Opinion

2005 ‘Person’ of the Year

If, like Time Magazine, the Review named a Person

of the Year with the turn of each annum, the 2005

winner would certainly be...

...Well, a few candidates come to mind. Any number

of personalities put their stamp on the Bainbridge community (and by extension, the Review’s news columns) over the past 12 months. But in the end, the real contenders might not be

individuals at all.

How, for instance, might we personify “Compassion”? Because in terms of sheer column inches of text, nothing carried the newspaper in 2005 quite like islanders’ response to disasters. As the year dawned, the word “tsunami” entered the vocabulary of even the youngest among us as the tragedy on distant ocean shores unfolded. Islanders organized countless relief efforts, from benefit concerts to simple donation jars, joining families and individuals across the globe in what may well have been an unprecedented outpouring of support for neighbors across the globe. Several folks from Bainbridge even ventured to Indonesia to assist relief efforts on the ground.

The lethal waves had hardly receded before nature unleashed new wrath, this time upon folks closer to home. Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast states in August, devastating communities with whom many islanders had personal ties, and wiping whole townships from the map; breached levees then left New Orleans a fetid swamp. Again, islanders joined their countrymen in compassionate response – and it began with the smallest but perhaps most meaningful gestures. While the federal government went in circles, Bainbridge grade-schoolers set up a lemonade stand on Sunrise Drive to raise funds, while several families staged roadside sales of un-played-with toys. More benefit events were held, and island emergency responders and others headed south to lend a hand. A spectacular effort all around.

For Person of the Year honors, we’d also have to give a nod to “Conservationism,” personified by the city’s Open Space Commission, the Bainbridge Island Land Trust and the many folks who support their work. Entering the year “down to its last million,” the OSC still managed to secure new waterfront parks at Port Madison and Crystal Springs, and beach access at Point White. By year’s end, the Pritchard Park and Close property efforts also wrapped up. So notwithstanding the usual community hand-wringing over growth, that’s more than 100 acres of choice Bainbridge land preserved for public use. Not a bad year.

Another contender would have to be “Winslow Tomorrow,” the collective expression of hundreds of islanders who crafted a new vision for our downtown. Their recommendations will define our community agenda through 2006 and beyond.

That’s it? No actual “persons” for Person of the Year? Well, there were a few individuals who made enough of an imprint on the community consciousness to warrant consideration on their own. Hundreds of roadside campaign signs and a rather spectacular political flameout achieved a certain degree of infamy for some. But unlike the folks at Time Magazine, we tend to think it’s about what you do, not how much noise you make doing it.

And we think Person of the Year – make that People of the Year – honors are best earned by a collective expression of our talent and goodwill as a community, in times both bust and boom. We saw plenty of both in 2005.

Here’s looking forward to a grand 2006 – together.

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