IRIS Success Summit builds community around regional achievements

(Provided graphic)

?If you think you can, you often do,? one participant at the NCW Community Success Summit held Nov. 15 in Pateros noted. While she was referring to ways in which young people can step into leadership roles, her words seemed equally relevant to the 130 people from across the region who gathered in the Pateros school gym to share successes and reaffirm the importance of community.

The Initiative for Rural Innovation & Stewardship (IRIS) believes that we can work together to build healthier communities through community engagement and storytelling; the experiences and lessons shared at the summit along with the connections and possibilities for collaboration that emerged, will help us do just that.

Pateros Mayor Carlene Anders accepts the IRIS Summit baton from Chelan Mayor Mike Cooney. The 2017 summit was held in Chelan. (Provided photo/Chris Majors)

If you missed the summit in Pateros, would like to build on conversations started there, or are inspired to continue highlighting community successes, IRIS invites you to host a mini-summit in your community. Just download the discussion guide, the 2019 Success Story Exchange form, and a digital copy of the 2018 supplement at? You can also pick up a printed copy of the supplement at any one of the North Central Regional Library branches.

?In a time when problems can feel so large, connecting with others who have already made things happen makes positive change seem very much within reach,? one summit participant pointed out.

Mayor Carlene Anders kicked off the 2018 day of storytelling reflecting on how the Pateros community continues to work together to recover from the 2014 Carlton Complex Fire?? a disaster that destroyed 152 homes across the school district and tested many people?s resolve to stay.

?This gym was used to serve three meals a day for six weeks after the fire,? she told attendees; this situation brought the community together on a regular basis and helped identify community needs that could be matched with resources.

Doug Provo helps facilitate his table’s discussion during the Success Story Exchange. (Provided photo/IRIS)

The town?s motto and tagline for the summit, ?Pateros Strong,? is an expression of the community?s resolve to recover.

?To be strong, you have to make choices,? Anders said explaining that most people did decide to stay?? to dig in, make a difference, and work with their neighbors to help build a stronger, more resilient community.

Following a presentation about the history of Pateros by students from Joy McCulley?s Washington State History class, community members Mark Miller and Smoker Marchand teamed up to describe the creation of the Methow Monument, a prominent new exhibit on the Pateros waterfront.

Forged in metal by Marchand, a member of the Methow Tribe, this monument fills a long-standing need to provide historic and cultural information about the Methow Indians who lived in the area for up to 13,000 years prior to settlement. Marchand said his aunt summed up the significance of the monument when she told him, ?You brought our people home.?

Success stories from the broader region were featured in another panel including Teresa Zepeda and Lizbeth Rivera from the Community for the Advancement of Family Education (CAF?), who shared their success in cultivating young leaders. Located in the Wenatchee Valley, CAF?regularly brings families together to share food, enjoy cultural activities, and to participate in youth leadership development.

The North Central Regional Library bookmobile was parked outside the school. Tours were offered at the conclusion of the summit. (Provided photo/IRIS)

Bringing people together around nature is something Julie Vanderwal with the Okanogan Highlands Alliance has done well. Now going into its ninth year, Vanderwal talked about how ?Highland Wonders? celebrates the natural history of the lands and waters of this unique region all while strengthening relationships among the community along the way.

Luke Ellington with the North Central Regional Library talked about how they have expanded the bookmobile program that provides better access for residents across NCW with limited access to one of the 30 branch libraries. Ellington also offered tours of the bookmobile parked outside the school doors following the summit. The bookmobile will also have 2018 supplements available for the public.

All together, these and more than 50 other stories shared during small table discussions co-facilitated by Pateros students affirmed what a caring, learning and respectful community still exists here.

Summit participant Maggie Reilly said, ?I wasn?t sure what to expect,? of her first summit, ?but I found it to be both refreshing and inspiring.? Another attendee echoed her sentiments adding that ?it certainly opened my heart and mind to the greater rural setting of the region, especially the host town of Pateros.?

IRIS gathers success stories that contribute to the kind of community we want to live in?? one that maintains diverse, healthy ecosystems, fosters a high quality of life for all, and bridges cultural and political divides. Besides the summit, these stories are shared in a printed supplement, through local newspaper features, and via the Success Story Exchange on the IRIS website.

By 2020, IRIS plans to distill much of what they have learned to produce a web-based and print book, ?Thinking Like a Community,? that will connect success stories like those from Pateros and the greater region to provide a springboard for action that can help the next generation thrive.

IRIS is proud to acknowledge our 2020 Legacy Partners including the Port of Douglas County, Community Choice, The Wenatchee World, and Wenatchee Valley College. Annual sponsors for this event include the City of Pateros, Pateros School District, Craft3, Molina Healthcare, Okanogan Conservation District, The Nature Conservancy, Coordinated Care, Washington Department of Agriculture, Washington Department of Ecology, Economic Alliance, North Central Regional Library, North Central Washington Economic Development District, and the Bridge Research and Innovation Center.

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?


Nancy Warner is program coordinator for The?Initiative for Rural Innovation & Stewardship in Wenatchee.?