Thursday, April 1, 2021

Journal Changes Ownership

Posted By on Thu, Apr 1, 2021 at 1:00 AM

Clockwise from top, former Journal owners Carolyn Fernandez and Judy Hodgson, new owner Melissa Sanderson and her husband Chris. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Clockwise from top, former Journal owners Carolyn Fernandez and Judy Hodgson, new owner Melissa Sanderson and her husband Chris.

The North Coast Journal Inc. — a media company that includes the 15,000-circulation weekly newspaper and website, plus nearly a dozen publications serving Humboldt County, California — has been sold.

The buyer, Melissa Sanderson, 37, took over as president and publisher March 31. She has worked for the company since 2014, first as sales manager and the past three years as general manager.

The sellers are two long-time friends and business partners, Judy Hodgson and Carolyn Fernandez, who purchased the newly established monthly newspaper in June of 1990, converted it to a weekly in 1998 and launched a string of successful, hyper-local publications. Those include the Insider, a quarterly tourism magazine; the annual Menu of Menus and Wedding Guide; and more recently, the bi-monthly North Coast Trader, a classified paper that reaches six coastal counties in California and Oregon. One Journal publication launched in 2017, the Humboldt Cannabis Magazine, is distributed twice a year to dispensaries throughout California.

Over the past three decades, the Journal has won dozens of major awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association and the Association of Alternative Newsmedia for writing and reporting, design and photography, as well as numerous freedom-of-information awards. The newspaper has been recognized numerous times by the Society of Professional Journalists and the League of Women Voters.

While preparing this press release, Hodgson and Fernandez realized they actually had been working together for 45 years. Hodgson wrote a column, "Fieldbrook Footnotes," for the Union weekly newspaper in Arcata beginning in 1976 while attending Humboldt State University (HSU). She graduated in 1978, joined the staff as a reporter and from 1983 to 1988, served as editor. Fernandez joined the Union in 1976 as a graphic artist, later becoming head of the production department. Both left in 1988 after a change in ownership and, in 1989, worked together again at an advertising agency before purchasing the Journal. The paper was immediately rebranded and redesigned from a quarter-fold into the magazine tabloid format that exists today.

The two now-septuagenarians had been searching to find just the right "next owner" of the Journal for more than two decades. "We are super happy to sell to one of our great employees and a fourth-generation Humboldt County woman half our age," Hodgson said. (Fortunans may recognize Sanderson's maiden name of Huber and the Senestraro branch of the family.)

Sanderson has been in publishing since grade school. She made copies and distributed the Fortuna Spartan to all the classrooms in fifth grade. At Fortuna Union High School, where she "majored in at least four sports" as well as FFA, she was ad manager for the Husky Howler and wrote a sports column for Fortuna's weekly newspaper, the Humboldt Beacon. After graduation, she attended both College of the Redwoods and HSU at the same time. She married her husband, Chris Sanderson, and landed her first professional job in the marketing department of the new Bear River Casino in 2005. She was an account rep for the Times-Standard and then managed a radio station until joining the Journal in 2014.

Most new owners of a news media company hope to reassure readers and say they will not change a thing, and then things do, which is what happened at the Union in 1988, according to Hodgson and Fernandez. But Sanderson said she really means it.

"We have strength throughout the company — in sales, design and production, and support staff," she said, but particularly in the award-winning editorial department.

"It's a great publication. We have a strong mission statement. We do really good journalism for this community and I want to keep that going."

Sanderson said her strengths are on the business side of publishing, with a focus on marketing and digital, and she is confident in the Journal's future.

While there were some layoffs and furloughs last year due to the pandemic, the Journal is back up to 21 employees. Circulation, which dipped from 21,000 to 12,000 when many businesses closed and tourism shut down, is back to 15,000.

Sanderson said she is grateful for the federal Paycheck Protection Program loan that helped the company retain employees during the pandemic.

Her plans for 2021 are "to concentrate on growing the Journal, for sure, and help other local businesses" recover and grow.

The Journal's glossy publications, including the Insider magazine, were suspended during the pandemic. They are expected to return to newsstands this year.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Supes Send Letters Seeking Help in TV Programming Standoff

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2021 at 12:02 PM

A dispute between two large media companies has kicked local stations off some local televisions. - FILE
  • File
  • A dispute between two large media companies has kicked local stations off some local televisions.
To the annoyance of thousands of Suddenlink customers, access to two local stations – KIEM (Channel 3) and KVIQ (Channel 6) — disappeared Jan. 8 and Third District Supervisor Mike Wilson brought the matter to the attention of the Board of Supervisors at its meeting Tuesday, though the board has no real power over the situation.

The stations are owned by Cox Media Group Broadcasting, which reportedly wants more money for programming fees than Suddenlink is willing to pay. An online statement from Suddenlink described the increases as “exorbitant.”

“This disruption in service prevents residents from receiving local programming and news, which is especially important considering local conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” states a county staff report.

Over the past 15 years, the ability of local governments to regulate media companies has been superseded by new state and and federal laws. Stations that were once independently owned and operated were bought and sold by large corporations. In 2014, California passed the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act (DIVCA), basically giving the state more control over cable companies' operations.

In 2019, North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman attempted to bring back some local control with a bill dubbed  the “Local and Independent Television Protection Act,” though it did not pass. A spokesperson from Hufffman’s office said he is currently speaking to Cox Media and trying to remedy the problem.

County Deputy Administrative Officer Sean Quincey confirmed that the problem was a “breakdown in contract negotiations between two large corporations” — adding that local government had little or no legal authority to intervene.

“DIVCA has eviscerated local jurisdictions’ authority to protect ourselves. It took away all the oversight that the counties and the cities have” commented
Access Humboldt Executive Director Sean McLaughlin. He noted that the rates charged by Suddenlink to transmit local programming have increased dramatically over the past few months.

“Six local stations in Eureka are now owned by two absentee owners," McLaughlin said. "Sinclair owns four and Cox Media Group owns two. What can Humboldt do about it? Not much. ... You used to be able to talk to the owners of the stations. Part of the frustration now is that there’s nobody local you can talk to. You have to call Texas or Atlanta to talk to management.”

The supervisors unanimously authorized sending two letters  — one to Huffman and the other to Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, asking them to promote legislation that would give some control back to local communities.

“We need our federal and state policymakers to recognize the essential role that
local media play to meet local needs for: public health and safety; education; economic and community development; culture and arts; and civic engagement. Local governments and our communities stand ready to take back local media and rebuild our information ecosystem to secure competition, diversity and localism in the marketplace of ideas,” said the letter to the senators, which was signed by Board Chair Virginia Bass.
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Thursday, January 21, 2021

State Awards $8.6 Million for Hoopa Broadband Project

Posted By on Thu, Jan 21, 2021 at 1:05 PM

The California Public Utilities Commission has approved an $8.6 million grant application that will bring high-speed broadband internet service to the Hoopa Valley.

"The beautiful and rural Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation has needed technological upgrades for decades," Tribal Chair Byron Nelson Jr. said in a press release. "As Chairman, I thank the CPUC for helping the Hoopa Valley Tribe achieve this goal. (The project) will allow our people to have access to increased opportunities that will have a positive benefit for all."

The project will bring broadband to the 92,000 acre reservation, California's largest, through fiber optic and wireless infrastructure that will reach nearly 1,200 unserved households and increase speeds to others. Hunter Communications, a fiberoptic services provider in Southern Oregon and Northern California, will lead the project in partnership with the Hoopa Valley Tribe and EnerTribe, a Native-owned consulting firm.

Linnea Jackson, general manager of the Hoopa Valley Public Utilities District, said the project is "years in the making."

"I am so proud to be a part of the solution to meet this long-standing critical need for our community," she said. "These (California Advanced Services) funds will have a huge impact on our tribal community, including providing students the ability to adequately access online learning, increasing employees' ability to effectively work from home, providing adequate bandwidth for online educational goals, increased access for tele-medicine, improved communications for emergency services and economic development opportunities."

Read the full press release from the Hoopa Valley Tribe here, another from the CPUC here and CPUC's resolution authorizing the grant here.
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Wednesday, January 6, 2021

WaPo Publishes Scathing Investigative Report on Owner of Humboldt Skilled Nursing Facilities

Posted By on Wed, Jan 6, 2021 at 7:00 AM

  • Shlomo Rechnitz
In case you missed it, The Washington Post recently published a scorching investigative report on Brius Healthcare, which, with 80 nursing homes in California, including four in Humboldt County, is the state's largest for-profit nursing home operator.

The story details how Brius received more than $800 million in Medicare and Medicaid funding in 2018 to care for residents at its 80 homes and spent more than 70 percent of it paying "so-called related parties — companies they or their family members partially or wholly own" in a scheme to increase profits. The Post's analysis found that Brius homes pay about "40 percent more per bed on average to related parties than other for-profit nursing homes in California." While the Post notes it is "impossible to determine profits or losses" from any of these privately held related companies from the public record, tax returns "offer a glimpse."

The Post's investigation found that in 2013 alone, Shlomo Rechnitz, Brius' owner, and his wife reported income of at least $31 million from four of these related companies that regularly provide services to Brius' nursing homes. In 2018 alone, the Post reports, Brius paid more than $100 million to dozens of related companies "for everything from medical supplies to rent."

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Two Feathers Hosts 'Dangers of Technology' Forums

Posted By on Tue, Dec 1, 2020 at 11:24 AM

Two Feathers Native American Health Services will be hosting seven free virtual forums (open to the public with registration) on the subject: Is Technology Damaging our Native Youth?

The forums will feature national and international experts and are expected to last approximately one to two hours each.

In a press release, Dr. Virgil Moorehead Jr., Executive Director with Two Feathers NAFS, said, “As the global pandemic persists our young people are in more psychiatric distress than ever before. At Two Feathers, we have identified one major issue to be the use and misuse of technology and its impact on child and adolescent development. During these times, this issue has become even more pressing. If you work with children and young adults, are a parent or are just interested in this discussion, we urge you to tune in."

Reservations are required to this free event. Register at

For more, read the full release below:

McKinleyville- Two Feathers Native American Family Services (NAFS) is hosting seven virtual forums focused on technology and its affect on Native youth. They have gathered together national and international experts for this discussion. Everyone is welcome to attend. This is a free event, however reservations are required. Each forum will last approximately one to two hours. A complete schedule with speaker descriptions follows, all times shown are PST:

December 8 @Noon. Clifford Sussman, M.D.

Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist. World renowned expert in treating Internet Gaming Disorder.

December 10 @noon. Tim Kasser, Ph.D.

Emeritus Professor of Psychology. Nationallly recognized expert on the impact of materialism and consumerism on well being.

December 14 @Noon. Devorah Heitner, PhD.

Expert on young people’s relationships with digital media and technology. Founder of Raising Digital Natives. Author of the award-winning book, Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World.

December 16 @Noon. Nicholas Kardaras, PhD.

Ivy league educated psychologist, best-selling author, internationally renowned speaker and an expert on mental health, addiction and the impact of our digital age.

December 21 @Noon. Douglas Gentile, P.D.

Professor of Psychology at Iowa State. One of the world’s leading scientific experts on the effects of media on children. Named one of America’s best 300 professors by the Princeton Review.

January 5 @3pm. Louis Cozzolino, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology at Pepperdine University. Author of numerous award-winning books focused on interpersonal neurobiology & education.

January 12 @Noon. Andrew Doan, M.D.

Ophthalmologist, Neuroscientist & recognized expert in digital media addictions. Author of best-selling book, Hooked on Games.

Dr. Virgil Moorehead Jr., Executive Director with Two Feathers NAFS said, “As the global pandemic persists our young people are in more psychiatric distress than ever before. At Two Feathers, we have identified one major issue to be the use and misuse of technology and its impact on child and adolescent development. During these times, this issue has become even more pressing. If you work with children and young adults, are a parent or are just interested in this discussion, we urge you to tune in. Moorehead added, “This conference is open to all but is targeted especially for those who are interested in improving the mental health of our children.”

To view a full agenda visit the Two Feather website: or on their facebook page at: You must reserve your space in order to attend:
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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Huffman to Host Virtual Town Hall on Presidential Transition

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2020 at 1:48 PM

Jared Huffman - CONGRESS
  • Jared Huffman
Congressman Jared Huffman will hold a virtual town hall on the Presidential transition on Thursday, Dec. 3 at 4 p.m.

Rep. Huffman and guests will discuss the "peaceful transfer of presidential power, the status of President Trump’s many challenges to the election results, and the challenges and importance of holding President Trump and his executive branch officials accountable during a new administration," according to a press advisory from Huffman's office.

Viewers can tune in via Huffman's Facebook page (, Access Humboldt AH11 (Suddenlink Cable Channel 11) and on radio at KZZH-LP 96.7FM.

For more on the event, read the advisory below.

Rep. Huffman to Host Virtual Town Hall on the Presidential Transition

Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. PST, Congressman Jared Huffman will hold a virtual town hall on the Presidential transition, with special guests Caroline Fredrickson, a Senior Fellow at Brennan Center for Justice, and former President of the American Constitution Society, and Paul Rosenzweig, a Senior Fellow at the R Street Institute who served as a Senior Counsel in the Office of the Independent Counsel Ken Starr.

Rep. Huffman and his special guests will discuss the peaceful transfer of presidential power, the status of President Trump’s many challenges to the election results, and the challenges and importance of holding President Trump and his executive branch officials accountable during a new administration.

Participants are encouraged to ask questions in the Facebook video comments section during the event for a chance to have their question read aloud and answered live. They can also submit their questions in advance to

Event Details:

When: Thursday, December 3, 2020
Time: 4:00 PM - 5:15 PM PST


Congressman Jared Huffman
Caroline Fredrickson, Senior Fellow at Brennan Center for Justice
Paul Rosenzweig, principal at Red Branch Consulting

Where: (This is a partial list.)
KPCA: Comcast channel 26 and U-verse 99 in Petaluma service area, and on radio at 103.3FM and streaming at
Marin TV Education Channel (Comcast Ch 30 and AT&T Ch 99) and streaming online at
Live on Mendocino County Public Broadcasting, KZYX 90.7FM Philo, KZYZ 91.5FM Willits and Ukiah, and 88.1FM Fort Bragg.
Access Humboldt AH11 (Suddenlink Cable Channel 11) as well as on radio at KZZH-LP 96.7FM

Please be advised that this is a virtual event; members of the press and public should not attempt to meet in person with the Congressman and his guests.

Prior to joining Brennan Center for Justice, Caroline Fredrickson held multiple leadership roles at the American Constitution Society. She has also served as the director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, and as General Counsel and Legal Director of NARAL Pro-Choice America. Before that, Caroline was Chief of Staff to Sen. Maria Cantwell and Deputy Chief of Staff to then-Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle. During the Clinton administration, she served as Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs. She has been widely published and appears frequently in the media on topics including labor law, anti-discrimination law, and human and civil rights issues. She holds a law degree from Columbia and recently joined Georgetown Law as a Visiting Professor.

Paul Rosenzweig is the founder of Red Branch Consulting PLLC, a homeland security consulting company and a Senior Fellow at the R Street Institute. He is also a Senior Advisor to The Chertoff Group. Mr. Rosenzweig formerly served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in the Department of Homeland Security. He is a Professorial Lecturer in Law at George Washington University and a Board Member of the Journal of National Security Law and Policy. Twenty years ago, he served as a senior counsel in the investigation of President Bill Clinton.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

About that Mountain Lion Video ...

Posted By on Wed, Oct 14, 2020 at 1:37 PM

A mountain lion, like this one, was protecting her cubs, not stalking a runner who came along the family in Provo, Utah. - CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE/FILE
  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife/File
  • A mountain lion, like this one, was protecting her cubs, not stalking a runner who came along the family in Provo, Utah.
Chances are most people have seen — or at least heard about — the now viral video of a Utah man who went for a run in a Provo canyon and ended up finding himself face to face with a very angry mama mountain lion.

For six tense and profanity-laced minutes, Kyle Burgess kept filming with his cellphone as he backed away from the cougar, sometimes cussing and other times telling her she needed to go back to her babies, which he had inadvertently stumbled upon on a trail.

“I don’t feel like dying today,” Burgess says at one point in the video posted to his Instagram account.

(Note: He’s OK but had to traverse the same area of the encounter to get back to his car, according to an interview in the Deseret News.)

But, to be clear, this was not a mountain lion on the prowl but a mother protecting her young and making it clear to an unwelcomed visitor in her territory that it was time to get (we can only imagine she would have added a certain expletive here) out, as John “Griff” Griffith, a local naturalist and guide for California State Parks attests to in a recent Facebook video post about the misconception.

“I know a little something about mountain lions,” he says, while taking many a media outlet to task for labeling her behavior as “stalking” in a riff that skirts the conspiracy theory line of why that happened. “That was not a mountain lion stalking. That was a mama mountain lion trying to get someone away from her cubs. There is a difference.”

Griffith notes that Humboldt County is mountain lion country — panning to a shot of Humboldt Redwoods State Park where he says he sees their tracks —  but even though they are around us all the time, the likelihood is most people will never see one. And that is the way they like it.

Mountain lion attacks are very rare, he says, and if it’s going to happen, it will be stealthy, not be with the paw-pounding display the Utah cougar put on for Burgess.

“They are going to attack you usually from behind,” says Griffith, a popular producer of videos about the North Coast parks, who himself went viral in the past with a posting of him dancing with California Conservation Corp crew and hosted the online show Wild Jobs for Animal Planet.

That was the case of former Fortuna resident Jim Hamm, who made international headlines after he barely survived a 2007 attack that occurred during a hike with his wife Nell in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, where she fought off the mountain lion with a pen and a branch.

This Times-Standard photo went viral after the attack. - SCREENSHOT OF DENVER POST
  • Screenshot of Denver Post
  • This Times-Standard photo went viral after the attack.

Jim Hamm died a year ago this week of pancreatic cancer. He was 82.

Griffith says he’s only seen a mountain lion a handful of times, but if you do encounter one, there are basic rules to follow, including make yourself seem as large as possible, make noise, keep eye contact and slowly create space away from the animal. Never run away.

In that regard, Griffith says Burgess did just about everything right.

“The only thing he did wrong was not having a partner,” he says.

For more information on mountain lions, Griffith suggests visiting and
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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Black Voices Humboldt Wins Radio Mercury Award

Posted By on Wed, Oct 7, 2020 at 12:29 PM

You may recall the Journal's coverage of the Black Voices Humboldt PSAs Sabina Gallier created for KSLG, amplifying Black residents' experiences with racism in our county. (Spots she gathered input from the community for and produced in the makeshift working-from-home studio in her closet.) Well, the spots got some national recognition from the Radio Mercury Awards yesterday, winning the Best Spot for a Cause by a Radio Station/Group. It's kind of a big deal. 
  • File

In a message to the Journal, Gallier said, "It is an honor to be recognized in an industry that has so much to give in regards to changing communities for the better. To have the voices of Black people heard, listened to, to have their struggles recognized is just the tip of the iceberg in the shift we are seeing, and the work must continue beyond this. I'm thankful to have been given an opportunity to use radio to make a difference."

You can watch the virtual awards show here — the Black Voices Humboldt part,  starts at the 19-minute mark.  
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Saturday, September 19, 2020

NCJ Editor Nabs National Food Writing Award

Posted By on Sat, Sep 19, 2020 at 11:10 AM

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
We are elated to announce today that North Coast Journal arts and features editor Jennifer Fumiko Cahill won the Association of Alternative Newsmedia’s 2020 award for best food writing, while the paper’s Media Literacy Issue took second place for best special section.

The nonprofit association includes nearly 100 member papers throughout the country, including many of the nation’s largest weeklies, and its annual journalism awards honor the best work of its membership ranks.

Cahill, who has served as the Journal’s arts and features editor since 2013, was named a finalist in the food writing category — one of the contest’s most competitive, having drawn more than three dozen entries — for three pieces she penned last year.

Butter and Belonging at Red Lobster” reflected on the ostracism and anger she’d felt as a young girl translating for her grandfather at the Social Security office and the buttery balm Red Lobster offered. “Lunch and Legacy at Chin’s” celebrated the life of Ben Chin, who ran Chin’s Café for 20 years and “cooked more than one generation of locals their first Chinese meals and paved the way for other cooks, immigrants and entrepreneurs to follow.” And “We are Never Only Talking About Food” — which ran in our aforementioned Media Literacy Issue — took a critical eye to the world of food writing and why it matters because, “food media, after all, is about people, businesses, politics, science, culture, inequality, privilege, migration, history and community.”

From one of the judges: “At a time when restaurants and food writers are examining the roles of equity, inclusion and appropriation in our industry, Jennifer Fumiko Cahill writes about the intersection of food, family and race in heartfelt and informative ways. Her story ‘Butter and Belonging at Red Lobster’ tells a personal and multi-generational story of assimilation into American culture through the lens of an iconic brand. I loved this story in every way.”

If you missed any of these pieces, we urge you to take some time to give them a read. If not, we encourage you to double back — they’re wonderful pieces of writing filled with poignant moments and layers of insight.

When it comes to our Media Literacy Issue, we’re proud to learn AAN’s esteemed judging panel deemed it the worthwhile endeavor we envisioned when we launched the first one a couple years back, hoping to help readers better navigate a rapidly changing media landscape while lifting the veil of our own operation. And we’re not at all ashamed to finish second to the Chicago Reader’s Best of Chicago 2019 issue, for which it tapped 15 staffers to contribute. (The Journal, meanwhile, has an editorial staff of five.)

If you missed our 2019 Media Literacy Issue, it detailed the struggles of Humboldt County’s old-growth daily newspaper under hedge-fund ownership, how that fits into a national trend and what it's like lead a paper hemorrhaging staff, why Native representation matters, how journalism is being taught at some local high schools, the importance of parody news, the role television coverage plays in presidential elections, why the media needs to better cover the environment, what it means to be a local movie critic or music writer, and how we are never only talking about food (another hat tip to Cahill).

Please join us in giving a virtual hand to the entire NCJ staff, all of whom deserve some credit for these awards from the reporters who wrote the stories and the editors who edited them to the graphic designers who laid them out and the advertising and administrative staff that keep the proverbial wheels on the bus. And we’d like to offer a special shout out and thank you to the group of freelancers who made this issue possible: Deidre Pike, Marcy Burstiner, Cutcha Risling Baldy, Vicky Sama, Jennifer Savage, Collin Yeo and John J. Bennett.

And a final big thank you to our advertisers and you, our readers. You’re the reason we get to do this every week. Thank you.
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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Local Theaters Go Red Tonight in Support of the Live Events Sector

Posted By on Tue, Sep 1, 2020 at 1:46 PM

Humboldt County entertainment organizations, including local theaters, will turn on the red light tonight in support of the live events sector, which has taken a heavy hit due to COVID-19.  The idea is to draw attention to a vital industry that has been shuttered since early March, 2020, and most likely will not reopen until well into 2021.

Olivia McGahan, Regional Coordinator with We Make Events-North America, a collective of volunteers from the entertainment industry, has organized the local event taking place tonight from 9 p.m. to midnight in correspondence with events across the United States that will be happening at the same time.

A press release for the event states, "On September 1, 2020, #WeMakeEvents, a coalition of trade bodies, businesses, unions, and live events workers, will light as many as 1,500 venues, and iconic structures in red in over 50 cities across North America to raise public and media awareness in support of the live events sector."

Local participating theaters include Arcata Playhouse, Dell'Arte International, Humboldt Light Opera Company S.P.A.C.E., North Coast Repertory Theater, Redwood Curtain Theatre and Ferndale Repertory Theater.

The release states, "Community members are encouraged to show their support by checking the social media sites of their closest theater where a map of all participating locations will be posted and visiting the aforementioned locations where they can take photos to post on social media using hashtags:
#WeMakeEvents #RedAlertRESTART #ExtendPUA."
A map of participating local theaters
  • A map of participating local theaters

For more information on tonight's event, see the press release below:

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