The power of a creative community

Creativity abounds on Vashon — and not just on local stages and gallery walls.

Will winter ever end? As we take this issue of the paper to press, predictions of more rain and, incredibly, more snow, are in the forecast for Vashon.

But there is a surefire way on the island to warm your heart, if not your body — by joining together with others to take part in our island’s remarkable cultural life.

You could start by donning your rain gear, or at least a warm coat, and heading out to sample the upcoming offerings of Vashon’s upcoming First Friday gallery cruise, as detailed on page 8 of this issue.

Newly opening exhibits range from the blisteringly political, with Vashon Center for the Arts’ invitational exhibit, “Choice,” to the simply stunning, with Ray Pfortner’s retrospective, “Island Home: 29 Years of Photographing Vashon,” at the Senior Center.

There will also be a new rotation of artwork by the 51-member collective of Swiftwater Gallery, which opened last month with a reception that featured a packed house of local art lovers. This month’s new show, too, is sure to draw a crowd.

The Beachcomber’s arts pages also advance other not-to-be-missed upcoming events, including an original production of “Alice in Wonderland” that we can’t wait to see at Vashon High School Theatre next weekend.

This weekend, “Vashon’s Got Talent” — a fundraiser for Safe Grad Night at Vashon High School — will offer up a wealth of performances by islanders of all ages, all for a great cause.

Creativity abounds on Vashon — and not just on local stages and gallery walls.

This week’s newspaper also contains stories about islanders who shine with creative energy in other endeavors — such as Amy Drayer’s page 1 article about Don Myers’ ongoing enterprise of turning Vashon Senior Center into a beauty salon, with his free “Senior Saints” hair-cutting program.

We love the way that Myers has thought outside the box to serve seniors on Vashon, and the way the Senior Center has welcomed him with open arms to do just that.

Another story, on page 4, details the work of music teachers Britt Dahlgren and Erin Kealy, who have a mission to not only present stellar music programs in Vashon public schools but also expand them.

At a school board meeting on Feb. 16, the two music teachers presented a five-year plan for their music programs to the school board.

They detailed the growth of their choir and band programs in the last year, and how these programs enhance their students’ learning in other subject areas and help prepare them for higher education.

Programs like the ones that Dahlgren and Kealy offer also deeply reflect our creative community.

That creativity can also be seen in other enterprises in our community that, on their surface, don’t involve the arts at all.

We don’t think it is a stretch to include Vashon Cemetery district’s “can-do” kick-start of a place for green burial on Vashon in this category (see page 1). After all, this effort was made possible, in part, by listening to the community and engaging in dialogue and collaboration with the Vashon-Maury Land Trust. It was something that the Cemetery District commissioners had to believe was possible, to picture in their minds. Then, they made it happen.

That’s what creative thought does — it makes things happen.

Imagination and collaboration can also help us navigate other issues on Vashon, too. These could include our Health Care District’s current task of re-imagining, with islanders’ help, what role the district can now play in filling some of Vashon’s many unmet health care needs.

In facing any difficult problem, it’s easy to give up, to wait for someone else to do something, or to decide that no problem can be solved without throwing a lot of money at it. But those aren’t the go-to responses of a truly creative community. We can shine brighter than that.

Thinking outside the box is something we do well on Vashon. And if we keep doing that, we can create a better future for ourselves as well as others on our island.