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Know the West

Working together for a better future

A roundup of some of our favorite “What Works” pieces from this challenging year.


As 2020 comes to its eagerly awaited close, we decided to revisit some of our favorite “What Works” stories of the year. Our “What Works” department is devoted to examining how Westerners come together to try to solve problems. They don’t always succeed, but there’s generally a lot to be learned from the attempt, and there’s almost always an engaging and insightful story to be told. From an Oregon helpline created to get crucial COVID-19 information to speakers of Mam, an Indigenous Mayan language, to a community program meant to help tenants in San Francisco avoid eviction, these tales highlight the resiliency of Westerners during this tumultuous year. Meanwhile, we’re already looking ahead to a better 2021, when we’ll continue to bring you “What Works” stories from across the West. 

Jorge Guzman and Juan Antonio Martinez of Vive Northwest in their Portland, Oregon, office.

A helpline connects Indigenous immigrants to crucial COVID-19 information

For communities who speak Indigenous Mayan languages like Mam, this Oregon program has been a vital resource.

Erin Chiang works while on a Flixbus. Chiang has commuted from Portland to Seattle once a week for the past four years.
Chloe Collyer for High Country News

Can new bus lines chart a course to better travel options in the West?

A European bus company is expanding options for regional travel. High-speed rail could be next.

Sébastien Thibault/High Country News

Virtual house calls flourish in the age of coronavirus

COVID-19 has pushed health care into cyberspace — and some rural practitioners might stay there.

Undocumented residents make up one-tenth of California’s workforce. Many work on the pandemic frontlines, like agriculture employees, yet cannot access most forms of COVID-19 financial support.
Brent Stirton/Getty Images

The old-school organizers who got it done on Zoom

How the country’s oldest organizing group won COVID-19 relief for undocumented immigrants in California.

Chloe Jackman-Buitrago is a born-and-raised San Franciscan who was afraid she and her family would be evicted when their apartment building was put up for sale.

The housing policy that’s turning back gentrification

In the wake of COVID-19, some California cities are introducing tenant protections.

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