Peyton yawns and stretches as my sister Katie holds her during our first Skype conversation. (Screen grab by Janelle Retka)
Peyton yawns and stretches as my sister Katie holds her during our first Skype conversation. (Screen grab by Janelle Retka)

Instagram introduced me to my niece.

The next time I saw her was through iCloud. Then on Facebook. A few days later, via Skype.

In the next five months, I was immersed in photos of her furrowed eyebrows and wordless personality before we even met in the same place in the same time zone.

My oldest sister packed her bags to move from Seattle to Australia eight years ago for what we thought would be a three-year job contract. Before long, Katie had met my brother-in-law, Josh, and settled down.

Peyton Elise Barkley was born to them on February 24, 2014.

Separation of families across borders is an increasing trend, as globalization continues to make every part of the world more accessible. Emigration from the U.S., immigration into the U.S. and the military all contribute to the separation of families across international borders.

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James Keum (#auntieboi) and Lulu Carpenter #LadyBear discuss Ferguson and resiliency, during a #LuluNation + #SadBoisHypeClub show on November 18th. (Photo by V. Nguyen).
James Keum (#auntieboi) and Lulu Carpenter (#LadyBear) discuss Ferguson and resiliency, during a #LuluNation + #SadBoisHypeClub show on November 18th. (Photo by V. Nguyen)

Last Friday on World Radio Day, about 100 people gathered at the Seattle Public Library downtown to celebrate the roll out of 13 new low-power FM radio stations (LPFM, for short), that will be squeezing onto the airwaves over the next year.

On the amount of power needed to light a single light bulb, these tiny community radio stations will broadcast to their immediate surroundings, right up against the corporate and public goliaths already dominating the FM dial.

So why is one of the most tech-forward cities in the nation celebrating such a low-tech revolution?

Jane McGrane on her first trip to the US, taken in 1976 in San Francisco. (Photograph courtesy of Jane McGrane)
Jane McGrane on her first trip to the US, taken in 1976 in San Francisco. (Photograph courtesy of Jane McGrane)

When was the last time you saw a cow? If you lived in Kilmaurs, Scotland, the answer would probably be “this morning.” The town of just over 2,600 people is ringed by dairy farms, manure-filled fields, and cows, making them part of residents’ everyday life.

My mum, Jane McGrane, lived in Kilmaurs for almost 30 years. When she did move, just before she married my dad, Sean, it was to his hometown of Stewarton– an entire mile away. She worked as a hairdresser, then at a factory which made famous highland sweaters from local wool. My dad recalls walking along the mile of train tracks to visit my mum’s town, which still only has one traffic light.

A ferry docks into downtown Seattle. (Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/pasfam/16777186/in/photolist-gNkca-2Y9v2o-3eCoCD-5ZaaWV-8WRrQi-2fUx45-2tZgQ-fpmXvB-e1Cqhx-8JURMU-cN5NoC-NcQX3-a3S7Jm-9FZirj-8WUsbo-4FrAHU-8JUVdL-a8jC9n-eCe3u8-4FzgBN-e3GxNx-cK6EhN-cK6Cgw-awQQe2-dRZSbP-ay57rw-868JWo-dU6Tpt-4X3irM-ebGT4P-ebPyCw-4zVnNK-8DbZKL-asQqKu-7QuvvX-8sEowx-cBCGZC-fpmAKH-7SHWVt-cD97Fy-6uNuFD-6HLSU1-4QgLch-8jsMmN-9He6oi-8K4tQ2-e3GyCZ-51VcwQ-5nBSp7-abZDgo" target="_blank">Paul Schultz via Flickr</a>)
A ferry docks into downtown Seattle. (Photo by Paul Schultz via Flickr)

For many of us Washingtonians, ferries conjure up sentimental thoughts of trips to the San Juan Islands or images of ferries humming along Puget Sound with the Seattle skyline or Olympic Mountains behind them.

But the recent ferry accident in South Korea killing almost 300 passengers and another capsizing in Bangladesh remind us that as safe as we may feel on a ferry deck looking at the water go by, there is potential for disaster just like any other means of transportation.