If you haven’t been to check out the lovely, rural feel of Edison and Bow, not to mention the culinary delights you’ll find there, here’s another reason to go. Residents of the two tiny communities—just a few hundred all told—are known for truly caring about each other. It’s real, it’s tangible: drive up to the northwest corner of the county and you’ll see.

At 86-years-young, Claudia Buck still encourages Edison and Bow community members to remember to be kind every day. Photo credit: Cathleen Enns

Just how did this wide spot in the road become the Kindness Capital of Skagit County?

The Kindness Project

It all started a few years ago thanks to one Edison resident, Claudia Buck. She began the Kindness Project, as she calls it, in 2017, soon after she turned 80-years-old and just before the town turned 150. At that time, Claudia suffered a major health scare. Initially told she had pancreatic cancer—still a death sentence for most who develop the disease—she ultimately learned she had a condition that could be treated with medication. The episode led to a realization: “I want to do something that matters,” Claudia told her husband.

The Kindness Project was born. Claudia’s first move was to put signs up in her alley, along the route students take to walk to school. The signs reminded kids to make kindness a part of their day by saying something nice to someone, doing good deeds and so on. She changed the signs every couple of weeks, and talked to the children about treating others with love. “Instead of just being the old lady on the corner, the kids got to know me,” she says.

Getting Acquainted

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The kindness banner near Claudia Buck’s home in Edison, at the northwest corner of Skagit County. Photo credit: Cathleen Enns

Claudia told the children she was going to check with their parents to see if the youngsters had been kinder, and she did. When she heard an affirmative answer, she would give a simple award.

This way, she got to know more adults in town too. Kindness circulated among the Edison residents. “When my husband died a couple of years ago,” Claudia recalls, “the only thing that kept me going was the wonderful people in town.” She remembers finding treasures on her front porch, such as a piece of cake, a bunch of flowers or a note.

Encouraging Kindness

Reminders began to pop up around town. A local coffee shop kept a jar to collect money so people who couldn’t pay could still get something to eat. Claudia and her husband made “Be Kind” signs for businesses. “Thirty were claimed in a half hour,” she remembers. A “wall of kindness” chalk board went up where people could leave messages. And Claudia asked local artist Katie Walton to paint signs to post along Bow Hill Road proclaiming Edison “The Kindness Town.”

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Signs heading in and out of Edison proclaim the community, “the kindness town.” Photo credit: Cathleen Enns

The residents of Bow, right next door, became part of the kindness movement. The town’s Facebook page is called, “Bow, Washington: The Kindness Community,” and it is used by residents to support each other. In fact, it’s how Julia Phillip, owner of Sisters Espresso in Bow, met Claudia. Julia posted about someone who needed to pack up to move, and Claudia volunteered to help. “That kind of behavior creates a community,” Julia feels. “People are drawn to places filled with love. Claudia has really been the catalyst.”

Karen Molenaar Terrell, who also lives in Bow, met Claudia through the Facebook group also. “I think she is wonderful: kind, generous, open-hearted and genuine. Her kindness project has added so much to our community,” Karen shares.

Caring for Others

Claudia was born in San Francisco, but “after that, I always liked living in the country,” she explains. She married her husband, Cal, more than 50 years ago on Valentine’s Day. Each came into the relationship with four children. When Claudia wanted to go back to school to become a nurse, Cal not only encouraged her, he made eight lunches to order every day for the blended family.

If you spot Claudia out and about in Edison or Bow, she’ll give you a Kindness Project business card. Photo credit: Catheen Enns

The couple moved around a bit before coming to Washington. They settled for a few years in Friday Harbor, then moved inland to Sedro-Woolley. During this time, Claudia worked in doctors’ offices, and she volunteered as well. She made deliveries for the Helping Hands Food Bank, and she helped out at Habitat for Humanity. She even cleaned a church bathroom until the pandemic put an end to that.

“Where People Stay Friends”

Claudia’s daughter Cindi lives in Edison, and Claudia got to know the town on visits. “It’s the kind of place I like,” Claudia remarks, “where people stay friends.” She moved to town and continued in her helping profession until last year, “caring for people younger than me!”

At 86-years-old, she’s not finished caring for others. Claudia has a trip to California planned to settle an old friend’s estate. While Claudia met and married Cal—raising eight children, 26 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren—friend Lona was enjoying a stylish, single life as a flight attendant, traveling the world. The two stayed friends over the years. Though she does not relish the idea of taking charge of Lona’s possessions and estate, Claudia will do this for her friend. Lona had no family, and as Claudia puts it, “there’s no one else to do it.”

The people of Edison and Bow believe that humans generally do want to be kind, but sometimes need reminding. Plan a visit to these two sweet communities and you’ll remember the lesson for a long time to come.

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