Almost every Tuesday at 7 p.m., the Underground Coffeehouse is flooded with creatives and creative enthusiasts looking to catch a glimpse of up-and-coming talent in Western Washington University’s community. Open Mic Night features a wide range of acts, from musical performances to poetry readings and stand up acts. Regardless of one’s interests, the event has something for everybody.
On a warm Thursday night in October, runners pack the gravel parking lot of the Stimpson Family Nature Reserve, ready for a workout. Their post-run destination? Kulshan Brewery on Kentucky Street. BBay Running, a running and walking shoe store in downtown Bellingham, organizes group “pub runs” every Thursday, where a group of roughly 30 local residents takes off for a long run. Aftward, they head to a local Bellingham pub to celebrate their accomplishment and socialize.
With Bellingham's beloved music scene back in full swing, musicians and fans are looking for more ways to get involved. “I think it's more vibrant than ever,” said Patrick Roulete, department chair of the Western Washington University music department.
Western Washington University's Outback Farm has worked with the Xerces Society to officially become a bee campus, allowing the farm to protect and keep these endangered insects in the campus's backyard. “Becoming a bee-certified campus from the Xerces Society means that we are taking steps, collaboratively across campus to protect pollinators,” said Terri Kempton, firm manager of Outback Farm and teaching professor at Fairhaven College. “One is that we have an apiary, and we are giving students a chance to get involved with our most delicious animal partnership because we get to harvest their honey.”
Jodi Newcomer, Whatcom Hospice program manager, has dreamt of creating a “Before I Die” project for years. And thanks to a recent string of serendipitous events, along with the help of co-worker Amie Carr, Whatcom Hospice volunteer coordinator, Newcomer has been able to make her dream a reality. The seed that was planted at a conference in Chelan, Washington five years ago, with place cards asking attendees to fill in their bucket list items, has now blossomed into an interactive art mural in downtown Bellingham.
Western sees largest freshman class in school history; first generation, transfer numbers still dwindleBy Liz McLane | October 14
Data released last week revealed that the incoming class of first-year students at Western Washington University is indeed the largest cohort the school has seen in its 129-year history. The Office of Institutional Effectiveness, which provides yearly student demographic and enrollment data, reported that the new freshman class is composed of a total of 3,225 students, which exceeds pre-pandemic numbers. That’s up 3.5% since the fall of 2019, when the last set of enrollment data before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was released. This jump in enrollment comes after two years of decline at Western, following a trend that public four-year schools across the country saw during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last month, Ferndale saw the opening of its first Asian grocery store, Ferndale Asian Grocer. The same month, Bellingham welcomed two new Asian-inspired cafes - Mochinut and Happy Lemon. Mochinut is an American-based chain of donut shops, specializing in mochi donuts, a treat that combines American doughnuts and mochi, a traditional Japanese rice cake. Happy Lemon, a beverage chain founded by a Taiwan-based company, specializes in bubble tea and bubble waffles, waffles with spheres full of extra batter baked into them. The Ferndale Asian Grocer’s interior is home to rows of shelves that hold food and products belonging to a wide range of countries, even including non-Asian countries.
After a month-long closure, The Upfront Theatre will continue improv shows at its location on Prospect Street, despite the closure of the Sylvia Center, which previously owned the space. This change will allow The Upfront Theatre to take more ownership of the space, said Upfront general manager Gillian Myers.
On Saturday, Oct. 8, Western Washington University's lakefront recreational facility, Lakewood, held its first seasonal kick-off event. The event featured various free activities on the water to help first-time visitors get excited about Lakewood. Lakewood Manager Nino Johnson said he believes Lakewood should be accessible and open to new students. He wants to get people in the water, whether they have prior experience or not.
A blue house with white trim appears unassuming from the outside. Propped up on the steps is a hand-painted sign reading “Bluebird House.” A faint thumping can be heard from the street, but nothing too head-turning. Inside, however, the living room overflows with people, floorboards swaying under jumping feet. Where one would expect to find a couch is a handmade stage loaded with musical instruments and members of some of Bellingham’s most popular bands. Bellingham-based indie band Foxy Apollo held Foxy Fest, a two-night house-show music and arts festival on Friday, Oct. 7, and Saturday, Oct. 8 at Bluebird House. The lineup included Asterhouse, The Hookups, Hockey Teeth, Where’s the Exit, CHRVNS, Foxy Apollo, Madam Monarch and ebony.
Chalk floats through the air. Thumping feet hit the mat-covered floor. Athletes cling to colorful round holds that cover the high walls, pure strength and stamina holding them in place. This is Vital Climbing Gym. Finbarr Anderson, a new climber as of April 2022 and a third-year student at Western Washington University, said when people start climbing, they generally find their skill level rapidly advances.
Western Washington University was ranked 16th last month on Washington Monthly’s list of master’s-granting liberal arts colleges for its success in promoting public services and social mobility. According to its website, Washington Monthly ranks liberal arts colleges - “four year institutions that award almost exclusively bachelor’s degrees and that focus on arts and science rather than professional programs.”
The sixth floor of Western Washington University’s Alma Clark Glass Hall is designated as the hall’s “Pride Housing floor.” It’s the only floor on campus with entirely gender-neutral room assignments, but the program goes beyond just gender-neutral housing. Pride Housing’s mission statement, as provided by Western Residence Life, is “To provide students with opportunities for learning about the development of their own multidimensional personal and social identities.”
Western Washington University’s alternative student publication got a new name to kick off the new school year. Wavelength, formerly known as the AS Review, offers a fresh take on campus happenings from the Associated Students. While the publication’s URL still bears its former name, one visit to the website shows its evolution to a more energetic, modern media outlet topped off with a new blue-and-white wordmark logo.
The Washington state midterm elections are fast approaching – ballots are mailed Oct. 19 and due by 8 p.m. on Nov. 8. If you’re in Whatcom County, you’ll see statewide and local elections on the ballot. Local elections, the focus of this column series, tend to have lower media coverage and voter participation compared to statewide and national elections.
At almost 11 p.m. on the first Wednesday school night of October, dozens of Western Washington University students - many of them first-year students - gathered for an impromptu party at the campus sculpture popularly known as the “Stairs To Nowhere.” Away from their parents, first-year students at Western are getting a taste of what adult life is and the liberty that comes with it.
After opening a first location in Ferndale last February, family-owned-and-operated thrift store Mystery Thrift opened a second location in downtown Bellingham on Sept. 3, with a focus on charity, affordability and sustainability. Kyle Weiss, his wife Nicole and their daughter Avery own the business, while other members of the family work or volunteer within it. Co-owner Kyle Weiss was hoping to land a larger second location in Ferndale, but the best building for the business was on Commercial Street in downtown Bellingham. The building will soon be shared with We Care, another donation-based thrift store.
For the first time in over a year, the Carver Gym location of Freshens Fresh Foods Studio has opened for the fall quarter. The on-campus dining option was closed all of last year and some of 2020 due to the pandemic, subsequent labor shortages and supply chain issues. Now, Western Washington University students who have been craving Freshens in its absence are excited to see it up and running again.
A month out from the Nov. 8 midterm elections, community members are finding ways to build solidarity and civic engagement on local and regional levels. A local political action group, Indivisible Bellingham, is hosting an action-oriented Rally for Reproductive Rights, Freedom and Privacy at Bellingham City Hall on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 3 p.m.