By Donna Riordan, Anne Bertino and Martha Fuller
Special to the Sounder
Rosie the Riveter used to say, “we can do it!”
Since the November election, women across the country have been organizing in new ways to ensure that our voices are heard. Here on Orcas, we’re working formally and informally to identify proactive steps to become involved in ways that will improve our community. Here are some ideas to think about as you plan your year, recognizing that free time can be a scarce resource for most women.
It’s no secret that Orcas Island has a large number of nonprofit organizations (over 100 at last count) that serve a wide array of community needs and interests (https://oicf.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/list/directory). Each needs a board of directors. Women are currently well represented on these boards, but more and new faces are needed.
It’s no secret that the county has many appointed advisory boards and committees (34 by our count). In total, there are currently about 244 public board and committee (or commission) positions. As advisors to the county council, these appointments can have a major impact on public policy, such as local/county planning and use of tax revenue. Of these positions, 56 percent are held by men, 29 percent are held by women, and 15 percent are vacant and some need Orcas residents to step to the plate. Here’s a link to current vacancies (http://www.sanjuanco.com/641/Board-Committee-Vacancies), and to the Advisory Committee Application Form (http://www.sanjuanco.com/DocumentCenter/View/1684).
It’s also no secret that there are quite a few public and private organizations whose board members are elected – Orcas Power and Light Cooperative, Eastsound Water and Sewer District, the school and fire districts and homeowners and water users associations. The Port of Orcas and OPALCO even pay elected commissioners or board members a stipend, and the OPALCO board members may opt to receive health benefits, too.
Our community needs its women to step up to the plate. Many of us have lived full working lives here and elsewhere, and have much to contribute to local and county deliberations. Historically, men here have done so, due to tradition or interest, or because it’s a priority for their free time. Times have changed, and we can all play a role in a way that matches our experience and interests – agriculture, various tax levies and tax revenue distribution, building codes, solid waste, storm water, noxious weeds, open space use, veterans issues and so on.
As the new year begins, please consider where you might use your skills and precious free time to serve as a board member. If you need to learn or brush up your skills, the Orcas Island Community Foundation will host a board service for beginners workshop in the spring.
Together, we can do it!