Vashon, I love you.
Really. This is a love letter to Vashon. And I want to start it with the morning of Nov. 5, after the Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce’s first Tuesday coffee hour, when the organization’s executive director, Jim Marsh, said, “lower-left corner” and I put a decal on the Chamber door.
The decal has an island in the middle, with an exuberant tree growing out of it, and the words “Small island, big idea,” under the image. The important part, however, is the blue ring around the decal, which has the words, “Ask us about our 2020 green goals.” And it says “WholeVashonProject.com” at the bottom — it’s telling you that you can walk into the Chamber and have a conversation about Vashon’s creativity and hope.
Last spring, Jim had a lot to do with making the decal a reality. I was at the Home Show that the Chamber staged at Vashon Center for the Arts, telling people about my idea to deal with the climate crisis by “making it a visible, Main Street reality, instead of a solitary misery in front of our computers.” So I got to the Chamber booth, bent the ear of James Eliason, my island insurance agent, and signed up for the door prize.
When I got home, Jim was on the phone. He said, “Hey, you won the door prize and tell me about the Whole Vashon Project.” So I did, and he thought it was a good idea. That was huge, to have his encouragement.
I’ve been on Vashon for almost 14 years, but have mostly been having fun creating greeting cards of Vashon dogs in cars. Because of the climate crisis, however, I have found myself deeply questioning what else I needed to do. It’s bothered me for a while, that despite the looming threat of human extinction, it still looks pretty much like business as usual wherever we go. During World War II, knowledge of the enemy was made evident in every community, primarily through the arts, with posters, movies, jingles on the radio, volunteer committees, Victory gardens and more. So why not take that approach with the threat of climate change?
Thus, my inspiration: there is a wealth of good works on Vashon. But what else is going on and how do we make it known? Especially so that our children can have evidence that they have been heard, that we adults are taking charge.
Small island, big idea: Why not collect green goals for 2020 from businesses, nonprofits and civic organizations? And then, put them in a free catalog (due early next year), to serve as visible evidence of our collective awareness and caring about the environment. Would this be a possible catalyst for our community to pull together, do more, think bigger, feel more supported in challenging times ahead?
The result: more than 65 businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations have responded thus far so generously. Vashon, I love you.
I could use up my word count here, just by listing all of the people who have been volunteering to help put the Project together — it’s grown way beyond me at this point. I’ll have to save those names for the acknowledgments section of the catalog, but just know there are many and this is their part of this love letter.
It has been truly amazing and wonderful to discover how many changes people have already been making, from switching to recyclable straws to the Land Trust’s goal to plant 5,000 trees. If you want to hear more good news, look for those decals, because they are going up in windows all over town. They are inviting you to enter a conversation.
Join the Project at WholeVashonProject.com/forms. The deadline is Monday, Nov. 11.
— Rondi Lightmark is an island activist who started the Whole Vashon Project.