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Celebrating People, Places & the Good Life in SW Washington State
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Posts from — February 2012

March is for Clams, Charlie Brown and Sasquatch

This is the month when we yearn for dry, sunny weather. Whether it’s still raining (it will be) or shining (it might be), abandon your recliner and get out there!

There is plenty to do in Southwest Washington in March. Here are a few options:

March 1Damn Yankees – Columbia Theatre brings the Broadway hit musical to Longview for one night. Tickets available through the theatre box office.

Oleg Ulitskiy's exhibit of boat paintings will continue at Art on the Boulevard in March

March 2First Friday Events – Vancouver, Camas and Ridgefield always offer convivial evenings on the first Friday of the month. Downtown Vancouver will hold its First Friday Art Walk from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Downtown Camas will hold a Lucky Leprechaun Scavenger Hunt and restaurants, shops and galleries will be open in downtown Ridgefield.

March 3 Arts and Culture Summit – Join colleagues and friends to build a vision for the future of the arts in Clark County. The day will include a host of speakers and panelists.

March 4Ft. Vancouver Run – Rain or shine, registration for the Fred Meyer Ft. Vancouver Run starts at 7 a.m. Details here.

March 9-31You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown – Who can resist the characters from Peanuts? Presented by Love Street Playhouse in Woodland.

March 10Still Walking: Bigfoot in the Dark Divide and Beyond. Author and lepidopterist Dr. Robert Michael Pyle talks about his book on the search for Sasquatch in Washington State and exciting new developments at the Willapa Hills Audubon meeting in Longview. Meeting details here.

March 10-11 Razor Clam Dig (tentative) – Dates are always tentative but the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has announced morning digs at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks. Licenses are required. No clamming is allowed after noon. Go here to read a past ZEST blog post on clamming. For details read the official WDFW announcement. Here are the rules and regulations.

Maryhill Museum, photo by Nayland Wilkins

March 15Opening Day – Maryhill Museum – Although not all parts of the museum will be open (watch for a May opening of the Mary and Bruce Stevenson wing) the museum will open the 2012 season with Beside the Big River: Images and Art of the Mid-Columbia Indians. with 40 photographs by Lee Moorhouse, Thomas Rutter and J.W. Thompson. View the exhibit catalog here.

March 16-17 17th Annual Peninsula Quilt Guild Exhibition – Head to the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum in Ilwaco to see the quilts by talented fiber artists of the Long Beach Peninsula.

March 17 St. Patrick’s Day TeasPomeroy Living History Farm will offer formal teas to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Reservations are required.

Get your surfboards out. Beaches at Washington State Parks will be FREE on March 18-19!

March 18-19Washington State Park Free Day – In honor of Washington State Parks’ 99th birthday on March 19th, Washington State Parks will be free on March 18-19. Find Southwest Washington parks here. Parks along the Pacific Coast are here.

March 19
Women’s History Month Tea and Luncheon – March is a month for drinking tea! The Clark County Historical Museum in Vancouver offers this event.

March 24-25Spring Release Weekend – Maryhill Winery – Stop by the gorgeous tasting room of Maryhill Winery with its spectacular view of the Gorge. Details here.

March 24-25Razor Clam Dig (tentative) – Second announced dig for March! Dates are always tentative but the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has announced digs at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks. Licenses are required. Digs are timed with morning tides. No digging after noon. Go here to read a past ZEST blog post on clamming. For details read the official WDFW announcement. Here are the rules and regulations.

Spring is coming! Enjoy your March!

February 29, 2012   No Comments

What if YOU Could Change the World One Dinner at a Time?

How do you make a difference in the world? We’re tucked in our corner of Washington State looking out at a globe filled with unfathomable poverty, disease, injustice… It’s particularly hard to know how to make an impact in other countries where the level of need and lack of infrastructure is staggering, if not paralyzing.

Sometimes a simple yet impactful idea comes along that makes perfect sense. That’s what happened in 2003 when Marsha Wallace, a nurse and mother of four in South Carolina invited her friends for a birthday dinner with special instructions – no gifts please. Her friends instead shared a potluck and wrote checks to the organization Women for Women International. That was an “aha” moment for Marsha. Why couldn’t these dinners happen in other homes? She started spreading the idea of Dining for Women and did it ever spread. Nine years later and 250 chapters later, in February 2012, Dining for Women was featured on NBC Nightly news. View it here

Connecting Southwest Washington to the World
So what does this have to do with Southwest Washington? Once a month it has everything to do with our corner of the world. We, in fact, traveled the world without even dusting off our passports. For the past year, every 2nd Tuesday of the month, a Vancouver, WA Chapter of Dining for Women has gathered for a potluck dinner, short video and presentation about an organization offering life-changing programs for women and girls who often live on less than $1 a day. We eat, we drink and share good company. We learn about other cultures and international issues. And we get out our checkbooks and write checks for what we might have spent had we dined out. A giving circle is a simple concept with far-reaching effects.

Our first meeting, January 2011

It’s not just about our group of about 40 diners each month. Our donations are combined with the contributions of the other Dining for Women Chapters to raise funds for organizations that have gone through an application process and have been fully researched by Dining for Women volunteers. One group is funded each month with grants averaging about $36,000-$40,000. It is incredibly exciting to be investing in and empowering girls and women around the world.

Most DFW Chapters meet in homes. Our Chapter is larger than the average group so we meet in a church. We are hoping that more volunteers will start chapters throughout our area (or wherever they live!). For information on how to start a chapter click here . Use the same link to receive information about our chapter and others across the country and international locations.

Which groups did we fund in 2011?
In January 2011, we kicked off our local Dining for Women Chapter with a full house. By the end of the evening, we had raised $1100 for Matrichaya of India, which provides literacy and vocational training and micro-credit programs. It was a magical evening and the first of many sumptuous and inspiring dinners.

Matrichaya teachers

February drew even more women – 65! Our contributions supported PINCC (Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer) in El Salvador, where Dr. Kay Taylor uses our funds to train doctors and other health professionals to do life-saving cervical exams (with a simple vinegar wash) and treatment of cervical cancer. We also were reminded of the importance of getting our own pap smears done on a regular basis.

Dr. Kay Taylor provides training

We “traveled” to Africa in March to learn about, and fund, the work of Uganda’s Village Enterprise Fund, which is using our donations to fund startup capital and critical business skills training for 145 women entrepreneurs.

An entrepreneur from the Village Enterprise Fund

In April, we tackled sex trafficking by funding Lotus Outreach International in Cambodia. Our contributions will provide trauma counseling and reintegration assistance for Cambodian victims of rape, domestic violence and sex trafficking. Counseling services are rare in Cambodia. This is a breakthrough program.

Lotus Outreach classroom

We supported the women of Mujeres Aliadas in Mexico in May. We learned about their lack of access to quality, affordable health care. We raised funds to reduce maternal and infant mortality by supporting professional midwives and providing medical equipment in a women’s clinic and birthing center.

June took us back to Africa and the Shining Hope for Communities in Kenya. This program supports the Kibera School for Girls, which is located in one of the worst slums in Nairobi. Our funds are being used to operate the school and to invest in the Women’s Empowerment Project’s micro-enterprise initiatives. The photos of all those little girls who are now in school says it all. Don’t miss their charming video “I Know I Can.”

Students from the Kibera School for Girls

We learned about the lives of the young women being served by Emerge Global of Sri Lanka in July. These girls, ages 10-18, have been removed from their homes due to abuse such as rape and incest. The Emerge Global program provides them with skills and financial resources for their futures. Our funds helped support their expanding bead program, which creates gorgeous necklaces and bracelets. You can order their beautiful jewelry through their Etsy Web site here.

Helping the Sri Lankan girls of Emerge Global

August took us back to Africa and girls education at the Nurturing Minds Program in Tanzania. Our donations enabled the Sega Girls School to develop and manage its first school-run business—poultry farming—and develop related business and technical skills among its students. Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the United Nations has called the education of girls, “the single highest returning social investment in the world today.” Dining for Women is COMMITTED to the education and empowerment of those girls.

Girls from the Sega Girls School

Many of our hearts broke the night of September 13 when we heard the tragic stories of girls and women with obstetric fistulas. We raised funds ($1185 – our personal best for the year!) for the Fistula Foundation. Combined with the funds from other Chapters, our funds will help provide fistula repair surgery and post-op for 66 women in Ethiopia. We were all highly moved by the program. (We later learned that enough money was raised to fund even more surgeries.)

A young fistula patient

Guatemala has long been recognized for its beautiful crafts and textiles. But how do you get them to market? In October, we supported Mercado Global of Guatemala. This Fair Trade organization works with indigenous women in Guatemala’s highlands. The group connects the women with U.S. sales opportunities. Dining for Women dollars funded sales and training programs for the artisans so they could expand their businesses.

Mercado Global artisans

The India Literacy Project has a serious goal – 100% literacy in India. The group is tackling this issue one village at a time. Our funds raised in November will impact 26 villages in Sundargarh in the state of Orissa by providing girls’ scholarships and job skills, among other services. It is amazing how far our dollars can stretch through our funded programs.

India Literacy Project

We learned about Project Muso of Mali in December. We raised funds to provide matching grants, non-interest loans and financial management skills for 90 women entrepreneurs. We watched (and wanted to dance to the DVD soundtrack) the women creating beautiful mud cloth in their excellent video which shows the far-reaching impact of micro-loans as small as $60-$100.

Businesswoman from Mali

What a spectacular first year! Averaging $1,000 per dinner, we raised more than $12,000!

Onward in 2012

In the first half of 2012, we will fund programs in Nepal, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Kenya. Programs funded in the second half of 2012 will be announced soon.

Thank about starting or joining a Chapter. Mentoring is available. If you are interested in more information about Dining for Women, check out the program Web site or fill out a member interest form. This is one evening each month where you can truly know feel that you are “changing the world one dinner at a time.”

Our February 2012 Meeting

February 21, 2012   No Comments

10 Minute Conversation with Lee Rafferty

Lee Rafferty is the Executive Director of Vancouver’s Downtown Association. She has lived in Vancouver since 1974.

Lee Rafferty, Executive Director, Vancouver's Downtown Association

What brought you to SW Washington?
I married a man who lived in Vancouver. I continued to commute to my job in Portland for several years and left that job and sold real estate for a bit and then started my own business, Spanky’s. We had that business for 28 years ago and sold it about two years ago.

What do you love about SW Washington?
I love that we have a rich history and a bright future and a lot of it is tied to the beautiful Columbia River. We also have sports available to us, all kinds of recreation. We have a community that values education. We have community that values giving back and has a great deal of community pride in the things that we support and the things that we oppose. We don’t take an elitist approach to life. Anything that has been accomplished in Vancouver has been accomplished with a great deal of hard work and seeing a vision through. Nothing has been handed to SW Washington. We have always sort of lived in the shadow of sparklier places across the river. We know who we are and we know what we are doing and we are not trying to emulate.

What is the best-kept secret about SW Washington?
I’m in the business of exposing secrets and making everyone want to come here! I’m in the business of making sure that people understand the opportunity on every level that is here. This is a great place to raise a family. This is a great place to bring a business. The tax structure is very favorable for people who want to start a business and this area is completely invested in making sure that economically this area thrives.

As far as downtown Vancouver, I have always said that it is our recent success is because we are a downtown of opportunity. People are coming here, buying buildings, launching businesses and making their own way because it’s possible. We not so priced out of the market yet. There is a real fervor for this reinvention and a new vitality that is palpable. You go out on the street and you can just know that if you have taken stock of what was here last year and you look now at the change of views, rehabilitation of buildings, the plans to rehabilitate, the new businesses that have landed. It is amazing the change. It has happened pretty quickly and we are in the midst of a huge change that is very positive.

Our organization (VDA) is uniquely placed. We’re not government but we work very, very well with government. We don’t own anything but we understand the pressures of owning a building that is underperforming. We understand what it is to have a business that needs more traffic or maybe could use some advice about how to merchandise or how to light and bring in customers. We understand what it is to have issues where you need to be able to navigate permitting issues or know how to bring an event downtown. We are uniquely placed to be able to hook people up with what they need. We are a conduit and that’s pretty exciting. We do have our fingers in a lot of pies.

What is your favorite place to relax or play in SW Washington?
I have a couple of little granddaughters. I have three now. I like the Waterfront Trail, along the Columbia River. One granddaughter is old enough now to ride a bike. And I have one is in a stroller and I’ll probably have one in a front backpack and it’s very fun to go along the river and enjoy that.

The other thing I love is the new library. I am so pleased about the library and how it is becoming ever more a hub for downtown activities and for all ages. (Editor’s Note: The new Vancouver Community Library was just named #2 on the list of Top 10 Libraries for Children in the U.S.)

If you didn’t live here, where would you live?
My dad immigrated from Scotland and I always say when I go back to visit that I can see myself living there, not in the city but in the north of Scotland where he was raised, not far from Inverness.

What’s coming up that you are excited about?
I am really excited that we have several property owners who are going to be taking advantage of our façade improvement program, which is half loan and half grant. A mandatory piece of any project we fund is that it needs to include lighting. We are trying to make sure that downtown is a more walkable, safe, inviting place 24/7.

Columbia Credit Union very generously gave us about $5,000 so we put that money into lighting ridgelines and some trees so that is the beginning of hooking place to place together, strong node to strong node. We know which areas we want to light and why we want to light them. We know why we are putting trees along those avenues and flower baskets there and we know why we are putting more art on the streets and where we are placing it because we know which corridors need to be activated.

And it’s not just north and south. We need to be activating east and west as well, especially now that we have this strong node of the library. That needs to be hooked to Esther Short Park and we need to make it a walkable, very intuitive way That is our mission to make everything more connected.

What would surprise people to know about you?
I grew up in Eastern Oregon and excelled at showing and fitting Polled Hereford cattle as a 4-H member. I was usually pretty intimidated by those huge animals, but I knew I could never let them know it.

Somehow not surprising… Lee’s favorite quote is “Nothing is impossible when you work for the circus!” Her favorite part of the quote? “Nothing is impossible.”

February 9, 2012   2 Comments

February is For Hearts and Horses, Art and Wine, Cinderella…and Chocolate!

February is a short month that offers a long list of activities. From quilts to chocolate, kites to Chalacha – no need to stay home.

February 1-29Castle Rock Quilt Show – Castle Rock Exhibit Hall, 147 Front Ave NW, More than 80 quilts All those tiny stitches! Don’t miss them at the quilt show.

Friday, February 3 – First Fridays in Multiple Cities!

February 3 First Friday – Ridgefield, 5 to 8 p.m.- Alcove Art Gallery will feature nine artists for the month of February. The theme will be entitled “Passion for Art.” Shops and restaurants will be open, too.

February 3A Chocolate Affair to Remember – 5 to 8 p.m. in downtown Camas. Sample locally made chocolates, specialty chocolate drinks and more! Plus local quilters kick off 2012 with a show of their original work at Second Story Gallery in Camas. The annual open exhibit in February will begin with a reception on First Friday and remain on view inside the Camas Public Library through the end of the month.

February 3 First Friday Artwalk – Downtown Vancouver, 5 to 9 p.m. Always a great celebration of community and fine art and a way to stroll with neighbors and friends. Downtown shops, restaurants and lounges welcome you as well. Art is leading the way for changes in downtown Vancouver!

February 3Wintertide – VSO Chamber Music Group – 7 p.m. Trinity Lutheran Church 309 W. 39th Street in Vancouver. The Columbia River Brass present various styles from composers including Wilke Renwick, Samuel Scheidt, Eric Ewazen, Dave Robertson and J.S. Bach. Concert is repeated on February 5 at 3 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church in Camas.

February 3-4Indoor Market – Long Beach Grange, 5715 Sandridge Rd., 10am to 4pm. A variety of vendors will be selling farm fresh eggs, home-baked goods, handcrafted items, goat cheese and goat milk soaps, gift items, art, jewelry and more. Lunch will be served from the Grange kitchen.

February 4Stand up Comedy at the Old Liberty Theater – Downtown Ridgefield. 7:30 p.m. An evening of “honest comedy” featuring: Ian Karmel- From IFC’s “Portlandia” plus other comics. 21 and older. Tickets by phone: Don Griswold,, booking phone (360) 601-7549.

February 4-5Asian New Year at the World Kite Museum – Long Beach. This opening has special events to introduce the Bali Kite Exhibit. The exhibit lasts until March 25.

February 7Chocolate Confession by Joan FreedKiggins Theatre in downtown Vancouver. This hilarious one-woman show is a fundraiser for the Pink Lemonade Project. This is a perfect warm up for Valentine’s Day!

February 10-25Sense and Sensibility Magenta Theater – downtown Vancouver’s theater troupe presents an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel in their intimate theater.

February 11Valentine’s TeaPomeroy Living History Farm, 20902 NE Lucia Falls Rd., Yacolt. Noon. Reservations required (360.686.3537). Seasonal menu will include assorted tea sandwiches, scones, desserts and two kinds of tea. A tour of the historic log house can be added for a small, extra charge.

February 11-12Columbia Gorge Wineries Valentine’s Day Open House Weekend – Columbia Gorge Wineries in Washington and Oregon. Winery Open House Hours are 11am – 6pm. What a great opportunity to taste and purchase wine for Valentine’s Day.

February 12Bravo! Concert Series – Leonard Bernstein Mass – St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 400 S. Andresen Road, Vancouver. 2 p.m. Leonard Bernstein’s Mass blends sacred text, human emotions and musical styles – from classical to sacred, rock, blues and jazz. The Bravo! Chorale, guest soloists, and Chamber Orchestra will perform.

February 14 Musical Dinner Theater Historic Trout Lake Country Inn. Go up and play in the snow on Mt. Adams and then enjoy a dinner show.

February 16-19CinderellaThe Columbia Theatre presents Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. February 16th at 7pm, February 17th at 7pm, February 18th at 2pm & 7pm, and February 19th at 2pm.

February 17-19Washington State Horse Expo – Horses and equestrians come together en masse at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds. Check out the full program schedule.

February 18-20 Columbia Gorge Wineries President’s Day Open Houses – Yet another wine weekend as the Gorge wineries open up again to celebrate President’s Day. More than 30 wineries will be open with special releases and discounts. Live music at Maryhill Winery.

February 21 Volcano Views & Brews – Tommy O’s Pacific Rim Bistro in downtown Vancouver at 801 Washington Street. Doors open at 5 pm. Speaker presents from 6:30 – 8 pm. Rick McClure, the Forest Archaeologist and Heritage Program Manager for Gifford Pinchot National Forest presents “The Place Called Chalacha – History Beneath the MSH Monument Headquarters and Chelatchie Prairie.”

What a great month! See you out there!

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February 2, 2012   No Comments