The best of Mossback, 2018

Knute Berger knows Seattle. And he's been following all of its changes.

Crosscut's longtime columnist — we call him our Mossback columnist, a reference to the damp forests of the western half of the state — had quite a year, writing about everything from local elections, urbanism and one of the saddest parts of the Northwest's history, the legacy of Nazi and overtly White supremacist thinking. 

Ever since the 2016 elections underlined the vast differences in thinking about Donald Trump around the Northwest, Berger has made extra efforts to get outside the Blue Bubble that is Seattle. His writings this year spread from Astoria on the Oregon side of the Columbia River — where he and photographer Matt M. McKnight spent several days — to British Columbia's remote Haida Gwaii.

We collected some of his best columns of the year, along with some of the best moments from Mossback's Northwest episodes.

Amazon's spheres: glass icons or bowls of privilege? Mossback questions whether they are a new icon of Seattle innovation, a glass ark for rare tropical plants, or a fishbowl of tech-worker privilege.

How capping I-5 could redeem Seattle's past: The Lid I-5 movement has some designs that bring to life how the city could make up for past mistakes.

Pristine nature is a fantasy, no matter how remote the island: A trip to Haida Gwaii, B.C. to escape the smoke unveils our hazy relationship with the wilderness. 

Why do we keep loving orcas — to death? From Namu to Lolita, affection isn't enough to save the orcas.

Will Jeff Bezos mess up the moon? The Amazon founder's sights are set on colonizing the moon, but what he'll do with it is yet to be seen.

In Seattle, Anthony Bourdain was in his element: In remembering Bourdain amid news of his death, it's obvious his Seattle fascinations were more Twin Peaks and grunge than shining Tech City on the Hill.

Amid rapid change, blue-collar Astoria pauses for poetry: Mossback takes a deep dive into the living folk culture of the annual Fisher Poets Gathering.

The chilling threads of our racist past: A trip to Astoria reveals the racism, religious bias and anti-immigrant sentiments that once made Oregon a major center for the Ku Klux Klan.

Knute Berger near Astoria, Oregon, Feb. 23, 2018, when he and photographer Matt M. McKnight were reporting on the fisher poets gathering (Photo by Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)

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