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Commerce

Reuse, repurpose, re-imagine: mall properties are in transition

March 25, 2022
What’s next for once-major shopping malls in Skagit and Whatcom counites that are among others nationwide seeing vacant storefronts on the rise? Some are empty shells possibly facing demolition, while others seem to be in the process of reinventing their roles in real-life brick-and-mortar.
Matt Benoit
Community Voices

Reflecting on International Women’s Day

March 25, 2022
Much change has happened since 1910 when the idea of an International Women’s Day was proposed by Clara Zetkin at the International Conference of Working Women. A lot still needs to change, notes a Community Voices contributor.
Terri Thayer
Housing

Affordable housing—however defined—is in short supply in Skagit County

March 24, 2022
Everyone’s versions of “affordable” housing are in high demand—and short supply—in steadily growing Skagit County.
Lauren Gallup
Culture

Farmer-artist counters food, fuel uncertainty — through permaculture

March 23, 2022
The past two years since the outbreak of COVID-19 have been turbulent and uncertain times for many. As fuel and food prices rise, the drive to become more self-reliant is also on the increase. A Whatcom farmer and glass artist suggests the path to that is permaculture.
Chris O’Neill
Agriculture

Seed swaps strengthen community — and improve produce

March 18, 2022
Gardening strengthens community ties, along with providing people with access to nutritious, homegrown food. Recently, more and more local gardeners are gravitating to seed swapping to enable access to the best plants for the particular microclimates of this region, yielding the tastiest produce.
Sarah Reeves
Journalism

Local journalism is key for healthy communities: forum

March 18, 2022
Local journalism is not optional, but essential, for healthy communities and democracy, asserted speakers in the “Trust 2022” online forum March 17 sponsored by Salish Current and Village Books. Two nationally respected journalists and Washington’s attorney general spoke to how local news coverage can help rebuild trust in democratic institutions.
Clifford Heberden
Housing

Risk of homelessness high for many in the San Juan Islands

March 18, 2022
Unhoused individuals and families live in every county in Washington. In San Juan County, the problem is compounded by low-paying jobs in the service industry — among the lowest wages in the state — as well as the high cost of housing and a shortage of affordable rentals.
Nancy DeVaux
Governance

Age scrutiny aside, state’s youngest senator looks after business in the 42nd

March 12, 2022
It was an abrupt and unplanned career start for Simon Sefzik when he was selected in January to fill the vacant state Senate position for the 42nd District. Now, at the end of the legislative session, he looks back at what made it work, and what’s next.
Clifford Heberden
Public Health

Masks off, vaxxed, ready to go out … what’s next with COVID-19?

March 11, 2022
Washington residents won’t be required to wear masks inside many public areas starting March 12. But experts advise not to throw out those masks yet and caution that vulnerable groups are still at high risk of infection from COVID-19.
Kenneth Duncan
Agriculture

Food security requires connection to land, to each other

March 10, 2022
Feeding communities is particularly challenging now, in the face of systemic upheaval, climate change and uncertainty. San Juan islanders making key connections to build resilience for future food security met recently in an ag summit.
Sarah Reeves
Journalism

Local news and democracy forum dedicated to journalist Floyd McKay

March 10, 2022
The online forum “Trust 2022: Why Independent Local News is Important to a Strong Democracy” to be held on March 17 will be dedicated to the memory of journalist and educator Floyd McKay, who died in Bellingham on March 4.
Mike Sato
Natural Resources

Holding the line on phosphorus in Lake Whatcom

March 4, 2022
Popular as a residential and recreational site, Lake Whatcom is also the source of drinking water for many county residents. Following its listing in 1998 as polluted with increasing levels of phosphorus, the lake is the focus of efforts to meet targets to bring down those levels.
Mallory Biggar
Education

Confrontations, demands for parents’ rights challenge local school boards

March 4, 2022
Impassioned conversations are occurring nationwide as sometimes large groups of parents show up at once sparsely attended school board meetings — including in Whatcom County — with local issues including COVID-19 mask mandates, critical race theory and sexual health education.
Matt Benoit
Governance

Broadband’s coming but cost, quality still in question

March 4, 2022
Two years of pandemic isolation not only revealed how important internet connectivity is in today’s world but also exposed the stark divide between those with service and those without. Now, the task of providing reliable, low-cost internet service continues.
Chris O’Neill
Natural Resources

‘Most special place’ for salmon, native culture gains protection with San Juan land bank purchase

February 25, 2022
A pristine site along the southeastern shore of Lopez Island with deep history for Coast Salish peoples has gained protection from development with approval of its purchase by the San Juan County Land Bank.
Gretchen K. Wing
Agriculture, Natural Resources

Streamside shade: fish and farm advocates struggle to find common ground

February 24, 2022
Salmon recovery is a priority for many in Washington who see vegetated streamside buffers as important to salmon-friendly habitat. But some in the state’s agricultural community see the threat of loss of productive farmland from proposals such as the Lorraine Loomis Act discussed earlier in this year’s legislative session.
Lauren Gallup

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photo: Amy Nelson © 2022
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