Opinion | From bears to tickets, change starts with you

There’s an amazing rate of change going on in the Valley. It’s apparent in the growth that’s happening, even amid a recession, in cities like North Bend and Snoqualmie. It’s apparent in people’s behavior, be it in how they handle their trash, deal with wildlife, help others, or even drive their cars. Life in our community is an experience in flux.

It struck me this week how Valley residents are being asked to change. It all started with the bears.

When I attended a July 17 community meeting—called to talk about the apparent abundance of local black bears—I figured that Snoqualmie Police Department and the state wildlife officers would calm excited neighbors by laying out some bold new strategy for study and trapping.

What I found, however, was a much simpler approach that puts the main responsibility on us people. Bears are attracted by easily accessible food sources, chiefly garbage and bird feeders. So the simplest way to prevent unwanted bear encounters is for people, you and me, to clean up after ourselves. The government, local or otherwise, doesn’t need to get involved. As long as you’ve got space in your garage or shed, you don’t need any fancy equipment. Simply change your ways, and the problem goes away.

Challenging ourselves

In the first month since Snoqualmie switched over to its new garbage contract with Waste Management, staff noticed that recycling participation is climbing. Snoqualmie Public Works Director Dan Marcinko called me up about it last week, and he was downright excited about the numbers. Citizens have now increased their recycling rate from 51 percent to 63 percent. It’s quite the achievement, but Marcinko wasn’t about to stop there. He wants to see citizens go beyond there, and challenge themselves to do better, recycle more, generate less trash and make a greener city.

This summer, Snoqualmie police are performing speeder patrols on Snoqualmie Parkway.  I’ve been caught in a couple of speed traps myself in the past,  so I know how much of a pain it can be to get handed that ticket. But the cops are out there for a reason—to change behaviors and show people that they need to be responsible and drive more safely. Those hard lessons ultimately benefit everybody, reducing the likelihood of rear-ending accidents, or worse. Like the bear problem, the traffic safety issues in areas like Snoqualmie Parkway are solved by people agreeing to change their ways.

Here’s a final change, also a positive one. When you think about groups that help the needy, who do you think of? A short list might include the Mount Si Food Bank, the American Red Cross, perhaps local churches. But you should add yourself to the list, if you’ve got garden space. Community gardens are springing up all over the Valley, and their produce is increasingly being used by the local food bank to increase its healthy food choices. At the same time, the food bank is helping to educate needy families on ways to eat better. Think about it: Your produce could not only make someone’s life better, it could help that person in turn find ways to permanently improve their own life and their family’s. That’s meaningful change.

We’re often confronted with things happening locally that we’d like to see change. I think locals all want safe, accountable, efficient and thriving communities. Creating such places is easier than you think. All it takes is one gradual, personal change at a time.


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