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Promo video wonders ‘Why not Whidbey?’

The question is only three words and allows for hours’ worth of explanation.

Why not Whidbey?

Late last year, Russell Sparkman presented to the Langley Economic Forum this very question. It was followed by the charge to encourage people, ideally young couples and families, to consider moving to Whidbey Island.

Now, he’s taking that idea and trying to make a promotional video through crowdsource funding. Sparkman and FusionSpark Media launched a Kickstarter campaign, a website for online fundraising, to generate $30,000 — with an additional $5,000 from Langley if it hits its goal — to produce and disseminate a three-minute video touting the reasons place-agnostic professionals should give South Whidbey a look.

“If we work to make them aware, we’ll have people on the mainland asking the question, ‘Why not Whidbey?’ ” Sparkman said.

“This is a long-term economic development vision,” he added.

A culture shift is already subtly occurring on South Whidbey, according to Sparkman. He cited several people and families that fit the description of having a career that does not bind them to an office or a location, instead utilizing high-speed internet to manage their business. On the Kickstarter page, families like the Racicots and Kalakala Co.’s Amanda Moore and Drew Christie share their stories about choosing to live on Whidbey. Sparkman said he personally knows two dozen families that fit the bill.

“It’s already happening here,” Sparkman said. “We’re just wanting to increase the size of it.”

Ron Nelson, executive director of the Island County Economic Development Council, listed four reasons attracting knowledge-based workers and information technologies professionals to Whidbey is of benefit, in an emailed statement. Having people who work from home or in shared workspaces means business parks or multistory office buildings are not needed, preserving the rural character of Island County. The average pay of $60,000 for knowledge-based workers is a living wage and not subject to fluctuations like construction and tourism. Infrastructure such as sewers for large businesses does not exist, and would not be necessary.

The funding campaign lasts until Sept. 7. At that point, if the $30,000 goal is reached, the project will move forward to tell the story of why young families and couples should choose South Whidbey. If not, the money returns to the contributors, and the video project goes on hold. But Sparkman said there is no better time than now.

“It’s been the right time, for a long time,” he said, citing growth in the Freeland area, a revitalization of Langley’s downtown commercial core, and Clinton’s re-branding of itself as a locally-sourced food mecca.

 

To date, 23 backers have donated a total of $3,975

— approximately 13 percent — with about a month left.

 

Donors and supporters can visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/1246999867/why-not-whidbey.

 

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