Reader view: The circle of reciprocity

Daniel Johnson

The Coast Salish tribes served as stewards of the land and sea in this region for more than 10,000 years. Their culture of care and respect for all living things sustained them allowing their communities to thrive. We can learn from them.

The principle of reciprocity in nature and in life is the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit. The principal of a virtuous cycle in business and science is a related concept where an upward spiral of potential is created when with each success you garner more resources which, in turn, allow you to achieve greater and greater successes.

This relationship is perhaps most evident in nature. The trees and gardens we plant can restore habitat, heal damage to the land, purify the air and water, detoxify environmental pollutants, and help mitigate climate change. The earth will provide for us – if we nurture it.

Author Robin Wall Kimmerer eloquently writes about the circle of reciprocity in her book Braiding Sweetgrass:  “In the Potawatomi way, it is the honored one who gives the gifts, who pile the blanket high to share good fortune with everyone in the circle. The well-being of one is linked to the well-being of all. In a culture of gratitude, everyone knows that gifts will follow the circle of reciprocity and flow back to you again. Both the honor of giving and the humility of receiving are necessary halves of the equation.”

When we invest in our relationships, our friends and family lift us up. When we invest in our bodies by eating well and exercising, we build resilience, allowing us to live active, happy, healthy lives.

The transformation of the Edmonds Senior Center into the new Edmonds Waterfront Center is a powerful example of the circle of reciprocity. Countless volunteers and more than eight hundred donors have contributed to this project. Together we have raised $15,873,000 toward our $16,750,00 goal – just $877,000 left to go! The Waterfront Center is thriving and will serve as a place to connect, learn, and celebrate for generations to come.

The things we take care of will take care of us.

We invite you to join us on May 12 for a ribbon cutting and celebration. People will gather between 10:30 and 11 a.m. followed by a brief ribbon cutting. The community will then be invited into the banquet room for program where Rick Steves will provide the keynote message. A complementary box lunch will be provided for those who register on the EWC website:

Thank you for helping make this possible.

— By Daniel Johnson, CEO
Edmonds Waterfront Center

  1. I’m looking forward to this community celebration at Edmonds state of the art waterfront center on May 12th.

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