Leslie Helm

Founded in 1989 as the Cascade Land Conservancy, Gene Duvernoy’s conservation and stewardship organization known as Forterra, now boasting a staff of 50, has managed more than 400 transactions on $500 million worth of real estate to conserve more than 250,000 acres of land. 

On a recent visit to Berkeley, where I attended the University of California in the late 1970s, I was struck by how little the city had changed. The neighborhoods are still lined with century-old houses. 

During World War II, when accommodations were scarce, the house where I’ve lived for the past 28 years was a flophouse for more than a dozen railroad workers. Beds were lined up six to a room.

A young, diligent man I know came to the Seattle area from Mexico as a toddler. Permitted recently to work legally under former President Obama’s DREAM Act, the young man found a job at a used-car dealership. With bilingual skills and personal charm, he sold several cars in his first weeks on the job. Sadly, his employer took advantage of anti-immigrant sentiment stirred up by President Donald Trump to fire the young man, depriving him of commissions he was owed.

With multinationals like nike capable of moving production from one cheap source to another — shifting production from Japan to China and now to Vietnam — and with uber-efficient importers like Costco, Walmart and Amazon bringing goods straight from factory to consumer, the United States has become the bargain basement of the world.

The end of January marks the Chinese New Year as well as the elevation of a volatile, capricious new leader to the highest office on the planet. Had we been more attuned to the finer points of Chinese astrology, we would have predicted the election-year peculiarities that produced this result.

A look ahead at the news business, the Seattle waterfront and transportation.

It’s easy to be pessimistic about the outlook for 2017. After 90 months of growth, the economic expansion is aging and may not have much life left.

When Seattle passed a paid-sick-leave law mandating a set number of paid days for sick leave, local businessman David Lee accepted it. But the results have been disappointing. The city's $15 minimum-wage mandate was another challenge.

People like to rave about companies that have pool tables in their lounges, free massages at employees’ desks and Friday afternoon happy hours at favorite watering holes. But seldom will such perks make us passionate about the companies we work for.