— from Joe Symons —
Imagine a county whose population of residents and visitors chooses to honor its rural, wild, sustainable, refreshing, slow, nature-dominated, non-exploitive, respectful, in-perpetuity heritage.
Imagine stepping off the ferry into a sacred sanctuary.
Imagine that while everything looks the same, humans operate with a mindset of humility, acceptance, compassion, and respect.
Imagine that each person: property owner, visitor, resident, family member, supplier, takes off his/her “I’m the dominant species here” mindset and metaphorically, spiritually, and behaviorally embraces the perspective that “I’m a custodian/steward for a precious and threatened national/international park-sanctuary. I will endeavor to exercise zero-impact behavior in all aspects of my actions here. When I leave no one would know I had been here. I am not only a steward; I am a visitor in a sacred, special, delicate, and vulnerable land; I am here to restore myself and restore the integrity and beauty of this wild and precious group of islands.
“I am here to be part of, and not separate from, the community of peoples, animals, plants, rocks, shoreline, air, birds, orcas, and the gentle timeless spirit of this still-wild, still solid, still interwoven tapestry of life. It is a privilege to be here; I will honor that privilege. I am blessed to be able to share in this experience and I want those who join and follow me to feel and act with the same awe, reverence, and joy that I experience.
“I believe in the vision of these islands as “Forever Wild” and fully subscribe to the Guiding Principles and Goals. I know achieving this vision will take conversation, behavior change, and compromise, and I am honored to be able to be a player in achieving this transformation.”
Now imagine this verbal description condensed into a graphic image that captures the soul of its imagination and relates it to everyday concerns. That image exists. You can see it here.
Further, imagine that this package, a graphic and description, is more than a sugar-coated window dressing designed to promote a new brand for the San Juans intended to advance the tourism and construction industries. Rather this is a real package that was elevated to the central core of the Vision for San Juan County and embodied in the principles and development codes of the Comprehensive Plan now being updated. Imagine that those who live here, own property here, and visit here actually treasure these values and vision and will do what it takes to ensure that this county does not follow the standard “love it to death” process that has happened to essentially every other beautiful small (at one point “undiscovered”) rural community virtually anywhere in the world.
To make this happen, we have to move from talk to walk. The operant terms here are “we” and “walk”. This vision will not happen if the majority in a community waves flags as a few citizens walk in a parade. This vision will happen if, like Olga Daze, everyone is in the parade.
A few citizens have already started the parade. Exhibit A is the incredibly rich work done by those who, beginning in January, have participated in the new Vision and Pillars for Eastsound under the auspices of the EPRC. Other citizens have separately started a Comp Plan parade which parallels the Orcas effort to embrace the entire county, since the Comprehensive Plan is county wide.
You can join the parade, today, now, as you complete reading this, by going to doebay.net/sunshine, where you can learn about past and future challenges, sign up, participate in various surveys and petitions, send pre-addressed (and if you choose, pre-written) letters to the County Council, and let your voice be heard.
I am confident that, for the vast majority of residents and visitors, you know in your heart that you love it here. I am confident that you do not want to see your emotional, physical, and financial investments degrade as visitor and resident population growth inevitably compromises—if not eviscerates—carrying capacity, sustainability, and Growth Management Act principles. I believe that it is likely, if the lessons revealed (but not learned) from many other communities are a guide, that your vision, hope,s and expectations are much more likely to be betrayed than fulfilled.
This is big stuff. Everyone is on overload. No one can predict the future. The local and global horizons do not look pretty. There are challenges everywhere. It is very easy to be distracted.
This is your home, your community, your opportunity to walk your heart’s talk; here, you really can make a difference.
The unraveling has begun. A stitch in time saves nine. The needle and thread are a click away.