Community Meeting Highlights Activities Over the Last Year and Plans for the Next

Area residents filled the meeting room of the Griffin Fire Department Headquarters this last week for the annual Community Meeting of the Griffin Neighborhood Association. In addition to reports from the Association Board, residents heard from a number of local officials in what has become a favorite format for this annual event. In this article, we’ll cover the business portion of the meeting. Another article will describe topics discussed by the featured speakers.

Board members Peter Reid and Steve Lundin described the recent activities of the Steamboat Conservation Partnership. Using data from a variety of sources and software provided by the Squaxin Island Tribe, the SCP and its partner, the Capitol Land Trust, are working to identify parcels within the Eld and Totten inlet watersheds, for conservation. Six parcels have been identified to-date, in the beginning of a sometimes lengthy process to secure development rights from the owners. Local property owners who may wish to share in the benefits of seeing portions of their holdings preserved are encouraged to contact the SCP.

The Capitol Land Trust will hold its annual Conservation Breakfast on February 9th. Members of the Association’s Board have reserved tables for those interested in this event. Contact Steve Lundin or Peter Reid for more information.

Diane Wiley is working with others on the Board and within the community to create a business directory. Plans are to produce both a printed and an online version. Volunteers are working to rise to the challenge of identifying the many businesses that operate in our area but without a formal storefront. Contact Diane if you would like to help assemble the business directory.

Missy Watts, a Board member and Realtor, spoke briefly regarding efforts to build “social capital” in our community. Social capital is a concept described by Robert Putnam in his books Bowling Alone and Better Together: Restoring the American Community. In these books, Putnam describes how social connections have become eroded in America and how communities can strengthen these connections, through civic engagement and a variety of other means. Missy provided the Steamboat Neighborhood logo art now being used by the GNA. She has created stickers bearing this oval image and those stickers will be available to local residents, to put on their vehicles. Local residents can pick up a sticker from the Griffin Fire Department Headquarters, during normal business hours.

The Board was moved by a discussion regarding social capital, started by Missy this last year. Those of you interested in learning more about social capital may be interested in reading the Social Capital Blog.

Linda Lentz, Board member and owner of Chelsea Farms, a family-owned shellfish farm celebrating 25 years in our area, pointed out there is more farmed shellfish in Washington than in anywhere else in the U.S. Part of the reason is because of our water quality. Land owners play a role in water quality, too. Residents who may be interested in learning more about local shellfish farming are encouraged to contact Linda. She would like to arrange tours of shellfish farms, if there is interest.

Dave Peeler reported on the annual Summer Picnic. For the second year in a row, it was held at Frye Cove Park. The weather was great! Local resident Xinh Dwelley, of Xinh’s Clam & Oyster House, donated her talents and food. Beach naturalists from the South Sound Estuary Association were on hand and the Pacific Northwest Shell Club provided displays and shells for the kids. The Association looks forward to sponsoring this event again, next summer.

Beau Altman, a member of the Board and safety expert spoke of efforts the Association could spearhead to help improve community disaster preparations. Beau spoke of community interest in a series of Saturday “MacGyver Seminars.” These could help folks to learn how to use what they have in their homes, to survive power outages and even major disasters.

Gary Goodwin, outgoing Treasurer for the Association, delivered the annual financial report.The Association began the year with $5,375.68 in its accounts and ended it with  $5,197.40. Along the way it contributed $200 to the St. Christopher’s Food Bank and $1316 to the Steamboat Conservation Partnership. It sponsored two beach naturalist scholarships with the South Sound Estuary Association ($80), paid expenses to operate a music concert and a summer picnic ($1,051.74) and paid other expenses of $176.01. Income was from dues ($916), the music concert ($1401), and other sources ($326.29).

Mark Messinger described the Association’s online footprint. The web site is the hub to a blog of news and opinion (begun in April, 2006, there are more than 408 articles in the archive), an online discussion group with more than 110 current subscribers, and a Facebook Page and Twitter feed. Folks who shop online with Amazon, using our link at helped us to raise more than $226 in commissions for the Association in 2011. The web site also has a disaster preparedness page to help residents and groups of neighbors plan.

Mark also said the Association plans to hold another music concert to raise funds for the Steamboat Conservation Partnership. Two years ago the band Gaelica donated their time to play a concert. Last year, a band fronted by local musician Elizabeth Hummel filled the Prosperity Grange. Residents interested in helping to present a concert in April/May this year should contact Mark.

Dave Schuett-Hames spoke of recent interest in hosting a presentation and question-and-answer session with representatives of Puget Sound Energy. The community would benefit from a greater understanding of how PSE responds to weather emergencies such as the recent snow storm, weaknesses in the local electrical distribution system, and how homeowners can help avoid power outages or respond to them, when outages occur.

Dave also spoke of plans to develop a community garden. Local residents who may be interested in participating in a community garden should contact Dave directly.

Each year, roughly half of the positions on the Association’s Board are up for election. This year’s slate of nominees included seven returning Board members and three new nominations. Current members of the Association present at the meeting voted for the slate of ten community members. The full seventeen positions on the Board are now filled. Click here for the full roster of names on the current Board of the Griffin Neighborhood Association.

The Board of the Association are proud of the accomplishments over the last year. The Board invites residents and local businesses to join in activities to benefit the community, to increase civic engagement, to strengthen connections to one another, and continue to make the Griffin and Steamboat area a wonderful place in which to live.

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