By Jeanna Defroeit
Have you ever heard of something for the first time, only to notice it seemingly everywhere around you afterwards? As if you had been cured of selective blindness to that one thing only to be surrounded by it? This is what is known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, also known as the frequency illusion. It happens to me quite often. For example, I had never heard of the clothing brand Supreme until I watched “Patriot Act” on Netflix. All of a sudden, I started noticing the large red logo everywhere I went – how could I have missed it? At 32, I realized I am now old enough to be (blissfully) oblivious to certain new trends.
At 32, I am also young enough to be completely unaware of some of the ongoing problems we have inherited, such as the Hanford nuclear site cleanup. Despite being a Washingtonian for most of my life, I don’t recall ever having learned about Hanford. I may or may not have known there was some sort of nuclear site named something, somewhere in WA, where they were dealing with it. The extent of my nuclear knowledge was probably basic awareness about Chernobyl, the Manhattan project, and nuclear energy.
Since joining the Hanford Challenge team, I have been googling, reading, and listening as much as possible. I generally consider myself to be well-read and environmentally conscious, but I had somehow missed this huge mess in my own state. I realized that Hanford is actually frequently on local and national news. Many of my friends have started to notice Hanford issues in the news after first hearing about it from me. All it takes is one point of contact for someone to start noticing Hanford everywhere and caring. We should all be paying attention to protect the future and we can start by simply asking, “Do you know about Hanford?”
About the author: Jeanna Lee Deforeit joins the Hanford Challenge team as the Assistant Deputy Director. Her non-profit management and fundraising career has been focused on improving operations, strengthening communities, and developing culturally competent outreach programs. She previously served as the Deputy Director of the Municipal League Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to improving local government through non-partisan civic engagement and policy analysis, and will join its board of directors. With a passion for health equity, Jeanna is also one of the founding board members for the Community Health Worker Coalition for Migrants and Refugees.