Vashon Is a Model for Hope, Building a Sustainable Economy

All this is a testimonial to our spirit being lively and unbroken.

  • Friday, January 22, 2021 5:23pm
  • Opinion
Gib Dammann

Gib Dammann

I was asked to write a commentary on hope, renewable energy, sustainability, and our island community. It’s hard to be a cheerleader these days, but the more I looked around, thanks to my community, the easier the task became.

Science has always provided hope. To combat COVID-19, scientists created multiple vaccines in less than one year. Let’s see the same commitment to our environment and climate change!

Hope and climate change? Our president-elect realizes climate change is an existential threat, his cabinet reflects a commitment to act, and Governor Inslee and King County are leading towards real action. All this reinforces our community’s leadership in modeling solutions!

Fossil fuel defenders can no longer say renewable energies can’t compete. And thanks to our local solar energy provider, Artisan Electric, I venture Vashon has more solar installs per population than any community in the state (thank you from Vashon Solar LLC.). Solar, energy conservation, wind, technological breakthroughs, hydro — we have some serious wins to point to lately. There are trucks powered by island-produced biofuels. There are cars on this island powered by renewable natural gas created from spent soy grain and anaerobic digestion. And harvesting hydrogen power, nanotechnology, broadcasting energy, and electric cars are all in our immediate future.

Let’s look at hope and our community’s sustainability. We are learning the importance of studying carbon, carbon emissions, carbon sequestration, carbon offsets. Coupled with “reduce, reuse, recycle” (thank you Nadine and all you dedicated recycle/reusers), something as simple as compost can greatly diminish our community’s carbon footprint.

That’s right — processing our organic waste locally focuses on rebuilding our soil rather than depleting it, requires fewer herbicides/pesticides, using food waste compostables saves energy and limits the need for plastics/Styrofoam, cleans our air and water, requires fewer transportation costs, and leads to goods produced/sold locally creating renewable jobs. Think about it: 46% of carbon emissions are created through goods and products! And Nadine and the Styrofoam/plastics collection crew demonstrate that we can deal with our waste stream!

Shout-out to our nonprofits, especially the ones with V somewhere in their name: Vashon Whole Cataloguers, VIGA, Sustainable Vashon, ZWV, Vashon Climate Action Group, together with our schools, parks, committed businesses and resourceful citizens. There is a synergy forming here towards a “Vashon Environmental Network.”

All this is a testimonial to our spirit being lively and unbroken. Hopefully, we will recommit to self-supporting local systems. With hope comes an opportunity to rebuild a more sustainable economy. And the building materials are already here.

One of my favorite Rotarians likes to say, “Together we can change the world.” It starts here: this island’s number one resource is its people. So, take heart, engage, volunteer, keep whatever faith you choose, double down on this community’s values, and love the one you’re with.

Gib Dammann is the vice president and a co-founder of Zero Waste Vashon.

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