A Creative Hub to Make a Welcoming Place for Everyone
by Bruce Anderson on July 11, 2011
Vashon Islander Claire Bronson of c2bdesign.com contributed the graphic of the "We All Belong" event
"Welcome Vashon" is a creative hub for projects and activities that welcome, connect and strengthen belonging for everyone on Vashon Island, WA.
In summer 2010 a handful of Vashon Islanders sat down together to brainstorm ways to engage local citizens in both a discussion and directed actions to make the community a place where everyone belongs. The planning group grew to include teenagers, elders, foreign language speakers, people without adequate food and shelter, designated community leaders, leaders-to-be, directors and clients of service organizations as well as people from the school district and the Chamber of Commerce.
It all began to take form in early 2011 when Jim Diers and Bruce Anderson facilitated a community gathering called “We All Belong.” Some 160 participants stood up and said they’d be willing to help develop and lead more than 20 activities to make Vashon a more welcoming place.
Here are some of the ideas the citizens of Vashon Island came up with that day that are now turning into reality.
Weeds Expected Garden Tour-June 2012
Tour of island organic gardens that are not professionally designed or maintained. Chauffeured tour service using island SUV’s.
Bring Restorative Justice to Vashon
Developing alternatives to criminal incarceration by using mediation and creative “repayment” for crimes committed on Vashon.
Island Language Bank
A way for islanders to trade language speaking and teaching. “You teach me your language for an hour and then I teach you for an hour.”
Create a way for cross-pollination and new blood to show up at ALL island groups.
Ferry Dock Welcoming Signs
The design, permitting, and installation of Welcome to Vashon signs at the north and southend ferry docks.
Meet Your Island Neighbors Tent
A booth with lots of chairs at the Strawberry Festival for people new to the island to meet and talk to people who have been on Vashon for a longer period of time.
Rule of 7 Short Video Contest
An island-wide contest to create short videos that somehow depict or describe life on Vashon.
Developing an organized way for middle and high school students with differing abilities and interests to mentor each other.
Organize community activities for mixed ages that stretch imagination and creativity.
A one day event at Vashon High School that challenges students to discover their prejudices and remember that all students need to belong.
An organized series of dance classes and free-dance events organized by youth and done in a way lots of youth will show up.
Recreating the old idea of the Welcome Wagon to be sure every family and individual who moves to Vashon gets a welcome with gifts, town information, and resource/activity lists.
Get Involved at Chautauqua Elementary
Strategies for increasing community involvement at our elementary school.
Checkers in Town
Constructing concrete checkerboards in common spaces downtown.
Amigos en Vashon
Creating bridges of friendship and trust between differing cultures on Vashon so we can all “convivir” (actively live together.) We want to inspire and create genuine opportunities for equal exchanges.
Breakfast at Sally’s
Engage islanders in a conversation (based on the book Breakfast at Sally’s) about issues facing people on Vashon who are struggling to get by. Gain visibility for the work of the Interfaith Council on Homelessness
Ways to increase the number of jobs locally, so less people are leaving the island to work.
Vashon Healthy Community
Pull together those involved in physical activity, healthy eating, and lifestyle to make getting fit fun and make connections with others.
Life $ Network
Creating a talent and skill sharing bank on Vashon based on the Life $ model.
A planning and action group that focuses on all the different ways water is used on Vashon to try and increase conservation and wise use between neighbors.
Turning the “I Belong” button passed out at the Welcome Vashon kick-off event into a “We All Belong” bumper sticker for island vehicles, backpacks, storefronts, etc.
Establish a network on Vashon for homesharing between single parents and older folks, knowledge of housing options, and mutual help with household tasks.
Vashon Community Center
Establishment of a kick-off group to develop a Community Center in the heart of Vashon town. Other people with ideas that could be integrated into the community center are 1) Shared craft space (Tome Jo Trujillo), Croquet Court, Community Kitchen, Day Center, and Transition Resource Center.