Teen camping in tree to protest Bainbridge Island development

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. -- In the darkness before dawn on Monday, a 19-year old college student shimmied more than 60 feet up a Douglas Fir and she says she isn't budging.

Chiara D'Angelo said she's been practicing climbing trees for just this protest against mall sprawl on Bainbridge Island, saying, "I'm prepared to stay up here a pretty darn long time."

D'Angelo has food, water, books, a guitar, a sleeping bag, a cellphone and solar charger to keep her occupied as she expresses her "distaste for malls and for what this would bring to the community." She is demonstrating against the development of a 72,000 square foot mall off High School Road. Key Bank and Walgreens would be anchors in the project.

The teen's tree sitting is stirring attention and vigils on the island from supporters who say a new mall would take away business from stores downtown and destroy 830 trees in the process.

David Korten lives a block away from the site and says a mall would be convenient but unconscionable.

"It's needlessly destroying natural habitat, but it is also part of the force that is destroying our downtown, which is the center of the community," said Koten.

Debra D'Angelo said she was surprised her daughter would or could climb a tree to make a point, but she's supportive. She said the Cleveland, Ohio developer is giving Chiara until 4 p.m. Tuesday to come down or risk arrest.

"How could someone who climbs a tree be arrested but not someone who arbocides 830 of them for cement and more consumerism?" the worried mother said.

D'Angelo plans to come down from the tree Tuesday afternoon. On Monday night she said it was difficult to spend so many hours in such a small area, but she said the support she's received has made it easier.

"I have community underneath me, supporting me, backing my voice," she said. "Community of all ages, friends I've known for a very long time, friends I've just met. I feel very supported up here and that's been a blessing"

Key Bank has not yet responded to our request for reaction. The D'Angelo and other demonstrators say if the development goes forward, they vow to boycott the mall's businesses for at least 7 years.