Inspired living Lopez style | Guest column

Top left and right

By Life Has Meaning

“Thriving Communities” are growing in several communities around the Salish Sea in a mutually supportive way. On Friday, Jan.4, a day was set aside at the Lopez Community Center to envision and discuss ways of strengthening and developing visions for community enrichment. Roughly between sixty and eighty people attended. The purpose of this event was to create successful growth models here at home. Ideas were discussed about how to take action to make our homes healthy and resource efficient, our lands sources of food and beauty, and our communities vibrant and resilient in these changing times. Most of those who attended came away moved with a sense of possibility and hope.

In the beginning, we saw video ‘shorts’ about how Pt. Townsend developed models to help their community thrive. In Pt. Townsend, a group called LION (Local Investment Opportunity Network). The idea was how to empower local entrepreneurs with local investment from within the community. They successfully invested in a community mercantile.

In the group setting, we each brought our ideas together to appreciate what this community has to offer and to discuss what each of us felt would further enrich the community.

Various discussion groups were formed to discuss ways to strengthen and develop positive community models here. The break-out sessions dealt with topics such as Education (i.e. Learning / Life Skills Center), Energy, Transportation, Local Governance, Community Kitchen development, Job Creation, and developing a real ‘Hub’ as a physical “center” focused around community needs and events.

The group focused on the Learning / Life Skills Center came up with some ideas about how to extend the Lopez School to include buildings accessible for adult education as well as students, with a center which could be accessed not only by students, but by local people wanting to learn utilitarian skills such as pottery, textiles, metallurgy. There could be workshop classes given for various groups, including tourists. Workshop space could be available to rent for people who live locally.

The Transportation committee discussed the possibility of bicycle rental at the ferry landing. They also discussed the possibility of widening the roadway for walking and bicycle lanes. The ferry terminal could also host a business for rental of electric cars. Car sharing for a car kept on the mainland was brought up. A transit line which serves islanders from all over the island could provide a regular and dependable shuttle.

The Local Governance committee discussed having an island Ombudsman to help producers and customers get through regulations and problem solve when needed. Sometimes people need to know what is available to help when problems arise. Town Hall meetings were also discussed, as well as the importance of creating regulations which are people friendly and would enable creative solutions which fulfill the intent of various codes.

The Community Kitchen group discussed how to process food grown locally to serve local needs. A commercial canning kitchen was brought up and the idea of utilizing already functioning commercial kitchens when harvest time arrives.

Participants were amazed by how they saw that answers frequently came up at one table to questions raised at another table. It felt like this community building exercise was analogous to what living systems do to enhance interconnectedness.

Over all, it was a moving and inspirational day; a beautiful afternoon spent with people who care about their community and wanting to help it grow in a positive direction. Follow up activities are planned to help work on the feasibility and development of the various proposals.