September 15th, 2014
Friday nights have an air of excitement to them; many have wrapped up a week of nine to five and look forward to spending time with family and friends in the traditional “eat, drink, and be merry” fashion. Bainbridge Island has a wide variety of restaurants and bars that offer scenic venues for gatherings, but on the first Friday of each month, the city takes things a step further by providing our community with the First Friday Art Walk, a gallery hop and dining experience.
This event features visual art on display at the many galleries and boutiques that line downtown Winslow, from oil, acrylic, and watercolor paintings to sculptures crafted from various mediums, blown glass, and textiles. Beginning at 6 PM and wrapping up at 8, the tour is designed to begin at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, located corner of 305 and Winslow, allowing for travelers from Seattle and beyond to jump right in after departing the ferry. Heading west from there, gallery-goers can visit places like Bainbridge Arts and Crafts, The Island Gallery, Roby King Galleries, Mesolini Glass, Millstream, and the Stephen Fey Photography Gallery. Many of these destinations feature art created by locals, including youth galleries!
Now for the “eat, drink’ part of the evening—many galleries provide refreshments, including snacks, tapas, and drinks. Akin to any other gallery opening, you can enjoy the company of your community and incredible visual art while sipping on local wine. In between galleries, enjoy a meal catered to the art walk with small plates and tapas that will get you out the door quickly yet satisfied, leaving plenty of time to enjoy more of what the First Friday Art Walk has to offer. For a quick snack, take a detour to Blackbird Bakery, Fork & Spoon, or Pegasus Coffee House and enjoy baked goods and café menu items. Otherwise, indulge in a dinner experience at Four Swallows, Harbour Public House, or Hitchcock Restaurant that includes small plates and weekend specials.
The event occurs early enough in the evening to bring the whole family along! Gather together and enjoy our finals weeks under the warm summer sun for an evening of art, food, family, and friends.
August 26th, 2014
Community members of Bainbridge Island have recently come together in solidarity and opposition to the Visconsi development at the corner of High School Road and 305, directly across from Ace Hardware. The forest will be clear-cut and the land developed into yet another shopping center, equipped with yet another franchise drug store, medical building, and plenty of room for restaurants and retail. You may think to yourself, “Wait, there’s already one cattycorner to this, right across the street!” And you’d be right. Which is why, right now, and every evening from 5-7, local protestors will line the sidewalks, wielding signs that read “NO MALL SPRAWL,” “Bring Real Business,” and “Do we need more empty retail?”
While this current struggle is not new to the island, local and state-wide media have revived the story thanks to 19-year-old activist Chiara D’Angelo’s tree sit, rigged 70 feet high in a Douglas Fir. With eyes on Bainbridge Island, organizations such as Environmental Bainbridge and Islanders for Responsible Development are feverishly organizing participatory action to protest the environmental destruction and boycott the soon-to-be 62,000-square-foot shopping center.
In April of 2013, Visconsi, an Ohio-based company, filed an application for land development of forestland that provides vital habitat to many species and is a part of protected wetland. The application included a tree removal permit, which would validate the clear-cutting of 830 trees. One month later, the group Environmental Bainbridge formed, and began grassroots organization within the community to protect this space and promote local businesses over monopolistic franchises.
Months later, in November of 2013, the COBI (City of Bainbridge Island) Planning Commission announced absolutely “no support” for the development whatsoever. Simultaneously, citizens voiced unanimous opposition in public and private meetings. According to Environment Bainbridge, the development is out of scale in location and zoning, violates COBI environmental goals, makes no attempt at saving native trees, misclassifies adjacent wetland, and is not consistent with the island’s comprehensive plan, despite the lead architect’s initial assurance. Furthermore, the development is in direct violation of COBI Municipal Code 19.06.040 A., stating, “The purpose of the High School Road zones is to provide commercial uses that complement downtown Winslow.” I’ll repeat: “complements downtown Winslow”—not competes with!
The cherry on top for many islanders—aside from the aforementioned environmental and economic impacts—is the increase in traffic, particularly for those living in neighborhoods connected or close to the new development. Not only will this have an adverse effect on the island’s goal of a reduced carbon footprint, but will act as a bottleneck for the only gateway to and from the ferry, potentially causing commuter issues.
Unfortunately, the trees have fallen, the land is scarred, and development is underway. The city heard its people urge against this development and succumbed to the forces of mega-capital. This is not deterring local activists, who continue to protest, rally, write letters, make phone calls to key opposition figures, canvas neighborhoods, and engage the community by setting a goal to tell 10 other people about the logistics of the development. Many islanders have also declared a seven-year commitment to boycott all businesses in the development, and urge others to do the same. Visit the website of Environmental Bainbridge to learn more about this local issue and take action.
August 13th, 2014
Never have I lived in such a giving community. While working a shift at Pegasus Coffee House, a customer overheard that I missed out on a coffee grinder during the Rotary Auction and surprised me by bringing an extra one that she had at home a week later! Such kindness does not go unnoticed, or un-circulated. In fact, Bainbridge Island has an entire community of givers who are actively relinquishing old items to neighbors in need, or receiving items that they have a specific need for.
The project, called Buy Nothing Bainbridge, promotes random acts of kindness, all day long. With the perfect balance of technology and community, the Buy Nothing Project began a Facebook group within which members of their community could post a “give” or an “ask.” The most difficult part of the process is deciding which member to give or receive from, as so many folks are offering to help. This amazing service enables communities to commit acts of daily good together, and creates an opportunity for more introverted community members who do less socializing to create new bonds over shared interests and get to know the people living around them!
There have been many innovative ways in which the Buy Nothing Project has been utilized. Buy Nothing weddings and birthdays are a growing trend; the goal is to spend next to nothing on an event that typically costs many hundreds or thousands of dollars, and still have a beautiful, unique, and cherished day made even more special because of its incredible community support.
I have both seen and experienced many acts of kindness through this forum, particularly for folks who haven’t the money to purchase things they may want or need for their household that many, more fortunate individuals may have stacked in the garage. I received a free bed. My roommate received a free tent, and a DVD/VCR player was donated to our household! The also reduces waste, offering ways to rid your household of unwanted items that may otherwise end up in the trash, such as old binders, folders, plastic children’s toys, construction material, etc.
The Buy Nothing Project can also be quite miraculous. Often, members of the community will offer something of great value in a raffle style drawing. “Pick a number between 1 and 1000,” the caption might read, and the winner receives an espresso machine, pair of skis, lawn mower, or home cooked meal! Artists will donate beautiful pieces worth hundreds of dollars. Photographers will offer sessions for free on a weekend. Special services will be offered, such as dinner on a beautiful piece of farmland, a sailboat ride, massages, lessons of any kind—truly, the list goes on. Anything and everything that could be given, offered, needed, or wanted can be found through this project.
Other examples of ways you can participate by donating or requesting: clothing, household decorations, holiday decorations, tutoring, baby supplies, children’s toys, athletic training, books, outdoor gear, furniture, appliances, art, music, and, the best part: food! Prepared foods or farm fresh foods are often offered, as many individuals will have extra eggs from their personal coop, too many loaves of fresh bread, an over sized kombucha SCOBY that can be divvied out, tomatoes coming out of their ears, or a heaping pile of compost that’s just gotten a little too big.
To participate, type “Buy Nothing Bainbridge” in the search bar on Facebook and request to join. Once you’ve been accepted into the group (which is filtered simply to assure that members are within the community) scroll through new and old posts to get the vibe and see how members communicate. There are other Buy Nothing Projects, including one in Kitsap County. If you tell a friend about the project and they adore the idea, urge them to start one in their own community, too, by visiting buynothingproject.org and spearheading the newest and greatest thing to happen to communities in a very long time!
July 29th, 2014
The neighborhood bar seems like a good option, but you want to do more than stare at the television across the bar. Instead, hit the town to play a stimulating round of trivia, and even walk out with extra cash in your pocket!
Trivia Time Live is a Pacific Northwest team trivia brigade that hosts trivia in Kitsap County almost nightly, with two of these events taking place on Bainbridge Island and one just across the bridge! Instead of a quiet bar and monotonous questions, these trivia games are bustling with energy, featuring good music, food and drink specials, and a rambunctious crowd ready to have a great time. The entertaining hosts (including our beloved Jane Darrah) prepare each trivia night with a roster of stimulating questions, and teams compete for a prize or pennant to stake your claim as reigning champion. You may surprise yourself with how well you play—seemingly useless information can make the difference between a team success and fueling your fire to win next week.
For a weekday getaway, head to the Bainbridge Island Brewery & Taproom on Thursday nights from 7-9 to enjoy fantastic local beer and an absolutely full house of happy trivia goers. Come alone, or play on a team at the brewery trivia events—dogs are welcome, so bring in your canine companion for some moral support! Another trivia event on Bainbridge Island takes place on Saturdays at Island Grill, starting at 8 PM. Here, you can order from a full menu and have a cocktail from the friendly bartenders behind their full bar.
Just outside the island, Suquamish’s Clearwater Casino entertains Trivia Time Live every Wednesday in the Beach Rock Lounge starting at 8 PM. Teams can have up to 10 players and compete in four rounds of trivia. At halftime, the leading team gets a round of drinks for half price, and there are cash prizes for placing in the top three teams!
Follow Team Trivia Live on Facebook to read the weekly hint that can be used as a clue to answer a bonus question, chat with other Trivia Time teams, and stay excited about spending a night out with friends sharing drinks and laughs, and maybe even a winning prize!
July 17th, 2014
It’s here—the time we’ve been waiting patiently to enjoy, when the sun hangs high and long, and suddenly Bainbridge Island is exactly what it sounds like: a summer paradise. Island neighborhoods begin to resemble each other, with windows swung open, fruit trees dropping apples and plums, paddleboards strewn across front yards, multicolored chairs encircled around a fire pit, bicycles, sailboats, panting dogs, sprinklers, budding gardens, and the echoes of playful laughter as the sun sets in vibrant hues across the sky.
Fall, winter, and spring have prepared this island for three months of summer splendor. During those colder, wetter seasons, the island feels cozy and normal, a place where people live, work, and enjoy the Pacific Northwest life. But, when summer comes along, we all drink the Kool-Aid. Out come short shorts, daring wake surfers, and bronzed sea kayakers swarming the coasts while cyclists and joggers enjoy the shaded forest roads. Tourists pour from the ferry boats, with unfolded brochures stretched before them, wondering where the can travel to experience the best of Bainbridge Island—its natural beauty.
While many of us are frequenters of swimming and hiking spots on the island, some folks are new, or simply traveling and trying to enjoy every last drop of sunshine while here. So, here’s some advice on a few local (but not too local, don’t worry) spots perfect for swimming and hiking.
Swim the Sound
Although we’re on an island, much of the coastline is inaccessible. There are a handful of public beaches perfect for an afternoon in the sun, hidden away from larger channels of cold water. Manzanita Bay is a cove on the island’s northwest coast with a public beach access on Dock Street. Here, water tends to stay slightly warmer and the beach less windy with full sun exposure. During low tide, the access point has a small, sandy beach area from which you can enjoy front row seats to a spectacular view of the Olympic Mountains while swimmers travel back and forth from the floating dock in the center of the bay. Be cautious of private property while swimming at Dock Street—make sure that you’re not parking, swimming, or beach combing beyond public limits.
Point White Pier is a different swimming experience. A big hit among the crowds of youngsters on the island, this pier is located along the incredibly scenic Crystal Springs Road on the southwest end of the island. With parking across the street and well-marked signs along the way, the dock can host large groups of daring jumpers. With a wooden ladder nailed along one of the pilings, the fun is in the rush. Jump in and experience the rejuvenating, cold Puget Sound water tingling your skin. Some are tough enough to skip the ladder and swim back to the rocky shoreline. On hot summer nights, head to Point White Pier to watch the bioluminescence—tiny organisms that become phosphorescent when disturbed, like glowing glitter underwater—dance off of the pilings beneath the dock and burst into a glowing show as you swim amongst it.
Hike in the Forest
The healthy, vibrant forests on this island make for an incredible and fulfilling day of hiking. With innumerable plant and fungus species to identify, as well as old growth trees and dripping moss, it’s easy to lose track of time in the Grand Forest, located in the center of the island. Multiple trails branch from trailhead parking lots at either Mandus Olson Road NE or Fletcher Bay Road, which lead you beneath the canopies to a beautiful open field in the center of the preserve—a wonderful place to take a breath of fresh air and watch the clouds pass by.
Gazzam Lake rests on the southwest end of Bainbridge Island. This trail has a wide variety of attactions, from coastal to lake access. A trail—perfect for an evening run—winds through the healthy forest with many tree species living amongst each other. During dusk, listen carefully for the owls living in the trees. An access to Gazzam Lake provides a spectacular view of flora and fauna that thrive in freshwater ecosystems. If you’re interested in hiking down the steep coast to the water, enjoy a beach view of Port Orchard during a long and colorful sunset.
June 30th, 2014
In an era shadowed by threats of environmental catastrophe, economic crisis, and social collapse, we are witnessing a mental shift in the next generation to whom the torch will be passed. By and large, the Millennials, born between 1980 and the new millennium, have been raised in a heavily consumer-centric society that has disassociated with the notion of living simply and sustainably off the land. As society wades deeper into these treacherous seas, communities have taken precautionary steps to keep themselves afloat.
Millennials are rising to the challenge by transitioning into a way of living that reclaims traditions long ago abandoned at the risk of being lost forever, traditions like homesteading, permaculture, fiber and textile production, natural medicine, and sustainable agriculture. As the price of produce and meat increases, so does the shift toward community gardening, urban farming, and agricultural education. Call it nostalgia for a romantically rustic way of life or call it necessity; either way, the growing trend in our generation, and in general, is growing organic food.
On this island, there is no shortage of small-scale farms with a focus on organic food that is grown in healthy rotation with the seasons. These farms, which foster deep community roots and innovative approaches to energy efficiency, such as natural irrigation and solar power, are staffed by pockets of Millennials with a passion for connecting to the earth and growing organic food that nourishes their bodies and the environment.
Nearly all farms on Bainbridge Island are supported by a crew of Millennials driven either by devotion or curiosity, and from what I’ve experienced, they’re really wonderful people—they’re my friends. With lives that can be mapped across the globe, these young farmers make up a colorful portion of this community, contributing music, art, and, well, food, that keep Bainbridge Island moving forward. With long, exhausting days in the sun and an intense summer push, they’re hard to find out on the town, but rather at intimate potlucks and picking sessions around a bonfire surrounded by fields of slow growing produce.
You’ve seen them bouncing between mud-caked work trucks and local restaurants with bins of fresh produce; you’ve smiled at them at the farmer’s market as they explain how to perfectly massage your kale for dinner tonight. They’re rugged and tan, with soil stained fingertips and disheveled hair hidden beneath a wool cap. They travel across the country with all of their belongings packed into their hatchback making stops at farms along the way. They conduct educulture programs aimed at introducing young children to the art of farming organic food and give property tours that showcase their happy plant and livestock production. They’re WWOOFers, interns, grantees, dreamers, spearheads; they are the future of a newfound relationship with food that just might save us all.
June 4th, 2014
The airport flooded, the highways packed, hotels booked, and sidewalks buzzed with over 250,000 folks from around the world who had arrived in Seattle to enjoy and participate in our annual free festival, Northwest FolkLife. The independent nonprofit organization has held this event in Seattle Center over Memorial Day weekend since 1972, drawing a crowd that consists of diverse cultures and backgrounds for four jam-packed days of music, participatory dancing, cultural showcases, food, and workshops. Local artists shared stages with international names to bring four days of non-stop entertainment; if you were to attend each event to its fullest, it would take 28 days consecutive days to experience!
Gospel, bluegrass, world music, elementary school choirs, local singer/songwriters, funk, country, electronic, Native drum circles, and reggae—the list of music genres is nearly as long as the list of performers squeezed into the festival. On some stages, world dance performers featured traditional ethnic dance to the live music of their culture, while other stages hosted performers getting the dance started in the heart of the crowd until nearly everyone was on their feet. Sunday’s Mosaic Stage featured a full day of reggae, ending with Seattle’s Clinton Fearon & The Boogie Brown Band, a festival staple for more than 20 years and longtime, long-loved reggae group in Seattle.
At Northwest FolkLife, diverse music isn’t the only thing flooding your senses. The smell of funnel cake and ethnic food lingers in the air, swirling with the cool mist from the international fountain beneath the shade of the Space Needle. Children with vibrant face paint zigzagged through the crowds, cotton candy in hand. Some folks rested in the shade, watching collections of hula-hoopers and fearless dancers move to the sounds of the music from onstage. Others enjoyed each others company in the beer gardens featuring organic and gluten free options.
Vendors line the walkways with unique booths and colorful crafts reminiscent of a bohemian street fair. I watched woodworkers, jewelers, batik artists, and clothing designers charm envious customers as I strolled through, savoring the vegetarian sambusa I ordered for lunch from Portland’s Horn of Africa, which serves traditional food from the coast of Northeast Africa. As I wandered into the Fisher Pavilion, lured by the sound of strumming fiddles and tapping feet, to my surprise I caught sight of hundreds of smiling faces dancing in synch. This contra extravaganza draws many generations of contra dancers year after year to experience the folk tradition of contra dancing with a diverse crowd. Beginners are urged to dance with a drastic wave of the arm by red-faced, panting elders who are willing and eager to teach starry-eyed onlookers the ways of contra. I wasn’t brave enough to try, but I felt the energy from the sidelines and smiled along with everyone.
The greatest thing about this festival? It’s free to anyone, even if you haven’t a penny to spare. You’ll find buskers, travelers, and aspiring musicians putting it all on the line between stages, food carts, and craft stands with an instrument or two, an upside down hat with a sign that says “anything helps,” and a passion for music shared by all in attendance. In the crowds, you’ll find local legends, students, neighbors, homeless, out-of-towners, sailors, young families, artists, pockets of pre-teens, and every other walk of life. Judgment is laid to rest at the entrance, and everyone enters on the same level. It’s a wonderfully inclusive festival fueled by the donations of the able and the energy of the willing. Staffed by over 6,000 volunteer performers and 800 volunteers (yes, performers all volunteer!), this is truly a celebration of Northwest culture and togetherness.
May 19th, 2014
Up until September of last year, Bainbridge Island climbers had to travel to Seattle or Bremerton to get their fix at the few climbing gyms in the area. The ferry and bus rides were enough to keep local climbers from commuting for regular training, and even worse, keep potential climbers from falling in love with and becoming committed to pulling rock. Then, along came Jason Lawson, who built the Island Rock Gym (IRG): a beautiful climbing platform nestled in the Coppertop Loop off of Sportsman Road with 40-foot walls and a bouldering garden that’ll get you horizontal, vertical, and every way in between.
The dilemma of the Bainbridge climber, be it minor, is that of commuting to access solid outdoor (and indoor) routes. Although there is fantastic climbing off of exits along I-90, as well as various locations such as Index and Vantage, these sites aren’t exactly post-work, two hour practice spots, but rather weekend warrior commitments that most are unable to pledge consistent time for. Once upon a time, Bremerton hosted a branch of the indoor climbing gym known as Vertical World, which, when closed down, cut Kitsap County off from relatively accessible indoor climbing. Things grew stagnant and the climbing limitations began stacking up. Lawson’s IRG expanded the opportunity for both new and seasoned climbers to excel while creating a hyper local climbing culture that simply hasn’t existed until now. The staff is knowledgeable, experienced, and more than willing to cheer you through the toughest routes, while the friendly gym members are eager to skillshare and offer an impromptu belay when needed.
For a new climbing gym, IRG membership rates are affordable and there’s rarely a wait to get on a wall. The aesthetic is vibrant, with color-splashed walls dotted with every hold you’ll ever need to train on. What they lack in massively horizontal overhangs they make up for with intricate routes that send your body in convoluted positions that work every muscle. If you’re like me and climb hard when you find the time, tape your hands—these routes are so addictive you’ll climb till you’re raw.
While many of the rope and bouldering routes are difficult and require advanced strength and agility, about half of them cater to beginner or young climbers. In fact, IRG has a youth program that exceeds many, with bouldering and rope trainings that even advance into route setting. Beginning ate age four, these classes and camps focus on getting youth accustomed to rock walls both on and off the rope. The IRG Climbing Team, starting at age eight and ending at 18, delves into advanced beta technique “geared towards endurance, technique, strategy, and strength,” according to their website. Their events extend to seasoned climbers as well, holding courses on anchor building that may serve as refreshers, as well as hosting presentations by professional athletes in the field.
There’s no time like springtime to get ready for a summer of outdoor adventure. Whether you need a refresher on lead climbing and anchor building or to ready your muscles for prime climbing season, IRG is the place to be. After a good climb, walk the short distance over to Bainbridge Island Brewing Company for relaxation, beer, and good company. Climb on!
Bainbridge Island is populated by a wide variety of talented individuals, many of whom are deeply rooted in their community. Some are masters in craft trades, others in farming, arts, business, engineering—the list goes on. Each have developed expert skills, and each has the ability to share their skills within the community.
So, when offered Pegasus Coffee House for a location to organize a weekly event, I thought intensely about the direction I wanted to take it. The purpose was to unite the scattered collections of younger, like-minded people who were either brought here to pursue a passion or raised in the area and stayed because of a love for this magical place. Although drinking, games, and music are exciting ways to gather and create friendships, I wanted these events to amount to more than social hour. That’s why, with a little help from my friends, I created Seaside Learning Collective, a free school on Bainbridge Island.
At Seaside, your peers and friends are the teachers, giving lectures, leading discussions or workshops, and sharing their knowledge in order to promote community involvement. These classes demystify topics like homesteading, fermenting foods, or bicycle maintenance. By making these topics accessible, members of the community are more likely to participate at home, which can lower one’s living expenses, strengthen community bonds, and work toward a more sustainable environment and local economy.
The structure of free schools varies across the globe. Initially, fellow organizers and I drafted an intricate outline regarding donations, scheduling, and sign-ups. We researched global free schools to see how they ran. We planned websites with open discussion forums. We invented a money and sign-up system that would provide funds to the class teacher, the free school, and Pegasus. Just before launching, though, we scratched it all and trimmed it down to bare bones: a donation bag is passed around at the end of each class, and each class is open to any and all community members, regardless of advanced sign-up. Free coffee and tea are served during the class, and on special occasions the bar is open and alcohol may be purchased. At its heart, Seaside Learning Collective strives to bring people together for the purpose of advancing knowledge and promoting community.
The months of March and April held some incredible classes hosted by young members of the community with a passion for their craft. Farmers from Butler Green Farm led a tour through Morales Farm, discussing design strategy and agriculture strategy. Another islander directed a hands-on fermentation and cultivation workshop with various work stations where attendants could make their own kombucha, yogurt, or kraut, and they brought the final products home! On the other end of the spectrum, we have hosted classes grounded in arts and intellect, such as a creative writing workshop or discussion on the importance of gratitude and giving.
The months of May and June are packed with exciting opportunities to participate in a folk songwriting roundtable, learn the basics of direct action and community organizing, experience another farm tour, create your own drop spindle and yarn, or even experience the ancient method of transcendental meditation through percussive drumming, led by a woman traveling from Greece to lead workshops in the greater Seattle area. We are very fortunate to be expanding, both in our teachers and attendants, to a broader audience.
While a class or two has been held at another location on the island for the purpose of a farm tour, most classes occur each Wednesday, from 7:30-9:30 at Pegasus Coffee House. I, along with the rest of Seaside Learning Collective, hope to see you there!
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