Whatcom County Health and Community Services is a sponsor of several upcoming All Hands Whatcom opioid education events, and we invite you to sign up and participate with us. The next event is An Evening with Sam Quinones on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 6 pm at Bellingham High School. Quinones will discuss his latest book, The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth. The event is free and open to the public. Learn more, register, and submit questions for the author at ChuckanutHealthFoundation.org/allhands.
“Events like these are critical to creating a holistic community response to the opioid crisis,” said Erika Lautenbach, Health and Community Services Director. “Through shared dialogue, education, and understanding we can strengthen resilience and move together towards common goals of prevention, treatment, and recovery.”
In The Least of Us, Quinones chronicles the emergence of a drug-trafficking world producing massive supplies of synthetic drugs (fentanyl and meth) cheaper and deadlier than ever, marketing to the population with substance use disorder created by the nation's opioid epidemic. With The Least of Us, Quinones broke the story of how methamphetamine saturated the U.S. and is creating widespread and rapid-onset symptoms of schizophrenia, and complicating the country’s response to homelessness.
“We all are affected by the growing fentanyl and meth use crisis. This event is an enormously helpful and timely opportunity for our community to gain greater understanding about the nature of the problem and how to address it,” Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood said. “We join hundreds of leaders in communities across the country who are impacted. Your City leaders are engaged, responsive and compassionate in our efforts to attend to the realities of this crisis and the damage it is doing in our community. We need everyone to learn more and contribute to solutions.”
Sam Quinones (pronounced Kin-YOH-Ness) is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist, a reporter for 35 years, and a veteran reporter on immigration, gangs, drug trafficking, and the border. He is formerly a reporter with the L.A. Times, where he worked for 10 years. The Least of Us was released in November 2021 and was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) award for Best Nonfiction Book of 2021. The Least of Us follows Quinones’ landmark Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic (Bloomsbury, 2015), which ignited awareness of the epidemic won a National Book Critics Circle award for the Best Nonfiction Book of 2015.
“These drug problems are really symptoms of how we have shredded the bullwork of our community defense. In The Least of Us, I looked to tell stories of people doing small things at their neighborhood level to strengthen community. The real innovation, the real change occurs at the smallest, most local level to repair community. Without community, we don’t survive,” said author Quinones during a community forum.
Library Hosts Community Conversations
To further local dialogue, Bellingham Public Library will host two, free public book discussions- Community Conversations: The Least of Us by Sam Quinones, Aug. 14, noon – 1:30pm and Aug. 17, 5:30 – 7pm at the Bellingham Central Library Lecture Room, facilitated by Sea-Mar physician Dr. Shannon Boustead and Public Services Librarian Suzanne Carlson-Prandini. Learn more and register at BellinghamPublicLibrary.org. Bellingham Public Library is circulating print copies of The Least of Us, in a “read and share” format funded by The Friends of Bellingham Public Library, and the book is available for checkout in physical and digital formats. (Note: the audiobook is not available from the Library.)
“As physicians, we see this crisis cannot be solved solely by the effective medications and other treatments we can provide. It will take a coordinated societal effort to make significant changes. Understanding better how individuals just like us can become addicted to, and die from, fentanyl and methamphetamines is critical to reducing stigma and creating human-centered responses,” said Dr. Boustead.
All Hands Whatcom was established this year as a call to listening, healing, and action for our community in response to the devastating consequences of fentanyl, meth, and opioids in our community. All Hands Whatcom is committed to creating spaces for civic dialogue and community-built, cross-sector planning to expand prevention, support healing, and cultivate a community of care. An Evening with Sam Quinones is a sponsored event to support community learning, dialogue, and civil discourse.
Sponsors of All Hands Whatcom 2023 include: Whatcom County Health and Community Services, City of Bellingham, Chuckanut Health Foundation, Mount Baker Foundation, Northwest Youth Services, Peace Health, Whatcom Community Foundation, Northwest Washington Medical Society, RAM Construction, Bellingham Public Schools, Barron Quinn Blackwood, Birch Bay Blaine Thrives, Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce, Lautenbach Recycling, Brambleberry, and Bellingham Public Library.
For more information, see ChuckanutHealthFoundation.org/allhands or BellinghamPublicLibrary.org.