Online Communities are a Lifeline

Don’t throw them out with the social media bathwater This post is part of a series about community. Here’s a link to the previous community posts. The groups I’ve discussed so far all meet in person, although they do use a variety of online tools for organization including email, Facebook, and GroupMe. In this post, we’ll look at groups that meet primarily online. After COVID pushed in-person groups online, using technologies such as Zoom to meet, many have chosen to stay there. With the descent of X, Facebook, and Instagram into algorithm-driven advertising and outrage sites, people are turning to … Continue reading Online Communities are a Lifeline

A Pink De Rosa

Cycling, part of series about community There have been many bicycles in my life, and they all have stories. “But it’s a girls’ bike!” My younger brother said, when our dad brought home our first bike. We were about six and eight years old. He had bought it from a friend at work for two shillings and sixpence and carried it the four miles home over his shoulder. We learned to ride it in loops around the back yard, and very occasionally on the street under strict supervision. That bike, with many things, was sold when we moved to a … Continue reading A Pink De Rosa

'Forever chemicals' haven't gone away.

I took the summer off from PFAS. Did anything change, besides the date? For a year, I worked extensively on PFAS (per- and poly fluorinated alkyl substances, aka ‘Forever Chemicals’) in drinking water, supported by a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology. At the end of the grant period in June, I decided to take the summer off from PFAS. For a change of pace, I wrote about community and travel. I’m back on the PFAS beat, and I’m curious about what’s changed. Here’s the story so far. In 2016, the EPA found PFAS in larger drinking water … Continue reading 'Forever chemicals' haven't gone away.

“I think we’ve found it”

Part 4 of a series on land ownership and use In the first three parts123, we came to understand that the dispossession and displacement of my ancestors in Scotland and of the indigenous population of my home on Whidbey Island were connected in a giant feedback loop, and that the institution of the family farm, built on this shaky foundation, is under pressure in both places. In this post, we’ll look at a way forward. An emergency acquisition The Robertson Farm at Lea Bluffs, which we discussed in part one, was one of those family farms feeling the pinch. Falling … Continue reading “I think we’ve found it”

"That’s not my people’s way"

Part 3 of a series on land ownership and use In part 1, we looked at the Highland Clearances and the Highland Potato Famine though the lens of my Scottish ancestors. We came to understand the resulting dispossession and displacement of the population as acts of colonization. You can read part one here. In part 2, we learned that the resulting emigration was a driver of the colonization of the western United States, including my home of Whidbey Island, with the predominant resulting land use being the family farm. We learned too that many of those family farms are struggling … Continue reading "That’s not my people’s way"

Possession and Succession

Part 2 of a series on land ownership and use In part 1, we looked at changes in land ownership and use and their consequences though the lens of my Scottish ancestors. You can read part one here. For part two, we’re traveling over 4,000 miles west to my current home of Whidbey Island in Washington State. Yesterday was Indigenous People’s Day in the United States, a renaming of what was formerly called Columbus Day to mark the date in 1492 when Columbus first set foot in the Americas. 300 years later, in the spring of 1792, my ancestors were … Continue reading Possession and Succession

Wester Cardno

Part 1 of a series on land ownership In this series, I’m going to take us from 17th century Scotland to present day Whidbey Island, Washington, to look at the past, present, and future of land ownership and its impact on farming, community, and, of course, water. In this first part, I’m going to look at some major historical events in Scotland through the lens of my own ancestors. Like many others, I was drawn to research my ancestry during the downtime of COVID. Pitsligo Our story starts in Wester Cardno, a farming township in the parish of Pitsligo, Aberdeenshire. … Continue reading Wester Cardno

Birthday reflections

And a look forward September has always been a pivotal month for me. There’s a back-to-school energy, now enhanced by not actually having to go back to school. Here on the island, most of the “summer people” are packing up the beach cabins, the ferry lines have become more reasonable, and we’re getting our island back. We have some rain after a very dry summer. September’s also the month of my birthday, actually today, and my 72nd, if you’re counting. The start of a new trip around the sun coinciding with the change in seasons makes it a perfect time … Continue reading Birthday reflections