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Showing posts from 2018

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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…