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Common People Doing Uncommon Work for the Common Good

by Kate Poss in Community, More Stories

There are people who see problems in their communities and say, “Somebody should DO something about that!” And then there are people who roll up their sleeves and come up with solutions. The sixth annual Thriving Communities gathering at the Whidbey Institute last week was a celebration of problem-solvers who prove that community needs are best met by community members themselves.

The theme this year was “Communities Poised on the Edge” and featured films and speakers addressing issues such as affordable housing, food security, local investing, diversity, mentoring new mothers, supporting people in their healing, and aging in place.

Calligraphy Illuminated on Whidbey Island

by Shawn Berit in History, More Stories, Visual Art

The history of calligraphy is as old as the history of writing. Books were once handwritten and hand embellished by expert scribes. The calligraphic arts extended beyond the words and letter forms to include decorative motifs and illustrations with colored and gilded Illuminations. Yet, as is often the case, technological advances all but killed calligraphy when the printing press came into use.

In 1976, Whidbey Island resident Mary McLeod attended a seminar taught by Professor Lloyd Reynolds of Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Reynolds is credited as the man who brought calligraphy to the Pacific Northwest, and he is certainly the man who instilled a life change in McLeod. From that one seminar, she was hooked. Her passion for this old and beautiful art steeled her resolve to learn all she could and master the techniques.

Welsh Shearer Shows Whidbey How It’s Done

by Dianna MacLeod in More Stories

When Welsh sheep farmer Eifion Morgan visited the Island County Fair in 2004 with his Whidbey-born wife, Jane Clyde, it was natural for him to make his way to the livestock area to mingle with island sheep farmers. They talked breeds, quality of fleece, and other matters of mutual interest. When it came to the subject of shearing, the talk turned to quantity; most farmers said they managed six sheep per hour. When asked how many sheep he could shear in an hour, Morgan cited a number most listeners assumed was an exaggeration: twenty. To position a sheep and remove the fleece in three minutes seemed, well, unbelievable. And to do it without ceasing, one 175-pound animal after another, for a total of 20 an hour? Farfetched, surely.

Following Isaac Ebey to Whidbey Island

by Shawn Berit in History, More Stories

From the boat, he could see the trees rising from Admiralty Inlet. The tall pines, the lowland salt marshes, the sandy beaches all beckoned him to come ashore. Then, as if by divine intervention, the trees parted to reveal a prairie on an island. Isaac Ebey would later write to his brother Winfield about Whidbey Island, calling it “…almost a paradise of nature.”

Historians can only speculate, but that first view of Whidbey Island by its first European American resident must have been breathtaking. So many who now call this beautiful island home experienced their first view in a similar way as Ebey, seeing it from the observation deck of one of a Washington State ferry. His journey is mirrored in the lives of many of today’s Whidbey Islanders.

Discovering Whidbey Island’s Tsunami Funnel

by Tom Trimbath in Feature, History, More Stories

About a thousand years ago, the Seattle Fault snapped in an earthquake. Within a few seconds, portions of Bainbridge Island and West Seattle rose more than 20 feet. Land that had been wet was suddenly dry. The residents of Whidbey Island undoubtedly felt it, too. So did the water. A tsunami surged north and south, up and down Puget Sound. Fortunately for Whidbey, the island is skinny from that angle and much of the water passed on either side. Unfortunately for Cultus Bay, it and the two headlands that bracket it, Scatchet Head and Possession Point, were pointed straight at the wave. The tsunami swept into the bay, channeled by the ridges, ran past the high tide line and began to climb the hill.