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Recently, people rush up to me on Winslow Way with questioning but uneasy looks on their faces. “Are you really happy in your condo?” they ask.
Many islanders come through the doors of Helpline House every day. Here’s a sampling of the real people who stop in both to give, and to receive.
There was a great brouhaha in the media recently over a couple of alleged insults directed at national political figures. An advisor to Barack Obama was forced to resign from her position in his campaign when it was reported that she had referred to Hillary Clinton as a “monster.” And long-time Clinton friend and advisor James Carville came under substantial criticism when he referred to Bill Richardson as “Judas” for having forsaken Hillary and thrown his support behind Obama.
“The farther back you can look the farther forward you are likely to see.”
Passage of the bill that will eventually establish Bainbridge Island’s Japanese American internment memorial as a National Park Service historic site received a unanimous vote in February in the House of Representatives: 419 to 0. How times have changed, and it took only 66 years. In February 1942, the House unanimously approved — by a voice vote — an executive order that incarcerated more than 120,000 West Coast Issei and Nisei because Japan and America were at war.
A woman who worked for the German postal service in the West German town of Giessen was recently arrested and charged with having 29,000 pieces of undelivered mail at her home. The letters date from as long as 15 years ago, although most were mailed within the last five years. Postal investigators and law enforcement officers believe that the woman stole the envelopes, hoping to find money in them, although it is not yet clear how many of the letters were actually opened. A spokesman for the postal service said that the letters will all be delivered to the original addressees with a note of apology from the post office.
Ah, the land of plenty. It had to come to this. America’s class system has been around for centuries, but the division became more obvious in the 19th century with the creation of opulent resorts, first in the east with the likes of Saratoga Springs, Palm Beach and Newport, then slowly moving west to Aspen, Jackson Hole and Carmel. What all of them had in common were beautiful settings and a work force that could not afford to live there. These days, we have a modest variation of the theme spreading in certain neighborhoods throughout the country, including Bainbridge Island, where an increasing number of the city’s workers live west of Agate Pass.
Boaters are a gregarious group. They will happily regale you with stories about adventures, idyllic cruises and enticing destinations. For generations, they’ve passed along key tips and information to new boaters either verbally or by example. That was a great way to learn how best to navigate Eagle Harbor traffic, liveaboards and the ferry’s comings and goings. Sometimes though, a newcomer’s boater education had some gaps.
This just in: The majority of Bainbridge Islanders are old, well-educated, well-off, hard working, happy with the present but pessimistic about the future, worried about the island’s water supply and population growth, content with the current balance between city services and taxes, divided over the city’s performances of late concerning planning, development and its finances, want more bike lanes, walking paths, trails, affordable housing, keeping the island rural and pretty much the way it is right now.
A recent study found that the average American walks about 900 miles in a year. Another study found that Americans drink, on average, 22 gallons of alcohol per year. That means, on average, that Americans get about 41 miles to the gallon. Makes you kind of proud to be an American, doesn’t it?
There’s a community to which Bainbridge Island will forever be tied by history, a community with a message for every American. It’s as much a part of our island soul as Manitou Beach, Yeomalt, Restoration Point, Island Center, Blakely or Eagle Harbors, all of Port Madison, Strawberry Hill or Hermana Isla de Ometepe. I heard about Minidoka, Idaho sparingly as a student, more over the years. In 2007, I could not stay away.
Civil discourse, long a bedrock of our democratic society, appears to have suffered a stress fracture of late. It’s difficult to ascertain the actual cause of why so many people have begun to verbally assail their fellow citizens merely because they have a difference of opinion about one topic or another. Perhaps it’s because we, the people, are frustrated by our governance and some of us have a predilection to bluster when exasperated. Whatever the cause, the result may lead to boorish behavior that is often so ludicrous that it belongs in a comedy act.
Infrastructure is often referred to as the backbone of a community. We take for granted the streets we drive on, the water that comes from our faucets, and the storm drains that keep our streets from flooding. We rarely think about infrastructure until it fails.
In the past four years I’ve attended all the meetings for the Winslow Tomorrow visioning process, participated in the charrette and attended many city presentations on the possible designs that would grow from the results of the visioning process. Lately I’ve attended many council meetings, listening to why nothing can be done to apply any of the results of this process. Partially this is due to the economic climate and partially it’s the result of the gloom-and-doomers who, without attending any meetings or reviewing the possible designs that resulted from the process, have concluded that the whole thing was an attempt to “pull the wool over the public’s eyes” to allow large-scale development of Winslow Way.
Paul Ohtaki, who grew up on Bainbridge Island and served as an internment camp reporter for the Review during World War II, passed away on April 27 at his home in San Francisco. He would have been 85 in August.
I had to take a break from politics this spring. Cold turkey. I just quit.
Housing experts say the affordable-housing market on Bainbridge Island is so depressed that people, most of whom are looking for one- or two-bedroom spaces, have written it off and stopped looking on the island. This is especially true for families because they often need three bedrooms, which means they’re searching for rare and very expensive rental houses.
Last Friday, Sakai Middle School students packed the hillside meadow around their new – and two very old – blossoming cherry trees for the First Annual Cherry Blossom Festival, and to honor the school’s soon-to-retire principal, Jo Vanderstoep.