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Search The Fig Tree's stories of people who make a difference:

Speakers at 2015 Fig Tree benefits tell of values of stories that inform, inspire and involve

Dawn Bayman, KSPS

Dawn Bayman - director of member services at Friends of KSPS Public Television and member of the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media Board

KSPS Public TV shares two principles with The Fig Tree: why we exist and how we exist.

KSPS provides programs that entertain, engage and educate to enrich the communities we serve.  The Fig Tree connects people, shares stories, builds understanding, stirs compassion, explores issues, opens dialogue and inspires people.

To make our work possible, we rely on the financial backing of people who value what we do.  KSPS has pledge drives to reach out to people who think it’s a resource that ought to be here to benefit everyone.

The benefits are The Fig Tree’s pledge drive.  If you value what The Fig Tree does, step up and put your backing behind it. 

Now more than ever, positive reporting, sharing stories, fostering engagement and opening dialogue are so important.  People who want to see this positive, thoughtful reporting, join together to help make The Fig Tree possible.


Diane Sanderson

Diana Sanderson - member of the Spokane Valley Tri-Parish ecumenical partnership of St. Mary’s Catholic, Resurrection Episcopal and Advent Lutheran churches

For 40 years, three Spokane Valley churches  have been gathering as we strive for: unity, mutual prayer, service and love. 

Mindful that we come from distinct traditions, we strive to have a positive influence in our community as we do outreach together, hold a Thanksgiving vigil, do vacation Bible school and hold up each of our communities in prayer. 

When I tried to find our history, The Fig Tree was an amazing source.  Through the years, it has not just recorded, but also given an expression of why we do this. 

Reading other media, we just get bits of information, but don’t get our hearts moved.  We don’t change unless our hearts are moved and connect with our lives.  The Fig Tree helps do that.  It says we can be converted as we know the good that others do.  It makes us think and know we can each can do a little more. 


Fr. Michael Savelesky

Fr. Michael Savelesky - Catholic Diocese of Spokane administrator, Fig Tree advocate and editor with the Inland Register.

The Fig Tree, as an instrument of communication among churches in the region, is a herald of good news.  In Greek and Roman societies, a herald appeared at the city gates, blew a horn and then stood in the city center to announce breaking news. 

We hear about breaking news every night on TV.  Once when we heard that phrase, we stopped everything, believing we should listen, because something would  affect our lives.   Today, TV news drones on and on. 

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote in the gospels, the good news, what people needed as an anchor for their faith and lives.

Since the Bible was printed on Gutenberg’s press, printing has flourished, but now there’s a trend against the written word.  A newspaper like The Fig Tree shows the importance of print media.  It anchors something.  Every item in every issue is worth devouring. 

It is a unique instrument in our Christian community that pulls God’s people together. 

A Gospel story tells about a fig tree not bearing much fruit.  Some want to cut it down, but the master says to fertilize it a bit more and be patient.  Look where this fig tree has born fruit.  It does inform.  It does inspire, and it calls us to be involved in our faith communities to do what we can to build the common good and share the good news of God’s word alive among us.


The Rev. Happy Watkins

The Rev. Happy Watkins - pastor of New Hope Baptist Church and advocate for civil rights and racial equality

In 1984, I was on the ecumenical council at St. John’s Cathedral when this lady walks in with the idea of starting a faith-based newspaper.  It was a seed.  I personally didn’t think it would work, but I voted for it anyway.  In 31 years, it has grown and flourished and the success of The Fig Tree is about the goodness of people.

I grew up in the Bronx with 2.5 million people of diverse races, religions, nationalities, wealth, politics and more.  When I joined the Air Force in 1961 and came to Spokane, I was isolated and depressed because I had left a community of diversity.

Later, I joined The Fig Tree, which seeks to uplift diversity.  The Fig Tree writes articles on criminal justice, smart justice, racial disparity, the school-to-prison pipeline, black history, the NAACP, the black ministers fellowship, the Martin Luther King Jr. outreach center, projects, rallies and marches—even 50th wedding anniversaries of local black pastors. 

It covers the courage of people working on human rights, racism concerns in this region, and how to attain peace, justice and equality.


Bob Lawrence

Bob Lawrence – producer at KSPS-TV who prepared a 30th anniversary piece on The Fig Tree for Northwest Profiles

A year ago, I did a TV program on The Fig Tree’s 30th anniversary.  I wondered how to do a TV story on a print publication.  I did it on the people behind the publication.  We talked about Mary Stamp’s education and opportunities, Sr. Bernadine Casey’s background, and volunteers, each step leading to what you read now. 

I wasn’t familiar with The Fig Tree before that.  I was astounded by the scope and depth in the range of topics explored, faiths that have a voice and commitment and humility of those involved.  

While some media outlets’ goal is to pick a fight, The Fig Tree’s is to provide dialogue and build relationships.  Some media seek divisiveness, while The Fig Tree seeks wholeness.  Most media are out to make a profit, but The Fig Tree is out to make a difference. 

KSPS-TV shares similarities.  We take time to tell a good story with less hype and more depth.  We have a strong commitment to local stories.  We cater to needs of the audience.  Our main source of income is contributions from the audience.  When you fund KSPS and The Fig Tree you fund values based journalism in this community.


Norm Gissel

Norm Gissel - Coeur d’Alene attorney active in the Kootenai County Task Force for Human Relations and the Human Rights Education Institute

In 1960, we integrated a University of Idaho fraternity, and I said our work had just begun.  Now I’m 74 and, because of what’s happened at the University of Oklahoma and other campuses, I say again that our work has just begun.

Because of decisions I made and beliefs I held at an early age, I couldn’t be anywhere else other than where I am today.  

I admire and respect the commitment The Fig Tree has made to humankind.

As the Kootenai County Task Force for Human Relations dealt with the Nazis for 30 years, it was a difficult time.  Sometimes we believed we were acting in isolation.  For me, The Fig Tree shared knowledge that the values we held were shared by so many. Concern for humanity can be addressed in so many ways. 

Whenever we grew weary and thought we were alone, we could go to The Fig Tree and be reminded of the immense capacity for human good that reigned throughout the Inland Northwest.  So anything we can do to further the good work of The Fig Tree is something I certainly support.


Pia Hallenberg

Pia Hallenberg - Spokesman-Review writer and 2014 recipient of the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media award for Media Excellence

I love newspapers.  I love being a journalist.  One thing essential to sound, healthy media in the community is a paper like The Fig Tree.  Mary and her staff do an incredible job covering the stories we don’t always get to.  It’s not because we don’t care.  We do care deeply, but we only have so much time.  We rerun some Fig Tree stories in the Spokesman-Review.  The Fig Tree picks up smaller stories that probably should be in the paper.

I know how difficult it is to put out a newspaper.  One reason to support The Fig Tree is to maintain a diversity of media.  Think of your media consumption as other consumption.  Support the media that you would like to see.  It is important that we support papers like The Fig Tree, papers that have credibility. 

Copyright © April 2015 - The Fig Tree