By guest blogger and longtime Islander, MAK PRESTBO
“Man, there are so many beautiful places. If you could see it with my eyes… well, let me make something here so you can see what I’m talking about… it’s gonna be great.” -Me
Everybody moves to the island because they fall in love with what they behold as “island life: a better life” or at least they think they could. What folks greatly under estimate on this journey of reckoning the grass is greener, is the impact they have on it–on the culture, the people, the place. Every person makes a difference, for better or worse. The trick is to discover what impact you’re having. To make your affect conscious whatever it is. To bring an awareness to your behavior and its impact beyond your nose. If it’s uncomfortable, you’re doing it right. Often times it’s both: you make something better, and something else gets worse. It’s not a matter of linear perfection, it’s a matter of awareness that maintains and seeds “island life: a better life” as resonate truth for generations.
It depends who you talk to on how better or worse is defined. I have gotten a cease and desist order for attempting to host two chickens for eggs in my backyard. “They don’t want fresh eggs?!” I was incredulous but what’s more, I was humbled in the face of the notice on my door that what’s better is indeed in the eyes of the beholder. I invite you to behold.
I will say, if someone wants to smack something down by making the case it breaks the no poultry farming rule in the neighborhood, they ought to prove they are making something that contributes to wellness of the community.
In general, in every place, what’s actually progress historically has been viewed as bad at the time. This is just the way we are. Negative nellies. That said, the progress happening around here isn’t all unicorns and rainbows either. We manage the swing by pressing our persons into what we value by working to embody the tenants more, by building groups for and against, by posting on facebook. We talk about if not what we have, what we want to have. There are lots of questions. As a harborer of optimism, I say this is all good and that it works out. Who said,If it’s not ok, it’s not the end? That.
Bainbridge Island I’ve called home for just over a decade now. I’m committed to raising my children here, so by my watch I’ll be here for another decade. So, what else am I doing here? Truth be told, I am more in love with the island today than on the first day we met. I’m invested. It’s a beautiful place, just like the license plate frames say. Lots of spots to be seen, but more importantly, lost of spots to get lost in, to build and toil on whatever your heart's desire. We gotta be turning out at least one hermit a day at this point. Also! The thing about getting lost is: it can be shared. People are down for getting lost together, and this island is a fine backdrop for just that. This is what’s so wonderful, you see.
Parties. Ya know, our ancestors partied a lot more than we do. By party I mean, social gathering everyday–our lives as social animals depending on it. It was built-in to lifestyles then, yes, we depended on one another in fundamental ways for survival. Forget about this thriving stuff. Like, if I didn’t depend on you, I might not get a crop this year or whatever. Back-breaking work then didn’t mean being hunched over a computer and sustaining repetitive motion injuries, it mean producing fundamental goods that sustained our actual lives. God help me if the internet goes out or the massive earthquake fault line we live directly on top of doesn’t shake the hell out of all the massive systems (that I have no idea how they work) that supply me basic things like beans. I don’t know how to grow beans! And with the internet out, how will I learn?! Heeeelp, people.
So, it’s imperative that we invest in one another now. Folks buy glorious properties on the island, not because they want to hole-up and die surrounded by only people they pay to. No. People buy island property with the vision of sharing it in some way. Creating a legacy. We think we will too. We have the best intentions...then life happens. The screwy parts of our culture, an unintended consequence of modern technology, has us lit-up in the dark not by the warmth of conversation or the delight of shared experience between us in the flesh, no, but by the sickly pallor of the computer screen. Wake up. Share what you have. Ask for help.
It’s easiest to give. Lots of givers around here. What we need more of is regular folks asking for help. Some version of “This is important to me, will you help me?” is a start. Push away from the computer, the cat videos, the comparisons. It’s a leap. What will aid in crossing the chasm into doing what really matters is choosing to believe that you make a difference. You do. And you can make a different difference if the one you’re making now sucks. Life is short, don’t suck.
Aside from private residences, here are a few special places to gather on-island (even if you’re off). I look forward to adding to this list in the flesh with you!
In no particular order… the old boar, hilltop field, pru’s cabin, treehouse, lytle beach, hitchcock, the grassy median outside the aquatic center, boat dock, waterfront park senior center, rooftop–adjacent to art museum, the art museum, fay bainbridge park, rolling bay hall, seabold hall, battle point park pond, grange hall, pavilion cement garden, skate park at strawberry hill, hawley beach when the tide’s out, beach house, lynwood theater, farm kitchen, hey day farm, halls hill labyrinth.