What’s coming up and what’s on people’s minds can be two different things. It is late summer, near to fall, a last chance to dance outside, enjoy festivals, and all those fun things. But, those may not be the main topics of conversation. The island is always changing, and this is usually the time when things begin to quiet down; but there are plenty of conversations asking whether things on the island are changing much more quickly, lately.
Look ahead a week or two; there are a couple of eagerly anticipated events coming up: the Kite Festival and DjangoFest. (Click on their names for their links.) People travel long ways to attend these events on Whidbey. The kite festival throws color into the sky with a great backdrop of the Sound and the Olympics from Camp Casey. DjangoFest takes over Langley with jazz. Tap those feet.
This is not scientific, but islanders are wondering how things are changing. Maybe it is all subjective and there’s no real change at all. But. The influx of people associated with the Navy continues. Whidbey Island has been seen as a refuge compared to more troubled parts of the country. Politics, here like everywhere else, are more divided, and even fracturing into many versions of us and them. Real estate prices are rising, while some islanders are selling and moving because of finances. Others are buying extra homes here, which will be vacant at least some of the time. Others are moving here because they can work from home and have their kids go to school from home. Some come here to find a bit more yard or acreage so they can better take care of their pets, or grow more of their own food. After the tourist season and after the pandemic will there be many more people here permanently?
All of these changes are difficult to tease out of the upsets caused by the pandemic. Will things return to ‘normal’ after the infections are under control, or has so much time passed that we won’t recognize normal if it shows up again?
It would be handy to link to data, but many of these trends aren’t measured. Is a population surge temporary or permanent? Will things shift back, or have enough folks realized that rural has its advantages, too? If people spend enough time on the island, do they begin to realize it has enough of what they want and need, while also providing a more natural setting?
It is always easy to complain about traffic, especially when you’re sitting in a long ferry line, or trying to wind through the park and across the bridge. But is that because of construction, or staffing issues during the pandemic? Or is it because there are more people who are here for more than a weekend or a season?
Writing about such things is best when it is conclusive and based on evidence. But there’s a value to pointing out what’s in progress, what people are adapting to now rather than describing things after they’re done. There may not be a clear answer, but the tagline for this blog is “Island living from an islanders perspective”; and island living is about more than great events, and sometimes about how life is changing. Don’t be surprised to hear the topic come up.
Has anything changed? Yes. But what? Join the conversation because you are probably part of the change.