April 4th, 2014
At the annual Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet held on January 25th, 2014 I made a presentation of a series of 20 photographs that were displayed for 20 seconds at a time… Pecha Kacha style. Concurrently, I read a 20 second profile of the business and other interesting facts about the industry.
This year’s presentation theme was about the often anonymous businesses that contribute to the island’s economy through manufacturing and industrial operations. The intent was to illustrate that the commercial capacity of Bainbridge Island is not just the retail storefronts that everybody is familiar with; but, there is also a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit that works, often hidden amongst the trees, if you will, that goes relatively unnoticed.
The photos were taken by Mr. Joel Sackett.
I’ve uploaded the slideshow here for you to take a look: Slideshow
March 28th, 2014
Every Tuesday at Bainbridge Island Brewing Company, a group of wool-clad islanders sit in a circle around heaping piles of yarn, casting and binding and looping and dropping stitches in the slow, methodical creation of their latest sweater, cowl, fingerless gloves, or beanie. The gathering, called Stitch ‘n Bitch, consists of local folks interested in textiles, knitting, drinking craft ales, or genuine conversation.
Knitting has always seemed out of reach—an unachievable skill. I tried to learn a few times, but constantly dropped a stitch in each row, making tiny little triangles that were ultimately useless. I gave up, and as the years have passed, so have the windows of opportunity to learn this social folk tradition. Ironically, I always imagined the years passing while I knit socks on the front porch, swaying in a rocking chair and watchin’ the crops grow. The time had come!
When I approached the group for the first time, I was met with warm smiles and chairs slid over to make room for me. They continued on with their conversations while their buzzing fingers robotically repeated pattern after pattern, seemingly detached from the rest of their bodies. Impressed and intimidated by their dexterous mobility, I introduced myself as an aspiring knitter with an unfortunate “ya can’t teach an old dog new tricks” disposition. The group deflected my lack of confidence, having all been there at one point, and offered words of encouragement, assuring that I would be able to knit and create in no time. Then, one stitcher pulled a beautiful ball of steel blue merino wool from her bag and held it out to me.
“Here, learn with this!” she suggested.
“For me? You’re just giving this to me?” I asked, shocked.
“Do you like it?”
“Yes, it’s amazing!”
“Then make something beautiful with it!” She smiled, and everyone continued on chatting.
No big deal. Just a perfect ball of merino wool yarn. Gifted to a stranger, no less. What a community we’ve got here on the island! The next day I bought my first pair of knitting needles–sized nine per suggestion of the group–and began courting a lifelong relationship with knitting. Since that first Stitch ‘n Bitch, I haven’t come far with the craft, but I have built relationships within the group. Each stitcher has a loving, warm character. Often they’ll cook each other food and bring a sharing dish to the gatherings.
The gatherings are organized by Tatyana Vashchenko, co-founder of Local Color Fiber Studio, a fiber dying duo consisting of Tatyana and Emily Tzeng, who cultivate and forage various plants to use for dying natural yarns. These two sell their organically pigmented yarns at farmers markets and online at localcolorfiberstudio.com. Come meet Tatyana, Emily, and the rest of the Stitch ‘n Bitch craftspeople on Tuesday nights between 7 and 9 PM at Bainbridge Island Brewing Company. Support your community, support local art, and, while you’re at it, support local beer!
March 13th, 2014
For all of you with pretentious-detectors, beware: I have welcomed the identity of poet into my life. Before, I just considered myself someone who wrote occasionally. Now I think that poetry, the art of poetry, is a way that I understand the world around me. How do I explain? Take for example photography. Once you get more and more involved in photography, you are not only a photographer for the split second you snap a photo. No, you walk around, always, seeing things in terms of composition, of lighting, of placement and movement. It is by continuously remaining open that you can then relate your experience in a moment of creation. So it is with poetry, I think. You walk around wide-eyed and in love with each thing you see then write about it.
The bizarro videogame Katamari Damacy comes to mind too. The sole purpose of the game is to roll around as a sticky ball and grow bigger. You start out sticking to small objects and increasingly gather larger and larger items on your body until soon you are rolling down skyscrapers. I think that it works as a metaphor for the artistic endeavor. From the second I leave my front door and head out into the world for the day, I am a sticky glob and take note of everything I see. By the end of the day I am chock full of the ephemera of my day. To write a poem I would take each piece off of me and lay it on the page. If I do a good job, the poem should stand as a simulacrum of the concert of emotions of my day. If I do a really good job, I manage to pick off all the junk of my day and get down to my skin and, once there, pick off the flesh with renewed vigor.
Serendipitously enough there is a copy of Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life in the bookshelf in the house where I live. Ever since reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek I have been desperately in love with Dillard. She too lived on an island in the Sound, though more isolated and further north than I am now. The Northwest, it seems, is a literary hotspot. The rain, the mountains, the forest, the countless coffee shops, all of it gestures toward the literary. So I decided to pick up her book I hadn’t (gasp) yet read. In it, she remarks upon the difficulties and impossibilities of leading a writer’s life. She tells a story of trying to chop firewood: for the longest time she was terrible at it, could never make sizable pieces of firewood for burning, only small useless chips. Eventually she learned that to do it right, you don’t aim for the wood but the chopping block beyond it. After that realization she had a high stack of wood ready to burn, hurrah hurrah! And so it is with writing, you aim, always, for the obstinately blank page, the screen of flaring pixels, and try to etch out your flawed creation despite the sea of blankness and incorrigibility.
From what I can see so far, Bainbridge is a fantastic place to be an artist. Open mics are everywhere, the art museum is free, people are warm and welcoming and willing to share their craft. Guitar players come out in droves to perform, you can’t walk down the street without bumping into a writer, and artist exhibitions pop up continuously. So it is not so hard to be young on such an island. It is quite easy to walk around and feel welcome and on the cusp of many chance encounters. And so I throw my own voice out there, in the form of a small poem, to join the artistic community of Bainbridge. The Pacific Northwest has me thinking about the incomprehensibility of city sewer systems, mountains, whales, the Pacific Ocean, and ant colonies.
Lesson from Blue
Dates, appointments, schedules,
details, all details, slide right
off me like sea trash off a lost whale
during a cataclysmic storm in the far reaches
of the Bering Sea in the icy grips of November.
That is ok because even though I cannot hold
a pen between my flippers to write you,
I am a whale and can sing-song a semblance
of a message for the whole ocean to hear:
I am late, but coming.
March 13th, 2014
By Andy Butter - The lovely Christine St. Pierre (See BIMM Part 1 & 2) and I share a house, internships at YES! Magazine, and barista duties at Pegasus Coffee House. We’ve also been jointly asked to blog about our experience of being “young on Bainbridge”. I think that this will be great for you, the reader, to see how two people put in the same place can come out with two vastly different (or not?) experiences. But first, a little background info from me.
I moved to Bainbridge at the beginning of the new year to start a four-month long internship at YES! Magazine. After a grueling 40-hour Amtrak ride all the way from Minneapolis, which promptly dispelled any romantic notions I had of train travel, I found myself, still swathed in all my winter gear, in downtown Seattle. Laden with all my belongings, I waddled to the ferry and bought my first of many tickets to come.
Trains, busses, ferries, skyscrapers, taxis, business-people. All of it strange and unfamiliar to me. I grew up in Grand Marais, Minnesota, a tiny town of 1,300 people on the northern shore of Lake Superior. Grand Marais has one stoplight, two grocery stores, and three seasons: almost winter, winter, and still winter. To me, Bainbridge is not small or remote but quite a bustling place, especially considering its proximity to Seattle. Living on Bainbridge is not a tuning-down, a sinking into a bucolic dream, but instead a foray into a chaotic whirlpool of new faces and places. I can’t stand and gawk forever though, I have to get out in the world and see it, then blog about it!
An important part of integrating yourself into a new place is to meet people and make friends (duh). Sometimes that’s easier said than done. But no worries, for those less gregarious, less adept at navigating the innumerable pitfalls of social interaction, I have compiled a bullet-proof list of my way to make friends while slinging coffee at Pegasus. Godspeed ye, and good luck making friends out there, friend.
Midwestern Themed Clothing
I have a sweater that features two proud owls and the word “Wisconsin” in bold white type. I have a bright blue shirt that has the outline of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan encased in a heart. I often wear shirts that feature Northland College, my alma mater in Wisconsin. Every time I don cloth from the heartland I am always engaged in a fun conversation while I’m cashiering. Apparently, everyone on the West Coast lived in the Midwest at one point, or has a half-step-semi-second-cousin-in-law that does. Once I admit my origins the conversation turns to the weather. Once we start talking about the weather I am in the zone; I grew up in Minnesota, I could talk about the weather for days. Friendship: forthcoming.
Did you hear about the giant that threw up? Really? Because it’s all over town. How do you organize a party for the solar system? Simple, you just planet. These jokes are terrible, I’ll agree, but if you happen to chuckle, or at least show the common courtesy of chortling, then we have a starting point for rapport. After rapport, a budding acquiantanceship. Soon I’ll be your children’s godfather, just you wait.
Only to be used ironically. Results may vary.
A Sprinkling of Pop Culture References
After I take someone’s order and they fumble around for exact change I may ask them “Where’s the money Lebowski?” If they raise an eyebrow and give me the $2.17 without saying a word, I move along. But if they proudly proclaim their proclivity toward nihilism, then we have a blossoming friendship on the way. Don’t be disheartened if the references don’t start a friendly conversation right away. This method of friend-making often takes time and persistence. It also has the possibility of alienating you from those around you. Play it cool, man. If 90’s movie quotes aren’t working out, try a line from Game of Thrones. No one picking up on your amazing whistled rendition of Europe’s “The Final Countdown”? Bring it back with a hummed chorus of the Beatles’ “Penny Lane.”
Note for those that enjoy higher-brow culture: This method of making friends can work for you too! For example, I saw a young woman reading a book of poems by Elizabeth Bishop. We talked about our favorite poets. We then learned each other’s names and shook hands. Friendship!
March 13th, 2014
At around seven o’clock on Thursday nights, Pegasus Coffee Shop undergoes a transformation: the small tables, previously occupied by laptops and foamy lattes, are rearranged and used as placeholders for cocktails, tall beer, and sheets of music at the dawning of Biscuits & Gravy, a three-hour jam session hosted by local musician Ethan Joseph Perry. Folks flood in through both entrances with instruments in tow, greeting each other with nods, hugs, and playful banter between old friends.
Incoming musicians strategically dance across the coffee shop, raising instruments above their heads and shuffling through the maze of chairs, tables, guitar cases, and people in order to grab a spot in the large circle materializing around the front fireplace. Non-musicians also take their place around the bar, ready for the pickin’ party to begin. People walking past the front windows often stop and smile, curious and warmed by the sight of community collaboration. A few welcoming waves from the jam circle urges them to come inside and join; they laugh, shaking their heads as if to say, “I couldn’t do that!” and walk away with a smile equal to ours.
Then, with a one, two, a one, two, three, four, the atmosphere ignites into a frenzy of string instruments and vocals as the group begins the ascent. Laughter and side conversations at the bar are drowned out by the fifteen or more new and veteran musicians encouraging each other to play loud, sing out, take it away, and bring it back. The choice of song is determined by a clockwise rotation around the circle, with each musician bringing a different flavor to the group. An old Grateful Dead tune may be replaced by a John Prine sing-a-long followed by a little Neil Young, and so it goes. The keeper of the song also passes along jam solos to various members of the group. Courageously and at a moment’s notice, the soloist takes the song to a new level. You’d think they’ve been playing together for years—and, in many cases, you’d be right.
I sit high on a stool behind the circle’s inner layer of musicians waiting for a song I know, a wave I can catch and ride straight on home with the rest of the crew. As soon as it hits—that old familiar tune—I sing out in harmony with the women and men around me, and our voices blend with the fiddle, guitars, mandolin, banjo, stand-up bass, harmonicas, and impromptu table drums, swirling in a vortex around the circle and reverberating off of the tiny coffee shop’s walls. Every Thursday, the energy is palpable, the happiness contagious, and the feeling of community undeniable. At the stroke of ten o’clock, the session comes to an end with Pete Seeger’s “Goodnight Irene,” and the musicians part ways, ready to do it all again next week. Join in!
February 20th, 2014
Missing those Salish Blues in our clam chowder? Blame the Navy. As reported by KOMO News, http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Navy-Oil-spill-in-Hood-Canal-larger-than-first-estimated-245240911.html , the Navy lost control of about 2,000 gallons of oily waste last week,. The spill forced the Kitsap Public Heallh District to close the beaches for shellfish harvesting http://www.kitsapcountyhealth.com/environment/shellfish_advisories.php on February 12th as a precaution.
In the meantime the pub has been getting it’s clams from Western Washington ocean beaches…however, you will notice they are Manilas.
As soon as the Hood Canal closure is lifted we’ll get back to the lovely Salish Blues that Baywater Inc. has been growing and harvesting for the pub’s now famous chowder and steamers.
February 18th, 2014
The Kitsap Community & Agriculture Alliance (KCAA) invites you to participate in a special West Sound Agritourism Workshop, an event to initiate the Kitsap Peninsula as a destination to West Sound small farm, nature and other outdoor activities. KCAA believes small farms & gardens, nature & environmental groups, lodging facilities (including Bed & Breakfasts), and other value added producers would benefit greatly from sponsorship and participation in this event.
When: February 22nd, 2014 from 8:30am - 4:00pm (Lunch provided)
Where: Bremerton Boys & Girls Club (3102 Wheaton Way, Bremerton, WA 98310)
$25 General Admission
$20 KCAA Members (Special code sent to members via email - contact KCAA for more info)
$10 for Students & Interns - must enter Intern/Student at check out for special pricing. Please bring student ID/Verification to workshop.
Tickets can be purchased by visiting: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/559822
Please contact us at email@example.com with questions or for more information. Event agenda and poster below:
February 7th, 2014
By Christine St.Pierre - The hinges squeak on the coffee house door and I shift my gaze toward the entryway with the rest of the Pegasus staff, programmed to greet the sound as another customer shuffles in from the cold. From behind the counter, I greet the newcomer with a smile and ask, sincerely, “How are you?” Too often, the person is shocked by the authenticity in my tone; they’ll raise their brow, tilt their heads, pause to think, and, with a sigh, say something to the effect of, “I’m well, but [insert personal detail here].” Step one in making a new friend: care.
Step two: remember. The next time they walk in through those squeaky front doors, I’ll ask, “How did it go with [restate personal details from last conversation here]?” And so it begins; a relationship that had the dreary potential of being a simple exchange of money and coffee becomes something more. This is how I met most of the folks on the island with whom I’m building strong friendships—young or old, male or female. I realized that this little community wants to let you in, so I found an opening and slipped on through.
The final step: memorize their drink orders. Do this and you’re in forever. No foam. Soft-boiled eggs. Add an inch of water. Tie the tea bag. Whole wheat, a little burned. Split-shot quad-shot extra dry soy cappuccino with a splash of vanilla and sugar in the raw. Extra hot, please!
Working these shifts is the equivalent of hanging out with friends in my kitchen. Regulars get their drinks and sit at the bar. We begin chatting, and more of them file in, greeting each other and catching up. They leave together in small groups, probably off to a job or farm or hike or musical endeavor, and I feel all warm inside knowing I’ll see them the next morning—same place, same time, same drink.
Since this friendship journey began, I’ve been to some really cool places with some really cool people. The Grand Forest, for example, has a beautiful field at the end of a series of trails that is perfect for cloud gazing, singing songs, and sunset yoga. Once, on my way to this field, I ran into a Pegasus friend who was heading into the forest to gather stinging nettle with a group of plant-loving locals. Later, we crossed paths again, and they graciously shared stinging nettle pesto and soup with me. As the clouds parted, we stood in a circle and dined on the foraged nutrition, photosynthesizing while we discussed our appreciation of the forest.
Of course, there are less happenstance ways to form bonds and experience the island, like attending the open mic (Tuesday) or open jam (Thursday) nights at Pegasus. If, like me, you’re not a trained musician, bring your poetry on Tuesdays and slam it out! Or, if, like me, you love to sing, bring your voice on Thursdays; Larry, a regular jammer and real sweetheart, has an extensive catalogue of folk, blues, and bluegrass songs that are easy to learn, and he would love to add to the queue if you’ve got something in mind. The Bainbridge Brewery also offers live music on Wednesday evenings, which makes for a wonderful transition from climbing at the Island Rock Gym just across the Coppertops parking lot.
Not long ago, I began my life on the island attending events like these by myself, enjoying the culture while watching the community interact from a distance. Now, I’m in it, and all it took was a little coffee.
By Christine St.Pierre - Downtown Seattle seemed to vibrate, its lights pulsating with electricity. Standing on the balcony, I watched the city grow dim and disappear as the ferry slipped into the thick fog surrounding Bainbridge Island. Moonlight illuminated the small landmass before me, its ridge jagged from the treetops of giant evergreens. Small houses dotted the shoreline with kayaks and beach chairs along the water’s edge. The ferry’s engines turned off, and we coasted into the harbor.
Slowly, I inhaled through my nose; the smell of seawater, kelp, and dense forest flooded my senses. A calm overcame me. Leaving the sleepless bustle of Seattle behind, the island immediately offered a tranquil escape. The moonlight lit my path as I walked to my new home from the ferry station. Sleepy, eclectic storefronts boasted of a lively community, and I was eager to discover what the sunlight would bring the next morning.
I awoke in a beautiful cabin home with a wall of windows that overlooked a yard decorated with large ferns and old growth trees. The other interns living in the house slowly filed into the kitchen to boil water for their morning tea, and we elaborated on what drew us to the island for an internship at YES! Magazine. Writers, activists, and lovers of the outdoors, each of us was eager to plant roots in the island’s various organic farming, music, art, and writing circles. So began the fun part: finding them.
Our home in the southeastern corner of the island is a short bike ride away from downtown Winslow, the community hub that welcomes the flow of ferry passengers as they disembark from the terminal. All day, people wander in and out of the assortment of local businesses that line the streets, greeting each other by first name. The general aesthetic and attitude is that of humility, genuine happiness, and an appreciation for their shared island home. Even the sun seems to shine more often here.
I had heard rumors of the island being a desert of twenty and thirty-something folks, but immediately I caught glimpses of them everywhere, grabbing lunch at the Town & Country grocer, sipping coffee, or driving trucks filled with crates of locally grown produce along Winslow streets. They exist amongst the families and tourists, a rare species that can be seen anywhere at any time. The tricky part is actually getting to know someone. From there, it’s a domino effect. I landed a job at Pegasus Coffee House, which filtered me directly into a scene composed of sailors, famers, artists, writers, musicians, yogis, locals, transplants, and everything in between. Quickly, I became acquainted with a handful of locals and began my transition into island life.
My adventure to Bainbridge Island originated as a career opportunity, one that would come and go, offering professional skills and connections that would lead me into a future in editing. Upon arriving, though, I sensed that I would weave myself into the conscious community before me—one that I had unsuccessfully searched for in Seattle—and remain for much longer than planned.
I was right. Over time, this island would become my home.
February 7th, 2014
Every generation puts its stamp on the American Dream, states Dan Kadlec unequivocally, in his piece Millennials Put Their Surprising Stamp on the American Dream | TIME.com http://business.time.com/2014/02/06/millennials-put-their-surprising-stamp-on-the-american-dream/#ixzz2sgsrimnE
But the current batch of 20-somethings, sometimes called the Millennials, have failed to overtly stamp Bainbridge Island… it would seem.
When you look at demographic data for the island-city there is one generation most notably absent… those born between the years of 1983 and 1994. Look around you next time you are at the movies, on the ferry, in a restaurant - other than the waitstaff, where are the Millennials? Sure, around the holidays you may see them passing through our quaint streets, but where are they and what are they doing the rest of the time?
That is the assignment I have posed to anyone interested in sharing.
Christine St.Pierre, who has come to us by way of the Yes! magazine intern program, has taken up the challenge and you can see her first two posts in this blog.
For the rest rest of you, where are you and what are you doing… on Bainbridge Island?