In my previous post, Among Friends, I wrote about recent travels to England and Wales. I had gone to the UK for a Quaker (Society of Friends) writing conference. I added on touring in Cumbria (the “cradle of Quakerism”) plus a stop in London to attend Britain Yearly Meeting. Throughout those two weeks, I felt that I was not only among Friends, but also “friends,” as I was warmly greeted on buses, trains, and walking trails; in restaurants, coffee shops and pubs; and at inns, bookshops, museums, and galleries.
As always, I was happy to return to my home on Lopez Island. I carried a few souvenirs, many photos, and a journal filled with reflections—and a potent reminder of the importance of hospitality. I experienced the generosity of being welcomed by local residents everywhere I went, and I resolved to be a better host as the tourist season ramps up here at home.
I’ll have many opportunities to shake out the welcome mat; last summer, over 90,000 visitors stopped here. This year, I feel more prepared, thanks to my recent experience as the “visitor” and to the inspiration and wisdom of five Lopez Island women.
Last week, an email arrived announcing a Go Fund Me campaign to support a “Lopez Welcome Card.” Created by Nancy Bingham, Joyce Brinar, Callie North, Sorrel North, and Pat Torpie, the 6” x 9” card is, as they describe it, “…a folksy welcome card from the locals, with interesting facts and some suggestions of how to tread lightly on the land.”
Nancy’s gorgeous depiction of local flora and fauna serves as a frame to informative facts about the island’s natural and fragile environment and how visitors can help steward it.
The women set the initial goal at $1,000 to cover printing for approximately 12,000 cards. Supporters responded to the team’s suggestion that “… if we treat them as our guests rather than tourists, we believe they will respond in kind. We have all been visitors somewhere, and it’s nice to feel welcome.” Within 24 hours, the request was fulfilled!
With that show of support in just one day, the team revised their goal to $2,000 in order to print enough welcome cards for the entire summer season. Once again, the community came through and met that challenge; soon the cards will be distributed to the Chamber of Commerce, ferry landing, vacation rental properties, public parks, and local businesses.
Having just traveled to new places, I’m more aware than ever of how my ignorance about local issues and needs can impact a community; and still, I received a warm welcome. I want to be that kind of host, and I believe most people want to be respectful visitors. This exquisite card will help us all.