Justin Blotsky picks beets in Mt. Vernon, Washington on Wednesday, September 7, 2016. Photo by Clay Lomneth / The American Legion.

Justin Blotsky picks beets in Mt. Vernon, Washington on Wednesday, September 7, 2016. Photo by Clay Lomneth / The American Legion.

“I’ve known a lot of people who have been to combat and came back quite changed,” explained Kenny Holzemer, a 22-year retried navy air crewman and the executive director for of Growing Veterans.

Growing Veterans is a Washington-based organization that aims to help veterans successfully transition into civilian life through sustainable organic farming. Launched in 2012, co-founders Marine Corps veteran, Chris Brown, and mental health counselor, Christina Wolf, recognized that farming can be both a therapeutic activity for returning veterans and a way to explore a potential new career path.

“It’s a really great opportunity to bring the healing powers of nature to people,” explained Wolf. “And the healing powers of having a community of people who you can rely on.”

Recent studies have looked at the mental health benefits of gardening. But Wolf says she doesn’t need any scientific research to know farming can be therapeutic. “Those of us who do it just know instinctively that it helps us feel better. Researchers are like, ‘How can we study it and prove it?’ But it’s just something so innate to people. We just get it.”

The organization has also developed its own three-day peer-support training for staff members, volunteers, and anyone else interested in taking the course.

“As we were working with a lot of veterans on our farms, we found that a lot of people wanted to be kind of a support system for others, but they didn’t feel like they had the skills to do that,” explained Wolf. In addition to the veterans who enter the program as farmers and volunteers, veterans make up eighty percent of the organization’s staff.

“Our training is really on both sides. How to be a helper to someone else, and how to get help for yourself when you need it,” Wolf explained. “We just see that as a normal human experience. It’s not a bad thing for me to support you—it’s just a human thing. We all need that sometimes.”

Find out how to help Growing Veterans efforts at:


Visit the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce Community Calendar equipped with your planner and a pencil; this April’s crammed events calendar will have you picking and choosing. Within just the first week of April, islanders have already had the opportunity to attend the opening of the Bainbridge Island Farmer’s Market, Composting with John Barutt, Email-a-Tree, and Learn to Row—a Weekend Intensive. Aside from incredibly helpful opportunities with AARP Tax Assistance and the Career Center at the library, take a peak at a few of the events this April has in store for you.


Wednesday, April 13th

  • Family Fun: Spaced Out, with Stuart Gibbs: Book readings aren’t just for adults. Bring your family to Eagle Harbor Book Company from 7-8 PM to listen to Stuart Gibbs discuss his latest young adult novel Spaced Out, from the Moon Base Alpha Find out what happens when the fate of a stolen Moon Base commander rests in the hands of 12 year-old Dashiell Gibson in this puzzling mystery!
  • Protecting Pollinators with Ann Lovejoy: Be sure to attend this discussion from 7-8 PM at the B.I. City Hall Council Chambers as we move forward into flower, garden, and pollinator Yes, we’re talking about why pollinators—not just bees—are imperative, and in peril. Learn how to make pollinator-friendly private and public gardens with Ann Lovejoy.


Thursday, April 14th

  • KRL Presents “Ferry Tales”: This month, join us at the Kitsap Regional Library for John Kennedy Toole’s “A Confederacy of Dunces.” The free event lasts from 4:30-5:15 PM.
  • Community Discussion and Book Signing: “Passings” with Holly Hughes: To welcome Earth Day properly, attend Eagle Harbor Book Co. at 7:30 PM to listen to Indianola Poet Holly Hughes discuss the extinction of fifteen species of birds in her most recent 15-poem chapbook. The passing of these birds is a reflection of our own demise, and a community discussion will hopefully enhance our outlook and input on the environment.


Friday, April 15th

  • Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra Presents: “Movie Music LIVE!”: Performances Friday and Saturday evening at 7:30 will bring to life the music that you know and love film, stage, television, and even video games. A unique musical outing for the whole family, hosted by the Bainbridge Performing Arts Center. Catch a last minute showing Sunday, April 17th at 3 PM.


Saturday, April 16th

  • 2016 “Call to the Wild” Gala Auction & Dinner: This 12th annual gala auction and dinner supports the West Sound Wildlife Shelter and their educational and rehabilitation programs. Live and silent auctions as well as raffles and fun activities will bring the Puget Sound community together to support future stewards and philanthropists as well as various environmental non-profits.
  • Rain Garden Basics: A mid-day tutorial on the purpose and promise of rain gardens. Join WSU Extension Rain Garden Mentors at the Kitsap Public Library from 1-3 PM to go deeper in to the aesthetics and engineering of rain gardens, particularly in regards to reduction of pollution and storm water runoff.


Wednesday, April 20th

  • A Sense of Place: Cascadia and Alaska in a Time of Climate Change: Dan Kowalski will discuss the human connection to our planet—and, in particular, the Cascadia bioregion—at the Bainbridge Public Library from 7-9 PM. A sense of place and a relationship with our natural home can bring greater understanding to our role in climate change. Kowalski’s discussion will emphasize Alaskan glaciers.


Thursday, April 21st

  • Pints for Pets at Wobbly Hopps Brewery: Venture to Bremerton for this third annual event, hosted from 5:30-8 PM. $1 from every pour will be donated to the Kitsap Humane Society. Friendly dogs welcome!
  • April’s Bainbridge Fruit Club Meeting: An important event for those of us with fruit trees on our property. Randy Lee will share his expertise on “Renovating Old Fruit Trees,” as well as what to do with fruit trees that have been abandoned or mismanaged. The event is from 6:30-8:30 PM at the Bainbridge Grange Hall.


Friday, April 22nd

  • Celtic harps, Rare Instruments, and Wondrous Stories with Lisa Lynne & Aryeh Frankfurter: This San Francisco-based, multi-instrumentalist duo will mesmerize you with traditional and modern takes on folk music, as well as bountiful knowledge of Celtic music, and many stories from a professional career in the music industry. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door for this event, hosted from 7:30-9:30 at The Dayaalu Center.


Saturday, April 23rd

  • Trees: The Best Technology for Fighting Climate Change: We all know trees are a powerful, life-bringing force of nature, but do we know of their many abilities to mitigate climate change? Learn with Olaf Ribeiro from 10 AM to noon at Strawberry Hill Center.
  • Bainbridge Island Wine and Cheese Tour: This two-day event, from 10 AM to 5 PM, will feature the seven wineries on Bainbridge Island as well as local cheeses to highlight the tastes of the region. No tickets needed—tasting fees will be collected at the winery.


Sunday, April 24th

  • Afternoon on the Trails: Honoring Earth Day, Islandwood opens up their many trails for your self-guided exploration, as well as their Investigation Station to help you and your little ones identify the treasures that you find or take photos of, from cones to shells to leaves. This event, from 1-5 PM, will help you transition from winter hibernation to spring in the outdoors!


Wednesday, April 27th

  • Infographics: Where Art and Science Meet Climate Change: In a time where memes and images are given more attention to than articles and stories, we must learn how to better our information sharing via infographics. Marilyn Ostergren will discuss her work creating infographics regarding energy, environmentalism, greenhouse gas, and topics of that nature at UW. Learn how to raise awareness on climate change from 7-8:30 PM at the Bainbridge Public Library.

iPhone photo--Google Images

The irony is palpable. I’m sitting in a coffee shop with my cell phone three inches from my MacBook, writing an opinion piece about the importance of a digi-free existence. The woman across from me talks on her iPhone while flipping through website on her tablet; a man waiting for his coffee leans against a countertop, tuned into the screen resting in his hand, his thumb vigorously swiping up, up, up.

“Tall mocha latte.” The barista cleans the countertops while the plume of steam rises from the unclaimed coffee. “Tall mocha, no whip?” She scans the room. “Sir. Sir?” The leaning man tunes back into the present moment, sliding his phone into his pocket long enough to sip his foamy latte, and retreats to a table in the corner of the coffee shop. Immediately, he pulls out his smartphone and disappears back into the familiar womb of cyberspace.

Is this progress, or an epidemic? All of the knowledge in the world fits inside our pockets; we capture precious moments, connect to an infinite social network, support organizations and startups, expand our business portfolios—the possibilities are seemingly endless. But, what does this infinite digital highway mean for our humanity?

Our personal lives have digressed from “behind the scenes” to behind the screens. Instant gratification has altered our sociological psyche to an extent, making society less willing to wait, work, and want. We’ve shortened our means of communication and dulled the quality of our relationships. Texts have replaced phone calls. Emails have replaced hand-written letters. Spending time on those that we love is becoming a lost art as we’ve isolated our instinct for community and transferred that need to a fleetingly fulfilling cyber-community.

Social media has digitally satiated our desire to see the world and simultaneously created an insatiable desire to live “better.” Research shows that we are less satisfied with our own lives due to media’s ability to take us inside the lives of those we admire: celebrities, travelers, professionals, etc. How did that person end up with such an amazing life—and why isn’t mine like that? We’re increasing our desire for more, while decreasing our motivation to work for it.

But, like so many trends of human civilization, this trend may be on the brink of boiling over and, essentially, distinguishing its own flames. Human beings have strayed so far from our natural existence that we seem to be waking up from the cyber-coma. We’re realizing how terrifyingly close we’ve come to making ourselves obsolete.

So, join me on my Spring Cleaning: Digital Detox Challenge. Use your phone for one thing, and one thing only: phone calls. Stop yourself from texting, taking iPhotos, and wasting your free time surfing the Internet. Then, try to wean yourself from computer and television screens. No online recipes or travel channel getaways. You’ll just have to call Mom for that banana bread recipe.

Start your Digital Detox by keeping a time log every day, hour by hour, for a single week. At the end of the week, categorize various activities during the week. An example could be “Work,” with subcategories: grading papers, giving lectures, researching on the Internet. Once you have categorized your activities, look at your lists and circle those that you see as most important to you, your health, and your future. Then, average out the amount of time that you spend behind the screens: television, computer, cell phone, tablet, kindle. This screen time could occur at work, or at home.

Take time to reflect on what you have learned in your time log. Consider: What have you discovered about your time? How many hours are spent behind the screen? How many of those hours feel “lost” to you, rather than fulfilled by meaningful activity? What may you replace screen time with to bring more fulfillment into your life?

Next, create a T-chart on a blank piece of paper. On one side, write “Barriers.” On the other, write “Solutions.” Under the “Barriers” column, consider what prevents you from using your time effectively. You will find that your phone, Netflix, computers, or being overly tired (presumably from too much screen time and not enough physical interaction) are major culprits. Under the “Solutions” column, consider what you could do to use your time more effectively. Suddenly, you’ll see words like “turn off,” “put away,” “get outside,” “procrastinate less,’ or “be more creative.” This is your Digital Detox plan. Once you begin to shift your lifestyle based on your self-reflection, your perception of life will begin to shift, too.

The Digital Detox Challenge dares you to pick up a guitar again, split wood, knit a spring sweater, paint a watercolor of the blooming cherry blossom tree in your back yard, clean your home, build a chicken coop, learn from your neighbor, plan your garden, write a short story, cook with friends, read a book… out loud… to your family. Become more socially conscious of our surroundings by being connected to others, rather than your phone. You’ll feel far more relaxed than you ever thought possible. Imagine the healthy traditions we can build again if only we try.


Contributed by Christine St. Pierre

Editor’s Note: While we often try to remain neutral on political commentary, this argument hits a little too close to home to be ignored.

As I listen to the competing arguments for the preferred use of the Suzuki property, I am disappointed by the discussions.

In many respects, this is a bizarre story of a geographically exclusive city that prides itself on being environmentally conscious, whose city council can approve the construction of yet another 10,000-square-foot vacation home with a heated outdoor swimming pool, and simultaneously decry as an eyesore the “ugly” multifamily developments where working class people live. In other respects, this is a familiar story of America’s continuing clash between people of differing economic classes, who rely on each other, and yet cannot figure out how to live with each other.

Bainbridge Island’s service sector is teetering on the edge of unsustainability for one reason and one reason alone – lack of available workers. Historically, to maintain our two restaurants’ doors open we have required some 60 – 70 persons in our work force per year. That nets out to about 35 full time equivalents (FTE). We are just one employer on an island that continues to demand a vibrant and healthy downtown. Each year we watch as our available labor pool shrinks and the number of staff miles driven to get to work increases. In my many years on the Chamber of Commerce board of directors, I have heard a common refrain from the island’s employers. How is that good for the island and our island environment?

For those who are taking issue with the Housing Resource Board’s (HRB) proposal based on environmental concerns, please take pause. If Bainbridge Island is a defining place that embodies the best of environmentalism, then much of that movement becomes wed to the condition of the privileged. Privileged environmentalism is not progressive politics but a politics of the rich and comfortable that only claims progressive ideals. That brand of environmentalism becomes entirely consistent with – and is a close cousin of – class exclusionary politics.

Has Bainbridge Island, through its environmentalist claims, targeted for exclusion those workers who service the island-city?

I sincerely hope not.

I urge the City’s decision makers to actively engage and support the HRB’s proposals for the Suzuki property.

J.L. Waite

P.S. – If you’d like to read more about “environmental privilege” read The Slums of Aspen (Immigrants vs. the Environment in America’s Eden) by Lisa Sun-Hee Park and David Naguib Pellow, 2011, New Yoork University Press

Hot Spring PSA (1)

Contributed by Christine St.Pierre

Nothing stokes the urge to enjoy a soak in a natural hot spring more than mid-winter, especially when your natural hot springs are nestled beneath towering giants in the mossy, wet forests of the Pacific Northwest. Far away from blistering winter wind or the sounds of traffic in the distance, hot springs are remote havens that create spaces for ultimate relaxation, connection to nature, and, sometimes, expanding your community.

This region is gifted with a relative abundance of these phenomena due to heavy rainfall and a vast geothermic network. Narrow streams cascade to and from the springs, refreshing the typically 105–110-degree water in the springs, which are formed in different ways. In some cases, natural sources of water seep into the earth. They become heated by geothermal activity—the temperature of rock within the earth increases with depth—and recirculate to the surface as hot, mineral-rich water. In other cases, preexisting groundwater beneath the layers of underground soil and rock are geothermically heated and rise from the earth’s crust.

Rain and snow evaporate as they hit a fortress of steam emanating from the natural sulfuric pools, which can be as deep as two to four feet. Often, springs are lined with stone or fallen wood by individuals who maintain the springs either voluntarily or in connection with park and forest services. These small pools be naturally formed, but are also manipulated by human intervention to create a habitable space. Some hot springs are simply hot water rising from a small hole in the ground that requires digging and sculpting into a pool.

The surrounding centuries-old trees offer a reminder of your isolation deep in the forest. Some springs are easy to access and others much more remote, which also contributes to the quality of the pool and the water within the spring. More remote springs increase the possibility that the landscape of the area may have negatively affected the spring or the pool, and you may come upon a spring that has been washed away by a landslide or clogged by heavy rainfall and plant material. Closer access means more people, which means less privacy, serenity (and potentially nudity naysayers). All-too-often, this also means more garbage and more disrespect to the natural environment.

Recently, my partner, Conor, and I drove to Baker Lake for a dirtbag Valentine’s Day weekend of camping with our dog in the back of our converted 4-Runner and relaxing in the Baker Lake Hot Spring. This site is notorious for its sometimes contaminated water, large, rowdy crowds, and unsanitary conditions. Prior to this weekend, we had enjoyed one summer afternoon with the spring to ourselves and in wonderful condition. So, we drove to the trailhead and fell asleep to the rain pattering on the car’s roof, eager to be first to the springs the next morning.

The next day, as we meandered along the lush, green trail toward the hot spring, I could smell the sulfuric water growing nearer. As we approached, I noticed an eyesore of a “shelter” made of cheap plywood and covered in ripped plastic, meant for changing in and keeping things dry. My first reaction was Leave no trace, people, c’mon. And, besides, remote hot springs are to be enjoyed in the nude. Disappointed, I noticed in my periphery something floating in the hot spring: a plastic bag, full of bloated hot dog buns and rotten meat: hot dogs and raw bacon strips, their packaging torn open by the hands that left them there.

My eyes scanned the murky water for more garbage. Nearby, a bottle of ketchup bobbed about the water like a hot tub temperature gauge, floating above unidentifiable garbage that had settled to the bottom of the spring. I stepped closer, trying to make sense of the small, brightly colored trash, only to realize that a broken jar of dill pickles had scattered its contents across the bottom. With a long stick, I attempted to remove the broken glass and pickles from their watery tomb, with no success. Fortunately, I was able to retrieve rotting packages of sliced cheese and pre-cut salami. The spring’s sources began to bubble, releasing more hot water into the contaminated water—a torturous welcome, or maybe a plea for help.

Standing there in the pouring rain, our eyes locked and our hearts sank. Who would do this? Who would disrespect nature with such potent neglect and laziness? This was such a glaring example of the devastation humans can bring to a sacred space. Even to an ordinary space—to other humans, to other life. The length of human destruction grew in its limitlessness.

Taking a step toward the wreckage, we put our bags down to inspect the damage further. Half of a door—yes, a door, for a house—rested awkwardly across the waterfall that sourced from the hot spring. Brightly colored fireworks littered the ground, along with remnants of campfires with melted garbage, clothing items, beer bottle tops, cigarette butts and, heartbreakingly, an empty jumbo-sized garbage bag. I grabbed the bag, and we started cleaning.

We salvaged ten, twenty, thirty, one hundred bottles and hadn’t even breached the surface. Broken glass stretched across the grounds. I didn’t want to imagine how many shards had settled to the bottom of the spring, thinking of the families with little children who often visit the natural wonder. Bottles had nestled into the soft earth and tucked themselves away in the brambling bushes, deep tree roots, and nearby waterfall’s nooks and crannies. Beer, wine, champagne, liquor—you name it, its empty remains were strewn fifty feet in any direction of the sickened spring. I imagined an intoxicated mob of people launching bottles from the hot spring’s elevated mountainside pad. It made me sick to my stomach; it made me angry; it made me get to work.

Near the water, a rotting trout, still wrapped in plastic from the grocery store deli, slipped through Conor’s fingers as he struggled to dispose of it in the garbage bag, now brimming with clanking bottles, glass, and rotting food. The silvery remains of tea-light candles shimmered in all directions like tiny bits of garbage bait taunting us. We would move about in small circles to pick up the garbage that seemed only to multiply the more we cleaned. Working for more than two hours, we had to break the news to the many groups of starry-eyed nature-lovers that constantly flowed in hoping, also, to enjoy the spring that day—or any time soon.

We warned newcomers to swim at their own risk while continuing to pick up garbage, detailing the state of the spring upon our arrival. Many had driven from their homes hours away in Seattle, and beyond. One couple said they had been here in November and the spring was in great condition. Unanimously, we all decided that the temperature of the water was at prime condition for bacteria, such as E.coli, to thrive and multiply. With the added danger of meats—cured and uncured—as well as other food material, the risk was too high. We didn’t even want to touch the water. Everyone was disgusted, heartbroken, and angry. We wanted answers, but the silent forest revealed no clues.

There would be no justice for the forest that day. We cleaned for hours and considered the service our Valentine’s Day gift to the earth—the thing we love most, and the thing that gives each and every one of us life and abundance. But as the forest grew darker, we realized how cold and wet and on top of a mountain we were, and had to leave. Chances are, in the days and weeks that followed, dozens of unknowing visitors enjoyed the hot spring. Maybe they didn’t see the warning we wrote into the wooden shelter. Phone calls to the national forest made no promises of retribution or even cleanup. One disappointed ranger mentioned that the hot spring could be cleaned in the spring, its bottom dredged.

Let this be a letter of encouragement and a public service announcement to each and every one of us: we are better than this! Tell this story to your friends and family, and tell them to do the same. This drunken party became a public health risk, and the ground a minefield of broken glass in a place where bare feet are the norm. Seeing as this was not an isolated incident I encourage you not only to “pack it in, pack it out,” but also to head into the wilderness equipped with a trash bag, ready to “pack it out” for others, too

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Contributed by Christine St. Pierre

It’s late February in the Pacific Northwest. Temperatures have been hovering between 35 and 50 degrees for months now, and the diversity in our weather patterns amounts to different varieties of rain: scattered sprinkles, sun rain, spitting, misty rain, fat rain that falls hard, little beads that fall harder, dry rain that magically avoids you, cold rain that soaks your clothes and chills your bones. With all these different types of rain, one thing remains the same: it just doesn’t stop.

Don’t get me wrong—rain is healing, calming, and brings about the abundance of life in the dripping, mossy forests, white-topped mountain ranges, and rocky coastal shores of the upper left. Constantly changing cloud formations create a beautiful backdrop of depth and shape in the sky. The snow-capped mountains provide fantastic opportunities for adventure. But, the bottom line is, I’m still wearing thirteen layers of merino wool, and, usually, still wet and cold. Sometimes—and I know I’m not alone in this—I need a tropical vacation.

Psychologically, vacations are an all-healer. Preparing to leave is exciting, vacationing is relaxing and fulfilling, and the comedown is gentle when you’re bouncing blissful memories around in your mind. That’s why I enjoy the pleasures of a tropical vacation without having to leave the comfort of my home. How? Tricking myself into believing it. It might sound crazy, but it actually works.

The key component of a successful pretend tropical vacation in Washington in mid-February is believing. Around every half hour of my fake-ation, I stop and think to myself, I’m in Hawai’i. There are palm trees and rainbows and waves breaking in crystal clear blue water just outside my window. It’s hot, and people are eating mangos and shaved ice in flip flops. Later, I’m going to read a book in a hammock on the beach with a banana daiquiri in my hands. And it will be amazing. Then, I commit myself to the following habits of happy tropical-vacationers.


Rise and Reggae. Whether it’s raining or shining outside, the inside of your home can always feel colorful and bright. After you rise from bed and stretch for ten minutes (see: New Years Resolutions article), head to your music-playing device and set the dial to some upbeat, soulful reggae music. I suggest Clinton Fearon and the Boogie Brown Band on Pandora, a Seattle-living, Jamaican-born reggae artist who exudes humanity and love through his lively songs. Let the island music sway your hips and stretch your smile as you dance about your home from room to room with your loved ones. Sway your way into the kitchen to start a pot of fresh coffee for the first of many fake-ation reggae mornings.


This brings me to my next point: Listen to World Music. Moods are enhanced by sensory stimulation. Sleepy days are made sleepier with the addition of melancholy instrumental music. Workouts are made more intense with harder, heavier music blasting into your ear. And, sunny days are made that much happier with feel-good music. So, make your day feel more cultured and international with island music or world music playing in your headphones, car speakers, in your home, and whenever you need a reminder that there are sunny, tropical places in the world with unique cultures.


A Dash of Summer Clothes. Once, I met a woman with the most flamboyant and colorful wardrobe. She never had fewer than three bright colors on at once, and always with exotic earrings, a matching or mismatched necklace, and beautiful rings on her fingers. She was in her mid-fifties and lived in a small, equally colorful home in Portland, decorated with artifacts from cultures across the globe. The most colorful thing about her? Her personality. She seemed, in herself, a vessel of optimism, health, and happiness. She knows how to live a positive, colorful life. So, as I dressed with bubbly reggae beats coming from my loudspeakers, I took a page from this woman’s book by opening my box of summer clothes in mid-January. Summer skirts, playful blouses, and colorful jewelry made their way back into my wardrobe. Instead of my usual winter garb of black on black with a touch of brown, I’ve decided that each and every outfit should remind me of sunny days, so I mix bright skirts with leggings and boots, summer dresses with cozy sweaters, dangly earrings under my wool hat.


Spa Treatment. Showers mean two things for me: relaxation or hygiene. It’s not the most sustainable way to cleanse, but when I’m truly in need of some serious self-care, relaxation, and bliss, I take to the tub with candles, music, a lamp, book, glass of water (or wine), oils, and a good thirty minutes to an hour to dedicate to my home spa. Sometimes, it’s a bath; other times, a steamy shower. Either way, it’s important take time with your self and your body—imagine you’re at a spa and give yourself the foot rub of your dreams. Sit in a hot bath and soak as if you’re sitting in a hot spring in the jungle. Fill your bathroom with steam and exfoliate your dry winter skin. If you want to take it to the next level, switch your shower water from hot to cold every few minutes to get the invigorating affect of a hot shower as well as a cold waterfall cascading from the sea cliff. You’ll feel rested, relaxed, and rejuvenated: a new way to look at RRR.


Cook Healthier, Eat Happier. When on vacation we certainly spoil ourselves with treats, but we also tend to eat healthier meals with fresher ingredients. Many eat fruits, vegetables, and meats local to the area. So, next time you head to your local grocer, take a break from eating heavy winter foods or what’s locally in-season, and buy those pineapples, mangos, avocados, star fruits, and gorgeous hunks of fresh fish! After your fresh and colorful meal, treat yourself to a fruity dessert treat. Take this freshness a step farther by steeping your cool water in refreshing fruits or veggies like cucumber, strawberries, and lemon.


Bye-Bye Malts, Hello Daiquiris! Speaking of fruity treats, spend some time getting to know those beloved daiquiris that we tend to enjoy solely on a sunny beach. And I’m not just talking about the daiquiri-slush concentrates you can get at the store. With all of those fresh fruits you’ve purchased, crack open a bottle of rum and enjoy Cuba’s famous drink straight from the blender. Fresh fruits like bananas, coconuts, pineapple, mango, and local berry varieties make for the perfect replacement for those many craft beers from the Pacific Northwest. We do love our beer, but beer isn’t half as cheerful as a mixed drink with a tiny pink umbrella hanging from the top.


Live Aloha. In the Hawaiian language, “aloha” means many things, such as love, affection, compassion, mercy, sympathy, pity, kindness, and grace. “Living aloha” is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self. When adopting the mentality of “living aloha,” we see a slight shift in lifestyle that also creates a shift in our outlook on life. We see the beauty in each person. We begin to see life through rainbow-colored glasses. The little joys in life are enough to feel like the biggest joys in life, and happiness, creativity, and energy levels go through the roof. This process helps remind us of all of the beauty in the world—and not just at the beach.
Sure, this is a fun exercise in transporting ourselves across the globe with a slight shift in consciousness, but this is also a reminder that life is so much more than good—it’s beautiful—and that, even in the dead of winter, life can be a tropical paradise.


Nora Harrington and her close friends are asking communities to rethink their medicine cabinets, bringing herbal remedies directly to your door. She and I shared a cup of virtual tea and chatted about her herbalism passion, entrepreneurial journey, and the love and intentions behind her recent endeavor, Medicine Chest Herbs. Pull up a chair and join us.

Christine St. Pierre: Starting a business on your own takes great planning, passion, and grit. What about herbalism moved you so deeply that you took it upon yourself to bring it to others?

Nora Harrington: Aw. Such a sweet question. Thanks for seeing that!

In my early twenties, I was pretty sick. I did my own research and found some great healers to help me, but a lot of the alternative modalities I wanted to try were just out of my budget (i.e. acupuncture and naturopathy). I had always been studying herbs and alternative health, but it wasn’t until a friend gave me a bottle of homemade bitters that I really got a taste of Western or Folk Herbalism. They cured me! Those bitters helped me so much. And I was astonished that I could go out and make my own batch after. I started cooking up a storm of herbal medicine and I felt deeply inspired by the accessibility and effectiveness of this medicine. Soon afterward, I enrolled in Herbalism School in Portland, and the rest is history.

When we were doing the first herb CSA, we got a lot of feedback from people that we were helping them learn about herbs, and I found that really inspiring, too. I started this business because I truly believe that the medicine we need is right outside our door, and that plant medicine belongs in our homes. It is an “accident” of the current culture that we do not automatically inherit a basic knowledge of how to heal ourselves with herbs and food. That’s why our little tagline is “Grandma Knows Best.”

St. Pierre: How did the seed for Medicine Chest Herbs become planted and grow into fruition?

Harrington: The idea for an herbal remedies CSA landed in my brain almost 4 years ago. My dear friend Heather Wolf and I were planning to attend herb school, but we needed to raise money. I had just started to make remedies at home and I had been giving them out to friends and family members, and I thought, “Why don’t I sign people up for this ahead of time?” So Heather and I started Remedies CSA called The Wheel Plant Medicine. We ran it for a year and had a wonderful time, holding some classes and herb walks, too. It helped us pay for school.

Then, after traveling to Europe two years ago, I decided I wanted to start the project again, but in a more financially viable way. (The Wheel had been all donation based.) I had the idea this time to partner with other small-scale herbalists; by finding other people to make the medicine, I could focus on curating the shares and creating the educational zine that comes with them. The zine is a great way for me to make art in the name of empowering people to heal themselves with herbs. It has been really rewarding.

Mirabai “The Magician” Troll is my business partner. Starting this project was overwhelming­–I had never had a real business before and there were so many things that my witchy artist brain could short circuit on. Mirabai came on initially as “Head of the Problems Department,” but pretty soon after that joined the Medicine Chest as a partner. She now edits and contributes to the zine, runs most of our marketing, and generally makes the magic happen when it is most needed.

St. Pierre: How did you gather knowledge on herbalism?

Harrington: The bulk of my formal education was carried out at the School of Traditional Western Herbalism in Portland, which I attended for a year. Before that, I did an internship with an addiction rehabilitation center in Peru, where they use and sell to the public about 50 different medicinal herbs. In addition to various additional jobs and conferences, I continue learn from our participating herbalists.

St. Pierre: Say I’m a potential customer (because I am). How does the Medicine Chest work?

Harrington: Essentially, you order a package of herbs, and then, at the beginning of the next season, we send you the package, which is pretty much a treasure trove I must admit. If you live on Bainbridge, we will deliver it to your home. If you live in Seattle, you can also chose to pick up your share at the SugarPill on Capitol Hill.

So, you go to the website (www.medicinechestherbs.com). There, you have some options:

1. You can get a Full Share, which is a package 6 remedies and one Zine per season. If you buy the full share for the whole year—as in, you pre-order all four shares for the whole year—you save a little money. But you could also just buy the full share for the upcoming season, which in this case is winter.

2. Another option would be to buy a Half Share. The half share contains 3 items and one zine per season. Same deal here. You could get the Half Share for the whole year­—all four half shares ordered at once—and you get a little discount. Or, you can get the half share for the upcoming season, which is around $39.

We also sell an Essentials Pack, which is a package of our most trusted remedies. It also comes with a little informational zine. Additionally, we sell a subscription to the zine only as well as individual products from the shares (all on the site). The zine is a place where I feel like I’m able to bring together a lot of different perspectives and tips on at-home herbalism.

St. Pierre: What are your intentions with the Medicine Chest?

Harrington: Our hope is for the Medicine Chest to continue on as a beacon of herbal education and outreach, maybe sprouting up localized branches or sister companies in other parts of the country. I think it would be best for there to be lots of small companies like the Medicine Chest. Our Medicine Makers wild craft most of their ingredients and make the medicine in small batches, which is ideal for serving the local community. The zines we are hoping to send out to bookstores across the region. We just landed them in Left Bank Books and Elliot Bay Books in Seattle.

We’d like to make this easier to navigate on the website.


St. Pierre: Who is Nora Harrington, the energy behind the Medicine Chest?

Harrington: I’m also a gardener for an amazing gardening company called Red Twig Fine Gardening, and for a huge vegetable garden for a local island family. I’m so grateful to be spending so much time in the dirt! Realistically, running a small business, a little home and a gardening job, takes most of my time, but when I’m free, you can also find me practicing with my band Boobface, planning Lady Church, doing Tarot Spreads for lost souls and making meals with my friends. Right now I’m drinking yarrow, elderflower and ginger tea because I’m warding off a cold.

The deadline for signing up for the winter share is November 23rd! It arrives December 14th, so it will be a great holiday thing if people are thinking ahead. Last year, we had a lot of people send the subscription as a gift to their friends and family members. (One lady seriously bought 8 of them.)



By Christine St. Pierre          Photo by Linda Wolf

“Don’t like Shell’s ice cold views on global warming?” “How much does a polar bear weigh? Enough to break the ice!” “You seem like you enjoy vacationing on the beach. Save the beaches!” “Does your little one love snacking on fish sticks?” “Ever seen Waterworld? Let’s make sure that doesn’t become our reality.”
Years ago, I used dozens of these catchy, shallow one-liners to draw peoples’ attention to me, the 5’ 3’’ Greenpeace canvasser standing in the pouring rain on 4th and Pike with a clipboard and the determination to get you to join the ranks of others who wish to keep Shell out of the arctic. In a perfect world, I could have looked you in the eyes, reached my hand in your direction, and said, “Shell oil plans to drill for fossil fuels in one of the most wild, hostile environments on Earth,” or, “One isolated oil spill endangers the Indigenous communities and species thriving in the arctic ocean, as well as the entire planet,” or maybe, as actress and activist Jane Fonda recently pleaded at a rally in Seattle, “This is the fight of our lives.”
But the world is not perfect, and, statistically, using corny one-liners provokes you to stop and talk with people like me much more frequently then us shouting, “Did you know 13% of the planet’s undiscovered oil is thought to rest beneath the Arctic Ocean? Seems like a lot! But at our current rate, that’s only three years of consumption! Is that worth irreversible environmental devastation?”
Why? Because you don’t want to be bummed out, confronted, shocked—because you’re on vacation or a quick lunch break or you would rather go home and research this issue on your own. More often than not, you’ll keep walking, shouting an apology that grows fainter with every footstep. And, more often than not, you won’t research more at home. You’ll forget about what I said, why I was standing there. But eventually, inevitably, we’ll find ourselves standing side-by-side on the frontlines of one of the most threatening capitalist schemes in human history.
The movement didn’t start with Greenpeace or me or you; it has been happening for decades: we the people are silenced while fossil fuel lobbyists and greedy politicians shake hands in the crooked corridors of DC, sending fleets of oil rigs into heavily populated, pristine environments, causing massive disasters like the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska or the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Many don’t believe their voices can be heard by the fossil fuel mafia or politicians who are positioned to hear our cries—that one person can’t make a difference. But if everyone believes that, then there is no movement—only surrender.
In 2013, provoked by massive people power, the federal government barred Shell from drilling in the Chukchi Sea following a series of accidents during exploratory drilling in 2012, i.e. Shell’s drilling rig Kulluk running aground off the coast of Alaska. The U.S. Coast Guard blamed this embarrassing uh-oh on “inadequate management and assessment of risks” in icy, storm-tossed waters, according to its final report on the accident. News spread about the operating rig pleading guilty to eight felony offenses and paying $12.2 million over falsifying records that would prove the oil rig outdated and unfit for such demanding conditions. Shell temporarily halted the project, and many of Shell’s executive staff publicly expressed doubts about the low financial reward of such a high-risk operation, which is why many were outraged at the Obama Administration for allowing Shell (of all companies) to drill for oil off of the Alaskan coast this year.
Aside from threatening the food supply and livelihood of the four-million people living in the arctic, many of whom, like the Inupiat, are Indigenous communities, along with the seventeen whale species, thousands of migrating birds, endangered polar bears and stellar sea lions, and other life depending on this delicate ecosystem, here’s why we should all be concerned:

• The area is extremely remote, with manic weather, icy waters, hurricane-force storms, sub-zero temperatures, endless winter darkness, and waves up to 50 feet in height. There are no service roads or deepwater ports for hundreds of miles, delaying rapid rescue and cleanup when (not if) an accident occurs. The closest Coast Guard equipped for responding to oil spills is stationed 1,000 miles away.
• It took BP three months to control its ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico. A cleanup in the drilling areas in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas boasts entirely different obstacles. The aforementioned extreme conditions threaten to prevent rescue access, freeze cranes, and deem oil dispersant chemicals useless.
• And then there’s the ice. A spill, detected or undetected, could spread beneath the surface of the ocean, traveling beneath ice flows hundreds of miles. There is potential for ice to become frozen in the oil within just four hours of exposure, where it could remain until the ice melts, whenever that may be.
• The successful drilling of vital relief wells, necessary for capping a ruptured well, could not be guaranteed in the drilling season’s few summer months before winter ice—and towering icebergs—returns.
• Shell claims it can clean up to 95% of spilled ice, a fantastical statistic considering the relative Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska which cleaned 9% of oil in 1989 and BP’s mere 17% in 2010. According to the US Geological Survey, 1-20% of Beaufort/Chukchi oil could be recovered.

Amidst a global movement to wean off of fossil fuels and redirect our focus on green and clean energy sources, a push to drill in hazardous, fragile waters for a small portion of energy is a giant setback. Recently, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray stood with activists and kayactivists amidst the port city’s positionality in the eye of the storm, “To prevent the full force of climate change, it’s time to turn the pages on things like coal trains, oil trains and oil drilling rigs. Its time to focus the economy on the future: electric cars and transit, green homes and environmentally progressive businesses.” The mayor and many Pacific Northwesterners have held strong in opposition against the presence and portage of Shell’s Arctic Fleet, including the drill rig Polar Pioneer. Folks have climbed it, blockaded it, and created a human flotilla in its path, but the fleet as begun its journey to Alaska.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has received hundreds of thousands of phone calls from people like you and me over many years of persistence opposition. The Obama administration has received letters written by entire nations, unions, organizations, and individuals pleading for a ban on arctic oil drilling. We’ve seen what people power can do: so far, we have succeeded in pushing the Obama administration to block the Keystone XL pipeline and create stronger regulations for coal-fired power plants. It’s not too late to match your voice with the countless others who can no longer sit idle while one of the last remaining frontiers of the Far North is plundered for money. Start by signing one or all of the online petitions linked below.

Save the Arctic—Tell Obama

Stop Shell’s Dangerous Offshore Drilling Exploration in the Arctic

Stop Shell from Drilling in the Arctic!

Save the Arctic—Stop Shell


Peace and quiet enveloped me as I leaned against the doorframe of Sadie Beauregard and Paul D’Agnolo’s wooden yurt, one leg draped over the balcony’s edge, gazing down at the blueberry, raspberry, thimbleberry, and salmonberry bushes that the three of us had just harvested for the pie we would soon eat with their sweet neighbor Margot, a seventy year-old member of River Farm, an intentional community and cooperative farm located in Van Zandt, Washington. The two moved from farms on Bainbridge Island to the River Farm in December to begin a farm operation of their own, Foothills Flowers Farm—a far-off dream for so many.

Looking east from my perch in their elevated yurt, I took in a view of the Twin Sisters peaking over the forested foothills of the North Cascades, a beautiful backdrop to the resilient permaculture that the stewards of this Evergreen Land Trust have nurtured since a group of anarchists from Capitol Hill began the intentional community decades ago. Various walnut, apple, cherry, and plum trees provided shade for the rambunctious piglets romping around their grassy pasture. In the distance, the north fork of the Nooksack River carved along the property’s edge, encompassing the many small households, garden plots, pastures, trails, and groves within this Van Zandt paradise.

Seeking refuge from the early evening’s thick summer air, the three of us sat indoors, surrounded by textured bouquets of native flowers grown by the couple just a few hundred feet away, to be sold at various farmers markets. A John Prine record spun through the airwaves while we slow-cooked a blueberry and garlic scape-soaked salmon from the nearby rushing river, caught and gifted by a neighbor on the farm. This cooperative “what’s mine is yours” mentality is one of the many progressive concepts that drew Sadie and Paul into the sustainable farming community at various points in their life history.

The couple’s stories converged on Bainbridge Island while working for various farms and transformed into a shared desire to make the dream a reality: start a farming business, live sustainably, strengthen the farming community, and, ultimately, help to heal an ailing food system.


Paul, a Minnesotan, was turned off by his local farming community’s endless monocrop chemical agriculture that dominated the landscape, eventually farming on an island in Vermont’s Lake Champlain following a summer in Alaska. After an internship at Milwaulkee’s Growing Power, Paul traveled to California to work in the mountains looking for specific plants, eventually finding a home in Washington. Once in the Pacific Northwest, Paul wrote to his siblings in Minnesota, urging them to “quit their jobs, move west, buy a farm, climb mountains, catch fish, and be a family!” Within a year, the siblings were reunited, and five years later they continue to thrive. Paul expanded his farming experience, working at Seattle Tilth Farm Works in Auburn before eventually moving to the island to work with Symbiosis Food Cart and Bainbridge Island Farms, later moving to Butler Green. There, he met his “sweet Sadie beau” who has “been key in keeping [their] wandering way aligned with [their] hopes and aspirations toward owning a farm operation.”

Sweet Sadie, a moniker that so fully encompasses her tender nature, is a Vashon Island native who began this work five years ago after falling in love with farming during a year of urban gardening with AmeriCorps*VISTA in Seattle. After her service, Sadie took an internship at a small vegetable farm on San Juan Island, feeling like she “could farm forever.” She, like Paul, savors “the physical, hands-on nature of farming, as well as the opportunity to be outside and think creatively about growing, harvesting, and marketing.” Following her internship, Sadie was hired on at the island’s Persephone Farm where she “found flowers,” and flowers found her. There, she came to realize the importance and value of local flowers, seeing them akin to local food in that “conventional flowers are often grown with heavy chemicals by workers with poor working conditions and shipped hundreds of miles.” Eventually, her island farming career led her to work with both Heyday Farm and Butler Green, where she met Paul and found her best friend, a partner to build a farm with, to cook, hike, and laugh with “at all of the mistakes and triumphs we make along the way.”

With Paul’s brother operating Small Acres Farm nearby their now budding flower farm, Foothills Flowers, Paul and Sadie were able to partner their CSA operations for broader outreach. They have secured stands at the Fairhaven Farmer’s Market in Bellingham on Wednesdays, the Lynden market on Thursdays, and the Twin Sisters Market, which was created by fewer than ten local farms operated by young sustainable farmers, including Foothills Flowers.

This cooperative attitude is the tie that binds the farming community together. “We’re all broke, tired, struggling—but that’s what needs to change: the competitive attitude between farmers needs to turn into a cooperative one,” explained Paul. “The glimmers of light are where you and your buddies can help each other out—you can have a market where you don’t need to be there every week, or land you don’t need to own, and you can teach each other and share your secrets.”

Leaning against the open doorway across from me, Paul briefly paused, looking out across his garden. “Our food system is broken and we don’t have enough farmers to fix it.” This sharing of knowledge creates an important dialogue and helps strengthen community in a big way. Being at markets and conversing with your community about growing sustainably builds autonomy and excitement, and not just between farmers, causing everyone to care more about their natural surroundings.

Foothills Flowers Farm is built upon this appreciation and sense of place in life. The focus is on what bouquets do to you when you’re around them. “What I like about floriculture is that it really connects you to the season and makes you notice native plants with distinct flowers,” explained Paul, who described the bouquets produced by their farm as native flowers that are appropriate for climate and seasons, incorporating perennials, greenery, vines, and grasses to add texture. “They make you look at every plant and think, ‘How beautiful is that plant? Can we add that to a bouquet? Would we be able to make others see its beauty, too?’”

The answer is yes. Their unique and nontraditional flower arrangements are simple and breathtaking, featuring sweet pea, lupin, millet, wild rose, and thimbleberry blossoms, to name a few. Following a grant from the Bellingham Food Cooperative, which was used for marketing, supplies, insurance, and a rental truck arrangement with Cloud Mountain, another cooperative farm nearby, the two have taken Foothills Flowers to new, bold heights. Their success has stemmed from intense community support and the necessity for a healthier, stronger farming culture. Support your farmers, know your farmers—visit foothillsflowersfarm.com for more information about offers on events, weddings, and Sadie & Paul’s mission.

Contributed by Christine St. Pierre