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Island Conversations

A monthly series for down-to-earth talk about Whidbey’s future. As the climate changes, how will we navigate changes in our food, air, water, health, housing, and social fabric? If you love our Island home and want to protect it now and always, please join us to envision the future we want, together.

See also our Climate Change Salon series.

Beyond Sustainability!

June 6, 2024

6:00 - 8:00 PM FREE

Bayview Cash Store, Front Room

5603 Bayview Rd, Langley

Refreshments provided.

PLEASE BRING YOUR OWN mug, napkin etc.

Waste-Free Event


What can we do now that our great grandchildren will thank us for?


Permaculture is a practical set of ecological design principles and methods for human settlements which can be applied at the urban, suburban and watershed scale. Renowned permaculture educator Penny Livingston will share her wisdom on "Beyond Sustainability" and pose the question: "Is it possible to create more abundance in our lives, develop an intimate relationship with the natural world, and, at the same time, address our ecological crisis?"


Report: Presentation, Ideas

Almost 40 of you attended our third “Island Conversations" series at the Bayview Cash Store last Thursday. 


Here’s a puzzle: “The problem is the solution.Penny Livingston provided such food for thought in her overview of the permaculture approach to designing a regenerative community. Penny launched the evening by asking attendees to close our eyes and imagine waking up in a perfect world. What do we see? hear? smell? Many people reported that their perfect world was full of natural beauty - trees, birds, flowing water - in some cases, a lot like Whidbey!

Penny showed how the technique of observing natural patterns can teach us to design more abundant food systems, homes and communities, in bioregions across Earth. Learning from Indigenous teachers is an important part of learning to think like a permaculturalist. She quoted Oren Lyons: “What you call ‘resources’ we call relatives.” Through permacultural approaches, we humans don’t just try to have less impact, we actively seek to have more impact, building a world better than we found it.

Following Penny’s presentation, attendees at their cafe tables engaged in lively discussion of the question: What can we do now that our great great grandchildren will thank us for? Ideas ranged from building rain gardens, to adopting Firewise practices, to eliminating all plastic bottles. If you would like to continue a conversational thread, please CONTACT Us and let us know what you’re interested in (There seemed to be a lot of energy around greywater!) We want to connect like-minded people hungering to take action. See ideas here.

For those who want to go deeper into the permaculture ethics and practices, Penny is offering an immersive two week certification course at the Whidbey Institute June 20 - July 4. 

Read the blog post: Designing for a Healthy Future

Everybody Eats, Everybody Throws Food Away

May 2, 2024

6:00 - 8:00 PM FREE

Bayview Cash Store, Front Room

5603 Bayview Rd, Langley

Refreshments provided.

PLEASE BRING YOUR OWN mug, napkin etc.

Waste-Free Event


How can we be more ecological, save money & cut greenhouse gases?

When our organic wastes are properly decomposed they nourish other animals, plants, and organisms all along the food chain.Organic compost feeds the soil so it can feed us. Sadly, the vast majority of organic waste from Island County is hauled hundreds of miles away to the Roosevelt Landfill where it ends up creating methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and costing the County $millions annually.

WCA’s own David Haskell has been a zero-waste practitioner, government official, and advocate for over 30 years. David will facilitate a community conversation about how we can dedicate what we don’t eat to its highest  and best use for our health... and that of the environment.

Report: Ideas

David delivered the stark reality that our current system is broken: Island County spends $10 Million a year to haul our garbage - 8, 24-ton trucks - hundreds of miles, burning thousands of gallons of diesel every day. To make matters worse, organic matter constitues 40% of the garbage and turns into methane in the landfill, a potent greenhouse gas. Will we reduce our consumption? Can we switch our mindset from seeing “waste” to seeing “treasure”? Do we have the capacity to redirect all food scraps to local use?

Local organizations working on this issue were present:

  • rePurpose: "[We] strive to help people understand that refusing, reducing and reusing is always the best option before recycling. To create a zero waste community, we need a radical rethink of our systems, policies, and personal choices. rePurpose moves towards this future through upstream policy changes and downstream waste management."

  • WSU Extension: The local office is very interested in this issue and has resources for holding composting classes. 


Attendees generated ideas for community level reuse and composting, perhaps piggy-backing on emergency preparedness teams, and starting a Master Composter program through WSU Extension. See ideas here.


Environmental Successes in the Salish Sea

April 4, 2024

6:30 - 8 PM FREE

Bayview Cash Store, Front Room

5603 Bayview Rd, Langley


Reservation requested, but NOT required.
Refreshments provided.

PLEASE BRING YOUR OWN mug, napkin etc.

Waste-Free Event


As a fellow Pacific West Coast Islander, Fay Weller will share an inspiring presentation on some of the many successes that have been achieved in her community on Gabriola Island. WCA’s own Penny Livingston, internationally-respected permaculture educator, will facilitate a discussion to explore what successes we have achieved already and what strategies might be appropriate for Whidbey Island.


Fay Weller, PhD, is an author, community organizer, homesteader, researcher, and artist. Fay loves the creative spark when working on new community ideas that increase ecological and just choices for all. She is engaged in numerous collaborative initiatives from circular economy enterprise to affordable, low-impact heating. She grows and sells apples, eggs, and vegetables and lives on Gabriola Island, BC farm with partner Bob and numerous chickens.


A group of almost 40 folks gathered at Bayview Cash Store for a conversation about climate change and our shared future. Guest Fay Weller, from Sustainable Gabriola, inspired us with a story of how their small community built knowledge, trust, and commitment to action over the course of a year of conversations. They called their approach “12:12:12”: 12 months to discuss 12 “wicked" problems from climate change, and propose at least 12 local solutions. Participants sat cafe style to learn from each other and generate potential solutions. Organizers shared the results in the local news, so the whole community could follow the course of the conversation. The twelfth session was devoted to organizing for action - prioritizing solutions and stepping up to lead high-priority initiatives. WCA is excited to riff on this model and experiment with more arts and culture at our next Island Conversation, Thursday, May 2nd, 6pm at the Bayview Cash Store Front Room. Hope to see you there!

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