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Governance, Public Health

In-person comment is out, for now: local governments adapt to life under COVID

May 1, 2020
City and county councils and commissions across Washington state are finding new ways to conduct their public meetings since Gov. Jay Inslee issued the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order March 23, requiring local governing bodies to temporarily halt their in-person meetings.
Stella Harvey
photo: City of Bellingham © 2020
Public Health, Social Justice

San Juan, Skagit and Whatcom nonprofits refocus to meet basic needs, uncertain future

April 27, 2020
For the 375,000 people living in San Juan, Skagit and Whatcom counties, community foundations and other nonprofits are adapting to provide the most essential services to people affected by COVID-19 and unemployment. Throughout the region, many organizations are seeing dramatic increases in demand. People need help ranging from mortgage and rent relief to mental health support to deliveries of food and medicine.
Matt Benoit
photo: Carlos Rexach © 2020
Commerce, Culture, Public Health

The things we do for COVID: iconic local businesses change their ways

April 21, 2020
At several local companies, trying new things has been essential for keeping dollars coming in and meeting their missions of serving the community.
Kimberly Cauvel
photo: Amy Nelson © 2020
Commerce, Community Voices, Governance

Community Voices / Business as usual not happening soon, per Whatcom’s Satpal Sidhu

April 10, 2020
Family dairies, the annual Ski to Sea race and visitor and shopper traffic from Canada are just a few archetypal activities being disrupted in Whatcom County as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses. Business as usual is not due back in Whatcom County any time soon, said county executive Satpal Sidhu in an April 10 interview.
Kimberly Cauvel
photo: Amy Nelson © 2020
Community Voices, Public Health, Recreation

Community Voices / Safe on a ‘plague’ ship in the time of COVID-19

April 6, 2020
Our once-in-a-lifetime, 50th anniversary world cruise was sunk by a coronavirus somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Nobody had COVID-19, but our vessel was treated like a plague ship nonetheless.
William Dietrich
photo: William Dietrich © 2020
Commerce, Community Voices, Public Health

Community Voices / Life in the time of COVID-19

April 1, 2020
We asked Salish Current readers and writers to share their stories about how the COVID-19 virus is affecting them in this time of the evolving “new normal” — virtual coffees and happy hours, worries about the vitality of the arts and cultural sphere, isolation and social-distancing rules, and more.
Salish Current editors
photo: Amy Nelson © 2020
Commerce, Public Health, Recreation, Transportation

Virus versus visitors: San Juan residents weigh health risks of tourism amid pandemic

March 26, 2020
In the San Juan Islands, locals bank on a bustling tourism economy to generate business and provide wages, particularly during the sunny summer months. But with a growing pandemic, islanders, like others in small vacation destinations, are realizing fewer visitors might mean healthier locals.
Hayley Day
photo: Amy Nelson © 2020
Education, Governance

Suciasaurus rex, moss piglet lose bids to represent state — but provide lessons

March 18, 2020
Two creatures — one massive and extinct, one microscopic and thriving — were recently penned into bills with state legislators from the 40th and 42nd districts among the sponsors.
Kimberly Cauvel
Education, Governance, Natural Resources, Social Justice

Plastic bags, clean water: local legislators vote on wide-ranging issues in 2020

March 18, 2020
Here’s how 40th and 42nd Legislative District officials voted on selected bills that were passed and sent to the governor for signing or veto by June 11, according to Washington Votes.
Mike Sato
Public Health

A wood stove swap-out is helping clear the air in rural Whatcom County

March 5, 2020
The tree-dense Columbia Valley, flanked by Red Mountain to the east and Sumas Mountain to the west, contains at its center around 1,600 homes. Many rely on wood stoves as a primary heat source. As a result, the valley’s large amount of wood smoke often combines with specific weather conditions to produce the county’s worst air quality.
Matt Benoit
Commerce, Governance, Recreation

Downtown Bellingham waterfront site sprouts new signs of life

February 26, 2020
After almost 20 years of frustration and stagnation, the first tender shoots of redevelopment have appeared amid the post-industrial desolation that Georgia-Pacific Corp. left behind on Bellingham’s downtown waterfront.
John Stark
photo: Melissa Marteny © 2020
Culture, Education, Social Justice

Whatcom Museum opens heritage exhibits to indigenous people; part of ‘bigger conversation’

February 24, 2020
New exhibits and a new perspective on access at the Whatcom Museum of History and Art have become threads in a national conversation about the relationship between museums and indigenous people.
Kimberly Cauvel
Governance, Natural Resources

Water concerns spark funding request for groundwater studies for San Juans, Guemes

January 21, 2020
Concerns of island residents about water supply sustainability motivated requests by 40th District Sen. Liz Lovelett for state funds for groundwater studies. As of adjournment of the 2020 state legislative session on March 12, Lovelett’s office reported that funding for groundwater studies on Guemes Island and in San Juan County were approved and included in the capital budget.
Louise Dustrude
Climate, Natural Resources, Public Health

Grassroots groups work to save habitat, keep streams cool for Nooksack salmon

January 7, 2020
As local streams get less water from lower snowpacks and grow warmer during hotter summers, some local grassroots organizations are working to reverse or soften the damage to habitat and the fish that rely on colder water.
Kimberly Cauvel
Climate, Governance, Natural Resources, Public Health

Whatcom plans as climate crisis threatens shorelines, homes, livelihoods

January 7, 2020
The worst impacts of climate change in Whatcom County are yet to come, scientists say. Researchers say that while some changes may seem to be emerging slowly, swift action is needed to curb and prepare for them.Residents are already seeing impacts on the waterfront, air quality and fisheries they treasure.
Kimberly Cauvel
photo: Amy Nelson © 2019
Climate, Governance, Natural Resources, Public Health

San Juan Islands’ fresh-water supply sustainability is in question

January 7, 2020
Back in the ’70s, the Lopez Island water witch and other old-timers would rattle a newcomer’s cage by telling him the water feeding wells in the San Juan Islands came from a large undersea aquifer reaching to Mount Baker. The water witch and the old timers are gone, and the specter of climate crisis is here. No one jokes about fresh water in the islands coming from Mount Baker. Instead, talk is in earnest and concerns the question of sustaining the islands’ supply of fresh water.
Mike Sato

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photo: Amy Nelson © 2022
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