When opportunity knocks, answer

In this troubled economy, it’s more important than ever to respond quickly when opportunities arise. That’s precisely what the people of Forks did when author Stephenie Meyer chose this rural town on the Olympic Peninsula for her best-selling book about teenage love and vampires.

Columnist

In this troubled economy, it’s more important than ever to respond quickly when opportunities arise. That’s precisely what the people of Forks did when author Stephenie Meyer chose this rural town on the Olympic Peninsula for her best-selling book about teenage love and vampires.

Published in 2005, “Twilight” is a romance novel about a handsome young vampire, Edward, and his teenage soul mate, Bella. Meyer wanted a drizzly and moody backdrop for her novel, and Forks, said to be the rainiest place in the United States, was an ideal setting.

The rest, as they say, is history.

The book reached No. 5 on The New York Times Best Seller list for young adults and has been translated into 20 languages. As the book’s fame grew, so did interest in the town of Forks. The Chamber of Commerce realized that this book about vampires provided an opportunity to breathe new life into their town.

Forks has been struggling to regain its economic footing since the downturn in the forest industry in the 1980s. Timber harvests in the Pacific Northwest dropped by 80 percent because of the controversy over logging old-growth timber and the listing of the northern spotted owl as a threatened species.

When “Twilight” came along, Chamber officials seized the opportunity to market their town to the book’s legions of fans around the world.

The city energetically promotes its ties to the wildly popular book and the Chamber dedicates a major section of its Web site to the “Twilight” phenomenon — even creating a map of the real locations used in the fictional tale.

Marcia Bingham of the Forks Chamber says the effort has greatly increased tourism. “Normally, we have 150 people a month at our Visitor’s Center. In April, we had 4,800.”

Bingham says that, while hard numbers are difficult to come by, the “Twilight” series — four books in all — has been a shot in the arm for small business owners in Forks. “One new store deals solely in ’Twilight’ souvenirs, other stores have added related merchandise, and we work with several tour companies to bring fans to our area.”

In fact, Forks is one of the few communities in the entire state to report a steady increase in tax revenues. Last year sales tax collections increased 7.46 percent.

The Chamber is now working to entice more of the thousands of “Twilight” fans to stay in the city’s motels, which would provide a much needed revenue boost through the 2 percent hotel/motel tax.

According to a recent article in the Puget Sound Business Journal, Forks’ fame is now going global. “‘Twilight’ is just getting to be a big thing overseas,” said Jeannie Barresi, who started a “Twilight” tour for her Colorado travel company. “The international market is coming.”

Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, Washington State Tourism and the Port of Seattle are teaming up to tout “Twilight” trips in Germany, Japan, France and the United Kingdom.

Forks has not been able to capitalize on all facets of the “Twilight” craze. A “Twilight” movie was released in 2008 and another is under way, but apparently Forks is too remote to accommodate Hollywood film crews who need to be near sound studios and film processing facilities. The first film was shot near Portland, Ore., and the second is being filmed outside Vancouver, B.C.

While Washington lost out on the “Twilight” movies, state lawmakers in January greatly expanded our state’s ability to attract future film productions. Gov. Gregoire recently signed a new law that rebates 30 percent of what a film company spends in the state during filming.

The new incentive is working, according to Amy Dee of Washington Film Works, a not-for-profit group that offers funding assistance to commercials, television and feature films shooting in Washington state. “It will make us just as competitive as Oregon,” says Dee. “In fact, we just approved an application for a feature film to be shot in Seattle called, “The Details.”

There is no question that the current economic downturn is taking a toll on communities across the nation. But the people of Forks are proving that, even in the worst of times, you can still find opportunities.

More in Opinion

U.S., Russia agree on Middle East situation

Since Russia helped Syria’s Bashar al-Assad stay in power and helped to defeat ISIS, are Russia and the U.S. at odds in the Middle East? Is Russia threatening American dominance in the region? The answer to both is no.

Page-turners: Best books of 2017

Continuing an end-of-year tradition that dates back more than 15 years, the King County Library System has chosen its Best Books of 2017.

Anthem protests about equality, not disrespect

For all who write negative comments about the football players who took a knee and posted that “this is not the America we grew up in,” let me share a few of the personal events from my life growing up in Tacoma Washington as a white woman.

Trump supporters’ attitude still the same

“Support Trump? Sure,” she said. “I like him.” These words by Pam Shilling from Trump Country western Pennsylvania reflect what many Trump supporters are thinking a year after the 2016 election victory, according to an article excerpted from “Politico.com” by “The Week” (Dec. 1, 2017).

Readers note: Change in comments section

The Courier-Herald has switched to a different online reader-comments platform.

Former fan finished with disrespectful NFL players

I lived off the grid for 15 years and the one thing I missed the most was watching pro football.

Carrying firearms about to change at the state Capitol

If you come to the state Capitol and want to see lawmakers in action, there are a few rules to follow while sitting in the galleries overlooking the Senate and the House floors.

America’s monster

I’m not sure when it happened, but I recently realized I’ve stopped asking myself, “What are we going to do about mass shootings and gun violence in this country?” Instead, I now ask, “When is the carnage going to come to Enumclaw?”

Avoiding loss means more than gaining something else

Some studies have shown that losses are twice as psychologically powerful as gains. American history and our current political situation help reveal a great deal about the American/human psyche.

Congratulations, Jan Molinaro

In every election, one person must win and the other will lose. Now more than ever, it is important to show our children how to be gracious in victory and humble in defeat.

Don’t give into the pressure of driving drowsy

Eleven years ago, a drowsy-driving car wreck left me with injuries that still challenge me today.

Opening our minds can be a beautiful thing

As a leader of my church’s Sunday Adult Forum, I had a goal: to put a human face on Islam for the members of the congregation and community.