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Sounding Board

Benefit speakers express why they value The Fig Tree’s news approach


Sounding Board includes excerpts from comments of speakers at the 2017 Benefit Lunch and Benefit Breakfast.  The 2017 Benefit Video "Beyond the News - Revealing Community" is available on the Fig Tree Youtube Channel, and the videos of speakers are available by clicking on the photos or speaker's name. Full speeches are at


Dia Maurer

I have a long history with The Fig Tree.  The values it has given me over the years include resources, community and hope.

In the 1990s, Mary covered many of our builds while I was executive director of Habitat for Humanity.

I was new to the nonprofit world. The Fig Tree and Resource Directory were my “go-to” resources to figure out who was doing what in Spokane.

The Fig Tree builds community not just in the Inland Northwest but also around the world. I now serve Partnering for Progress, which works with villages in southwest Kenya to help them improve their water quality, education, health and economic development. A recent article about the water testing project we implemented with high school students led to hundreds of people knowing about our work.

The Fig Tree mission is to cover people of faith and nonprofit communities to break through divisions, and promote unity and action for the common good, which is especially needed in these divisive times.  By doing that, The Fig Tree brings hope.  When I read of good work being done, I find reassurance that there are wonderful, caring people throughout the Inland Northwest.

Dia Maurer
Partnering for Progress
Mable Dunbar

News is packaged by journalists for television, radio, online and newspapers to help people make decisions.  The criteria for deciding what is news include:  It’s new, unusual, interesting and significant.  It arouses curiosity and engages.

News is about people, people doing things to change the world.

The Fig Tree moves people beyond the news by sharing stories of people who make a difference in a society where religion, values and faith are suppressed.

The Fig Tree builds understanding, stirs compassion and supports ecumenical, interfaith and community activities.  It inspires us to act to build community so we work together for the common good.

The Fig Tree has covered our organization and workshops.  Because of The Fig Tree, we have more help and more people attending our events.

Mable Dunbar
Women’s Empowerment Network
Dean Lynch

I have attended Fig Tree benefits for years and have always left inspired.  Last year, when the Spokane County Human Rights Task Force’s founding was announced March 8, Mary Stamp was there to hear about our goals in confronting hateful behavior.

When she interviewed me for a story about it, I was concerned the article might be about me. She reassured me that I was the canvas through which the message of the task force would be told.  I think she nailed it.  Within a week after the article ran in April 2016, I had three inquiries.

I don’t remember when I saw my first copy of The Fig Tree, but I remember the sense of reading about someone making a difference.  I took the paper home, reread the “above the fold” article and then read the entire paper.

In a world where we are bombarded with information, it is not always easy to separate out the “noise” and the “fake news.” That is not a concern with this publication.  The articles are well researched and well written. 

By reading The Fig Tree, I get a slice of religious news internationally as well as regionally.  I gain a glimpse into the lives of modern day heroes providing good work in and for our community.

I look forward to the interesting articles about people who are doing the things that really matter.

I look forward to the inspiration and encouragement I receive by reading the paper from cover to cover.

I also look forward to passing my copy on to someone else after I have finished.

Dean Lynch  - 
Spokane County Human Rights Task Force


Anne Salisbury

I have a technique for reading The Fig Tree.  I read one article a day and put a check mark on it.

Fig Tree stories energize me.  Commercial media can be dreary. 

In the Fig Tree, I read of local people doing good.  That’s important because we are imitators.  Stories make me hopeful and inspired to copy people.  They refresh.  They align me with my better nature. 

My eyes are not as good, so I began reading just two to three stories a month, but with the political climate, my spirit wanes.  I again read it stem to stern.

I deliver the Fig Tree in churches and public spaces in Coeur d’Alene. 

I find that the copies are going faster and are running out earlier, so I’m not the only one taking care of myself.

Anne Salisbury
Fig Tree delivery volunteer


Freda Gandy

I thank The Fig Tree for telling our story and other stories that would otherwise go untold.  It covers ordinary people doing extraordinary things, people trying to make a difference because they are trying to do God’s will and help people in need.  Stories inspire us to reach out, connect and help.  I get phone calls and emails after stories about us.

I thank The Fig Tree for portraying young people in a positive light.  I watched a 14-year-old pick up the newspaper with a story about her.  The next month, she read The Fig Tree again, impressed that it covered local people who do good work.

The Resource Directory covers social service agencies and helps social service workers connect with other resources. It is so needed to have it in print, because not everyone connects to internet. 

Freda Gandy - 
Martin Luther King Jr. Family Outreach Center


Pat Millen

When I began as executive director of St. Joseph’s Family Center, Mary wanted to hear about what prepared me for my ministry. When St. Joseph’s was closing, she was interested again

The Fig Tree’s mission is to network and inspire people. It shares who we are, who we serve and what we do.  It promotes agencies, causes and missions, helping people know who we are. 

The Resource Directory is outstanding.  It provides updated public service, connecting people in faith and nonprofit agencies.

St. Joseph’s used it to look up and call to connect people who came to us needing services we did not offer.

Pat Millen, OSF - Fig Tree Board
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia


Scott Cooper

I lift up the value of sharing stories. Stories are about you and me.

Hallah from Iraq arrived in the U.S. last year. In Spokane, she translates for and helps other Iraqis navigate the system.  She longed to reunite with her 12-year-old son, who was 9 when she left.  As the date of her son’s arrival came, she was all smiles.  Then it was delayed, and she was uncertain if he would be allowed to come, but finally he is here.  I am impressed by her gratitude, patience and mercy.

When we share stories, I hope they show us at our most vulnerable and at our best. The Fig Tree includes storytellers and story keepers.  It occupies a sacred space.  We read of a person of faith, of the healing of a community and of speaking truth to power.  Its stories are about you and me.

Scott Cooper
Director of Parish Social Ministries with Catholic Charities of Spokane


Rusty Nelson

About 40 years ago, trying to land a news job in Minnesota, I came up with a definition of what news is. Today, I’m well beyond that definition, because it’s about what’s wrong with “The News.” 

My first Spokane job was in radio news.  Soon it was apparent I could not continue, because I was learning about engaged advocacy, or peace journalism.  My former objectivity felt like a leash or a muzzle.  I learned my faith development depended on social justice. Eventually, I found meaningful, community-building work with the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane.

My church, the Spokane Mennonite Fellowship, merged into Shalom Church.  That helped prepare us for interfaith understandings represented by The Fig Tree.  My little faith community supports The Fig Tree as a public facet of our inclusiveness and our insistence that love will overcome fear and hatred.  We also support it as the news that transcends potholes and puppies, politics and scandals to reveal stories of our neighbors, our fellow travelers on the journey toward truth and community.

I rely upon The Fig Tree to keep me grounded in local interfaith activity. 

Rusty Nelson - 
Veterans for Peace


Kimberle Meinecke
We love what we do. We love sharing news of faith and values in action. We love sharing news of people building community with strength and resiliency.  We love partnering with you to encourage exploration, learning and compassion.

Please share extra copies of The Fig Tree and Resource Directory with others.

We are grateful for all who make the monthly newspaper and annual resource directory happen:  staff, volunteers, advertisers, sponsors and underwriters.   

We need you to continue to support our work.  Do you already give financially?  Can you give more? If you are a fan and reader, will you volunteer with us and be part of the team that is partnering to make this media possible?  Will you pray for us?  For any and all support – volunteer, financial, advertising – we thank you!

The Rev. Kimberle Meinecke - 
Fig Tree Board and St. David’s Episcopal

Copyright © April 2017 - The Fig Tree