Who We Are
The Salish Current is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, online local news organization serving Whatcom, San Juan and Skagit counties. Based in Bellingham, we serve 400,000 residents and tens of thousands of annual visitors to the three-county area. Our region is the ancestral home of Native treaty tribes including the Lummi, Nooksack, Samish, Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, Swinomish and Upper Skagit. It is home to Western Washington University, Northwest Indian College, Whatcom Community College, Skagit Valley College and Bellingham Technical College.
The Salish Current reports local news with independence and strict journalistic integrity, providing fact-based information and a forum for civil commentary on:
- local government and law enforcement
- public health issues affecting people, wildlife, land, water and air
- education, from preschool through higher education
- agriculture, industry and commerce
- diversity, equity and inclusion.
The Salish Current provides information to inform public discussion and decisions on topics such as:
- balancing population growth and increased commercial and industrial activity with the needs of rich and varied habitats, including farmland
- meeting the challenges of climate change
- ensuring justice and fairness for people who are displaced, poor, ill or addicted
- examining spending on public education, law enforcement, public safety and economic development
- holding elected officials to account for their actions.
Ethics and Policy
We are guided by and adhere to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics:
- We seek truth and report it accurately and fairly. We are honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
- We treat sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as fellow human beings deserving of respect.
- We act independently avoiding conflicts of interest, real or perceived, in pursuing our highest and primary obligation to serve the public
- We stand transparent and accountable to the public, and take responsibility for our work and our decisions.
Our website is accessible to all readers and our lists of donors, board members and staff are open to the public.
Equity and Inclusion
This news organization aims to reflect the diversity of the communities it serves in its staff and contributors, its editorial choices and priorities.
Support for the Salish Current comes from foundations and individual donors, community events, sponsorships and subscribers. Our news reporting is separate from our revenue sources. We do not endorse the values, products or services of any donor.
We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization.
Our news judgments are made independently — not based on or influenced by donors or any revenue source. We do not give supporters the rights to assign, review or edit content.
We make public all revenue sources and donors who give $5,000 or more per year. As a news nonprofit, we avoid accepting charitable donations from anonymous sources, government entities, political parties, elected officials or candidates seeking public office. We will not accept donations from sources who, deemed by our board of directors, present a conflict of interest with our work or compromise our independence.
Board of Directors
Jill Bernstein has continued to work on issues related to law and justice and on projects supporting democracy since her retirement as a criminal defense lawyer. Her first practice was with Prairie State Legal Services in Illinois. In Whatcom County, she worked with Evergreen Legal Services, as a public defender for the county, and in private practice. She has served as interim executive director of LAW Advocates and president of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and is active with the League of Women Voters. She lives in southern Whatcom County.
Janet Brownell has lived on Orcas Island since 1995, when she and her husband, Lance Evans, moved from California, where she was a screenwriter. Janet continued writing while on Orcas, and retired in 2012. Since that day, she has not missed scripting cheesy movies for television (and some that were actually okay). Both she and Lance love to travel. Their escapades have taken them from Africa to Thailand, Iceland to Patagonia — and many places in between. Perhaps despite her professional career, Janet has been involved with numerous local nonprofit organizations including the OPAL Community Land Trust, Orcas Island Community Foundation, Four Winds Camp, San Juan County Charter Review Committee and almost 20 years of service on the Orcas Island School Board. She currently serves as president of the Orcas Island Education Foundation.
Journalist and author Bill Dietrich won a Pulitzer Prize for covering the Exxon Valdez oil spill while at the Seattle Times. He is a graduate and university Distinguished Alumnus of Western Washington University/Fairhaven, and was a Nieman Journalism Fellow at Harvard University. He taught environmental journalism at Western’s [then Huxley] College of the Environment and was advisor to Planet magazine. Bill began his career at the Bellingham Herald. From his home in Anacortes has served on the boards of the North Cascade Institute, Skagit Land Trust, Northwest Straits Commission and Friends of the Forest. His 22 books range from the nonfiction “Final Forest” and “Natural Grace” to the bestselling Ethan Gage adventure novels.
Poet, farmer and writing coach Jessica Gigot has a background in agricultural science and operates a small sheep farm with her husband near Bow in the Skagit Valley. Her second book of poems, Feeding Hour, was a finalist for the 2021 Washington State Book Award. Her writing and reviews appear in publications including Orion, The New York Times, The Seattle Times, Ecotone, Terrain.org, Gastronomica, Crab Creek Review and Poetry Northwest. Her memoir, A Little Bit of Land, was published in September 2022.
Betsy Gross is immersed in community activism in climate change planning, social and environmental justice, child welfare, and dementia care advocacy. She cofounded the Sierra Club Mount Baker Group, and was the co-convener of the Multi-Faith Network for Climate Justice, a local affiliate of Earth Ministry, serving as its leader for three years and now on their advisory board. Her volunteer work follows a distinguished career in public service, culminating in mental health administration. Her focus was always on implementing model programs that addressed family violence in its many forms. She lives near Bellingham, and loves going to her granddaughter’s volleyball games.
Since moving to Bellingham in 2002, Eric Hirst has been active in local government and environmental issues, serving on boards and advisory committees with the City of Bellingham, the Bellingham Herald and environmental advocacy groups. He holds a Ph.D. in engineering from Stanford University, taught at the Tuskegee Institute and was an energy-efficiency policy analyst at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Recently, Eric has focused on researching and writing articles for local media on Nooksack Basin water issues, reaching out to include multiple perspectives to encourage discussion of possible solutions. Eric enjoys hiking with friends and playing tenor sax, especially the 1950s rock ‘n roll he grew up with.
M.L. Lyke freelances for the University of Washington and is part of the Washington Post Talent Network. She worked for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for many years, in roles ranging from arts editor and writing coach to war correspondent. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, she has won numerous national awards for writing and editing. Her resume also includes publication of the P-I serial novel “Skukum Kilay”; authoring the photo book “Harvesting the Light”; writing “Research That Matters” for the University of Washington; editing “Black Pearls: An African-American Woman’s Guide to Making Smart Love Choices”; and editing the Zen book “Medicine and Meditation.” She lives on Fidalgo Island.
Riley Sweeney was raised in the Pacific Northwest, moved to Bellingham during the Bush years, worked on a cross-section of political campaigns during the Obama years and then fled to the comfort of public service during the Trump years. Before joining the City of Ferndale as their communications officer, he wrote a column with Northwest Citizen and then his own news site, the Political Junkie, where he brought humor, insight and a suspicious amount of pop culture references to Whatcom County political reporting. He lives with his wife and two children in the rolling fields of Lynden.
Amy Nelson is a founder and the publisher and executive editor of the Salish Current. An advocate for fact-based, public-service local news and for media literacy, she is a journalism alumna of Western Washington University. She has been an editor, reporter and photographer for community newspapers in the Pacific Northwest; freelanced for print, broadcast and online publications; led communications for medical and scientific not-for-profit organizations; and managed scholarly publishing for an international scientific society. She has called Whatcom County home for all but 13 years since 1972, and these days splits her time between Bellingham and Lopez Island, gobsmacked with that good fortune.
- Tony Angell
- Joan Connell
- Cheryl Crooks
- Carolyn Dale
- Bill Gorman
- Eric Hirst
- Stephen Howie
- Vernon Damani Johnson
- Shawn Kemp
- Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor
- Neil McKay
- Maria McLeod
- Lane Morgan
- Ron Polinder
- Dan Raas
- Chuck Robinson
- Barbara Ryan
- Kathy Sheehan
- Janice Walker
- Peggy Watt
- Ted Wolf
Lane Morgan volunteers as Content Editor for the Salish Current and is a writer and editor for HistoryLink.org and the Whatcom Historical Society Journal. She is the author of books and articles on Pacific Northwest history and other topics and a recipient of the Washington Governor’s Writers Award. She is a former editor for the Lynden Tribune, the Bellingham Herald and the Seattle P-I, and also taught at Nooksack Valley High School and Western Washington University. A fourth-generation Washingtonian, she has lived in Whatcom County since 1980.
Mike Sato volunteers as Managing Editor for the Salish Current. A graduate of Reed College, he was the editor of The Island Record (San Juan County) and served in communications positions for the Puget Sound Water Quality Authority, Hawaiian Electric Company and People For Puget Sound. He compiles environmental news items for the weekday Salish Sea News and Weather and periodically blogs for Salish Sea Communications. The author of “The Price of Taming a River: The Decline of Puget Sound’s Duwamish/Green Waterway,” he resides in Bellingham and on Lopez Island.
- Jacqueline Allison
- Ella Banken
- Matt Benoit
- Mallory Biggar
- Kimberly Cauvel
- Elisa Claassen
- Hayley Day
- Nancy DeVaux
- Kenneth Duncan
- Sadie Fick
- Lauren Gallup
- Stella Harvey
- Clifford Heberden
- Genevieve Iverson
- Rena Kingery
- Zach Kortge
- Alex Meacham
- Chris O’Neill
- Sarah Reeves
- Ralph Schwartz
- Eric Scigliano
- Heather Spaulding
- John Stark
- Kai Uyehara
- Richard A. Walker
- Kathryn Wheeler
- Gretchen K. Wing
Whatcom County Library System Reference Desk, Fact Checking Support