DIANE URBANI DE LA PAZ: Another kind of year-end list

THE WORDS OF Salvadoran priest Oscar Romero (1917-1980) are a salve to me, a meditation to which I return.

“It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view,” he wrote.

“We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

“We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise …”

It’s not easy to keep your mind on such endeavors, what with the wrenching news events abounding here and across the world.

Yet with the “Top Stories of 2017” appearing about now, I’m in the mood to point out something else — the good stuff nourishing our quality of life.

Here comes a list of local, positive developments. They aren’t without controversy.

But these are steps in the direction of community wellness, creative thinking and possibility.

• The Elwha River now flows freely, from the Olympic Mountains to the new, sandy beach on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, thanks to removal of its two dams just five years ago.

• Thanks to grass-roots efforts and the YMCA, the cities of Port Angeles, Forks, Sequim and Port Townsend have public swimming pools where people of all ages can frolic and stay fit.

• Country Aire Natural Foods marked its fifth year in its relatively large location. Port Angeles has an affordable grocery store — downtown, something cities across the United States wish for.

• Fort Worden, a former military base, has transformed into a state park with a public development authority agreement — designed to turn the campus into a “lifelong learning center.”

Examples of this plan-turned-reality include the Madrona MindBody Institute, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

• The Family Medicine clinic in Port Angeles is transformed too, into the North Olympic Healthcare Network, a not-for-profit community health center. Among its goals is opening a health center at Port Angeles High School.

• The Rose Theatre of Port Townsend hailed its 25th anniversary this year, having shown 3,176 movies. Owner Rocky Friedman reports that staff popped 15.6 tons of popcorn and watched patrons sprinkle 3.1 tons of nutritional yeast on said popcorn.

• Port Angeles has its own West Coast League baseball team, the Lefties. All summer long, people from various walks of life go out to the ballgames at Civic Field.

• The performing arts thrive among us. Examples include but are not limited to: Ghostlight Productions, staging fabulous musicals in Sequim and Port Angeles; the Ballet Workshop, which added a second location in downtown Port Angeles just prior to presenting “The Nutcracker” with a large cast of local dancers and guest artists; and Centrum, which continues to present music and literary festivals — including a free week of public readings during the July Port Townsend Writers Conference.

Yes, injustice and pain are rampant in our part of the world.

So are beauty and inspiration. Stay on the lookout for all of the above.

Keep your eyes peeled for ways to play a part in a better future.

We’re like a trail crew, working for freedom of travel in the present while caring for the forest — so it can inspire tomorrow’s hikers.

“We cannot do everything,” Romero wrote, “and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

“This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.”

In his humble and poetic way, he finishes his prayer:

“We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the worker and the master builder.

“We are workers, not master builders … prophets of a future not our own.”


Diane Urbani de la Paz, a freelance journalist and former PDN features editor, lives in Port Townsend. Her column appears in the PDN the first and third Wednesday every month. Her next column will be Jan. 3. Reach her at [email protected]

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