I recently reached out to an old friend on Facebook. We hadn’t seen each other for over 30 years, and I wondered how he and his family were getting on. He responded and after a while, we exchanged phone numbers. When he called, one of the first questions he asked was:
“Where are you living now?”
“On Vashon Island, near Seattle,” I replied.
“Really? Man! I’ve heard of that place. I’d give anything to live there!”
Oooh, yes. We are legend. Just Google “Vashon Island.” You’ll find 867,000 results, approximately 80,000 videos, 22,000 news stories and an uncountable number of images.
What is it about Vashon that people find so appealing? Vashon-Maury Island is about the same size as America’s other famous island, Manhattan. But in every other way, the two are poles apart (Manhattan has about 1,930,000,000 results).
Maybe Vashon’s attraction is a feeling. Like the feeling that one has as the ferry docks, that you’ve just landed on the mythical shores of another Lake Wobegon. A place where celebrities sometimes visit and would-be celebrities, artists, writers, musicians, performers and chefs actually live, along with the rest of us.
Or maybe it’s the suspense of waiting for a ferry boat at the end of a long line of Subarus.
Or the sense of relaxed seclusion one feels, surrounded by water and living among so many trees, which beckon us to take long inspiring walks along well-tended trails, through preserved woodlands and salmon-bearing streams.
Perhaps it’s the sight of hundreds of clever, well-groomed and colorfully dressed school children, noisily exiting their buses and running toward their bright, successful futures.
On the other hand, there is the giddy anticipation of attending a Graham Nash concert or an LGBT Ball, or one’s first aerial gymnastics class.
Or maybe, it’s just the security of knowing that in an emergency, help will arrive, that Vashon is prepared.
Whatever that feeling is, it comes from knowing that Vashon is a good place to live, and you can be proud of that.
When I consider it for long, I become aware of all the people who have made Vashon home, and all those organizations that make Vashon the vibrant community that it is.
I am grateful to all those people who, during the pandemic, continued working behind the scenes. All those who showed up for work, who kept essential businesses open, who jabbed us with vaccines in parking lots, who delivered food to our homes. Who kept writing, printing and delivering The Beachcomber, as well as the show producers at Voice of Vashon who entertained us and kept us informed throughout.
The thing is, many of the non-profit organizations on Vashon were just getting by before “The Big Sick.” But they carried on doing the work in spite of the challenges. When I think of their contributions to our Vashon community, I can’t imagine how much weirder life would be without them.
For instance, when I think of how Vashon’s schoolchildren (including my daughter) benefitted from the work of the Vashon Schools Foundation, the Community Scholarship Foundation, Vashon Partners in Education (PIE) and Vashon Wilderness Program, I can’t imagine their lives being as fulfilled without their support.
Other organizations have also grown to serve the needs of children living on an isolated, rural island: The Journeymen, Vashon Sisterhood, RJ’s Kids, VARSA, Harbor School Children and Vashon Maury Co-operative Preschool.
Each one serves the different needs of our kids. There is not enough space to list all the organizations that deserve our thanks and our contributions.
But some like the DOVE Project, the Vashon Care Network, the Senior Center, VashonBePrepared, The Food Bank, Vashon HouseHold and the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust, all perform critical roles in making the Vashon-Maury Island community a good place to live.
GIVE BIG Day, is this next Tuesday and Wednesday. You can listen to your favorite organizations talk about their important community work on KVSH, Voice of Vashon 101.9 FM, both days from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Then, decide how much you would give to live here!
Art Chippendale has lived on Vashon for more than 20 years with his wife, Tania Kinnear.