I love Vashon. It’s been home for all of my life.
And it saddens me that in all likelihood, I’m going to have to leave my home for no other reason than because housing for low-income people (such as myself) is becoming more and more scarce.
Now, I hate to generalize, but I am confident in saying that at least on the surface, island people do care about low-income people. The hypocrisy comes from my belief that they don’t want low-income people on the island. Whether or not they are conscious of this is a different discussion.
For example, for years, most people have spoken out against building a bridge to the mainland. One reason they say is that it will harm our quiet community.
What does that mean? Does it mean big business will come and drive out small businesses? I don’t think so because that can easily be dealt with via legislation.
What I think it means is that building a bridge will bring more commerce to the island, and as a result, more low-skill jobs and therefore more low-income people.
And for as long as there have been poor people, there have been wealthy and powerful people who look down on them. The island is no exception.
To take it further, I don’t think it stops at simply income. I believe the island has a generally negative attitude toward blue collar people.
This, to me, was most evident in my time at Vashon High School. A school that once had many practical courses (auto shop, welding, etc) has opted to cut those courses while keeping the less-practical art classes.
Now, I loved those art classes, and I think art is important. But is it really so much to ask for both? Or maybe cut a couple of them to save very practical courses?
But this speaks to the bigger point. Because all throughout high school there was a constant drumbeat of college, college, college. “You’ll never get anywhere unless you go to college.” As a kid, you hear that so often, you start to believe it. The promotion of trades was virtually non-existent (in my experience).
I obviously can’t prove any of this since I can’t know the thoughts of anyone else. I can only put a voice to what I see. And what I see is an island that on the one hand, claims to care about low-income people and wants to help out, while on the other hand, has no problem pricing them off the island.
— Jason Hornburg is a long-time Vashon resident.