In the scenic Olympic Peninsula town of Port Angeles, Washington, businesses were struggling to survive the national economic meltdown. The six-week Hood Canal Bridge closure from May 1 to June 15, 2009, temporarily slowing the economy-driving flow of tourists from the Greater Seattle area to the Peninsula, was enough to make these businesses brace for the knock-out punch. Instead, residents of this feisty former logging community banded together, organized and launched an unprecedented drive toward sustainability. The plan: use the six-week period of isolation to transform the downtown core into a colorful, vibrant tourist destination that would draw visitors across the newly opened bridge.
In this e-Volunteerism feature article, Deborah A. Black reveals the step-by-step process that allowed a group of dedicated Port Angeles volunteers to take an ambitious community idea and turn it into a community success that exceeded all expectations. Today, the town has never looked better, the volunteer spirit has never been stronger and the tourists are coming back to Port Angeles.