Summit draws success stories

Retired Douglas County PUD Commissioner Lynn Heminger and Deb Miller of Community Choice sit at a collaborative challenge table with student facilitator Cali DeFord. (Karen Larsen photo)

 

By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

Almost 130 people descended on the NCW Fairgrounds Nov. 12 for the Initiative for Rural Innovation and Stewardship (IRIS) Community Success Summit. It was a time of connecting with others from the region, hearing stories of success and discussing ideas for improvement. The theme of this year’s summit was “A Great Place to Come Home To.”

The event began with three presentations from Waterville. These were given by Waterville School students; Amanda Viebrock, owner of Waterville Family Grocery; and Eileen Bone, volunteer at the Waterville Recycling Center. Each of the students gave a brief introduction to how he or she has implemented the Leader In Me principles to be successful at school, in sports, at home and with extracurricular activities. Viebrock told of her experience studying and then working outside of Waterville, and then her return and purchase of the Waterville Family Grocery. She talked about how she is working to improve the store and to promote local shopping. Bone gave a history of the recycling center that her parents, Doc and Alice Hill, took over in 1996. She talked about how proud she is that Waterville has repeatedly had the distinction of being the Douglas County community that recycles the most pounds per capita.

Following the presentations from Waterville, there were three presentations from the region. These were given by Kristen Heidenthal, of the Fort Okanogan Interpretive Center; Santos Guadarrama, of Royal Produce; and Brent Cunderla, of the Wenatchee Valley Erratics Chapter of the Ice Age Floods Institute. Heidenthal talked about the way that the interpretive center, as well as the Colville Tribal Museum and the Chief Joseph Fish Hatchery have been able to preserve the history and traditions of native people and share these with the community. She also talked about a number of partnerships that have helped to keep the interpretive center, museum and hatchery running well.

Guadarrama, who grew up on a vegetable farm in Mexico, summarized his journey to becoming a farmer of 13 acres of vegetables in Royal City and the owner of the Royal Produce stand in Pybus Market. Guadarrama talked about how he found a home in this valley and a sense of purpose in growing and selling vegetables for the community.

Cunderla told of the process of developing the Ice Age Floods Trail to highlight the unique geology of North Central Washington. He said that the Port of Douglas County has recently paid for a reprint of the Ice Age Flood Trail brochure.

Audience members had a number of questions for the speakers. One member asked Viebrock if it is common for those who grow up in Waterville to return here. Viebrock said that she knows many who have come back. “It’s excellent. It’s good for a well-rounded community,” she said.

Another asked Bone concerning her work at the recycling center, “How many times have you wanted to quit? What’s kept you going?”

Bone answered with a common theme of the summit, and that is that her parents instilled in her a strong work ethic. Beyond that, though, she said that it is the people who keep collecting their recycling and bringing it in that keep her coming back.

Another asked Guadarrama how the English-speaking community can do a better job to include Hispanic members. Guadarrama said that people need to take risks in order to build communication and connections between the two groups. He said that he enjoys bridging a cultural divide by having his fruit stand at Pybus, where he is the only Hispanic business owner.

Many of the writers of success stories printed in a Community Success Summit special insert publication and on fliers available at the summit also gave brief summaries of their projects.

A lunch of salad, soup and pulled pork sandwiches was provided by Harvest House. During this time, many of those in attendance visited the sponsor booths that were set up around the community hall. It was also a good time to meet new friends and to talk with old friends.

As has become traditional, Julie Ashmore of the Okanogan Highlands Alliance sang the summit’s theme song she wrote called “What’s Been Done Well.”

Following this, the participants chose to join collaborative groups on themes of recruiting volunteers, developing leaders, engaging youth or reducing waste. The discussion at each table was led by one or two Waterville School students and an adult resources person. Following the discussion, a representative from each table, often a Waterville School student, stood up to give a summary of the discussion.

Nancy Warner, IRIS program coordinator, told the group that she is hoping to hear from them as some of the ideas discussed or other ideas that strengthen communities are put into practice and become new successes in the coming year. Warner said that invitations to host the 2016 Success Summit will be sent out to Quincy, Chelan, Brewster and Pateros.

Warner said that the participation of 21 Waterville School students was a highlight of this year’s summit. “It was really fun having so many students involved for the whole day,” she said. This year’s summit was different from the past in that the students were spread out in the discussion tables. This increased the intergenerational interactions. “They were fully engaged,” she said of the young people. “That’s definitely something we want to build on.”

 

Click here to read more: Waterville students take an active role in IRIS Community Success Summit

 

IRIS Board member Erin Mundinger listens as student facilitator Johnna Hope speaks at a collaborative challenge table. (Karen Larsen photo)

IRIS Board member Erin Mundinger listens as student facilitator Johnna Hope speaks at a collaborative challenge table. (Karen Larsen photo)

 

Student facilitator Jack Katovich presents a summary of his table's discussion on recruiting volunteers. (Karen Larsen photo)

Student facilitator Jack Katovich presents a summary of his table’s discussion on recruiting volunteers. (Karen Larsen photo)

 

Waterville Mayor Royal DeVaney holds the Community Success Summit baton that Waterville will keep until the 2016 summit. With him is IRIS Program Coordinator Nancy Warner. (Karen Larsen photo)

Waterville Mayor Royal DeVaney holds the Community Success Summit baton that Waterville will keep until the 2016 summit. With him is IRIS Program Coordinator Nancy Warner. (Karen Larsen photo)

 

Harvest House chef John McKivor serves pulled pork sandwiches to Summit attendees, including a group of Waterville School students. (Karen Larsen photo)

Harvest House chef John McKivor serves pulled pork sandwiches to Summit attendees, including a group of Waterville School students. (Karen Larsen photo)

 

Julie Ashmore of Okanogan Highlands Alliance sings "What's Been Done Well," the theme song for the annual IRIS Community Success Summit. (Karen Larsen photo)

Julie Ashmore of Okanogan Highlands Alliance sings “What’s Been Done Well,” the theme song for the annual IRIS Community Success Summit. (Karen Larsen photo)