As the saga of our unvaccinated fire chief now enters its fourth week of being front-page news, our section for letters to the editor has become the hottest real estate in the paper.
We’re glad to see this time-honored forum for community discussion spring to life these past weeks, though we are as distressed as everyone else about the cause of it.
This week, we’ll let readers have their say on the fire chief’s stance on vaccination, as we’ve opined about it in editorials for the past two weeks, and now written yet another lengthy news story about the latest developments. We’ll stick to the facts this week.
Islanders aren’t the only ones anymore with opinions on the subject — The Seattle Times editorial board even weighed in on the situation yesterday, calling on mandate-refusing public servants throughout Washington to step aside, so that their well-paying jobs could be filled by other more publicly-minded applicants.
The editorial mentioned our town, fire chief and local newspaper all by name, providing a link to The Beachcomber’s coverage of the fire department fiasco.
But here at the paper that broke the story, we wish Vashon was getting better press these days.
We are still a remarkable community, in so many ways.
How to sum us up?
We’re argumentative. As the old joke goes, put five islanders in a room together and you’ll hear at least seven different opinions. (Is that how the joke goes? Let’s argue about it.)
We’re fun-loving and live for a good street party. Just look at the photo of Stupid Bike Night on our front page if you doubt that.
We’re artsy. Check out the bounty currently up for bid at Vashon Center for the Arts’ annual auction, the outdoor performances that keep coming at Open Space for Arts & Community, and the way that our local artists’ association, Vashon Island Visual Artists (ViVA), keeps finding a way to serve their many members.
We’re musical. How many small towns have a free lending library of musical instruments, such as the one run by Vashon Events? Well, maybe some towns have such a library, but we’re pretty sure ours has the coolest selection of instruments.
We write, we stitch, we run, we bike, we grow food and are also able to take in the splendor of large tracts of public land, thanks to the tireless efforts of local activists and conservationists.
We are home to brilliant communities within our community, including Comunidad Latina de Vashon, which last weekend presented a lively open market, hosted by youth.
We have our own damn radio station.
Our schools, both public and private, are strong, filled with devoted and talented teachers and paraeducators, who excel at their work, day after day under incredible pressure.
Most of all, we care about each other, here on this island. Look at our remarkable pandemic response and the way that our friends and neighbors have rallied, serving on volunteer corps that have kept the island relatively safe, and our caseload low, during this seemingly endless pandemic.
On Labor Day, the heroic volunteer members of our Medical Reserve Corps again worked through the holiday, making sure that everyone who might have been exposed to a case of COVID at McMurray Middle School was immediately contact traced, and tested.
That’s people power, and public health power, and the beauty of Vashon.
Long may we remember these things about the place where we live, even in times that seem dark. Even in times when we are angry about things that are rightfully upsetting.
We are on an island, with just each other. Somehow, we have to keep making it work.
Here at The Beachcomber, we’ll keep doing our part in all this. This town deserves a good newspaper, too, that tells it like it is.