Based on letters to the editor in the Whidbey papers, one would assume that our island is marked solely by divisions. North versus South, blue versus red, long-term residents versus relative newcomers, supporters of the Navy versus environmentalists, young versus old(er). The list is endless.
As I see it, our challenge as Whidbey Islanders is to find a way to merge our genuine love of this place with ways of bringing us together for the common good. One such program with deeply local roots is Leadership Whidbey.
For those unfamiliar with the program, Leadership Whidbey gathers a group of current and future community leaders each year to engage in learning, sharing, and planning activities focused on issues of importance to Whidbey Island. The curriculum covers local economy, ecology, government, arts and culture, and other vital subjects. It integrates the subject matter with skill building and self-reflection work that enables participants to identify their own leadership styles and strengths. It also offers unique networking opportunities that allow for the kind of interactions we need to transcend our differences.
As a volunteer and faculty member of Leadership Whidbey, I’ve been gratified to see how the program graduates have grown in their community roles and undertaken ongoing projects in service of the island and its residents.
The program is currently enrolling people for our 2023 cohort. Check us out at leadershipwhidbey.org.