Urban artists: Elaborate and now-celebrated art form uses buildings as canvas

Hidden in back alleys, stuck to the side of garages and scrawled across public structures, graffiti has been present in the Yakima Valley for decades. With it comes disapproving glances from passers-by and headaches for those who must remove it.

But the tide has changed in recent years, and some in Yakima are starting to elevate the once-vilified tags to an elaborate and celebrated art form.

To witness this trend, a person need only look at the walls of The Barrel and surrounding buildings on Ranchrite Road, near the Nob Hill overpass.

Made with vivid strokes of color, line work and themes, the art covering the walls of The Barrel and the story behind it provide a glimpse into an emerging trend in Yakima.

When Jeremy Sandino took over the property in 2014, it was commonly hit by taggers. He said because of his building’s location, he knew he had to fight it.

The solution was simple, he said: Either hate them or join them. He chose to join.

Two years ago, Sandino hosted an urban art show tha…

Wanting a chance: Job seekers with disabilities face challenges

A car crash at age 3 left Eddy Garcia with a head injury that led to a developmental disability. Trouble speaking and writing and impaired use of his left hand followed.
Today, some would see the 38-year-old Garcia and think he likely wouldn’t have a job. In reality, he’s worked his entire life. But it didn’t come easy.

And it’s not getting easier for others like him as disability vocational employment agencies endure a funding crunch.

The hard part for Garcia wasn’t the work itself, but finding an employer who would give him a chance.

“It was very difficult,” said his mother, Irma Garcia. “Because of his disability he can’t write well. He never got a call back. I don’t think they even looked at his applications. I feel he was discriminated (against).”

But Eddy kept trying.

“I continued to push and encourage him,” his mother said. “He was worth it and he could do it. Eddy loves to watch wrestling and his favorite wrestler is John Cena, and he loves (Cena’s) saying ‘Never give up.’ He would …

CASA: Program that advocates for kids could use a few good volunteers

When children are abused or neglected and removed from their home, a group of volunteers helps make sure their voices are heard in court.

Yakima County’s Court Appointed Special Advocate Program represents more than 500 children a year. But volunteers are scarce and children aren’t getting all the attention they need, program officials said.

Since January, CASA has served 406 children, with 25 volunteers working with 66 of them. To make up the difference, the program’s four full-time staff members have taken 85 cases each.

“We can’t give each case all the attention it deserves when each staff member has 70 to 80 cases. We can’t give the kid justice,” CASA Program coordinator Keith Gilbertson said.

Gilbertson said staff members should be supporting volunteers, not taking most of the cases. He said having one volunteer for every case is the goal.

This makes sense when you look at what an advocate does.

When a child enters the court system, a judge appoints an advocate, who serves as the…

Out in the Valley: Growing up LGBTQ in Yakima

In June, the city of Yakima formally acknowledged Pride Month for the first time in its history. Those in the LGBTQ community and their allies call this progress. But some say that progress doesn’t make it any easier to grow up gay in the Yakima Valley.
Family acceptance, community pressures and internal struggles play a powerful role in every lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) person’s experience.

Getting an idea of what it’s like to grow up LGBTQ in the Valley is difficult because many are afraid to share their story. Of the three who spoke openly, many others didn’t for fear of rejection, retribution and family embarrassment.

Here are their stories:

Sethalee Williams, 18

At birth, doctors said Sethalee Williams was male, but she doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t female.

She always played with traditionally girl-targeted toys. She remembers taking dresses from her mom’s closet and trying them on. She didn’t know what it meant, but she knew it wasn’t accepted.…

Bringing Water to the Birchwood Food Desert

Michael Powell pushed his wife Sherry Powell in a wheelchair across a mostly-empty parking lot in the Birchwood neighborhood. Behind them, the remains of a boarded-up building rose into the sky. On the building’s facade was the outline of what used to say “Albertsons.” Just over two years ago, the grocery store in the Park Manor Shopping Center was frequented by people from the Birchwood neighborhood who regularly shopped there. Now closed, residents like Michael and Sherry Powell said they have struggled to find fresh, healthy, affordable food near their home. “Albertsons is well-missed here,” Michael said. “There should be a major grocery store in this ‘hood.” He said without the Albertsons, many Birchwood residents are forced to commute all the way to Haggen on Meridian Street or Fred Meyer on Lakeway Drive. The lack of a nearby grocery store has turned Birchwood into a near “food desert.” A food desert is defined as a low-income urban area in which residents are a mile or more away fro…

A Flag Half-Staffed

Every day the flag sits half-staffed

On a pole fixed into this world that seems broken

Broken even by the standards of the history books we don't open

A world split in two

A world uncertain

Vile words spill from radio waves and wire

Constant words that keep alive the fire

A society so addicted to hate it can't think of sobriety

Intoxicated with lies

Intoxicated until demise

Maybe the flag mourns the death of America

At least America as we like to think of it

They say something dies when no-one thinks of it anymore

What even was America?

This isn't it I'm sure

The truth is blurred

Maybe it's buried under all the lies we tell ourselves to sleep at night

Maybe it's buried under the ashes of a firefight

Maybe it's buried under a false sense of right

And we hold the shovel

Yet no-one cares to dig

A two-sided war blows smoke into our eyes

Gunfire deafens our ears

Internet wires choke our mouth

Civil War part two

America dies from all the clashes

And leaves us wi…

To You

To the child in a broken home

To the child where life's stones have broken their bones

It gets better

To the child with no friends

To the child with no parents

To the child with no food

To the child with no hope

The world moves on and in that world there's a place for you

A place that can only be filled by a person like you

That place is home

Because fate has dealt a bad hand

But you can always fold and look for better lands

The road home is lined with fear and doubt

A journey of distance and soul that requires too many bouts

But in the end it was worth it all

No matter how many times you have to fall

To the child with a life in pieces

Journey on and stay strong

Because one day the pieces will come together

And those pieces will lead to happiness forever

And the pieces will point you to home

And home will heal your broken bones.

Trust me when I say all this is true

Sincerely, the man who was once you

Unfathomable Cosmic

Together we looked into the night sky and traced the glimmering of a hundred bright stars

The Virgo. The rocky moon. A faint glimpse of Mars

Not fully fathoming the grand play we observed

Infinite expanses of toiled space and matter unnerved and undeterred

A whirlwind of the various forces that propel all things in existence

A mutual interplay of persistence stretches into the distance

The beauty of such is invoked in many mortal songs

Light years away a star explodes like a billion nuclear bombs

Indescribable in power, not even in the books of Psalms.

A brilliant flash of ephemeral light that recedes into oblivion-like-obsidian

Its body spreads to the very extents of our imagination

So vast and violent we can’t fathom an interpretation

Yet we hear nothing

The eternal interwhirling of rock and gas wrap their orbits around this rock of ours

Black holes devour any matter without regard to outside power

Yet we see nothing

Traveling through space at speeds unthinkable we remain unprovoke…

The Sun Will Rise

Around me the night had fallen

Everything I knew about happiness had been forgotten

I was once told that one day it would be okay

A fact that seemed far from sight for my happiness I could only imagine the fight

But in the end they were right

The fractures of a past day mended

The nightmares of the past ended

And there was the sudden realization:


There is a saying that all things heal with time

Or with assorted nickels, quarters, and dimes

But from what I recall, no assortment of such will blot such scars

To play a passive role in progress is a farce

A dying flower does not grow with time

It needs sun and water

A field does not plow with time

It needs mule and a farmer

A rusted car does not drive with time

It needs gas and a driver

True recovery comes with effort

For the scales of the world do not move when no action is taken

This is the law of the world and motion

To this extent a person reflects

Heartbreak is not healed with time

Loneliness is not fixed with time


Raven in the Rain

The raven sits in silence

For there was no warmth to heal its wounds

It sits quietly in the rain under the many moons

It takes the flint and tries to call out

It goes for another bout

The warmth is tepid and brief

A cycle it plays over and over as it holds onto a false belief

The cost is high

The warmth is low

And the cost seems to ever grow

The raven only wants to feel that golden glow

But the raven is forgotten by the grace of the light

Because in the war for warmth it seems to have lost the fight

An afterthought to the fire it tempts

The common trend

The wounds it bears will never mend

Because only light will cure its ails

But attracting and keeping the light it seems to fail

The hailing bullets of the many ills strike it from the air

The raven falls to the ground in a broken pile of despair

Rain washes away the traces of the pain

It wonders why it keeps playing the game when everything will be the same

It closes its eyes and lets out a breath

It awaits its slow painful death

But …

Old Ones

The Old Ones sit in silence as a world moves around them

Streets full of death and hunger

Streets full of hate and thunder

Yet the Old Ones sit in houses on the hills

In the streets no one can pay the bills with what is made in the mills

Yet the Old Ones call a higher cost

A systemic holocaust

The Younger Ones have a future they can't see

A future in which they hold the key

Yet when the overwhelmed call for a lower rent

The Old Ones complain that the lazy have money unspent

Even when those dollars are meant to circumvent torment

The only thing the Old Ones see clear is Wall Street

All the people they will never meet

All the lives that will never shine

Why spend the time when there's a window through which they can see just fine

Rose-tinted glass lined with gold

Yet if only they could see the mold

Then how strong would be the views the Old Ones hold

Maybe then they wouldn't be so cold

A Coded Heart

The included documents are a selected few of the many files present on a flash drive delivered to our headquarters from a post office in Silicon Valley. These documents are supposedly leaked by someone related to a robotics research firm that went bankrupt last year. The names of all people mentioned have been changed to protect their identities. The name of the company has been changed as well. Certain sensitive information has been redacted. We have decided to post these files here as an advancement of our cause. Please read them and consider.

-Mark Nickelsen

President of the Association for Robotic and Autonomous System's Rights (ARASR)

Compilation of Selected Fies From Deepwave Corporation's "Project ALANS"
Emailing System | 4-10-54 2:30pm

From: Dr. Kramnick

To: President Spragen

Subject: Progress Update, Project ALANS


Mr. President:

I just wanted to send an email updating you on the progress of t…

City of Lies

One night I decided to watch this city that I had lived in for months

But I wondered what you would see if you stopped it all at once

From this perch up high it was easy to see all

I was able to observe everything in the city that otherwise never stalled

The rich as they feasted and looked down from their houses on the hills

Keeping diligent tabs on their forever-running mills

And the flashing red and blue lights in the poor city center

And the absence of the much-needed mentor

To the college where students tried so hard to prepare for a career

Then they try so hard to be different from the world that they mirror

And to the office complexes full of people staying too far into the night

Trying to get ahead in a world where they couldn't even fight

The long stretches of road that ran far away

Even though most people only knew how to stay

The homeless roaming aimlessly down the cold open sidewalk

Too hungry and tired to even talk

The children with reason to be anything but somber

The children with no…