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My Coast 2021

Hear why the locals call Our Coast home

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  • 7 min to read
Jeanne Maddox Pederson

Jeanne Maddox Peterson

Founder, Maddox Dance Studio; Founder and producer, Little Ballet Theatre's "The Nutcracker"; former producer, Miss Oregon pageant ● Warrenton

Q: What do you love about living on the coast?

A: I love the weather, and I just love the whole community spirit. I think it is very important. I’ve done a lot of community work and volunteering for so many years on so many things. I just think that volunteerism in a small community is to be so praised because it involves families when you are working on a project. It’s a family affair, you know, which is a wonderful thing to see. And I think you don’t find that in a larger city.

Q: You opened the studio in 1949. What is it like teaching dance to so many generations of kids across the county?

A: All the teachers that I have right now with all my students, former students, and now, we’re teaching their children. I’m teaching grandchildren of former students, so I feel like I’m sort of the great grandmother of all this. It’s wonderful. It’s a family feeling ... I think that’s important because of the connection and the traditions. I’m very, very much of a traditionalist, and I think hearing through all the things with each family is a blessing, besides very exciting to have that opportunity.

Q: What are noticeable changes you’ve seen in Astoria since you moved here?

A: I think there has been a lot of growth in many areas. I think. ... We didn’t have a bridge (to Washington state). I used to teach in Ilwaco. If my parents were late picking up their children from the last class, then I would have to drive to Longview to come home. I think changes around the community with new things coming in. Hotels coming in and restaurants; there’s so many restaurants now. ... Which is great. And the communications I think are better now with everyone.

Trevor Lilburn

Trevor Lilburn

Petty Officer, Third Class, U.S. Coast Guard Public Affairs ● Astoria

Q: What do you love about living on the coast?

A: Personally, I love the weather. The marine layer keeps us warm in the winter and cold in the summer. And some people might not like the rain, but I just love it. The pitter patter on the roof at night lulls me right to sleep.

Q: What do you like about the local and Coast Guard community?

A: I think what I really like about the community is the people. In January 2019, the government shutdown for about a couple months, and the Coasties here, we had a hard time with not having our paychecks showing up. The community absolutely came out in stellar fashion and helped us through that. They really truly showed their true colors. And we saw what this community thinks about us, and they love us. ... If you watch the news, it feels like the whole world is falling apart. It feels like every day is some new tragedy, and that’s true and for a lot of people, that is true. But, here on the ground, when you’re out at the store, doing what things you can do within the guidelines of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), you see the people interacting, and it does not look like the end of the world. These people, all of us, the community, we are out here helping each other in any little way we can.

Q: How did you feel about being stationed here with the Coast Guard?

A: My family lives out here on the coast, and I had the chance to pick Astoria of a multitude of different assignments. And it turned out to be the best decision ever. As far as the Coast Guard is concerned, this is a little pearl, hidden secret. It is one of one of the best assignments you could possibly get.

LaNicia Duke

LaNicia Duke

Visionary, consultant, advocate, empowerment coach; Owner and private chef, Coastal Soul ● Manzanita

Q: What do you love about living on the coast?

A: In 2009, I decided to begin seeking a purpose, instead of just a paycheck, and so I quit my job in corporate America. It really began as a journey of self-discovery; you know, is there a purpose in life and with my belief in God, how does my faith play into my purpose? So, in 2014, I wrote a list of what I wanted my life to look like. I said a prayer, and I literally just did a Google search of different places ... I have never in my life felt like I had a home. I’ve always been different, and the coast is the only place that I’ve been able to be 100% transparent and authentically me, even in the hard stuff. I can still be 100% me. I just had that feeling on the inside of me that this was my home.

Q: In 2015, you started your private chef business, Coastal Soul. What’s your favorite part about running it?

A: (It’s) the best way to meet people, the best way to connect with people. I have made some of the best new friends, associates, just people in passing. You bring good food together, (and) I think it softens hearts, and it opens minds to just possibility, to life, to love. It has been life-changing for me, in that aspect, to use food as a tool to just really cultivate community.

Q: You’re a visionary, consultant, advocate, and empowerment coach. How does that play into your role in the community?

A: Even though Dr. King spearheaded the civil rights movement and was a Black person, I have always believed that his message of love is a universal language that supersedes the color of your skin or anything else that creates barriers and one that can truly unite us sometimes without even talking. Unfortunately, there’s always been the undertone because I was a Black person in our community that I could only advocate around Black issues. I tried to set the tone for the Love Coalition to be advocating for community outside of labels, so we really can build authentic relationships with one another without the preface of having to come to the table already with preconceived ideas of who we are, but, to really have that clean slate. Sure, my skin is brown, but there’s so much more to me, and sure, the landscape here has traditionally historically been a white-only territory, but there’s so much more. I’ve been trying to build that bridge and using Dr. King’s message of love to start producing the fruit of those seeds that have been planted. I’m a fourth generation preacher’s kid. I grew up encouraging people and giving people hope. That’s something that I’ve been doing long before I moved here. I really feel like some in my community, even though subconscious or unconscious, they tried to manipulate who I was to make it work for them. I’m like, it doesn’t work that way ... But, I love my community, right, and I don’t want the contention in my community, because we’re all better than that. I truly believe in every person in my community.

Steve Sohlstrom

Steve Sohlstrom

Owner of Salty Dog and Sea Breeze Charters ● Ilwaco, Washington

Q: What do you love about living on the coast?

A: Well, it is beautiful. When you think about Cape Disappointment, North Head, the jetty, the mouth of the Columbia and the North Oregon Coast. Nothing comes close. Nothing. My folks, when I was a kid, had a summer home up on Long Beach. We got to spend every summer down here. I grew up on the beach. I gravitated towards the boats, and when I was a youngster, I started working as a crew member, a deckhand.

Q: You recently bought Sea Breeze Charters, and expanded from your one ship, the Salty Dog. What’s that like?

A: People want to come out, they really want to enjoy the environment and being on the ocean going offshore. It’s a different world out there. It’s not like anything you’ve ever done, until you’ve been out there a little bit, you know, and then going even further up to the blue water to tuna. It’s unbelievable out there. I just loved it, and so now I just want to run real time, run some great fishing trips. I want to own and operate the nicest charter boat or charter service, if not in this area, but in the state of Washington. I really have a goal in mind for what I want to do.

Q: How would 19-year-old you feel about you still being here, running charters?

A: I just knew at a really young age that this was a good fit for me. I knew it. I felt it. Even though I had to go back to the big city, I would still find plenty of time to come back. I never wavered on my interest for the coast, or for this particular area. I never thought there was something better out there.

Cindy McDonald

Cindy McDonald

Manager of access services, Providence Seaside Hospital; community volunteer; COVID-19 vaccine clinic worker ● Seaside

Q: What do you love about living on the coast?

A: I’m an outdoor person, so I love to take the trails and hikes. I can leave work and within a half hour be down at the beach crabbing or I can come here and put my paddle board and just paddle all the way down. It can be sunny and gorgeous and no one is around. It’s invigorating. I like being able to walk to the beach where I can pass a herd of elk and then see bald eagles. I love that, and the people, and there’s no traffic!

Q: What do you like about the Seaside and North Coast community?

A: My husband and our family moved out here 25 years ago from the (Washington), D.C., area. We just wanted to have a smaller town, and we love the West Coast. My one son’s got the Seaside Vision Center, which we started 25 years ago, and he took it over from us. All the businesses around here are family oriented, so they treat you like family. That’s why I like the hospital. The team I work with, we’ve been together well over 15 years, and a lot of them have been there even longer. We’re just there, whether someone’s sick, there’s a newborn, there’s deaths. We get together just for support or to celebrate. I kind of thought I might move to Portland, since all my kids went there and now that I have grandkids, but I love it here. I don’t think I’ll move.

Q: What is it like working at Providence Seaside Hospital, especially during the coronavirus pandemic?

A: We have the registrars that are the first people there when patients come in. They check in with them for surgeries, labs, X-rays, the emergency room. We see a lot of people and being a small town, you see the same people. You kind of feel like family. We ask for their three identifiers, but we know who they are when they come in. It’s really kind of nice, and then they feel at ease, especially with all the screening and the COVID and the Plexiglas and the masks.

Hailey Hoffman is a visual journalist for The Astorian. Contact her at 971-704-1725 or

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