Celebrating Twisp–While in Alabama?!

Executive Director Sarah Brown and Scott Weinhold

Sometimes when I head out for a conference the effort to get there, and the work I’m leaving behind is so daunting I second-guess myself all the way to the opening event. I was recently selected to attend a US State Department Conference about rural and international affairs in Alabama, and though I had to drive through one of this winter’s many intense snowstorms to get to SeaTac, and tornadoes were forecast for Alabama, I can say with confidence all of my normal second-guessing was for naught! I made connections with people across the country with extensive rural and international experience—but the best part was at the very beginning of the conference.  

Scott Weinhold, a high-ranking State Department official, was flown in to make the opening remarks for our group, and he left some time for questions—now, if you know me you know I love to ask probing questions, especially when rural community engagement and innovation are involved. So, I raised my hand, took the mic and said, ‘My name is Sarah Brown, I’m from Twisp, Washington” and proceeded to ask my question. His response was helpful, and then he paused and said, “…and I’ve been to Twisp, Washington!” Well, I about fell out of my chair!   

During the first break I approached this official as he was making a quick departure and asked him to tell me how he got to Twisp of all places. He told a familiar story about a family wedding in Seattle with a few days extra to drive the Cascade Loop. Then he said, “We stopped in Twisp and had a great lunch at a food truck at this place that was like a park and an artist collective. We wandered around and ended up buying these two bags that I swear are indestructible and still look brand new even though we use them all the time. We kept wandering around this campus and met a woman who has a dye garden and she uses the flowers she grows to dye the scarves she makes! We took one of those home for my mom and she loves it!”  

Dear reader, you can imagine my excitement at having a big-wig State Department official tell ME how wonderful TwispWorks and our partners are! I shared this story with the (former) owner of FORK who served the meal, TwispWorks’ Economic Program Director Patrick Law, and Jonathan Baker from eqpd, and Sara Ashford of Culler Studios; we celebrated the impact having a community gathering place like TwispWorks makes in our Valley, as well as the absurdity of me traveling to a conference in Alabama to meet a foreign service official who has lived all over the world and have him celebrate the special nature of TwispWorks.  

Written by Executive Director Sarah Brown