Letters | Mar. 3 edition

The Exchange helps in more ways than one

I was recently at a well attended community support meeting for The Exchange. There was much discussion about the individual needs that are satisfied through a visit there. I wanted to bring public attention to the business needs that are also fulfilled by this organization.

Kaleidoscope Preschool and Childcare Center depends greatly on the services supplied through The Exchange. We are grateful to be the current recipients of “The Exchange Change Program” where all the payments made with change are kept separate and donated to a local non-profit (so bring your quarters!). We intend to use this donation for our current Expansion Project, which will bring Kaleidoscope one step closer to providing full-time childcare services for infants and toddlers and provide a permanent, private office space for Orcas Family Connection’s Family Support Specialist, Erin O’Dell. The staff at The Exchange is always on the lookout for toys and classroom materials that may be put to good use at our center, things as unique as a hippo puppet if that’s what we need to enhance our curriculum! I figure Kaleidoscope saves about $5,000 each year through the recycled supplies brought to us, rather than purchasing items at retail costs. Clothing is brought to our center for families to take what they need (or add to the pile), after the items have spent some time at The Exchange. This helps keep a valuable resource circulating through our community and we hope this service will be expanded once Kaleidoscope’s addition is completed. The Exchange has also been able to provide approved car seats for families that may not otherwise be able to afford them, keeping our island a safer place for all.

On a personal note, last month my family had a couple of foster kids come stay with us and they both had holes in their shoes, so we headed to The Exchange, where they found replacements that fit. I told them to look around and see if there was anything else they needed. They were hesitant to choose more because they were concerned about the cost. When I explained the “exchange” philosophy they took a few more items off the rack – and of course, we couldn’t leave without a treasure from the Toy Tent. When these girls returned for another visit, their first words were “Can we go back to that cool store?” 

Whether you are a regular at The Exchange, or just visit when the need arises, we should all be thankful that this valuable community resource exists. I know that Kaleidoscope is appreciative of George Post and all the dedicated employees and volunteers at The Exchange; you all make the world a better place, in more ways than one!

Amber Paulsen

Director, Kaleidoscope

Response to letter about healthy economy

This is a reply to the letter “Response to ‘Kynch got it right’” by Sharon Abreu in the Feb. 17 edition.

After all we have gone through do we still think that Single-Payer Health Care (SPHC) is a good idea or even viable? Single-Payer means the Federal Government is my Health Care coordinator. Consider:

1: Right. Where in the Constitution does the fed get the right to control health care? Article 10 gives it to the States or the People. Why allow the fed to take our right?

2: Competence. Health Care is 1/6th of our economy. Why give the fed that much control? The fed is not competent in doing anything right. Washington is broken, has been. Can the fed stay within a budget? Ha! Can the fed run a business? Amtrak? USPS does not have a chance at balancing a budget. The fed has no competence for running SPHC.

3: The people DO NOT want it. Look at the polls. If the fed and Congressmen like Rick Larson don’t listen to us now, will they listen to us when they have control of our health care rights?

4: Correction. Congressman Rick Larson voted for the Health Care Bill. Look it up. So what part of SPHC does he not like now? He refused to talk to his constituents about health care when he was in Friday Harbor last August. If he is backing off his support of SPHC , he is just trying to save his job. How about getting a congressman in there who knows that his job, from the get go, is to serve us not enslave us.

Constitutional power to the people. How about some real change! Progressivism and greed destroyed our economy and country in the early 1900s. After a set back, it has resurged and is again destroying our country and stealing our rights. The last thing we need is another “progressive” politician in Washington, whether a Democrat or a Republican.

Rise up ye little man. Be little no more. Take a stand for right, speak the truth, be bold. Don’t just listen. Be informed, then act!

Rick Boucher


We have strayed from love

I recently was a substitute teacher for social studies teacher Kathy Collister at Orcas High School. I had a senior student ask the following questions recently during a class discussion: “Why does everything in this country revolve around money? Why doesn’t it revolve around love?”

I believe his questions reflect just how far we’ve “progressed” since stealing this land from its original inhabitants.

In a nation fraught with competition at every level, the pursuit of material wealth and power over others, as well as a growing lack of civility in the process, it’s easy to see why some of us are skeptical of the direction we appear to be headed. Humans, in general, seem to be intent on spreading blame and suspicion whenever they are put in situations where there are differences in beliefs, physical appearance and lifestyles. How insecure is our human race? When will we realize that the only genuine scapegoats for our problems are to be found in our own mirrors? When will we cease condemning our differences, and begin to celebrate them? Regardless of what the corporate propagandists continue to drum into our heads, it should be obvious by now that if we are to survive as a species we will do it through cooperation rather than competition.

When profit is the overwhelming focus of both companies and individuals, even at the expense of the health and well-being of the public at large, aren’t we overdue for a realignment of our priorities?

All life forms are unique in some way, and each is an essential part of the whole! Isn’t it time for the human species to wake up to the beauty of its diversity? If we all looked and acted the same then the robots will have already won out. If we are to evolve and find the solutions to not only this country’s, but the whole world’s problems, we will have to expand our consciousness, and every entity has something to offer. We have a web of life here folks that’s becoming frayed. We are going to have to realize that we’ll sink or swim “together.” No more thinking that some people are of more worth than others, or even that humans are somehow superior to all other sentient beings.

Having the means to acquire all of the latest gadgetry that technology offers will not ensure one’s salvation. In fact our present bondage with the artificial is most definitely wreaking havoc on what is left of the natural.

Competition over the centuries has brought a mixed bag at best, and, at worst, a collection of arrogant winners, and unfortunate losers who become either exploited or ignored – at least until their problems begin to manifest as everyone’s problems.

Cooperation must be seen as the only genuine method of expanding our hearts and minds, and enabling us to incorporate a myriad of ways and means into fulfillment potentials.

That student’s questions were neither foolish nor naive. Instead they were a reminder of just how far we have strayed from basic human decency. How far we have strayed from love.

Bob Gunn

Orcas Island

Response to Sheriff Cumming’s letter

I appreciate Sheriff Bill Cumming’s letter to all of us. We who live and love our Orcas lifestyle face an added challenge in these troubling issues. That is, we must find a way of facing and dealing with the realities of the day but without destroying the peace and beauty of our Orcas living. After all, we were either lucky enough to be born here or we purposely moved here for this lifestyle, which is still alive with trust and even a bit of innocence.

So how does one adapt in this mindful way? I think one of the first steps is to accept that these realities are in fact here on Orcas. Sheriff Cumming has sounded an alert for us. These officers live in that world and do their best to protect us. When they speak, we’d do well to listen.

The second thing we can do is to think and discuss these issues with our family and friends, and the police too. There may very well be many things we can do to mitigate these assaults on our lifestyle by various misguided individuals. Things that really don’t have to cramp our style here on Orcas. Philosophy aside, there is always going to be a give and take, a balance, between freedom and security. We all will have a slightly different comfort level in this area, so we also need patience, understanding and compassion for each other as we find our way.

Sheriff Cumming offers many ideas and there are many more. We’re a creative bunch on Orcas. Let’s give this our attention. And by protecting ourselves, we’re helping to protect our neighbors too. We would do well to change the common current mindset (fostered by the sometimes equally misguided coverage of crime here) that Orcas residents are “easy pickings” to one of “Orcas residents really stick together and look out for and protect each other.”

One area that I think will be helpful is educating ourselves about the ways of thieves and the methods they use. One up and coming technique for example is known as lock “bumping.” It is used to gain entry to just about anywhere with a door lock and even deadbolt. Nearly all locks are susceptible to this disturbingly easy way to not only gain entry but be able to do it without any evidence of a forced entry! This could be a real problem when dealing with one’s insurance company after the fact. You can learn a bit about bumping by searching for it in Google.

Awareness, mindfulness, compassion, and right action are all our friends. Let’s bring these qualities to this situation as individuals and as a community.

David Selwyn


Seed and Plant Exchange a success

The event started off as a small group of West Sound area friends sharing. Needless to say, our small group of friends blossomed into a much, much larger group of friends, and, in fact, a community.

It was an amazing event and sure to become an annual Island tradition. The group quickly filled the West Sound Community Hall. A frenzy of exchanges (seed/plants/etc.) and shared gardening and seed saving tips abound.

As our new friends’ arms filled with bounty, their faces beamed with that wide-eyed enthusiasm that only a passionate gardener could know.

We would like to express our heart-felt appreciation to all local sponsors: Office Cupboard, Ace Hardware, West Sound Community Club, and a special thanks to our largest donor, Island Hardware. HUGE appreciation also goes out to all participants, planners, volunteers, and Sharon Abreu and Mike Hurwicz for entertaining us with their beautiful music.

It truly was a grand event; one that should not be missed by the passionate gardener. Seed saving is one of the most important things you can do – it builds community and promotes diversity. If you’d like to sign up for future events and gardening workshops, please email us at ronda062@gmail.com

Ronda Jones

West Sound

Response to dead deer letter

If Phil Keene had been patient, Mother Nature would have taken care of his dead deer problem for him.

A year or so ago we found a dead deer in our yard (shot out of season). We hauled it into the open and were amazed at what ensued. Several eagles, a flock of turkey vultures and innumerable crows descended. For a entire day the eagles feasted (to the exclusion of lesser birds). The next day the vultures ate. They were followed by the crows. In three days there was nothing left but some fur and bones. There was no odor, no waste and no clean up. A year later the grass was rather more luxuriant.

We enjoyed three days of fascinating bird watching and it was an impressive display of the economy and efficiency of the natural world. We also learned the meaning of the phrase “pecking order.”

Hazel Burns

Lopez Island

No good time to raise taxes

There is nothing fun, exciting or personally enriching about paying more tax. As our county, state and federal governments wrestle with funding issues across the board, the concepts of taxing and revenue reductions are the lead stories in nearly every news cast. There is little question that the timing of the most recent school bond election was unfortunate – but is there ever really a good time?

When I look at the taxes I pay every year to various agencies, I seldom if ever see the direct impact of my tax dollars. When I pay my federal income tax, I don’t get a ‘thank you’ from the IRS. The Federal Government does not come and buy me coffee. When I pay state sales tax, Governor Gregoire does not add an extra ferry or give me a guided tour of Moran State Park. Of course there is an impact to me from these taxes… but I don’t get to see it directly in action.

This trend changes when I pay my property tax – specifically the portion that goes to schools. When I pay my tax to the schools, my children and yours get an education – directly from those dollars. Buck Park gets mowed so that I can coach softball to 30+ island youth – directly from those dollars. I see those dollars in action in my neighbors and friends – many of whom bring home paychecks from the school to support their families.

Seldom do we get the chance, as taxpayers, to see the effect of and be part of the direction of our tax dollars in a meaningful and impactful way to our own community. As I watch our state and federal government struggle with funding programs that I may never see the effect of, I am thankful that we have the opportunity to make decisions at a local school level that will directly help our kids, our community and our local economy. It is because of this that I urge the Orcas Island School Board to continue to advocate for the vital and necessary improvements required at our school. I further urge all of my neighbors, friends and fellow islanders to begin the discussion and to understand every issue; to ask questions and propose solutions.

Justin and Amber Paulsen

Orcas Island

More cell service means more cell use while driving

The ability to have cell phone contact in an emergency sounds great. And I like the idea that the fire department could communicate with its members with alacrity.

I fear, however, that if the entire island goes “live,” we’ll be facing many more emergencies. Driving and cell pone talking or driving and texting are commonplace in the cities. The island has been largely spared this due to spotty wireless coverage. Many of our roads don’t lend themselves to divided attention. I’d be willing to argue that no roads anywhere do. But ours are especially winding and can be populated by the occasional walking human or crossing deer.

Talking or texting would be dangerous enough behavior for those who reside here. Visitors to the island – those unfamiliar with the roads – could pose an even greater danger to themselves and to others.

In the cities, “No texting while driving” signs are beginning to pop up. How will this be enforced? I can’t imagine. And on our beautiful island, isn’t the scenery more than enough distraction to drivers already?

Wireless coverage is a two-edged sword. Let’s be well aware of the cons as well as the pros.

George Floyd


School board thanks community

On behalf of the staff and students of the Orcas Island School District, we want to thank the voters of Orcas Island for their approval of the recent Maintenance and Operations Levy. The levy will provide essential funding so that we may continue outstanding diverse and dynamic educational programming for both 2010 and 2011.  

While we were happy to see that a majority of voters approved the Capital Bond Proposition, we were disappointed to see that it did not reach the level of a super-majority. We will be re-evaluating the entire bond package shortly. We recognize that we need to be clearer and more focused in our explanation as to why this bond is imperative. To this end, we will be holding a Potluck and Community Forum on March 10 after the PTSA Science and Math Night. The potluck will be held in the high school commons at 6:15 p.m.

We hope that you will come with questions, concerns and an open mind. Thank you for all of your support of our public schools and we look forward to seeing you on March 10.

OISD School Board

Scott Lancaster

Janet Brownell

Tony Ghazel

Keith Whittaker

Chris Sutton