Rosario Resort auction will test mettle of Orcas residents

As Labor Day approaches, we are about to be profoundly impacted by the auction of Rosario Resort and the attendant lay-off of nearly 200 island employees, about half of them full-time.

Rosario will be providing as much help as possible to make a smooth transition, but that doesn’t absolve us as a community of the responsibility to help.

Most island residents proclaim the spirit of “can-do” and generosity that characterize our community, and now we may be entering the “Olympic” era of that lifestyle.

Whatever the outcome of the auction is, both immediately and long-term, we know that there are nearly 200 individuals, and their attendant families, that may have to find new ways of making ends meet, if only temporarily.

In turn, this will affect banks and homeowners who expect mortgage or rent checks every month; it will affect utility companies such as Eastsound Sewer and Water Districts, OPALCO and various water system associations; it will affect fuel and ferry service providers, medical treatment centers, and county revenues. It will affect retail businesses, and restaurants and lodgings in the hospitality industry.

It will affect schools and theaters, parks and trails, kayaking and boating.

This may not have just a simple ripple effect, but, rather, that of a tsunami.

The times are always changing, but occasionally, they change suddenly, and for our community, our island, our county, it appears inevitable that with the layoff of hundreds of our small island population, we’ll see dramatic changes – and needs – among our neighbors.

But along with this new economic cloud, we have the opportunity to take another look and refresh our community, both with an injection of new ideas, jobs and lifestyles – community transportation, grow-your-own produce, bartering services – and renewed habits of neighborliness – running errands for each other, stocking up the food banks, and contributing to bill-assistance funds such as OPALCO’s “Project Pal” and the school district’s Family Emergency Fund.

Our society is judged by what we pass on to the next generation. Unemployment is one of the most frightening and anxious occurrences in life. We all have something to give, and while Rosario wrestles through the growing pains of its next phase, let’s do two things:

1) Visit the mansion and recall the legacy of shipbuilder Robert Moran who came to Orcas with a prognosis of six months to two years to live, and instead spent another 38 years, always “living life on industrious lines,” as he put it. He built the mansion, employing the elements of the arts and crafts movement, which had turned its back on industrialization per se, and instead returned to nature, family and hand-craftsmanship. Then he turned his attention to the 5,000-plus acres of the park, and then another ship. His view of “industry” was limitless.

Christopher Peacock will continue to give free nightly lectures in the Music Room of the Mansion, every night except Sunday, until Sept. 13. Then, his lectures will take place on Saturday evenings until October 18.

2) Distribute gifts generously, whether they be time, talent, talk or money. Tune in to how your organization can be of increasing help .

There is not one person who doesn’t have a network that can be helpful to another, just start reaching out, and be ready to say both, “I need help” and “How can I help you?” Be alert for these sentiments, in whatever words they are expressed.