Dec 232010

There’s been nice feedback and curiosity about our Transition Team meeting. The group is informal and ad hoc. Our particular purpose is to form a community of people who are interested in self-reliance and sustainability as it relates to life on Lummi Island. There won’t be regularly scheduled meetings. We’ll gather when there is a clear demand. In the meantime small groups or individuals can pursue transition initiatives as they see fit. Hopefully, it will be a case of “lead, follow, or get out of the way.” The important thing is to communicate what we are doing via this blog and the bulletin board that we hope will soon appear. This communication could consist of requests for assistance, vetting of ideas or donations to get a pet project going.

It takes awhile for a world view to shift. I think the labored negotiations with the Lummi Nation have finally begun to increase awareness of our potential isolation. On the Ferry Forum islanders are starting to discuss alternatives. Gooseberry Point has been the favored destination because it is the shortest (water) distance between two points. Some, maybe most islanders, feel it is the easiest and most logical route. The problem is that once arriving at Gooseberry Pt. it’s still a long way to anywhere through the jurisdiction of a sovereign nation. It is only the luxury of having a private auto and cheap fuel that makes it seem easy. For a people who can drive 500-800 miles a day on a car trip, twenty miles to town doesn’t seem like much. But, in the future, it may be a an unbearable distance to negotiate. Who wants to predict that public transportation from town to Gooseberry Pt will improve in the future? Who wants to predict that the Lummis will provide islanders parking spaces for pool cars, car shares, vans or whatever?

Nancy Ging pointed out in her post on the Ferry Forum that Lummi Island has significant infrastructure deficiencies. Number one is that we have no safe year round port. Second, we have no obvious landing spot for barges. One could argue that we ought to turn the island around one hundred and eighty degrees, move it like John Locke did with the mysterious island in the TV show “Lost.” Or, we could try and turn back the clock to a time when Lane Split, pretty much at sea level and with road access, wasn’t covered with houses. But as my dad, who came of age during the depression, would say, “If a bullfrog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his tail when he hopped.”

We are the victims of poor planning based on the presumption that the island could forever be a bedroom community of Bellingham and a weekend destination for Canadians and assorted mainlanders. Everything was sold off for development. No working waterfront, save for the ferry dock and the old ferry dock location, were maintained for the good of the community.  We ended up with very little property that, under current regulations, can be used for commercial activities. This creates challenges if we are going to have to deal with a different kind of ferry service and attempt to develop more job opportunities on the island.

It’s going to take a lot of creativity and innovation to solve all the potential problems we face. Clearly, the more things we can deal with on island, (food, water, medical, heat, fuel, transportation) or through communal effort (resupply, distribution, education, recreation, home health, repair and maintenance) the better off we will be and the less we will have to rely on ferry service.

Sadly, without the reliability of thirty minute ferry service and affordable and available fuel the island life will not be suitable for everyone. On the other hand, it will appeal to others who have not yet arrived. In the meantime, it’s going to be an exciting place to live with lots of interesting changes.


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