Do you know Emma Amiad? She is a HUGE part of the history of Vashon. She is about to retire and is moving away this summer. As she steps into retirement and her next adventure, we wanted to sit down with her to learn more about the impact and legacy that she leaves behind. We (Tea and Lisa) are both fairly new to Vashon, so this was our first encounter with Emma and WOW! So many stories, so many things that she’s been involved in, it was truly and honor and inspiration to learn more about her and all the work she’s done for our little island.
Read on to learn more!
VH: From where do you hail?
Emma: I was born in California, lived in Seattle 10 years, moved to Vashon 32 years ago.
VH: How did you land on Vashon?
Emma: I came with a vegetarian friend who had heard the island had a vegetarian cafe (Sound Foods) and feel in love.
VH: Tell us all about your business and some of the work you’ve done on Vashon.
Emma: I have been in real estate 30 years, 25 of those years as my own business specializing in representing buyers only. To represent buyers who seemed under represented. I went into real estate so that I would be able to work on the island.
I’ve done alot with the Vashon Audobon Society and Vashon Land Trust,
Vashon Parks – I was on the board a couple of years after being founded. 10 years on the board, most of that as the president. Negotiated the parks from King County to Vashon – it was tough and a big messy fight, but is some of the work ath I am most proud of.
I worked on the committee to redo Ober park – the theatre space, the children’s space – paid for 2 trees there.
Started Friends of Point Robinson, and was very involved in Fern Cove.
I worked with the park district and land trust at the same time – at the time no one was paying attention. Land trust is private – park district is public money – I combined those efforts many times – going down to Olympia and presenting information with local scientists and lawyers that was very compelling. We had the scientific background and attorneys who could persuade what we were writing to make sense to the politicians.
I helped to create the Vietnam veterans memorial.
During the war – I was involved in and underground anti-war newspaper. It’s was a dangerous thing. I was nervous about giving the speech for the memorial because I wanted to say why I was against the war, but I feel that it’s important to honor those we lost to that war. It was the early 90s. The thing that was interesting about that day – there was a scruffy group of guys in the back… turns out they were all vets. In the course of the next week, they would come up to me in the grocery store and thank me. There were only 3 of us that put this together. Al Bradley, me and another guy. People were kind of against me saying something anti-war during a veteran event – but it was awesome. I would be at the IGA in the dairy section and some scruffy looking guy with an old army jacket and hair down to his ass would tap me on the shoulder and say “thanks for what you said at that speech”.
I don’t need credit for all of it, it was just the work that I thought was important.
VH: What inspired you to get so involved with the community?
Emma: There are two guiding things in my life – one, you never know the impact that you have on people and two, you can do a very small thing that has a huge impact. If you are a leader, then your job is to empower the people following you. A lot of people who are in position of power, I mentored them into that. I am proud of that. That is so satisfying – that is more satisfying than getting a plaque that the pigeons are going to shit on.
My hope would be that any organization that I’ve left will develop the leadership to keep going on. I told people at a recent Land Trust meeting – that long range planning is 50 years, not 5. If you can’t plan through your lifetime, then your organization won’t last.
VH: What is your superpower?
Emma: Not sure I have one. Leadership ability I guess. (uh, yes, we totally agree!)
VH: When you have company visiting the island, where do you like to take them?
Emma: Parks, Land trust preserves, cultural events.
VH: What’s next for you?
Emma: I am retiring this summer and moving to Sequim – for better air quality, mainly. But, I’m looking forward to poodle play dates!
Thank you Emma! It was such a joy to meet you and listen to your AMAZING stories. We are super grateful for all that you’ve done for our community and wish you happiness as you move into your new community. Our guess is that it won’t take long before you start getting involved and making an impact up there! (they are so lucky) You are such an incredible person and you’ll will be missed by all of us here on Vashon.