In anticipation of tonight’s premiere of 45365 (check local listings), we held a social media contest asking our viewers why their zip code was particularly interesting or notable. We took our favorite 10 entries and put them to a popular vote. Our winner was the only one to submit her entry in poem form: Linda Chancler of Sequim, Washington. We interviewed her for our first-ever viewer profile.
So, what’s so great about Sequim, WA?
First of all, Sequim (prounounced “skwim”) is sunny! Many people assume all of western Washington is rainy, but because of the rain shadow provided by the Olympic Mountains we only receive an average of about 16 inches of rain a year. By contrast, Forks — a place many may be familiar with because of the Twilight series — is the wettest place in Washington and often gets more than 120 inches of rain a year. The beauty here really does take your breath away. We have a unique combination of a mild Mediterranean climate coupled with dramatic Alpine peaks and ancient glaciers, evergreen forests, and rich ocean waters.
The food grown here is outstanding, the land is very fertile, and in summer we get a tremendous amount of sunlight, so things grow very fast. The Sequim Open Air Market on Saturdays is not only the place to buy your food directly from the farmers and fishermen, it’s a social gathering with live music and locally crafted goods on display. The surrounding area has wineries and lately a growing number of craft cider brewers are popping up, utilizing the bounty of apples that … well … grow on trees here. Sequim is also the lavender-growing capital of North America, and each July we have our lavender festival.
Locals are active in efforts to preserve our open spaces and heritage farms, and it’s paying off. Local farmer Nash Huber has been at the forefront of the organic farming movement on a national, state and local level, spearheads our local CSA program, and shares his knowledge with farmers and wannabes.
All five species of salmon are caught here, in addition to the prized halibut. Oysters and several species of clams including the mighty geoduck are found here, not to mention the delicious Dungeness crab. John Wayne used to cruise these waters in his yacht, the Grey Goose. He liked it so much he bought land in Sequim Bay that eventually became the John Wayne Marina. Kayaking is a great way to enjoy the scenery and see the whales and otters, seals and other marine life that are so abundant here.
Sequim itself is a prairie, in between the jagged snow capped peaks of the Olympic Mountains towering over us to the south and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the north flanked by our friendly Canadian neighbors on the island of Vancouver, home to the grand city of Victoria. On clear days Mt. Baker is visible from downtown Sequim. The hiking here is incredible, and there is abundant wildlife from deer and black bear, mountain goats and cougars, and even our very own sub-species of elk, the Roosevelt Elk. Our Audubon bird count topped out at 150 species in 2007.
These are all things that make Sequim great, but there is something else, something intangible that exists here. Maybe it’s the fact that there are still cows within the city limits. Or that the front page story in our weekly paper one week this past summer was about a pair of miniature horses that had decided to go on walkabout down our main road through town. People are aware and engaged in their community here. People smile at each other when you pass them — people you may not even know — and they mean it.
Tell us about you: What do you do?
I am a writer working on a book project, freelancing too. I ride my mountain bike as often as I can, kayak, forage for wild mushrooms, and enjoy traveling when I can.
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Australia, to American parents. I’m an “Ausmerican.”
How about your family?
I am an only child and my father passed away a few years ago. My mother lives in coastal North Carolina where she and my Dad retired to after living in Pennsylvania.
Are you involved in any community activities?
I’ve gotten involved with the Northwest Raptor Society, a group that rehabilitates injured raptors, ideally so that they can be released back into the wild. It is a special thrill to see a bald eagle released to fly free again. The Whale Trail is another group I have gotten involved with; as the name suggests they are working to help preserve and track the Orca populations in the area. The Whale Trail itself is composed of locations on land throughout the region that provide good vantage points for spotting Orcas and other species that frequent the area like the right whale and occasional humpback.
Do you have a special talent?
I worked as a private chef on yachts for a number of years, and still enjoy cooking very much.
Do you remember how you first heard about Independent Lens?
I cannot recall exactly when it was, but independent film has always been an interest, probably starting from my years at Hampshire College. Ken Burns is a graduate of Hampshire and when I attended, all of the buzz was about his first important film, The Brooklyn Bridge. It had just won an Academy Award.
What is your favorite Independent Lens film of all time?
This is so hard. I really loved Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. I recall the shock over the fraud and scandal and the sympathy for those who had lost their life savings. In retrospect, Enron now seems like an omen of things to come; the tip of an iceberg.
Recently I watched Stranded: The Andes Plane Crash Survivors. That happened when I was in junior high school. I read the book by Piers Paul Read then and was both mesmerized and horrified by their story of survival.
Anything coming up on Independent Lens that you’re especially excited to see?
I am very excited about this film 45365. I live in a small town myself and there are big stories in little towns. Honestly, I had a look at the complete list of all the Independent Lens films and I have some catching up to do; thank goodness for Netflix!
If you were to make a documentary, what would it be about?
I’m very passionate about food — healthy delicious food — and our environment. How we relate to the production of the food that sustains us, and how that is changing. It’s one of the reasons I moved to the Pacific Northwest. Sustainable, slow food, whole food, locavore, organic, artisanal, all these terms get tossed around liberally, but what do they really mean and who are these new modern, small-scale farmers? Is there a place for them in a world of GMO crops and factory farms? Who are the people trying to make a go of it? And I’d want to incorporate aquaculture and small independent fisherman too.
What other shows do you watch?
I love P.O.V., Masterpiece Theater, Lidia Bastianich’s Italian cooking shows, and America’s Test Kitchen. NOVA and Nature are perennial favorites since I was kid. For fun I adore Mad Men and a lot of the programming on the National Geographic channel.
What are your holiday plans?
I don’t enjoy traveling during the holidays, so I plan on a quiet time with some good movies and a book or two. If the weather is good I’ll be riding my bike on the Discovery Trail, a bike/walking pathway that will soon go all the way from Port Townsend to the Pacific coast.
New Year’s resolutions?
Write more, exercise more, continue to never take for granted the privilege of living in such a special place filled with kind, generous, interesting people.
UPDATE: The Sequim Gazette is celebrating Linda, too.