It’s been my privilege to live in the Issaquah Highlands Vista Park neighborhood since 2009. Last year I had an “aha” moment and decided to dedicate more time to my community. I wanted to make a personal stand in some small way to increase sustainability, and to give back.
Since childhood, I’ve loved to garden, so becoming an active committee member of the IH Community Garden was a natural step. I help promote the organic garden community where we can all share in our tools and resources to reduce waste, reuse and recycle. I have organized Master Gardeners to come speak at Blakely Hall to this end and to share their knowledge on a variety of issues, such as how to grow tomatoes, how to water wisely, how to compost, etc. I do even little mundane things like replacing broken hoses and weeding garden paths.
I spent my childhood playing in my mother’s flower and vegetable garden in Zaire, what is now the Congo. With only the outdoors to entertain us, gardening was my sister’s and my first introduction to science. Today, it’s fun to use my vegetable patch in the Vista 1 Community Garden to teach children the same principles of science, recycling and sharing. For example, during our northwest summers, we are essentially in drought, so how do we water more efficiently? One way is by using buried empty milk jugs, with a single pinprick, filled with water and placed strategically next to more thirsty plants. We can water the roots slowly over several days. Also, during the day, water walls around heat loving plants absorb the sun’s energy, and radiate the heat back to the plants during our cool evenings.
Using simple cold frames and cloches to create a greenhouse effect lets us start our seedlings early and extend the growing season. Composting kitchen scraps into the garden returns nutrients and microbiome to the soil. Not only is it fun to see these principles work, but the best part of all this is getting to eat and share this great tasting fresh produce with the food bank and friends.
Also, it has been my pleasure to serve the greater Issaquah community. The Issaquah Highlands is an urban village designed as a walking neighborhood. We can so easily walk to wonderful entertainment, restaurants, parks, nature trails, public transportation, etc. Some of us can even walk or bike to work. I really believe in this urban village concept where we build more densely, allowing us to preserve large natural areas. As a volunteer member of the City of Issaquah’s Urban Village Development Commission, it is my goal to contribute in some positive way to help shape future neighborhoods like this one, balancing the needs of the environment, homeowners and developers.
I challenge everyone to do what they can to contribute to sustainability, give back to our community and make a difference. Any act of innovation or improvement will do. It doesn’t have to be big. It can be just a single kind thing or simply just picking up a piece of litter. Just do a little something every day. Living here in this community, we have all won the lotto of life. Once our basic needs are met and we are reasonably comfortable, what makes us feel happy and worthwhile? Simply put, it’s doing some good.