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Six months ago, in Grays Harbor County

Six months ago, in the February 2019 issue of WIP, Linda Orgel reported on a meeting Congressman Derek Kilmer held to discuss economic development in Grays Harbor County. Orgel’s aim in writing was to question the dominant paradigm imposed on rural areas in the name of economic development. She stated her concern that, without critical reflection and organizing, the renewed push for economic development in Grays Harbor County would be framed in opposition to good jobs and a healthy environment. Orgel wrote, “rural areas, which are often depressed areas where people have fewer options for work also often contain the last vestiges of an unspoiled natural environment. Thus rural communities become battlegrounds for “jobs vs. environment.”

As evidence for her position, Orgel cited state lawmakers’ willingness to blame their inability to properly fund public schools on a choice to put protecting the endangered Marbled Murrelet over jobs, the same false dichotomy employed with the Spotted Owl.

New project begins in Grays Harbor County

This summer, a new non-profit organization is in the process of eliciting dialogue about economic development not opposed to living-wage jobs or to healthy ecosystems. Firelands Together (see column pg. 3 for more information) has designed a Cost of Living Survey to ask Washingtonians what their key concerns are. Along with those concerns, the survey also asks Washingtonians how they would design a New Green Deal for our state.

In addition to the survey,, Firelands Together staff are conducting listening tours in selected communities, and posting updates on their Facebook page. Below is a sample from a recent community are posting updates about this listening tour on their Facebook page, including this one from July 2:

“More photos from our Cost of Living listening project—we are hearing about what makes it so damn hard to make ends meet, and what we all can do about it. We’ve heard that people are ready for more good jobs that cultivate our forests and fisheries for generations to come, that put people to work fixing up and building housing we can afford, that support us all to have access to good health care, that help working families access affordable childcare, and more. Thank you to all who offered your voice! It starts with us.”

“Más fotos de nuestro proyecto de Escucha del Costo de Vida: escuchamos lo que hace que sea tan difícil llegar a fin de mes con tantas cuentas, y lo que todos podemos hacer al respecto. Hemos escuchado que las personas están listas para más buenos trabajos que cultivan nuestros bosques y pesquerías para las generaciones venideras, que ponen a la gente a trabajar arreglando y construyendo viviendas que podemos accesar, que nos ayudan a todos a tener acceso a una buena atención médica, que ayudan a las familias trabajadoras a acceder a guarderías asequibles, y más. ¡Gracias a todos los que ofrecieron vuestra voz! Comienza con nosotro/as… ”

To find out more about the Firelands Together project, check out their Facebook page. You can find the Cost of Living survey at

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