Love Letters | Highlighting extraordinary Orcas women

Dear Orcas Island Community,

Members of the Orcas Women’s Coalition present the first in a series of “Love Letters,” meant to highlight extraordinary women who live on Orcas.

We begin with Maria Poblet.

Currently, Maria works with the Washington State Power Building Table, a set of community-based organizations working to build progressive power from the bottom up. Projects like this are the core of her work at the Grassroots Power Project, a think tank that helps nonprofits and political projects develop long-term strategies for racial, gender, economic and climate justice.

Before moving to Orcas, she worked for more than 15 years building Causa Justa::Just Cause, a Bay Area community organization that builds grassroots power and leadership to create strong, equitable communities. In her spare time, she founded the US chapter of the World March of Women, ran for and served as a Commissioner on the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board. Wow, right?! AND she knows Angela Davis. Maria and her family moved to Orcas in 2020 in part because she has close friends here.

“It was a pandemic clarity moment,” she says.

Maria describes Orcas as “a wonderful place to finish a thought.” Since living here she has published “Power Concedes Nothing: How Grassroots Organizing Wins. Elections.” The book tells the stories behind a victory that won both the White House and the Senate and powered progressive candidates to new levels of influence in the November 2020 US election, arguably the most consequential election since the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln.

María is of Chicano and Argentine descent. She grew up in Buenos Aires, moved to the US, and went to high school in East Los Angeles. At UC Berkeley, she was part of Poetry of the People, founded by the late June Jordan, serving as its Artistic Director after graduating with a degree in Comparative Literature. Being mentored by Jordan would set the course for her life of activism.

Maria has been getting to know her community on Orcas Island and has been asking lots of questions about how she can contribute her knowledge and experience to benefit Orcas residents. She is currently doing Spanish language storytelling for children and is working with several people to create a “celebration of cultures” event, a collaborative event celebrating all the cultures represented on Orcas with an offering of food and stories.

Welcome, Maria! We are so grateful you and your family chose Orcas!

Maria, who is someone you admire in the Orcas community? Our next Love Letter will focus on this person.

I admire Carla Shanks, and am so grateful for the work she does with my son and so many of our island kids. She leads social-emotional learning through her role at the Orcas Island Public School, with grace, kindness and a great sense of humor!