, from ages 8 to 52. They are currently training for the early May regionals for the Washington Special Olympics. Those who pass the regionals go onto the state games in late May. They swim twice a week for one and a half hours at River Ridge High School. “This program is one of a kind in the country. Without opportunities to meet and develop friendships, their social and verbal skills will decline,” said Terry Zoccola.

Another mother, Dorothy Nash, who said her daughter has Down’s Syndrome, also supported the swimming program, saying her daughter has received a gold medal every year. “It helps her health and well being. It isn’t just a social program…for some, it’s the only outlet of their lives.”

Another mother, in tears, said that her developmentally daughter loves to dance and swim. "These are the kids who are going to get lost in the shuffle and they're the ones who need it most."

Many other speakers addressed the proposed cuts to the Thurston County Fair and 4-H programs, public health, family planning, and the sheriff’s department.

Several law enforcement wives and family members spoke with concern for their loved one's safety. One wife said that most days, her husband is on patrol alone, with no backup, and has answered several domestic violence calls on his own.

One woman said, "I don't know where you live, but I don't want to live in McAllister Park with a $3,000 mortgage to feel safe. If you don't rely on the Thurston County Sheriff's Department, then you don't have the right to make these cuts."

A cut of over $495,000 will be made to the public health and social services department. This includes the Family Planning/Sexually Transmitted Disease program which serves about 3,500 residents, and the Dental Health program and Project Access which helps people gain access to medical services. Making cuts to these programs means federal grant monies cannot be leveraged.

Several public health community leaders including Bob Lang, a practicing neurosurgeon and president of the Thurston/Mason Medical Society, which represents 400 doctors, and Charles Loosen, of United Communities AIDS Network (U-CAN), addressed the impact that the loss of these programs will have on the community.

Loosen said, “We’re not accustomed to having services cut that we are used to having as a community…family planning falls between vital and emergency services. Roughly half of all sexually active youth between the ages of 13 - 29 will contract a sexually transmitted infection.” Loosen encouraged the commissioners to look at Jefferson County as a model because they are accepting private insurance.

Will Stakelin, of the Olympia Master Builders, said, "The decisions you make will define your leadership....having special needs families and law enforcement come and beg for funding is unacceptable...transfer funds where available."

Commissioner Wolfe said they had thought they would make a decision on the cuts by tomorrow, but they were expecting new numbers, and would likely make a decision next week. "Our hearts are in this with you and we appreciate you being here. Together we'll get through this," said Wolfe.

Above: The Thurston County Commissioners, Sandra Romero, Cathy Wolfe and Karen Valenzuela, have big decisions to make.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bottled Water Opponents Urge Change in State Purchasing Policy

by Janine Gates

Late last month, activists organized by the Think Outside the Bottle campaign delivered about 130 handwritten letters addressed to Governor Gregoire urging her to stop state purchasing of bottled water. The group also met with the Governor’s executive policy advisor on sustainability.

The campaign is also raising awareness of water privatization efforts in Washington State by the Nestle company, which is working towards creating a bottled water plant in Black Diamond, Washington. Last year, Enumclaw and Orting citizens successfully stopped Nestle from building plants there, which would have sucked 100 million gallons of spring water per year from their local aquifers, before reaching municipal supplies.

Carolyn Auwaerter, Washington organizer for the Think Outside the Bottle campaign, gathered the small, but dedicated group on March 25 on the Capitol Building steps in Olympia.

“We are gathered here today because water is a basic human right. When it is treated as a commodity, our democracy, health, and environment suffers….Governor Gregoire can save money by eliminating bottled water from the budget. We would also like her to deliver the message to President Obama and Congress that our public water systems must be properly funded.”

Washington’s portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) money is $38 million for clean water drinking projects. With the President’s budget proposal for next year allocating $3.9 billion for similar drinking water and sewer projects, the activists urged Gregoire to ensure that public water systems get the resources they need.

The Think Outside the Bottle campaign is working to educate individuals, cities, schools and restaurants to pledge support for tap water over bottled water.

Olympian Chuck Schultz participated with the action at the state capitol. “I never could see paying for bottled water. I quit accepting bottled water when offered to me a year ago when I learned what it was doing to the environment.” Schultz said he recently attended a course at Group Health and was disappointed to be served bottled water.

Miriam Calkins, a senior in the Environmental Health program at The Evergreen State College, and Davin Mackey, a sophomore in the same program, also participated.

Above: Miriam Calkins shows off her letter before delivering it to the Governor's Office.

“I did some research regarding the recycling rate of plastic bottles,” said Mackey. “According to Environmental Protection Agency estimates, the recycling rate for plastic bottles is only 28%, so the material represents a serious burden to our landfills. It’s a resource management issue for me. The bacterial counts in bottled water are also consistently higher than Environmental Protection Agency standards,” Mackey continued.

The governor was unavailable to meet with the group, so they met in a conference room with Kathleen Drew, the Governor’s executive policy advisor on sustainability issues. There is no state policy on bottled water and Drew admitted that there is great room for improvement, even on the Capitol Campus.

Drew’s office in the Insurance Building has no kitchen or tap water access other than the restrooms. “Even the water fountains in the Legislative Building are nothing but a trickle and most of them (and restroom sinks) cannot accommodate reusable water bottles,” Drew said, leading the conversation to possible institutional changes.

The Governor's Interagency Sustainability Committee is made up of at least 40 state agencies. Karin Kraft, with the Washington State Department of Ecology, is coordinator of the group, which meets quarterly.

In an interview today, Kraft says she met with General Administration (GA) staff about six months ago to discuss the bottled water issue because GA was about to write a contract regarding state purchasing. "We have concerns...there's a lot of purchasing of bottled water that occurs, however, we are discouraging that, for various reasons," Kraft says.

A member of the Think Outside the Bottle campaign will be meeting with the Governor's Interagency Sustainability Committee on May 20 at the Washington State Department of Health. "We feel successful with the work we've done so far," says Kraft.

Several cities around Washington have nearly stopped bottled water purchases, including the City of Olympia.

"Olympia doesn't have an outright ban on purchases, since bottled water is needed for emergency management personnel and maintenance workers for the parks, but we don’t purchase bottled water for meetings, parties and employee recognition events. We provided aluminum canisters last year to employees to encourage them to fill from the tap,” says city council executive secretary Mary Nolan. Nolan added that city council members are provided with pitchers of water during council meetings.

There are lots of reasons to not buy bottled water. Up to 40% of bottled water is actually just tap water. Corporations, through slick marketing, have steadily undermined people’s confidence in public water when bottled water is in fact not tested for safety as much as tap water. The process of manufacturing, distributing and disposing of bottled water is very energy inefficient, and the bottles themselves are made with chemicals linked to hormonal and reproductive damage. For this reason, plastic bottles should not be reused.

Nestle, the largest manufacturer of bottled water in the world, is having a
shareholders meeting in late April, and Think Outside the Bottle organizers are gearing up for it. Nestle owns 12 U.S. bottled water brands, including Arrowhead, which is sold on the West Coast. According to Nestle’s website, Europe and North America account for 50% of bottled water consumption. Nestle operates 38 bottling plants worldwide, 26 of them in North America. Nestle intends to build one in the Northwest by 2010, and is also looking at sites in Oregon.

Several communities around the country are battling Nestle, some successfully. If you would like to get involved, contact Carolyn Auwaerter at (206) 568-2851, or go to Or contact or for more information.

Above: Janine Gates brings Governor Gregoire a Mason jar of what most Olympians think is the best water in the world - pure, fresh, cold artesian well water from downtown Olympia. Photo by Carolyn Auwaerter