Islanders make stone soup together


For The Beachcomber

More than 40 Islanders met for a “stone soup” dinner and discussion of the community’s needs in these difficult economic times on Sunday, Feb. 1. The event was sponsored by Vision for Vashon, a new community group whose members are trying to find ways to help their Island neighbors in these hard times.

The program began with a welcome from Jim Hauser, one of the organizers of the event, and moved on to Merna Hecht, a professional storyteller, who told the story of the first “stone soup” dinner. All the members of a community bring ingredients to put in one big pot to make soup. After the story, the group ate the soup together and began a discussion at each table. They talked among themselves about how the economic downturn has affected their lives and their concerns for the future. It was a lively exchange.

After the dinner, someone from each table reported to the larger group. Karen Biondo, who, with her husband, operates a small farm, talked about losing her “day job” at a bank, which helped to subsidize the family’s small farm income. That job also provided the family with health care benefits, which they no longer have. She expressed her fear that they would not be able to continue with the farm and that health issues could become a serious problem.

One of the young adult members of the group, Morgan Guion, talked about the problem of youth who are not able to find jobs on or off the Island. She was hopeful that might change and mentioned that she was living very cheaply — using public transportation, walking and making other changes to her lifestyle to survive.

Cathy Fulton reported that people at her table had talked a lot about Islanders producing more of our own food. They discussed the need to find ways to grow, share and sell homegrown, organic products more cheaply. Bob Spivey, one of the Vision for Vashon organizers, added that we all had to make an effort to buy locally and support local businesses.

Emma Amiad reported that the discussion at her table centered around the needs of the homeless and working poor on the Island. The question arose out of that discussion as to how we can find a way to help Islanders see, understand and be willing to help the working poor.

Vision for Vashon is planning a followup event in March or April to have an Island-wide discussion of potential solutions to the problems confronting us, such as food security, housing and health care as well as other issues.

— Emma Amiad is is president of the Interfaith Council on Homelessness and a local Realtor.

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