hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Point Roberts Ups and Downs

The Up, Way Up!  Last night was the local elementary school (K-3, 15 kids) performance of their annual Christmas play.  It is always a home grown performance (one of the teachers, Deb Wilkowski, wrote this year's play, which lasted about 45 minutes).  The 15 kids, in their dress up clothes, with added costume touches (especially elegant headgear) showed us how Point Roberts got to be here, from about 1701 (even before cell phones, the kids noted) to 1870 or so.  There was a prodigious amount of memorization required to carry off this feat, and the kids were more than up to it, even handling microphones with considerable skill.  There was scarcely a moment when anybody needed a cue.  The older girls, i.e., 8-year-olds (for awhile, there was a dire shortage of boys in the school, and as a result we now have a lot of older girls) did much of the heavy lifting, and they were without flaw.  There was a newly configured sound system that made it almost easy to hear what they were saying, although the inherent accoustic defects of the space are still major.

Turns out, getting to be Point Roberts, once beyond Captain Vancouver's naming it for his dead buddy, Lieutenant Henry Roberts, was the usual historical mishmash (at one moment, one of the actors says of one such event, "Does anybody care?") of how things happen: do we have any decent maps that tell us exactly where the 49th parallel intersects the land at issue?  What about the Gulf Islands and the woeful dead pig that provided an opportunity for a shot heard around the neighborhood, at least?  And, ultimately, you have to love the most the fact that some nameless bureaucrat in the Buchanan Administration thought that the U.S. should grab the peninsula apparently named Point Roberts City or something because it might have some kind of military use at some time.  One can only imagine launching a war from Point Roberts.  (And unfortunately, nowadays, one certainly can.)  But one can also imagine provisioning a Yukon/B.C. gold rush from the Point, as they did.

All round a spectacular evening provided by spectacular kids and spectacular teachers of various sorts.  We're lucky to have them.

On the down side, the December All Point Bulletin included a news item about the Fire District's need to add to its reserve fund of more than $700,000 in case the District is, due to some catastrophe, unable to access its regular yearly income (which comes from the County).  I wonder exactly what Chief Carleton is thinking of?  That there will be a nuclear bomb set off in County Treasurer Steve Oliver's office?  If so, we doubt that Oliver keeps the money there.  Or that the entire banking system, including electronic/digital transfers of funds, will cease to exist?  I trust everyone in Point Roberts will take this to heart and immediately ensure that they have the equivalent of their yearly income in cash somewhere (perhaps under the bed?)  should their present source of income cease to exist as a result of some catastrophe.   We note in passing that the Fire District already has over $700,000 in reserve funds as compared, say, to the Park and Rec District's maybe $50,000.  So, the Fire District voted to take $20,000 more from Property Taxes to increase its reserve fund.  The Park District got a 1% increase in its budget, which probably amounts to about $600.00.

Do you keep in mind how much of your property tax payment goes to local government?  For the median household, the median householder (on a property whose assessed value is $115,156) yearly pays $103 to the Fire District, $47 to the Hospital District (the Clinic), and $16 to the Park and Rec District.  There is some kind of disconnect between those numbers and what we need for a vibrant community.  (The APB story on the Fire District budget is on page 8 of the December issue; I'd give you a link if I could figure out how to do it. Maybe the APB could help; or maybe you still have a copy of the December issue at home, folks. )

And a Happy first Snowstorm of December.  Big flakes falling as I write this.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Election Outcomes

Arthur Reber handily outpolled Wayne Knowles for a seat on the Water Board, and Stan Riffle was returned to his post as Fire District Commissioner, but he won by only 13 votes (against Judson Meraw, which is not an impressive vote of support for an incumbent).  Perhaps the Fire District will reconsider how they're doing business; or perhaps not.

And now on to U.S. Thanksgiving.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Coming up quickly on election day.  Get those ballots in the mail.  You've had lots of money spent on mailers to tell you why X is the best candidate or Y is the best idea since sliced cheese, so you probably don't need any more from me on that topic.  However, you don't get very much on local elections.  Of course, there are only two, I think, contested elections here in Point Roberts: at the Water District, it's Arthur Reber and Wayne Knowles; and at the Fire District it's Judson Meraw and Stan Riffle.

Reber is the past/first Chair of the Community Advisory Committee and in that role he learned quickly about how to go about dealing with the County machinery.  And, he was always committed to involving the community in the processes of his committee.  There were lots of different forces at work in the Advisory Committee and I think Reber did a terrific job in managing them.  I didn't favor the Committee taking on the task of the Character Plan Committee, but it's not as if I had some terrific alternative plan to suggest when Jack Louws decided that Committee needed to be brought back to life and Reber supported taking on that job, too.

Knowles is the guy originally behind Seabright Farms, and he's been here in the community a long time.  Mostly, though, he's a business guy, as far as I can tell.  And I am inclined to think that his interest in the Water Board is largely a function of his interest in his many potential Seabright cottages.  Well, we're all interested in having water, of course, but ...

So, I'm hoping Reber wins in this position, not least because he has the time and interest and demonstrated capability of community work.  Commissioner jobs are essentially unpaid, so it's little surprise that many people with other obligations aren't too willing to spend much time at them.  Reber will spend the time.

At the Fire District, I'm hoping that Judson Meraw wins that slot.  I know Judson from having worked with him some years ago on the creation of the Community Events sign, and also from his generous work in helping to create the Book Sculpture in front of the Julius Firehall (the location of our new library-soon-to-be).  I know Stan from having watched him at work at the dozens of Fire District meetings that I have attended.  If you have read this blog over time, you'll know I'm no fan of the way that Bill Meursing runs Commission meetings, and in my experience, Riffle is just another vote for Bill Meursing on all decisions.  I never saw Riffle stand up for community involvement in the Commissioners' work (unless it was to support Chief Carleton's community involvement programs, which is a very different kind of community involvement).  Judson is all about community involvement in every form.

On a 3-person Commission, taking an extra vote away from Meursing, would only serve democracy I think, where we usually think it's 'One Person, One Vote.'

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Blue Skies,, Grey Skies

I always wonder about how people who move here in spring/summer respond to their first fall with its more than fair share of deep grey skies, early darkness (at both ends of the day and we still have a week+ to the end of daylight savings time), and frequently persistent rain.  Gardening is still required, but not that much fun since it's mostly clean-up and burn piles with very little persistent harvest of fruits and vegetables (we still have apples, there will always be kale, and there is yet a large box of green and reddening tomatoes on the porch:  for a local recipe for excess tomatoes, see here:  rustic tomato soup--although I can't vouch for that 4 cups of basil).

Metaphorically, the state of the peninsula is also in a bluesky-greysky mode.  Under "blue skies", we have the fact that the Friends of the Point Roberts Library are very close to achieving their fundraising goal ($538,000) and it is a distinct possibility that renovation of the Julius Fire Hall could be completed next year.  That task will be under the supervision of the Park and Recreation District and they will undertake the responsibility for raising/providing additional funds should the project cost more than $538,000.  It's coming up on the election, so several of the Districts will be welcoming new Commissioners or returning old ones.  I suppose the fact of elections is a good thing, so it can have a place in the blue-sky paragraph.  The outcomes?  If you put in the giant new jail emporium being planned for Whatcom County, it looks less sunny.  Currently, even at the federal level,  there is a significant consensus about the need to have fewer people in jail in the U.S.   So why does the Whatcom County Executive think there is a need to have an even bigger jail?  You might think that with marijuana legalization, fewer low-level drug offenders would be being sent to the county jail and that the level of incarceration would already be down.  Well, who knows, but in the meantime, count me as a major skeptic for this project.

And then there are the grey-skies, including the radio towers.  Yes, the Superior Court said they can't be built which makes it bluesky, but the radio station people may yet appeal that decision and if they do, its back in grey-skies.  There is the missing dock, and until the County figures out how to do a better job and gets it returned to the water, it's a grey-sky issue.  The lighthouse at Lighthouse Park has had some encouraging moments, but the executive branch has offered plenty of discouragement.  And, finally, there is the dog-leash issue.  Generally, I favor the view that says, when your making new laws and regulations, think about how they will work in Point Roberts and consider whether some kind of accommodation is needed.  Sometimes, yes; sometimes, no.  If there is no place here for dogs to run around a bit, off a leash, then the County needs to get such a place established.  If it doesn't want to permit such activities in our public "[beach] parks," then the appropriate answer is not, "let them run through the private property that is the beach, but prevent them from running on the public property that is the beach.  Deeply grey skies, that one.

And then comes winter?  Oh, my gracious.

Friday, October 2, 2015

What's Point Roberts Like?

Friends, relatives, people who don't live here often ask, "What's Point Roberts like?"  This week we had a particularly nice example of Point Roberts at its absolute best.

Ed was looking for old-fashioned glazier's points; not for a window but for a photograph.  He went to the local hardware store, but it had only the new kind of glazier's points, which are more square.  He came home to find a neighbor had dropped by.  Ed asked hin if, by chance, he had any old-fashioned glazier's point.  "Yeh, I think so," replied Don.  Thirty minutes later, he returned with this:

THAT is a community at its very best!
And it may also explain how we get by with so very few stores.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Point Roberts Follies

What a summer.  Very long and, between the heat and the parade of festivities, pretty exhausting.  You go to some event and you go home a little tired by it and generally pleased to have attended it, but you don’t probably think of all the work that went in to making it happen and the fact that there are a pretty limited number of people here who are making all those things happen.

Here is a list of 20 events that it’s easy to call up:
  1. A dozen or so Saturday Markets plus Auntie Pam's Sunday Markets
  2. The July 4th parade and pancake breakfast
  3. The Arts and Music Festival
  4. The Welcome Marionette’s Puppet Show
  5. The ‘This Old House” series on the history of Point Roberts homes
  6. The Fire District/Border Commendation Ceremony
  7. The Fire Districtrict/PREP Open House
  8. The Cardboard Boat Races
  9.   The Drum Circles
  10.   The Taxpayers Annual General Meeting with Whatcom Planners explaining their work.
  11. The Voters Association AGM, featuring our Congressperson, Suzan DelBenne
  12. Two Art Exhibits (quilts and painitings ) the The Blue Heron
  13. Two FOPRL Big Used Book Sales
  14.   Garden Club Sale
  15. Library Joke Show
  16.   Park and Rec Kids Summer Camp
  17.   No to the Towers Concert
  18.   Trinity Lutheran Church Concerts Series
  19.  Trinity Lutheran Church's Children’s Summer Music Camp
  20. The Salmon Derby

I have not remembered everything (apologies rendered)and certainly haven’t gone to everything; in fact I’ve probably gone to fewer events than I usually would, in part because I’m exhausted and in part because I’ve been to them numerous times before and I decided this year to be on vacation as seemed suitable.  So I can’t evaluate them individually (nor do you need me to), but I can say that’s a pretty impressive list for a place with only 1,000+ permanent residents who do most of the organizing to make these possible.

Yes, the brand new dock collapsed, just a month into its new residency.  And that was surely a shame.  But I don’t think the County people who were responsible for its being installed feel any happier about that happening than we do.  Clearly a failure on their watch.  Perhaps they’ll be inspired to get a new one faster, but perhaps they’ll be even more cautious about installing a new one.  Easily, it could go (and justifiably) either way.  Something about the tides on Lighthouse Park Beach that they didn’t understand and having the dock collapse won’t, by itself, teach them why it happened.

But now it’s all going to be slowing down what with Labor Day only 2.5 weeks away.  The Canadians will soon be packing their cars (still without chickens and eggs) and heading the other way with happy memories of another Summer at the Cottage.  And we’ll still be here, starting planning for next summer and the many ways to entertain our family guests and our neighborhood cottagers in the summer of 2016, when we’ll also have a new library to celebrate.  But first, we're probably going to take a little rest.

Happy End of Summer!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Puppet Show, Saturday at 3 pm

Just a reminder that the P.R. Library and the Friends of the P.R. Library are sponsoring a live marionette theater performance this Saturday at the Community Center at 3 pm.  The "Welcome Marionettes" Company were here two summers ago and gave a wonderful performance of "The Wizard of Oz."  This year, it's Popeye and Olive Oil and, I trust, Sweetpea, and all that gang from my childhood (and perhaps some of yours), who are just as endearing if you've never met them before.

This is a wonderful opportunity for kids to be exposed to live puppet theater, and to meet the people who give life to these charming creations.  Free for kids, free for grownups.  Please do come!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Another Roadside Attraction

Am I surprised?  Preparation for global warming?  Waiting for the tsunami?  A Robinson Crusoe film background?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Roundabout, Round 2

I got an email from a friend today disputing my opposition to the roundabout proposal by saying that they were a good idea and that Blaine, Bellingham, and Vancouver all had them.  And that some of them had nice landscaping.  Now first, his view that it's a good idea is about as powerful as mine: it just feels that way.  That Blaine, Bellingham, and Vancouver all have them is scarcely an argument: more just a statement of diversity since, other than geographical location, we don't have all that much in common with Blaine, Bellingham, and Vancouver.  As to nice landscaping: we have some of that on Tyee.  Support more of that, would be my counterclaim.

BUT, his reply did prompt me to think more carefully about exactly WHY I don't think it's such a hot idea.  And at the bottom of that train of thought, I found the Character Plan.  I think the idea, within the character plan, that making all the businesses look like 19th Century fishing villages (or some such thing) would be good for Point Roberts because it would make it more like the scenic little towns that dot the west coast: think Carmel, California.  And I'm guessing that the scenic little roundabout also arises in that fantasy: that in some way, Point Roberts can be made into a lovely little tourist destination.

I suppose it could, but it would take a massive amount of money, a ton of buy-in, and a master plan of impressive proportion.  We've got trees and ocean but other than that, what do you take your visitors to see in Point Roberts?  Is the orange palm tree still at the marina restaurant?  I take my visitors to see the quilts at the church and at the History Room in the Community Center, but random guests may not be as interested in quilts as mine tend to be.  The lines at the gas stations, the package stores, and the post office?  The full parking lot at the International Market?  Those are the places that most visitors to the Point go: and they don't care whether the buildings or the streets are cute as long as they can get through the border to do their business and safely transmit their purchases back to Canada.

So if it were going to be a tourist town in the Carmel sense, it would need some more public attractions:  Lily Point is a great starting point, but the cost of buying the land and developing it has been well over $4 million.  Real tourists largely are looking for something to do and only secondarily for something to buy.  I just don't know what they'll do with a roundabout.

Of course, maybe I'm wrong that the roundabout proposal has nothing to do with a cute little tourist destination of the future.  Maybe it's just a fascination with going in circles...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Round Here, Round Where?

It is I believe received wisdom that unhappy is the land on which oil is found.  Oh, well, there's all that economic development/devastation and all that money of course.  But apparently, no matter where you go, you find oil discovery comes with deteriorating social conditions and corruption on a large scale.  Think Saudi Arabia, Texas, probably North Dakota and Alberta nowadays.  Oil just doesn't seem to bring out the better side of humans.

It's unlikely that oil will be found in Point Roberts, so we won't have that to add to our other problems.  But we do have the peripheral problem of the money generated from oil via gasoline.  That is, we have the gas tax slush fund.  Well, not exactly a slush fund since I believe such funds are traditionally part of the corruption aspect.  But perhaps more like found money.  It's some kind of prize and it's OURS, and they (the holders of the slush fund) won't let us do whatever we want with it.  And so, we sit around and try to think about things they might  let us use it for.  It burns a hole in our pockets, I think, or at least in some of our pockets.

Personally, I want a chunk of it for a parklet in front of the new library and extending over to the Community Center.  It would constitute Road Beautification, which might pass muster.  But I've been given some discouragement with respect to that definition of what gas tax moneys can be used for: roads.

So, we can't, apparently, just pretend the money isn't there and we really don't need any more roads here.  It appears that people brood about this pot of gold (getting up to a million dollars now) and that leads them to think of things you could do to a road.  Currently, there is actually a proposal to build a roundabout at Benson and Tyee in order to deal with the dreadful traffic jams there.  Or with the people racing down Tyee who haven't been pulled over by our sheriffs who hide behind nearby buildings.

It has even been suggested that a roundabout would add beauty to that corner, although perhaps such beautification would render the idea unapplicable under the gas tax rules.  I cannot exactly pinpoint what makes me think such a proposal is so nuts.  First of all, it would take a lot more room than that corner currently has available.  Second, it would require massive education for local drivers and a lot of explanatory signage for visitors.  Third, there are a lot of bicycles down here in the summer, not to mention horses.  Do those work well in the roundabout excitement?   Nobody wants to get off for Teller, so it could just be In, Out on the Opposite Side, or a return to the border.  It's easy enough to turn left on Benson already.

But I see that there is a desire to spend that money.  I have an alternative vision.  I doubt if Canadians would be driving down to see our Roundabout, but what about a Viaduct or a Raised Bridge.  Would that not draw tourists?  Once you get it up in the air, it could be really big, 3, 4, 6 lanes.  One for Icelandic ponies exclusively.  Just think about it a little and the idea may grow on you.

In the meantime, the Community Advisory Committee which seems to be backing the roundabout proposal is meeting this coming Tuesday evening.  Go and see what they are thinking; suggest a viaduct/raised bridge.  The Chair, I believe, is opposed to the roundabout idea and he says (in the APB) the Voters Association is opposed to it.  But this new idea could be something awesome.  Maybe they'd like to spend the money on a skyway road!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Crime Wave Abates or Something

The hippopotamus is a new resident, but it's the same stegosaurus as used to live on the book sculpture, although now it's a new color.  Could be there's more than one of them around, I guess.  But what about the ruffled lizard?

And the smoke from the B.C. forest fires went back north yesterday.  And the 4th of July is over.  But still a lot of bike riders on the roads.  The second crop of lilies are beginning to bloom, the raspberries and strawberries are producing edible fruit, the horsetail (once again uneradicated) is going to seed.   Fewer raccoon sightings.  Summer...If we can just stay awake.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Point Roberts Crime Wave

I was down at the Saturday Market last Saturday, looking for New Library contributions, when I discovered that in the intervening two weeks, someone had made off with the gorilla, ruffled lizard, and dinosaur that had found a home on the Book Sculpture in front of the Julius Firehall, the site of the new library.

The sculpture has been up in its present size since last year and I don't remember at what point the plastic animals appeared.  In any case, well over a year ago, we showed up at the Saturday Market, and there they were.  It surprised me, since there are always a lot of kids around at the market area, that nobody had made off with any of them: they weren't glued down or anything.  But, then, I got used to the idea that nobody would make off with them.  And now they are.....gone!

And, incidentally, we are still in need of contributions to the library's renovation if you've been meaning to do it but just haven't gotten around to it.  We're looking for gap funding of about $100,000, but we'd accept less, of course.  Checks made out to FOPRL, then dropped off at the library or mailed to PO Box 970, 98281.

Friday, June 5, 2015

What's the Essential Problem?

The blog has had several thoughtful and extensive responses to the last post.  They are written as comments to that post and you have to go there to read them.  This the link.  You need to go to the end of the post where the comments are posted.

The views of the commenters differ: Judson, I think, is of the opinion that we don't know how to do what we need to do to make Point Roberts the wonderful place it could be.  Jeff, I judge, thinks we may be on the wrong side of history (although my daughter points out that 'History doesn't have a side.').  The third commenter echos that, suggesting that he may be too late for what he had hoped.   A private response from a longtime resident disagrees with both of them: R says essentially that this is how Point Roberts always works, how it always has worked: there was resistance to the grocery store, to the bank, to everything.

People who have talked to me about this directly have suggested that the problem is there's no 'head' to this organism.  It's just a creature with arms and legs and it thrashes about, with the five districts all thrashing independently of one another.  Does it make sense for the Fire District to have twice the financial resources that the Hospital District has?  Or for the Fire District to have about 10 times the financial resources as Park and Rec District has?  When the Community Advisory Committee was formed, it looked like there was some possibility for getting some kind of overall planning (although it would not have addressed that particular inequity), but once the availability of the gas tax money stalled out (thanks, Washington State Legislature!) and it got involved in character plan judgments of compliance and complaint,...ah, well, let's not go there.

Jeff points out that all the energy that is available here gets used up by dumb projects like the radio towers.  Which is probably true, but there is no way to determine what's important and what's not.  Or to whom it is important.  That is what government with an executive branch is supposed to do for you: but we have no head.

Another resident with a long history in volunteer work here points out that there are probably only about 50 people here on the Point that you can call to help in a sustained way to get something actually achieved.  Unless you're one of those 50, you may not know who they are.  But, without expecting to be in any way comprehensive, here are some people/groups who could always use some help:

1.  Friends of the Library.  Doing those book sales is very labor intensive.  Volunteer to help when the call comes out; you have to be strong enough to move boxes of books around or, to move individual books around and take money for the books (Americans only, for this last task).  But it only happens 3 or 4 times a year.
2.  The Food Bank provides a major service here: check with Henry Rosenthal to see if he needs YOUR skills.
3.  All five districts: It's important that people know what the Commissioners are doing or thinking about doing.  Go to a meeting now and then and see if you can make any sense of it.
4.  Point Interface: Join its email list, pay your $10 a year, and make sure PAWS gets a small cut (or a big cut) of anything you sell.  We are so lucky to have Carol Fuegi and Pam Circassian putting this together for us.  They might need a list of backup people with the appropriate kind of technical skills.  Let them know you're available and are fluent in https or whatever.
5.  If you feel strongly about the radio towers project and the possibility of this community's keeping the towers out of the Point, get in touch with them and go to their fundraising event on June 7th.  Link here
6.  Read the newspaper: the APB does a wonderful job of keeping us informed.
7.  Attend the Trinity Lutheran Concerts.  They're very high quality performances and in an accoustically terrific space.  And they make the kids' summer music camp possible.  That's a good thing to have in your community.

Doubtless many other things.  Let me know what they are.  I've got summer company so my brain is functioning on about half-speed, but i can convey information.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Taken Out of Context, . . .

Quoting a granddaughter: 'taken out of context, I must seem so strange.'  That's how I feel about Point Roberts, taken out of context, it is so strange, and its context is fairly inexplicable except to those who actually inhabit it and even to them the context is not the same.  For example, a weekender with a real house and job in Vancouver points out to me that he doesn't really have any interest in the community, as such, and acknowledges that that must be something of an irritant to those of us who live her full-time.  Well, yeah, sort of, but not all that much I'd think.  They pay taxes (2/3 of the property here is owned by Canadians and soon, it would appear, by Chinese investors who currently own a large housing development in process and now the marina) but they can't vote on what the rest of us want to use those taxes for.  And the weekenders do care about what happens here, even if it's outside their yard.  I got a note from someone a couple of weeks ago inquiring about some public property adjacent to the marina, in fact, and that said property used to be posted as public, but no longer is.  He was concerned about whether the new owners would be planning to reinvest it to the public, or just let it continue to slip into "apparently" private ownership.  Don't know the answer to that question.

Taken out of context, the idea that new investors (with the implication of deep pockets for improvements) would want to own a marina and make it into a spectacular localee doesn't seem that strange.  But in context, given that sailing up to the marina isn't all that much an improvement from driving up to the border crossing, it's a little hard to imagine what they have in mind.  According to the newspaper, the seller of the marina thinks this is what the new owners have in mind: a vision” to develop the marina and its properties into “the finest West Coast port for traveling and living.”

Imagine Pt. Roberts becoming the finest West Coast port for traveling and living.  You sail your giant yacht up and there's scarce room to park it.  You decide you'll live here on your giant yacht, but you'll have to walk anywhere on land that you want to go.  No buses, no taxis, no Uber here, and no reliable cellphone signal either.  So you'll have to travel with your automobile, making it a little less wonderful for traveling and living.  And, although there are a few perfectly okay restaurants here, it would be hard to imagine them as the finest on the West Coast.  So maybe these boat travelers will be cooking in their galleys, but of course they'll have to shop locally which, for the most part is okay, but it's not even Whole 
Foods, let alone the finest food on the West Coast.

Local entertainment?  We have our amusements but once again, "the finest"?

So what is this vision that would make Point Roberts so wondrous?  Well, there are its trees and its beaches but also its gone-awol dock and its collapsing boardwalk at Lighthouse Park and its missing public parking at Maple Beach, and its problematic long-term water supply, and the putative radio towers.  And a few other things, as well as the lack of a few other things.  Outside the context, it must seem like a lot of money (resources) could just turn us into Dubai.  Inside the context, not so much.

Monday, May 18, 2015

How Could I Not Know?

Today, is Victoria Day, which fact, apparently, causes thousands of B.C. residents to drive down to Point Roberts, as if Victoria's birthday was a particular source of celebration here on our shores.  I neglected to remember that today was Victoria Day and as a result chose voluntarily, but while lacking adequate information, to drive to Tsawwassen to purchase a few items.  Going into B.C. was nothing, but coming back was formidable: 45 minutes waiting in line to get through the U.S. side.  While waiting, observing directly 3 separate cars lane jumping in order to minimize their time in line.  (One rode the Nexus lane until almost the end and then shoved himself into the regular lane blocking the Nexus lane for almost 10 minutes before he could effectively shove far enough; two others rode up the outside Nexus lane, turned right on 1st Ave., made a U-turn, and then turned right when the light changed putting them into the front of the Nexus lane.  In the U.S. of southern California, such behaviors could get you in serious trouble, but in the much more polite world of Canada, apparently it results in nothing more than a finger shaking.)

I remember hearing John LeSow, some months ago at a meeting of some sort here, arguing that the real problem of P.R. was not economic development or water access/cost, but border access.  Sitting there today, I could imagine a future in which those of us inside P.R. would be very unwilling to cross that border because it would be so time-consuming to get back.  Might happen; I'm pretty sure that the powers that could not care less about how inconvenient our border crossing experience is and thus it is not a problem on their agenda.  Why would they?  They don't have to deal with it.  Maybe the CBP could require that all the head honchos in the Northwestern CBP live in Point Roberts at least one month/year (if not all year) in order to share our experience; in order to feel our pain.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Last Day to File Was Today

Park and Recreation has three candidates for three seats, so unless somebody mounts a write-in campaign, that's a done deal.

Fire District has two candidates for one seat: Judson Meraw will challenge Stan Riffle for Riffle's previous seat.  My vote goes to Judson whom I've known for years.  Riffle has done, in my view, little more than give two votes to Meursing.

Water District: Madeleine Anderson goes unchallenged, but Arthur Reber and Wayne Knowles will be competing for the vacant seat.  Reber has my vote there.  Knowles' development work seems a little bit of conflict of interest for Water Board issues, I'd think.

Next, everyone who filed has a week to change his/her mind and withdraw.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

More Election Stuff

Updating as we go along.  Linda Hughes is running for relection to Parks and Rec., as is Stephen Falk.  Bennett Blaustein is running for Robbins' vacated seat.

Arthur Reber, Madeleine Anderson, and Adam Rozyskie  seem all to be running for three seats on the Water Board.  update: Mr. Rozyskie withdrew his candidacy on 14 May.

Stan Riffle is running for reelection to the Fire District.

Here is the link to the Auditor's Office List of Candidates who have filed.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Local Democracy.

(2nd update, see below).There are several government Districts here in Point Roberts, run by Commissioners who are elected.  To get elected, you have to file for the office in question (e.g., Point Roberts Park and Recreation District, Position 1), and then enough people have to vote for you to get elected.

The current Commissioners may or may not be running for re-election.  At the time of filing for a position, it is hard to know whether they are: are you thinking of running for a position that has a sure-fire winner already?  Or what?

Running doesn't seem to require much other than filing for the office: not even any charge for it. [Update: you have to be a resident and a registered voter.]  The Voters Association might sponsor a meeting in which you would get to stand up and talk about why you want to be elected.  And there are only some 600+ voters that are your target.  It ought to be organized more effectively, but of course that's the problem with government in Point Roberts: there is no overall organizer for effectiveness.  I suppose the County doesn't care much about how these positions get filled.  If we had stronger local associations, that might be the route.  But we don't.  There are a few people interested in this stuff, but not very many.

BUT IF YOU ARE SUCH A PERSON, consider filing for a position.  The Park and Rec District has at least one clear opening as Mark Robbins (after 8 years) is not running for reelection.  The Water District has one clear opening (presumably resulting from Bill Meursing's resignation).  On the other side of people who are running for reelection, we have Kandace Harper, who was just appointed to a vacant seat, at the Hospital District, and Stephen Falk who is running for reelection at Park and Rec.

Beyond that, I don't know.  Is Linda Hughes running for re-election at Park and Rec?  Is Stan Riffle running for re-election at the Fire District?  Is Madeleine Anderson running for reelection at the Water District?  Ernie Loreen at the Cemetery District?  Don't know.  Ask them.  Because they're incumbents, they generally have the edge in an election such as this.

Consider whether you care enough about the community to commit some time to it; consider whether you're actually available to commit some time to what needs to be attended to; consider whether you have some actual skills or expertise that might be helpful.  E.g., Park and Rec is engaged in considerable maintenance of the Community Center and we expect them to be moving on to the new library soon.  Those projects don't just get managed from the sky.  The Commissioners have to have an overall view of how they are to proceed once funded, how to keep the projects on track, etc.  It's real work with real importance.  You up for it?

If you are, here's the link to the Whatcom County Auditor's office which has a further link to a candidate's guide.  It looks more overwhelming than it is because it's intended to describe the process for big positions as well as small ones, such as local special districts, which is all we have here.  People are always flapping about freedom and democracy and the splendid government of the U.S.  But, all those things work for us only if good people are willing to step up to the task of making those governmental institutions work.  And the first job is to file for office.  The filing deadline is May 11-15.  And if you change your mind, you can withdraw your name over the week following.

This is a discouraging post to write.  I don't think there are many people in point roberts up for this kind of challenge, and that in itself is discouraging.  Obviously, there are people who are not able to do this for legitimate reasons: illness, family obligations, away-ness much of the time.  But there are so many others....We need people thinking about the water situation in Point Roberts, about how to apportion the resources of the Fire District between medical and fire, about how to provide medical services at a time when cost issues are so difficult for healthcare.  The cemetery, on the other hand, seems to be well in hand.

Update: Bennett Blaustein finds, where I failed, the Auditor's site where it tells who has actually filed for the offices:  HERE.  So far, I see, Arthur Reber has filed for the Water District, Kandace Harper for the Hospital District, and Stephen Falk for the Park and Recreation District.  Bennett tells me that he has filed for the Park and Rec seat being vacated by Mark Robbins, and that it should show up on the list tomorrow.  This is all good news and we need more of it.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Fire District, Again, but Not My Writing

The All Point Bulletin is out today with a detailed report and critique on the Special Meeting at which the Fire District agreed to the 15-year contract for the fire chief.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


FYI: there is a correction on the details of the Fire Chief's newcontract.  The correction is made in the original post.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

And There's a Winner

[Correction below.]  But it's not you.  The Fire District Commissioners gave Chief Carleton his 15-year protection contract at its special meeting this afternoon.  As Chief Carleton repeatedly said, it is vital that he be protected in case a new Commissioner(s) were elected, "idealistic, selfish Commissioners" (and I quote exactly) who didn't like him and wanted to fire him without cause.  And if he is fired for cause, fired without cause, the 'severance' price will be in the $100,000 range range from $150,000 to $200,000, depending upon the year of the contract.  This would be a liability the district would have difficulty managing.  So, Point Roberts now is in the long-term relationship that the Chief so desires.  And his part?  Well, he'll buy a house here to live in and and marry his girlfriend and spend his nights or something on the Point.


This has got to be one of the worst policy decisions I've seen made in a long time.  Well, actually, there's a lot of bad policy decisions around nowadays so maybe we are only now just joining the parade.

The good news for me (and perhaps for the Fire District people) is that I'm removing them from the list of people whose doings are worth my knowing about.  I don't think they are.  Pat Grubb was in attendance for the paper, so he'll give you a neutral account.  And you can watch the actual video of the meeting here in a week, or so.

The elephant in the room: Nick Kiniski, the last Fire Chief who was, in fact, fired without cause about 4 years ago, even though the public was very much behind him.  Never knew what the Commissioners had against him.  Maybe a little severance is due to him, as well.

Two corrections here:
1.  termination of employment without cause, not with cause.
2.  $150,000-$200,000 'severance' payment, depending upon the year of the 15 year contract.

The text of the contract is now available here:  http://www.wcfd5.com/images/pdf/firechiefemploymentagreement2015.pdf

Monday, April 13, 2015

Wow! Fifteen Years. That's Planning.

The Fire Chief is proposing that his new contract be for 15 years in 3 increments of five-years each.  In an era in which everyone else is being told that they cannot expect long-term employment with a single employer, I guess Point Roberts may be considering taking a contrarian point of view.  Point Roberts! We Hire You Forever could be our new slogan, instead of 'together in unity,' or whatever the current strange one is.

In any case, the Commissioners have given us 48 hours notice that they are holding a (very) "special meeting" to consider this request.  This Wednesday, 4 pm, at the Fire Hall.  You can come and listen to and (barely) participate in this discussion.  If you don't bother, don't complain later.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Economic Development Discussion, Post #3

A reader comments:

Since 1951 we have been  visitors to our cottage at Point Bob. All of our children have enjoyed the time and now our grandkids are enjoying it.

For years, I have wondered how any of the permanent residents  eke out enough money to live at the Point.

Point Roberts has some issues primarily being cut off from the rest of US.  It could  become a destination and attract more visitors, but would need a destination point.  Maple beach was once a destination, but now [the county] has basically taken away all of public parking, so visitors  have a tough time going there. Visitors used to keep at least a couple of well-known stores going strong.

The fishing at the Point used to be excellent, with many coming down to fish. The Point is surrounded by water on three sides. Has to be the only place in North America that is surrounded by water and has No Public Launch ramp. Find a place to launch and they will come. There is a place for a ramp over by the Marina breakwater that is supposed to be public property, but has somehow been taken over by marina and seems to be a “no Trespass” area.

The big yellow Cannery building should have been a destination, but instead sits empty and deteriorating, If they had gone one step more and restored the pier that used to be there, it would have been a great destination supporting lots of local business.

A good bar with entertainment would be a great attraction, but from what I understand the border folks will not  allow local Canadian bands to come and play at the Point.   I forgot to mention that we at Point Roberts could have lightning speed internet if we could  connect to the big Fiber optic cable out by the lighthouse. I believe it is one of the main lines feeding Vancouver.

All of this said, I do enjoy the peace and quiet, but still feel bad about those that are try to make a living. Perhaps a destination for Parcel pickup and Gas is all the Point can expect. I think not.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Different View on Economic Development for the Point

I enjoyed your whimsically negative blog about an economic development plan for Point Roberts. In fact, there is such a plan, which was adopted by the Point Roberts Taxpayers’ Association in 2012 and updated in 2014. Attached is a copy. We acknowledge that the targets for employment and business growth are vague; this is because there is practically no economic data available for the Point.

We would be the first to admit that having an economic development plan does not automatically bring economic development, which is tough to achieve given the numerous constraints we face. We have, however, found it a useful reference when we consider issues such as the radio towers or the replacement of the pier at Lighthouse Marine Park. We think it is helpful for a voice representing residents/taxpayers who can speak positively about the mutual benefits that accrue to both permanent and seasonal residents from sustainable, harmonious economic activity that contributes to the quality of Point Roberts for all of us. We are particularly interested in the opportunities that may be on the bright side of some of our significant constraints, such as the border, which can be variously viewed as our biggest problem or the saviour of our unique community. Certainly a number of our businesses such as gas stations and parcel depots are there strictly because of the border, whatever we might think about their contribution to the community.

Economic development is as much about retaining existing businesses as it is about attracting new ones. For example, through our participation in the Border Issues Committee we have supported (thus far unsuccessfully) efforts by Brewster’s to be allowed to employ Canadian chefs on a part-time basis, because there are no chefs resident in Point Roberts and none on the US mainland who are willing to going through the border four times for an evening’s work. It is very difficult to operate a quality restaurant without this kind of expert help.

We are realizing that this objective of business retention may become even more important now that gasoline prices and the Canadian dollar have declined significantly and appear likely to stay low for some time. Those trends will affect everything from the amount of traffic through the border (maybe a good thing) to property values (which are totally driven by the Canadian dollar).

In short, we think that having a thoughtful and constructive perspective on the economic future of the Point may help us to build a better community for all. It can certainly do no harm.

Ken Cameron FCIP RPP

[the following is the first page of the economic development plan that Mr. Cameron refers to in his comment.  much thanks to him for his response.  judy ross]

Purpose: To promote increased business and employment opportunities in Point Roberts, 

while preserving its natural beauty and small town charm – our biggest benefits for both 

residents and visitors.

Vision: A sustainable community that can provide jobs and local economic development 

to support its permanent residents by meeting the needs of both permanent and seasonal 

residents while preserving and enhancing Point Roberts’ unique lifestyle.

1. Significantly increase the total number of jobs in Point Roberts by 2020.

2. Increase the proportion of jobs that can support a family by 2020.

3. Incubate or attract more new businesses in Point Roberts by 2020.

1. Encourage businesses and residents in Point Roberts to “buy local” to keep money 

circulating in the community.

2. Support initiatives to encourage visitors to extend their stay in Point Roberts.

3. Target and recruit appropriate businesses and residents for whom Point Roberts offers a

unique locational advantage.

4. Build the economy by building community through enhanced communications (eg. Point-
Interface, Point Roberts Radio) stronger artistic and social activities (eg. Arts and Music 

Festival, July 1/4) and enhanced amenities for residents and visitors alike (eg. Marine 

5. Work with other community partners and government agencies to maximize the 

economic advantages provided by the Canada-U.S. border and to minimize the 


6. Protect the natural environment and enhance the built environment as key economic

Friday, March 6, 2015

Economic Development in Point Roberts

In the 20+ years I've lived here, I've gone to a lot of meetings of one sort or another.  The quilters' group is an exception, but otherwise I can't think of a single group that has not at one time or another, and more often more often, brought up the issue of "Economic Development."  "What we need in Point Roberts is an economic development plan," some guy pontificates.  How that would happen, is not further discussed.

My educational background is in literature, philosophy, law, and medicine, so I wouldn't be looking to me for enlightenment on economic development.  And yet, at least three of those give me some imaginative reach to a Point Roberts that has economic development.   Since it's a rural area, there would be farms with large machines that would need maintenance by well-paid employees.  (Not so much since our scant total of almost 5 square miles is not going to provide much in the way of agricultural development.  Forestry?  Well, we could cut down all the trees in Point Roberts in a couple of weeks, I suppose, and then our main claim to tourism would be gone.  A series of small factories producing....what?  Given the necessary border issues, not very likely because not very competitive.  We could have a lot of home-based consultants providing services over the internet, which might be doable if we had internet with any great speed, which we do not.  But even if we did, such consultant businesses don't hire a lot of employees, so.....

Our major businesses are package/parcel services and gas stations.  Is there a plan by which we could have even more of these and would anybody think that was a good idea?  The tourism business has some play: you can come here and go to the beach or rent a bicycle or go fishing off the pier (if there were a pier) or go to the library.  The library is available year round but the beach and bicycles are very much a partial year activity, and the fishing?  Perhaps don't ask but the County thinks maybe next year, or maybe the year after that.  Or sometime.  And then there is the fact that there are only 1300 of us who are permanent residents and half of us are retired and 200 are kids, neither of which groups is looking for good-paying jobs.  Maybe a tiny town devoted to assisted living services?

Well, my imaginative expedition fails to find economic development in our future.  Someone at those meetings is always touting 'an artist colony' or 'a concert venue', although they don't explain exactly what is the economic development likely from an artist colony, or why the Trinity Lutheran Church is not already a terrific concert venue for small audiences.  And our current concert series, which is very high quality, does not exactly fill that space week after week.  "Let's go down to the Point and buy some gas, pick up a package, and go to a concert"...Doesn't ring true to me.

So, perhaps some of our readers can tell us what would be the elements of an economic development plan for Point Roberts.  I've read a fair amount on this topic around the net, and the descriptions of the places looking for development never seem to come with the problematic aspects of the Point.  I found this site particularly helpful.  The last few pages include survey instruments that are particularly informative and fun to try to fill out.  One of the surveys inquires about 20 things we should have to pursue economic development.  Police and fire departments were the only things I was confident I could say yes to what with the Border personnel from Homeland Security, 1 County sheriff, and about 30 volunteer firemen who live in Canada or somewhere else in the state of Washington.  Well, sort of yes...


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sweet Sounds

This past weekend, we in Point Roberts were gifted with two extraordinary concert performances on Friday and Saturday nights.  You'd think we were an urban setting to have such options for our entertainment.  But, we are not.  We're a very small place that's difficult to get to.  And thus it is worth calling to all our attention what extraordinary events these were.

On Friday night, Michael Munro impressively performed four big pieces, one each by Bach, Berg, Schoenberg and Schubert.  On Saturday night, The Mystic Winds (a woodwind quintette) gave us a swirling experience of many pieces associated with World War I, whose 100th anniversary we just 'celebrated.'  (Actually, hard to think of celebrating that event.)  Both performances involved professional musicians coming here to give us an evening of splendor.  (Not enough that we live in a place of unusual beauty but we also get culture!)

That we get it at all is to the credit of Lucy Williams who has been producing dozens of concerts on behalf of the community and Trinity Lutheran Church for the past half dozen years or so.  She started out doing it as a way to raise money for an emergency generator that the church needed in order to qualify as an emergency shelter in the event of a real emergency.  And after that was paid for, she continued bringing us music of all kinds in order to fund the annual children's summer music camp and, more recently, to help with fundraising for the new library.  (Since I'm heavily involved in the new library fundraising, I'm particularly grateful to her for this help.)  But, more than that, we can all be grateful to her for her gift to the community: it is not an easy matter to produce a dozen concerts a year when it is all voluntary.  Lucy has been able to find individuals and groups of all kinds--jazz, fada, Barbershop, popular, classical, etc.--AND has been able to persuade them to come here to play for us without having to pay them: they perform as a gift.  Furthermore, she does not sell tickets to these fine performances: it is all by donation, because it is all for the benefit of the community.  A gift squared.

In Vancouver and other places where I have lived, concert tickets are not obtained by donation.  It's another part of the unusualness of Pt. Roberts that our concerts do not require us to buy tickets, although we are asked to make a donation to something that is for our own benefit and use.  So extremely admirable as a community model.

I wrote last month about local institutions and our need for them to be strong.  Lucy has a very strong record for the institution of producing concerts here.  How can we thank her for her service?  We can thank her best by going to the concerts whenever we can.  She already has 10 more concerts scheduled including a trombone group and TWO choirs singing ABBA!  Great.  Come, enjoy!  Thanks to Lucy!

Church concert schedule, here. (down at the bottom of the page)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Archeological Discovery?

Well, it's hard to know how to feel about phones nowadays, but this does seem something of an extreme response.  Could it be reported as some kind of code violation?

Fortunately, there's still a phone outside the front door of the library at the community center, free for the use as long as you just want to call locally.  I think this one had more features; or at least one more: that you could dial out of Point Roberts.  Anyway, another thing to remember: "Remember when there was a phone booth on Pt. Roberts; maybe in front of the Chevron station, or like that?"

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Signs of Life, Signs of Progress

Gasoline, at Pt. Roberts's stations, is selling for (lowest) $43.9/liter.  That's about $1.75 a gallon.  (The other four stations are rather higher, but it is something I never expected to see in all the rest of my life: gas in P.R. looking cheap.

The yellow crocus in my shady yard are blooming; the yellow crocus on Tyee out in open sun are blooming; it's January 28.  I've not, in my 22 years here, seen crocus blooming before February, or for the most part even before Valentine's Day.

And last night, the Whatcom County Council stood up in unison and said NO to the radio station's towers application for a conditional use permit.  It was hard to imagine they would do otherwise, but nowadays, it's hard to really imagine a sure thing.  Of course, the radio station owners can apply for yet another hearing in Superior Court.  But if so, it seems like the County would have to defend their position, not the residents of Point Roberts.  The County has a lawyer on salary, which we in Point Roberts do not.

Update: I am told by those involved that if KRPI chooses to appeal, then the NO Towers folks here in P.R. will also have to mount a legal case; i.e., hire a lawyer.  This would be because the County will hire a lawyer unfamiliar with the case and, as I understand it, the NO Towers' folks current lawyer IS familiar and thus more likely to mount a persuasive case.  This is tactics beyond a blogger's paygrade, so I don't know.  But that's what I am told.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Communication: Always a Problem

Always an issue: as Steve McQueen summed it up in "Cool Hand Luke" about 4 decades ago, "What we have here is a problem in communication."  That may be the essence of what we always are having here in Point Roberts.

Last week, I heard from the PREP group.  This is another volunteer group, in this case one organized around having solutions ahead of time for at least some of the problems that might confront us in the event of some kind of disaster where the peninsula became at least metaphorically cut off from the mainland in terms of getting needed help.  How do we communicate with one another in such a situation?  All the regular electronic methods might well be unavailable: no functioning land phones, cell phones, or internet.  (What, they're going to deprive us of G3 or whatever it is that gets to the cloud all the time?)

The good news is that there is old-fashioned ham radio, which, I think, is the kind my father used to fool around with in high school about 80 years ago.  PREP has received a $7,500 grant from Puget Sound Energy to provide them with more of the kind of equipment that is needed for that to work for us.  There is a ham radio operators group here on the Point.  That is good to know (which is to say that we have people who know how to use the equipment that is being made available).  Good work, PREP!  And thanks to Puget Sound Energy's community giving program.

Another kind of communication problem was evident last night at the Fire District meeting.  There has been a problem with the various communication systems used by the District Volunteers for many years, apparently.  When an emergency call is issued, it is sent to the pager of whoever is first in line on duty, who then goes to the location where help is needed.  That volunteer assesses whether additional help is needed and puts a call out to other volunteers.  The problem lies in the fact that the pagers don't always work very well with the antennae available to them here or in Bellingham.  So nobody may get the call.  And the additional help doesn't show until they find some other way to communicate.  They have radios in the vehicles, but if the volunteer is performing CPR and needs backup, he can't easily say, "Just wait a minute while I go out to the vehicle and make a few calls on my radio."

So it's a communication problem that apparently can't be solved with different/better equipment: the problem is too many trees on the ground and too little antenna way up high.  Or at least that is how I understood the problem.  They're working on it, but I'm thinking that they've been working on it for some years and aren't getting it solved.  There was a suggestion that the problem was "political," but I don't know what that might mean.  Perhaps the hand of the do-no-good US Congress is reaching clear up to Point Roberts?

[Note: the Fire District videotapes their meetings and posts the tapes on their website (Fire District 5, Whatcom County).  You can listen to the discussion of this topic yourself and, if you are more technically competent than I am (wouldn't be hard),  you may obtain a better understanding of the problem that seems to be lacking a solution other than a giant antenna.  The video site is here, but the January 9, 2015 video is not yet posted there.]

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Institutions in Little Places like Here

I have been thinking about the existence/role of social institutions in places like this.  I know, there aren't any places like this one, but for the moment let us at least contemplate the possibility that there might be places at least sort of like this one.  What put me into these thoughts was the collapse of the Christmas Craft Faire (which has had a pretty long run...maybe 10 years or so?) with the mass resignation of its organizing board, which followed the resignation of the single organizer for the summer Community Market.  If you had such social institutions in, say, Bellingham, that wouldn't happen perhaps because people would arrange for a new board to keep the 'social institution' (of whatever kind) going once they have resigned.

In a small place, that is less likely to happen in part because everything is done by volunteers, so there hardly are any real social institutions that involve the community directly.  Things come, things go, as some individual or small group is more or less interested in making such things happen reliably.  And then some other group comes along, perhaps or perhaps not, eventually to fill that niche and in that interval enormous amounts of knowledge about what works, what doesn't, what helps, etc. is lost.

What do we have here in the way of social institutions?  Definitions first.  I'm not including government institutions because we hardly have any government in the first place.  There are the five Districts and they continue by law but whatever they do is largely a function of their Commissioner's interest in doing much of anything, just as the Craft Faire's existence is a function of a few peoples' organizing it because they care about it happening.  A social institution and its events should be open to everyone.  They should not be exclusively commercial.  If you open a business, that's not a social institution, although you might be a business that sponsors/underwrites activities that constitute a social institution.

Some of the property owner's associations have annual/regular events, but they're not open to the rest of the Point's residents, so do they count? The Food Bank is open to all those who need food assistance; the Seniors' Group and events are open to all those of a specific age.  So maybe the property owners associations ought to count too, even though they have some exclusionary criteria.

So, what else do we have that seem to fit into a fairly loose definition of social institution?  The 4th of July Parade and the Fireworks (the latter of which is definitely an off-and-on matter); the Arts and Music Festival; the Church's Summer Music Camp and public concerts; Park & Recreation's Summer Camp and kayak program; the Garden Club's biannual Garden Tour; the Friends of the Library's book sales; the Community Market (it's made it for about 4 years now, but it's a little dicey for next year); the Quilt Group's providing raffle quilts for various charities; and the Library's sponsorship of children's programs throughout the year.  The Taxpayers Association and the Homeowners Voters Association both would qualify.  Charitable groups like Dollars for Scholars, and the Food Bank.  Have I missed anything?  Probably, yes.  [edit: missed PREP, of course.  Also PAWS and Point-Interface which deserves a column all its own]

But do we have what we need?  And if so, what could we do to make such institutions more stable?  Maybe nothing; maybe that's one of the prices you pay for living in small communities.  Maybe it just requires more people to have a bigger commitment to community activities to stabilize such institutions; maybe it requires direct government support.  Recently, I read a piece in The Atlantic in which a former military guy talked about his discomfort in being 'thanked for his service.'  What he wanted, he wrote, was for such people to make a commitment themselves to serving their country by being responsible citizens in the way of voting, e.g. (he noted that the last election had a 40-something percent turnout), in the way of caring for their communities.  I guess one could add by paying their taxes and ensuring that social programs that are needed are both adequately funded and adequately monitored.

It's still close enough to the new year; maybe we should all try to be better citizens this year?  Or lose weight, get more exercise, drink less, or whatever...  I'll come back to this when I have something clearer to say about it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Internets and All That

A couple of days ago, I accidentally signed up for Tumblr when I was trying to follow a tumblr blog called "Humans of New York" in which some guy daily publishes a picture of someone on the streets of New York with commentary from the someone about their life.  I don't know whether I'm following it or not; I'm certainly not getting it in my email, but maybe that isn't where it would come to.

So I wrote to my Internet savvy son as to whether I wanted to be involved with Tumblr.  He handed the query off to my 22-year-old college student granddaughter, who replied,
"No, no we don't use that. That's what 11-year-olds use when they first discover online social networking so they can share pictures of what other people post because they have nothing to say for themselves. From tumblr you graduate to MySpace and from MySpace to Facebook."

When you live in such a faraway place as Point Roberts, even the Internet sometimes seems remote, even if you use it a lot and are even on Facebook.  I try to keep on good terms with some local 10-year-old so that I can ask him/her to reset my watch when we come to the daylight savings changes.  I have the instructions that came with the watch, but they don't work.  The 10-year-old just looks at the watch and makes the time change.  

Next, perhaps we'll consider Skype, now that my on-line phone company has gone out of business.  Succumbing doubtless to some other fancier way to make a phone call.  Probably smart phones, whatever they are?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The New Year

I seem to have taken a little two month break from this blog.  I think largely because it was getting cold and Christmas was coming and all that.  But now we are past all that and it is 2015, and how is Point Roberts doing?

It managed New Year's Eve very quietly as far as I could tell: a minimum of explosive sounds at midnight, anyway.  The throngs thronged at the package stores, including a new/replacement one on Tyee...a new name, something like In and Out Mail has replaced The Mail Carrier..and a second new one on Gulf and Tyee which, alas, missed the giant package season of November/December (or any other two months you might choose) because it's not yet open.  But it will open I imagine and in a very fancy restored building.  The old, abandoned, overgrown blue house across from the Post Office has now been brought into new life (I believe that it was a house made of fish traps, which lumber perhaps will last forever) by the owner of the (also) new Valero Gas Station.  I am told that the Valero station still sells cheap butter, which nobody else seems to be doing.

More money was genially raised for the No to the Towers campaign down at Kiniski's place, about the same time as the Radio Station that causes all this radio-tower-grief was being put down both by Canadian authorities and the Whatcom County Planning Dept. Hearing Officer.  Fire Dept. Volunteers raised $1,000 for the Food Bank and then lost it by leaving the door to the building open, from whence someone entered, lifted the dollars, and took them to some other life.  Auntie Pam, offended at the burglary if not the carelessness, raised 3 times as much to replace it, I am told.  The Food Bank's pantry is pretty well filled as a result.

Today, the Artisans' Guild, a group of 5 or 6 folks who put together the Christmas Craft Fair each year announced they were resigning en masse from the (now) essentially non-existent organization since it apparently had no members other than its board of directors.  They have grown tired of producing the craft fair, which has a fairly long history, I am told, of people giving up on it after a few years.  A thankless task,  I imagine, as most such things are.  If I have learned anything in my two decades of living in a small community, it is that taking on responsibility for organizing any organization or activity had better be its own reward because it probably will neither win you many friends nor lead to your being a positive influence.  And people will criticize; it is what we know how to do.

We hope someone will take on this task of organizing the Christmas Craft Fair as many people seem to enjoy it.  But if no one does, then the Christmas season will go on without it, and still we will have the package stores and their customers.  Perhaps they could have musicians in front of their places of businesses, playing Christmas music.  At least if it weren't too cold or too rainy, which it has been.

Happy New Year!