Our Island Home on an Unruly Planet

The 2023 Bainbridge Environmental Conference took place on March 25, 2023 at Bainbridge High School. Our keynote speaker was Madeline Ostrander, author of At Home on an Unruly Planet from which the conference name took its inspiration. Madeline shared stories of individuals who are pursuing solutions to the climate crisis and affecting real change in their communities. It was an inspiring and hopeful message that we all have the ability to contribute to solutions for navigating how to live on an increasingly unruly planet.

We also recognized Dr. Lara Hansen with the Jerry and Elane Hellmuth Environmentalist of the Year award, a conference tradition. Dr. Hansen was recognized for her local, national and international work on climate adaptation to help communities, governments and organizations figure out how to prepare for and adapt to climate change impacts. Lara is also a board member of Sustainable Bainbridge and the author of the forthcoming book we can’t wait to read, Cats Against Climate Change.

Climate change is affecting not only our planet and our region, but our home of Bainbridge Island. We need to understand what that means for us as a community and individuals, and what we can do to make a positive difference for now and the future. The 2023 Environmental Conference explored dsome of the drivers of impact for our community.

During the breakout session, we collaboratively explored how climate change is affecting our community, what it means for the things (activities, livelihoods, ecosystem/environment) we love and live in, and what tangible actions we can take to help Bainbridge Island weather the climate storm.

Below is a brief synopsis of major commitments and priorities outlined by each of the seven breakout groups that took place at this conference.


  • Become a park steward and a Weed Warrior
  • Promote and implement forest management practices, targeted burns, thinning, etc.
  • Advocate for active management of forests – thin!
  • Organize a map your neighborhood group, contact Ann LeSage at COBI then get neighbors to work together on fire wise. Also map neighborhood plant diversity
  • Support funding for DNR forest protection (through Conservation Northwest, your legislators, and/or others)
  • Climate-informed management of our own lands
  • Planting vegetation that is climate change-tolerant


  • Planting for soil permeability by individual and public land owners
  • Implementing community-based, watershed-centric greywater recycling facilities
  • Advocate City for mapping of springs
  • Educate and encourage preservation of riparian vegetation and planting of tree species that will be tolerant of hotter, drier summers.
  • Advocate for pervious area requirements next to housing and other structures
  • Foster beaver redistribution/reintroductions
  • Get youth inspired/ involved in creating solutions
  • Encourage and practice water conservation including thorough increased water rates for high usage
  • Encourage wild fields rather than lawns
  • Ensure groundwater management plan includes how to respond to changes in the hydrograph due to climate change in terms of ground water recharge
  • Investigate and implement local solutions to groundwater recharge (e.g., on-site rain gardens and other mechanisms for capturing and re-infiltrating water


  • Work with Kitsap Transit on E-bike details at front of buses and on ferries and to Increase capacity for bikes on buses
  • Make BI Ride info more available
  • Commit to riding BI Ride more
  • Combine tasks/outings to reduce the no. of vehicle trips per week
  • Use BI Ride to return home from the ferry in mid-day
  • Work on safe bike/walk trails to schools and after-school activities
  • Promote safe bike trails and encourage people to get out of their cars

Other Transportation Ideas

  • Advocate for COBI to hire a transit czar to implement transportation ideas/plans
  • Increase no. of student bus riders: free rides for students/Orca cards
  • After-school buses/vanpools (Can BI School District combine efforts w/Kitsap Transit?)
  • Shuttle up and down Hwy. 305 every 10-15 mins. during commute hours
  • Continuously circulating Madison Ave. shuttle each day
  • Coordination of taxis and Ubers at transport nodes to get people to/from houses
  • Promote taxi and Uber availability at ferry for people arriving late at night
  • Fog lines on all streets to separate pedestrians from cars
  • More charging stations at Park & Rides


  • Join the Climate Smart Bainbridge challenge and encourage my neighbors to do so
  • Work to understand what is the effect of climate change on Sense of place. Aspects to consider:
    • Parks and green spaces (decompression and regeneration)
    • Education and understating of consequences.
    • Valuing multigenerational relationships and knowledge
    • Decolonization, decapitalization, shift power dynamics
    • Save and value our farms, forests, shorelines and streams
    • Role of Indigenous voices
    • How can we be more proactive/ less reactive?
    • Balance of affordable housing and maintain natural areas
    • Condensed development to support wildlife/ habitat and entire ecosystem
    • Amplify what is already working  to connect  our neighbors and community members to place


To avoid fires:

  • Perimeter defense around home
  • Metal roofs on homes

To address harm from smoke and/or fire:

  • Create/ build clean room
  • Monitor air quality and use air filters as needed (if possible use renewable energy to power)
  • Make air filters accessible for all


  • Advocate for replacing culverts with bridges
  • More bikes, Ebike and EV charging stations
  • Advocate for improving bike lanes and pedestrian paths, especially to create corridors
  • Advocate for funding and completion of STP trail
  • Allowing/accepting/promoting multifamily housing, supporting transportation and living needs to reduce local carbon footprint
  • Advocate for legislative policies for climate action
  • Open up greywater use
  • Inform home owners and developers regarding implications of climate change for their property, including fire prevention, water conservation, sea level rise & flooding, sewer/septic maintenance, and pollution caused by lawn and home care
  • Vote for climate-informed and committed candidates for public office at all levels
  • Change from oil to electric heat pump


  • Lobby to change state shoreline law to require net ecosystem gain (instead of no net loss)
  • Native plants planting parties to protect shoreline stability and habitat
  • Sea Garden Pilot Project by Hyla High School
  • Required disclosure by realtors about shoreline health as well as climate change risks
  • Improve awareness and outreach about the benefits of seaweed farming for water quality and minimizing storm damage to shorelines. Promote kelp farms.
  • Revise zoning to better protect shorelines for both marine ecosystems and human communities, includes encouraging and protecting biodiversity of shoreline species, plant and animal.