Katherine Freimund has led the Whatcom Literacy Council into a season of health and growth unlike any in the organization’s history.
What brought you to Bellingham?
We moved here in 1995 when my husband got a job working for the Lummi Nation. We have strong family connections; my husband’s grandparents were homesteaders in Deming.
What is your favorite spot in Bellingham?
Home. We live in the Columbia neighborhood, and we love it there. We’ve very private people, but we love being here.
If we go out, we really enjoy Aslan Brewery. They just hosted a trivia night for us, and they have great food.
For coffee and meetings, I like Adagio Cafe. It’s a family business, and there is always parking!
What do you love best about your job?
I know not everyone has the opportunity to work in a job where they care about the organization and the mission, so that’s a privilege that I certainly don’t take for granted. I feel incredibly lucky. I find my job both professionally and personally satisfied.
What do people not understand about the literacy council?
This is a highly educated community, yet many are shocked to learn how many people in Whatcom County are functionally illiterate. It’s my job to help people understand that, and to understand how that fact impacts the overall health of our community, and what can be done about it.
What do you think Bellingham needs?
I’d love to see more strong businesses downtown. I wish this were a place that businesses were eager to make their start. We need more family-wage jobs.
I wish we had more ethnic restaurants. I know that Vancouver and Seattle are really close, but I wish for more variety.
What is the best book you’ve read recently?
The last book that I really loved was Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. It’s about Katrina, and it’s based on a true story. The characters feel very real, and it’s very easy to sympathize with them. My husband is reading Tim Egan’s Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher, and I’m eager for him to finish it.
Is there a Bellingham restaurant or store the world needs to know about?
Aslan Brewing Company is my latest favorite. They’re doing a lot of great things. The food is good, the beer is good, and it’s a great place to bring kids. Boundary Bay sets the bar very high for community engagement and support, and I’m happy to see Aslan following in that path.
If you’re free on a sunny day, what would you spend it doing?
Biking around town or hiking, but not serious hiking. We are casual hikers. All 3 of our kids are in their 20’s, and we spent many weekends on soccer and rugby fields. Now that they’re grown, we’re finally starting to explore all these spots that we didn’t have time to visit before.
When your kids leave the house, it’s almost like you live in a completely new place.
Yes! I’ve started running into my children’s friends out in the workplace. I enjoy seeing them realize who I am. When you grow up in a community like this one, you get to see kids grow up, get jobs, and become successful. That’s a slow-burning, but very rewarding experience.
If you were going back to Western today what would you study?
I did not go to Western, but I think that Bruce Shepard has done a great job there upgrading the academic rigor at WWU, and the Education Department is particularly good. Anyone in Washington State who wants to be a teacher should go to Western, that’s their expertise.
But I would love to study history, cultural anthropology, or cartology. I would love to learn another language. I could probably learn all day forever.
Do you have a passion project or a side-project going at the moment?
I’m on the Whatcom Council of Nonprofits, a program of the Whatcom Community Foundation; we strive to make sure the nonprofits in our community are strong organizations. I’m proud to see progress being made in strengthening those organizations, providing opportunities for growth and networking.