2019 Photo by Steve Nelson
The Northwest Passage --1969 to 1986
The following is an excerpt from theNorthwestPassage.weebly.com FULL ARTICLE
The Northwest Passage was known for covering issues that the straight news media would often ignore. They never strived for objectivity, but rather focused on influencing people and being a voice for counterculture. The Passage's first big break was when they exposed that Georgia Pacific was letting mercury discharges go into Bellingham Bay. They often reported on environmental issues and was known for their persistent muckraking.
(Thanks to Ben Mann, artist in the Morgan Block, for the tip that a remnant of the Passage Fairhaven years can still be found.)
They mixed topics such as drugs and politics, or protests and sex. It was a voice for the political left. Like most underground newspapers, The Passage was influenced by the politics of the time. Nixon, The Vietnam War, and the civil rights movement were all fuel for the flame of the underground press. They were offensive, subversive, and driven by justice.
One column that was popular within the Passage was Dr. Hip-pocrates, which was a drug beat/medical advice column done by Berkeley physician Eugene Schenfeld. It often gave insight to the effects of drugs, and warned about bogus or dangerous drugs that were going around. There were also other columns such as the Molasses Jug that featured poetry, recipes, and home remedies.
"I remember a great deal of attention paid to layout, almost none to copy. I could say almost anything I wanted." Joe Connelly, Environmental writer for Seattle Intellencer.
At the time of its creation, involvement with the Passage was strong, and many of its reporter/editors were incredibly smart and politically motivated, Some going on to be reporters or high-end officials.
The office of the Passage was in an old building in Fairhaven (Morgan Block) and was originally printed through the Lynden Tribune and It was not long before it was under fire by Bellingham officials and was repressed by the city council and mayor Reg Williams, who tried to file charges of obscenity but was defeated by legal precedent.
Former Northwest Passage Offices
Photo thanks to Marijo Martini of Martini Metal Craft
Studio 9, in the Morgan Block
Open Studio Tuesdays from 5 to 7 pm
But this was not the last of The Passage's worries. Throughout its existence, The Passage struggled with funding and harassment, and would eventually fade away as an affect.
Although The Northwest Passage was short-lived, it made a tremendous impact on the politics of Bellingham and on bringing together those within the culture culture movement.