Crop Walk shines light on hunger

Thumbs up - Crop Walk

The Crop Walk has been an important fundraising event in South Sound for 29 years. Crop, which stands for Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty, puts the public spotlight on hunger issues both at home and abroad. Three-quarters of the money raised goes toward Church World Service’s anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs. CWS uses the money to purchase plant seeds for hungry communities, to build wells in communities with little access to water and to help individuals start businesses. The remaining quarter of the money raised goes toward local anti-hunger programs including the Thurston County Food Bank, the Salvation Army Community Kitchen, Senior Service Nutrition Program and Meals on Wheels, Garden-Raised Bounty, and four other local programs. Last Sunday about 450 people strapped on their walking and running shoes to join the Crop Walk that began at the Capitol Campus. In advance, participants had collected pledges for doing the six-mile walk. “That’s about how far the people in many countries, in many cases women and children, walk to get clean water or firewood,” said co-chairman Wayne Gruen. “The walk is done in empathy with how many people in the world have to live.” Over the past five years, the amount raised by the Thurston County Crop Walk has grown from $32,840 in 2004 to nearly $60,000 last year. Officials are tallying the results of Sunday’s pledges.

Thumbs down - Warranty bill

As Gov. Chris Gregoire continues to sign bills passed by the 2009 Legislature, one that failed to make it to her desk – again – was a homeowners bill of rights. Once again the Building Industry Association of Washington was able to beat back efforts to give owners of new homes warranty protection from shoddy workmanship. A bill failed to make it out of the Senate this year. Pro-homeowner bills have been killed by House Speaker Frank Chopp the two previous years. Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, pulled the plug this time. The debate came down to how much builders should be liable for. Homeowners in the 140-unit Cooper Crest subdivision on Olympia’s west side have struggled with several inches of water under their homes. Water has pooled in the crawl spaces of some homes, causing structural and other problems. Play areas outside some homes have been covered in tarps to repel rain. Cooper Crest residents have been caught in the middle of blame fixing among developers, city inspectors and builders. Try telling them homeowners don’t need a bill of rights. “I think this is a failure for consumers,” said homeowner Karen Veldheer, who still is in court trying to collect costs for repairing defects on a home her family bought a few years ago. Condominium buyers have more protection than single-family home buyers and that’s not right. Maybe next year lawmakers can finally pass reasonable reforms.

Thumbs down - Energy fair

Lacey’s Parks and Recreation Department last week succeeded in focusing community attention on pivotal environmental issues with its sponsorship of the Alternative Energy Fair. By all reports, last Saturday’s event at Huntamer Park was a big success. “We want people to walk away with more knowledge about saving the environment and saving money,” said Sean Finney, recreation coordinator for the parks department. “Along with car fuel efficiency, we teach people how they can save energy in their homes.” Saving energy consumption strikes a responsive chord with South Sound residents struggling to balance the family checkbook during this recession. The fair was developed 12 years ago to promote alternative fuel and energy as well as gasoline-saving tips. This year’s event included information booths and displays of hybrids and other vehicles from area car dealerships. Lacey’s fair serves a great purpose because it gets people to think about alternatives available to them – alternatives that can save money and are better for the environment. That’s the classic win-win situation.