Tuesday, February 10, 2009

North to Bellingham, and drinking with the Swedes

This week, I'll be heading to the Northern tip of Pugetopolis to read at Village Books in Bellingham. I'm pleased to get up there because Bellingham is one of those incredibly attractive places--college town, great history and older architecture, lively downtown, close to the Sound and mountains, proximate to the strange land of Canada--that has become, increasingly, a haven for Seattle-area refugees looking for a quality of life that has been slipping away in urban Seattle.That, in turn, is reshaping the city and its surroundings. In short, it's a ground zero of change and I'm looking forward to learning more about what's going on there. (My most recent visits have usually involved stopping for breakfast or to ransack bookstores going to or from Mt. Baker.) My reading is this Friday, Feb 13th (!) at 7pm.

My next Seattle reading will be at the Swedish Cultural Center on Friday, Feb. 20, which has a bar with one of the best views in Seattle. That's right, reading and drinking. There's been a lot of interest in that which may say something about my readership. More on this event later, but mark your calendar.

One note on a past event: Last Sunday (Feb.8) I moderated a panel on the future of media at the Bainbridge Island Library. The focus was, naturally, on local, Bainbridge and Kitsap County media, and the panel participants were Dennis Anstine, editor of the Bainbridge Review, David Nelson, editor of the Kitsap Sun, Althea Paulson, island blogger, Selina Shearer, news director of the island's cable TV program BNews, and Crosscut.com's media reporter Bill Richards. The highlight for me was the turnout. It's a good sign when a library parking lot is full on a Sunday. The room was packed and the audience Q&A alone lasted an hour and could have gone longer. People are incredibly concerned about where the news is going to come from in these times of big media change. Technology, the collapse of old advertising models, the recession, all are taking a huge toll on traditional newspapers and radio and TV as well. No one is immune. And it's not as if people were happy with the media's overall performance even in good times.

One of the answers is that citizens are, and are going to have to be, more involved in delivering, shaping, reporting, and sifting the news, one of the things technology has empowered them to do. It's good to see that people care so passionately about the future of the news media, and if there is one thing good to come out of the announcement that the newsprint version of the Seattle P-I will soon be history (unless a buyer is found shortly, an unlikely event), it's that it is galvanizing people to explore what's next. If ever a time necessity was the mother of invention, this is it.

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