Friends of Freeland offer gifts and a healthier future

Longtime Whidbey potter Robbie Lobell’s covered pots are just some of the items to be offered at the Friends of Freeland Arts and Crafts Sale.

What can be done to help the economy on Whidbey Island?

It’s beginning to sound like an old refrain, but buying local is the most immediate way to help everyone.

Avoid the mall and check out the many gift sales all over the South End, including the Friends of Freeland Arts and Crafts Sale.

Now in its fifth year, the Friends of Freeland sale goes a long way toward helping the Freeland area.

The gift sale is a major fundraiser for the organization.

The sale matches local artists and craftspeople with volunteers who man the booths at Freeland Hall for a wonderful offering of artwork, holiday baked goods and crafts.

And by buying at the sale, patrons make a significant contribution to the nonprofit’s operating fund for the coming year.

Shoppers will find everything from hand-bound books to finely crafted bows and arrows. The sale also includes hand-woven and sewn textiles, ceramic garden items, clay tiles, handbags, art gourds, jewelry, beads and children’s gifts.

Donations for the sale have been abundant.

Glass Eye Studio of Seattle has donated 36 handblown glass ornaments and Langley’s own Angel Chocolates has donated gift certificates for its delectable chocolates.

The Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner has donated a generous number of brand-new art books to the sale featuring Northwest artists Philip McCracken, Leo Kenney, Clayton James, Paul Horiuchi, James Martin, Richard Gilkey and Morris Graves. Each book includes two free passes to the museum.

Friends of Freeland bakers prepare a sumptuous array of baked items including cookies, bars, quick breads, cakes and tempting holiday specialties while local coffee brewers contribute special holiday blends that are packaged and ready to brew or give to those coffee lovers in your life.

Richard Rhydes, currently the acting president of the Friends of Freeland board of directors, has a hopeful view of Freeland’s future.

“Charting the growth of Freeland over the past 20 years is akin to watching chapters unfold for a new land-use textbook entitled ‘The American Small Town for the 21st Century,’” Rhydes said.

“Because of its size, location and present zoning, Freeland is going to remain a very healthy commercial center for many years to come.”

Great strides have been made by Friends of Freeland that include the development of sidewalks and landscaping of four blocks of downtown Main Street, investigation of incorporating Freeland as a city, the successful stewardship of a 40-acre wetland with trails, and the construction of walkways throughout Freeland’s downtown core, supporting pedestrian access and safety.

This year, local businesses have stepped up to help underwrite the expenses of hosting the sale.

Key sponsors this year are the US Bank and Island Athletic Club. Friends of Freeland is also grateful to Northern Energy, Skagit Farmers Supply, Mukilteo Coffee and Whidbey Island Architects for their strong support.

The folks in Freeland are serious about moving the area toward a long future of healthy living and prosperity.

A sale may seem like just a sale, but the deeper benefits of the Friends of Freeland Arts and Crafts sale hold positive repercussions for the whole island.

American architect Frank Lloyd Wright wrote a book called “The Living City” in which he described the ideal urban environment as being a metropolis surrounded by many small, self-sustaining villages. A semi-rural lifestyle was available, Wright said, where a family could develop and benefit from a sense of community.

The Friends of Freeland aim to follow Wright’s advice.

“I believe Freeland more than fits this description and that with nurturing and local guidance from its citizens, Freeland will continue to be a most desirable and healthy place to live for young and old alike,” Rhydes said.

The Friends of Freeland welcome anyone on to the board to help guide and shape Freeland’s next 20 years.

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The sale happens from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23.

Freeland Hall is located at 1515 Shoreview Ave. in Freeland.