It’s hard to imagine the Methow Valley without Methow Trails and the Methow Conservancy. Without their combined 60 years of efforts (20 of them overlapping) to help create the community we all enjoy, the place would not look or feel the same.
The Methow Trails Nordic system is unique (in the proper sense of that word) and defines the valley as a destination point for half the year.
The Conservancy has patiently but persistently worked to create easements that will protect the use and beauty of thousands of acres all around us.
For many of us, they’ve always been here — which is not to say they’re taken for granted. Others who have lived here longer watched the organizations mature into the nonprofit equivalent of competent small businesses that make a significant difference in the local economy. They have employees with families, buy locally as much as possible, and help foster the tourism-based economy that we depend on. And they are good community citizens, participating in ways that go beyond their main missions.
Methow Trails, which is turning 40, and the Conservancy, a spry 20 years old, are throwing themselves a joint birthday party Saturday night (Jan. 21) at the Winthrop Barn. It’s strictly a celebration, with music, food and good companionship, and no pledges will be sought. The event comes in the middle of the Methow Valley Nordic Festival, whose participants will ski on trails that, in some places, cross over lands protected by easements.
That’s a significant convergence of efforts, but I suspect it’s only coincidence that the organizations’ offices are a stone’s throw (or snowball toss) away from each other in Winthrop. One day I absent-mindedly wandered into one building and asked to see someone who actually worked in the other. I felt like an idiot, but they were polite about it. Still, I wonder if the Conservancy wouldn’t mind selling trail passes for a cut of the action.
Singing “Happy Birthday” is probably not expected. But congratulations and best wishes for many more decades of success are certainly in order.
Ambition, confidence and the entrepreneurial spirit have remade the short stretch of boardwalk on the west side of Bridge Street in Winthrop. Locals who have been watching the construction goings-on in adjacent storefronts have had their curiosities satisfied. Visitors who haven’t been here in a while will discover a couple of completely new food-and-beverage experiences.
Oliver’s Artisan Kitchen recently opened in a brightly remodeled new space (former home of the Boulder Creek Deli). Shortly thereafter, Kind Grinds Espresso Bar and Cafe opened for business in the hole-in-the-wall shop known for decades as Java Man Espresso, with a new look and menu.
Both opened in the winter, so have yet to experience the summer rush. But they’ll be ready for it, I’m sure.
Boulder Creek and Java Man will be missed by many, but both spaces had been sadly empty for quite a while. Therein lay opportunity.
And risk. It takes a lot of energy, commitment and optimism to launch a new business in the Methow Valley — or to keep an existing one going through the challenges of our quirky economy. The papered-over windows of shuttered shops remind us of that.
As a long-time business editor, I’m especially interested in how small ventures grow from idea to reality, and the motivations of their owners. As a small business owner myself, I have a lot of empathy and recognize similar challenges.
There are a few other spots that we’re keeping our eye on for future developments. When something happens, we’ll let you know as soon as possible. In the mean time, stop in at the new businesses and get to know the owners. They’ll appreciate it.