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It’s summertime, the weather is fine, and opportunities to enjoy the sunshine with friends, family, and our pets are abundant! Join four- and two-legged friends at the beautiful Downtown Poulsbo Waterfront this Saturday, July 16, from 7 AM to 1 PM in order to support the Kitsap Humane Society (KHS) in their annual PetsWALK, a walk-or-run fundraiser, which includes vendors, live music, pet talent contests, pet costume contests, and games to help our furry friends at the animal shelter live happier lives.

Last year, PetsWALK 2015 broke record attendance, bringing together more than 400 walkers and runners (and 150 dogs) who participated in teams comprised of family, friends, coworkers, nonprofits, church groups—you name it! PetsWALK 2016 hopes to surpass both the fundraising and attendance for last year, so gather a team, register for the event, and join us in walking, running, or playing games in the name of KHS, sporting your PetsWALK t-shirt, free with registration. For extra fun, come with elaborate costumes for your team and pets, and join in the costume contest!

Choosing to fundraise for PetsWALK is easy and has fantastic prizes and rewards! Within two days of registering, you will be provided with a link to direct you to your own fundraising website, which can be personalized and even linked to your own sites and personal media, such as Facebook! Inspire your friends to donate to this crucial and fantastic cause—instead of buying a $5 mocha latte one morning, send that money to KHS, where that donation will be used to buy life-saving veterinary care, food, and so much more for these animals. Prizes for fundraising for KHS range from water bottles, pet bandanas, totes, baseball caps, hoodies, t-shirts and, wow, even an iPad for those who raise more than $2,500!

The fundraising goal for PetsWALK 2016 is $25,000, and KHS believes this goal is attainable with your help! While fundraising for the event is not a requirement, the incentives are high—Kistap Humane Society has spayed and neutered 2,301 animals in 2016 and rehomed 2,892. These sweet animals have been provided with food, medical care, shelter, and love by volunteers, veterinarians, and donations since the opening of KHS in 1908.

Due to the chaos around World War II, the KHS disbanded, but the need for an animal shelter only became more critical. During the war, the population of Kitsap County increased exponentially due in large part to military relocations, and with it, so did the animal population. When owners were relocated from Bremerton and the Kitsap area, many animals were left behind and, unfortunately, were often exterminated by law enforcement. Local animal advocate Almeda Harris Wilson saw a solution to this animal crisis and pushed for a revival of KHS in 1961, which succeeded due to support from county and city officials. Later in the sixties, the KHS was relocated to a brand new shelter in Charleston Beach because of a lack of space, which was then enlarged in 1971, but even the renovations were inadequate, and the shelter was relocated to a bigger property in 1989 in Silverdale, where it currently resides. Keeping this shelter open has not been easy, and it takes a village–or, in this case, a county—to thrive!

Like most, this independent, nonprofit, KHS functions solely on service, volunteering, and donations from fundraisers and private donors. Without events like PetsWALK raising money for KHS and similar shelters, it is unknown how Kitsap County would be forced to resolve stray or abandoned animals. Not only does KHS care for these animals, but they also match them to the perfect owners for a happily-ever-after that some never thought possible. Often, owners of shelter animals wonder, “Who adopted who?”

The shelter provides adoptions for dogs, cats, small animals, and occasional livestock, a Barn Cat Program, and fostering for injuured, traumatized, or young animals, as well as extensive veterinary care, such as microchips, spay and neutering, euthanasia, cremation, and vaccinations. Support can be offered to KHS through volunteering, personal donations, corporate donations, hosting a third-party event, In-Kind giving, planned giving, and bringing your friends and family to fun events such as PetsWALK!

Parking for the event will be provided by Gateway Fellowship in Poulsbo, and registration begins at 7:15 AM. If you’re attending for the pet vendors, head to the Waterfront Park at 8:30 to get the first picks of all that the merchants have to offer. The walk begins at 9 AM at Lions Park (6th and Matson), and contests commence at 10:30 AM at the Main Stage. The awards ceremony will be held at 11:45 AM at the park, and the ceremony will close by 1 PM. Scroll to the bottom of KHS’s PetsWALK event page to see the many sponsors and possible prizes you or our pet can enjoy! See you there!


Contributed by Christine St. Pierre

Contributed by Christine St.PierreNoTill

As the spring season arrives, those of growing our own food are faced with one of the great garden dilemmas and controversies: to till or not to till the soil. Tilling, or digging and turning the soil with a shovel, hoe, rake, or tiller, happens in a garden once or twice a year, when the soil is dry and warm. Those in favor of tilling use this approach in their gardens in order to loosen the soil for better drainage, prevent weeds from growing, and amend the soil with nutrients. Those who adopt the “no till” approach believe the soil will actually be healthier with less manipulation.

Appearing dormant and inactive, your frost-covered garden beds are actually bustling with life throughout the cold winter months. Microorganisms that balance the soil are hard at work boosting soil fertility, health, and structure. Such microorganisms, like bacteria, fungi, and algae, have their own agenda when it comes to soil health, and when left alone to perform their duties, your soil reaches optimum quality, as it would in its most natural state.

This is why many gardeners are in adamant support of the “no till” garden, which approaches seasonal gardening without tilling and turning the soil, so as not to upset the natural order of soil health. This, however, is not a “hands off” approach to gardening or soil maintenance; “no till” gardeners still apply layers of compost, mulch, and other soil amendments to the soil prior to the winter season and throughout, just as decaying plant life and leaves would provide to layers of topsoil in a natural setting.

Soil is naturally resilient; air pockets, created from root systems and layers in the soil, assist in nutrient displacement and drainage, as soil purifies and facilitates water in terrestrial systems. These layers in the soil, or horizons, have different characteristics and different roles to play in soil health. Plants thrive and grow in first two layers of soil, called the humus/organic and topsoil, which are comprised of decomposed plant material and mineral-rich organic matter. Beneficial microorganisms settle into these particular horizon layers in order to break down plant matter into supportable nutrients, produce energy by releasing nutrients such as nitrogen, sulfur, iron, and phosphorus, wear down synthetic pesticides and other harmful soil additives, and defeat pathogenic microorganisms that cause plant diseases.

When you till your garden bed, you also churn up and mix these vital horizon layers, wreaking havoc on soil’s natural systems, particularly in regards to bacteria and microorganisms. When exposed to surface air due to tilling, microorganisms become oxidized and die off. This initially releases a surge of energy in your soil and causes a rapid spike in soil health, but only for a short period of time. Soon, the microorganisms die, causing soil health to plummet and become nothing more than the dirt on our clothes or under our fingernails.

Temperature differentials also greatly affect the microorganisms in soil, which is why those who till must wait until the soil is warm and dry—the rule of thumb is, with every 18 degree rise in temperature, there is a 1.5 to 3.0 percent increase in microbial activity (Carrol/Waddington/Reike). Just as temperature affects microbial activity, so does moisture in the soil. Therefore, turning the soil moves cooler, wetter soil to the top. This warms and dries the newly moved soil, coinciding with the spike in energy that will eventually lead to a complete cessation of activity as the microorganisms die off.

If organic gardening and holistic food are your top priorities, try experimenting with “no till” gardening. Get back to the roots of natural food growth. The key to a successful “no till” garden is preventative treatment rather than curing depleted soil—you must tend to your soil yearlong, including late fall, winter, and early spring. Of course, there are reasons why some gardeners prefer tilling soil, such as large-scale crop production, use of synthetic soil amendments, and a strong belief that that system works best. But, the case for “no till” gardening is on the rise; it saves time, work, and, over time, creates an incredibly healthy and self-sustaining ecosystem in your soil.

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

The local food movement is growing by leaps and bounds. Everywhere you look it seems there is a new farm or farmers market starting up, giving rise to the notion that small farms are the latest success story. While true for some, there are plenty of small farms trying to find their niche in the 21st century’s latest iteration of the world’s oldest occupation – agriculture. To help these modern-day agriculturalists, the Cultivating Success™ program has put together four Farm Talks to address the challenges today’s small farms face.

1.  Join us starting Thursday, March 3, 2016 for Farming Is a Risky Business, an informal Q&A-type panel discussion on the legal, financial, farm management, and food safety issues farmers often find themselves up against. Our panelists include George Benson of Schweet Linde & Coulson who specializes in estate planning and commercial real estate, as well as the banking and legal issues farmers might face; David Poor from Northwest Farm Credit Services whose focus is on credit and debt restructuring; the Washington Sustainable Food & Farming Network; and Brian Bookey from National Food Corporation. In addition, we’ll have local farmers bringing their unique “Been there, done that!” perspective to the conversation.

2. We’ll continue on Thursday, March 10 with Managing Your Water Resources with Bob Simmons, WSU Olympic Region water resources specialist; Scott Patee, Skagit NRCS forecasting expert; and John Rose, hydrologist and GIS analyst with Washington Department of Ecology’s Water Resource Program. The evening will focus on water quality, quantity, and rights including: H2O facts and myths: Will we have enough? Do you know your water rights? and Water quality: What you need to know as a farmer.

3. Thursday, March 17 will be devoted to Selling What You Grow with Whitney Keyes from Whitney Keyes Productions and Greg Prang, an expert on consumer insight. During the evening, you’ll learn how to gather and put to use information about you and your customers to make marketing and promotional efforts more strategic and effective. Learn how to find and reach the right customers, gain more value from your efforts, and be more profitable.

4. We’ll wrap up the series on Thursday, March 24 with an evening devoted to No Fear Farm Financial Management with Dr. Michael Brady, WSU Extension economist, and Wendy Knopp from Northwest Farm Credit Services. Topics covered include financial statements, benchmark ratios, investment analysis, budgeting, and tips to help put your bottom line in the black.

With locations on both sides of the state connected synchronously, each evening session runs from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Eastern Washington location is WSU Spokane County Extension at 222 N Havana, Spokane, WA. For those in Western Washington, location is at Everett Community College’s Gray Wolf Building, 2000 Tower St. Everett, WA.

All Farm Talks are free! However, space is limited and you must pre-register to ensure your spot. To register, visit For more information on the FarmTalks, visit or contact Jeremy Cowan at or 509-477-2145.

Course sponsors include Snohomish Conservation District, Moss Adams LLC, Western Extension Risk Management Education, USDA RMA, and Northwest Farm Credit Services.

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.


Illustration by Christoph Niemann; Map by Ziggymaj / Getty

Contributed by Christine St. Pierre

Tuesday night, the south coast of British Columbia was awoken by a magnitude 4.8 earthquake. Just before midnight and over the period of only a few seconds, regions near Victoria and Vancouver experienced the area’s largest earthquake in years. This quake did little damage to people or property, but was felt clear down the coast of Canada into Washington State.

As I finished watching the Shakespeare play-turned-film Twelfth Night to teach my high school English classes that will resume on Monday, I happened toward Facebook near 12:20 AM. My feed was scrambling with Bellinghamsters posting statuses like “Did you feel that?” or “Well, that was my first earthquake!” Unfortunately for me, I was so absorbed in Shakespeare that I did not notice anything unusual.

This earthquake follows comically close to Kathryn Shulz’s article, published by The New Yorker, titled “The Really Big One,” which tells the all-too-familiar tale of a region of the world—this time, the Pacific Northwest—that is due for a huge—no, catastrophic—earthquake, certain to cause a tsunami that will wipe out the coast, if it isn’t already swallowed by the estimated six-foot slip of North America’s continental shelf. The article is as fantastic as it is believable, and uses history, science, and storytelling to paint a rather dim fate for the entire west coast.

Following the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that triggered a tsunami of 2011 that destroyed much of Japan and caused the malfunction of the still-leaking nuclear power plant in Fukoshima, seismologists and geologists began to take a closer look at the infamous San Andreas fault that runs along the coast of California. This wasn’t the only fault in question, though.

The lesser-known Cascadia subduction zone, which begins off the coast of Mendocino, California and runs clear to Vancouver Island (visible from Bellingham, WA), exists a few hundred miles off the west coast. Near the top of this subduction zone, we have the nerve-wracking convergence of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate and the North American tectonic plate, which are moving in opposite directions and causing concern from individuals who spend their lives researching these natural events.

In layman’s summation, the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate is slipping slowly but steadily beneath the North American tectonic plate, upon which we all happily reside. This slip has been happening annually and in the most miniscule amount since the dawn of time, but scientists explain that this can’t happen forever—eventually, the plate will hit the craton mass at the center of the continent and spring back with elasticity, causing a massive earthquake and tsunami.

Potentially, only the southern half of the Cascadia subduction zone will give way during this rebound, releasing a quake between the magnitudes of 8.0–8.6. However, if the whole of the Cascadia subduction zone snaps back, we’re looking at upwards of 9.2. As Kenneth Murphy of FEMA’s Region X gracefully stated in Shulz’ article, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”

Unfortunately, there was not a single warning to citizens of British Columbia last night about the earthquake. It may have been as much a surprise to scientists as it was to folks sleeping in their beds, but if estimations prove correct, we should all hope for ample warning. Friends and family, this would be a great time to sit down with loved ones and discuss tsunami evacuation routes and earthquake protocol—find the weakest and strongest spots in your house and make a plan. Pack emergency evacuation bags, maybe even have a house-drill a few months of the year, and, of course, be safe out there.


Contributed by Christine St. Pierre

New years resolutions: we make them, we break them, and then it’s Valentine’s Day. Most of them require huge life changes, like losing X amount of pounds by spring break, or eating a diet of vegan gluten-free raw foods, or being able to play Stairway to Heaven on your new guitar by summertime. Try these resolutions that cost zero dollars, require minimal time, and will definitely make you a healthier, happier person.

Wake up ten minutes early, rise, shine, and stretch. Practice the basic vinyasa flow of sunrise salutations that most yogis practice multiple times a day. You may find that, after a while, you forgo your daily coffee, or switch to yerba mate—one healthy decision is often a catalyst for many more to come.

Before bed, write a sentence that encapsulates your day. Journaling is incredibly therapeutic, but is also time-consuming. Avoid the “Dear Diary” death that many journals experience, and, instead, take a few minutes to sincerely summarize your day in one to two sentences—feelings, accomplishments, events, fears, etc. In a year, you’ll be glad you did.

Believe in the power of “yet.” One reason we don’t accomplish things is because we allow ourselves a way out. We find our own limitations and highlight them, rather than seeking out our strengths. Each time you say “I can’t do that,” or “I haven’t done that,” finish the sentence with “yet.” You may find that you actually start believing yourself. Self-love and self-empowerment are just the beginning.

At the beginning of every month, write a typically overlooked chore that takes a maximum of fifteen minutes into each week—or, if you’re feeling daring, every day—of your planner. Suddenly, you’ll find that your house is much cleaner, your yard looks healthier, and your life seems a bit more organized.

Begin your own traditions. As a child, life was made more exciting by “Taco Tuesdays,” or the smell of your mom’s banana bread baking in the oven every Christmas morning. Even if your life does not involve a constant flow of people and family, even if it’s just you and your kitty—treat yourself to companionship and be your own friend. If you find yourself going to the dog park a few times a week, let Sundays be the day you treat yourself to a grande holiday spice latte.

Replace surfing the Internet with mind-sharpening puzzles. They say that people who live long lives tend to share habits of dancing and doing crossword puzzles. Keep a book of crosswords, Sudoku, or another similar puzzle with you at all times—at your desk, in your bag, in your car (for ferry rides, of course)—and resort to playing these when you find yourself tempted to mindlessly peruse the internet for funny videos of cats sleeping in sinks. Limit your screen time, get out a pencil, and think.