The Billings Outpost

Global Village celebrates World Fair Trade Day

By CANDACE FORRETTE - Global Village

May is a good month for well-behaved women (and men).

A few years ago, historian Thatcher Ulrich observed, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” You may have seen her observation printed on a T-shirt or a coffee mug.

It might cause a woman to think, “Exactly what is a well-behaved woman and what can I do to avoid becoming one?”

The news is good. We don’t necessarily have to be outrageous, outspoken, or obnoxious (though outrageous and outspoken can be fun). We can behave in ways that would make our mothers proud at the same time we change the world and make history. 

Take the case of one woman, Edna Ruth Byler. In 1946, Edna witnessed extreme poverty in Puerto Rico and decided to take action. What she did would begin the global fair trade movement.

She believed that she could provide economic opportunities by creating a marketplace in the United States for goods that were handcrafted by the women she had met in Puerto Rico. She began purchasing needlework and then selling it out of the trunk of her car back in the United States. While she sold, she also educated her community about the lives of artisans around the world. 

In 1987, in Billings, Montana, three local women, Barbara Bert, Betty Jean Young, and Anita Doyle, decided they wanted to help alleviate world poverty by helping people become self-sufficient. Our three heroes gathered funds from friends and local churches and started an independent, nonprofit organization – Global Village – with the idea that all people deserve to earn fair wages for their work, to be able to raise their children and build their communities with respect and dignity.

Edna Byler worked for more than 30 years helping to develop a nonprofit organization that is now a standard bearer for the principles and practices of Fair Trade. That organization, called Ten Thousand Villages, is a founding member of the Fair Trade Federation.

Ten Thousand Villages was named one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” by the Ethisphere Institute and Forbes Magazine. It is now one of the world’s largest fair trade organizations, working with low income artisans in 38 countries.

Meanwhile, Global Village continues to pursue its mission of providing opportunity to low-income artisans and farmers around the world. Operating a Fair Trade store is the main tool Global Village employs in that mission, but it also sponsors educational activities that promote the values of Fair Trade, tolerance, and cultural appreciation.

Global Village has been a member of The Fair Trade Federation for the past 20 years. More than 40 volunteers, mostly women, staff the store, serve as board members, and help with education and outreach activities.

The Fair Trade business model promotes operating principles of fair wages, environmental stewardship, safe working conditions, the rights of children, financial transparency, respect for cultural identity, and helping local people improve their communities and the lives of the people who live there.

Today, U.S. fair trade sales exceed $1 billion annually; worldwide sales are more than $2.6 billion. 

As we learn more about fair trade, we gain an understanding of its ethical as well as practical importance. We know that we must treat our neighbors as we would like to be treated. This means an end to slavery, no matter where it exists. This means an end to exploitation of people and the planet. This means standing by our convictions, speaking out, and working hard to build a truly just world. And it requires that, in the end, we are “well behaved.”

The international Fair Trade community celebrates World Fair Trade Day each year with events in more than 80 countries. This year, in the U.S. and Canada, more than 100,000 people will be attending events between May 3-19.

Here in Billings, Global Village will celebrate World Fair Trade Day on May 9-10 with a coffee-tasting at 2720 Third Ave. N. Montana Women’s Run runners are invited to bring in their bibs that Saturday for a 20 percent discount.

Global Village is also holding its annual fundraiser on Saturday, May 17 (5:30-7:30 p.m.), at the Valley Federal Credit Union downtown. Tickets are $30 and are available at the Global Village store.

This year’s theme is “A Party in the Orient,” with a silent auction, hors d’oeuvres by Abby’s Catering, and no-host beer and wine from Angry Hank’s and the Good Earth Market.

You can learn more about Global Village and Fair Trade at: or or

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 May 2014 11:59

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Speare running for judge

William J. (Bill) Speare, a candidate running to succeed G. Todd Baugh as a district court judge in Montana’s Thirteenth Judicial District Court, held a press conference this week to introduce himself to the voters of Yellowstone County. Speare said he is late coming to the race, but he is the best candidate to replace Judge Todd Baugh. Here is his edited statement:

Speare was born and raised in Billings and has lived his entire life in Montana.  He is a Billings kid who is the son of a Laurel kid. Speare graduated with honors from West High, Montana State University in Bozeman, and the University of Montana School of Law in Missoula. He and his wife, Lisa, are raising their two daughters in Billings.

Speare understands the importance of the position of district court judge. The justice system has control over individuals’ liberty, the custody of their children, and in many cases whether they face economic ruin. Speare touted his experience, his honesty, and his reputation for fairness and common sense among his colleagues.    

Speare has tried approximately 100 criminal cases to verdict in both bench and jury trials. The majority of his practice has been devoted to complex civil law cases. He has worked with individuals from all walks of life, as well as with partnerships, small local companies and large international companies.

Speare notes his experience in all manner of civil law is important, since two-thirds of the filings in Yellowstone County in 2013 were in the civil field. Just over 18 percent of cases were criminal filings, and the remaining filings were warrant requests and cases related to juvenile law and abuse and neglect.

Four of the five candidates on the ballot to replace Judge Baugh also applied for the position Mike Moses will fill. Speare is the only candidate actively seeking to replace Judge Baugh whom the Montana Judicial Nominating Commission certified as qualified for appointment to a judicial position. If Speare is elected, he would follow in the footsteps of his father, who was a district court judge in Billings from 1979 until his retirement in 1994.

Speare urged voters to get as much information as they can on the judicial candidates.

, and to speak with people they know who work in the law or with the courts. The position is too important to rely on a slogan on a sign or a brief conversation with a stranger in deciding how to vote. Voters can visit the Montana Court website at for the Judicial Nominating Commission and review all but one of the candidates’ writings and public comments made by people who know them.

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 May 2014 11:57

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Independence Hall vet deemed ‘lasagna angel’

From VOANR News Service

The aromatic mingled smell of tomato, onion, garlic, sausage and cheese drew a small group of vets living in Independence Hall to the kitchen where Jerry Schusted was putting on oven mitts to draw a large baking pan from the oven.

“Oh, man, that smells good,” one said.

“Yeah, but it’s not for us,” another bemoaned.

The cheese-smothered pasta was Jerry’s lasagna for nurses at St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings.

“I don’t have much I can do to thank them, but I can take them this,” he said, pulling the pan from the oven. None of the spectators complained.

“They were so good to me when I was in the hospital, this is the least I can do,” he said.

In a way, given Jerry’s circumstances, it’s the most he can do.

Jerry, who served nine years in the Navy, including in the Aleutian Islands, wound up in the hospital three times in the past two years because of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The first time, in March 2012, he nearly died. His heart and lungs were so damaged he had 60 pounds of liquid build up in his body. He lost his job in the receiving department of a major retailer.

“I couldn’t lift anything. I could barely stand up,” he said.

He had worked all his life, mostly as a restaurant and hotel manager. When the recession hit, those jobs vanished.

He had bought a home, but, unemployed and unable to make his mortgage payments, he lost it.

He had no family and he couldn’t prevail on friends for a place to stay except for short periods.

Suddenly, as his medical conditions overpowered him, he “lost everything. I came within an inch of being homeless and with winter and my vulnerability because of my lungs, there’s no doubt I would have died,” he said. “That’s when I was told to go see Scott Powers (the program director for Volunteers of America Northern Rockies) who was able to get me into Independence Hall, and it saved my life.”

Jerry was hospitalized two more times at St. Vincent Healthcare, in September 2013 and in March 2014.

“If not for Independence Hall, I would have been living on the streets, homeless and exposed, and I would have died,” he said.

Independence Hall is a 20-bed transitional residence built in the Billings Heights in 2009 for honorably discharged homeless veterans. Thanks to VOANR and the caregivers at St. Vincent Healthcare, Jerry was saved.

“Those nurses are the greatest people I ever met,” he said. “They were always ready with a smile. I tried not to be a bother or to bug them, but they always checked to see I was OK.”

The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, which operates St. V’s, forgave some of his hospitalization; Volunteers of America provided a place for him to live, to obtain Veterans Administration benefits he was entitled to, and to get healthy.

Now, with a small disability income and medical bills to pay, Jerry struggles to make ends meet. His prescriptions are discounted by the Veterans Administration, but he still must pay some of that cost. He is proud he is able to pay some rent at Independence Hall, diminish his debts, and, when he can, and save a little money to buy the ingredients for lasagna.

“I don’t know when I can take lasagna to them, so they don’t know when I’m coming. It depends on how long it takes me to save up to buy the ingredients.

But when I can bake a pan, I just drive down there and take it up to the third floor where I was cared for.”

He usually arrives when there’s a shift change so no one makes a big deal about his gift.

“They’re too busy so I just drop it off and hope they enjoy it.”

Jerry may not have been around after he delivered his pasta, but the nurses at St. Vincent were elated with the gourmet gift, according to 3T Nurse Manager Debbie Rang.

“The nurses remember Jerry well and said he was so very kind and appreciative,” Rang said.

“In addition, I talked to another nurse who was here the night the lasagna was delivered and he said that lasagna was a godsend that night. Our usual food vendor downstairs ended up being closed that night and many of the nurses had not brought a lunch figuring they would grab something downstairs,” Rang said. “The nurses on duty said the lasagna was awesome and it couldn’t have been timed better with the Bistro being closed. We would have had some hungry nurses that night but for Jerry. He became a ‘lasagna angel’ for our staff.”

Last Updated on Friday, 09 May 2014 11:59

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O’Connor runs for judge

Bill O’Connor, a Billings attorney for 33 years, has filed as a candidate for district judge. Here is his campaign statement:

“Billings needs judges who can bring breadth and depth of experience and knowledge to the bench,” O’Connor said. “While some vying for a judgeship in Yellowstone County know a great deal about one area of law, I bring three and a half decades of experience representing individuals and businesses across countless topics. I have practiced extensively before Montana’s state and federal trial courts, and I have successfully argued numerous matters of constitutional law before our Supreme Court.”

O’Connor seeks a seat being vacated by current Judge G. Todd Baugh this November.

O’Connor was also among several attorneys in contention for the appointment to the seat vacated by Susan Watters last year. Watters was appointed to the federal bench here in Billings.

“Being judge is about ensuring a just and equitable outcome for those in your court. That requires knowledge of your community, the law, and the people who live here. I raised three children in Billings. It is my home. It would be an honor to continue serving this community as judge.”

His website is


Last Updated on Thursday, 01 May 2014 12:05

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Johnson runs for PSC

Former Secretary of State Brad Johnson is a candidate for the Public Service Commission, District 5. Here is his edited campaign announcement:

“I look forward to serving the people of Montana in this important role and I am extremely pleased to have the enthusiastic support of Sen. Conrad Burns.” said Johnson. Burns announced his endorsement of Johnson saying: “I have known Brad for a long time and he’s always been an honest, positive professional, a principled conservative and a good leader. He will do a good job for his district and for our state. I urge voters in District 5 to give Brad their vote.”

In addition, Johnson recognized Commission Chairman Bill Gallagher’s decision to remain neutral in the primary race as another example of his leadership and professionalism. 

“Montanans have been well served by current Commissioner Bill Gallagher and I deeply regret that he has chosen not to run again. Under Bill’s leadership, the atmosphere at the commission was transformed from one of turmoil and divisiveness to one of civility and professionalism.

“Chairman Gallagher has personally assured me that he will not endorse a candidate in the primary but that he will enthusiastically support the candidate chosen by Montana Republicans.  I appreciate Bill’s commitment to unity and leadership in this matter.” Johnson concluded.  

“The PSC is a little-appreciated yet vitally important part of Montana’s economic structure. Its mandate is to ensure Montanans and Montana businesses have access to energy, telecommunication, water and sewer and transportation services which are affordable, reliable and sustainable. ...

“Having served Montana as secretary of state and State Land Board Member, combined with my success as small business owner, make me uniquely qualified to serve in this important office. The PSC is a quasi-judicial body which must adjudicate requests and complaints that come before it in a professional, equitable and unbiased manner and I have demonstrated that I possess the leadership skills and judicial temperament required to be an effective commissioner,” he added.

“The privilege of serving as your secretary of state was one of greatest of my life and my heartfelt commitment to continue serving the people of Montana remains undiminished. That is why I have decided to seek election to the Montana Public Service Commission in 2014.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 May 2014 12:04

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Nixon seeks office in Yellowstone County

Here is the edited statement of Richard W. Nixon, who is running for office in Yellowstone County.

I am Richard W. Nixon, and I am running for the office of Yellowstone County treasurer/assessor/superintendent of schools as a Republican.

I was born and raised in Billings and have been a resident of Yellowstone County my entire life. I graduated in 1977 from Billings Senior High, and entered active duty in the United States Air Force in 1978. While serving in the military I took the opportunity to attend classes through Georgia Military College, majoring in business and accounting. After completing my tour of duty, I returned to Billings and after obtaining employment, I started a small part time business utilizing my education and military training. Eventually I started Nixco, operating my service related business as a State Licensed Levy Officer for over 20 years, retiring in 2012.

In September of 2010, I started attending Montana State University Billings full time to complete my B.S. in Business Administration and Accounting, graduating Cum Laude in 2013. I also took the opportunity to work on the campus while completing my degree. I am currently attending the University of Montana and will complete my Masters of Business Administration within the year.

During my service as a levy officer, I took pride in being a positive representative of the judicial court system while following the laws defined by the state judicial procedure. Some of my primary accomplishments during my service were to establish protocol with banking institutions and local businesses, which allowed me to carry out the judicial processes in a manner that avoided any embarrassing situations to the businesses, or individuals involved. This experience is extremely beneficial to fulfilling the office of Yellowstone County Treasurer, as I have extensive working knowledge of the judicial collections process which is critical in protecting the rights of all entities involved. My business experience also includes management, bookkeeping, accounting, and assessment of property and equipment values needed to perform a levy.

I served one year as President of the College of Business Dean’s Student Advisory Board, two years as Vice-president of College Republicans, and was a member of Accounting Club and American Indian Business Leaders. My voluntary services to the university also include being a Marine Corps Educators Representative to assist graduates choosing to become officers in the Marine Corps upon graduation.

Currently I work two part time jobs at MSU Billings, first as an instructor for Veterans Upward Bound of Montana teaching computer applications, which fulfills a requirement of the GI Bill, for veterans wanting to earn a college education. I am also a tutor and teachers assistant for business law, accounting, economics and business strategies courses. Additionally I am a part-time shift manager at a local restaurant, which is recognized nationally as having one of the top management training programs in the industry.

While working for the business I have gaining more experience in management, and have implemented improvements which benefit the company and the customers. Working these positions has increased my management and human resources skills while allowing me to pursue my degrees and meet my objective to be the best candidate for Yellowstone County treasurer.

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 May 2014 11:18

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Driscoll runs for House

John Driscoll is a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House seat now held by Steve Daines. Here is his campaign statement.

I love Montana and care for the future of our nation’s representative government. So, while not accepting campaign contributions, I will again explore the possibility of serving in the United States House of Representatives. If you nominate me, I’ll accept general election campaign contributions to communicate positively about the challenges of our time.

It would be good if candidates for nomination by any political party were invited to gather at round tables, moderated by news media. We could gain experience and insight from each other, and fellow Montanans, as they assess our demeanors.  Listening will move us past polarization paralyzing Congress.

Montanans still pledge their allegiance to our flag and to our Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Taken as individuals, I believe most Montana Republicans, including Jeanette Rankin, along with leaders like Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower, would fit nicely into the Montana Democratic Party.

If elected I intend to ask my fellow Democrats to change our party’s name to the Democratic Republican Party, the party of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe, dedicated to preserving our priceless experiment in representative government against assault in their day by the minions of aristocratic wealth.

Regardless of your political party, I’ll be grateful for your vote in the primary and general elections. My nomination and election depend entirely upon you.

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 May 2014 11:19

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Gara Mountain Man Run planned for Saturday


A little in this country goes a long way in Ethiopia.

A fundraising dinner in Billings in 2011, followed by some T-shirt sales, brought in enough money to do most of the construction on a dormitory that will house up to 50 street kids in Gara Muleta, Ethiopia.

With the proceeds of a fundraising 5K run planned for April 12, Eayoall Atsbeha hopes to have enough to complete the dormitory roof and interior finish work.

Atsbeha left Gara Muleta, his hometown in eastern Ethiopia, nine years ago. He first lived with a good friend in Bakersfield, Calif., then got a track scholarship to Rocky Mountain College in 2009. He has since graduated from the Billings college with a degree in physical education and is working for Yellowstone County’s Youth Services Center.

The seeds of Atsbeha’s project were planted in 2010, when he traveled to Ethiopia as a translator with Jesse Murphy, the founder of MyFight. That nonprofit organization, based in Billings, is dedicated to alleviating poverty in Africa, mainly through microfinancing projects.

Atsheba, who had been away from his village for years, was struck by the extreme poverty he saw, especially by the many children and young adults living on the streets. His mother was doing what she could, providing food and shelter in exchange for light chores around the house, but Atsheba wanted to do something more.

“I had the idea, but I didn’t know what to do with it,” he said.

After his return to Billings, he was out running with Joel Harris, who was also on the track team at Rocky and had roomed with Atsbeha for a time. Harris had also been involved in MyFight as part of a grant-writing fellowship.

Harris said Atsbeha — known to his American friends as Yole — never directly asked him to get involved in a new project. He simply told compelling stories about his trip back home, what he saw and what thoughts were triggered by the trip.

“Yole is just a really inspiring, vibrant person,” Harris said.

On that run, Atsbeha was wondering what he could do to raise money to help those street kids back in Gara Muleta. That’s when Harris suggested an Ethiopian dinner, cooked by Atsbeha. The dinner, held in late March 2011, proved a huge success, attracting about 90 people.

To raise additional funds, Atsbeha took a page from the MyFight playbook and started selling T-shirts. The funds from those two ventures were used to build the dormitory, which will be run by the government in cooperation with churches in Gara Muleta, once it is finished.

That’s where Atsbeha’s latest project comes in. He and Harris are organizing the 5K fun run-walk on Saturday, April 12, in hopes of raising enough money to complete the dormitory.

“The whole project is to finish up what we started,” Atsheba said.

The event was named the Gara Mountain Man Run. Gara Muleta means “the mountain you can see” in Amharic, Atsheba’s native tongue. Besides Harris, Atsbeha has received help from Elizabeth McNamer, a Rocky professor, as well as friends and fellow students Caryl Cammack, Kristi Oakley, Noah Kibrono, Megan Durfee and Caleb Strumberg.

The run will begin near Daylis Stadium and end in Pioneer Park. It will start at 9 a.m., with registration starting at 7:30.

Atsbeha, who has his green card and hopes to obtain full U.S. citizenship by the end of summer, said he would like to expand his charitable work to other parts of Ethiopia as well, moving from Gara Muleta to other cities.

To sign up for the Gara Mountain Man Run, go to and search for “Gara.” The race will begin at the southeast corner of Pioneer Park, at Avenue C and Third Street West.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 April 2014 11:17

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Pollock artist in residence

John Pollock is no stranger to the regional arts community. The Yellowstone Art Museum has announced him as the seventh person in a succession of artists who have participated in the museum’s Artist-in-Residence (AiR) program located at the YAM’s Gary and Melissa Oakland Artist-in-Residence Studio in the Visible Vault, located at 505 N. 26th St. east of the main museum building.

Mr. Pollock is an emeritus professor of art at Montana State University Billings, where he recently retired from full-time teaching after serving the university and innumerable students from 1974 to 2010. Through the years, he has become a sought-out printmaker and watercolorist. In 1979, he was awarded the Visual Art Fellowship in Printmaking from the Western States Art Foundation.

Additionally, he has become an award-winning kite maker. In 2004, 2007, and 2009, he received the Grand National Champion Kitemakers Award at the American Kitefliers Association Convention. In 2009, he was awarded the Lee Toy Award for the Kite Artist of the year. He is currently being invited to festivals around the world to fly his hand-painted kites.

During his residency, which runs through June 18, 2014, Pollock will take advantage of the spacious studio, which features an abundance of natural daylight, to create a variety of large kites.

The YAM’s Artist-in-Residence program provides studio space to visual artists who represent a wide range of disciplines. While in residence, artists spend a portion of their time interacting with museum visitors who desire deeper knowledge about contemporary art practice. Area art enthusiasts can stay informed at the museum’s website ( about John Pollock’s open studio hours at the Visible Vault and an upcoming kite workshop to be led by the artist. Visits to the Visible Vault are free to museum members and are included in the price of admission for non-member guests.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 April 2014 11:00

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Book sale keeps growing

Story and Photo - By ED KEMMICK -

Ron May and Ed Riesinger are standing in a storeroom at Central Christian Church, surrounded by thousands of books.

Some of the books are in plastic milk crates or open cardboard boxes. Many more are packed in boxes that tower high overhead. “It’s like putting water on rice,” May said. “It just keeps getting bigger. It’s getting beyond big and is approaching huge.”

He’s referring to the church’s twice-annual book sale, of which he is the coordinator. The sale began six years ago with about 1,000 books on a few tables. Next week it will feature nearly 40,000 books displayed on 65 to 70 tables.

May, Riesinger and two other volunteers — Janine Foster and Jeff Anderson — work on the book sale almost daily, collecting, cleaning and sorting books. Nearly everybody in the church pitches in during the actual sale and during the days leading up to it. This year, the sale will start with a preview next Tuesday evening and then continue during the day through Saturday.

May said the spring and fall book sales provide “a large source of income for our church budget,” funding its community-service, children’s and ladies outreach programs.

Some of the uptick in donations probably has to do with the phasing out of the Friends of the Library sale at the old Parmly Billings Library, May said. There will be sales at the new Billings Public Library, but without the permanent and virtually unlimited storage space.

Mostly, May said, the donations have grown through word of mouth and an expanding email notification list, which now contains more than 1,000 names. Volunteers pick up about half the donated books from people who call; the rest are dropped off at the church.

“Sunday we come to church and there’s three boxes on the church doorstep,” May said. “It’s like zucchini in the summer.”

Book sale details
The spring book sale at Central Christian Church, 1221 16th St. W., will begin with a preview from 5-8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 25, then continue from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Paperbacks are 50 cents and hardbacks $1. There are also videos, music, games and jigsaw puzzles.
If you have books to donate, call the church at 252-1828 or Ron May at 656-5689. Books can be dropped off at the church Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 March 2014 18:26

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