Author Archive for TwispWorks – Page 2

Welcome to the Board, Kathy!

Kathy Borgersen recently joined the TwispWorks Board of Directors. We are thrilled to have her!

Kathy is the owner of Sunflower Catering and Main Event Rentals, businesses making their home on the TwispWorks campus. Kathy is also a third-generation resident of the Methow Valley. She brings her love of the Valley to everything she does!

A Toast to Outgoing Board Member Joanna Bastian

Joanna BastianA toast to outgoing board member Joanna Bastian! Joanna has shared immense time, talent, and expertise with TwispWorks over her six-year tenure on the board. We especially appreciated her keen eye for detail, wit, and wisdom. She consistently invited the board and TwispWorks on the whole to consider the impacts of our work while still using the long history of the Valley as a base for our future steps. We will miss you, Joanna! And we wish you all the best!

What Happens Next? Reflections from Program Director Julie Tate-Libby

Time flies! It’s hard to imagine that three years have passed since I started at TwispWorks. During this time, we’ve seen unprecedented change—a global pandemic, fire seasons that forced hundreds to evacuate, and more people moving to the Methow. Home prices are skyrocketing, the trails are crowded, and many people share the sense that things are changing forever.

I certainly did not anticipate these events when I started as Program Director, nor could I have imagined our community’s response and the outpouring of generosity that took place. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, TwispWorks facilitated the Small Business Emergency Grant, which, thanks to hundreds of generous donations from the community distributed over $138,000 to 77 businesses over the course of two years. We also participated in multiple advocacy projects including childcare, housing, and climate change initiatives, and we heard from over 1,000 residents who responded to the surveys we launched for A Comprehensive Economic Study of the Methow Valley I am proud to have been a part of these endeavors.

I also have mixed feelings about the future of the Methow. I moved here when I was 12 years old. We lived on a farm in Carlton, and I attended Liberty Bell High School. Back then, there was no Nordic ski program, and I had never heard of Methow Trails. Most people skied the fields or backwoods behind their houses in jeans. We couldn’t imagine paying for something so commonplace. The first fire season I remember was 1988, and after that, 1994. These were anomalies rather than the norm.

Over the years, I’ve left and returned many times. I’ve owned businesses and sold them, waited tables, cleaned houses, taught at our community college, and raised two daughters. My role at TwispWorks has been one of many hats in the Methow Valley, and my perspective is personal as well as professional. The landscape has changed since I was young. Most of my favorite places have burned. I don’t know that my daughters will be able to move back to the place they call home. We’re all aware of population growth, scarce water resources, climate instability, and the increasing divide between the haves and have-nots.

On the other hand, a tiny part of me is excited. Given the dialog and energy I’ve seen with affordable housing and the recent Rural Changes series that we are cohosting with the Methow Conservancy, I feel that anything is possible. With the community we have right now, we just might be able to enact the kind of change that could not only preserve the character of this place but could also serve as a model for other communities and other places.

If I could wave a magic wand and imagine anything for the Methow Valley, it would be this: Ten years from now, we would have a small but thriving economy based on locally sourced food and value-added products. Farms would become the prominent feature of the Valley floor. Tourists and residents alike would partake in farm tours and learn about food processing, canning, weeding, natural fertilizers, animal husbandry, and viticulture. A commuter trail for bikes and recreationalists would run from Carlton to Mazama. Local kids would hop on the trail to get to the next town. Volunteer groups and organizations would launch a full-scale rehabilitation plan to clean up the forests that have burned. Downed timber and invasive weeds would be cleared out and replaced t with native plants. Grocery stores would carry local meats, cheeses, and produce—affordable for any household. Electric charging stations would be the norm and not the anomaly, and people wouldn’t have to put 25,000 miles a year on their cars to commute to work. Tourists would visit, but not as many of them (there wouldn’t be 250 cars at Blue Lake trailhead). They’d learn about the place when they visited through volunteer days on the trail systems. All restaurants and cafes would adopt compostable utensils and paper products. Compost bins in town and along trails would be commonplace, along with recycling. We would have adequate elder housing with a strong workforce of young adults to care for them as they age in place, and a medical center for emergencies. We would have small, quality daycares in each town, and a population balanced in age and racial demographics.

There are many other details I could add to my wish list, and I’m sure I didn’t capture all of them. I bet you have a list of your own. If the last three years have taught us anything, it’s that change doesn’t have to be slow. If we could get most of the population to wear masks to help slow the spread Covid-19, we can certainly enact positive change to meet the needs of our time. Along with TwispWorks and other organizations, the Methow Valley is blessed with a unique combination of exceptionally talented people with the means and will to create a better future. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Aloha, Julie!

When she moved to the Methow Valley at age twelve, Julie Tate-Libby became obsessed with a home of her own and exploration to places unknown. The power of place has been with her from her days as a young girl playing near Puckett Creek to a young mother and wife restoring a homestead at Libby Creek to the welcoming gardens of her current home on Twisp River. Companion to this deep rootedness is her relentless curiosity. As a teenager her journey took her to Nepal where she discovered her deep faith. (Pro Tip: You can read about her time in Nepal in The Good Way, her debut memoir, which was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award.) As a young woman, she traveled to New Zealand to receive her PhD in anthropology with a focus on amenities migration.

With that pedigree (along with her experience of owning two Winthrop businesses!), it is easy to see why Julie was the natural choice to continue her journey at TwispWorks as Program Director. In 2019, coming up on its tenth year, TwispWorks had achieved the physical goals of establishing a renovated and fully operational campus. At just the right time, along came Julie to help answer the question of what the next decade would look like for the organization.

Naturally, the anthropologist in her wanted to hear from the community, and Julie’s first task was to conduct listening sessions up and down the Methow Valley. True to the TwispWorks mission to “increase the economic and cultural vitality of the Methow Valley” Julie was interested in exploring what exactly that economy was made of and how it impacted all the denizens of this special place. The result was a triumph—with over a thousand responses from the community and data from multiple sources she gave shape to some of our guesses and helped us all understand this ever-changing Valley, so we can be sure to take our best care for this place and its people. (Pro tip #2: You can read A Comprehensive Economic Study of the Methow Valley, the culmination of Julie’s research on the TwispWorks website or pick up a paper copy by donation at Methow Valley Goods.)

After nearly four years of building TwispWorks’ Methow Investment Network, creating an emergency grant program, and working to build a diverse economy in the Methow Valley, Julie has decided to embark on her next journey. She will focus on her upcoming book, her family, and new questions of place while she’s caring for her Methow Valley flower beds, jogging through the volcano near her Hawaii-home, or teaching anthropology and sociology classes at Wenatchee Valley College. One thing is for sure, her bright personality and curious nature will open new doors for her wherever she goes.

Julie will be missed deeply by her friends and colleagues, the TwispWorks Board and our broader community. She has sparked a conversation that will long outlast her tenure and for that we are deeply grateful. Aloha, Julie as you journey to your next best place! (Pro tip #3: The title of Julie’s forthcoming new book is buried somewhere in that last sentence. Stay tuned!)

– Written by TwispWorks’ former executive director Don Linnertz

Education Spotlight: MVSD Career and Technical Education Classes

ILC welding students get a lesson on blacksmithing from Barry StrombergerWhat they do: Methow Valley School District offers five different CTE (Career and Technical Education) classes on the TwispWorks campus. Two automotive classes and three welding classes.

Who they serve: These classes serve approx. 50 students from both the Independent Learning Center and Liberty Bell High School.

Why the TwispWorks campus is a great fit: TwispWorks is a great location for our program. The ability to have internship opportunities on the same campus as school is a very unique situation.

What’s making them smile:
The students and teachers of the ILC did a secret santa exchange this year for the holidays. The kids really enjoyed this. They are also happy the snow is melting. Seems like a lot of our students are not fond of the snow.