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.
Yet, over the past few months, the COVID-19 crisis has been cruel and swift. As we acted quickly and decisively 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 at 15%, San Juan County’s soared to over 27%. Our food banks and other service organizations saw an over 200% increase and our beloved islands changed dramatically.
But many of us would argue that inequality was ravaging our community 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 inequities and injustice around the nation have spotlighted inequity and deep divides within our own communities. Our problems are deep-seated.
As these crises continue to impact us, it also brings an opportunity to change our systems profoundly and permanently, for decades to come. Let’s use this crisis to make the profound changes we have dreamt of for years. Let’s leave our status quo behind to create a new paradigm, deserved by the beauty of our environment and the dignity of our neighbors. Let’s build a New Deal.
San Juan County 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? We can build a future that empowers and inspires.
San Juan County can improve itself beyond our imagination. It can also serve as a powerful, replicable national model for change and recovery.
All it takes is harnessing our own power. Focusing our energy on not just surviving and recovering, but thriving and resilient..
New Deal San Juan Islands is a work-in-progress. It is a starting point: participatory, collaborative, and open-ended. Already, we’ve incorporated the ideas of the San Juan County Equity Coalition and the Vacation Rentals Working Group, always looking for citizens’ perspectives. Let’s advance county ordinances that advocate for the needs of all of our community and our environment. Let’s use this platform to highlight the innovative work already bettering our islands, to invite feedback on our initial ideas, and then mobilize ideas into action.