The South Camano home was lovely, decorated with local art. The host, Rhonda, was an artist in her own right with her quilts displayed prominently. She showed me her grandmother’s quilt, lovingly stitched in a different era. My friend Julie who shares my passion for accessible mental health and support for families brought lemon bars and helped greet the guests. The room was filled. In came ladies from the Mabana Flames, a couple who ran a home care business and advocated for seniors, a new transplant to our Island County who was learning about resources and ways to get involved. We talked about priorities. We talked about the isolation on South Camano and the concerns about protecting their water resources, caring for the integrity of the watershed and preserving the beauty of our shorelines. I talked about a gentleman I met who told me he had to leave his home because he had a stroke and needed to move closer to healthcare. We met at Tyee Grocery where I stopped for a sandwich (great deli tucked away on East Camano) and he struck me as so forlorn.
One woman asked me toward the end of the talk, “We’ve talked about many things. What are your priorities for Island County?” I revisited my commitment to work for a healthy community with affordable housing, access to full, integrated healthcare, supports for seniors and access to parks, beaches and open space. I talked about how we can work together to protect the environment and that our actions and decisions impact the future health of our planet. So I guess that’s it. I will work for healthy families, healthy communities and a healthy planet. I also talked about my commitment to civility, for respectful and inclusive conversations where we all don’t agree, rather we see the value of a conversation where we bring our ideas and differences to the table and we work it out.
“Work it out,” I told my kids when they were growing up. Seems like we adults can learn from the children. I walked beside the kids at Stanwood Camano High School on the Wednesday walk out. It was impressive. I traveled to South Whidbey to attend a forum at WICA (Whidbey Island Center for the Arts) by the local youth about solutions for safe schools. There were kids on both sides of the issue of gun safety, kids with different ideas about how to protect our schools. They spoke and they listened. And when they didn’t understand, they asked questions. It was inspiring and reassuring to know that the future of our community, our state and maybe our nation is in their hands.
Yesterday I was in Langley at the home of Frances Wood and Bill Graves. Hat Island was across the way and I could see the tip of Camano to my left. I watched sailboats and whale watcher boats hustle by and then gather on the North Shore of Hat. I remembered watching the grays tumble and play on the beach there five years ago when I was on a friend’s sailboat. We talked about many of the same issues discussed on Camano. Bob spoke out and asked, “What will you do to help ease the way for affordable housing construction on Whidbey?” Again, we talked about water, planning, reconciliation of building codes and innovative co-housing or accessory dwelling solutions. “We heard you talk about healthcare,” someone said, “What about the environment?” I talked about my belief that climate change is real and not just an episodic chapter in earth’s history. We talked about the value of education to change human behavior and the importance of public policy to protect our planet. “How will you preserve the farms on our Island?” I was asked. I asked in return to be invited to a meeting by a concerned group of citizens gathering to look at how to protect and preserve that legacy and culture.
You see, I’m always learning. That’s why I love being out at “Meet & Greet” house parties. Being in the community allows me to listen and to learn what matters to the people of Island County. I’m not just running for office; I’m preparing to lead. I’m doing all I can to become an effective and responsive Island County Commissioner. That’s what this journey is about for me, walking the trails of stories, watching the vistas of opportunity and inviting the people I meet to join me on the trip. Wanna come along?