Back on the island, ready for action

Hi. I’m the new editor for the Review and, as much as I dislike writing in the first person, I feel the need to introduce myself. Consider it a rare, prefatory offer that I hope not to repeat. Then again, when I ended my five-year experience of living on Bainbridge and working in Seattle in 1993, I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I’ll never do that again.’” Well, I’m back but in a different form.

In a way, returning seems to be an effort to do it right the second time around. I discovered that living on an island and working in a big city across the pond caused an alarming separation of my oneness of man and work. Once you’ve toiled as a community journalist, especially as an editor, there is no going back. Involvement in the community needs to be intense and incessant in order to be able to analyze and write about it. It’s as if the doors of the community are flung wide open for any inquisitive, investigative mind. Living and breathing that unique openness can become addictive. I’d already spent five years on such a hitch (in Port Townsend) before moving to Bainbridge, but I didn’t realize that my community involvement would suffer drastically when I no longer worked where I lived.

There was some collaboration, including as a parent of school-aged children. But my tendency was to ignore my immediate environment, especially the political and social issues of the island. That was uncharacteristic of me, but I was busy keeping up with my wire service job in Seattle and preferred being on vacation while on the island. In other words, my life was not all that different than the thousands of people who commute from the island each weekday. Eventually I followed a new job to San Juan Island, where my life and work became inseparable again.

Fifteen years later, I have been warned not to tread again on Bainbridge Island, especially as a journalist. Some say the people are too contentious, self-centered and snobbish. And the island is too expensive, overcrowded and is not the paradise that it is occasionally advertised as being. And, of course, there’s always the ubiquitous claim of rampant schizophrenia among the natives and half-natives (commuters). Granted, as I can confirm, living one leg in and one leg out of a community can be difficult.

Still, it can be argued that there isn’t a better time to be an islander, at least, if you are a citizen who cares about your home and is willing to become engaged. And I suggest that it shouldn’t matter whether you live here full time or only after your workday is over. For one thing, the growth monster looms, just as it has since commuters discovered the tranquility of island living decades ago. With life becoming more hectic in the metropolitan area, there is no doubt that a 35-minute boat ride to a home sitting off a quiet island lane is becoming increasingly attractive to Seattleites.

Yes, it may seem impossible right now to get a majority to agree on exactly what tomorrow’s Winslow should like when all is put back together again following an infrastructure do-over. There certainly are a multitude of growth problems that are unique to the island. But I argue that this diverse community will flourish as long as people get involved and understand the value of compromise for the better of all. Yeah, we may all flash the fish eye at one another occasionally, but getting along on an island takes a special breed.

As for me, I’m ready for some action.

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