Remembering Tom Dukich

1945 – 2021

This is a picture of my friend Tom, Carpal Tunnel Blues Band musician, bird house designer, guitar collector, filmmaker, conceptual artist and ordained minister and spiritual counselor, The Reverend Dr. Pi. Quite a few years ago Tom gave me a studio photograph of himself.  At our regular coffee and restaurant chats he often shared his website ideas and art works. This is an illustration from our conversations.  One conversation was about his trip to the South to be tutored in the blues.  He stayed in a shotgun house near a Mississippi juke joint.  He wanted us to return. I would film his pilgrimage.  We would stay in one of the rented shotgun houses with walls so thin the wind blew through them, covered inside with the posters of the musicians who had played at the juke joints. If anybody is looking for Tom he is probably playing at one of those juke joints and this poster is up on the wall. 

Obituary for Thomas Daniel Dukich

Thomas “Tom” Daniel Dukich was a multifaceted artist, researcher, musician, teacher and creator of things, ever curious and dedicated to making connections with how the world works. He passed away on January 5, 2021, and will be remembered by the wide range of people he met throughout his many endeavors, as well as by the art, music and ideas he gave to the world.

Born in northern Minnesota in April 1945, Tom grew up in the small town of Pengilly, where he survived polio as a toddler, swam on the high school team, played golf, and once hitchhiked to Chicago to attend a Ray Charles concert. Earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in Duluth, he then moved with his wife, Marlene Allen, and daughter Cynthia to attend graduate school at the University of Montana in Missoula. In the Northern Rocky Mountains, he realized his love of the outdoors and backpacking, hunting and fishing. After having a son, Steven, and earning his PhD in Psychology, he moved from Missoula to Spokane with his family to teach psychology at Gonzaga University. As a professor, and throughout the many stages of his life, he established deep and meaningful friendships, and one of these friends might speak for many when stating: “There is so much I could say about his curiosity, creativity and humor, how principled he was, his integrity, but a lot of my caring for him can be summarized by him being the only person I ever had a 5 1/2 hour lunch with. Needless to say, I was never bored as he veered from one topic to another that day.”

He loved taking his young kids to listen to bluegrass night at a local pizza place, where they would often fall asleep under the table to the sounds of guitar, bass, banjo, fiddle and mandolin. Teaching himself to play the banjo, he enjoyed playing in regular bluegrass jams. He also loved Volkswagen bugs and Emmylou Harris, and after leaving Gonzaga, accepted a position at Washington Water Power (now Avista), where he was known for his convictions and determination to make decisions based on research, data and common sense. In 1986, he married Carolyn Schmitz, with whom he continued his adventures, travelling to Europe and Japan, and many other places both far and near. Applying his creative drive to drawing, painting, and conceptual sculptures, he became involved in Spokane’s art community and served as Chair of the Spokane Arts Commission from 1988-1993, where he helped coordinate projects to revitalize the core of the city. He also served on the Artist Trust Board of Directors from 1990-1992 and moved to the edge of town where he sought always to sustain balance within the natural world. Creating an art and wildlife haven around their home, he also served as president of the Bead Lake Clean Water Association, becoming a water quality expert as he fought to keep the lake pristine.

While enticing birds, racoons, deer and an occasional moose to frequent their property, his artwork expanded to include video, sound, and multi-dimensional pieces he called “assemblies.” Later projects include the three-hundred arch-top guitars he rescued and repaired through a labor of love, refurbishing these undervalued classics to get them back into the hands of music makers, and a documentary on the artist Harold Balazs, that when it sold out on DVD, he uploaded to You Tube: “to honor an artist, mentor, colleague, friend, and humanist,” traits he valued in others and embodied throughout his rich life. His memory will serve as an inspiration, motivation and blessing to many, and he will be dearly missed by his loving wife Carolyn Schmitz; daughter Cynthia Dukich, son-in-law David French and grandson Cooper Dukich French; and son Steven Dukich and daughter-in-law Aubrey Summers.

Those who wish, may contribute to Tom’s favorite charity Music Makers Relief Foundation and may also visit his online Tribute Wall through Pacific Northwest Cremation (PNWC) of Spokane, where you can view pictures, stories, comments, and post your own memories.

To plant a tree in memory of Thomas Daniel Dukich, visit the Tribute Store.

Organizing is Distinct from Advocacy

Evaluating Community Organizing

Catherine Crystal Foster and Justin Louie, Blueprint Research & Design, Inc. March 2010

Organizing and Advocacy Differ at a Core Level

Community organizing is emphatically bottom-up. It is the community members who select the issues, proffer the solutions, and drive strategy and execution. Most advocacy is fundamentally top-down, even if the work is authentically undertaken on behalf of community members. Advocates speak for others, while organizers inspire community leaders—everyday people—to speak for themselves. Tellingly, the
so-called Iron Rule of organizing is, “Never do for people what they can do for themselves.”

Community Members Can Be Experts

Organizers and leaders also believe that community members can be experts, and that expertise is not the sole domain of policy professionals. A low-income mother with little formal education can be an expert on local educational needs just like a senior think tank fellow, through her own experience or by conducting community led action research in her neighborhood school.

Leadership Development is a Central Concern

The leader-focused lens also points to another difference from advocacy. In organizing, leadership development is a central concern and a key outcome in addition to policy change objectives. This has major implications for priorities and goals. It makes capacity development look different in organizing than in advocacy, since the capacities to attract and develop leaders are a top priority in organizing.

Organizers Operate in an Oral Culture

Finally, certain logistical aspects of organizing differ from advocacy in a significant way. Organizers operate in a predominantly oral culture, in contrast to the more archived, written culture of advocacy. Organizing often places a premium on process and ritual, particularly as it concerns base-building and direct actions. In addition, organizing takes place in a more diffuse setting: in homes, churches, schools, or community venues, rather than in a central office or the corridors of the state house.

Who Has the Answer?

No One Will Do It For Us But Us

How much of this is relevant to people of color in Spokane? Black Lives Matter has opened up a small window of opportunity for change. In order to measure our progress we will need a Baseline. Not an expensive study, but a discussion of YOUR personal needs and OUR needs. Let us know so we can plan strategies to take actions.

Send comments to and the list of all comments will be passed on to the Spokane NAACP and The Black Lens News.

Vote! 3 Days

So You Want to Live in a Police State? (Excerpts)

Paula Gordon, Huffington Post11/07/2016 03:24 am ET Updated Nov 07, 2017

If you think a police state will make America great again a.) you’re wrong, and b.) you’ve got your candidate — Donald Trump and the Deplorables are your self-evident choice.

In a national forum, Trump promises to lock up his opponent if he wins. And there are the Chants: “lock her up,” “execute her.” And the blind rage at his rallies against foreigners and immigrants and women and Jews and Muslims and reporters and anyone else who does not toe the Trump line … wherever it is that day. And the contempt for due process, laws they don’t like, the government, anyone who disagrees with them. And the claim that anything that doesn’t turn out as they want is “rigged.” And the refusal to accept results they don’t like, e.g., the expressed preference of American voters. And the willingness to try to intimidate those voters who might not vote as they want, voters who might be women or Hispanics or Blacks or the poor or foreign-born Americans or … democrats. And, always, the threat, implicit and explicit, of violence.

If you think a police state will make America great again c.) do you really want the alt-right running your life? and d.) do not think it cannot happen here.

For my part — and with my vote — I’m choosing the path toward “Liberty and Justice for ALL.”