When Jon Soine first heard that the Washington REALTORS were founding members of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, his reaction was not entirely enthusiastic.
“I thought, ‘Why would we want to get involved with these wild eyed environmentalists but we realized we were just looking at the same issues with different eyes,” said Jon, a realtor who is now a board member of the Coalition. “Conservation of the environment helps our quality of life, promoting family wage jobs … which build communities.”
Jon has spent 50 years enjoying the outdoors with his family, hiking and motor biking on hundreds of miles of mountain fire roads from Harts Pass to Chewelah and Republic, camping at Ross Lake and exploring the state’s many parks.
One trip that stands out for Jon is an eight-month road trip with his late wife.
“Our goal was to do our bucket list, revisiting the parks we so enjoyed and ones that we had not yet seen,” Jon said. “We spent eight of the best months of our lives travelling 15,000 miles in our motor home, as I took off a year to visit every park and area from Bellingham to the Olympic Peninsula, down the coast to the mouth of the Columbia River, up the river to Canada and then to Soldotna, Alaska.”
Jon is just as passionate about preserving places in communities’ backyards as he is about wild places.
“I often invite people to visit the Kiwanis Park in Mt Vernon that I think should be the show park of the Coalition. They can watch the patients like my aunt roll out of the nursing home on one end to watch the young kids play in the fountain, or watch the older kids play baseball or basketball, or the kids can come across the wetland paths from the Section 8 housing to play ball,” Jon said. “This is what our Coalition is all about!”
Spaces like this not only help boost property values but Jon believes they also promote a community spirit and help keep kids out of trouble by giving them a safe place to play and be social.
Jon is glad to be part of such a diverse Coalition that works with groups that wouldn’t traditionally be thought of as conservation advocates.
“We forget sometimes that these people we label in certain ways have the same goals as ours,” he said. “As a realtor, we get told we’re concreting the world over, but we want to address quality of life for the people.”
Photo of Ross Lake from North Cascades National Park on flickr.