Category: Washington State


The New Medical tower at Providence Hospital in Everett

Providence Medical Center in Everett (north of Seattle) recently opened an impressive new medical tower, and has been running radio spots touting its impressive emergency room and other services on my favorite news-radio station, KOMO. While I can’t locate the spots online to play for you, the gist is that they spend the first 30 seconds raving about how wonderfully accessible/high-tech/etc the tower is and then… “But without our award-winning staff it’s just a really expensive nifty fancy amazing building” or something to that effect.

While I laud both the effort to offer the highest quality of medical care and the effort to give credit to the caregivers themselves, the ad struck as less than completely true from a sociological perspective. Top specialists and surgeons provide certain skills that are invaluable in the most challenging cases, when diagnosis and treatment can be more challenging than keeping track of the policy violations or wrong decisions in an episode of House. But for the vast majority of patients, it is the culture and sociology of the organization that distinguishes a hospital more than who specifically is doing the treating.

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I was a little surprised yesterday when I received a Facebook message titled “Thank You!!!” from a “shirt-string friend”, someone I knew only through her membership in a local Bible literacy initiative I had been webmaster for.

I was more than a little humbled when I opened it and read that because of a paper I posted online, her life had changed and she was now training to become a pastor.

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Congratulations if you have decided to read this post. Having the words church and politics in the same sentence once is enough to drive most self-respecting people far away.

However, as I reflect on Northwest Washington synod assembly 2010 (an annual gathering of local ELCA Lutheran leaders to determine shared agenda/budget/representation and share about the good work going on), two things need to be said about the two words together.

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I’m working on a new project with my home congregation in Edmonds- designing and implementing a barter system.

At its most basic, a barter system just means that people swap goods or services with one another. For example: I need eggs and you need someone to fix your skirt. You have chickens that lay eggs and I am handy with a needle.  We trade the one for the other and both come away happy.

The one I’m proposing will follow a modified currency model instead, using a systems of credits that each participant can use to “buy” the services of others. The cool thing this means is that people don’t have to pay someone outside and everyone, regardless of their income level or employment status, is on equal footing. It also might give people a chance to get to know someone they hadn’t met more than in passing before.

Amazingly enough, I hadn’t even finished drafting the proposal when my pastor called and said he’d shared a little bit about it with another local pastor who might be interested. So, not only might this be an opportunity to connect within our church, it might help build bridges within the local Christian community (and maybe even outside eventually).

So without further ado, below is my first draft proposal, which you are of course welcome to comment on and offer suggestions of ways to improve: Continue reading