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Rob Curley: Join Northwest Passages for sit-downs, interviews and entertainment, all from your home

The lineup is coming together and getting bigger by the day.

And today is the day we’re beginning the virtual version of our Northwest Passages Book Club and community forums. Though we’re starting with more of the forum part than the book part.

Starting today, you can log on to, where you will see a link to these new forums. You can watch them live and submit questions as they happen, or you can watch the archived versions instead.

The goal was two-fold: help our community with the questions and problems they might be experiencing during this quarantine, and find a way to help pass the time during the days that seem to keep getting longer and longer.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll host doctors and medical school deans, education professionals, mental health experts, elected officials and leaders from all levels of government. We will even try to bring in some of our journalists and editors.

But we also want to have a little fun. We’ll have local entertainers, big-time college coaches and their bosses, and – of course – authors.

Our first session will be this morning at 11 with Jeff Stafford from Eastern Washington University. Stafford primarily teaches classes in leadership and organizational communication at EWU, with the occasional class in project management and strategic planning. He has also directed over 100 graduate theses.

Stafford is going to talk with us about leadership in this time of change, and in particular about how to lead and motivate a team in a virtual environment.

Then, at 2 p.m., we’ll talk with the dean of Whitworth’s school of education, Ronald Jacobson. Whitworth has long been one of the state’s pre-eminent education schools, so we thought we should talk with the guy in charge of training those teachers. Since so many of us are now acting as the principal, educator, lunchroom cook and janitor in our new home schools, we wanted to ask Jacobson for a few tips.

On Friday, we have packed schedule.

We’ll begin the day at 10:30 a.m. with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind, who will be interviewed by Spokesman-Review outdoors writer Eli Francovich. We’ve heard lots of people talk about what the coronavirus means to us, but we’ve heard little about what it means to our ability to experience one of this region’s most beloved characteristics.

At 11 a.m. we’ll host a cyber sit-down between Washington State athletic director Pat Chun and Spokesman-Review Cougs writer Theo Lawson. The Wazzu faithful have been impressed with Chun’s hires of basketball coach Kyle Smith and football coach Nick Rolovich, and now many want to see how he plans to navigate an even more complicated world with spring football canceled and recruiting looking very different from what it did just a month ago.

At noon, Spokesman-Review education reporter Jim Allen will talk with Spokane schools Superintendent Shelley Redinger. Districts across the nation are radically having to change philosophies, curriculum and even school-lunch programs now that it looks more and more likely kids won’t return to the classroom until next fall. Redinger will talk us through all of these complications as the district finds new solutions.

At 2 p.m., we’ll be joined by Spokane Valley Mayor Ben Wick as he talks with Spokesman-Review reporter Rebecca White. As all cities are working through new and different issues tied to COVID-19, Wick will talk with us and our readers about what is being done in his town.

Next week, will be more of the same, including talks with state commerce director Lisa Brown and EWU professor Pui-Yan Lam.

Don’t worry if you miss one. We will archive all of these forums on our Northwest Passages website and will write about many of them for our newspaper.

The next question is for you all: Who else would you like us to host for one of our virtual visits?

If we can’t get together in person like we used to, we ought to at least make the best of it using all of this new-fangled technology. I know it’s going to be great to talk with you all again.

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