Vashon is nestled in the protected waters of Puget Sound between vibrant metropolitan Seattle and Tacoma. The Island’s unique rural character makes this creativity-minded and progressive community feel like it’s a world apart: Its unique location offers its residents the safest, healthiest, and most peaceful of country lifestyles. Yet it is only a short ferry ride from most of the big city life and culture, as well as from major employers like Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, Expedia, Costco, Starbucks, and others.
The Island is home to approximately 10,500 year-round residents. A large contingent of Island lovers own second homes on the island, where they regularly come spend weekends and/or entire summers.
Homes vary from small beach cabins, bungalows, and cottages, to multi-million dollar estates, reflecting the economic diversity of the island’s residents. Population also mirrors such ethnic diversity as present in the greater Puget Sound area.
Part of Vashon’s unique character is that it is home to more artists, designers and people working in media than in 90% of the communities in America. Also of interest is that Vashon is home to more residents who work in computers and math-related businesses than found in 95% of the Country.
The latest Census data also confirms another interesting demographic:
•Children and youth (18 and under) make up nearly 20% of the population, while young adults (18-24) make up only 4.5%. There are very few young adults on the island, due to the fact that once they reach that age, this group generally leave for college, work, or travel, with many of them returning to the island to live and/or raise families of their own.
Weather on the Island is moderate to cool, with temperatures in the mid-70’s during the summer and high 40’s in winter. An average of 38 inches of rain falls during the 150 days or so rainy season, and glorious sunny to partly sunny days make up the rest of the year.
Vashon is both an energetic and restful place to live: Though only 18 miles long and 8 miles at its widest, the island features nearly 45 miles of shoreline that offer spectacular views of the surrounding rugged Cascades and snow-capped Olympics. Beautiful waterways, lush green parks, forests, and rolling pastures offer a wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities to all ages. Visitors commute to the Island year-round to hike, bike, canoe, ride horseback, etc.
Education is paramount on Vashon, and its quality shows in the consistently above State and National average reading and math proficiency test results; not to mention the fact that over 150 children commute daily from Greater Seattle and other parts to attend one of the island’s schools. The community’s commitment to scholastic excellence has led to the passage of a $47 million bond in 2011 that culminated in the opening of an award-winning new high school in January of 2014.
Vashon High School participates in international student exchange programs for grades 9-12.
In addition to the School District’s Elementary, Middle, and High schools, there are several independent institutions - the nonprofit Harbor School (grades 4 to 8) and the Carpe Diem Primary School (Kindergarten to 3rd grade) provide first-rate life and learning skills foundation. There is also a French immersion school, an outdoor wilderness school, and a Montessori preschool.
Every other Tuesday, 6:30 - 8:00 PM
Practice speaking English with other English language learners, all levels welcome. Learn about your community and meet people from around the world. Classes are free, join anytime!
The Vashon Public library, recently renovated and expanded from 6000 to a state-of-the-art “green” 10,000 square foot facility, offers patrons a serene place where they can read, learn, and interact, surrounded by the beauty of the lush, forested Ober Park. The library features spacious and comfortable rooms for study and reading, as well as dedicated areas for Children and Teens. Dozens of late-model computers with high-speed internet access are available for public use, and free, multi-level ESL classes are offered to all who wish to attend.
EMPLOYMENT ON VASHON ISLAND
About half of Vashon’s workforce is Island-employed, while the other half commute to jobs in Seattle, Tacoma, or Olympia. The economy is typical of that of a small community, with a variety of businesses numbering over three hundred. These include art galleries and bookstores, restaurants and quaint boutiques, physicians and dentists, lawyers, insurance brokers and accountants, auto repair shops, etc.
There is a pharmacy, five wineries, three banks, and dozens of other service-oriented businesses. The largest employer on the Island is Pacific Research Laboratories, sometimes referred to by islanders as “The Bone Factory”. With distribution operations all over the world, Sawbones is a niche company that manufactures anatomical models for orthopedic and medical educatn.
Several organic farms provide residents with year-round top quality produce, fresh meats, milk, cheese and eggs, etc.
While numerous artisans and skilled craftsmen provide quality work on the island, a significant number of residents commute to Seattle or Tacoma via the readily available public transportation system. Others take advantage of local broadband to telecommute from their home office.
The Island is currently home to a wide range of houses-of-worship. These include Christian Churches of many denominations, a Synagogue, a Zen Buddhism center, a Quaker gathering, and a Russian Orthodox Monastery. There is currently no Mosque on Vashon. There are, however, a good number of Islamic Centers and/or Masaajids only a short ferry ride away in the Greater Seattle/Tacoma areas. Several facilities on the Island could also be used for faith-based meetings on a regular basis.
OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST ON VASHON ISLAND
Vashon Allied Arts – new arts center on the islad. Vashon Community Care – elder housing, Voice of Vashon Radio Station, and a variety of clubs and special events…Equestrian Club, Sheepdog Herding competition, Sailing Clubs/Races, Strawberry Festival, Vintage Car/bike shows, Fruit and Garden Club, etc., and an amazing amount of music and performance.
CONCLUSION - NEXT STEPS
Our committee is reaching out to refugee resettlement agencies to introduce ourselves and to become more familiar with existing resources and support from the agencies and local services.
We would like to receive information about families interested in living on Vashon – including family members, ages of children, job skills, English and other language proficiency, health issues or special needs. If there is a good match between families and our capabilities and resources, we would like to meet to get acquainted and to discuss this opportunity.
As we welcome families to the island, or in anticipation of resettlement here, we would like to host reception dinners to welcome and get acquainted. If so desired, we would encourage a sharing of culture and arts, whether it be food, dance or song, poetry, music or art. And we would do likewise, so there is a meeting of cultures and opportunities to learn from each other.
VASHON RESETTLEMENT COMMITTEE BOARD
Mary Rose - President
Susan Doerr – Vice President and Public Relations
Liz Illg - Treasurer
Erin Durrett – Secretary
Kathy Olson – Advisor