Environmental, Social, and Economic Sustainability at Open Space for Arts and Community

Striving for a more Sustainable Community and World

Painting of hands emerging from ground holding vegetables
Artwork featured in The Mural Project, a community art installation on display at Open Space for Arts and Community. Art by Madeleine Schroeder. Art Photography by Michelle Bates.

From the beginning, Open Space for Arts and Community has striven to incorporate the three pillars of sustainability, environmental, economic, and social/cultural, into all of our programs and events.

Environmental Sustainability

An emphasis on environmental sustainability is woven into our DNA. The first major decision Open Space for Arts and Community made as an organization was to repurpose a retired factory into the arts and community space that you know today, rather than build from scratch. Since those early days, environmental sustainability has been at the forefront of each Open Space renovation or update.

Besides practicing environmental sustainability as an organization, we believe it is vital to use our platform whenever possible to provide a space for advocacy and discussion around the cause. We hosted activist, environmentalist, farmer, and vice-presidential candidate Winona LaDuke and local indigenous leaders for a night of live music and visual art to raise money for LaDuke’s organization Honor the Earth. Democratic congresswoman and vocal Green New Deal proponent Pramila Jayapal addressed climate change concerns at Open Space in 2018. Vashon gathered and celebrated together with us after the efforts of the Protect Our Island campaign prevented harmful widescale mining on Maury Island.

Open Space for Arts and Community is located in a repurposed Seattle’s Best Coffee factory on Vashon Island. Since 2008, the facility has become more environmentally-friendly through a series of renovations. Photo by Jack Berthiaume

Economic Sustainability

Economic sustainability generally refers to states and countries having the smallest possible number of their population living below a minimum standard level of living. At a community level, we see this pillar as a call to do what we can to create affordable events and programs and raise funds for our neighbors. One of our proudest achievements is serving as a community space for local nonprofit fundraisers. Under our roof, over 2 million dollars has been raised for causes that support the Vashon community. We are the home to Vashon Tool Library, which allows locals to save money by borrowing the tools they need, while also and encouraging environmental sustainability. During COVID-19, we created !Attention! Artists at Work, which has created work for over 60 Vashon artists and artisans who were financially impacted by the crisis.

Based in the Open Space for Arts and Community facility, the UMO School of Physical Arts encourages fitness, wellness, and youth development. Photo by Michelle Bates

Social Sustainability

The social or cultural sustainability pillar revolves around sustaining social well-being, and it’s baked into our mission to “co-create extraordinary artistic, community-building experiences that enrich and inspire all involved.” We strive to achieve this goal through youth programming like partnerships with Journeymen and Sisterhood, as well as with our own youth space, ORBIT. We encourage fitness and wellness through UMO School, Here Yoga, Gyrotonics, and by serving as the start and finish line for Vashon Ultrathon. During 2020, we hosted the Night Light Drive-In, an opportunity for families to gather distantly and affordably. Looking back at the opportunities we have had to be a place to gather, celebrate and remember, there are too many to count!

We are always in the process of figuring out how we can make our organization, and our community, as sustainable as possible. We’d love for you to join us! Please email us your questions and ideas to info@openspacevashon.com.