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Menzel’s world

Menzel TOM

My Home

Welcoming today a new writer here: Tom Menzel, a veteran editor and a close-eyed observer of the Puget Sound. From his bio: “Tom Menzel has a journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin and spent 14 years in the newspaper business, including a variety of editing positions at the Idaho Statesman in Boise. He founded Menzel-Higgins Communications in 1986 and has provided communications counsel for many government and private-sector clients, including high-profile public involvement projects and political campaigns. Tom has also been involved in community activities ranging from education and health care to community trails. He lives in the Puget Sound village of Hansville on Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula.”

Greetings from the great state of recreational weed, marriage for all and surprise majority coalitions!

It’s a high honor to be invited by my longtime friend and colleague, Randy Stapilus, to contribute occasional commentary, analysis and random observations about the ever-dynamic, Everblue state of Washington.

With Randy’s blessing, we’re calling my little corner of the virtual world “Washington, My Home,” which is the title of our awe-inspiring state song that begins with these words: “This is my country; God gave it to me; I will protect it, ever keep it free.” OK, maybe “Louie, Louie” would have been a better choice after all.

Keep in mind that I’m pretty much a regular guy, with a talented wife, a couple of above-average grown kids and one very cool 20-month-old granddaughter. No gigs with the nation’s formerly influential newspapers or magazines. Never won a Pulitzer. Sorry, no books. But this just makes me try harder to dazzle you.

Briefly, this is who I am: I was born a cheesehead (what the hell’s up with the Packers lately? Sorry, I digress), stole my journalism degree from UW-Madtown and spent 14 years in the newspaper biz, mostly as a nasty editor at The Idaho Statesman in Boise long before it was renamed The Bronco Gazette. After declaring independence from the newspaper bubble in 1986, I quickly hooked up with a few political campaigns and played communications consultant for some high-profile public projects ranging from urban renewal to infrastructure funding.

I also did some community organizing (is that a dirty word?) and worked with many local leaders representing a wide spectrum of thought. It was very rewarding to actually do things in my community rather than simply report on what everyone else was doing. Just for fun, I also learned to flyfish, backpack and pilot a little Cessna without killing myself or anyone else. I’m proud to have survived my years in Idaho – just barely.

After 26 years of the good life in Boise’s North End liberal hideout, we moved everything we owned in 2003 to a place known – only to real smart people like me – as the Salish Sea. We couldn’t resist the siren call of the Northwest’s largest metropolitan conclave, Amazonia (formerly Seattle), known for its sky-high demographic rankings in categories like burnable dollars per condo, muzzled conservatives, worried Microsofties, pampered Googleites, hourly latte consumption, scarcity of children and religion, and mysterious, beer-swigging, basketball-addicted, billionaire San Francisco hedge-funders.

And how about that Koolhaas central library! Could we possibly tell the world we love books in a more spectacular fashion? (We take visitors to the library before we go to the Pike Market.) Tour it at

Of course, we didn’t actually land our overstuffed U-Haul in the Emerald City itself back in 2003. We found affordable housing on the left side the Puget Sound … er, Salish Sea, in a faraway outpost called Kitsap County, famous for Chief Sealth’s final resting place, scenic aircraft carriers, jaw-dropping Bainbridge Island infinity pools and endless experimental foot-ferry programs. We’re as far north as you can possibly go on the Kitsap Peninsula in a lovely village called Hansville, also known as Greater Hansville. Except for the speed bumps, this is a happy place with a long history of salmon fishing until we chased most of them away. Come visit sometime. Please, no stupid parties allowed here.

OK, I’ve introduced myself and I might never see you again. But I’ll try to win you back in the coming months with essential information that you can’t live without and irresistible prose that you can forward to unenlightened friends and family. We have a lot to discuss about my adopted Everblue state, from park fees to ferries, education to Amazon, wind turbines to weed. Occasionally I’ll venture outside urban boundaries into the realm of beaches, mountains, rivers and hiking trails, where I’ve spent a great deal of quality time. We’ll see what develops.

I look forward to parking a few words on the Ridenbaugh site as events continue to unfold in this wondrous corner of the globe called Washington – which we all must swear to protect and ever keep free, or at least learn the chords in “Louie, Louie.”

Tom Menzel, of Hansville, Washington, is a communications consultant, community volunteer and former newspaper editor.

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