Pierce Pioneer

Weird Places in Washington

As summer draws near, many students may be wondering how to enjoy their summer break. Thankfully, Washington state is full of all sorts of odd places ripe for exploring. So whether you’re looking to take an in-state trip during the summer or you’re just looking to add to your bucket list, check out some of Washington’s weirdest places.

Lyn Topinka – Courtesy Photo
  1. The Twin Sisters, Touchet.

If you’re a fan of local hiking as well as bizarre, natural scenery, then the Twin Sisters Rock in Touchet is the place. These stone pillars are the remnants of the last ice age over 12,000-15,000 years ago, and the erosion of a giant flood carved out these pillars. The natives of Walla Walla, however, have a local legend for their origins. 

 

“Coyote fell in love with three sisters who were catching salmon in the river. A notorious trickster, Coyote watched the sisters by day and destroyed their traps by night. After several days Coyote saw the sisters crying because they were starving for fish. He promised to build them a new trap if they would become his wives. The sisters consented and Coyote kept his promise. For many years they lived happily, but after a while, he became jealous of them. Using his powers, Coyote turned two of the sisters into stone pillars, and the third one into a cave downriver. He then turned himself into a rock so he could watch over them forever,” wrote Jamie Hale, a former hiker of this trail and a writer for The Oregonian

Welcome to Monte Cristo
Juliestge – Courtesy Photo

2. Monte Cristo Ghost Town, Snohomish.

We share our state with a vast expanse of wilderness and land steeped with history, so it’s no surprise there’s a town or two that’s been lost to time. Ghost Towns of Washington explains that Monte Cristo was once a bustling mining town in the late 1800s, but by 1920 the mines had dried up and the town was abandoned. Visitors can find remnants of the town’s heyday lying about, including old welcome signs, broken railways and homes now turned into shacks after years of disrepair. 

Carol M. Highsmith – Courtesy Photo

3. The Fremont Troll, Seattle

While this journey is a little closer to home, you may be surprised to find this hulking beast lingering beneath the Aurora Bridge in Fremont. Artists Steve Badanes, Will Martin, Donna Walter and Ross Whitehead created this 5.5 meter sculpture in 1990. The concrete and wire troll holds a Volkswagen Beetle in its hand, almost as if it snatched the car from the highway above. 

Photo via Seattle Pinball Museum

4. Seattle Pinball Museum, Seattle.

The Seattle Pinball Museum isn’t exactly a niche oddity, but it’s a place that’s perfect for kids, old school arcade fans and of course, pinball connoisseurs. The Seattle Pinball Museum boasts a wide array of pinball machines from all the way back to the 1930s and they aren’t just for show either, for a $15 admission fee you can play all you want.

Kyla Raygor

5. Hobbit Hut, Port Orchard.

Here’s a destination for botanists and fantasy fans alike. Located right behind the Brother’s Greenhouse in Port Orchard, this “Lord of the Rings” inspired Hobbit House can be ventured inside and comes complete with a working stone fireplace and circular doors and windows.

Surprises of Cinco De Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a day that is known for celebrating Mexican pride with parades, friends, parties, family gatherings and most of all tequila.

Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, has become a well-known holiday in the United States and has been celebrated in Mexico since 1863. In an effort to raise awareness and educate about this festive holiday, here are 5 Things you may not have known about Cinco de Mayo.

It’s not Mexican Independence Day

Mexico had declared their independence on Sep. 16, 1810 and this marked the beginning of hostilities against the rule of the Spanish government.

Celebrates the Battle of Puebla

The Battle of Puebla is known as a great victory over 6,000 French soldiers on May 5, 1862. Benito Juárez, president of Mexico rounded up about 2,000 troops made up of indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry to face the assault by the French. Mexico was led in the battle by General Ignacio Zaragoza from Texas and lasted from daybreak to that evening and the effort by the Mexicans was able to drive off the French. Immediately after, the victory was declared a celebration.

Mexico Celebrates Cinco de Mayo

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is observed by the state of Puebla where the Battle of Puebla took place. Although they are not the only state to put on a celebration, for most of Mexico May 5 is a day like any other and is not considered a federal holiday so banks and stores stay open. For those that celebrate, some traditions include military parades, reenactment of the Battle of Puebla and other festive events.

Why does the United States celebrate Cinco de Mayo?   

The United States celebrates Mexican culture and heritage on May 5, mostly in parts where the Mexican American population is great. In the 1960’s some Chicano activists brought awareness of the holiday due to their observance of the Battle of Puebla. Today, most who celebrate do so with mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional Mexican foods like the beloved tacos. Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston are cities which hold some of the largest festivals that mark the occasion and there are still others that will celebrate with chihuahua races like in Chandler, Arizona.

Why Tequila on Cinco de Mayo?

On May 5, 47% of drink orders are margaritas compared to the rest of the year with 23% and tequila sales double leading up to the celebration of the holiday. However, tequila was not always so easily accessible. From 1000 B.C.-200A.D. the Aztecs fermented a drink called pulque which was made from the sap of the agave plant. The drink was important to the Aztecs and they worshiped Mayahuel the goddess of maguey and her husband the Patecatl the god of pulque. When the Spanish arrived and met the Aztecs they discovered pulque and the drink started to catch on. Since then, tequila has taken its time in becoming what we know today and had been handled by the Spanish who were distilling agave in the 1400’s-1600’s. In 1758 the Cuervo family started to commercially distill their own tequila followed by the Sauza family in 1873. Don Cenobio Sauza identified blue agave as the best for making tequila and this is where the tequila known today started to be produced. The Margarita was later invented in 1936 by an Irishman called Madden who ran a bar in Tijuana and called the drink Tequila Daisy (daisy in Spanish is margarita). It was not until 1974 that tequila became the intellectual property of Mexico.

Being Mexican or not, Cinco de Mayo is a day which celebrates Mexican culture altogether and is known for friends, family and good fun. This year the holiday may look a little different, but a celebration of the Mexican culture will never die.

Social-distancing safe activities to participate in for 2021

The new year is here but the pandemic still remains. So before we all start making resolutions to travel more or visit with friends and family this year, let’s continue practicing some good social distancing habits such as keeping our gatherings virtual. Of course, this is all easier said than done; so if you’re struggling to keep your quarantine campaigns interesting, look no further. The following list has everything covered from movie nights to meal prepping.


 

Throw a Netflix Party

 

Ciara williams

There’s no doubt you’ve probably been staring at a screen for a majority of the pandemic, but with the Netflix Party chrome extension, you can enjoy all your favorite shows and movies with the added commentary of your friends and family. The History of Swear Words is one fine example of a new Netflix original, and with its host being Nicholas Cage and featuring several iconic guest stars such as Nick Offerman and Sarah Silverman, it makes for the perfect show to help you stay inside and destress.

Those looking to download the extension can do so here.

Have a game night

 

 

In the digital age of the 21st century, many games are being enjoyed on both console and computer, and the great thing about this is that there’s something for everybody to enjoy! If you’re looking to stick to the classics, board games like Uno, Monopoly, and Life all have their own digital counterparts that can be played at home with others or far apart on multiplayer. 

For the ones who enjoy a little more competition, the Nintendo Switch has games like Smash Bros and Mario Kart, the former of which having frequent updates and several ways to spice up your challenges to keep things interesting. PC users have a variety of co-op games ranging from thrilling ghost hunting simulators such as Phasmophobia to the stress-relieving farm simulators like Stardew Valley.

Host a virtual book club

 

If you’re looking for a way to stay entertained without looking at a screen then now might be the perfect time to get back into reading. With genres ranging from thrillers to romances, it’s easy to get immersed in a different time and place while stuck at home. By using a book club you can bond with your friends over your favorite characters and make predictions on future chapters. For fans of the mystery/thriller genre, Taylor Adams’s novel “No Exit” is an excellent story that I picked up over quarantine.

Try out some new recipes

 

Whether you’re flying solo in the kitchen or having a cooking contest with friends via Zoom, cooking is an activity that can be both fun and rewarding. If you cook regularly you might like trying your hand at something you haven’t made yet; the cooking website Tastesofhome happens to have a whole list for the occasion. You don’t have to excel at cooking to make delicious food either; plenty of restaurants have started selling meal kits since the pandemic began so you can make your favorite dine-out meals at home with only some assembly required!

Experience nature at a local wildlife refuge

 

If you’re running out of ideas while indoors and you’re tired of taking walks around your neighborhood you may be interested in knowing that several of Washington’s wildlife refuges such as The Northwest Trek Wildlife Park and The Nisqually Wildlife Refuge have updated their health guidelines to continue allowing visitors into their parks during the pandemic. Of course, this means you’ll have to bring a mask and stay six-feet apart from anyone not in your group, but you’ll get to stretch your legs and take in some of Washington’s beautiful flora and fauna.


Until all our favorite shops and restaurants can open their doors again and we can walk side by side with our friends, let’s put the technology of Zoom meetings, Skype calls, and Discord chats to use so that no matter where we are we can still be together with those we love.

Hanukkah Dishes for the Holidays

A list of dishes and recipes for those looking to diversify their tables for this year’s holidays.

The holidays are a lovely time of year for everyone, as well for me; Hanukkah is an especially great time of year because it means some of the tastiest dishes of our culture get to be indulged in for eight days. Here is a list of all my personal favorite foods to eat during Hanukkah and what makes them so special!

 

Brisket

 


What it is: Braised beef.
What it means: Chances are you’ve already heard of brisket, it’s a popular meat all over the world. My grandma used to serve brisket at all of our holidays, Hanukkah, Passover, etc. The braising of the meat makes it tender and juicy and very flavorful, making it a year-round favorite for the community.

Gelt

 


What it is: Milk chocolate circles wrapped in colored foil that resemble Jewish coins.
What it means: Gelt is something akin to an edible poker chip for anyone playing a game of dreidel. Everyone starts out with about 10 pieces of gelt and then takes turns spinning the dreidel, depending on which of the four sides it lands on you’ll either take all the gelt in the pile, take half of the gelt in the pile, lose all your gelt, or do nothing and move on to the next person. Aside from being a game currency, gelt is also gifted to children during the holidays.

Gelt can be bought from a multitude of places in Pierce County, including the Cost Plus World Market in Tacoma and Party City in Lakewood. Gelt can also be ordered on Amazon.

 

Knishes

 

What it is: Fried dough stuffed with either meat or potatoes.
What it means: Unlike the other items on this list, knishes are a more unorthodox choice for Hanukkah, but since they’re usually fried I like to eat them around this time of year. In theory, stuffing a pastry full of mashed potatoes or ground beef may sound strange, but really knishes are just the Jewish version of an empanada or a samosa.

 

 

Latkes


What it is: Fried potato pancakes, usually topped with applesauce and sour cream.
What it means: Next to matzo, latkes are somewhat of a staple dish in the Jewish community; they’re easy to make and a lot of regular grocery stores carry the ingredients or even have latke mix to make them. On Hanukkah latkes are one of the stars of the show since they are fried in oil, but they also make for a delicious breakfast with some cold applesauce and sour cream to complement this hot dish.

Sufganiyot


What it is: Powdered jelly donuts.
What it means: Sufganiyot, pronounced soof-gah-nee-ah or soof-gah-nee-oht, are little fried balls of dough filled with jelly or sometimes custard and they are almost exclusive to Hanukkah. Like regular doughnuts, sufganiyot can be made differently and depending on where you go, they can range from pretty basic to very extravagant; but, in my opinion, you can’t go wrong with the classics.



Moving here was a bit of a culture shock for me, I didn’t realize how used I was to being surrounded by stores and delis that had everything my family needed until I was over a thousand miles away from it. 

Even though the Jewish community here is small, it still exists and with several places in Seattle like Dingfelders and Zyldberschteins that have some classic Jewish soul-food. So whether you’re a fellow Jew looking to reach out to another member of the community or you’re just looking to expand your culinary horizons, don’t be afraid to spice up the holiday season with a few new dishes this year!

Understanding the Murder Hornets and the potential threat posed to the Northwest environment

On Oct. 22, the forests of Blaine, Wash., became a hub for local entomologists, scientists whose area of study involves insects, as the trees around them buzzed with a new, unprecedented life that came in the form of a hornet’s nest.

Washington is no stranger to invasive species — from the Himalayan Blackberry, a behemoth of a rose bush that uses its strong thickets to trample over native flora; to the Gypsy Moth, an insect whose lack of predators allows it to breed rapidly and consume trees and plants just as fast. And as of December 2019, Washington now homes the Asian-Giant Hornet, aptly nicknamed the “Murder Hornet.”

This invasive insect originates from Japan and its surrounding countries in East Asia. Much like their other relatives in the Vespidae family, they’re somewhat easy to spot. With their large frame being over 2 inches long and brightly colored orange and black bodies with long stingers; these ones, however, deliver a potent venom to anyone on the receiving end. 

Justin Schmidt, an entomologist at the Southwestern Biological Institute and University of Arizona, states that an Asian-Giant Hornet’s sting is equivalent to three to 10 yellow jacket stings at once. However, Schmidt adds that despite the intensity of their sting, Japan’s death toll reveals that these hornets are responsible for less than 50 deaths a year, including those with allergies.

Murder Hornets earn their title because their main targets are the honeybees. These hornets form organized, raiding parties and with just a few small fleets are able to wipe out an entire hive. 

Naturally, this causes problems for the ecosystem as humans depend on bees for pollination, something that researcher James Crall emphasizes in an interview with The Harvard Gazette. Bees are incredibly important for human well-being, including both managed honeybees and wild bees,” Crall said. 

“Put simply: About one in three bites of food comes from crops that depend on animals for pollination, and bees are the most important group of pollinators. Losing pollinators means less healthy food and worse health outcomes for humans. Of course, beyond their role in food production, bees are incredibly important for preserving biodiversity, more generally.”

Nina Pullano, a writer for Inverse, goes on to state what makes these hornets dangerous. “Their greatest threat to humans is not their sting. Instead, it’s their proclivity for killing other insects — insects that we very much need to keep alive because of their effects on the ecosystem and agriculture.”

Bees are valuable pollinators and by extinguishing them humans and animals lose food sources, emptying out a very important niche within the ecosystem. The deaths of the bees also has an effect on their other native predators who are now cut short on their food source, making these hornets a much bigger threat to the wildlife rather than to humans and domesticated animals. 

The threat level truly depends on whether or not the hornets continue to reproduce and survive in their new environments. “It will have a massive impact on the bees, who have been facing a rapid decline in the last 10 years, as well as human agriculture which largely depends on pollinator biodiversity.” Pullano stated.

The WSDA is encouraging people to report any sightings of the giant hornets to them and to refrain from taking any direct action of their own, as even typical beekeeping gear is not enough to protect you from their stingers. You can also help the ecosystem not just by looking for the hornets, but by looking out for other insects as well.

According to Eric Lee-Mäder, a co-director of the pollinator program at the Xerxes Society, peoples’ fear of the hornets is affecting other insects in the area. “Fear of these insects seems to be driving people to kill bees and wasps that aren’t Vespa mandarinia,” Lee-Mäder stated.

Invasive species can be a threat to any environment, especially when their targets are such pivotal members of the ecosystem and agriculture. Exterminating the hornets is a careful and time-consuming process and the best way Washingtonians can support our state’s ecosystem and the scientists protecting it is to remain calm, report any possible sightings to the proper people, and to avoid doing any further harm by killing unrelated wasps and bees.

See how canceling the 2020 season has affected the baseball program

In baseball, someone who fails 70 percent of the time is considered elite. Yet failing only 70 percent of the time calls for hundreds of hours dedicating yourself to the game. For all the time spent in the batting cage, on the field, and in the gym, you typically get three at-bats to show for it.
However, imagine having no chance to show off your hard work, and the opportunity to prove yourself is taken away. During the troubled times of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Pierce College Fort Steilacoom baseball program was deprived of one thing they loved most - baseball.
On March 17, the Northwest Athletic Conference announced the cancellation of the 2020 season for all spring sports programs. Pierce College Athletic Director Duncan Stevenson remained sympathetic to the student-athletes that he worked with.
“My initial reaction to the cancelation was a sense of devastation for our student-athletes,” he said. “Not just for this lost season, and this year’s training and preparation, but for the years of time and sacrifice they and their families have invested in getting to this point.”
According to Stevenson, over the last three decades as Pierce’s athletic director, he has never experienced anything like the COVID-19 Pandemic. The feeling of devastation extended to the program’s coaches and players. Yet, the program remained optimistic as the players began to plan for their futures and the next season.
“Within a day or two of the announcement of the decision, their spirits really turned around, especially as the enormous scope of the national and global situation became more apparent,” Stevenson said.
“They quickly switched gears from being frustrated about the lost season, to making plans for spring quarter classes and looking at options for next year. I am really proud of how resilient they have been through all of this.”
As announced online by the Northwest Athletic Conference, freshman and sophomores enrolled during the 2020 season would remain the same grade athletically for the next season. This would apply to all athletes regardless of the number of games played during the spring season.
Moreover, the sophomores have a big decision to make on where they will play during the 2020 season. Stevenson realized that the baseball program will never get this season back. “For some, this will be the end of their competitive careers,” he said. “As an athlete, you want to go out on your own terms –in the arena of competition. For those that return next year or move on to play at a four-year college [or] university, this will always be their lost season; It is really heart-breaking.”
Pierce’s baseball coach, Kevin Davis, was also crushed by the cancellation of the 2020 season. He knew what this season meant to the sophomores, as he was once in their shoes after finishing his sophomore baseball season at Bellevue College.

“I feel for the sophomores who worked their whole life for this and don't have anything to show for it,” he said. “I also feel for the freshmen who got their first chance at college ball and had that taken away.”
The NWAC was not the first conference to cancel the season, according to Davis. The decision to cancel the 2020 season followed similar decisions by four-year universities in the NCAA. Tournaments such as the NCAA College Baseball World Series and NCAA Basketball were canceled ahead of the NWAC’s decision in March.
Since the spring season ended, the program’s players have kept in touch and continue to train on their own time. “They have been doing home workouts, playing catch together when they can, and we have weekly zoom sessions to goof around and keep in touch,” Davis said.
The team now endures a long offseason where they plan to start their fall season as planned. Next season, they will have the possibility to have a first-ever season with three classes of players. This would include incoming freshman, returning freshman, and third-year sophomores.
Riley Paulino, a freshman pitcher who plans to return for next season, was let down by the cancelation and empathized with his sophomore teammates. “I was very disappointed because I felt that we had a really good group of guys all pulling towards one goal,” he said. “I also felt for the sophomores because, for some, this marked the end of their careers. It hurt me to witness their last season go down like that.”
Even though the rest of the spring 2020 season was canceled, the team was able to play 12 games out of the 45-game season. Paulino, who led the team in strikeouts, said his teammates were what made the short season and preparation worth it.
“My favorite part of this last season has to be the countless hours that I have spent grinding day in and day out with this group of guys,” Paulino said. “There is nothing like having 30 guys you know would run through a wall for you. This makes us push each other harder because we truly care about the success of each other.”

Hunter Bungert/ Photo Illustration

Cody Russell, a sophomore shortstop who is continuing his playing career at Washington State University, is only one of a few sophomores who knows where they are playing next season. According to Russell, he received the news of the canceled season during a meeting with this team.
“At first I was really shocked,” Russell said. “I didn’t really think it was true. It probably took me a week for it to click in; I’m not going to be completing my sophomore season up here.”
Since Russell has a sense of direction to work towards, he started his off-season early in preparations for his jump to division one baseball. But with no facilities and teams to practice with, it has been difficult to train for the next step in his career.
“It’s tough; we don't really have gyms right now,” he said. “So, we've got a little setup in our garage; my brother and I are lifting almost every day, hitting at the cages, playing long toss, and running. Just all the normal things that you can try and do without having a school gym or whatever we had before this whole thing happened.”
Additionally, Russell will be joining his brother at WSU, who is a freshman. He looks forward to the opportunity to play at the highest level with his brother. “I’m playing with my brother, what else could I really ask for?” he said. “It’s D1 baseball with your brother; It’s kind of a dream come true for both of us. I’m pumped, I can’t wait to get down there, get rolling and get with the team.”
With his junior college career at an end, Russell embarked on what he will remember most about playing for Pierce. “The grind, the attitude, and the culture that coach Davis built around the team was the coolest thing,” he said. “It was crazy how last year it was two different teams. This year it was like we were brothers, everyone was so close, hung out almost every day; everyone had classes with each other. The energy that the team brought was so different, I think that would have taken us a lot farther than last year.”
According to Russell, the majority of sophomores remain unsure about the next step in their baseball journey. Yet, the team continues to express optimism in the pursuit to play baseball for a four-year university. Only time will tell where they will end up and how the program rebounds from a canceled season.
With no way of making up the canceled season, the program endures a long off season to improve individually. COVID-19 guidelines make it hard to train as a team and each player’s commitment will be tested in preparation for the fall season. Even with a pandemic limiting the access to facilities and players, it won’t stop the program from striving to challenge themselves everyday. The program's sense of resilience will push them through quarantine and prepare for another season as a Pierce College Raider.

Autism Awareness

A Pioneer writer shares his personal experiences with Asperger’s Syndrome.

April is Autism Awareness Month, with World Autism Day falling on the 2nd. Autism is a group of developmental and neurological disorders characterized by difficulty in social interaction and communication skills in general, as well as high probabilities of repetitive behavior and thoughts. 

Autism is a spectrum: some people may have severe symptoms which may present as non-verbal and limited function and may require constant care. Others, like myself, can function independently, but still have difficulties with social skills and sensory issues.

According to the CDC, 1 in 59 American children are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The mission of Autism Awareness Month and World Autism Day is to help more and more people learn about and understand autism as well as help with the acceptance of those with an ASD.

I have a type of high-functioning Autism called Asperger’s Syndrome. I am able to function independently and fairly successfully in the “real world”, but all my life I have experienced difficulties with social skills and sensory issues.

I have a sincere desire to make friends and have personal relationships. However, I have trouble navigating social situations. Sometimes, I will say the wrong thing, or something I don’t necessarily mean. I have trouble making eye contact or speaking up when I’m uncomfortable and have difficulties gauging and connecting with the emotional needs and responses of others.

However, while there are courses of treatment and practices that can help me control and increasingly limit the symptoms and the negative effects of Autism, there is currently no cure. Autism has affected me for most of my life and will most likely continue to do so.

My journey started around the age of three. I had started performing repetitive motions (aka ‘Stimming’), like hand-flapping, jumping around, and even talking to myself. I still Stim to an extent nowadays, but I’m able to control it at school and in public. But when I come home, I have to find ways to release built-up energy and sensory overload.

In early elementary school, along with social skills, I had difficulty writing my thoughts down on paper, which created difficulties for me in school. I had a 504 plan that allowed me accommodations and services at school. I would sometimes be taken out of class to go to workshops that helped me learn how to write and type. I also went to speech therapy, and had six years of occupational and physical therapy after school. These were resources that helped me overcome the challenges my Asperger’s was presenting me in school.

I was taken off my 504 plan during middle school, and became more independent in my studies through high school, especially after enrolling in Running Start here at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom back in 2018. I also received my driver’s license when I was sixteen.

I’m excited for the next stage of my life – going off to a four-year university. However, one of my main concerns is being around people who may not have had any understanding of autism, and how I may be perceived by others.

I have struggled to make friends and maintain friendships because I have a hard time connecting. I want to do better when I attend a four-year, and beyond that, along with my family wishing the same thing.

I’m thankful that I’ve never really been bullied or harassed, but I realize there are many people who don’t understand me, and I get that. I struggle with understanding other people, too.

So, while Autism Awareness Month helps people understand those like me with Autism, I am working on my own skills and struggles with socializing and connecting to the world. I joined the Pioneer last fall, and the challenge of the job is helping me with interactions, and even with eye contact when I am interviewing people.

As I learn to navigate in the “real world,” I’m thankful for the people who have helped me. I hope I can meet more great people as I go along in my life.

My autism doesn’t define me, but it’s part of who I am. I hope this article helps people understand Autism better. As well as reading this article, may you consider taking the time to try and connect with an autistic person such as myself, setting aside your differences and finding connections.

For more information, go to autismawarenessmonth.org, autism-society.org, or follow #celebratedifferences on social media.

A Competitor by Nature

Desirae Garcia / Staff Photo

The inspiring journey of Jordan Dowd, scholarship recipient and family-made soccer player

Jordan Dowd, 18, scored goals on the soccer field ever since he was three. He’s been through many exhausting practices and adrenaline-pumping games. However, soccer wasn’t just a game; it was a way of life that his mother instilled in him. 

Dowd’s mother began teaching him the fundamentals of soccer, helping him surpass his limits and inspiring him to reach his full potential. Then last summer, he reaped the benefits of his hard work when he received a partial scholarship to play soccer at Pierce College.

After receiving the scholarship, Dowd realized how dedicated he was and the effort it took to get there. Playing for Pierce only confirmed that his passion for soccer can go so much further. “It’s really cool to see it pay off during the season in our games and practices. It’s something that I want to keep doing even in life after Pierce or after college.”

Though Dowd was born in a small fishing community in Gig Harbor, he was more adept at defending the goal than he was at trailing bait. As an infant, Dowd was strapped to his mother and lulled to sleep by the sound of cheering fans and blaring horns. 

His mother, a high school girls soccer coach, played the sport for a couple of years in high school, but she still had the determination of a professional. She coached Dowd’s recreational team when he was in elementary school, during which he remembers his mother telling him to put his best foot forward; otherwise he’s only cheating himself. “I feel like my mom was pretty hard on [our recreational team], in a good way, because she knew our potential and wanted to get the best out of us,” he said.

Dowd shared the same passion as his mother, chasing his own dreams in soccer. As his love for the sport grew, so did his competitiveness. He signed up for a local team, Harbor Premier, making friends, perfecting his craft and creating memories that will forever remind him of why he plays. 

During Dowd’s freshman year of high school, he switched teams, which allowed him to get out of his comfort zone and get mentored by professionals. He chose Washington Premier Football Club, which had coaches with years of experience either playing professionally or for a club post-college. That was exactly what he was looking for someone who can help him grow his zeal for the sport.

Traveling all over the nation and playing teams of various levels, sometimes playing one to three times a week can seem like an arduous journey, but Dowd said his love for the game kept him going. Dowd said that he loves to showcase how much he’s invested and how passionate he is for the game. “I feel like it’s an opportunity to express who I am, who I want to be, and just show my love for the sport and show off all the hard work that I put into it.”

As much as Dowd loves the game of soccer, he said the connections he makes with his teammates on the field are more valuable. “You work with the same guys day in and day out, and you really have each other’s back on the field; you have a great love for the sport, and you share the passion with each other. That’s something that’s carried on with me from elementary school now to college.” 

Not only is Dowd passionate about his love of the game, but he also wants to write about it professionally. He’s now pursuing a sports journalism degree at Pierce College and playing on their team. He said he’s happy how it all worked out for now, and he plans to continue his soccer career at a four-year university such as Whitworth University, Gonzaga University or an institute in California.

As much as he loves to play the game, he wanted to follow a path that allows him to capture his love for sports and creative storytelling. “My career goals after Pierce is something related to journalism on the sports side of things or politics,” Dowd said. “I loved sports ever since I could remember, and I guess I’m decent at writing, so I thought I’d put those two together.”  

Dowd said becoming a professional soccer player feels like a pipe dream, but if he got the chance, he would take advantage of it. “I’ve definitely thought about [playing soccer professionally] all my life. Sure after college, if the opportunity is there, I’d take it.” 

He hopes to inspire the next generation to pursue soccer professionally. “I dream to continue soccer, continue the game and to pass it on to friends and family and my future kids.”

Toxins in Pierce College’s Backyard

Jesus Contreras / Staff Photographer
Waterfowl release nitrogen and phosphorus into the lake after eating, contributing to the algae. (Feeding the ducks is against the rules.

Waughop Lake and the toxic algae residing within

Down the hill from Pierce College Fort Steilacoom is Waughop Lake, a small body of water on the edge of the forest in Fort Steilacoom Park. The lake is surrounded by a trail where people can walk their dogs, ride a bike, or go for a quick jog. However, while the trail itself is peaceful, the lake says otherwise, as it’s home to numerous toxic algae blooms.

A neurotoxin in the lake causes a potentially lethal nerve disease in mammals; if ingested, it can cause paralysis. According to the Suburban Times, no humans have died from exposure to the toxic algae blooms, but several dogs have died after swimming in the lake.

In 2019, the City of Lakewood implemented a clean-up strategy that would remove phosphorus from the lake using Aluminum Sulfate (“alum”). However, Earth and Ocean Sciences professor, Michele LaFontaine, who did her Master’s Thesis on Lake Waughop, is against this plan. 

“It’s kind of like a Band-Aid solution,” LaFontaine said. “It fixes the condition right now, but the problem is that a lot of the chemicals are in the sediments in the lake. So what the alum treatment does is clean up the toxins that are in the water. So then the water’s clean, but then more of the toxins come out of the sediment. So you’re treating the symptoms, not the actual cause.”

Due to the potential threat of paralysis, people should avoid going into the lake. According to LaFontaine, the toxins do not affect the fish, turtles, or birds who live in and around the lake, such as the yellow perch or the largemouth bass. However, if a human or other mammal eats the fish, the toxin will affect them.

LaFontaine said a major contributor to the algae bloom was a farm previously owned by Western State Hospital. “They used to dump all kinds of garbage and debris into the lake,” LaFontaine said.

The pollution in the lake caused Waughop to go from 30 to 12 feet deep. It is also blocking a natural spring that used to feed water into the lake. Since the lake does not connect to any other body of water, the algae stay in the lake, continuing to grow.

Elysia Mbuja, Fort Steilacoom’s Biology Department Coordinator, said that the lake has an overload of nitrogen and phosphorus, which feeds the algae. “That is partly because of the waterfowl that are being fed, but mainly because there’s no inlet or outlet of the lake, so it’s dependent entirely on the water cycle,” Mbuja said. “So, when the water evaporates, the nutrients become concentrated, and that feeds the algae that grow in the lake.”

While Lakewood’s solution for the lake involves using alum, LaFontaine would rather the city go for a different method. “I think the only real solution is to dredge the sediments out of the lake and get that mucky stuff with all the excess nutrients and toxins out.” LaFontaine adds that while this is expensive, it would be a more long-term solution.

The area around Waughop Lake has since faced problems created by these toxins. Partly due to the pollution and algae altering the ecosystem, native species aren’t able to thrive. Meanwhile, the current environment is favoring invasive, non-native species, such as Scotch Broom and Himalayan Blackberries.

Pierce College, along with Fort Steilacoom Park, is working on the Garry Oak Restoration Project. The project works in the land behind Pierce College to remove the invasive species and replant native species like Garry Oaks. 

Garry Oaks, known as Oregon White Oaks, are the only oak tree native to the Pacific Northwest. It is an acorn-bearing tree with brownish-gray bark and dark green leaves. Garry Oak woodlands in Washington and British Columbia provide food and habitat for numerous species that are rare in these areas.

“We’re really fortunate to have the park and the lake right next to the college that we can study and be part of the cleanup efforts. Because it’s our neighborhood, and we need to take care of it,” says LaFontaine

For more information on the Garry Oak Restoration Project, or about the lake itself, Mbuja and LaFontaine can be contacted on Pierce College Fort Steilacoom’s campus, or via email.

Is Everyone Accounted For?

Brianna Wu / Staff Illustrator

A deep dive of the 2020 Census and its potential impact on state funding

Many students of diverse backgrounds face challenges in various aspects of their life. For some, the quality of education can be a critical factor to securing success in their future careers. It can be difficult to find transportation to school resulting in being late or missing a class altogether. Textbooks could be outdated and in need of being replaced with new information. As rent increases, some students even face homelessness on top of balancing work and school.

It’s important to know what society struggles with. Every voice matters. That’s why the actions we take are significant, like participating in the 2020 Census. 

The census is an official count of the population for those who live in the United States, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. It counts how many people live in the same household as well as including those who are homeless. Workers of the census who gather this information are called census takers. They visit shelters, soup kitchens, and tented communities to gather answers from those who do not have a place to live.

The answers received from taking the census help legislation decide on where the federal funds will go. Certain areas contain a specific demographic. For example, a lot of college students may populate a large portion of one area or there are a lot of elderly who live in one particular place. These areas could be targeted to add more resources that are specifically tailored to that demographic. 

The structure of states and communities will be affected for the next decade. Billions of dollars will be distributed among our cities infrastructures, education, health care, housing programs, child care, and other services that affect our lifestyle.

For families who struggle to find affordable access to health care or who have the responsibility for children, these all can negatively impact one’s education. When all of these issues become too big to handle, it’s easy for students to give in to the outside pressure. The responses to the census can improve educational resources, public transportation, and on-campus housing. We can alleviate these problems by being accounted for as students in our population through the census.

People of color tend to suffer most from the harmful effects of being undercounted. This tends to happen due to language barriers, a person’s citizenship being questioned, and not having the funds to reach rural areas. Another reason is by moving the census online. Not everyone has access to the internet in their household. The only way to participate is through online, by phone, or by mail. However, Libraries can provide easy access to taking the census online, if anyone is unable to do otherwise.

Brianna Wu / Staff Illustrator

The struggles that ethnic groups face in their communities would only grow worse if undercounting continues to be a problem. Funds would be pulled from support programs like food stamps, education, and housing. Some students rely on similar programs to assist their families and to get by in an expensive economy that continuously raises the cost of living.

Pierce College student Marko O’Kelley relies on educational programs such as tutoring services, Financial Aid, and the College Bound program to achieve his educational goal. He plans to transfer to a four-year university once he’s done at Pierce.

“Financial aid is a good resource because I am currently living with my mom who is a single mother and she is struggling financially, so that means I also need to help her out financially with like, the rent or other things in the house that need to be helped with,” O’Kelley said.

O’Kelley is an advocate for the Hilltop Scholars Program, he hopes the funds will go towards similar programs within a huge community of youth for the next 10 years. “I feel like our youth are, and probably is, the gateway to a better future,” he said. “A lot of youth within a community or city would be inspired to do more because of gifts and talents that they have but hide because of the community that they live in.”

The long term effects of not participating in the census could result in a shortage of funds toward important sources for an increasing population. There may not be enough hospitals to take care of sickly patients, not enough schools for young children, and not enough houses for new families. Funds going toward care for the elderly, people who are disabled, and those living in poverty would not be accommodating to the number of people in these categories for the next 10 years. These resources may not be there in the future.

The importance of raising awareness about the census stems from the fact that not every voice is being heard. A rise in public awareness is needed for everyone to get well-informed and participate in the census. There is a potential risk that distributed funds will not have a strong focus as it should be in areas that need help. The demographics of students, especially for students of color, in regard to services provided by the community, would be negatively impacted for an entire decade. That is why every person counts.

The U.S. Census Bureau is responsible for sending out surveys by April 1. As it is part of the Constitution (Article 1, Section 2), everyone is required to participate by law every 10 years. The survey inquires about who you identify as and the relationship to others in the house, along with asking what place of residency you are for your home. According to Title 13 U.S. Code § 221, people can be fined up to $500 for not responding to the census completely. Census workers could show up at your door or call by phone to follow up. 

The amount of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives is determined by the population of people who currently occupy the state. The representatives create laws that affect the population. The amount of power in representation for specific groups will go down if not everyone is accounted for.

The census is an essential part of how well our government can take care of the community for the duration of 10 years. The actions we take now not only affect us, but future generations. It’s our civic duty to make sure we participate in the census.

Resolving Your Concerns

Abri Wilson / Staff Illustrator

In light of the Harvey Weinstein trials, learn what you can do if you feel unsafe on Campus

Films such as Scream, Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, and Shakespeare in Love are just a few of the movies that represent the filmworks of an Academy, Tony, and Golden Globe Award winner that was once seen as Hollywood’s most powerful film producer.

Seeing Harvey Weinstein now, one wouldn’t guess they were looking at the person who once represented the kind of fame and success all producers strived to reach. However, since October of 2017, more than eighty women have made allegations of sexual abuse from Harvey Weinstein. 

Soon, he will be facing five felony charges in court. A court date that was once set for early September of 2018 has now been moved to January 2020, as a result of a new emerging indictment from actress Annabella Sciorra. 

In light of these sexual abuse allegations, new movements such as #MeToo have emerged, encouraging women to speak out against their abusers.  The emergence of #MeToo shows just how many people from all different kinds of  communities suffer from abuse. In places such as school and work, women may be in unsafe situations where they are unsure of who to go to for help.

Fortunately, Pierce College offers many resources in helping people who feel uncomfortable in school, the workplace, and at home. Holly Gorski, District Coordinator for Title IX and Vice President for Human Resources, is an important contact in supporting students who need help on campus. 

Title IX was created to ensure that nobody feels discriminated against, taken advantage of, or left out based on their gender. Gorski said, “We are really here to be supportive and help students who have these concerns that fall under the big umbrella of Title IX.” 

“I want to encourage people to resolve issues at the lowest level. If you feel like you can talk to someone about something that is happening, please do that, I think that can be really effective.” 

Of course, it also depends on the situation. If you’re trying to resolve an issue yourself when  communication isn’t an option, there is plenty of help and support offered through different resources at Pierce.

One place that may not be known to many students is pierce.ctc.edu/complaint-process. This site offers a place for students to go if they have any kind of issue on campus they wish to report, but aren’t sure where to go for help. “We are connecting students with resources, trying to get them to the places they need,” as Gorski said.

A report of concern can be in regards to themselves or a friend. This can be accessibility accommodations, a student conduct violation, an accident, or just a general complaint that doesn’t seem to fit into any of these specific categories. 

In addition, by searching “Pierce College Get Help” [pierce.ctc.edu/help], individuals are offered a complete page of resources offered to students looking for assistance in places such as food, transportation, health, legal support, transportation, and more. This can serve in providing help and support to someone who needs it, but doesn’t know where to look.

Allison Stewart, a student at Pierce College, said, “The first step in helping people on campus is to advertise that they actually have programs.” Stewart pointed out that she has never seen anything advertised regarding student support on campus. More effective support can be given if these resources are further publicized to the general school population.

While students are able to report a concern anonymously, the most fulfilling assistance can be given in cases with the most information provided. “Sometimes students come to me with concerns and they don’t want the college to do anything or they don’t want the college to use their name, and I provide support to those students,” said Gorski. “But if I have someone telling me not to do anything, then whatever help I can provide to help resolve the situation is really limited.”

It is understandable that giving school officials details of a sensitive situation could make a student nervous, but staff members can aid students and connect them with more help if they get all the information they need.

Jasmine Ford, a student at Pierce, said that one method that might help offer help to individuals is to have an anonymous hotline available. While Pierce doesn’t have it’s own emergency line to call, there are plenty of numbers in the Pierce County area that are available 7 days a week. Many of these are listed on Pierce College’s ‘Crisis Resource Page.’ [pierce.ctc.edu/counseling-crisis-situation]

Many of these resources at schools have become more prominent as a result of the #MeToo movement following the Harvey Weinstein trials. Stewart said, “It creates a forum for people to say ‘I believe you’ and ‘This happened to me too’ and makes you feel like you’re a part of something.”

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