Say 'hi-diddly-ho' to Portland's newly named bridge
Pandemic taking a toll on school staff
Officials in the Washougal School District leaders say they realize the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll not just on students and families, but also on their own teachers and staff.
“There has been a lot of stress for everybody, me included,” Washougal schools superintendent Mary Templeton said during the Washougal School Board’s Aug. 24 meeting. “Our teachers and staff and adults in our system have been under a tremendous amount of strain and stress and pressure in the last year and a half. This has not been an easy task.”
The district hopes to address those concerns through its new workforce secondary traumatic stress policy, which the board adopted during the Aug. 24 meeting.
The policy defines secondary traumatic stress, also known as compassion fatigue, as a “natural but disruptive set of symptoms that may result when one person learns firsthand of the traumatic experiences of another.”
Symptoms of secondary traumatic stress may include feelings of isolation, anxiety, dissociation, physical ailments and sleep disturbances, according to the policy, which also states that those affected by secondary traumatic stress may experience changes in memory and perception, alterations in their sense of self-efficacy, a depletion of personal resources, and disruption in their perceptions of safety, trust, and independence.
“I think the term ‘compassion fatigue’ reflects what teachers do on an everyday basis that goes far beyond reading, writ24 meeting. “That’s a lot of tension and stress that they help to absorb and deflect for those kids. I really appreciate them.”
Board member Angela Hancock said that she’s “so happy” that the district is addressing the mental wellness of its adults.
“A lot of people know that kids go through stress, and we are always focusing on the kids, and we are not focusing on the adults that are teaching the kids,” she said. “The daily things that (teachers) see and hear take an emotional toll on (them).”
‘To support students, we need to be healthy and be our best selves’
“This puts policy and procedure in place for something we believe, which is that in order for us to support our students, we need to be healthy and be our best selves,” the school district’s assistant superintendent, Aaron Hansen, said. “In order to be your best self, you need to be healthy. This commitment to staff wellness just reinforces (our belief) that our staff plays such a vital role in supporting our students.”
The district’s staff wellness committee will expand its work to incorporate mental health by sharing stress management resources available through Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Educational Service District 112, and the Washington State Health Care Authority’s School Employees’ Benefits Board; sharing links to secondary traumatic stress self-assessment tools; and reporting to the school board at least once per year with a summary of its activities.
“Individuals are coping with what they’re dealing with, and they’re doing it in their own way,” said Hansen, who is leading the committee with Jerolyn Friesen, a support coach for the district.
Hansen said the district will try to assess what individual staff members need and find resources for “staff when they are experiencing trauma, whether it’s secondary trauma as the result of supporting their students or their own trauma.
The district is partnering with the Health Care Authority and Kaiser Permanente, which will provide resources for individuals, Hansen added.
“But maybe that doesn’t work for some individuals, so (we want to find) other options. We really want to see what’s available to help us provide support to our staff,” he said.
The wellness committee sent surveys to teachers and staff members twice during the 2020-21 school year to inquire about their mental health.
Hansen said the surveys revealed a “wide range of responses,” but one of the main themes that emerged was that “there’s a reliance on their colleagues, and that their support is very helpful.”
“I think that’s what’s unique about being in Washougal,” Friesen said. “Because Washougal is such a tight-knit community … this community is not going to let a person who doesn’t speak up flounder. They’re going to say, ‘Hey, I see this. How can we help?’ That’s unique to Washougal, both within the school system and in the community at large.”
The policy states that when secondary traumatic stress is left unaddressed, “it may lead to staff turnover, burnout, adult chronic absenteeism and health issues that negatively impact everyone in the school community.”
“That’s where the one-on-one conversations with an administrator or person in the building that you trust come in,” Friesen said. “As a district, we can put scaffolds in place or support our buildings, but really the heart of this comes when you can sit down with a person, either via Zoom or face-to-face, and say, ‘Hey, how are you doing? How can I help you? What do you need?’ Even if that’s a (school) thing or a personal thing or a mixture of both, we try to assess what we have the capacity to do, and (figure out) how we can help them find the right resource or give them the space to figure it out.”
‘Wild, Wild Christian’: Camas native brings coming-of-age comedy to Portland’s Siren Theater
For fans of the Netflix documentary, “Wild, Wild Country,” who have always wondered what happened to the 64,000-acre central Oregon ranch that acted as a home base for the Rajneeshees’ cult — yes, the ones who tried to poison residents of The Dalles, Oregon, by spiking local salad bars with salmonella — Camas native Simone McAlonen has got a story for you.
“I had been doing comedy for about five years, living in L.A. and was super involved with the Groundlings Theater, so doing a lot of acting, writing, standup and storytelling when ‘Wild, Wild Country’ came out,” McAlonen said.
The documentary reminded McAlonen, a 2005 Camas High graduate, of a strange chapter in her life: the time her father got a job running a Christian youth summer camp in central Oregon and moved the whole family to the property during McAlonen’s middle school years. The story wouldn’t have been so strange if not for the fact that the Christian summer camp was located on the former Rajneeshpuram, where cult members had once plotted murderous deeds.
McAlonen, who had been keeping a diary since the age of 6, knew she needed to re-read her middle school diaries and see what her 12-year-old self had to say about this chapter of her life.
“I’d expected to read the diary entries and write a play,” she said.
Instead, she realized she’d already struck comedic gold.
“I realized I couldn’t write something better than my 12-year-old self,” McAlonen said.
She took pieces of her diary entries and did a reading at a small cabaret theater in Los Angeles. The show sold out both nights.
“People were really interested because of the documentary,” McAlonen said. “So I approached this director whose work I loved, Kevin Comartin, and he agreed to develop a show together.”
The result is “Wild, Wild Christian,” a show described as “a hilarious and true coming-of-age story about puberty, spiritual evolution and sexual frustration … all while living in a Christian summer camp (awkward!).”
A natural comedian even at the age of 12, McAlonen’s diary entries are fraught with tween drama — like the time she and some other Christian youth decided to go over to what a young McAlonen described as a “haunted house full of bats” once occupied by the alleged mastermind behind the Rajneeshees’ bioterror attack, Ma Anand Sheela, “to pray for her house so that God will get rid of the bad spirits” — crushes on teen boys attending the Young Life summer camp, and a gradual questioning of her religious upbringing.
“The general arc of the show is a girl in middle school who is raised in this very religious community starts to have those middle school hormones and starts questioning the world and her community, and has a spiritual crisis,” McAlonen said. “And there are tons of unrequited love stories.”
McAlonen said reading her diary entries and putting together her “Wild, Wild Christian” show helped her realize the good and bad of those summers.
“For me, living on the property was so fun and so innocent,” McAlonen said. “I met a lot of really good-hearted people there. But, at the same time, there are a lot of things in Christian culture that I think are problematic and harmful … I remember thinking as a child who was readily accepting whatever was being told to her, ‘Bad people used to live here, but we’re good people and we live here now’ when, in reality, it was a lot more nuanced than that.”
As an adult, McAlonen said she can see how similar some of the thinking was “despite the dramatic transformation” from the Rajneeshees’ cult compound to the Young Life Christian youth summer camp. In fact, “Wild, Wild Christian” bills itself as a story that will explore the “similarities from one dogmatic community to another” and McAlonen, who describes herself as “more spiritual than religious at this point,” says she believes in the merits of questioning what you’re told and hopes her show “encourages people to question the status quo.”
McAlonen performed “Wild, Wild Christian” at The Dynasty Typewriter Theatre in Los Angeles and had always planned to take it on the road … and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Wanting to be closer to her mom, dad and brother, and curious what it would be like to live in a smaller city after a decade in L.A., McAlonen moved back to the Pacific Northwest in 2020, and now lives in Portland.
This weekend, she will finally have the chance to perform her show for her “hometown” audience, with a three-weekend run at Portland’s Siren Theater.
She also is excited to show her work so close to Camas, the town she called home from the age of 3 through college. As a Camas High student, McAlonen was heavily involved in the school’s drama program and was student body president during her senior year in 2004-05.
“Since I began writing this show, I knew I wanted to bring it home,” McAlonen said. “It does feel more vulnerable, being closer to where I was when I was experiencing these things … but doing this show close to my hometown is incredibly meaningful to me … and my family has been really supportive.”
“Wild, Wild Christian” opens this weekend, at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, and shows at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Sept. 10-11, 17-18 and 24-25, at the Siren Theater, 315 N.W. Davis St., Portland. Tickets cost $10 to $15, and are available for purchase online at wildwildchristian.com and sirentheater.com. All guests at the Siren Theater must show proof of vaccination to enter the building and must wear masks while inside. For more information about McAlonen’s “Wild, Wild Christian” show, visit wildwildchristian.com.
C-W fire department consultants looking for ‘sustainable, equitable’ solutions to financing woes
Consultants hired by the city of Camas in May to review the 9-year-old merger of Camas’ and Washougal’s fire departments say they hope to present an analysis of the Camas-Washougal Fire Department as well as “sustainable and equitable” alternatives to officials by the end of the year.
The Tualatin, Oregon-based Merina + CO will meet with stakeholders, conduct a facilitated analysis of the decade-long partnership between the cities’ fire departments that formed the existing Camas-Washougal Fire Department in December 2013, and develop recommendations for the future of fire and emergency medical services in the Camas-Washougal area. The Camas City Council unanimously approved the $94,770 contract with Merina + CO on May 17.
Rob Moody and Courtney Seto, with Merina + CO, updated Camas City Council members on their team’s progress during the Council’s work session on Tuesday, Sept. 7.
City leaders in Camas and Washougal have said they hope the consultants will be able to come up with a solution that allows the fire department to meet the community’s growth and increased needs without putting the bulk of the financial strain on any one jurisdiction.
“The cost-sharing formula that forms the basis of the CWFD merger has created friction in the partnership, and has, at times, threatened the continuance of it,” CWFD Fire Chief Nick Swinhart told city councilors in May. “Both cities have expressed frustration at their inability to fund the necessary growth of the fire department.”
“We believe the agreement has been very good for both cities,” the fire chief added, “but there have been some bumps in the road, particularly when it comes to the cost-sharing formula being equitable. There are concerns on both sides, in both cities.”
Under the 10-year agreement that merged the two fire departments in 2013, Camas agreed to be the main funding agency, paying about 60 percent of the department’s costs, while Washougal would pay 40 percent of the costs.
Officials in both cities began to question the merger in 2018, after Camas city councilors agreed to add four new firefighter positions into the city’s 2019-20 budget. Though most Washougal councilors agreed the fire department was short-staffed and the positions were needed, Washougal officials said their city just could not afford to pay for 40 percent of the new hires. The issue came up again in 2020, after Camas leaders again said they were considering adding another four firefighters to the roster in the 2021-22 budget.
Washougal City Manager David Scott told the Post-Record in 2020 that Washougal city councilors “have generally acknowledged the need for enhanced staffing” at CWFD but are having trouble finding revenue to cover Washougal’s share of the new hires.
“Our issue currently is an inability to pay for staffing levels beyond the staffing profile identified in the (interlocal agreement), not an unwillingness,” Scott said in 2020, adding that Washougal would likely need to go to its voters to find “sustainable, long-term revenue” in order to pay for more firefighters.
On Tuesday, Moody told Camas council members his team would evaluate the department’s current situation as well as proposed alternatives using criteria that looked at making the department more equitable and sustainable.
“We believe they have to be balanced,” Moody said. “One does not outweigh the other. If it’s sustainable, but not deemed fair, well, it’s still not fair. If it’s equitable, but only lasts a year or two, that doesn’t solve our problem either.”
The solution also needs to be supported by both cities’ leaders, administrators and staff members working for the fire department and the communities in Camas and Washougal, Moody said, and needs to have a clear organizational structure to “provide consistent policy and direction and oversight to fire department) administration.”
Under the current interlocal agreement that merged the two fire departments in 2013, Moody said, there is some “tension in the organization,” due to the fact that both cities are involved in some of the decision-making for the department, and that the current fire chief, Nick Swinhart, has to answer to both cities’ officials, managers and administrators.
“We want to get back to a clear definition of what everyone’s roles and responsibilities are,” Moody said.
The consultants are planning to send surveys to city officials in Camas and Washougal within the next few weeks to better understand city leaders’ priorities for future fire and emergency medical services in Camas-Washougal, and hold a joint Camas-Washougal work session later this fall “to build consensus … and have a clear picture of what is important to each city and community as a whole,” Moody said.
Ellen Burton, Camas’ interim mayor, said she felt the Merina + CO consultants had provided “a solid base” to move forward on making some decisions about the future of the fire department.
Camas City Councilman Don Chaney, a former Camas police chief, said the Merina + CO presentation had given him hope and confidence that the cities would be able to find a solution.
“Sometimes we get criticized for using consultants. For me, this is a perfect example of why we do,” he said.
Chaney also said he is looking forward to seeing how the consultants will incorporate the fire master plan into their assessment and recommendations. The fire master plan is a December 2019 report that offered solutions to several critical issues facing the Camas-Washougal Fire Department, including “excessively lean” staffing levels, “facilities that are in need of upgrade or replacement,” an average response time that is more than double the industry standard.
Washougal officials respond to consultant report
Merina + CO consultants Jordan Henderson and Courtney Seto presented the results of their initial conversations regarding the Camas-Washougal Fire Department’s interlocal agreement to Washougal officials during an Aug. 23 Washougal City Council workshop.
Henderson told Washougal officials the fire department has been plagued by “communication challenges” and said leaders of both cities have expressed concerns about the long-term financial sustainability of the department.
“There’s increasing operational costs and questions around how much of those are necessary to deliver services, going back to that ‘wants versus needs,'” he said.
Washougal City Manager David Scott said he is “pleased with (Merina’s) work so far” and that “they are following the process that they proposed to us and tracking well on that.”
“I think it is important to note that the first theme (Henderson) mentioned is that he consistently heard that all parties consider this to be a valuable partnership,” Scott said. “This provides a strong foundation for our work together on finding the best path forward for the future of the program. Our fire and EMS program is a vital component of the overall service portfolio the two communities provide. It is necessary for us to work through the issues (that were brought up by the consultants) so that whatever option is pursued for the future of the program will be successful.”
Scott added that the program “is one of the most complex issues” that he’s encountered during his career due because of the two cities’ differing growth scenarios, funding capabilities, and service level perceptions; the multiple perspectives of two councils, city and department administrative leadership members, and department team members; leadership turnover, partly caused by election results; and multiple governance and delivery models that can be deployed to provide the services.
“Notwithstanding these complexities, I believe both councils are committed in this process to a thorough evaluation of the options for the future of this program and ultimately reaching agreement on and pursuing implementation of the best option,” Scott said.
Council member David Stuebe questioned the consultant’s proposed timeline, saying that he wants to “make sure that we’re not missing something and taking too much time to get to the solution.”
“We shouldn’t be in a vacuum where we have a session and Camas has a session,” Stuebe said. “This is a joint effort that we’re trying to bring together as a community. All of the players need to be in the same room, and (the conversations would) be more efficient. I think we can save a lot of time instead of going back and forth (consultants serving as) middlemen. We need to come up with a solution.
“All of your little bullet points are all great. Those are all issues that we need to deal with. But we need to find out what’s working, what we need to fix, how to save money and how to be more efficient with time. … I still think if you bring everybody in that same room, we can get those answers way more efficiently and start making decisions on this.”
Washougal Mayor Molly Coston said that finding a solution to the city’s fire and EMS funding is the “No. 1 challenge that we have to face.”
“I am so appreciative of the work (Merina + CO) is doing, and I think they’re absolutely on the right track, trying to have that higher perspective and get input from everyone,” she said. “I’m excited to see as this goes on some of the options (they come up with) to make it sustainable. As we know, public safety is probably our No. 1 priority.”
Council member Paul Greenlee, however, told his colleagues they should refrain from viewing fire and EMS funding as a “be-all and end-all.”
“Fire and EMS service is a department within a much larger organization,” Greenlee said. “Too often we talk about fire and EMS in isolation. It isn’t, especially when we talk about funding. Fire and EMS cannot be considered in isolation. For the city and its people, fire is a tradeoff in a very real sense. Revenues that are spent on fire and EMS are taken away from police, from streets, from parks, from planning, and all of the other things that the city does.”
“Some appear to think that fire and EMS are the be-all and end-all for our city, and that’s false. That’s a lie,” Greenlee added. “We cannot allow fire and EMS to become a revenue black hole. We have to consider the much larger budget anytime we’re talking about the resources that might or might not be available for fire and EMS.”
Art in the heart of Camas
The buildings, people, flora and fauna of Camas’ historic downtown provided ample muses for the artists who took part in the 2021 Plein Air Art Event, hosted by the Camas Gallery, on Friday, Sept. 3.
Each year, the event attracts artists from around the Portland-Vancouver metro area, who set up easels and paint outdoors, “en plein air,” on the sidewalks of historic downtown Camas. The event traditionally precedes the Downtown Camas Association’s art-themed September First Friday.
This year’s “Plein Air” art event in Camas drew several newcomers.
West Linn, Oregon artist Peter X O’Brien said this was his first year painting at the Plein Air event.
Having nabbed a prime spot across from Natalia’s Cafe on Northeast Fourth Avenue, O’Brien portrayed diners chatting at an outdoor cafe table, partially shaded by a nearby tree and the red Natalia’s patio umbrellas.
A former NFL placekicker who now participates in juried art shows throughout the Pacific Northwest and teaches art classes out of his Lake Oswego, Oregon, studio, O’Brien arrived to the day of plein-air painting in his mobile studio van with his 90-year-old father in tow, and the two made a day of it in downtown Camas.
“This is my first time here, and I love it. It’s an awesome town,” O’Brien said of Camas.
The art teacher also urged one of his students, Claudia Arvidson, of Portland, to take part in the Plein Air event.
Arvidson placed her easel in a shaded, lowkey spot across from the Juxtaposition home furnishings store, just a few yards west of where O’Brien was painting, and concentrated on perfecting a downtown Camas tree and a visiting squirrel.
Across Northeast Fourth Avenue, near the Camas Hotel, another artist new to the Plein Air event worked on a tiny, intricately detailed painting featuring a Camas flower basket.
Artist Beth Norwood may have been new to the Plein Air event, but she is familiar with downtown Camas, having shown her eco-friendly oil paintings, which are made using 100-percent chemical-free M Graham & Co. oil paints and contain no additives, solvents or turpentine, at the Camas Gallery.
“This is my first time (at the Plein Air event),” Norwood said. “It’s a great day for it.”
To learn more about the Plein Air event, visit downtowncamas.com/event/plein-air-art-event. To find more of O’Brien’s or Norwood’s artwork, visit peterxobrien.com and thenorwoodstudio.com.
Washougal High runners win Portland to Coast Challenge
The Washougal High School cross country team won a major race two weeks before the start of its 2021 season.
“Shougalicious,” a group of 12 Washougal High runners, took first place at the 2021 Portland to Coast Challenge Relay Run, held Aug. 28-29 in Oregon.
“They were really happy,” Panthers coach Tracey Stinchfield said. “They had a good time. It was really fun when those results came in. I was very excited, and I actually was a little bit surprised because I know these kinds of events can have different challenges. It’s a great way for them to start off the season, coming in feeling so powerful and excited.”
The Portland to Coast Challenge, part of the Providence Hood and Portland to Coast Relay, the largest running and walking relay race in the world, tasks 12-member teams to run 130 miles from Portland to the Oregon coast.
“Each (member of the relay team) runs somewhere between six and 12 miles, divided into two different runs,” Stinchfield said. “They have a baton that they pass from runner to runner, and they have to get it from Portland to Seaside. One runner starts and everybody else jumps in a van and they drive out to the next spot and wait there and drop off the next runner and pick up the runner who just finished and drive out to the next stop. They’re never waiting for very long, and that way they can cheer on the runner along the way a little bit.”
“Shougalicious,” consisting of six boys and six girls, began the race in Portland at 5 p.m. Aug. 28, and finished the next morning, on Aug. 29, in Seaside on the Oregon coast, crossing the finish line in 15 hours, 51 minutes and 18.3 seconds.
“They ran straight through the night and never stopped, they were running so hard,” Stinchfield said. “For a lot of them, it’s the first time they got to run in the middle of the night. Some of the girls said it was a little bit scary, but it made them run a little bit faster. For most of the kids, the toughest challenge was figuring out how to keep track of their nutrition, make sure they were eating well before and in between the runs, and running when they were tired. But the adrenaline picked up for most of them once they got going.”
Washougal High runners have competed in the event for “many years, at least 10,” according to Stinchfield. They’re not officially affiliated with the school, instead sponsored by Washougal’s Discovery Dental, which is owned and operated by Tom Stinchfield and Dave Stinchfield, Tracey Stinchfield’s husband and brother-in-law.
“(The Portland to Coast Challenge has) become kind of a tradition, and the kids love it,” Tracey Stinchfield said. “They definitely enjoy the time spent cheering each other on from the van and that sense of team. It’s unique for them to not all be running a race at the same time. They’re running one at a time, so they get to cheer each other on, which is very different.”
The victory was, in their minds, an added — but not completely unexpected — bonus, she added.
“They were optimistic that they could win,” Tracey Stinchfield said. “Washougal generally does well and places in the top five, but they had never won before, so these kids said, ‘We’re going to win it this time,’ and they were right on.”
Washougal’s 54-40 Brewing expands
Food-and-drink pairings don’t get much better than pizza and beer. Bolt Minister has carved a long, productive career out of his ability to brew the former. Now he’s learning how to bake the latter.
Minister’s 54-40 Brewing Company opened a location in downtown Stevenson on Wednesday, Sept. 8, featuring New York-style pies similar to those made by the facility’s former occupant, Andrew’s Pizza.
“I’ve been making beer for a long time, so it’s really refreshing to learn a different side of yeast — baking it is totally different,” Minister said. “(The owner of Andrew’s Pizza) actually trained me to make dough and make pizza, and I’m going to get my feet wet, to say the least, in the day-to-day operation for quite a while. I’m so excited to learn a new trade. I’ve always been a New York pizza guy, so this opportunity was fantastic to actually be able to dive in.”
Andrew’s Pizza owner Derek Ostergard announced in an Aug. 10 Facebook post that he sold his facility to Minister and his wife, Amy Minister.
“I have decided to retire, (but) great news — new owners anticipate opening in a couple weeks,” Ostergard wrote. “54-40 Brewing will be contributing great things to our awesome Skamania County.”
The Ministers opened 54-40 Brewing’s first location in the Port of Camas-Washougal’s industrial park in Washougal in 2015. They started talking about opening a taproom in another city earlier this year, enticed by the prospects of growing their brand and ensuring the quality of their beer.
“When we use distributors to sell our beer, once it leaves here, we really don’t have a lot of control over it,” Bolt Minister said. “Also, we lose a lot of margin on it. It’s a better decision to pour beers over your own taps than sell it wholesale to somebody and lose a little bit of control over the product. We were looking for another location so we can pour more beer and also grow the business by being part of another community. This checks both of those boxes for us. It’s so close but it’s also so far away from Washougal that we can share a demographic that we know is needed over there.”
The Ministers looked at a Portland location, but decided instead to expand into another small community. They became sold on Stevenson once they received a call from Ostergard, who Bolt Minister had gotten to know while working with Skamania County’s Walking Man Brewing.
“Ultimately, my wife and I decided that if we were going to make a jump, it was going to be to another community that was more rural,” Bolt Minister said. “We wanted something that was a little more community-oriented, like Washougal is, and maybe a little underserved. Washougal-to-Stevenson was kind of a no-brainer.
“People understand beer out there,” he said. “There’s a ton of proper Gorge traffic that streams through there. (Our location is) right on the main drag, and we will be able to service a lot of folks if they’re going in and out of the Gorge on hikes or what have you. We couldn’t turn this offer down. It’s fantastic.”
The “54-40 Beer Lodge,” located at 310 S.W. Second St., Stevenson, features the 54-40 brews, New York-style pizza, sandwiches and other items. The Ministers are hoping to retain the entire Andrew’s Pizza staff and hire several more employees.
“We’re incorporating a lot of the stuff that you’d already see in our main tap room in Washougal,” Bolt Minister said. “We want to make it (resemble) somebody’s living room. We want to make it something where somebody can sit down and stay for a meal and have pints with their family and friends. It’s very much the same aesthetic.”
“It’s … a slightly different menu, and obviously the clientele is going to be a little bit different from what we have in Washougal because we’re going to get a lot of different passers-by,” he added. “But we hope to capture a lot of the folks in Stevenson and build a really welcoming community space for them.”
54-40 Brewing is thriving, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to opening their Sevenson location, the Ministers are adding a full kitchen and expanding their space at the Washougal-based 54-40 Brewing
“It’s the community support that brings you through these hard times, so seeing what Washougal did made us think about where that next jump would be,” Bolt Minister said. “If and when that next hardship happens, you need the community support behind you, and that’s going to happen in rural communities and maybe far less in bigger metropolitan areas. What got us through was definitely Washougal being ‘Shoug Strong’ and going all in to help small businesses. Knowing that, and knowing that in the future something might happen again, we wanted to find another community that could be as supportive as Washougal.”
You can help stop climate chaos
There is no serious doubt or debate: anthropogenic (human-effected) activities are driving more hurricanes than ever, more intense killer heat waves than ever in recorded meteorological history, more rising seas, more forest fires, more flooding and more salt water encroachment into formerly pristine, potable groundwater along coastlines.
The debate that annoys me most, to be frank, is the “It doesn’t matter what I do, since the huge consumers of fossil fuel are what matters,” or “My personal sacrifices, like taking cold showers and sweltering without air conditioning, are so unimportant and so miserable that just forget it.”
Stop rationalizing poor logic and selfish behavior. Almost all of us can do far better with relatively little effort. Please scroll through these ideas and choose the ones easiest for you and “Just Do It.” Please. Your children, your grandchildren and future generations deserve our attention and effort now.
Low or no cost (several can pay you in savings):
1. Drive less. Bike, walk, or take mass transit more. Skateboard if you like. Unicycle. Jog. Hell, Parkour.
2. Choose any available clean electricity option from your utility.
3. Sign petitions that call for public policies that will help reduce carbon footprints.
4. Use less electricity, especially if you cannot buy yours from cleanest sources. Buy efficient appliances. Turn off lights when you are not in the room. Replace bulbs with LEDs.
5. Grow a garden.
6. Eat organic. Petro-farming drives climate change. We can do this. The EU has.
7. Be a locavore, that is, eat much more from local sources or relatively close farms. Cut down on energy costs of shipping.
8. Avoid wasting food.
9. Compost instead of paying haulers to cart away your green waste.
10. Become a vegan, or at least a vegetarian, mostly vegan. Cow farts (methane) are actually a major climate wrecker.
11. Get reusable lightweight shopping bags and never use paper or plastic bags again.
12. Write or call your elected officials at all levels about pending policy matters.
13. Stop flying.
14. Car-share as much as feasible.
15. Support legislation that will start building the same sort of high speed trains that are common in Europe and Asia.
16. Buy much less from China or any far-off manufacturer.
17. Buy fewer things new; buy more used.
18. Repair stuff if feasible instead of replacing with new.
19. Vote for peace candidates who promise to vote to downsize the military. The U.S. military is the largest consumer of fossil fuel on Earth.
20. Join a campaign that employs civil resistance to nonviolently pressure for change.
21. Install solar photovoltaic panels or a wind charger to generate your own electricity.
22. Get an electric vehicle.
23. Get a stationary bike that generates electricity.
There. Wasn’t that a fun aspirational thought experiment? I will wager you thought of even more ways that you — you — can be a player in this Existential Game to Save the World. Future generations thank you.
Tom H. Hastings, Ph.D., is coordinator of conflict resolution bachelor degree programs and certificates at Portland State University, senior editor at PeaceVoice and, on occasion, an expert witness for the defense of civil resisters in court.
Clark County hospitals near capacity as delta surge fuels COVID-19 cases
Clark County reported that 100 percent of its ICU beds and 97 percent of its hospital beds were occupied this week as the delta variant continues to boost infection and hospitalization rates.
The new information, as of Tuesday, came as data from Clark County Public Health revealed a much higher recent death rate from the disease than previously reported.
Public Health added 43 new deaths to the county’s tally on Thursday, for a total of 349 deaths from COVID-19 to date. Public Health said 34 of those deaths occurred in August, five in July and four in prior months.
Public Health has previously said it generally took 10-12 days for a death to be added to the county’s total as county health officials reviewed medical records to learn more about the fatality, such as if they had an underlying condition. That process derailed as cases surged with the arrival of the highly contagious delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
“Due to the surge in COVID-19 cases and increase in local outbreaks, Public Health was unable to keep up with medical record reviews for COVID-19 deaths, which resulted in a delay in Public Health reporting some of these deaths,” the agency said on its website Thursday.
Public Health said it will now report all COVID-19 deaths referred to it by the Washington Department of Health, though it may no longer be able to report on underlying conditions.
The county reported 1,252 confirmed by molecular PCR testing, for a total of 30,977 to date, and 104 probable cases diagnosed by antigen testing, for a total of 2,834 to date.
Combined, the 1,356 new cases work out to an average of about 194 new cases a day, lower than last week’s average of about 229 cases per day but still the second-highest average to date.
The number of active cases still in isolation fell by 50 cases since Sept. 2, for a total of 1,511 as of Thursday.
The heightened disease activity pushed the county’s COVID-19 activity rate to 549.3 cases per 100,000 over 14 days, up from last week’s 523 per 100,000. The new rate set a record, but it reflected a smaller week-over-week increase than the county has been seeing since cases began to pick up in late July.
Hospitalizations continued to rise, with 15.4 new hospital admissions per 100,000 over a one-week period. As of Tuesday, there were 132 hospital beds occupied by confirmed COVID-19 patients and two more occupied by people suspected to have COVID-19, according to Public Health. They accounted for 27.1 percent of the county’s hospital beds.
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