WA state politics forum draws crowd ?>

WA state politics forum draws crowd

Secretary Wyman (left) with Cornell Clayton, Todd Donovan, Sen. Hans Zeiger, Maria Chavez and Nicholas Lovrich after the forum ended. 

A panel discussion on the state of politics in our Washington attracted a standing-room-only crowd at a public forum Friday on the Capitol Campus.

The public forum was co-hosted by the Office of Secretary of State and Washington State University’s Foley Institute.

The symposium included a panel discussion on the latest developments in Washington state politics, including the state’s political culture, elections, the Legislature, and demographics and immigration.

Panelists included Washington State University professor emeritus Nicholas Lovrich, Pacific Lutheran University political science professor Maria Chavez, Western Washington University political science professor Todd Donovan and 25th Legislative District Sen. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup. Foley Institute Director Cornell Clayton was panel moderator.

Lovrich told attendees that Washington has a unique tradition in that many progressive and populist movements come to the state.

Donovan pointed out a paradox in Washington politics, in which the state is considered to be a safely “blue” nationally and typically elects Democrats for most statewide offices, yet has produced a Legislature that is virtually 50/50 between Democrats and Republicans, with divided control in the House and Senate.

Maria Chavez answers a question as Todd Donovan listens.

Chavez said current efforts by the state to push back against some of the federal government’s recent decisions is turning traditional states’ rights arguments on their head.

“Instead of thinking of states’ rights as ‘segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,’ as the old George Wallace states’ rights, we can now think of states’ rights as promoters of civil rights progress,” Chavez said.

Zeiger, who was elected to the Senate last fall after serving six years in the House, shared how the two chambers differ, noting that the House is geared toward passing more bills (which helps explain why it uses an electronic voting machine for floor votes), while the Senate is more deliberative, using voice votes.

“The House is the gas pedal, and the Senate is the brake,” Zeiger quipped.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman kicked off the noon-hour event by telling the audience, which included many legislative interns, the importance of legislators to find common ground.

The four panelists are contributors to the forthcoming updated book from WSU Press on politics in Washington: “Governing the Evergreen State: Political Life in Washington.” The updated book is expected to be released in early 2018.

TVW covered the event and has it available here for viewing.


WTBBL hosts Regional Braille Challenge event ?>

WTBBL hosts Regional Braille Challenge event

Students meet Oskar the cat at Regional Braille Challenge. (Photos courtesy of WTBBL)

Several Washington kids came to the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library in Seattle last Saturday to compete in an academic competition that promotes braille literacy.

The Braille Challenge tests braille skills in five categories: reading comprehension, spelling, tactile charts and graphs, proofreading, and speed and accuracy. Any grade school student who is blind or visually impaired and reads braille is eligible to participate.

Appearing at the WTBBL Regional Braille Challenge was Oskar of Oskar & Klaus, a blind cat that is an Internet sensation and a book character.

“Fewer students are learning braille than before, and this contest helps raise awareness about the importance of being able to read braille,” said WTBBL Manager Danielle Miller, who attended the event last Saturday. “And the kids who took part at The Braille Challenge had a blast!”

The overall winner was Issaquah’s Elijah McCalmont, who received a HumanWare VictorReader Stream as his prize. Seattle’s Erfan Jazizadeh Karimi finished second and received a $15 certificate to Seedlings Braille Bookstore. Janhavi Balasubramanian of Sammamish took third, earning a $10 braille book certificate to the National Braille Press.

A contestant reads braille created on a Perkins brailler.

All participants received a recognition certificate, a Braille Challenge T-shirt, an Oskar & Klaus patch, and a new braille book of their choice.

“The students who participated in The Braille Challenge had a great time,” said WTBBL Youth Services Librarian Marian Mays. “My favorite part of the event was witnessing the students interact with Oskar and reading one of Oskar’s books in braille. I’d like to extend a thank you to all the students, parents, volunteers and sponsors who helped make our regional challenge a success.”

In addition to the prize donations from HumanWare, Seedlings Braille Bookstore and the National Braille Press, WTBBL received food and T-shirt donations from the Washington Council of the Blind and patches from Mick Szydlowski, Oskar’s owner.

Now in its 17th year nationally, The Braille Challenge, created by the Braille Institute of America, is the only academic contest in braille for school age students who are blind or visually impaired. More than 1,100 students take part in the competition across North America.

Just in time for Presidents Day: Archives photos of presidents visiting our Washington ?>

Just in time for Presidents Day: Archives photos of presidents visiting our Washington

President Harry S. Truman with Gov. Monrad Wallgren during his 1945 visit to Washington. (Photos courtesy Washington State Archives)

Even though Washington state is 3,000 miles away from Washington, D.C., we do sometimes receive a visit from the U.S. president.

In fact, the Washington State Archives over the years has collected several classic photos of presidents who traveled west to visit the Evergreen State.

In honor of Presidents Day, we’re showing off some of the Archives’ presidential photos.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower is greeted after landing at Boeing Field in 1956.

President John F. Kennedy shakes hand with Gov. Albert Rosellini in 1961.

OK, he wasn’t president yet, but this shot features Richard Nixon at a campaign event with Gov. Dan Evans in Seattle in 1968, months before Nixon was elected president that year.   










WTBBL director learns about global disability issues during Egypt trip ?>

WTBBL director learns about global disability issues during Egypt trip

WTBBL Director Danielle Miller visits the Federal Egyptian Association for Intellectual Disabilities during her trip to Egypt. (Photos courtesy of Danielle Miller)

The Washington Talking Book & Braille Library provides a comprehensive library service to Washington residents unable to read standard print. As its director, Danielle Miller is very aware of issues involving persons with disabilities.

During a recent trip to Egypt, Miller had a chance to discuss and learn more about issues involving rights for persons with disabilities globally.

After hosting two participants in the U.S. Department of State’s Professional Fellows Program at WTBBL last May, Miller traveled to Egypt on a reverse exchange program Jan. 28-Feb. 8.

The trip was made possible by Hands Along the Nile Development Services, Inc. (HANDS), administrator of a Professional Fellows Program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

“My time spent in Cairo was filled primarily with site visits to NGOs working in disability-related areas, and attending presentations on the current state of affairs relating to disability rights and rights and issues relating to women in Egypt,” Miller said. “My colleagues and I had the opportunity to present on proposal writing and our own organizations. We also visited the Library of Alexandria. There was some time for sightseeing and you can’t go wrong beginning an adventure with a trip to the Pyramids.”

Danielle at the Pyramids outside Cairo.

Miller said meeting people working in disability advocacy and going on the site visits were the high points of the trip, adding she looks forward to continuing new relationships and exploring opportunities for collaboration.

Some of the organizations Miller visited include the Alhassan Foundation, Takfik Namati TV, and the Federal Egyptian Association for Intellectual Disabilities. The Alhassan Foundation focuses on the diversity and inclusion of differently abled people by providing customized wheelchairs and offering programs like equipped rides, source of living, and social awareness.

“I had the opportunity to see someone getting fitted for a customized wheelchair and learn so much about the impact the mobility and programming has on people’s lives,” Miller said.

Danille and others visit Taha Hussein Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Takfik Namati TV is a channel serving people with disabilities, started by a blind photographer, and run by a staff of many persons with disabilities. The channel’s goals are seeking the rights of the disabled, linking to education and employment, holding computer trainings for people who are blind, and more.

Miller said the Library of Alexandria has several specialized areas and collections, but the most directly related to WTBBL was the Taha Hussein Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired. This library within a library provides computers with screen readers and magnification for patrons, training, audio books to read while in the library, and programming like art education and orientation and mobility. There is also a recording studio where books in Arabic are being produced in DAISY format for audio readers.

What was one takeaway from the trip for Miller?

“We all have work to do to improve rights and services for people with disabilities, regardless of location, and the strong spirit of empowerment and inclusion I found when speaking with people throughout my trip will certainly go a long way toward that goal.”

WTBBL is part of the Washington State Library, which is a division of the Office of Secretary of State.

A poetry book just for Valentine’s Day ?>

A poetry book just for Valentine’s Day

(Photo courtesy of Washington State Library)

For those of you who love poetry and rank Valentine’s Day among your favorite holidays, the State Library has just the thing for you. It’s a hand-pressed book of romantic and Valentine’s Day-themed poems from Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Ted Kooser. The book is called “Out of That Moment: Twenty-one Years of Valentines.” It was published by Brooding Heron Press, operated by former State Poet Laureate Samuel Green and his wife, Sally. The book is found in the State Library’s Rare Collection.

“Who Are We?” contest winners honored ?>

“Who Are We?” contest winners honored

Secretary Wyman with the “Who Are We?” contest winners in her office. (Photo courtesy of Laura Mott)

Visiting the state Capitol in Olympia is a fun and memorable experience by itself. But if you’re a student and getting an award during your visit, it’s unforgettable.

That was the case for five Washington students who were honored by Secretary of State Wyman in her office Thursday for being the top chosen winners for the “Who Are We?” writing, art and film contest sponsored by her Legacy Washington program, which produced  the “Who Are We?” profiles series and exhibit.

“This recognition event is really what this program is all about—engaging young people in the remarkable story of Washington and celebrating their passion in the arts and history,” Wyman said during the ceremony,  during which she presented the students with a special certificate and gift card.

The competition asked Washington students to share who they are and who they hope to become. Contestants could submit entries in different formats, including writings, two-dimensional art or film projects. There were two categories, grades 6-8 and grades 9-12.

The writing contest winners are:
• Larissa Meyer, a seventh-grader at College Place Middle School, Edmonds – “Dear Future Self”
• Tyray Hunt, a 12th-grader at Joel E. Ferris High School in Spokane, submitted an essay entitled “Who Am I” and a poem called “Evergreen”

The art contest winners are:
• Emilie Haedt, an eighth-grader at Annie Wright School, Tacoma – “Wandering Raven”
• Chanae Bird, an 11th-grader, Joel E. Ferris High School, Spokane – “Who Am I?”

The film contest champion is Navid Rahbin, a ninth-grader at Skyview Junior High School, Bothell – “We Are Family”  

“I am so proud of the investment each of you made, the courage you’ve shown and how you fully embraced an assignment that would challenge every adult,” Wyman told the students.

Two “Who Are We?” profile subjects, Aberdeen Mayor Erik Larson and Native American activist Hank Adams, were among the attendees.

The winning pieces will be posted on the Secretary of State’s website, featured in SOS publications and appear alongside the Who Are We? exhibit.

Throughout 2016, Legacy Washington released a series of online profiles about fascinating, accomplished Washingtonians, capped by last August’s launch of its “Who Are We?” exhibit in the Secretary of State’s front lobby at the Capitol. Profiles of the Who Are We? project can be viewed here.

Legacy Washington documents extraordinary stories in our state’s history. This collaborative venture, spearheaded by Wyman, relies on original sources at the Washington State Library, Washington State Library and heritage organizations across the state. Legacy Washington’s work can be found in libraries across the U.S. and in heritage organizations and schools statewide.

From the Archives: 1929 Kettle Falls basketball team photo ?>

From the Archives: 1929 Kettle Falls basketball team photo

(Photo courtesy Washington State Digital Archives)

The regular season is ending for high school basketball teams throughout Washington. For many teams, it means no more practices and games. But for others, the playoffs await.

With anticipation building ahead of the postseason, our State Digital Archives has this classic photo of a hoops squad from long ago.

This photo, taken around 1929, shows the Kettle Falls High School boys basketball team. Gotta love the uniforms!

The photo is part of the State Digital Archives’ Crossroads on the Columbia photo collection, which contains more than 500 scanned historic photographs of northeastern Washington taken between 1890 and 1964. Most were taken between 1920 and 1945. They include school pictures, family albums, industrial sites and the waterfall called Kettle Falls.

The State Digital Archives is part of the Washington State Archives.

State Archives does its part to get rid of paper in state government ?>

State Archives does its part to get rid of paper in state government

Some of the shelves at the State Records Center in Tumwater.

As you enter the Washington State Archives’ State Records Center at the south end of Tumwater, the first thing you notice are the rows of shelves of cardboard boxes that literally rise to the ceiling 40 feet up.

When you see those super-tall shelves in that enormous building, it reminds you of the final scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark when the crate carrying the coveted yet deadly ark is stored in a giant government warehouse.

As you gaze at the high-rise shelving in the State Records Center, you quickly realize the place has A LOT of boxes. How many? More than 270,000. The Records Center Annex in Tumwater holds another 6,000 boxes. All of those boxes equate to about 700 million documents preserved in the two buildings.

And what kind of documents are kept in those boxes? Records that state government agencies no longer need close at hand, but aren’t allowed to destroy or throw away. That’s where the State Archives and the Records Center enter the picture.

The State Archives’ job is to preserve those millions and millions of government records. And the Records Center is where most of them are kept.

Considering that many state agencies continue to produce multiple boxfuls of records even in this digital age, it’s easy to understand that the number of documents stored at the Records Center can grow at an alarming rate. When you have a building that has only so much storage space, this can be a problem.

Fortunately for the State Archives, it is doing something that helps resolve this challenge. In partnership with several state agencies, the Archives has been reviewing records to see if some of them may be kept for shorter periods.

Recently, the Department of Health concluded that some of its boxes need only be retained for 15 years instead of the 20 previously identified.  Shortening this single retention period, resulted in the destruction of 1,700 boxes of records, making much needed room for incoming records.

“At first glance, someone might wonder why in the world the State Archives, the place where government records are supposed to be preserved, would want to destroy records,” said State Archivist Steve Excell. “The fact is, working with Department of Health staff, we’ve carefully considered the length of time to retain these records and determined that 15 years is long enough.”

Hey, I don’t see Benton County on this map! ?>

Hey, I don’t see Benton County on this map!

1904 Washington map. (Image courtesy of Legacy Washington) 

Anyone who is really into Washington geography knows that our state has 39 counties. But did you know that hasn’t always been the case?

There was a time when a few of today’s counties weren’t even around at the turn of the 20th century. This 1904 map of Washington offers visual proof.

What is now Benton County was part of Yakima and Klickitat counties. Douglas County was A LOT larger in 1904 because it included what is now Grant County. And Pend Oreille County? Part of Stevens County at that time.

If you carefully look at the 1904 map, you’ll discover a few well-known cities literally weren’t on the map. No Bellingham (it was called Whatcom). No Mukilteo. And no Federal Way.

This historic map was made by The Americana Company and published by Bormay and Company of New York.

Our State Archives and State Library hold extensive map collections dealing with our state and the surrounding region. You can see find many other historic maps of Washington by going to Legacy Washington‘s historical map collection here.

WTBBL director goes to Egypt ?>

WTBBL director goes to Egypt

WTBBL Director Danielle Miller. (Photo courtesy of WTBBL)

As director of the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library in Seattle, Danielle Miller has devoted many years to helping thousands of Washingtonians who are unable to read standard print.

Miller soon will have an opportunity to share her experience and expertise with people in Egypt.

How did this happen?

Last May, Miller hosted two participants in the U.S. Department of State’s Professional Fellows Program (PFP), administered by Hands Along the Nile Development Services, Inc. (HANDS), a U.S. based organization committed to promoting intercultural understanding between the U.S. and Middle East.

The Fellows, hailing from Tunisia and Egypt, spent three weeks working on issues of library services for people with disabilities and accessibility and began a great exchange of ideas. Miller departs tomorrow for Cairo, Egypt, on a Professional Fellows Program Reverse Exchange. This trip will bring representatives from American organizations who hosted a professional fellow in 2016 to the Middle East/North Africa region to continue collaborating on important issues related to NGO development, women’s empowerment, and disability rights.

Said Miller:

“I’m excited to be reunited with Samia Talaat, the Professional Fellow from Egypt who spent time at WTBBL, and meet other Egyptians working to improve services for people with disabilities. Having the opportunity to meet new people, share information and see amazing sights like the pyramids, the Nile, and more is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The reverse exchange is a component that is intended to continue to strengthen the personal, professional, and institutional relationships formed in 2016. Through the Department of State’s Professional Fellows Program (PFP), a two-way exchange embraces the power of finding creative solutions to challenges individual citizens may face in their home communities.

Good luck and safe travels, Danielle!