Hometown Heroes: Anacortes kids create weekly quarantine newspaper for their neighborhood
By Eric Johnson, KOMO News Anchor | Wednesday, May 27th 2020
ANACORTES, Wash. — A little more than 17,000 people live in beautiful Anacortes.
There's a neighborhood there and from above, it looks like a thousand other neighborhoods.
Houses and people and life. The Rutz kids look around from their front yard on 10th Street, wondering if there's anything special about their neighborhood. It sparked an idea.
"It started, I was just at home doing nothing in quarantine," Luke Rutz said.
Luke Rutz is 18. He has a little sister, Amelie (Molly), who is 11. And where Luke goes, Amelie is sure to follow. "Let's go see Joanne Dyer," Luke Rutz said. On this day they had an appointment two houses down. They were there to talk about Joanne's passion for puzzles.
"Um, what was your first puzzle?" Luke Rutz said. "Remember that?" Luke took some pictures.
"Thank you so much," he said. "Those are awesome." And the two of them are headed back home.
Their mom Janet looks at the world like this: "I think there's something special about knowing that everyone has something to offer and everyone has a story and everyone has something they can teach," Janet Rutz said. It's rubbed off. "So I was like, maybe I'll just try putting together like a little paper," Luke Rutz said. He started talking to neighbors and asking questions.
"I've actually learned so much about my neighbors this way," Luke Rutz said. "Like there's some people I've never talked to." For instance, he learned something interesting about a guy named Payton down the block. "I was a reporter for the Seattle Times or 41 years," Payton said.
Luke Rutz roped his brother Mathew into getting involved. Amelie didn't take much coaxing.
"I like to deliver them," she said. Luke Rutz learned to format on the computer and a weekly neighborhood newspaper came to life. He named it the "Quarantinial." And right under the name, he wrote, "Created during quarantine, born from boredom." Circulation for the inaugural edition was modest. "I think we only did 10 at the start," Luke Rutz said.
Luke Rutz learned to format on the computer and a weekly neighborhood newspaper came to life. He named it the "Quarantinial." And right under the name, he wrote, "Created during quarantine, born from boredom." Readers learned that Chris Parkinson was babysitting her grandkids more because of the coronavirus. Andrea, across the street, learned about Mr. D'amelio in the blue house on the corner. "He's been working for the census for over 20 years," Andrea said. "I did not know that." And the very next week everyone learned that Andrea hand-makes her own washcloths. In the April 26 edition, 7-year-old Audrey Miller told a funny story about her dog "Mable." There was breaking news about a water-balloon fight inked. The article said, "Prior snowball fights between inhabitants of the Miller and Salazar homes."This was the talk of the town: "Dog seen wandering down alleyway. Young child with red hair heard yelling, 'Go home, Garth!'" They constantly make fun of their dad in print, which may not be the best idea, because Dad is head of the printing department. "Every week we go in my dad's office where he prints em all," Luke Rutz said. "And we try to print three more than we need, because he said, 'if you're not growing, you're dying.'" Circulation is up 200% in four weeks. All the way up to 30. "He's a great kid and he's made something kind of tiny and kind of special," a neighbor said. Molly gets her list and she and her brother go door-to-door.
"Another edition," a neighbor said. "We look forward to it every Sunday."
"Really, everyone who gets it is always thrilled so it's nice," Luke Rutz said. "It's a good feeling." Piece it all together and you get a portrait over time; a snapshot of people getting by, finding joy where they can and of kids being kids. Turns out this place is special because it has Andrea the washcloth maker, Joanne the puzzle collector, Mr. D'amelio the census worker and Audrey's dog "Mable." It has water-balloon fights too. Evan plays music on his porch every night at 4 p.m. so come on by and say hello... And it has the "Quarantenial" newspaper, put together by the Rutz kids, who somehow, during strange times, knew all along exactly what their neighborhood needed.