Politics & Government

'Turn the Budget Around' event puts thoughts outside the boxes

OLYMPIA – Cardboard boxes took on a whole new purpose Sunday at Heritage Park, creating a makeshift wall and serving as a message board for those condemning military spending and supporting social and environmental programs.

Throughout the afternoon, people drew and wrote on about 70 boxes before building a wall as part of the Olympia Fellowship for Reconciliation’s “Turn the Budget Around” event.

It was part of the organization’s campaign to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and call to use the saved money on social programs. Toward the end of the event, the wall was torn down and rebuilt to symbolize the need for funding priority restructuring.

Some boxes had drawings depicting military and other spending, with pictures of teachers and textbooks opposite missiles and landmines.

With billions spent on wars and weapons, it’s important for people to have their say in how they’d like that money spent, event organizer Pat Holm said.

“By creating a box, you informed yourself in a deeper way,” said Holm, who helped organize a nearly identical event 20 years ago symbolizing the end of the Cold War and a call for funding peace.

Holm’s granddaughter, who attends Roosevelt Elementary School, drew a picture of her school accompanied with the cost of funding its staff.

On the other side of the box the cost of funding an Afghan soldier was depicted.

The event was meant to inform and educate people that there are other options, said Glen Anderson, founder of the local Fellowship for Reconciliation chapter.

“The military is taking way more of its fair share of the budget,” he said. Information posted around the event claimed that since 2001, Washington taxpayers have coughed up $27 billion for the wars.

David Edwards, 81, made five boxes, including one with a tank and a wind farm. Edwards said he’s been part of the anti-war movement since 2001; he said he knew some who came to the event already had anti-war sentiments but he hoped the wall would catch the eye of passersby.

“I hope they see the waste of the wars and the good we could be doing with the same amount of money,” he said.

Brian Sparhawk was downtown for the afternoon with his two children and decided to check out the event. They ended up making some boxes of their own and using it as a teaching tool.

“I want (my kids) to know that there is an alternative to the way this country is functioning,” he said.

Laura Downing’s box depicted social services and cluster bombs. Downing said she’s on disability and that funding for wars has cut into services for those in need.

Other exhibits at the park included a “Flush the Wars” table where a mock toilet was set up so fake weapons could be thrown in. Another table gave visitors 10 beans and asked them to “spend” the beans on different things, including health care, education and military spending.

Nate Hulings: 360-754-5476 nhulings@theolympian.com www.theolympian.com/outsideoly