As a believer in labor unions (I've belonged to three over a 50-year work history), I nevertheless take issue with a letter in the April 6 edition of CDN in which the writer castigates the editorial staff for printing an opinion column by Larry Stap of Lynden. Mr. Stap is a fifth-generation small farmer who owns Twinbrook Creamery. My family and I have often enjoyed Twinbrook dairy products, coming from pasture-fed Jersey cows. The non-homogenized milk and cream sold in returnable bottles is a happy throwback to what I remember from the 1950s.
I would not defend Mr. Stap's anti-union viewpoints, beyond observing the obvious; that a small family-owned and -operated farm and processing business would be a poor fit for unionization. But the same may not be true of the agri-businesses he makes reference to. Driving past Sakuma Bros. headquarters west of Burlington, one does not get the impression that Sakuma is a small family farm — though doubtless it was at one time. It is now affiliated with berry-processor Driscoll's of Watsonville, California — which also appears to be long past the small family farm phase. The same appears true of the Sumas farm which Mr. Stap refers to, which I understand is owned by another California-based agribusiness. The fact that these operations, along with Washington Bulb Co., have evolved into larger-scale businesses that require much hired labor is a tribute to the hard work and success of multiple generations. But as such, they are ripe for unionization.
After looking over Twinbrook Creamery's website, I'm convinced that Stap, though he might not like unions, does value the preservation of farmland and small farms — along with stewardship of the land and animals under his care, as exemplified in pastures maintained without chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and no use of hormones or GMO-laced feed additives. These are values that likely most readers of CDN would agree with. If Mr. Stap is personally not in favor of unions, that shouldn't ban him from being featured in an opinion column.
In the increasing urban-rural divide in Whatcom County — and elsewhere in the land — it seems as though personal viewpoints are becoming as homogenized as Kroger-brand milk. Rather than disparagement, the CDN editorial staff deserves praise for furthering diversity of opinions.
Local and regional journalism plays an indispensable role in any democracy by informing the electorate and holding public leaders accountable. When the announcement was made that Bellingham would become a two-newspaper town again to reinvigorate the public's trust in local journalism, some skeptics wondered, “What are they smoking anyway?” According to CareerCast “reporter” is the worst job of 2021; followed by logging worker.
A community without a strong central newspaper misses out on leadership and a sense of identity. Local news organizations can be the glue that helps maintain, even restore, connections too frequently lost in modern life.
Some skeptics, because Cascadia Daily News depends on advertising revenue and paid subscriptions, were opposed to CDN's entry into the local newspaper market because they seemingly believe that nonprofit, donor-supported media is the only trustworthy option. That said, I am glad that The Salish Current, a nonprofit online, ad-free newsroom serving San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom counties, reports and curates local news.
The Current publishes online every Friday. In their April 8 issue, they linked to seven CDN staff-generated articles. This cross-cooperation between publications is healthy for journalism, and for democracy. People who regularly consume local news exhibit stronger connections to their community, and participate more in civic life compared to those who do not typically read local news.
More so than broadcast media, it is print media that does much of society's heavy lifting in journalism — such as investigative reporting, enterprise journalism, local opinion pages and strong support for reader input. CDN's young staff is an encouraging sign to me.
It is not hyperbole to suggest that a journalist's role is to get as close to the truth as humanly possible. Without a vibrant, free press our great American experiment may fail. Because these young journalists at CDN are willing to provide the oxygen to breathe new life into local journalism, the community should support them.
Re: “Earmark gets Bellingham homeless facility over funding hurdle,” April 6.
It's seemingly rare positive news for the area's homeless community, which includes some who have been evicted while suffering mental health tribulations.
Also, to me, it's offensive that people who cannot afford an official residence are, by extension, too poor to be permitted to practice what's frequently platitudinously described as all citizens' right to vote in elections.
It’s as though some people, however precious, can tragically be consciously or subconsciously considered disposable. Even to an otherwise democratic and relatively civilized nation, their worth(lessness) is measured basically by their “productivity” or lack thereof. Then those people may begin perceiving themselves as worthless and accordingly live their daily lives more haphazardly.
Frank Sterle Jr.
White Rock, British Columbia
When I moved to Bellingham almost 20 years ago, The Bellingham Herald was an excellent local paper. It contained important articles about the work of our local governments, letters to the editor and a robust editorial page. Sadly, over the years the scope and quality of the Herald declined precipitously (true for many local papers nationwide).
I worried that Bellingham and Whatcom County would become a news desert with citizens disconnected from public life (e.g., local governments, school systems, health, environmental quality and business).
Fortunately, Salish Current, a weekly online publication started two years ago and last month yet another publication, Cascadia Daily News, began publishing online daily and on paper once a week.
Both news sources make me optimistic about local journalism. However, neither source provides the kind of in-depth, investigative reporting that Tim Johnson produced in the Cascadia Weekly, which ended publication in December 2021. I hope that Cascadia Daily News, the Weekly’s successor, will begin to research and write longer articles that give background and context for local activities. As examples, I’d like to know more about the Port’s plans for the former GP site, ways to reduce homelessness, actions to increase housing affordability, the status of local salmon recovery efforts, the likely effects of climate change on Whatcom agriculture and weather (winter floods, less snow, summer droughts, wildfire smoke) and what might happen at Cherry Point.
The recent flooding has affected everyone. The recently published article “22-year-old state senator announces election bid” discussed Simon Sefzik, but failed to mention an important aspect of his work: flood relief. Sen. Simon Sefzik is effectively helping our community to recover from natural disasters like flooding.
At the end of January, he introduced a bill that mitigates the damages of recent flooding. It also prepares Washington to successfully weather future natural disasters (pun intended). Senate Bill 5936 implements a grant program that provides financial assistance disasters for agriculture-related businesses to hasten recovery from natural disasters. Firstly, this bill blunts the blow of recent flooding for farmers, who make up a significant amount of Washington’s economy. Next, it better prepares Washington to respond to future disasters. Finally, it shows that Sen. Sefzik is willing to work for the benefit of our community. Instead of simply offering sympathies to people struggling to recover from natural disasters, he comes alongside them and offers to help.
From job losses to lost phones, we all know that the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Fortunately, Sen. Sefzik is working to help us recover resiliently through this bill and others.