Cheers: To those who help. A confluence of crises has led to a reevaluation of which workers are essential in our society. The coronavirus pandemic, a shutdown of businesses and schools, violent unrest in many cities and, now, raging wildfires have brought a new appreciation for those who make a living by making our world more livable.
Health care workers have been on the front lines since COVID-19 arrived in March, putting their own health at risk to tend to others. Workers in service industries have done the same. Teachers have had to learn entirely new methods for keeping students engaged. Police have faced danger to protect cities and peaceful protesters amid others who are intent on violence. And, as smoke from fires fills our skies, we are grateful for those who are protecting structures and lives. Cheers are warranted for all who risk their own safety to protect ours.
Jeers: To a risky gathering. Thousands of people attended a Let Us Worship event last week at Vancouver Waterfront Park. Most attendees eschewed masks and gathered close together as part of a national tour by a California-based Christian singer and pastor.
The desire to worship is understandable, but the gathering endangered the health of our community during a pandemic. “Anytime we gather with others, there is a risk for virus transmission,” Marissa Armstrong of Clark County Public Health told The Columbian. “That risk increases with the size of the gathering, and when those who are gathering do not wear face coverings and do not maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others.”
Cheers: To the Vancouver Public Schools Board of Directors. Members unanimously voted this week to retire the Chieftain nickname and mascot at Columbia River High School and Minnehaha Elementary School. Native Americans — and others — should be recognized as members or our community, not mascots or symbols. In addition, the Columbia River logo long has depicted a Plains Indian that has no indigenous connection to the Northwest.
As board member Kathy Decker said: “As a River parent, I recognize the deep sense of pride that is prevalent at River. A River experience is truly an amazing one. This will not change because of a mascot.”
Jeers: To river pollution. Crumbs of black rubber are polluting miles of the Puyallup River after a spill at a dam project in July. The pollution, The Seattle Times reported, resulted from the unpermitted use of thousands of yards of artificial turf by the owners of the Electron Hydropower Project as they reconstructed parts of the dam. The river ripped apart the artificial turf, sending rubber pellets downstream.
Company officials waited a week to inform regulators of the spill, and a stop-work order was then issued. But much damage already resulted from simple foolishness.
Cheers: To a new orca. Puget Sound’s Southern Resident orca pod has welcomed a new member, as Tahlequah (or J35) has given birth to a calf. Tahlequah received international attention two years ago when she carried a dead calf through the water for 17 days. Researchers say the new calf appears healthy and “robust.”
Southern Resident orcas have seen declining numbers in recent years. Experts attribute their struggles to depleted salmon populations, which the whales depend upon for food, along with increased noise and pollution. An estimated 70 percent of pregnancies within the pod end in miscarriage or a calf that dies shortly after birth, making the new arrival a cause for cheers.