In the spirit of the holidays

In his dark, little ditty “What Keeps a Man Alive?” from the “Three Penney Opera,” Bertolt Brecht offered: “Food is the first thing, morals follow on.”

We’re a long way from Brecht’s beleaguered Weimar Republic, but often too close to assumptions of plenty summed up in that unfortunate little buzzword — “Foodie.”

This holiday season, not everyone will sit down to a full plate. Recognizing the sacramental, rather than self-indulgent, aspect of food, Madrona restaurant St. Clouds not only helps feed the hungry with a monthly program but provides neighborhood residents with an opportunity to give back.

St. Cloud’s Homeless Cooking project got its start in 2001, when restaurant owners Paul Butler and John Platt opened up their kitchen so that the community could come together and cook dinner for more than 100 Tent City members at St. Therese Church.

That start has evolved to a program that feeds hundreds of people at various shelters around town, including the downtown YWCA Women’s and Children’s Shelter, the Jubilee Women’s Center on Capitol Hill and the on-the-move Tent City.

Volunteers are invited to join in — year ‘round.

On the third Thursday of each month, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., fresh, creative food is cooked by community members. Tasks vary, from chopping to cleanup to delivery. 

This is an inspired — and inspiring — project that connects the dignity inherent in all people with the true meaning of the holiday season.

For more information, go to and click on “Community.”


Inslee’s ‘secret sauce’

This country dodged a bullet in the recent presidential election: The shell-shocked state of post-election Republicans — even though several numbers-crunching geeks had predicted the results weeks before — revealed the alternative universe they’ve been living in. That some of former President George W. Bush’s neo-con alumni had Mitt Romney’s ear on foreign policy, should have made this country shudder.

We have a potential alternate universe in our own state.

Gov.-elect Jay Inslee will need more than the “secret sauce” of innovation he alluded to during his campaign as a cure-all for this state’s budget woes, innovation he regards as the engine for regional employment and tax revenues — as if state government is responsible for the Costcos, Microsofts and Starbucks of our world.

That culture of innovation is directly tied to education, which needs the governor-elect’s full attention: Even Gov. Christine Gregoire has questioned Inslee’s promise to fund education without tax increases.

The incoming governor needs to protect education in this state and the fraying safety net for those who cannot take care of themselves.

Inslee will need to displease those who helped get him elected — especially the employee unions — when it comes to making tough choices on state staffing cuts.

But that’s what he signed up for and that — not reliance upon “secret sauce” — is what defines leadership.