an editorial by Kirby Lindsay Laney, posted 17 April 2017
Fremont has great activities and creative initiatives ready to take off and enliven our community again this spring. We are a community poised on the verge of greatness, once again, but a specter sits on its sofa, laughing from the shadows, waiting to see these valiant efforts falter and fail.
At times in our history, our community has become distracted, thinking that our efforts to build and enliven were sabotaged or scuttled by an enemy within. It is true that as close neighbors in a small community, we do fail to agree and tend to each have our own ideas about what is best to do and what can be done. Sometimes, we end up in-fighting. But we must remember: the enemy is not here.
We joke about the City, and its fondness for regulations that stifle and stymie. We joke about our fondness for aiming art installations (specifically the Fremont Rocket) at their institutions (specifically City Hall.) The City does demand taxes, fees and rules that can ruin our fun and make mockery of innovative ideas, but they are not the enemy either.
The enemy is indifference, sometimes in others and sometimes within ourselves.
A creeping lethargy, and handy excuse for inaction, indifference is a scourge in a creative community such as Fremont. It is the assumption that others will do it, say it, or notice it. It is a way to sit on the sofa, let life pass us by, and let Fremont’s future fall away.
Without willing hands, and open minds to original ideas and fresh energy, many Fremont events and activities would never have happened – and may not occur in the future. Please, don’t give in to indifference. Don’t let the grey suck us in. Inactivity breeds more inactivity.
Instead, this spring, do one small thing – and you may find yourself with renewed energy for more.
“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world.”– Margaret Mead
Right now, Fremont has plenty of small ways willing volunteers can lend hand to realize a plan already in place. The best part of these activities are the ways you can pitch in, a little or a whole lot, and contribute to an already existing effort that will accomplish so much more!
On April 22nd, from 9a – 1p, volunteers are needed to do outdoor and indoor clean-up as part of an Earth Day Spring Clean at B.F. Day Elementary School. This summer, the P.T.S.A. will be proceeding on the next phase of the Playground Improvement Project, and these smaller projects will start preparation for that bigger effort – as well as cleaning up for the Carnival on May 20th!
On April 24th, at 7p at Doric Lodge #92, the Fremont Neighborhood Council will host its Annual Meeting with City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who represents Fremont, west of Aurora Avenue. Even if you don’t have anything in particular to say to our Councilmember, please come hear, and support, comments from your neighbors.
On May 1st, the Fremont Arts Council (FAC) will celebrate May Day with a family-orientated picnic and party at Lower Woodland, and while they don’t need volunteers, this event is great for building community. So is their Artist’s Reception on May 5th, also at the Doric Lodge, during the Fremont First Friday Art Walk, from 6p – 9p. Strolling the Art Walk is always a strong, yet small way to meet neighbors and support our artists, with the FAC reception providing even more – along with giving a forum for inspiration and engagement with the Fremont Solstice Parade.
A month from now, on May 20th, the FAC will help B.F. Day celebrate its 125th Anniversary. That Saturday, from Noon – 5p, our public elementary school will be open for a B.F. Day Carnival! They’ll have games, prizes, food and fellowship for current, former, future and never-were students, along with historical information about the building, and B.F. Day’s incredible run as Seattle’s longest operating public school. The FAC will also hold an Open House in the Powerhouse, where the school’s boiler once operated, where we can all check out the Parade workshop space.
In preparation for all the celebrating on May 20th, one of Fremont’s neighbors has organized a street clean-up, starting and ending at Patrick Place Apartments, from 9a – 11:30a. Even if you can only go around and pick up a few pieces of trash, consider contributing to this collaborative effort to make our community cleaner!
For the more adventurous among us, the morning of May 20th is also a fundraiser for the Lupus Foundation. ‘The Great Unknown Adventure’ will take hearty souls on a mystery tour of activities, while raising money for one of the most unknown and under researched of illnesses – Lupus.
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
Attending a community party, or picking up a few pieces of trash, does contribute a lot. Each warm body raises energy and enthusiasm at every event.
Yet, Fremont also needs people who give their all. The community clean-up, the Carnival, and even the Fremont Solstice Parade started with a few people (or just one) deciding to do something. That is why today Fremont has great events – but only as long as people contribute.
Indifference can convince us that certain institutions are eternal, but it isn’t true. Without involvement, big and small, Fremont could wake up tomorrow to find that what we thought would always be here, won’t.
Please consider taking part in the Fremont Neighborhood Council, the Fremont Arts Council and/or the Fremont Chamber of Commerce. The FAC needs hands to build the Parade, for assembling ensembles, decorating floats, and just figuring out how to fund all this art. Lately, more and more people ‘contribute’ by showing up the day of and being painted, to ride with the Solstice Cyclists. It’s art, but the more challenging and involved work lies within the Parade itself – and without the Parade, the Solstice Cyclists may find themselves riding in the cold, alone.
The Fremont Chamber produces the Fremont Street Fair, for the promotion and support of our local business community. Both of these institutions need help, big and small. Shop local, to support the stores and restaurants that make Fremont your fav – or see them disappear. Volunteer at, and attend, the Street Fair – and spread the word (it’s June 16th – 18th.) Without community involvement, the Fair could disappear… or become so corporate and cultureless that it could relocate anywhere.
The Fremont Neighborhood Council advocates on behalf of our residents, but this only works if residents speak up. Sitting on the board, or simply attending monthly meetings, may feel like a tremendous sacrifice, but without its willing volunteers, the FNC goes quiet – leaving no one to speak on our behalf.
In addition to our community groups, Fremont has been very blessed with generous non-profits and service clubs that work in our area – again, only as long as volunteers appear to lend a hand. The Hallows Church, Fremont Baptist Church, and the Rotary Club of Fremont all provide local assistance – and all of them need more willing volunteers. Two Bridges, a new church holding weekly bible study here, is looking for ideas and initiatives they might champion. On Wednesdays, Westminster hosts a free meal for those who need it, and those who want to help.
For those willing to put themselves out there, with new energy and enthusiasm for creating a new event or program, we need you! Fremont is a community that likes to say yes, as observed by long-time Fremonster (and Solstice Parade founder) Barb Luecke, but that requires us to look around and contribute our ideas.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
On national media, as well as locally, we’ve seen more people mobilizing and speaking out – reacting to their anger, fear, and other negative emotions. Unfortunately, too often, it’s bad that sparks people to do good.
Let’s not wait to let bad happen here. Letting things fall apart, and Fremont to get boring or uncared for, will create a space – a vacuum – for new growth and activity, but we really don’t want or need to wait for that to come.
“The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt
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- The Anti-Anarchist’s Guide To Fomenting Revolt And Overthrowing A Community Organization
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- The Ease Of Events
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- Back Room Politics for Fremont?
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- At The FAC: Tradition vs. Resources?
- by Kirby Lindsay Laney, November 15, 2016
©2017 Kirby Laney. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.