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.
Coverage areas include:
- local government and criminal justice
- public health issues
- the natural environment
- education, from preschool through higher education
- agriculture, industry and commerce
- diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice.
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
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.
Ken Brusic was the long-time editor of The Orange County Register, which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize during his tenure. He has been a reporter and editor at newspapers in Massachusetts, Colorado and Kansas; professor of journalism at the University of Montana; National Endowment of the Humanities Fellow; and a Coast Guard credentialed merchant mariner. Now a Bellingham-area resident, he is a volunteer writer and intern coordinator for Whatcom Watch, and works with Western Washington University students on brainstorming story topics and preparing stories for publication. Ken is a lifelong learner, a frustrated finger-style guitar player, motorcyclist and sailor who has a Ranger Tug.
Britta Eschete is both an alum (‘98) and employee at Western Washington University. She collaborates in organizing career fairs and other activities to facilitate connections and next steps among students, alumni and employers; has found her fantastic second career as elected bargaining representative with Local 1381 representing classified staff; and is pursuing an M.Ed. in adult education. Previously, she was education and outreach coordinator for People For Puget Sound, and hosted the interview program Puget Sound Voices at KSVR Radio. She is a decades-long volunteer with the Lincoln Theatre, RiverSong Farm and various music festivals, and more recently with the Celtic Arts Foundation; on the board of the Skagit River Poetry Foundation; a graduate of Leadership Skagit; and co-founder of the annual environmental educator workshop Storming the Sound. She recently completed a term on the board of the Skagit Food Co-op.
Jayne Freudenberger moved with her family to Bellingham in 1969, looking for a forever home. Swept into an activist community, she became involved in political and community campaigns, and co-owned a gift and candy store. As Bellingham Public Library board president, she helped drive its first building remodel. She was the YWCA board’s citizen representative in building Dorothy Place, and served on the Bellingham City Club board and chaired its program committee. Jayne served as president of the League of Women Voters of Bellingham-Whatcom County and on the state board. She led local LWV advocacy against the GPT coal terminal proposal, and as climate issues co-chair has adopted eliminating single-use plastic as her bête noir. Post-retirement, she and her husband, Bill, traveled widely, in China, Tibet, Europe, India, Patagonia, the Galapagos and Myanmar.
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, 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.
Shawn Kemp — a Bellingham-based strategist, designer, and leader — is a serial social entrepreneur and innovator who has helped launch dozens of products. From the first Xbox website to an app powering tens of thousands of nonprofit Facebook pages with combined weekly reach in the hundreds of millions, he’s helped turn ideas into experiences. He has a particular passion for solutions that solve a specific pain point for thousands rather than billions of people. He has been an angel investor in dozens of ventures and helped screen hundreds more; raised money from venture capitalists and had companies he’s started get acquired. He creates generative art using code that is stored on the blockchain, with the unique ability to transform into physical artworks cut from layers of wood or paperboard with a high-power laser.
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.
Kevin Ranker’s professional life has been purpose driven — working to help people, the planet and communities thrive, as a state Senator; advisor in the Obama White House; coach and advisor to global business executives, environmental philanthropic leaders and senior public officials in six countries; and now as a real estate broker. In government, he worked in energy, environment and education, including the President’s National Ocean Council and on National Monuments. When COVID struck, he focused locally, working with the Orcas Island Community Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund, Island Conservation Corps and Orcas Island Food Bank. After COVID, Kevin realized he did not want to return to intensive global travel and instead wanted to spend far more time with his wife and daughter … and far more time surfing and snowboarding. While working on a reclamation land deal for the Lummi Indian Nation, he became a partner in the Compass real estate group.
- Tony Angell
- Henry Bierlink
- Joan Connell
- Cheryl Crooks
- Carolyn Dale
- William Dietrich
- Jessica Gigot
- Bill Gorman
- Stephen Howie
- Genevieve Iverson
- Vernon Damani Johnson
- Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor
- Barbara Marrett
- Maria McLeod
- Lane Morgan
- Ron Polinder
- Dan Raas
- Chuck Robinson
- Barbara Ryan
- Kathy Sheehan
- Riley Sweeney
- 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.
Amy Nelson is a founder and volunteers as the publisher 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.
Mike Sato is a founder and volunteers as the managing editor of the Salish Current. A graduate of Reed College, he was the editor of The Island Record (San Juan County) and editor and publisher of the Seattle Sun, and served in communications positions for Seattle City Light, 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.
- Tom Banse
- Matt Benoit
- Dick Clever
- Toby Cooper
- Nancy DeVaux
- John M. Harris
- Clifford Heberden
- Questen Inghram
- Rena Kingery
- Minor Lile
- Eric Scigliano
- Catherine Skrzypinski
- Adam M. Sowards
- Kai Uyehara
- Richard Arlin Walker
- Kathryn Wheeler
- Gretchen K. Wing
Whatcom County Library System Reference Desk, Fact Checking Support