A group of Vashon activists is at work on a catalog of the island’s efforts to combat climate change.
Islander Rondi Lightmark is aiming for a January 2020 deadline to distribute the Whole Vashon Catalog, a free, printed collection of artwork, essays and details of climate-related actions from Vashon organizations.
“The goal is to make climate change a Main Street reality, instead of a solitary misery in front of your computer,” Lightmark said.
Lightmark and her project partner, Susan McCabe, are seeking volunteers for nine separate teams to handle editing, production and outreach to the island’s businesses and non-profits.
The result is modeled on the Whole Earth Catalog, the famous periodical that Stewart Brand started in 1968 to showcase tools for ecological living. The Vashon version aims to connect the reader to resources that may be out of reach.
“It feels like so much of what people are doing about climate change on Vashon is invisible,” Lightmark said.
Volunteers will direct organizations to a brief form that asks them to describe their mission statement and 2020 climate change goal, along with climate-related resources and tools.
Lightmark and McCabe also envision a centerpiece artwork by island artist Annie Brulé, some brief informational pieces, a “Vashon Wish List” of creative ideas and enough resources to create “a body of shared knowledge” for island residents.
Lightmark promised the catalog will be “light on verbiage,” relying instead on heart and humor to get its message across.
Heart and humor were central to Lightmark’s prior career as a creator of greeting cards. Her familiar images of dogs in cars were sold around the world under the Lightmark Arts imprint.
Lightmark, also a teacher and author in prior days, became fascinated with the subject of regenerative agriculture. She even offered friends on Facebook $15 to watch a TED Talk about using livestock to rebuild farmlands.
“I thought, ‘How can I educate people that two-thirds of the planet is turning to desert, and that livestock plays a crucial role in its healing?’
“I was itching to drop everything, sell my business and let people know about this,” Lightmark said.
Both Lightmark and McCabe reflected on missing the first wave of environmental activism in the 1960s and 70s. Like Lightmark, McCabe began raising a family too early to take part in direct action when she was young.
“All my friends were protesting, and I was watching them on TV,” McCabe said. “We come from the generation that wanted to change the world — and did, but in the worst way.”
McCabe brings her background in marketing and writing to the project. She also shares Lightmark’s vision for what the Whole Vashon Catalog could be.
McCabe described using the catalog as a model to other communities that may be struggling with coordinating their responses to climate change.
For now, the race is on to enroll volunteers who, in turn, collect information from the community and help produce the printed version. Lightmark cites the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust and the Chamber of Commerce as supporters, with others lined up to offer material support.
After distributions of the catalog, McCabe said, comes a year of events, workshops and follow-up with organizations on their 2020 goals.
“In order to save the planet, it’s a matter of turning this behemoth of a planet in a new direction,” McCabe said.
Would-be volunteers and contributors can visit wholevashonproject.com.
—Andy James is a freelance writer.
Disclosure: The author is a board member of the Vashon Climate Action Group, which has offered support to the Whole Vashon Project.