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Social Justice

Continuing case backlog slows wheels of justice for Whatcom public defenders — and their clients

October 22, 2021
Public defenders report having hard conversations about what they see as “completely unfair” options with in-custody clients, as the pandemic-driven halt to jury trials keeps people who are denied or unable to afford bail incarcerated and unsure of when their days in court will arrive.
Matt Benoit
Culture, Natural Resources

Fictional whale tale underscores real-life role of kinship in orcas’ survival

October 21, 2021
In the newly published novel “Beyond the Human Realm,” Lopez Island scientist and author Gene Helfman draws on the real-life intelligence of orcas in a fictional story that affirms that preservation of the species requires the adoption of an approach characterized by kinship.
Gretchen K. Wing
Education, Public Health

COVID-19 cases highest among 18- to 24-year-olds as students return to campuses

October 20, 2021
At the same time students were returning to university, community college and technical college campuses that had been closed to in-person instruction for a year and a half — and where full vaccination against COVID-19 is now required — the 18- to 24-year-old age group was reporting the highest number of cases.
Mallory Biggar
Governance, Public Health

Election 2021: Addressing homelessness is priority for city, county candidates — and there’s agreement on how to do so

October 14, 2021
Candidates for Bellingham city and Whatcom County councils share concern that there are not enough options for people living unhoused in the area, and incumbents and challengers both say they want to do more to address the housing crisis.
Lauren Gallup
Commerce, Governance

Election 2021: Parties aim to influence Port elections; candidates embrace nonpartisanship

October 13, 2021
Port of Bellingham commission seats are nonpartisan, but that doesn’t mean the political parties aren’t trying to sway the outcomes of this year’s elections with endorsements and campaign funding support.
Ralph Schwartz
Commerce, Governance, Public Health, Transportation

‘Where’s the ferry?’ islanders ask as crew shortages stymie scheduled sailings

October 12, 2021
In San Juan County, where ferry service is an integral part of the state highway system, recent cancellations of ferry sailings related to crew shortages have resulted in some residents unable to get home, to work or to doctor appointments, and have delayed arrival of groceries and other vital supplies.
Heather Spaulding
Commerce, Governance

Election 2021: Candidates vie to drive the engine of Whatcom County’s economic development

October 8, 2021
Two of three commissioner positions for the Port of Bellingham — the county’s economic engine — are up for election on the Nov. 2 ballot. Along with speaking to the issues, candidates have found they need to explain the job’s impact whenever they knock on voters’ doors.
Ralph Schwartz
Commerce, Governance, Social Justice

Election 2021: Grassroots effort puts four People First Bellingham initiatives before voters

October 7, 2021
Bellingham voters will determine in the November election whether they want to live in a city with expanded protection for renters’ rights, where police can’t use invasive technology, where the right to unionize is protected and where hourly workers’ compensation is protected when they vote on four initiatives promoted by People First Bellingham.
Ella Banken
Governance, Public Health, Social Justice

Election 2021: City, county candidates vary on police reform needs, approaches

October 7, 2021
Urgency around police reform and public safety has not brought people to the streets this year, but voters in Bellingham and Whatcom County have the opportunity to weigh in on what approach their local officials should take when it comes to local policing and public safety.
Stella Harvey
Agriculture, Commerce, Public Health, Social Justice

‘Food hub plus’ part of ambitious collaboration to meet housing and food needs

October 1, 2021
A complex housing and food resources proposal for the Bellingham waterfront aims to employ a fusion of community and economic development in “a once in a lifetime opportunity” to meet local food supply needs — with the help of local farmers and suppliers.
Lane Morgan
Community Voices, Governance

Community Voices / Voting is what constructs a democracy: be a voter

September 30, 2021
Voting is what constructs a democracy, and elections have consequences, with decisions made at the local level having direct effects around planning, housing, police, fire, parks, transportation and public works. People vote to make changes they think are necessary by putting people in office or by voting for or against issues.
Robin Bailey
Commerce, Governance, Public Health

Vaccine mandate becoming latest COVID ‘new normal’ for work or play

September 24, 2021
As the Delta variant of COVID-19 ravages the unvaccinated population, killing some and filling hospitals, public, private, and government entities have renewed masking mandates, and more are enacting vaccination mandates and requiring proof of testing to stamp out the virus from places of both work and play.
Matt Benoit
Climate

Community Voices / End-of-summer hike brings home climate effects on Mount Baker

September 16, 2021
Hotter-than-usual weather — including a heat dome incident — resulted in more extensive snow and glacier melt than usual on Mount Baker this summer. A hike up Heliotrope Ridge Trail yielded dramatic close-up views of how much the mountain has changed over the last several decades.
Alan Fritzberg
Natural Resources

Author of ‘Orca’ has a message for the Northwest: hope has a price tag

September 14, 2021
The new book Orca: Shared Waters, Shared Home begins in crisis, as author Lynda Mapes tells the gut-wrenching story of Tahlequah (J35), the mother orca who in 2018 carried her dead baby around for 17 days. Mapes will speak Sept. 18 at the Lopez Island Library.
Gretchen K. Wing
Community Voices, Editor’s Desk

From the Editor’s Desk / 9/11: Who we were, who we’ve become

September 10, 2021
Twenty years after 9/11, have the terrorist attacks and their aftermath changed us? Salish Current readers shared memories of where they were 20 years ago when they first learned of the attacks and what they thought and felt.
Mike Sato
Education

Pack a lunch, don a mask: kids go back to school in person as COVID-19 persists

September 8, 2021
In the midst of the ongoing pandemic, students are dusting off backpacks, packing lunches — and picking out masks to accompany their back-to-school outfits.
Ella Banken