IRIS working on legacy project

In September of 2016, Kieth Finkbeiner describes the role his local history class students would play in helping IRIS review a set of transcripts of interviews with Douglas County residents that were completed between 2006-2014 as part of the Gathering Our Voice program. Their feedback on these interviews will be used by IRIS to help shape the 2020 legacy project and the associated classroom curriculum. (Provided photo/Nancy Warner)


By Nancy Warner
Contributing writer

The Initiative for Rural Innovation & Stewardship (IRIS) has started distilling lessons gleaned from over 500 stories they have gathered in North Central Washington since 2005 and creating a multi-platform book, “Thinking Like a Community,” that the nonprofit aims to release in fall 2020.

“Thinking Like a Community” is being designed to foster sustainable rural communities in NCW by highlighting success stories that enhance a sense of belonging, inspire action, and build community. By connecting stories about success from the diverse places across the region, the book will provide a resource and springboard for action, regardless of how long one has lived here. It is being designed to promote whole community thinking, to show how our actions can affect each other and the natural world.

Another purpose of the book will be to help people learn about what others have experienced and to craft new approaches that honor and build upon that knowledge. “Thinking Like a Community” is also being designed to inspire people to think about their own legacy — what they can pass on to the next generation that can help them be successful in this place.

(Provided image)

To help with this effort, IRIS is seeking volunteers from across the region to help transcribe some of the 300 recorded interviews they have gathered so far. Once completed, individual transcriptions are valuable for archiving, writing, and production. Together all of these transcripts, combined with other success stories and resources, will form a legacy that will help the next generation build on examples of what has worked well in the past.

Transcribing can be done remotely, from anyplace in the region. To volunteer or to get more information about the project, contact me at or 888-7374.

IRIS is proud to acknowledge the following 2020 Partners including the Port of Douglas County, Community Choice, Wenatchee Valley College and The Wenatchee World.

Nancy Warner is program coordinator for the Initiative for Rural Innovation & Stewardship (IRIS) and legacy project director.

IRIS fosters sustainable rural communities in NCW by gathering and sharing success stories that enhance a sense of belonging, inspire action, and build community. We believe that thriving communities in a healthy environment create success. For more information, visit