The BLOCKHOUSE #1: History of The Blockhouse
Volume 1, Number 1
Welcome to The Blockhouse, our new newsletter! The traditional blockhouse was a hardened redoubt that defended the main fort. It was a refuge when the installation was besieged, built with solid log walls and small slit ports to shoot out from as the defenders repelled attackers. You can still see examples of blockhouses around the Pacific Northwest, even our own in Goldendale dating from 1855. The Goldendale Blockhouse is documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and archived with photos in The Library of Congress. As a defensive building, the blockhouse seemed like an appropriate name and symbol for our newsletter.
This is a place that welcomes writers of all stripes. We’re looking for features, How-Tos, reports on everything from City and County Council meetings-strange happenings around town, street tactics and whatever else fits.
For instance, it could be something seemingly inconsequential like what I overheard today at a local super market. A woman in line asked the checkout clerk if she had noticed any “out of place” people around town. Initially the clerk answered, “Like what? Hmmm… Now that you asked, I’ve been seeing more homeless people hanging around that looked strange, like from the city.
They’re being dropped off… I don’t know who’s doing it, though. They just caught my eye, ya know?”
That brought to mind the homeles guy I saw on the way home from the last People’s Rights meeting. Standing in the middle of Collins and Klickitat, dressed all in black-down to his filthy backpack, zoned out of his gourd. He reminded me of the “zombie” looking for a fight I spotted in downtown Portland a few months ago. Strange, seeing a person like that here in town. Who’s supplying the drugs? Cartels?
Then you begin “turning the gears between your ears.” Who’s bringing in drugged-out and destitute out-of-towners? Somebody just busted a grocery store window in town, something you don’t usually see around here, more like a big city smash and grab. Then there was that Black Lives Matter controversy at WAGAP. You know where their sympathies are. WAGAP just fired the locals who worked there. Hmmm, who might they be bringing in as replacements?
The County Council had an opportunity to spend or hand out 135 grand in Department of Commerce funding recently. It was deemed too small a sum to start up a new county program. It’s plenty of dough for a group like WAGAP, though. Plant the seed money and watch it grow. There’s something in it for local motels, too. You’re making political friends as a County Commissioner spreading the money around town. Friends equals votes.
WAGAP just received that 135 Gs to house homeless people. You’ve got to spend it to keep it, and grow more “clients” to get even more moolah. Not enough homeless in Goldendale to support the business model? You need to import more “product.” Now you have the genesis for a story about possible institutionalized ” trafficking” of the homeless for a fat government paycheck.
Start a homeless shelter downtown, more money, maybe enough to hire a grant writer to keep the income stream flowing? Could it be? Who knows, find out. Write a story. Small town politics and council meetings maybe aren’t so boring, afterall.
Everyone knows someone with a story. You could write forever if you wanted to, it begins with a question looking for an answer. Talk to a cop, for instance, “I read a story today where an Antifa punk in Olympia got arrested for shooting an anti-vaxxer at a vaccine mandate protest on the 4th. How can the average person develop good situational awareness at a street protest? What do you watch for? How do you spot someone that may be carrying a concealed weapon?” Take good notes, they’re the “bones” you
hang the flesh of a story on. Your piece might even save a life someday because an incident like that can just as easily happen here.
I used to be an editor, publisher and owner of a quarterly magazine named Model Ship Journal. It dovetailed into my hobby of building scale ship models for museums. It was great fun and took my mind off my job at the fire department where full-time 24- hour shifts gave you 20 days off a month. Lots of other guys worked “C-Shift” jobs; I wrote photo features about ships and illustrated them with scaled blueprint plans so a model maker could build directly from the magazine. To illustrate my articles, I spent 30 years photographing ships all over the USA. My magazine caught on and brought in other writers. You’d be surprised how many ship model builders are also very good writers and photographers. My own body of photographic work ended up in the National Maritime Museum in San Francisco. They said it was “historically significant,” who would’a thought… You never know where these things can lead if you just follow the path. Model Ship Journal took off, matured, and eventually got picked up as a regular periodical by Barnes and Noble. Give writing a shot, it can lead to all kinds of adventures if you stick with it.
I’m keeping The Blockhouse small, though. One sheet, double sided, printed on an inkjet printer. Just keeping it low key for now. With all the censorship we’re seeing on the internet, it’s looking more like going old school may be the answer to communications that can’t be obliterated with a simple keystroke. Think of The Blockhouse as a preliminary sketch, with shading and details to be added as it grows. So keep me informed of things you think might make a compelling story, even though you might not want to actually write the piece, I can take a lead and work up an article. This is your newsletter and will become whatever you need it to be, but I can’t do the whole thing myself and it needs to reflect who we are and what we stand for. This thing can be a weekly or monthly publication, or maybe nothing at all, it’s up to you.
If you want to contribute a story or anecdote, we can edit and proofread it for you and get your approval before publishing it. Of course, it’s your story and your byline, you get full credit, I’m just the facilitator. Until we get writers; you’ll be hearing more from me.
Victor Baca, email@example.com
Nameplate photo credit: Library of Congress (HABS) Blockhouse, Ft. Ebey, WA Public Domain