Author: Kate Poss | With Photos by David Welton

Kate Poss This Is Whidbey was founded by Kate Poss for readers who are interested in cultivating our island’s quality of life, including its land, sea, and air; its people, plants, and animals; and the bodies, minds, and spirits of its inhabitants. You may know Kate from her work in island libraries through May of 2016. Her background includes a career in newspaper reporting in Los Angeles for various weeklies and dailies, including The Los Angeles Times. She was a frequent contributor to the online Whidbey Life Magazine and still writes for the biannual print magazine. David Welton Stories are highlighted by David Welton’s excellent photography. David is a retired physician who was a staff photographer for Whidbey Life Magazine since its early days. His work has also appeared in museums, art galleries, newspapers, regional and national magazines, books, nonprofit publicity, and on the back of the Whidbey Sea-Tac Shuttle!

Though it was gray and drizzly weather, folks came out in bright colors to welcome the returning Gray whales on April 13. The 16th annual parade hosted by the Orca Network and Langley Chamber of Commerce is emceed by the island’s Conductor of Fun Jim Freeman, dressed in layers this year to ward off the chill damp. Freeman’s colorful costumes are notable. “I have a no-repeat rule, particularly when last year’s garment is wrinkled and it is as cold as it was Saturday with that gray whale wind,” Freeman wrote in an email following the parade. Last year’s garment was…

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Jim Freeman celebrates Whidbey Island in its many faces. Look for him in his element this Saturday at the annual Welcome the Whales Festival and Parade. “I will be at the parade for the 16th year in a row,” Freeman said. “It’s one of the greatest events we do.” As emcee of whale and other parades, Mutt Struts, Chum Runs, Soup Box Derbies, poetry slams, and festivals, the funny man who brings us together and knows how to really connect has been honing his craft and having a great time of it for over thirty years. You might see Freeman…

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The largest orchestra ever assembled on Whidbey will perform music written to launch a jet fleet 25 years ago. Langley city councilman Peter Morton is a man who can pull together big events. Promoting the performance of “The Miracle-Concerto for Piano and Orchestra,” fuels him with such magnetic enthusiasm that nearby patrons of the coffee shop he was in were drawn to his story and persuaded to attend the April 6 gala. As part of a trilogy in the event called “Musical Metaphophosis,”  the concerto will be performed April 6 at 7:30 pm at the South Whidbey High School auditorium.…

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Take a slow breath in and out. Imagine first and second graders fine-tuning their inner well-being through simple guided exercises. Mountain pose. Shake and Freeze. Rain Storm. Bear breaths. Butterfly breaths. Rainbow breaths. Hot Cocoa breaths. Visiting first and second grade classrooms this week, we met with students on Mindfulness Tuesday at South Whidbey Elementary School. The twenty-minute long weekly classes are taught by Charlene Ray, a seasoned social worker and counselor with more than thirty years’ experience in modeling calm and kindness. Asked if they could say what the practice does for them, student hands shot up like rockets…

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Our County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson exemplifies public service and inspires trust. Representing District One, which covers our whole island, except for greater Oak Harbor and north,  Price Johnson has served the public for nearly a dozen years with an ear tuned to what the island needs most. She is down-to-earth, easy to talk with and someone who likes to get things done. Her husband David owns a family-run construction business. These days workforce affordable housing is high on her list of priorities. “We need to fill the gap for families, entry-level county workers, first-year teachers, lumberyard workers, farmworkers and…

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Horse and dog owners around Whidbey Island turn to Elizabeth Johnson for her skilled care in promoting the health and well-being of their beloved four-leggeds. “Liz knows what she is doing,” said Terry Portillo, whose 28-year-old horse Ranger had been dropping weight during the winter and was being treated by Elizabeth in his pasture. The rural ranch, with one structure dating back to the 1880s, is framed by old evergreens and still-producing apple trees more than a century old. “She has years of experience. You can tell when she’s doing something that helps them feel better.” Having suffered digestive problems…

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Transitioning the Langley Middle School campus into a sustainable community resource center quickly evolved over the past year and a half, now attracting non-profits and businesses committed to creating a better way of life. Gail La Vassar runs the South Whidbey Community Center with the help of supporting colleagues and volunteers who occasionally bake cookies.  La Vassar, executive director of Readiness to Learn, which has served as an umbrella community service organization for more than two decades, now directs the South Whidbey Community Center as well. To that end she curates an eclectic mix of non-profits and businesses whose rents…

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Celebrating the art of life, photographers David Welton and Don Wodjenski invite the public to view their work at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts’ Lasher Gallery during the month of March. The talented gentlemen host a free open reception Saturday March 2 from 5-7 p.m. For the rest of the month, the exhibition is free for public viewing weekdays from 9 to 5. Their art show runs concurrently with The Local Artist Series, which was created to offer local artists a chance to perform at WICA. Welton, a retired cardiologist and Wodjenski, a retired high school art teacher, have…

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Christine Tasseff runs Roots Landscaping and Restoration during the week and on Sundays leads a popular sacred dance gathering called Prayerbody. From 10 till noon at Bayview Hall folks of many stripes gather to free their bodies, hearts, and minds as musicians take dancers through a Wave, a series of musical moods comprising the 5Rhythms©: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, and Stillness. Tasseff’s friend and mentor Gabrielle Roth, introduced the concept of the Wave and 5Rhythms in her book, Maps to Ecstasy: The Healing Power of Movement. Gabrielle Roth was a theater director and recording artist, as well as a movement teacher at…

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While some want to build walls to Mexico, a local Whidbey woman is building bridges. As a followup to our Dec. 29 story in This is Whidbey: Be here now for this sewing bee, women have since gathered on Friday afternoons to stuff, sew, crochet, and embroider life-sized newborn dolls for a teaching project in Chiapas, Mexico. From Jan. 5 to Feb. 1, the dolls took form, culminating in a blessing of lullabies and celebration with visiting volunteers from Compañeros ed Salud. At the sewing bees, held at Create Space Langley, one found juicy women in a creative frenzy, sharing…

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