Apr 272010

I’ve talked to many islanders who have experienced that reduction of stress as their car rolls off the Whatcom Chief and onto the island. After racing up the freeway, along Slater and down Haxton, trying to keep it at 35mph until Kwina, then giving it the gas to make sure of a spot on the boat, the calm feeling which results as we drive onto the Lummi Island dock is relaxing and pleasing to most of us. Things are noticeably quieter. There are fewer places to go. The pace is reduced. Life is slow.

We have two lives—an island life and a mainland life. One is fast; one is slow. (For many the mainland life is fast due to a desire to return as quickly as possible to the island). We have the advantage over most people by virtue of living here. We understand slow. We know that a trip to the Islander may not be a quick trip because we will see someone we know and have a chat. Same for the Post Office or the Library. On the island, errands are a chance to reconnect. We aren’t in a hurry. In town we try and make eight stops and be back for the two ten ferry.

Should we be surprised to learn there is an international movement to teach people to live more slowly, to reduce the pace, to reconnect? The main tenants of the movement (which started in Italy as a reaction to a proposed MacDonald’s restaurant) are to connect to food, place, people and life. There are many sub-headings of the slow movement: slow books, slow travel, slow schools. The main ones are slow money and slow food.

All of this plays directly into the idea of “transition.” If the Peak Everything people are correct, in the future we will have a slower life. Much more time on the island. Much less time on the mainland. Islanders are already getting practice for the slow life.

The ferry crisis should have been a wake up call to many. In my opinion, even with a new long term lease, the ferry is an iffy connection. Reduced income to government will be allocated to the strongest political interests. Oil prices may preclude daily or multiple weekly car trips to town. We will be forced to slow down. I think now is as good a time as any to decide whether you are an islander, or a mainlander who lives on an island.

Within the self-sufficiency/sustainability movement, many people have opted for urban over rural. Here’s a story by a fellow who moved to the country, found it lacking, and moved back to the city where he found some slow living.


  One Response to “We Know “Slow””

  1. Here on Whidbey, islanders go to “America” with great reluctance. We only have one traffic light on the south end of the island. One of the principal kinds of auto crashes on Whidbey are rear enders: mainlanders hitting islanders. Islanders are in no hurry. For god’s sake you are on an island; slow down there’s no place to go; there are no “freeways” rushing across the continent. We never sit in traffic; workers might show up sometime that week; chickens can cross the road; the police blotter is real Lake Wobegon
    stuff (stray animals, and teenagers smoking behind the middle school); the graveyard is full of really old people.

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