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The Daily Meal Recently polled 70 burger experts, and Minetta Tavern’s Black Label Burger came out on top as America’s Best.
The Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern in New York City was voted #1 in America by our burger experts.
We at The Daily Meal recently published our list of The 101 Best Burgers in America for 2015, and we spoke to meat-blending master Pat LaFrieda to find out what he believes are the characteristics of a great burger. LaFrieda has found that “An eight-ounce burger, inch-thick, is perfect for a barbecue — it can get a good sear without overcooking it.” What it’s actually made of, or not made of, matters, too; the butcher likes to keep it an all-beef affair and thinks that mixing in additions such as beans and red peppers makes it “taste like meatloaf. It no longer tastes like a burger.” Finally, not all meat blends are created equal, and he warned us that the meat-to-fat ratio should be 80/20 because “Anything else is a marketing ploy.”
We then set out to rank the country’s best burgers for the third year running. Building on last year’s list, we assembled a poll that included nearly 250 burgers from all across the country, from Hollywood, Florida, to Anchorage, Alaska. 70 burger experts then voted for their favorites, and we published the top 101. There are a lot of great burgers across the 50 states, but only one could be crowned the champion, and that honor went to the Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern in New York City.
Sure, the côte de boeuf, roasted bone marrow, and various ungodly delicious potato renditions are big reasons why Minetta Tavern was called the city’s best steakhouse and awarded three stars by The New York Times. But no less the stuff of legend is the Black Label Burger. Prime dry-aged beef, sourced and aged for six to seven weeks by Pat LaFrieda, is well seasoned and cooked on a plancha with clarified butter, developing a glorious exterior. The fussed-over burger is nestled onto a sesame-studded brioche bun designed specifically for it, topped with caramelized onions, and served with pommes frites. Juicy, savory, salty, soul-satisfying… these words lose meaning in the presence of a burger this good. Minetta is a bit of a scene, and it’s going to cost you $28, but you’ll have sampled the very to cost you $28, but you’ll have sampled the very best burger in America.
The Least-Visited States In America, And Why You Should Go To Each
Credit: Arkansas Dept. of Parks and Tourism (edited)
Even the most travelled Americans have a few gaps in the "where I've been" map, especially when we're talking about missing states. It's a big country out there and clocking all 50 is a bucket list accomplishment. But which ones get passed over the most? We pulled data from each state's tourism board to determine the 12 with the fewest number of annual visitors, and then polled locals as to what we're missing out on by not spending more time there.
Annual visitors: 25.8 million
Why you should visit: Let's start with the obvious: the opportunity to make endless Monica Lewinsky/cigar jokes as you stand in a replica of the Oval Office at the Clinton Presidential Library. After that, you can visit Bill's boyhood home in Hope, or Johnny Cash's in Dyess.
If Civil War reenactment is more your jam, Historic Helena on the Mississippi Delta was occupied by Union soldiers and was the site of an 1863 battle it was also a safe haven for runaway slaves. Or, if you're more interested in civil rights than civil war (although they're obviously connected), Little Rock High School was home to the first public-school integration in 1957.
But since Arkansas is the Natural State, the biggest reason to visit is the outdoors. Hot Springs National Park is one of the 20 most visited in the country and home to Bathhouse Row, where you can get your aromatherapy on in a natural hot spring. Past that, there's America's first national river, the Buffalo, where you can whitewater raft through limestone bluffs, as well as the caverns at Devil's Den and Blanchard Springs.
Annual visitors: 24.3 million
Why you should visit: You gotta figure that the 14 annual home football games played at Auburn and Alabama keep the Iron State out of the bottom 10 in terms of visitors. But SEC football and crazed fans aside, there are plenty of other reasons to visit.
Starting with the fact that you can drink in two states at once at the Flora-Bama bar near Orange Beach. Or participate in its famous annual mullet toss (fish, not hair). Or, if you're not into throwing fish and/or drinking on the beach, you can explore 35 miles of gorgeous coastline, most notably, Gulf Shores -- it's the prettiest place in the state and home to the annual Hangout Music Festival.
In terms of history, there are landmark sites from the Civil Rights movement all across Alabama, including the Civil Rights Institute and the famous 16th St Baptist Church in Birmingham, and the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma. There's also baseball history -- the oldest stadium in America is Rickwood Field in Birmingham.
Finally, any idea where the largest space museum in America is? Cape Canaveral, Houston, Washington, DC? Nope. it's in Huntsville! The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is the best attraction in the state and home to the famous space camp.
10. North Dakota
Annual visitors: 24 million
Why you should visit: While most of the visitors to North Dakota these days are in the oil industry, 120 years ago the state had one very important guest: Theodore Roosevelt. And he loved his time on the badlands so much he: a) bought a ranch and moved there, and b) was inspired to grow our national park system by signing the Antiquities Act. Eventually, his property became part of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Today, North Dakota has 63 national wildlife refuges and 13 state parks, and offers visitors the chance to see not only an albino buffalo, but the world's largest buffalo in general -- Dakota Thunder -- at the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown.
But buffalo aside, we know what you really want to talk about: college hockey. Perhaps the only sport in the state that's nationally relevant -- unless you consider fracking a sport -- the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux are among the top programs in the country. And they play in perhaps the most lavish arena in the college game. The marble-floored, leather-seated Ralph Engelstad Arena cost $104 million and might be the best atmosphere in the sport on a college level.
Annual visitors: 22 million
Why you should visit: Tupelo's Neon Pig Cafe's Smash burger straight-up won our Best Burger in America tournament. But if ground-beef tourism isn't your raison d'etre, there's still plenty to do in the Magnolia State.
Let's start with Elvis' birthplace, it's also in Tupelo. From there, you can walk up to three different music trails -- through cotton fields, churches, train depots, and nightclubs -- to learn about the roots of blues and country music. And finally, Mississippi is also home to three of the five driving trails on the Americana Music Triangle, a 1,500-mile highway route through five states with historical stops related to pretty much a million types of music from the region, including blues, jazz, country, rock & roll, R&B/soul, gospel, Southern gospel, Cajun/zydeco, and bluegrass.
When you can't talk about Buddy Guy anymore, there are also 26 miles of pristine water and white sand beaches in Mississippi, without anywhere near the number of tourists or tacky T-shirt shops you'd find in Florida. And, unlike the other beach towns on the Gulf, Biloxi and Gulfport have casinos. While you're there, hit the Beau Rivage for the best nightlife in the state, or head to the Walter Anderson Art Museum in nearby Ocean Springs.
Annual visitors: 19.1 million
Why you should visit: "Sure," you say. "The College World Series might be the best multi-day event in sports. But they use aluminum bats and my alma mater barely even had an intramural softball team." It's still worth hitting, without a doubt. But for reasons to visit Nebraska other than college baseball or Warren Buffett, allow us to suggest.
Football. The redded-out Memorial Stadium in Lincoln has sold out every game since 1962 and, despite the program's recent struggles (see ya, Bo!), the fans remain some of the most intense and spirited in the sport. Also, unlike in most big-time stadiums, they're polite to visitors.
If you'd prefer to participate in sports rather than watch them, Nebraska is one of the top destinations in the world for quail and pheasant hunters the annual One Box Hunt in Broken Bow draws celebrities and top hunters every October and is considered one of the most revered hunts in the country.
Finally, you can't exit Nebraska without a visit to Chimney Rock or Scotts Bluff National Monument. Both are tall million-years-old stone monuments created when prairie winds carved away the natural rock.
7. Rhode Island
Annual visitors: 19.2 million
Why you should visit: Quahog isn't real, before you read any further. So your dreams of visiting Spooner St will have to be put on hold until some theme park decides to erect its own version -- like Universal did with Springfield.
Peter Griffin aside, you should still visit Rhode Island. Not only can you venture back to a day when the 1% did cooler things with their money than making it rain by taking the cliff walk through Newport's historic mansions, but during the summer you can ironically dress up like F. Scott Fitzgerald and tailgate at the weekly polo matches. Seriously. It's a scene.
Rhode Island also boasts 40 miles of coastline (it's not called the Ocean State for nothing), and some of the warmest water in New England. If you're still hanging in Newport, Second Beach is your move for a day at the beach.
To round things out, you've got the Pawtucket Red Sox (or Pawsox) -- a fun minor-league alternative to Fenway -- 10 breweries and distilleries (remember, it's the smallest state), a burgeoning, underrated restaurant scene in Providence, and, oh yeah, Del's Frozen Lemonade. Do NOT leave without trying a Del's.
The Company Burger
WHERE: New Orleans, Louisiana
It starts with the perfect combination of house-ground brisket and chuck, perfectly cooked on a flattop griddle to maintain a juicy center. For The Company Burger chef and owner Adam Biderman, the menu starts and ends with his expertly crafted burger, the hallmark of a true American joint. The namesake Company Burger combines two patties with American cheese, house-made butter pickles, and red onions, and a sprawling condiments bar, with five mayo options, helps you top off your burger. For even more indulgence, try the hand-cut fries or onion rings, or opt for the lower-cal lamb or turkey burgers.
This is the Least Favorite Fast-Food Chain in America
The country has spoken and revealed the most "hated" fast-food restaurant. Although each state has its own, one is a clear loser—people in 15 states say they can't stand one burger chain more than any other.
Burger King topped the list as the least favorite fast-food chain. Data was pulled from over 180,000 negative geotagged tweets on Twitter and put into a map, one local Utah news station 2KUTV says. From Maine to North Carolina, Louisiana, California, North Dakota, Iowa, and even Hawaii, people's distaste for the fast-food burger chain is definitely spread throughout the country. (Perhaps Burger King should consider following some of the 8 major upgrades McDonald's is making.)
The runner-up for the least favorite fast-food chain in the Twittersphere is McDonald's with 11 states calling it the worst. People in nine states from east to west say they hate Taco Bell the most, and five states—including Indiana, Wisconsin, Idaho, Nevada, and New Mexico— say Wendy's is the worst. KFC and Arby's tied at four states each. Arizona residents hate the Tiny Tacos at Jack in the Box, and Ohioans hate sliders from White Castle, according to a map of the data made by food blog, The Daring Kitchen.
Other chains people hate include Chick-fil-A, Sonic, Subway, Popeyes, and more, but none see animosity quite like Burger King. You won't find a lot of McDonald's fans in the Northwest, but you may along the East Coast. To find out exactly how your state voted, you can find the full map here.
Even though Burger King lets you have it your way and they just added their own $1 menu, items like the Triple Whopper with Cheese, Bacon King Sandwich, BBQ Bacon Crispy Chicken Sandwich, and others are ones to avoid for the sake of your health. For more on this, read up on the unhealthiest foods at Burger King.
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How to Make a Perfect Burger: A Step-by-Step Guide
Here are the tips you need for cooking the best possible burgers in your own backyard.
The Perfect Burger 02:44
Some burgers are just better. It's all in the technique — how you form it and how you grill it.
Start With the Right Beef
Start with the Right Beef
The best burgers are made from freshly ground, high-grade beef chuck in an 80/20 mix (meat to fat). Spread the beef out flat and season with salt and pepper. If you have a secret ingredient like Worcestershire sauce or chopped bacon, add it now. Toss together gently. You don't want to overmix.
Making the Patties
Grab 5 to 6 ounces of meat and lightly toss from hand to hand, forming a ball.
Pat It Into a Disk
The patty should be at least as wide as your bun and about 3/4 to 1 inch thick.
Perfect-Burger Secret Tip
Make a divot in the middle of the burger with your thumb to help it keep its shape while cooking. These patties can be made ahead and chilled in the fridge.
Preheat the grill to medium or medium-high over direct heat. Oil the grate with a neutral-flavored oil like canola or vegetable. When the oil begins to smoke, it's hot enough to add the burgers. Make sure your burgers are at room temperature, and season them again with salt and pepper. Put the burgers on the grill and let them be. The less touching, the better the burger. For a juicier burger, resist the urge to press down. Cover the grill.
Time to Flip
It's time to flip when the burger releases from the grate without sticking.
For medium burgers, cook for about 5 minutes per side. For well-done, go a little longer.
To add cheese, move the burgers to the cooler side of the grill, top with cheese and cover the grill for a minute to let the cheese melt. Place the patties on buns, add other toppings and serve.
Best tiki bars in America
The escapist urges are strong at Adrift, both inside (glossy bamboo walls, plush booths, hanging lanterns) and out (the cozy back patio, complete with thatched tables, awnings and a roaring fire pit). The drinks, of course, match the escape-friendly vibe bartenders can whip up a house-special Paradise Cooler (rum, Cherry Heering, falernum, orange, lime) just as easily as a classic Singapore Sling or a zombie.
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Steven A. Miller
Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29, New Orleans
No one has been as influential in the modern tiki revival as Jeff &ldquoBeachbum&rdquo Berry, a writer and tiki expert who tracked down lost recipes from Trader Vic&rsquos and Don the Beachcomber&mdashrecipes that comprise many of the tiki drinks we know today. So when he opened Beachbum Berry&rsquos Latitude 29 in New Orleans in 2014, it was a huge deal. Berry serves classics like a velvety piña colada, a dizzying rum barrel and an iced buttered rum, as well as modern creations. It&rsquos a serious cocktail menu packed with hits&mdashthough we&rsquod expect nothing less from the Bum.
Burt’s Tiki Lounge, Albuquerque
&ldquoWe love to cater to the strange and unique,&rdquo says Israel Berube of Burt&rsquos, a liquor-soaked tiki oasis in the desert town of Albuquerque. This means that unapologetically strong drinks like the Flaming Volcano (vodka, rum, gin, triple sec, multiple juices, fruit garnishes and a burning crown of Bacardi 151 in the middle for good measure) are complemented by a full slate of performances from local artists, ranging from hip-hop to punk. The space, decorated with a hodge-podge of island imagery and dry-docked sea-faring vessels, is a little grittier than your average neon-hued tiki hideaway&mdashjust the way the Burqueños like it.
Hale Pele Portland, OR
For owner Blair Reynolds, knowing the stories behind his favorite tiki drinks helps them go down that much better. That&rsquos why the menu at his cheery PDX rum haven is annotated with boozy history&mdashcocktails are tracked by bar and often year of origin. Drinking at Hale Pele, however, isn&rsquot a purely academic pursuit the menu, featuring more than 40 options, is designed with Polynesian fun in mind. Couples can dip into sizeable shared drinks, like the Boo Loo, a dark rum concoction served in a hollowed-out pineapple if you want ultimate insider status, become a &ldquoFire Drinker&rdquo by sampling at least 50 of the 300-plus rums lining the shelves behind the bar. The perks: a medal, your name on the menu and, undoubtedly, a solid buzz.
La Mariana Sailing Club Oahu, HI
Though you have to be a member to access the lagoon marina, La Mariana&rsquos historic restaurant and tiki bar has always been wide open to the public. Founded on Oahu in 1957, it&rsquos a broken-in paean to the &ldquoOld Hawaii&rdquo era and its tiki predecessors, featuring traditional live music and decorative elements inherited from bars of yore. In keeping with the theme, the drink selection is crisp and classic, too&mdashmai tais and zombies are among the fresh-mixed house specialties.
Lei Low, Houston
The owners of this Lone-Star-state tiki joint, Russell and Elizabeth Thoede, believe the more they can make in-house, the better. In the warm, inviting strip-mall space, complete with thatched walls and stoic tiki totems, practically everything is made from scratch, from the allspice dram and falernum to the coconut- and guava-infused rums. Lei Low even features two tropical cocktails on draft&mdasha mai tai, pulled with nitrogen to produce a creamy consistency, and the Jerry Rig, the bar&rsquos take on the classic dark and stormy.
Lost Lake, Chicago
The tiki revival continues with Lost Lake, a new spot from Paul McGee (Three Dots and a Dash) that opened in January 2015. The core components of the tiki style are here&mdashdrinks that double as flower arrangements, lush tropical decor, Hawaiian-print-clad bartenders and Americanized Chinese snacks&mdashbut the drinks are more challenging (and interesting) than you find at most tiki bars. Hula Hips of Heaven has a double dose of agave, with smoky mescal and tequila providing a strong base for citrus fruits and spices, while the Scotch-based Cocoanut Grove Cooler has a punch of peat smoothed out with pineapple and lemon, plus Batavia Arrack, rum&rsquos Indonesian predecessor. Thank heaven for Thank You, the adjacent take-out spot, because you'll need the salty, greasy snacks like egg rolls and chicken wings to keep you standing upright.
Mai-Kai, Fort Lauderdale
One of the last bastions from the roaring heyday of American tiki kitsch, the Mai-Kai shows no signs of slowing after nearly 60 years in the Polynesian party business. As famous for its sarong-clad servers and impeccably campy atmosphere as it is for its pu pu platters and potent punches, the place has kept the bamboo torch burning for decades by sticking to what it does best. But the real reason it&rsquos been packing in the crowds for so long may be the popular Polynesian Islander Revue, featuring a talented troupe of singers, musicians and daring fire dancers.
Yelp&rsquos vegan insights
Nearly half of the restaurants on Yelp&rsquos top places to eat in 2021 either identify as vegan or serve vegan options, with 11 businesses identifying as Latinx-owned, one business identifying as Black-owned, and 14 businesses identifying as women-owned. In 2020, searches for women-owned businesses increased by 2,739 percent, compared to 2019, and mentions of plant-based in reviews were up 26 percent for the same time period.
&ldquoWith nearly half of the businesses on the top 100 list identifying themselves as vegan or providing vegan menu options, it’s clear that diners are looking for a wider variety of restaurants that can accommodate a range of dietary preferences and lifestyles,&rdquo Yelp Trend Expert Tara Lewis told VegNews. &ldquoAnd with Kelley Farm Kitchen taking the number one spot, Yelpers have spoken that they are seeking out and rating vegan restaurants on the platform more than ever before.”
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Nachos (actually) at KFC South Africa
Okay, we get it — you're kinda bummed out that KFC's nachos turned out to not really be nachos. But panic ye not! All you need to do is hop on a plane to South Africa and you'll be able to get your hands on genuine KFC nachos.
There is another catch here, though, and that's the fact that these come as part of a sandwich the Nacho Cheese Crunch Burger, in fact. This item is made from a chicken fillet dunked in nacho cheese sauce, topped with a slice of cheese, "cheese-flavored nacho chips" (aka "literally Doritos") and a little mayo to top it all off.
Shortly after its debut, MenStuff headed down to their nearest KFC to give this new sandwich a go. According to them, the chips "add a serious edge of crackleness and are actually an awesome addition," while "the combo of sweet-chili chips on chili cheese sauce [made] for a fairly sultry experience."
Honestly, we're not too sure if this one would work particularly well, but you've still got to give KFC South Africa a little credit for taking something only a college stoner could invent at 4 a.m. and turning it into a nationwide marketing initiative.
What’s the highest calorie chain-restaurant meal in America?
A sign is posted in front of a Red Lobster restaurant on May 16, 2014, in San Bruno, Calif.
Red Lobster takes the, er, cake for serving the highest calorie chain-restaurant meal — including cocktail — in America, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s annual survey of chain-restaurant meals, the Xtreme Eating Awards.
The seafood chain’s “Create Your Own Combination” meal delivers 2,710 calories and four days’ worth of sodium (6,530 milligrams), if you choose the Parrot Isle Jumbo Coconut Shrimp, Walt’s Favorite Shrimp and Shrimp Linguine Alfredo to go with the Caesar salad, French fries and one Cheddar Bay biscuit (and who can eat just one cheddar biscuit?).
You will, of course, need a big drink to wash down all of that salty food. The Lobsterita — the chain’s trademarked 890-calorie, 24-ounce margarita — will do the trick and will bring your meal up to a grand total of 3,600 calories, enough calories for today and most of tomorrow.
“This nutritional shipwreck exemplifies the kind of gargantuan restaurant meal that promotes obesity, diabetes and other diet-related diseases,” said CSPI registered dietitian Paige Einstein. “If this meal were unusual, that would be one thing, but America’s chain restaurants are serving up 2,000-calorie breakfasts, 2,000-calorie lunches, 2,000-calorie dinners and 2,000-calorie desserts left and right. Abnormal is the new normal.”
However, a Red Lobster rep told the “New York Post” that customers would need to go out of their way to pick such a high-calorie combo, and that the Xtreme Eating Awards list focuses on “just one atypical combination and as a result inaccurately portrays the nature of this menu item.”
CSPI counters that “it’s not easy to win an Xtreme Eating Award … most restaurant meals pack around 1,000 calories.”
Other 2015 “dishonorees,” as CSPI calls them, include:
IHOP’s Chorizo Fiesta Omelette. The omelette itself, “loaded with spicy chorizo sausage, roasted peppers, onions and pepper jack cheese, then topped with a citrus chili sauce and sour cream, and served with a fresh grilled serrano pepper,” has 1,300 calories. But it also comes with three buttermilk pancakes (or hash browns, toast or fruit). With pancakes and four tablespoons of syrup, this breakfast has a day’s worth of calories (1,990) and two days’ worth of saturated fat (42 grams).
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit’s 3 Meat Plate. CSPI “researchers” chose Polish sausage, pork ribs and beef brisket and sides of fried Onion Tanglers and mac and cheese, plus the free roll, pickles, onions and a 32-ounce (the only size offered) sweet tea. This chain also invites diners to consume as much free soft-serve ice cream as they want. With just one half-cup of ice cream in a cone, this 2,500-calorie meal has 49 grams of saturated fat, 4,700 mg of sodium (two-and-a-half to three days’ worth of each), plus 29 teaspoons of sugar. That’s equivalent to eating three Big Macs with five vanilla cones, according to CSPI.
Louisiana Chicken Pasta from the Cheesecake Factory is “Parmesan-crusted chicken served over pasta with mushrooms, peppers and onions in a spicy New Orleans sauce.” At 1½ pounds, this plate from the Xtreme Eating mainstay chain has 2,370 calories (more than a day’s worth), 80 grams of saturated fat (a four-day supply) and 2,370 mg of sodium. It’s equal to two orders of fettuccine Alfredo plus two breadsticks at Olive Garden.
A large Pineapple Upside Down Master Blast from Sonic is a 32-ounce cup filled with vanilla ice cream, pineapple and “salted caramel and pie crust pieces” topped with several inches of whipped cream. It has 2,020 calories, 61 grams of saturated fat (three days’ worth), 4½ grams of trans fat (more than two days’ worth) and about 29 teaspoons of added sugar. It contains the calories of about four Dairy Queen banana splits.
Steak ‘n’ Shake’s 7x7 Steakburger ‘n’ Fries consists of seven beef patties and seven slices of cheese, plus a side of fries, for 1,570 calories and more than two days’ worth of saturated fat. With a 960-calorie Chocolate Fudge Brownie milkshake, the grand total comes to 2,530 calories, 68 grams of saturated fat, more than 5,000 mg. of sodium and 26 teaspoons of added sugar. It’s like sitting down to four 9-ounce Outback Steakhouse sirloin steaks, each topped with two scoops of Breyers chocolate ice cream.
“It’s not enough to have one or two patties on a burger, or one or two slices of cheese now we’re seeing seven patties and seven slices of cheese on a burger,” Einstein said.
One thing that might put a damper on would-be gorgers: Rules finalized by the Food and Drug Administration requiring calories to be listed on chain-restaurant menus are scheduled to take effect in December.
Until then, CSPI suggests avoiding “xtreme” entrées by ordering from “light” menus, where available, such as the Simple and Fit menu at IHOP or the SkinnyLicious menu at the Cheesecake Factory. With about 600 calories, those meals aren’t exactly Lean Cuisine, but they are far better than what you’d find on the rest of the menu.
Other ways to cut calories: CSPI recommends ordering thin-crust pizza over hand-tossed or pan a small filet or sirloin over a New York Strip, ribeye or sirloin and broiled, steamed, baked or grilled seafood over fried.
Or, just use your common sense. There’s really no need to venture beyond a Double-Double.
CITIZEN OF THE YEAR
Cynthia Stewart has worn many hats throughout her professional career, including serving as a policy analyst for the King County Council and as the manager of Boeing Field. Though she retired in 2009, Stewart continues to work tirelessly as a volunteer, currently as the president of the League of Women Voters of Tacoma-Pierce County, the Hearing Loss Association, and Thurston Community Media. Her success, she said, can be attributed to her insatiable curiosity and the talented people who have always made up her teams. – As told by Zoe Branch.
I was in high school when I first became a citizen activist. My family moved from Seattle to Olympia the week before my sophomore year, and I noticed that the three school districts really ostracized each other. It was such an incredibly polarized environment, and I felt like something needed to change. I got it in my head that we should get all the honors societies together and do something and break (that) down. Whenever I see a problem, I just want to fix it. I do know that’s not always possible, but that’s how I naturally respond.
I’ve had severe hearing loss all my life, and before I got hearing aids (at 25), I spent a lot of years being completely confused about what was going on around me. I managed to finish college, and all I really wanted was to have a family. I had my kids when I was 21, 22, and 23. I wasn’t thinking of myself in professional terms at all.
Just being with the kids and having no adult relationships wasn’t a good balance. I needed an outlet, so I started volunteering in politics. I ran the biggest voter-registration drive ever in the state of Washington in 1972. When I got divorced, I started working in all these diverse fields, and as I got more and more involved, (opportunities) just emerged.
Every job I had, when I left, they replaced me with at least two people, if not more. I’ve just always been busy in that way. I’m not sure that’s anything to be proud of — I just like learning, I like being part of solutions, I like problem-solving.
I do a lot of group facilitation and am certified as a mediator. People wonder how someone with hearing loss can facilitate groups, and the reason is because I listen harder than most people. I have to. I (also) came from a dysfunctional family, and I learned a long time ago that it’s a lot better to have teamwork than it is to work against other people.
It’s been amazing working with the League of Women’s Voters in Tacoma, (because) the women are so intelligent and motivated to (make) good policy. We work well as a team, and we’re respectful of each other. I came to the League when I retired in 2009, but I was also involved in the ’70s before I started working professionally. It was like that back then, too.
For the past few years, we’ve been doing workshops on civility and public discourse. (Right now, we’re focusing on) homelessness as an issue because it seemed like there was a lot of money being thrown at it, but it wasn’t doing any good, and we felt like there wasn’t enough information around it. We (put together a group that) involved 40 stakeholders, service providers, law enforcement officers, politicians, citizens, faith organizations — the whole gamut, really. Over the course of a day and a half, we had them come up with consensus recommendations. We just started trying to get someone to adopt those recommendations.
All of these things that I’ve been a part of — they are really about the people I’m working with. I work hard, but I can only do what I do because others are helping and thinking of (problems to address). All I do is facilitate. There is not anything I have done that wasn’t successful because of all the other people involved. It really is all about teamwork