Photo courtesy of Leslee Goodman
A home is rebuilt by volunteers after the Carlton Complex fire, capturing the Methow Valley’s cooperative spirit in a scene from “Twisp: The Power of Community.”

Documentary will explore unique ‘power of community’

By Ann McCreary

Leslee Goodman describes herself as a lifelong storyteller, and the story she wants to tell now is about Twisp, and the people and ideals that make it the unique and quirky place it is.

Goodman is working on a documentary about Twisp, trying to discover “the secret sauce” that flavors life in Twisp and the Methow Valley. “It’s essentially a love letter to my adopted home,” said Goodman, who moved to the valley from California four years ago.

Called “Twisp: The Power of Community,” the film-in-progress focuses on the “people and values that make Twisp a thriving community,” said Goodman. Many of the “stars” of the film — local business owners, community leaders, artists, educators, activists — will be familiar to local residents.

Goodman said she felt an immediate kinship with the valley and its residents when she moved here. “I felt like people looked familiar, even though I didn’t know anyone. I felt, ‘This is my tribe.’”

Goodman owns a business, Alchemy on Demand, that provides public relations and media services, with an office at TwispWorks. She moved into video production after participating in Twisp’s Wild Mind documentary film camp soon after moving to the Methow Valley.

She became involved with the Long-Term Recovery Group after the Carlton Complex wildfire disaster, helping with communications about the ongoing recovery efforts. “I got to do a lot of video and tell people’s stories of loss and recovery,” she said.

She began working on the documentary almost a year ago and received a grant last year to help with the project from the Artist Trust, a nonprofit that supports artists throughout Washington.

Common goals

Goodman said she was inspired to create the documentary in part by the election of Donald Trump and what she described as “polarization and hostility” since the election. “I know those tensions exist in the Methow Valley, but we are civil. One of the reasons is we are not anonymous,” she said.

As a newcomer to the Methow Valley, Goodman said she was struck by the commitment of people living here to get along and work together toward common goals.

She said she witnessed that attitude after the Carlton Complex wildfire and in the community’s support for addressing the need for more affordable housing and childcare. “You put other issues aside and tackle the job at hand. We focus not on where we disagree, but on the job … it’s neighborliness. You look out for each other.”

Self-reliance is a key theme explored in the film, through interviews with dozens of people and footage of a wide range of activities. “It proceeds from the premise that that people in the valley are committed to figuring out how to get along — partly because of our history of geographic isolation, partly because of our back-to-back summers of wildfires,” Goodman said.

The valley has weathered uncertainty and setbacks over the years, including the closure of the Wagner lumber mill and the divisive controversy over a proposed ski resort in the upper valley, Goodman said. Valley residents have learned that “it’s up to us to figure out what kind of valley/community we want to create and preserve, what values we wanted to emphasize … because no one else is going to do it for us,” she said.

“Our response to those challenges has given rise to support for family-oriented recreation, the arts, education, and local food and other producers,” Goodman said. “The wildfires revealed our need for affordable housing, strengthened communication infrastructure, diversified economic development and ongoing emergency preparedness — and groups are working to address those needs.”

People who live in the valley also share “an appreciation of place,” Goodman said. “They have a willingness to forgo some of the things money can buy, to get what money can’t buy,” she said.

Seeking support

Goodman shot more than 50 hours of footage and is working to edit it to a 50-minute film. She hopes to complete it by the end of the year and enter it next year in the short documentary category in film festivals around the country. The Barnyard Cinema in Winthrop recently began showing a 4-minute trailer of the documentary.

The grant from Artist Trust has helped her partially finance the project, and she has also received support from some local sponsors, including Hank’s Harvest Foods, The Barnyard Cinema, Methow Valley Citizens Council and Parks Construction — her husband’s construction company. Goodman said she is seeking donations to help with expenses, such as editing and music rights, to complete the movie. Information about the movie and the trailer can be found at

“My hope for the film,” Goodman said, “is that viewers will be inspired to follow the Methow’s example in appreciating and protecting the beauty, or uniqueness, or charm of the place they live, reaching out to each other as neighbors … appreciating diversity of thought and recognizing that we’re all in this together.”