I listened to a radio story about why people love Paris. It was about pace, scale and the culture of a people in that place.
I thought, gosh, that sounds like why people love Whidbey Island and why they have chosen to live on an Island serviced by two ferries and an iconic bridge.
The people who live in Central Whidbey have an unbroken and special relationship with the land that was recognized by Congress when Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve was established in 1978. Historic buildings from the 1800’s and scores of Victorian houses, viewsheds and landscapes dot the entire 17,000 plus acres that are a nationally registered historic district.
Prehistoric Native American sites and burials are often revealed and remind us of the first people who inhabited these lands and waters and their descendants who still live here. It’s a place where life and time feel spacious. It makes you want to give up your car for a walk on the beach, or for a bike ride in the fresh marine air, or lay in the grass and watch the fantastic clouds blown across the sky.
Eagles follow tractors when they’re plowing or mowing, people fish as they have for hundreds of years for salmon off the beaches, and the wild endangered Orcas can be seen from the bluffs on a clear day when all of the mountains are out in their purple majesty. Wildlife is abundant and you can hear the leaves and grass swaying and the sounds of birds from all directions in the soft constant breeze from Puget Sound.
Hay bailers and combines still travel the roads in many parts of the Island. Most of us know the farmers who operate these monstrous machines – so a wave is always welcomed. We also have a tradition of trading services for handmade products that skips the cash. Handshakes still often seal the deal. Relationships and quality and making time to catch up or make a meal for someone who needs it, is part of everyday here. Speed limits don’t go above 55 and there are slow lanes for people who need them. Most of us have come here – to an Island – for a slower pace and less noise and much less bustle.
The scale here is an Island connected by a bridge to the mainland with no super highways. Most islanders prefer taking ferry transport to Seattle or Port Townsend. If you want something from a big box store, you have to go to Oak Harbor. Otherwise, most shops are locally managed and owned and try to offer something other shops don’t have. Things are diverse yet personal.
The Navy and the EA-18G jet Growler – the loudest jet in the sky – have imposed their warfare training mission on an unwary public who had appreciated their mission and tradition of coastal defense. Recently, the Navy has expanded the number of jets from the original 52 to 118, and increased flights and operations throughout the region. The intensity of the noise from these jets is shattering communities and networks that have been generations in the making.
The Navy is taking what is not theirs to take, something priceless – with no apology. They overwhelm our land, sea, and air with noise so no other use is possible but theirs. The Navy has made everything we can see, touch, smell, and hear collateral damage to their training mission.
This is a tragedy and a loss for all Americans who are being subjected to arbitrary and unchecked military power, increasingly disinterested in comments from the public their serve.
I am grateful to Attorney General Bob Ferguson for his willingness to protect us, our wildlife, and our environment, and to make the Navy follow the law.
My hope for Northwest Washington is that our Attorney General and the good people of Washington State will prevail.
Business Owner, Coupeville, WA