Founder and Editor of The Fig Tree
RCCongress 2010 Workshop:
Mary Stamp is the founder and editor of The Fig Tree, which publishes a monthly newspaper, web site, directory, and other media to connect the faith and nonprofit communities of the Inland Northwest.
A 1967 graduate of the University of Oregon School of Journalism, she worked for daily, weekly and monthly newspapers along with freelance writing from 1963 to 1984. Then she started The Fig Tree through the former Spokane Council of Ecumenical Ministries. The newspaper’s mission initially was to cover religion news, not being covered locally. When local media saw credible stories in the faith community, they hired a religion reporter.
The Fig Tree shifted its mission to covering faith in action and connecting the faith and nonprofit communities. It’s goal is to promote communication among people of faith in the region, breaking through divisions among them to build understanding that promote common action and hope.
Mary’s commitment to ecumenism was nurtured through graduate study with the Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches in 1969 and 1970 near Geneva, Switzerland, WCC assemblies in 1983 at Vancouver, 1991 at Canberra, 1998 in Harare, and 2006 in Porto Alegre. The “Communicating Credibly” document from the 1983 assembly and stories she heard shared in those gatherings, stories ignored in other media, helped inspire her to start The Fig Tree.
Mary also edits the Pacific Northwest Conference edition of United Church News. She is also on the board of the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, modeling media responsibility through The Fig Tree and more specifically recognizing that The Fig Tree represents and has been doing what some in academia are now defining as “peace journalism.”
Many media still dwell on sensational coverage focusing on sex, conflict, violence and what’s broken, keeping their audience coming back. What a different society we would have if media educated people to believe they can make a difference by improving their relationships, communities, society, nations and world!
Access to news is no longer limited to mass media. It is possible to address sensitive subjects like religion and justice, and to move people from indifference and hostility to respect, caring and action.
Mary will share how The Fig Tree models and trains people to do peace or solutions-oriented journalism to:
- Help us overcome divisions and isolation
- Help us respect diverse opinions and people
- Treat us as thinkers not consumers
- Urge us to identify and resolve social problems and injustices
- Help us overcome gender, racial and economic bias and violence