Twenty years of work against Mercer Islandification

Bainbridge Island’s Housing Resources Board is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a party at Winslow Green tomorrow at 1 p.m. There’ll be live music, a lot of cake and a presentation of HRB’s history by co-founder (and recent humanitarian award-winner) Ed Kushner.

Here’s a guest editorial submitted by HRB’s outreach and development director Wendy Johnson:

How do you define the character of a community? Housing Resources Board believes the character of the community resides in the residents: those who live and work here. HRB has been working for 20 years to sustain island character through housing for island people. In celebration of that work, the City of Bainbridge Island has proclaimed October is Housing Resources Board Appreciation Month.

On Bainbridge, we believe in education, family, diversity, tolerance and involvement. We know that WE have the power to define the very community we live in. We respect our past, ourselves and each other. But many of those individuals who actually embody the characteristics of our island home are precisely those who cannot afford to live here.

Perhaps we’re destined to become another Mercer Island, a retirement community where only the rich are able to live. We’ll have cheese shops for residents and T-shirt stores for the tourists. HRB is working to save Bainbridge from that fate. We believe in a community where farmers and teachers, clerks and artists, elders and young families can live together with those more affluent. That is how we define a healthy and vital community.

My youngest just graduated from Bainbridge High School. I feel so fortunate that both my children received the best education possible, bolstered by a community that believed in providing a sense of security and connection. Now that they are becoming independent, I realize that they can’t afford to live here. Because of the housing market, they are shut out of the very place that helped nurture and support them. They grew up here – they just can’t live here.

We don’t have to be defined by the marketplace. We have the power (if any community does) to be defined by our values — and our most precious resource, our residents.

HRB is sponsoring activities throughout the month of October in recognition of our 20th anniversary. Our HRB all-island party will kick off the month this Saturday at Winslow Green at 1 pm. It’s free and everyone is welcome. We’ll have music from “Whozyamama,” cake donated by Town & Country Market, HRB history presented by founding member Ed Kushner, and an opportunity for everyone to celebrate Bainbridge Island, our home.
–Wendy Johnson, Winslow

One thought on “Twenty years of work against Mercer Islandification

  1. One thing Mercer Island does well is traffic flow. We could learn from them on how to flow traffic through the island.

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