Friends, neighbors –  

Sipping coffee with neighbors at Kimball Coffee House, navigating walls of books at Bremerton Regional Library, gathering around a table at The Mustard Seed – I had so looked forward to another year of meeting with neighbors in the community. Continuing my weekly Coffee Hours with neighbors in our district (after taking a brief hiatus for legislative session down in Olympia!) was something I planned to do again this summer. But as has been the case for nearly every Washingtonian, the coronavirus pandemic threw a wrench in my plans. 

Taking a cue from resilient neighbors like you – I adapted! Nearly every Wednesday since April, Ive had weekly virtual coffee hours (13 total!) with community leaders and advocates about everything under the sun: support for students and faculty at colleges and universitiesracial equity in systems of education, state support for public health expertshow high schoolers are handling distance learning – and so much more. 

Read on for a few highlights from some of these conversations – and hit the images and links below to watch the chats and see the resources that were brought up by our neighbors to help us all persist through this hard time. 

Week 1 + Week 2 

Our very first live conversations featured Pierce County Councilmember Derek Young, followed by Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido. We focused on how each county was taking their first steps to respond to the crisis – making sure folks had rent and mortgage support, helping individuals navigate unemployment insurance, and aid for food banks doing crucial work to keep our neighbors fed. Click here to watch the conversation with Commissioner Garrido, and hit the image below to tune in for the conversation with Councilmember Young! 

Derek young

Image from January 30, 2020 – students testifying in committee

Week 5 

For one of our biggest community conversations yet, I was joined by Sen. Claire Wilson leaders from the disability rights community – including parent advocates. We had a much-needed conversation about resources for students and families with special education needs – all of whom are adapting to this challenging time of distance learning and remote work without the same education support and childcare support that they often need. We had over 145 comments from community members who joined us to watch this chat – many of whom shared incredible resources like this guide for parents and educators to develop a continuous learning plan together, and this Wellness Recovery Action Plan for individual empowerment and self-determination. Click the image below to hear more about what we discussed, and to see what other excellent tools parents and activists dropped in the comments to help Washington families get through this. 

special ed chat

Week 7 

I had such a fun and uplifting conversation with six smallbusiness owners to talk about how they’re faring during this major economic slowdown. We talked about how they’re navigating applications for the Payroll Protection Program and other small business loans, and how they’ve pivoted during this crisis to adjust their business model and ensure that they can keep their staff and clientele safe. Part of what made this conversation so encouraging was hearing how these small businesses – which are already the backbone of our communities in so many ways – are continuing to serve the people who come to them no matter the obstacles they face. 

small biz owners

Week 13 

Skipping ahead to our most recent virtual coffee hour just this past Wednesday, I want to highlight the amazing scholars who joined me for a conversation about advancing racial equity in our systems of education: why equity matters, how we can make our schools places where all of our students have a fair shot at opportunity, and what happens to our collective future when all students are given the tools they need to thrive and to contribute. Interested in this topic? Hit the image below to watch the conversation, and check out the Race and Pedagogy Institute (founded and run by Dr. Dexter Gordon, who joined me for this call!) for resources. 

equity in ed

Click here to get a reminder about this town hall when we go live!

And this week!

I can’t wait to see you all in person again, but until then, I am so enjoying these virtual opportunities to connect with people in our region who are hard at work, advocating for a better Washington for all of us. It’s my deepest honor to stand alongside you in this work as a lawmaker, and I’m grateful for your continual input to help me advocate well. Please don’t hesitate to stay in touch – and tune into our live conversation today about LGBTQ healthcare at 1:00 pm today! Just click on the image below to join us. 

And if you have ideas for conversations you’d like to see our take part in, please shoot me an email or reach out anytime at 360-742-2539 /

7.8 flz

Looking forward to talking with you soon.

 All my best,