March 19 editorial

The big picture

There has rarely been a week in which, for better and for worse, we were reminded that our island community is all in this together.

From the collective pride felt at the Orcas Center’s annual meeting where its volunteers were celebrated to the recognition of the century-old Madrona Club and its contributions to the island with the unveiling of the Madrona Room plaque, to the consternation caused by the Border Patrol raids, to the at-times heated discourse at public meetings for the Fire Department, the Turtleback draft plan, the Orcas Village plan and the sewer district, to the tragic accidents of late Saturday night, we’ve emerged from the week frustrated, bruised and grieved, but also heartened and encouraged.

Sadly, we were reminded this weekend of the crucial role our our fire department plays as First Responders to island tragedies, when they were called to the scene of a trespass-electrical shock incident in West Sound, and then later, to a vehicle fatality on the North Shore.

This is the same Fire Department that has aired its internal and financial conflicts at a commissioners’ meeting,and that has made great strides in improving training, stations, and equipment.

This is also the Fire Department – volunteers and professionals – that always comes through in a expert and comforting way to the islanders it serves, whatever the disagreements back in the offices. We can count on them, and underneath all our complaints is an awareness of and gratitude for their service to us.

The work of the Madrona Club to improve the quality of life is ongoing after 100 years. Having helped initiate the Orcas Medical Center, the Garden Club, the library and Moran State Park, perhaps its most visible contribution to the daily life of the community is Orcas Center. Here, two community institutions came to each others’ mutual assistance to fashion an “elegant solution” that served, and continues to serve, both parties.

Hashing out our differences, and contributing to their resolution (which sometimes involves correction of past errors) is in the Orcas Island character. We are concerned, outspoken, well-informed, active, social, nature-loving, civic-minded, sophisticated, down-to-earth, cultured, freedom-loving and artistic people. And we do things with passion. But above all, we are compassionate and helpful.

As we labor to find solutions to our problems that are both workable and humane, we can take inspiration from the Collect of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, written in 1904, that opens each Madrona Club meeting: “Let us be large in thought, in word, in deed. Grant that we may realize it is the little things that create differences, that in the big things of life, we are as one.”