Amy in the Greenway

Why the Greenway?

In the past couple of years, I’ve begun to notice the minute changes around Issaquah.  It used to be that as you drove toward the Front Street exit you could see Tiger Mountain’s lush forests and the Issaquah Plateau’s open fields.  A little while ago I noticed the first house visible from I-90.  It seemed small enough, but its impact on the view alone was staggering. More and more houses came, dropping into neat, clean rows and columns over the horizon.  Now as you drive toward the Front Street exit you can see Tiger Mountain’s lush forests and the Issaquah Plateau’s cookie-cutter houses.  I understand that people need to live somewhere, and I have nothing against the people who own these houses, but it just seems a shame to lose such a precious view and resource.  And it’s very startling to notice such changes in such a short window of time. Bessemer Mountain Road Project. It makes me think: How long would it be before another parcel of pristine forest and trail system disappeared?

That’s why I have stuck with the Greenway for as long as I have.  Because I want to help make something permanent that is open to each and every person for his enjoyment.  I want to learn, and to grow, and to help others grow, and I want to do all of that with the Mountains to Sound Greenway. I got involved with the Greenway when, in summer of 2008, I decided to look into community service organizations around Issaquah on a whim.  The first one I thought of, mostly due to the large, full-color sign on I-90, was the Mountains to Sound Greenway.  I began volunteering on a regular basis, then moved up the ladder to become a Volunteer Assistant this past year, and completed a full internship with the Greenway Trust this past summer. One of my earliest lessons was that the Greenway forms a hub, if you will, where the communities of Seattle, Issaquah, Bellevue, and most of King County can meet each other and work toward a common goal.  We look at the big picture when we work in the Greenway; how do we keep the forest healthy?  That trail you run every morning- how do we keep that from becoming a mud pit after a heavy rain? I think that sometimes we all can get a little too preoccupied with ourselves these days, and when we get caught up in our day-to-day immediate needs, we tend to get a little rougher, a little more close-minded; in essence, we get tunnel vision.

That’s why we are so blessed to have natural, clean, open green spaces to bike along or hike in.  The world is picking up speed like a runaway freight train, but the Greenway helps us see the bigger picture by giving us a way to give back. Feeling a little frustrated?  Come on out to a trail event!  You can whack away with a pulaski, or hack out the hole where a dead-man goes (don’t worry—it’s just a railroad tie).  Everybody can get involved.  You’re just as likely to run into a corporate executive on his day off as you are an elementary school teacher or a stay-at-home mom. My point is: the Greenway is far more than just a collection of lands.  It lets us blow off steam, loosen up, and get back to our roots.  It satisfies that desire to work with our hands and see the tangible, physical product like a turnpike on a trail or a field of newly-planted trees, and it offers an escape from the daily grind.

Amy Spens is a high school senior, and youth volunteer with the Mountains to Sound Greenway.