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Thanks for the honor | LETTER TO THE EDITOR
To the editor:
Thank you to the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce for hosting the Business and Citizen of the Year Awards to recognize the generous contributions of time, effort, or financial support of Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce and/or of our community.
It was truly an honor to have been one of the nominees for the Citizen of the Year. It was especially a great delight to have an architect, an educator, and an arts advocates/former city council member be nominated in the same year! All exemplify Bainbridge Island’s strong values. Sense of place, educational excellence, and the arts are integral parts of defining who we are as a community.
Nominee architect Matthew Coates designed the spectacular new Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. What an incredible anchor and legacy the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art is and will always be for our community. Nominee recently retired Patricia Christiensen provided 26 years of leadership for the Montessori Country School, which her mother originally founded as the first Montessori school in Kitsap County. Ms. Christiensen’s work is and was so foundational for many children’s lives. As for my nomination, beyond my brief four-year “political” adventure as a Bainbridge Island city council member, you may have known me as the founder and publisher of Art Access magazine, the quarterly guide to the arts of the Northwest region. And you may have also known me as a passionate community activist championing non-motorized transportation, ferry-served communities, green spaces, community gardens, historic tree preservation and public art.
The nomination for Citizen of the Year gave me an opportunity to look back over this past 2013 year spent primarily serving as a Bainbridge Island city council member and see what has been given to the community. Often when in the thick of things one may lose sight of the bigger picture and may not see things progressing. Especially when the “thick of things” might be working on challenging issues that have varied and opposing views. Together, we did face large financial challenges, growing pains of moving into a new form of government, and culture change within city hall through the hiring of new employees: city manager, police chief and public works director.
We are quite fortunate in a democracy to have the opportunity to come together and to wrestle with different perspectives, find common ground, and hopefully learn from one another. As author Brian Doyle said at a gathering hosted by Friends of the Farms, “Thank you for your witness, for your gift. Your attentiveness is the greatest single thing you can give each other. When we gather together as a community it is a sweet, holy, and powerful substantive thing that we should never take it for granted.”
My greatest joy is being part of the community’s creative process where varied ideas come together, where we witness good projects becoming great by moving beyond the initial ideas of individuals, synthesizing the varied perspectives, and becoming our idea.
Love of, belief in, and witness of the goodness of our community help us surpass the challenges and actually flourish. We accomplish greatness because of our foundational understandings that we all have the best of intentions and that it takes commitment, generosity, good humor and grace to work together.
Thank you Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce and the citizen volunteers for selecting me as the Citizen of the Year. I accept this honor in memory of two dear community members who recently passed away —Roger Lauen, an instrumental founder in creating the Bainbridge Island Community Woodshop which has now evolved with the help of many into the more encompassing artisan center, referred to as the BARN (Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network) and Bob Cederwall, “Bainbridge Bob,” a tireless supporter of Bainbridge Performing Arts, not only did he freely take care of the BPA facilities, his mischievous boyish grin was seen on stage acting in enumerable performances.
For me, the coolest part of being the Citizen of the Year is getting to be the Grand Marshal of the Fourth of July Parade. Right now I’m figuring out a “Citizen of the Year Challenge” to shake up and infuse our parade with more artful-whimsical-musical-dancing-sign-free-floats as possible – think Olympia’s Procession of the Species meets the Fremont Solstice Parade!