What kind of future do you want?

New Deal San Juan Islands

What if San Juan County could pass laws that powerfully represented our shared values?  What if our County government could be a national model of climate action, environmental protection, justice and equity?


The San Juan Islands are like no place on earth.

Our remarkable natural beauty is rivaled only by our tight-knit communities.

The San Juan Islands are like no place on earth. Our remarkable natural beauty is rivaled only by our tight-knit communities. San Juan County also has one of the more progressive voting blocks in the nation. Yet, with a few exceptions, we’ve not used it to make the powerful change we can. What if we enacted policies fully protecting our environment, taking bold climate action, building a strong, equitable economy, and ensuring our residents are treated with equality and respect? What if our County government powerfully represented our core values? We can make it happen.

Over the past few months, the COVID-19 crisis has been cruel and swift. As we moved to protect the health of our islands, we also felt devastating consequences. Schools, resorts, restaurants, small businesses, shops, and even the libraries closed, with hundreds of islanders losing their income entirely. While American unemployment reached its highest levels since the Great Depression around 15%, San Juan County’s soared to over 27%. Our food banks and other service organizations saw an over 200% increase in need and our beloved islands changed dramatically.

But many of us would argue that inequality was ravaging our communities before the virus. We are one of the most unequal economies in the country; in 2017, real estate costs rose faster here than in any other County. And racial injustice around the nation has spotlighted inequity and division that dwells right here in our own communities. Our problems are deep-seated. 

While these crises hurt us, they also offer an opportunity to change our systems profoundly and permanently. Let’s use it: all it takes is harnessing our own power. 

In the 2020 election, we elected two new County Councilmembers. Christine Minney and Cindy Wolf, along with Jamie Stephens, have the ability to take action on all the issues important to daily life in the islands. We’ve launched this website to recommend policies for these County Councilmembers to support on climate, plastics, agriculture, housing, and justice. We encourage you to contact our Councilmembers to advocate for our suggestions and take visionary action. 

Even though we’ve drafted ideas, New Deal San Juan Islands is a people’s movement, a work-in-progress. It is a starting point: participatory, collaborative, and open-ended. Already, we’ve researched some of the strongest global examples of bold policies, but also built off of the great work of the San Juan County Equity Coalition and the Vacation Rentals Working Group, and others. This must be a community led conversation and must always be looking for additional perspectives.

Please share your vision for a new deal.

So let’s get to work and advance County policies that advocates for ourselves, our land, and our neighbors, our future. It’s time for a New Deal.

New Deal San Juan Islands is a policy project of the Madrona Institute. A team of Islanders working across disciplines helped jumpstart the website and assert policy goals.

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