Now there’s a word for it|Letter

We’ve all felt it in our quiet moments: the breakdown of community values, a steady drumbeat of more people, as people drive faster, make more noise, litter more, drink more or take drugs first to sleep, then to get through the day. It’s a feeling that things are changing around us, stranding us in an increasingly alien world. In this respect, no matter our many differences, we grieve together. Our feeling is called “solastalgia,” a generally shared feeling that our sense of place is being violated.

Old San Juan families “remember when” but they, too, are caught up in the new. Newcomers seek roots having lost or fled their own, professing adoption here while in many cases spreading their Monopoly board game worldview. Each person fixes their sense of this place at the time they arrive so each of us has a different reference point for how far this peculiar form of deterioration has progressed.

“Progress” cannot be stopped, but it can be steered. One way to deal with solastalgia is to do something about it. We have some control over how county money is spent on our future by participating in our county’s comprehensive plan.

Participation in public life involves discussion. Discussion requires civility. So does community. So when discussion becomes heated, remember that what you feel in your way, others feel in their own way. We’re all in this together. Help build the future. Let’s start with the comprehensive plan and build from there.

Bill Appel

Friday Harbor (formerly Waldron)