Alison Longley: How to be a Good Neighbor

A number of events occurring on our islands as I was reading “Six Degrees” by Mark Lynas has me thinking – how can we be a better community in this new year and beyond? Here are a few thoughts:


Remember the Jazz Festival? Remember the year they ran out of beer? Friday Harbor wasn’t supposed to be dry… but it was. We live on islands. That small scenario of scarcity could expand.

Learn to love greenhouses. Even unheated ones can grow crops year-round. Let’s be a resilient community.

Know your neighbors. At your next association meeting or neighborhood get-together, consider inviting the Department of Emergency Management to give a presentation. They can help develop plans for assisting each other in case of disaster (the latest prediction for the 9.0 “Big One” is 40% by 2060).

Know and follow the rules for building. Consider new ones VERY carefully; we live with the results.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” If you think the neighbor’s place is ugly, talk to them about mitigation measures and/or build or grow screening. Trying to pull political clout to stop legal actions is unfair and disrespectful.

If you suspect illegal building activity, don’t just call the Planning Department- talk with your neighbor; that can save aggravation and tax dollars.

Don’t sue your neighbor for building legally; it shows spite and wastes money. If what they put on their land is that important, read the county permit applications. Better yet, come to know your neighbors. Share ideas, thoughts, hopes, plans. Let yourselves understand and respect each other.

Share the road. County or private, respect the right of passage for living, farming, and business needs. Save complaints and lawsuits for unnecessarily disruptive activities.

Don’t feel left out if you don’t own property here; tell us when we’re being silly.

Neighborliness boils down to these three: Respect. Care. Communicate.

Happy New Year, and may we all be good neighbors,

Alison Longley

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