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Pride of Place by Mak Prestbo

By guest blogger and longtime Islander, MAK PRESTBO

Everybody moves to the island because they fall in love with an equation that goes something like: island life = a better life. What folks greatly underestimate on the journey of reckoning is the impact their person has on the place. You might want a rad island neighbor but are you willing to be a rad island neighbor? The trick is to discover what impact you’re having, make your affect conscious, bring an awareness to your behavior, and realize your impact beyond your nose. If it’s an uncomfortable exercise, you’re doing it right.

It's important to not get discouraged. Often times we make something better and we make something else worse. The fact we can't whack all moles at once isn't a problem. All that's needed is an awareness and willingness to do our part to keep island life a better life as reality 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 and humbled in the face of the notice on my door that what’s better is indeed in the eyes of the beholder.

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 first.

In every place, what’s 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 entirely unicorns and rainbows either. We manage the swing by pressing our persons into what we value by working to embody it 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 raising my kids here so by my watch I’ll be here or near-by for another decade at least. The island is a beautiful place, just like the license plate frames say so. It's an easy place to invest in. Lots of spots to be seen and get lost in, to build and toil on whatever your heart's desire

My heart desires 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 used to be more naturally built-in to lifestyles when we depended on one another for survival. Forget about this filling the holes in the calendar stuff, and tiptoeing around benign preferences and generic anxieties. Like, if I didn’t depend on you, I might not get a crop this year or I could starve to death. Back-breaking work back then didn’t mean being hunched over a computer and sustaining repetitive strain injuries, it mean producing fundamental goods the sustain my actual life using my own back.

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.

OK this is an extreme example to explain that investing in one another is important. There is nothing like social capital to buoy what ails you, island-side or not. Folks buy glorious properties on the island not because they want to hole-up and die surrounded by only the 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 but by the sickly blue pallor of the computer screen feeding on penchants of our lizard brain.

Wake up! 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 (that don't suck) here are a few special places to gather on-island. Add to the list! Call me!

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.

“I visited many places, some of them quite exotic and far away, but I always returned to myself.” ― Dejan Stojanovic


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