Every building is only as strong as its foundation. The same holds true for our countries, our communities, our lives.

One stabilizing force for many of us is work. It pays the bills for homes, food, and other necessities, and often provides satisfaction and pride. Many people lost their jobs last year, and hopefully we’ve turned a corner, but the world of work has been shifting for a while. The number of gig workers and people who travel the country as nomads searching for temporary work has grown significantly. The feature story in this issue looks at the lives of those workers and digs into the reasons for the change.

Another strong pillar for many of us is our alma mater or chosen home: Washington State University. During the pandemic, we reconnected with college friends and recalled good memories of student days. And, as young alumni and the students graduating in May face a transformed working world, they can also count on WSU help through the Coug nation and the WSU Alumni Association.

The WSUAA has always been a reliable partner for this magazine, and we’re pleased and thankful that this issue is exclusive to WSUAA members, subscribers, and the campus community. The alumni association has innovated during the past year to lift Cougar spirits with virtual events and more.

While visiting a real campus was difficult in 2020, we can still picture the iconic buildings there. WSU architecture professor Phil Gruen and others completed a monumental task of selecting significant structures across the state, including some at WSU such as Stevens Hall.

A community is definitely more than buildings, though. Health care sits at the heart of towns and cities, and the first doctors graduating from the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine are ready to go out and be community leaders.

However, we face a crisis of stability on a broader, national level. The January 6 invasion of the US Capitol represented a clear danger to democracy, and WSU political scientist Cornell Clayton places the event in historical context in his essay.

Hopefully this magazine offers you an ongoing connection to WSU and a steady presence in your life. We always welcome your support, and you can find ways to help at magazine.wsu.edu/friend.