To plant a tree is to plant hope. This week a few trees were planted in the Village Green at the site of the new play area.  These were donated by OICF in honor of our 25th anniversary and in the spirit of hope and enthusiasm about the next 25!  We are looking forward to planting more at April’s Grove later this month.

Early in March, as our lives took quite a turn, I invited a group of nonprofit, community, and County leaders to join in a weekly call to help us better understand what was happening on Orcas. It has turned into a hugely valuable opportunity to strengthen our network, share our concerns, and ensure that resources and efforts are wisely deployed. We continue to meet via Zoom (now every other Wednesday morning). All are invited to give an update and often these conversations provide the chance for collaboration and strengthening the safety net for this community. It is also just nice to see everyone for mutual support.

These discussions help surface emerging issues and concerns that are being felt in multiple organizations. Currently, we are looking at a rise in mental health issues. This next week, Richard Uri from San Juan County Health will be talking with us about ways to identify folks who are struggling and learn more about available services and skills to offer. The more awareness we have, the better equipped we will be going into this Fall and Winter. We know that this island and this nation will continue to be in some mode of crisis for some time to come.

We are also hosting a conversation about homelessness this week. The Shelter program, under the guidance of the Orcas Community Resource Center and OPAL Community Land Trust, is continuing to serve a number of homeless neighbors.  We have invited representatives from the County, Sheriff, and Fire Department to the table, along with the churches, library, and others in the hope that we can collectively come up with a plan. I look forward to reporting on the conversation.

Stay well,