I’ve lived on Vashon for 25 years, but sometimes, I still find myself gobsmacked by the sweetness of our community, as if I am seeing it for the first time.
Last weekend was like that, as I mingled with hundreds of islanders at a community celebration of Cornelius Lopez, a legendary educator who is now retiring at the age of 83.
There was a whole lot of love at that event, and it was impossible to attend it and not be deeply inspired by Lopez’s life and legacy.
For me, there was also the giddy thrill of knowing that I could go home and write a long and colorful story about Lopez that reflected all that love.
We need some good news about a teacher on our front page these days.
It has been necessary, for the past three weeks, to write front-page stories about our school district that have been, by any measure, bad news to convey.
These stories are still unfolding, and we’ll continue our coverage of them in weeks to come, no doubt.
But this week, balance — something that is of vital importance to any newspaper — is not only possible but easy.
There is so much good news on these 12 pages of The Beachcomber.
First of all, Lopez’s party took place in a beautiful new public space — Vashon Theatre’s new “Backlot,” which islanders have been watching go up for many months now.
It’s been hard to envision what the space will actually look and feel like, but now that it is here, well, it’s amazing — a perfect and flexible outdoor space for many different kinds of events, including parties, film festivals, concerts, and markets.
At the celebration for Cornelius Lopez, I ran up to the theater’s owner, Eillen Wolcott, to congratulate her, and she recalled, with a laugh, how confused I’d looked when she first told me her vision for the “Backlot,” more than a year ago.
I laughed too, remembering how difficult I thought it would be to convey that vision in The Beachcomber.
But now, it has come to life, thanks to the Wolcott family’s persistence, and the support of the Vashon community — an imaginative effort to once again save our historic, single-screen historic movie theater, which is something else to celebrate on Vashon.
But wait, there’s more.
This week’s newspaper also delivers the happy news that Vashon’s library has expanded its hours — a reminder that, for now, it seems that we are finally emerging from the deprivations of the pandemic era on Vashon.
This fact is also now evident on our arts pages, detailing joyful happenings at galleries and performance spaces on Vashon, and on our sports pages, which always serve to amplify and celebrate the athletic accomplishments of Vashon youth.
It is also front-page news, in this week’s Beachcomber, that Vashon Island Fire & Rescue has hired two highly qualified new division chiefs — a reflection of staffing priorities outlined in the district’s recently passed strategic plan to make the district more modern and efficient in its all-important work to save lives and property on Vashon.
Our opinion pages also shine this week, with contributions from Alan Becker, Lila Cohen, Pat Call, and Tressa Azpiri, again reflecting the power, intelligence, compassion, and boundless energy of our community.
It’s an honor to tell the stories of our island, week after week.
But this week, it has also been a pleasure.
Keep the good news coming, Vashon.
— Elizabeth Shepherd, Editor