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Thursday, January 21, 2021

“Drive-By Chalking”: The Sheep and Jackasses of Ferry County

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The commissioners wanted motor bikes on the trail, which follows an old railroad bed. Crusty Commissioner Michael Blankenship described as “sheep” and “jackasses” advocates of a walking, jogging, and pedaling trail.

Postcard from Italy: A Town of Music

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The couple is determined to make the best of the limitations imposed during the pandemic. With performance venues closed, they have turned to the medium of the internet.

Italian Diary: View from a Cold December

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Although there is a modest ant-vax movement in Italy, it doesn’t seem to feed itself on fantastical conspiracy theories about Bill Gates’ plans for world domination, 5G towers, and nefarious nanotechnologies. Since Italians appreciate their medical system, they trust their doctors to offer sound advice.

Letter from Italy: Another Lockdown — Mezza Mezza

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We are not homebound. We get all our daily needs met by the shops within our village. There is none of the toilet paper shelf-clearing that appears to be happening in the U.S. again. Deliveries happen every day; we have noticed no big change in the availability of goods and services.

British Columbia hit hard by Post-Thanksgiving COVID

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Students in British Columbia went back to school this fall. But now that the pandemic is spreading to this once-spared province, health offices and the education ministry are considering an option of starting the winter school break early in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The Robin Hood of Piedmont

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This morning Rome’s La repubblica reported that Alberto Cirio, the president of Italy's heavily industrialized province Piedmont, has introduced a bill to introduce a supertax on the proceeds of web-based businesses grossing more than €5.5 million a year in Italy and €750 million worldwide.

Taken for a Walk: The Mythologies of Car-free Communities

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The New York Times recently featured a development project in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area that claims it will be car-free. Its future 1000...

Election Lessons from Portland

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Portland, with 77 percent white population is one of the nation’s whitest cities, yet it will be majority-minority on the new city council. The city remains among the most liberal in terms of social policy, but the mayor’s victory plus this shift on the council may signal a police-reform agenda that would not be radical.

Letter from Italy: A Deflated Country Locks Down Again

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One friend in the Italian countryside represents the generation that feels like their formative years of socializing and dating are being stunted. He may put on smiling face but he is noticeably distraught.

A BC Snap Election Gives Government a Reinforced Majority

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The pandemic has been well managed, textbook-style. Even so, the pandemic has hit hard, notably cratering the province’s tourism industry from cruise ships to wine tourism in the south Okanagan.

Amazon in Italy: A Clash of Culture?

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People know that shopping locally helps their neighbors and their families. So shop they do, have friendly conversations, share latest news, and perhaps chat about an upcoming festival. Making purchases isn’t just a commercial transaction – an exchange of money for goods or services. Its about reaffirming your connections with other people.

Dazed And Displaced: Portland’s Reckoning

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We suffer, here in Portland, from the importance of being earnest. We have been defunding ourselves for years, not only in allocation of resources and poor policy and planning, but in believing that we were vision-keepers of a more humane, enduring, and green community.

Out-of-Doors In The High Country Of Eastern Oregon (and Contemplation of the Indoors)

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There are more cars parked at area trailheads than at any time in my memory. So lots of folks hiking and backpacking to what we call “the high lakes.”

Portland’s Unstoppable Protest: A Report From the Eye of the Storm

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During all this period, nearly all of the action was in a two square block area in front of the courthouses, meaning that 99.9% of the city was unaffected, despite what the world saw on TV.

Trump Country: Eastern Oregon’s Open Congressional Seat

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Congressman Greg Walden, a Republican who has held the sprawling seat since 1998, suddenly retired. Walden may have been feeling the pressures of a district that is leaning — at least in places like Bend, Hood River, the Dalles, and Ashland — more to the left.

Senior City: Port Townsend’s Boomer Invasion

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For decades, Seattle boomers have been tripping off to Port Townsend for weekends of beach walks, wooden boats, gift stores and good food.  Visitors...

BC: Isolating From The Pandemic Next Door

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A policy of self-isolation appears – or appeared – to have been working. British Columbia has experienced just over 3,500 cases of the coronavirus, and 193 deaths. Washington has witnessed 52,635 cases and 1,501 deaths. B.C. has a population of 5.1 million, compared to 7 million for her neighbor to the south.

Why Everyone’s Moving To Ellensburg

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The new state population estimates show Kittitas County growing 3.4 percent last year, and 7.6 percent over the last three years, both figures tops in the state.

Lessons from New Zealand: Interdependence, Race Relations and Coronavirus

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The last 40 years have not resolved all conflicts between pakeha (settlers) and Maori, nor has New Zealand brought about a utopian era. But there has been a full revolution in acknowledging the realities of an unjust historical record, and of committing to creating a more equal partnership in the future.

COVID Casualties: Another Northwest Institution Says Goodbye

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Experienced woodworkers might put it all together in a couple of weeks, but amateurs spend months, working weekends and calling Pygmy now and then for advice. And no doubt many of those kits remain boxed or partially constructed, stowed in the garage rafters.

When Port Townsend Needed A General Store

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Community-owned stores are more familiar in small Midwest towns, most of which sell groceries in what are sometimes called “food deserts,” rural areas that can’t support a supermarket. But mercantile stores are another matter.

After the Virus: Rome without Tourists

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I did not think it possible to go to Rome and not once hear English spoken. Yet, on a recent trip over several days,...

In a Small Eastern Oregon Town: A Demonstration of ‘Just Locals Fed Up’

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Opposition honks were a steady blaring of the horn, sometimes accompanied by a raised finger. Support honks outnumbered the other about 5 to 1.

Elsewhere: The Store-Fronted Home – Rediscovering an Old Idea

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In my career as an architect, urban planner and urban designer I spent decades talking about the merits of mixing uses together . But now I see this through a new lens.

Northeastern Oregon, Where Wearing Masks is a Signal

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The wearing and non-wearing of masks serves as a convenient statement in this rural county. Wearing one in town I definitely felt like I was signaling my tribal identity, which seems crazy, but there it is."

The Italian Model: How We’re Gathering Together As Lockdown Ends

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I have been taken by how everyone in the village seems to still be enjoying the public spaces. They are just doing this while being mindful of the safety of others. This attitude of collective responsibility is what we most noticed when we first arrived.

Extreme Distancing: A One-Man Island

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As the sole resident of Protection Island, the two-mile long bird refuge at the entrance to Discovery Bay, west of Port Townsend, Marty Bluewater has to be one of the best-distanced souls in Puget Sound country.

Italian Diary: From the other side of the Curve

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One can sense a collective sigh of relief that we may have beaten this awful thing.

Comparing British and American Pandemic Politics

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The British briefings on the pandemic come across as disciplined and professional with punctual timing, good clarity, reasonable brevity, and no impassioned hostility or displays of temperament. Certainly none of the speakers – even those suitably professionally qualified- would ever recommend to the public speculative but un-researched cures for the virus.

Elsewhere: Paris Cafe Culture Reinvents Itself at Home

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With people confined to their homes, unable to dine out, one result has been a boom in home cooking. Supermarkets are out of flour – baking is suddenly in.