Northwest Wonders: Questions for the great beyond
1. You ask a question
2. Vote for your favorite
3. We dig for answers
4. We report the story!
You have questions about Seattle, Washington state or the Pacific Northwest. Our reporters want to answer them. That's what Northwest Wonders is for. It’s a Crosscut initiative that invites readers to shape our journalism.
How does it work? Below, you can direct your questions to four reporters, each focused on a different coverage area: Hannah Weinberger (Science and Environment), Margo Vansynghel (Arts and Culture), Manola Secaira (Native Communities) and Mossback himself, Knute Berger (Northwest history).
Reporters and editors will then look through the questions and decide which we feel capable of answering. Knowing our readership, we’re expecting to receive a lot of thoughtful questions. To narrow it down, we may post a voting round to let other readers weigh in on which questions they want answered most. After that comes the reporting.
Once the reporting is done, we’ll post our resulting journalism — it could be an article, photo, video or a combination of any of those things! You may even get a shout out in the story for sharing your question.
Scroll down to read mission statements from each of our participating reporters and to ask them your questions. You’ll also find the question submission forms at the bottom of all their articles. If you have a general question that doesn’t fit into one of the focus areas, you can submit it at the bottom of this page.
Note: We invite Northwest Wonderers to provide their email address in case a reporter needs to reach out for clarifications or updates. This is completely optional. We'll only use your email to follow up about your submission, and to send you any newsletters you sign up for.
What aspect of Northwest history would you like to know more about?
At Crosscut and KCTS 9, my job is to dive into local history and heritage to help explain who we are and how we got that way.
Through opinion columns, reported pieces and my Mossback’s Northwest TV series of short history segments, I am always looking for fascinating and fresh insights into our past, and what it might mean for the present and the future.
In particular, I have done some Mossback segments based on ideas submitted by viewers, and I welcome suggestions for future episodes. I can’t respond to them all, but I consider them and often find them very helpful for long-term thinking.
So if there’s some aspect of Northwest history that has a lesson for us today, please submit your idea. Here are some example questions:
- What's the real story behind the pioneer Seattle mail order brides known as the Mercer Girls?
- Why is Seattle’s freeway design so terrible? Who designed it?
- Can you unlock the mystery of the original Frango ice cream recipe?
What would you like to know about the cultural scene in the Puget Sound region?
I’ll be honest: This paragraph would have looked very different if I were writing it in, say, 2019. But everything changed in 2020, when the pandemic hit the arts scene like a sledgehammer, canceling gigs, wiping out livelihoods and shattering the already brittle structures artists had built for themselves.
Since then, I’ve focused on stories about people finding new ways to make and show art despite tremendous challenges — revealing that this region’s reputation for innovation is not limited to technology — and I’d love to continue doing so.
I’m also committed to zooming out from personal stories to take a bird’s eye view of the cultural landscape. Pre-pandemic, many artists and creatives were already struggling to hold on to space to live, create and show work because of the high cost of living. I’m interested in exploring how the pandemic and economic recession have changed that dynamic — and what an arts scene, recovered and remade, might look like in 2021 and beyond.
Here are some example questions:
- With Seattle-area rents dropping amid the pandemic, are artists still being priced out of the city?
- I’m noticing more vacant buildings. Is there any way artists could use them while the economy recovers?
- What does recovery look like for the local music scene?
What stories should Crosscut be telling about Native communities in the Pacific Northwest?
Here in Washington state, there are 29 federally recognized tribes, and many more Native communities beyond that. It makes sense that our reporting would represent them; after all, the story of this land isn’t complete without Native voices. So with that in mind, I’m interested in stories that highlight the histories, as well as the current experiences, of Indigenous peoples in the Pacific Northwest. Native people are an integral part of Washington’s past, yes — but how are Native people shaping this region’s future?
Here are some example questions:
- What happens to tribes that aren’t federally recognized?
- What has Washington done to address reports of missing and murdered Indigenous women?
- How have reservations adapted to protect tribal citizens during the pandemic?
What questions do you have about Washington state's natural world? Ask us anything about climate change, the outdoors or scientific discoveries.
Washingtonians are fortunate to live alongside diverse creatures occupying rich landscapes, and we’re often at the vanguard of practices and movements meant to protect them.
But with population explosions in major cities and climate change bearing down, many Washingtonians are realizing that our lifestyles have environmental consequences — many of which come back to bite us.
There’s a lot we’re still figuring out about the planet and our relationship with it, both the good and the not-so-good. I’m fascinated by that dynamic, and want to find answers to your questions about how we use and change the environment, and are in turn changed by it. With your help, we can tell stories about the race to better understand, empower and protect all of the Evergreen State’s inhabitants through science.
Here are some example questions:
- Have measures like banning plastic bags or introducing composting in many Washington cities made an impact on our overall waste reduction?
- How will climate change affect my favorite Washington hiking routes?
- Which scientific fields are diversifying the fastest in Washington state? How come?
Do you have a burning question you want answered that doesn't fit into any of our focus areas? This is the place to ask us. Let us know what you're wondering about, whether it's big or small.