Cascadia Magazine visual essay: The Uranium Files
Washington state is home to a toxic legacy. The Hanford nuclear site will remain radioactive for centuries, and the mutlibillion dollar cleanup has been plagued with problems. The Seattle Times reports recently how workers demolishing a plutonium facility were exposed to radioactive dust.
Dan Hawkins, a photographer who lives near Seattle, has been fascinated with poisonous abandoned sites for years. His photos of derelict factories, Superfund sites, and uranium mines contain a quiet, sterile beauty.
And Washington state’s former poet laureate, Kathleen Flenniken, who was once an engineer at Hanford, documented the deadly remnants of this nuclear past in her award-winning collection Plume (2012).
At Cascadia Magazine, we’ve invited the two artists to collaborate on a visual essay that captures the sinister beauty of these sites. Dan’s photos use an obsolete process that uses actual uranium in the development of the pictures, lending the images an otherworldly reddish tint. The two poems of Kathleen’s, from Plume, illuminate the silent threat that haunts the Columbia River and Richland, Washington.
We’re honored to publish this powerful collaboration, and you can see the results here.
British Columbia drug overdose deaths rise steeply
Travis Lupick at the Georgia Straight reports how officials in British Columbia don’t have the adjectives to describe the fact that 1,422 people died of drug overdoses in the province last year, nearly three times the rate of 2015, when a “crisis” was declared. The key takeaway: “Synthetic-opioid fentanyl was associated with 81 percent of deaths in 2017, up from 67 percent the previous year.”
Demanding reform on sexual harassment in WA legislature
The fallout from the #MeToo movement continues, as lawmakers in Olympia have called for reforms on how the Washington state legislature handles sexual harassment cases. At issue is the lack of a neutral, safe place to report misconduct, and an investigative process that’s free of political meddling. Meanwhile, the city of Seattle is investigating claims from a group called the Seattle Silence Breakers that harassment and misconduct are widespread throughout city departments.
Inside Amazon’s spheres
Paul Constant at the Seattle Review of Books was among the hordes of journalists and visitors recently allowed inside the gigantic terrarium spheres at Amazon headquarters in Seattle. It turns out to be pretty weird, with creepy narration that seems to follow you everywhere, plastic bananas, and the chipper cheerleading of global corporations: “When walking into the Understory at the base of the Spheres, visitors are greeted by enthusiastic young people in bright Amazon polo shirts. They scan tickets and usher people inside with the barely restrained zeal of Scientologists…”
Is climate extremism weird, or rational?
Seattle-based environmental journalist Eve Andrews, writing for Grist, wonders why we think people who go to great extremes to reduce their climate impact are weird. If you’re someone who doesn’t own a car or is part of the 3 percent of Americans who don’t eat meat, you’ll probably get a lot of odd comments. But an increasing number of folks are defying the hippie stereotype and embracing concepts like Zero Waste, Andrews reports.
A look at Portland in the bizarro world
What would Portland be like if certain decisions at crucial historical moments hadn’t been made, wonders Joe Streckert at the Portland Mercury. What if mayor Bud Clark hadn’t exposed himself to art? What if Abraham Lincoln hadn’t turned down an offer to be governor of Oregon? What if Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein hadn’t created Portlandia? Inquiring minds want to know…
“Good Looking Out,” basketball-inspired fiction by Richard Chiem
I urge you to put down whatever you’re doing and read Seattle writer Richard Chiem’s incredible story at Fanzine: “Good Looking Out.” It’s the story of a minor player in the NBA who struggles with past trauma and stumbles into various epiphanies inspired by those around him, including the one and only Allen Iverson. Highly recommended.
That’s all for today from Cascadia’s hills and vales bathed in an eerie blue-bloody-moon-light. –Andrew Engelson
Photo credit: nalaxone injection courtesy of the Province of Alberta CC BY-ND 2.0