Making Vashon a climate action laboratory

The Whole Vashon Project aims to gather the community around programs that motivate action.

  • Monday, April 27, 2020 12:45pm
  • Opinion
Susan McCabe

Susan McCabe

Just over a year ago, Rondi Lightmark founded The Whole Vashon Project. Her ambitious goal at the time was to put climate consciousness ‘top of mind’ on Main Street Vashon. She saw, as I do, that Vashon-Maury Island could be a perfect laboratory to test the efficacy of climate action by the community.

The idea has been to focus an entire community on actions aimed at saving our Earth home from the devastation caused by the climate crisis. The first step in Rondi’s vision was to collect 2020 “Green Goals” – commitments to environmentally friendly practices — from island businesses and non-profits in a catalog inspired by the 1970s Whole Earth Catalog. The Whole Vashon Catalog, now available online, boasts green goals from nearly 120 island businesses and non-profits, and much more.

The process of creating the catalog has been a community effort. With enthusiastic support from a crew of 25 volunteers and advisors, twelve island artists and writers contributed their work to the piece, in addition to bird portraits from Chautauqua fourth-graders and stories of conquest over environmental degradation from others. Island scientists bequeathed their expertise in revealing the whys and hows of species endangerment and what we, as a community and as individuals, can do about it. There’s a list of resources for those who want to learn more, opportunities to test your earthly knowledge, and scattered throughout the catalog are islanders’ wishes and dreams for our island and the planet we call home.

Rondi’s ambitious goal was to publish the Whole Vashon Catalog by January 2020, but another crisis intervened to delay print publication.

“We thought the climate crisis was the impending catastrophe, never imagining it would be overshadowed by a global pandemic,” Rondi writes in the catalog’s introduction. Consequently, it’s hard to say what Main Street Vashon will look like when the pandemic has passed. But we do know the climate crisis isn’t going away.

We anticipate those organizations that have committed to green goals for 2020 will do their best to keep their promises. And, so will The Whole Vashon Project.

The Whole Vashon Catalog is just the first step in the project plan. For at least the remainder of 2020, and hopefully beyond, The Whole Vashon Project will gather our community around climate action programs, from visual and performing arts that inspire connection to the Earth to programs and community forums led by scientists, farmers and leaders in environmental protection that motivate action. In fact, so far this year, the Whole Vashon Project team, with support from Vashon Rotary, has published bi-weekly pages in this newspaper with educational information about climate action, showcasing the efforts of islanders already deeply involved in the mission. Experts such as Greg Wessel of Geology In the Public Interest and marine animal veterinarian Tag Gornall offered surprising lessons in how we can help the Earth heal.

Most recently, the Whole Vashon Project page featured islanders’ plans to recognize 50 years of Earth Day despite the pandemic shutdown. The Whole Vashon Project Facebook page has become a forum for mainstream and alternative climate action ideas from around the world, gathered by members of the Vashon community. The Whole Vashon Project website ( offers insights and direction for islanders who want to take action.

In his “Prayer for the Earth,” Catalog contributor Michael Meade says, “The danger is not only that ecosystems collapse, but also that before we reach the point of complete disaster, human imagination fails to function and we fall out of the living story of the world.” I’d like to believe the Whole Vashon Project will continue to show that our community remains rich in imagination from all corners. I’d like to believe that together we will continue to test and practice innovative ways to reduce our negative impacts on the Earth and generate concepts we can share with other communities.

For at least the remainder of 2020, the Whole Vashon Project aims to be a central forum where our island community can “Stand up to climate crisis with creativity and hope.” We dedicate all our efforts to our children, and we are following their demand that we “… act as if the house is on fire, because it is.” — Greta Thunberg, 2019. We are grateful to the many enthusiastic folks who’ve supported the Whole Vashon Catalog financially and creatively. To preview and download The Whole Vashon Catalog, pages, go to

— Susan McCabe is the former station manager of Voice of Vashon and a project partner for the Whole Vashon Catalog.

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