BUILDING A BRIDGE: How government can work for people and planet

Sandi Friel and Picardy Shepherd Puppy, Quinnby Sandi Friel

When the time finally came to replace the ailing Channel Road Bridge in Deer Harbor, San Juan County took the high road.

Instead of top-down decision-making, County Councilman Rick Hughes encouraged Public Works to reach out to the community and let the residents guide the aesthetics of the bridge. This engagement process added a year in planning, but resulted in citizens taking ownership and pride in a bridge that they, in a sense, helped build.

Providing the sole access for hundreds of residents on the southwest side of Orcas Island (including yours truly), the Channel Road Bridge crosses the inlet to Cayou Lagoon. The old 52-foot-long timber bridge not only had a deteriorated structure, it was built using excessive fill that reduced the natural channel width by 50 percent, constricting tidal flow in and out of the lagoon. After nearly five decades, the lagoon was literally choking to death with buildup of fine sediment and resulting poor water quality.

Cayou Lagoon as seen from the bridge, with iconic Turtleback Mountain in the background

The new concrete bridge is 80 feet long and restores natural tidal flows which, over time, is expected to reduce sediment accumulation and increase habitat for juvenile salmon, forage fish, shellfish and shorebirds.

The bridge was also designed with an increased width to allow pedestrians to safely cross as well as pause and enjoy the views and wildlife.

Public Outreach

County Engineer Colin Huntemer held numerous meetings at the Deer Harbor Community Club to present possible designs and get feedback. He credits the citizen-based Deer Harbor Plan Review Committee for playing an essential role in the entire process.

The community input included selecting the color/pattern of the stamped concrete supporting walls and a unique style of timber guardrail that pays homage to the old timber bridge.

Weekly newsletter kept us informed

Once construction began, County Engineer John Van Lund sent out a weekly update highlighting the prior week’s accomplishments and letting us know the next steps, including any required closures or traffic delays.

When I contacted John over the Christmas holidays to ask that the expanding potholes get fixed, the holes were filled the NEXT DAY.

Residents were so thrilled with the community engagement and construction process, some brought the workers cookies and sent letters of thanks.

With the bridge now complete, we can enjoy safe passage for cars, pedestrians and our finned friends. Kudos to the Public Works staff for setting a shining example of how government can work in partnership with the people.

Deer Harbor Bridge ribbon cutting ceremony on March 7, 2017

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Orcas Island Snow Daze…

mandy-on-brick By Mandy Randolph

The sun rises over Eastsound Village on a snowy February morning.

Visitors to Orcas are always asking me if it ever snows here. The answer is, YES! Orcas snow is FUN snow! It doesn’t usually stick around very long, melting long before it loses it’s beauty.

What I love most about a snowy Orcas Island day is how it brings our small community even closer together. We all share in the wonder, the excitement, the worry, and usually the FUN of a snow day. An undeniable shared experience does wonders to make you feel connected to those around you.

Maybe my opinion is skewed. You see, teaching is my other other career. I’m sure everyone remembers the excitement of the announcement that school is closed for a snow day! I am one of the lucky ones that never has to go to work on a snow day. Maybe that explains why I love them so much.

The snow started early Friday morning. A snow day is fun, but a snow day at school with all of your friends is really fun! Shortly after lunch the snow started falling in flakes that were bigger than a child’s hand. We had to stop our lesson in Farm to Classroom and rush to the window to watch.

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The weekend brought more snow on Sunday night. This time there was enough snow for the Orcas Island Public School to call an official snow day! With more snow falling on Monday night the students received a second snow day on Tuesday. You could hear the cheers across the island.

My youngest son Johnny enjoyed the snow with his friends on Monday. Toddlers and snow make for a fun combination. We have had mild winters with no real memorable snow since these kiddos were born,  this was their first real Orcas snow day experience.

 

The big kids also know how to enjoy the snow. On Tuesday afternoon the sun was shining bright and the steep hills at Buck Park were calling. My son Jordan and his girlfriend Bethany had fun sledding the hills above the play fields where they will begin playing softball and baseball in just about a month!

Enough about my family. You are probably reading this to learn more about living on Orcas Island. Remember how I said the snow brings the community together with the shared experience? I loved seeing the pictures my fellow islanders were posting on social media during the snow days. I’ll share some of my favorites here.

Tom Tillman posted these pictures from his farm in Doe Bay. I think this driver may have been caught in the storm of ’87.

 

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Alexis Beckley captured this scene of the snow meeting the sea at West Beach on Monday morning. Her hashtag was #snowatsealevel #magical #pnw #luckytoliveonorcas.

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Lynn Cunningham shared this beautiful view of Rosario Resort from her living room on Monday morning.

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Cindy Ceteras captured this image from her dining room window in Eastsound. Cindy is enjoying her first winter on Orcas.

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Mary Ann Sircely uploaded this beautiful evening snow picture along with this hashtag #itneversnowsonorcasisland.

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The snow gives us clues as to what the local wildlife is up too. These bird prints were left outside my sliding glass door. It was fun to follow them and imagine the path of the little birdie that left them.bird-tracks

Deborah Jones posted this picture of the Raccoon tracks with this comment. “Raccoons circling the henhouse busted by the snow.”

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Tuesday morning brought this beautiful sunrise on the East side of the island. Teacher Anne Ford McGrath shared this picture along with every teacher’s favorite winter morning announcement, “Snow Day, No School!”

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Islander Camille Fleming was commuting off the island for work on Tuesday. Thankfully the Washington State Ferries still run on snow days. Her husband posted this comment, “Second snow day in a row. School cancelled. Flights cancelled. Roads are questionable. Glad the ocean isn’t frozen.”

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Southern transplant Liz Guerry posted this picture Tuesday morning with this comment, “Sun bathing in the PNW!

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Tuesday afternoon, islander and fellow teacher Nancy Walstrom captured this stunning snow scene from her deck at Buoy Bay. That is Mount Baker in the distance.

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Vicki Bartram, my mother,  posted this interesting shot of the sun rising in Olga, causing the trees to cast shadows over the snow covered yard.

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My partner in real estate, Beth Holmes, shared this photo of the sun setting on the west side of Orcas Tuesday night. These chairs demonstrate nicely the optimism of most islanders, winter is short so why put away the outdoor furniture!

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So there is the answer to the frequently asked question. Yes, Orcas Island gets snow and it is a WONDERFUL experience to have!

 

holleyrandolphmini-10 Mandy is an Associate Broker at T Williams Realty. She enjoys living with her family and friends on Orcas Island, Washington.

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British Columbia: Next-door Neighbor to the San Juans

img_0887IMG_3319_bwBy Marlis K. Sandwith

One of the coolest, and least talked-about benefits of living in the San Juan Islands is our across-the-water proximity to the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC). In fact, if I were going to move somewhere….

Don’t worry, I’m staying put, but BC is a great, big, beautiful place, I must say. Did you know that the entire population of all of Canada is less than the entire population of all of the state of California? But I digress. Our family spends a good portion of our trips and vacations in different locations throughout BC, as do many of our island friends. I have a list about 2.347 miles long of places I hope to visit in BC sooner, rather than later.Last summer, my family decided to get our Nexus cards, which give us preferred traveler status by air, land and sea, expedited customs procedures when on our boat, and the ability to use special lanes when driving back and forth over the Canada/U.S. borders. It was a somewhat lengthy process, but worth it, especially when we were returning from BC last August, and only had to call in to customs, rather than stopping at the first U.S. port.

Our summer family boat trip into BC was one of the most glorious trips on which I’ve ever embarked. I was ready to sell our house and belongings to become a full-time liveaboard. That was until our breakdown, but that’s another story. We’ll most definitely be heading back north again this summer.

Another annual trip from which we just returned is Victoria, BC during the holidays. Some of our friends happened to plan their own trip there during the same dates, so we were able to meet up with them, and even as we headed back home to the San Juans, I saw still other islanders coming off the ferry to visit Victoria. It’s really easy to get there, as the ferry goes from Anacortes to Friday Harbor, to Sydney, BC, where it’s a short, 30 minute drive to the core of Victoria, British Columbia’s capital city.

I love the blend of European/British influence with the long-held native american/pacific northwest history. While we were there, we visited the University of Victoria with our high school senior son. We have a few island friends whose kids go to college there, and love it. They are only a ferry ride and a drive away, yet they are in a different country, just across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. 

February’s mid-winter break (President’s day week) sees many island families either heading south to warm beaches and sunshine, or north to ski/snowboard slopes of BC. Our family has been to Big White and Sun Peaks, and really enjoyed both. Others I know love the smaller size and closer locale of Manning Park. This year however, we’re heading for 4 days to Whistler, which will be a bit shorter drive. I hear it’s second to none, but the funny thing is, I’ve never been there, so I’m looking forward to it. 

It may seem odd to some, but one of the ways I research possible new destinations is via Instagram. Start with with the Instagram account for Destination British Columbia (the official site for BC tourism). Start following them, and you’ll get many more suggestions of people/organizations to follow, and soon you’ll have a travel calendar for the next ten years!

In the meantime, here are a few of my (abbreviated) lists to get you started:

Snowy Places I want to Visit/Revisit:

Big White

Sun Peaks

Revelstoke

Fernie

RED Mountain

Whistler

Vancouver Island & North I want to visit:

Duncan

Tofino/Ucluelet

Haida Gwaii

Where we went on our boat trip:

Gulf Islands

Princess Louisa Inlet

Poet’s Cove

Otter Bay

Pender Island

Dodd Narrows (a passing-through place, but can be very eventful!)

Nanaimo

Newcastle Island

Hospital Bay

Malibu Club

Happy Travels to All!

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by | January 23, 2017 · 1:22 pm

An Island Winter Wonderland

sandi-quinn-pupby Sandi Friel

Last week we got our first snow of the season on Orcas Island. It only snows here every few years, and when it does, our magic “Emerald Isle” becomes even more magical.

Our last “big” snowfall was in 2014. The amount of snow ranged widely on this 57-square mile island  — from a few inches that disappeared in days to nearly two feet that lingered for weeks. Why? Orcas’s horseshoe shape and varied topography create many micro-climates. The mountains, inlets and fjords that make this rock so dramatically beautiful also help drive its patchwork weather patterns.

Here are a few shots from my trip up Buck Mountain yesterday, plus scenes from winter’s past. Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slideshow. Enjoy!

 

If you’re thinking of visiting or relocating to Orcas Island, winter is a great time to experience a quiet wonderland – snow or not. Contact me if you’re looking for rentals or homes to purchase!

 

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A Free Festival of Trees!

mandy-on-brick

By Mandy Randolph

The sixth annual Festival of Trees is happening this month at Rosario Resort. Visitors can come to see the uniquely decorated trees in the main lobby of the resort’s mansion. The trees are decorated by local non profit organizations with ornaments that portray what each organization embodies. There is a pet themed tree from the Animal Protection Society, and tree of smiling children’s faces from The FunHouse, and a wild animal themed tree from Wolf Hollow. And of course the garden of wonders tree created by students in my class to represent the Orcas Island Farm to Cafeteria program. Each tree is a beautiful representation of the great things the non-profits in our community do to contribute to making this a wonderful place to live.

Every year for 6 years now my students in Farm to Classroom at Orcas Island Elementary School have created beautiful handmade ornaments to decorate our tree. This year is no exception! Our ornaments represent many of the topics that we have studied so far this year.

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A magnified image of a frozen molecule of water serves as the star of our tree.

It is tradition for the kindergarten students to string the popcorn. A lesson involving proper use of needles, using caution for tender fingers, and methods for perfecting the long untangled strand. Some children approach the situation with caution and others with wild abandon. Even though the popcorn is days old (easier to string without breaking) the children still enjoy eating as much as they string.

Our third grade students used a photo paper called cyanotype that uses the sunlight to expose images. The children choose items from our garden and placed them on the paper in the sun. After 10 minutes they rinsed the paper in water and set the images.

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We have an interactive element to our tree this year. You can use one of the many magnifying glasses hanging on our tree to look into the tiny bottles filled with seeds hanging from the branches. You will find papers with glued on seeds clothespinned to the tree also. We have been busy saving seeds this fall and thought this would be a fun way to share some of our seed knowledge and excitement.

After studying apples this fall and learning that every apple has a star in it, we just had to include some dried apple slices with stars proudly displayed on our tree.

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Please come admire our hard work and place a vote for our tree if you feel compelled. You can buy tickets for $1 each and place them in the voting boxes of the trees of your choice. All of the proceeds go directly to the non-profits and you will be entered for prizes from Rosario Resort and Spa and Kenmore Air. Rosario will be hosting a special Open House this weekend December 9-11 daily between 12pm and 8pm. You can enjoy the trees as well as complimentary cookies and hot apple cider.

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If you can’t make it this weekend, the trees will be up through the New Year.

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Happy Holidays from my family to yours!

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Mandy and family… Johnny, Jordan and Zach.

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Filed under Art, Arts & Crafts, Community, Decor, Family Life, Gardening, Kids, Nature, Uncategorized

Saucy Cranberries

teri-williams-summer-cropBy Teri Williams

I am always looking for a new spin on a traditional holiday meal. While reading through my new Rodale’s Organic Life magazine, I came across this Pickled Cranberries recipe and seasonal Kale Salad. Pickling is super easy, with very few ingredients and results in a big flavor with many uses. I sealed several jars of the pickled cranberries and will give out as hostess gifts throughout the holiday season. And if you come to my house over the holiday season, you most likely will be served a fresh cranberry cocktail and a side of healthy kale salad!

Pickled Cranberries (makes 2.5 cups)
Note: Always use fresh organic cranberries.
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In a medium saucepan, combine 3/4 cup sugar and 1-1/2 cups of red wine vinegar. Tie 1/2 tsp. of coriander seeds and 1/2 tsp. peppercorns in a square of cheesecloth and add to the pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.

Add 10-12 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries and bring back to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until skins begin to split, 2-3 minutes. Let cool in saucepan, remove and discard spice sachet, and transfer cranberries and liquid to a jar. Refrigerate in sealed jar until ready to use. Pickled cranberries will keep for a few weeks; or process to seal according to canning practices.

2016-11-13-14-17-18The liquid can be strained to use in cocktails, and the pickled cranberries can be tossed into salads and stuffings.

My favorite easy hors d’oeuvre is as follows:

Slice baguette into 1/4-inch slices (may 2016-11-13-14-54-19toast or leave soft), top with your favorite ricotta cheese, place a dollop of pickled cranberries and finish with a drizzle of honey. A sweet, tart, smooth and tasty treat in minutes!

Kale and Wild Rice Salad

1/2 cup cooked wild rice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Fresh ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. liquid from pickled cranberries (see above recipe)fullsizerender
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch kale, stemmed and shredded into thin ribbons
1 cup pickled cranberries, drained
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped (can use walnuts)

In small bowl stir together shallot, mustard, pinch of salt, pepper and pickling liquid. Whisk in oil. Pour half the liquid, adding more as needed, and use your hands to massage into kale for 5 minutes.

To serve, lightly toss with rice, cranberries, cheese and nuts. Serve as a side dish or add chicken or salmon to create a colorful and satisfying main dish.

Happy and Healthy Holiday Wishes sent from my family to yours ~

 

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Falling for Orange on Orcas Island

Sandi Friel, Orcas Island RealtorPosted by Sandi Friel

It’s gray and rainy outside today, but my house is anything but gloomy – thanks to the color orange. The glowing fire, wood ceilings, trim and amber lighting create a cozy lively space I want to be in. Orange makes me happy!

Upbeat and friendly, when orange is muted it’s warm and comforting. In vibrant hues, it’s downright exciting — a little goes a long way! Fall is traditionally when we think of orange (see my post Slideshow of Fall Color on Orcas Island), but I enjoy it throughout the year, inside and out. Take a look:

Sandi's madrone branch chandelier

When I couldn’t decide on a chandelier, Bob whipped up this Madrone branch with orange lights. The perfect glow over our table – I love it!

 

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My best score from the local consignment shop – a gracefully shaped stained glass lampshade with colors of fall.

 

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A copper octopus ornament sparkles on my fireplace year-round. If you love something, keep it out where you can enjoy it. 🙂

 

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Another cherished cephalopod: a whimsical print from Teri.

 

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Teri and Marlis used pops of orange effectively when they staged this home for sale. Orange is both unexpected and memorable, and harmonizes with most wood tones.

 

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A bedroom in a listing of mine reminds me of orange sorbet…yummy! In larger areas like this, full-strength orange would’ve been be too intense.

 

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Check out the bold color Teri picked for the front door of our first-place-winning parade float this summer.

 

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An orange Ford in an Orcas field. I snapped this picture years ago when I first thought of a post about orange.

 

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California poppies sunning themselves over Massacre Bay. Blue and orange are opposites on the color wheel, making a classic complementary color scheme.

 

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Wild Orange Honeysuckle in our yard attracts and feeds hummingbirds.

 

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Critters come in orange too! Here, a poisonous Red-Bellied Newt sports a fire orange underbelly as a warning to predators.

 

Orcas Island Scenes

The most prolific display of orange on our island is the bark of the beautiful Pacific Madrone tree.

 

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Orcas Island’s western shoreline lights up at golden hour.

 

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The sunsets from the west side of Orcas are simply breathtaking. The tiny floating island is White Rock.

 

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What October post about orange would be complete without pumpkins?

After writing this post, I’ve decided to I’m going to bring more cheery orange into my life. How about you?

 

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Summer Sailing with Grama T

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By Teri Williams

The summer of 2016 is flying by!! Squeezing in some family fun is a must and Grama T found some on her SV Blue Pearl. 30′ filled to the rails with kids and grandkids (9 total) for an overnight in Roche Harbor, San Juan Island. When you have this many on a boat meant to sleep two, you head to a dock with amenities and space. Roche is a great place where you will find activity for all ages. But the fun is being on the boat together. Had great wind, plenty of sunshine and enjoyed a crab dinner coming home. Life does not get better than this.

Where do you find your bliss?

Where do you find your bliss?

Deck hands taking a break

Deck hands taking a break

Beautiful day for kids to look for sea life

Beautiful day for kids to look for sea life

Fish on!!!

Fish on!!!

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Dad time

Dad time

Jammie time

Jammie time

Reading books at bedtime

Reading books at bedtime

Gramps J having fun

Gramps J having fun

Brother time

Brother time

Nap time

Nap time

Love these two!

Love these two!

Catching the wind, trimming the sails

Catching the wind, trimming the sails

Watching for whales

Watching for whales

Girls getting too much wind

Girls getting too much wind

Life is good

Life is good

Crabbing with Gramps J

Crabbing with Grampa J

All hands on deck

All hands on deck

Hope to see you out on the water enjoying family and the Salish Sea that surrounds us here on Orcas Island.

Grama T

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Board Work as Life Work

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By Marlis K. SandwithIMG_3319_bw

When I graduated from junior high, my teachers and classmates presented me with a certificate which read, “Future Mayor of Friday Harbor, Washington.” Mind you, I graduated from a junior high in Kirkland, Washington, as my family had not yet made the move to San Juan Island. I guess my love of the islands was already evident to the people around me, even at that young age. Fortunately for the mayoral candidates of Eastsound, I am not furry, feathery, or scaly enough to compete for the coveted position of Mayor of Eastsound. Hence, I will leave it to my animal friends to represent us all in the important issues facing our little village.

However, I’ve always been very civic-minded, and very interested in the public sphere, on both local and global scales. As a mother, and a former teacher, I’ve been able to be involved with many activities, organizations, and events both in and out of schools. Now, as my three children get older, I am asking myself: how can I give back to my community? Luckily, there are many fine options from which to choose. On Orcas Island alone, there are at least 104 non-profit organizations, in addition to all the public and private organizations that meet community needs. With the exception of serving on my son’s preschool board for a few years, and a year working administratively for the local non-profit, Lahari, board work is relatively new to me.

Last year, after some very positive experiences via my middle child, I joined the Funhouse Commons board of directors, as you may remember from a previous blog post. The Funhouse is a non-profit community center that provides mentoring programs, out of school time programs, teen programs and, in partnership with the Orcas Island School District, education and college preparation programs, as well as facilities for classes and meetings, clubs, and much, much more. Most importantly, The Funhouse Commons is a critical safety net for the youth of Orcas Island–and by extension their families.  This is a link to a favorite video of the Funhouse staff members sharing her story of why the Funhouse is so very important.  Our mission statement is as follows:

The Funhouse serves the urgent needs of young people and strengthens community bonds by providing a safe and stimulating environment where all can learn, discover, create, socialize and be heard.

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This year, I was appointed by the San Juan County Council to serve as a Land Bank Commissioner, representing District 2 (Orcas Island). The Land Bank is a public/county entity, funded by a 1% Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) which all buyers pay when they purchase property in San Juan County. Here is a link to a great piece about the history of the San Juan County Land Bank. The mandate of the Land Bank is as follows:

To preserve in perpetuity areas in the county that have environmental, agricultural, aesthetic, cultural, scientific, historic, scenic or low-intensity recreational value and to protect existing and future sources of potable water.

While some may question why I would want to commit myself to such things when I already have a life filled to the brim with three children, a husband, pets, and my work, I say two things:

1. If you want something done, ask a busy person.

2. Board work is life work. 

Though I didn’t realize it before I came to board work, much of what I practice in my board work is surprisingly applicable to my life at large. There are many times when I am sitting in a meeting when I think to myself: What if I applied some of this intention and work to my own family? To the way I work with my clients? To the way I communicate with others?

Here are examples of some things we practice in board work, that are also beneficial to practice in daily life:

  1. The practice of time stewardship. 
  2. The practice of constructive disagreement and dissent from the majority.
  3. The practice of staying on-topic and focusing on higher goals/ideals.
  4. The practice of upholding ethical standards.
  5. The practice of upholding your organization’s mandate, or mission statement.
  6. The practice of action-oriented discussions and follow-through.
  7. The practice of listening & speaking skills.
  8. The practice of reaching consensus.
  9. The practice of keeping one’s word/integrity.
  10. The practice of confidentiality and avoidance of gossip.

This is actually the Short List. And I must add that I know some of you reading this are chuckling to yourselves, or, worse yet—scoffing. Board work is often incredibly arduous and difficult work (or even boring), and the way I’ve characterized it above sounds as if it’s working more toward spiritual awakening than the management, stewardship, and fiscal responsibility for an organization. I know there are many of you who have had less than spiritual (or even tolerable) experiences on boards. I am lucky to have had very positive experiences thus far with the boards on which I serve, though it’s certainly not easy. But as I say to my kids: the things most worth doing are often the hardest to do.

There is another thing I learned from two beloved teachers of mine that I often tell people (and if you know me, you probably already know what I’m going to say): my life is not busy; it is full. My husband and I are both involved in many areas of our community, and though it can be overwhelming at times, we feel it’s important to do our part, to the extent that we are able. We are constantly amazed by other community members who are much busier than we are, and to whom we are so grateful for all they do to keep the wheels turning on our little island.

If I’ve sparked your interest at all about the Funhouse or the San Juan County Land Bank, please contact me. I’d love to talk more with you about either or both, as they are near and dear to my heart.

Marlis K. Sandwith :: Associate Broker :: T. Williams Realty :: marlis@twilliamsrealty.com

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Celebrating Summer in the School Garden

A long and productive spring in the school garden led right up to the last day of school! What better way to celebrate and culminate another school year than with a pizza party in the garden?2016PizzaParty_SchoolGarden (11 of 17)

Orcas Island Elementary students each spend one hour a week working in the school garden in a class I teach called Farm to Classroom. At almost 8,000 square feet, the school garden requires individual attention from each of the 200 students. Some children take on assigned tasks such as weeding, hauling compost and planting.

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Harvesting strawberries and pulling weeds.

Other children take on projects of their own choosing. One class was dubbed “the diggers” for their love of digging!

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“The Diggers”

Another group of students took weekly responsibility for watering plants.

13499604_1783696268532929_564887034_oOne boy decided it was time to properly install the large stainless sink we salvaged from the old shop building before it was torn down. Each week he would lead a group in the many steps it took to put  the sink in its final resting place.

When the wood chips arrived, donated by Tim’s Tractor Service and delivered by Tim’s son James Segault of Island Climb Inc., the students ban together to move the massive mountain all around the garden. Throughout all of this garden work you can see real-world examples of children caring for the environment, working together, problem solving, communicating, using physical skills, and eating healthy. These are important life skills that no standardized test can ever measure.

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A delivery of wood chips for our paths from Tim’s Tractor Service and Island Climbing Inc.

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Working together to move a mountain of wood chips!

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Unloading a truck full of firewood. Many hands make for light work.

A cornerstone of the children’s time in the garden is the idea that you may only enjoy the fruits of your labor, after you labor! The last ten minutes of each class is dedicated to “harvest time”. During this time the children graze in the garden, eating fresh from the plants they have nurtured. This may be one of the most rewarding times for me as the teacher. It only seemed fitting to end our school year with a garden pizza party using our cob oven.

The pizza party couldn’t happen with out the help and generous donation of James Ferraris of Soul Flour Bakery, AKA The Pizza Man!  James makes the best pizza dough and knows how to bring each pizza out with the perfect amount of doneness.

The children are the real artists at this event. They are supplied pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese. The rest is up to them! The toppings come from the plants they lovingly grew. Pizzas topped with strawberries, sorrel and mint are popular. Garlic scapes, borage flowers, rosemary and raspberries top others. There is no limit to the creations they come up with. After each pizza comes out of the oven the chef or chefs responsible tell their classmates what ingredients they used. Then the creators get the first slices and the other children sample after them. Pizza after pizza comes through in this way. The children turn into food critics, analyzing the combinations placed before them. The pizza is devoured and never are the usual pepperoni and sausage toppings missed.

Another remarkable year in the school garden has been completed. If you would like to see our garden please stop by and check it out. If you would like a tour of the garden, we will be on this year’s Orcas Island Garden Club tour June 25th and 26th.

Now that school is out, I’ll be spending the summer with family and friends, taking road trips, and helping people buy and sell real estate on this amazing Island I call home. I love summertime on Orcas Island!

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Johnny visiting Momma in the garden.

 

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