Welcome to Meet The Locals! Where each week or so we feature an in-depth interview with a local resident of Bellingham. We will highlight a specific neighborhood and hear the inside scoop on what makes it unique and why so many people don’t want to leave!
Home, as we will discover through these conversations, is more than four decorated walls and furniture, it’s a rich web of interconnection and relationships with everything and everyone around us.
As we shed light on people’s specific stories and experiences, you will be infused with energy and hope to seek out places where you (and your family) can flourish!
Now, I’d like to introduce you to our guest today, Lindsey Kiniry!
Lindsey and her husband met at Western Washington University, then married right after college and moved to a small condo in Sudden Valley, about 15 minutes from downtown Bellingham. After 10 years, they decided it was time for a change as they realized they would need more space to support their growing family.
Read on to find out…
-the fun and simple way her and her family give back to the local community,
-the list of traditions her specific street created and partakes in all year round,
-what she appreciates most about living in Bellingham,
-and her encouragement and recommendation for anyone wanting to visit (hint: plan a whole perfect day!)
Welcome Lindsey! So what initially drew you to the Puget neighborhood?
I loved being on the edge of town! From Puget, it’s a quick hop into downtown, a meandering drive to Fairhaven and close proximity to two lakes. I can walk out my door and be on a hiking trail within 5 minutes.
I also love that we are tucked in a little remote area where there are horses in our neighbor’s backyard, a trail behind our house where a bobcat is commonly seen, and there are 3 different book boxes spanning out like spokes in the neighborhoods around mine.
Since I’m a part-time taxi driver for my kids, being in close proximity to the freeway is nice too!
What surprised you most about the neighborhood?
All the changes. About half of our neighborhood is filled with original owners who have been here for years, but then there were people who moved away for jobs or their kids grew up, and retired couples who needed a change of space. We all love where we live so much it feels strange to leave it, but then a new family or person moves in and it’s fun to get to know them too.
People keep track of each other here, even after they move.
What are your favorite parts about living here?
I love our community and how our neighbors care for one another.
For instance, my son Parker had an emergency appendectomy recently. I made a phone call to one of my neighbors and she told me, “I got this!” She came over and helped my daughter get to her appointments and soccer. And when I had to leave unexpectedly for a family emergency in October, I knew I would be gone for a few days, and on top of that my husband was also working for those days.
I called my neighbor on the way and she reassured me she would coordinate with the other neighbors to take care of my 3 kids to make sure someone was there with them every day. Dinners were organized, everyone got to all their activities, and my kids felt completely loved and cared for.
And there’s another neighbor who has three 17-year-olds who just come to everyone’s rescue, driving our kids all around to sports practices. We call them “coober” which is our word for an Uber for kids!
We have this ability to wrap one another into our daily lives and I think this is what makes a neighborhood a little different than a normal friendship.
Does your neighborhood partake in any special traditions or regular activities?
We have so many!
- Every year we do a Halloween Parade. It’s how we kick off trick or treating! Everyone gathers and walks down the street, music plays, and we throw dried leaves for confetti.
- Every summer we do a big night out on the block where everyone brings ice cream and toppings.
- We have fairly regular yet impromptu wine or beer tastings when someone stands outside with a glass of wine and then other people come out and eventually, everyone starts going house to house.
- You’ll often find parents with young kids chatting out in the cul-de-sac in their lawn chairs with their baby monitor beside them.
- And lastly, we’re always throwing random parties throughout the year!
I love this so much Lindsey! Which leads right into our next question, what makes someone a good neighbor?
A good neighbor is someone who is kind, considerate, and accepting of other’s quirks and sees it as an opportunity to work together and create something symbiotic- we are there for one another.
This summer one of our neighbors had to put down their family dog after 12 years and had it planned for the next day. It’s a dog all the kids in the neighborhood know and love.
The kids brought over their sidewalk chalk and decorated their driveway with notes about how much they loved the dog and how much he will be missed.
We all gathered together on the grass with the dog, petting him one last time, and crying together.
I think being there for one another is the most important thing we can do.
What are 3 words to describe your neighborhood?
We are considerate, as I mentioned above. We are fun, and we are proud.
We are proud of how we live together. For example, during Christmas we make sure every house has outside lights up on display for the holidays.
For you, when did your street start to feel more like a strong network of relationships, a community, a home?
It all changed for me, early on in our time here. A group of us neighbors, all in a similar stage of life with young kids. were outside talking with our baby monitors about pretty places to go if we were just traveling a short distance. We decided right then and there to go to Canada and rent a huge house for all of us.
So we all went on this vacation together, and although we only did it that one time, we became a tightly knit group of friends and neighbors after that experience.
That was years ago, but even now I see different families within our neighborhood going on vacations together and it makes me so happy!
Are there any places you visit regularly in your area?
- Definitely the Samish Crest trail by my house.
- My 15-year-old also rides our moped down to Whole Foods to do errands, grab snacks for us, or get his haircut.
- We often walk or bike to Lafeen’s for donuts or Davinci’s for the delicious sandwiches, the Philly Cheesesteak is my favorite in town.
- And since we live on the edge of the city the property behind us has 2 horses we visit with frequently. The girls who own them will sometimes walk them over to our cul-de-sac and the kids in our neighborhood love it! In fact, this summer they put on a 3-day horse camp for my daughter so she could learn how to take care of the horses.
Who have you met in your neighborhood that has most impacted your life and why?
There are two families, almost next door to us, whom I knew from college and other parts of our lives. They just happened to move into our neighborhood and I feel absolutely fortunate that we get to live life together.
But most recently, my youngest started kindergarten at a new school, and meeting other families and kids just outside of the walls of my small neighborhood – on the streets that intersect and parallel ours, I feel like we are building an empire of awesomeness that keeps getting bigger, like concentric circles.
Do you have any secret spots you like to visit in Bellingham?
I love hiking up to the top of Samish Crest trail from my house. It takes 20 minutes to get to the top and from there I can see the water, the islands, the city, and the Canadian mountains. I feel like I’m miles away from my home, but I only stepped outside my front door and took a walk.
What would say to people thinking of making the move to Bellingham?
I call Bellingham A Little Big City. It’s full of amazing spots and ease of living and once you find your pocket, you’ll settle in like you’ve been here forever.
There’s something for everyone here. I watched a now friend move here years ago and within a couple of weeks she had friends and invitations everywhere and activities she was doing. People kept saying she and her family were so great, “She really puts herself out there!”
Sometimes when I feel disconnected I think back to those comments and wonder, how can I put myself out there?
What do you appreciate most about living in Bellingham?
A few things…
- I don’t have to dress up ever, even for the fanciest events.
- I can go to the theater downtown and park within a block.
- When I run errands, I see someone I know pretty much every time.
- And lastly, there’s an event, an activity, or something to do almost every day of the year!
What is one way you stay involved in this community?
Much of the way my family engages with the community is through gardening.
We grew all the vegetables and fruit for the Southside Food Bank and we started the community garden there as well. When our family outgrew the time and effort we had for that project, we started volunteering at The Mission serving dinner once a week. When we had to stop because of COVID, we started making extra meal trays that we would deliver with the kids.
Then, something super simple that we do is grow strawberries. My husband has a theory that everyone needs to grow something inside and outside their fence to help build community.
Since our house is next to the interurban trail, we started growing our strawberries on the outside of the fence along the trail so kids and adults could pick some.
We love sitting in our backyard in the summer and listening to people taste them, or when parents coax their kids to go a little further with the promise of being at the “strawberry house” soon.
To end, here’s a quick round of questions for you to answer about Bellingham:
All-time favorite: Brandywine Kitchen
Family fun: Schweinhaus
A quick date: Black Sheep
A girl’s night: Storia Cucina
Favorite coffee shop or place to grab a quick bite?
Shirley Bird for the quick bite.
Makeworth for their coffee concoctions.
What’s one place you highly recommend in Bellingham to someone who is visiting?
Do a whole perfect local day!
Grab a coffee from Cool Beans and sip it while wandering through Big Rock Garden Park. Then hit the farmers market and grab some treats. head to Larrabee to walk the beach and meander through the trees and have a picnic. Then head to Fairhaven to window shop and get Gelato. Then (because I’m cheating) take the ferry out to Lummi Island and spend the night at an Airbnb.
What do you miss most about Bellingham when you’re away?
How easy it is to get from one cool place to the next in less than 10 minutes!
How would you define home?
Home is the place where I feel the balance between content and alive.
Lindsey lives in Bellingham with her firefighter husband and three kids. She spends her days as an artist finding time to paint between shuttling kids around. She enjoys hiking, skiing in the winter, and reading! You can find out more about her and her work at lindseykiniryart.com or @lindseykiniryart.
For more information on the Puget neighborhood, you can visit the City of Bellingham’s website here.
If you’re thinking of moving to Bellingham or Whatcom county be sure to grab a free relocation guide with useful information about the area!