Community invited to opening celebration Saturday
by Ann McCreary
It’s been almost a decade since the old Forest Service ranger station at the south end of Twisp began its transformation to TwispWorks, a center for arts, culture and business in the Methow Valley.
With an underlying goal of promoting economic vitality, TwispWorks today is a busy place, home to a wide range of activities and enterprises.
Nearly all the available space on the TwispWorks campus is now rented, including some buildings where renovations are underway for uses as diverse as childcare, catering and a brewery taproom.
TwispWorks is also completing the centerpiece of the campus — a new plaza designed to serve as a place for people to gather, picnic, attend outdoor music and arts performances, and cool off in fountains.
The plaza includes grassy areas and low concrete walls to provide seating for picnicking and viewing performances on a stage that is part of the new plaza.
A covered information kiosk provides an entry to the plaza, and the surrounding area is landscaped with natural plants. Fountains in a “splash pad” area will spray water into the air to provide a cool play space on hot days.
TwispWorks will celebrate completion of the plaza with a community party on Saturday (May 27), 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
The free event, called the Grand Opening Shaabang, will include games and face painting for kids, and a variety of performances including live music, aerialists, poetry readings and a dramatic performance from the recent Merc Playhouse show, Peter Pan.
Food and beverages will be available, and studios on campus will be open for visitors and shoppers.
Many of the buildings on the 6.4-acre TwispWorks campus were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, and served as a hub for Forest Service work from 1929 until 2007.
Today those renovated buildings are used by educational programs, artists, small businesses and manufacturers, called “partners” by TwispWorks.
AmeriCorps members stationed at TwispWorks over the past two years have helped in renovating the buildings, along with students in Liberty Bell High School’s construction trades classes.
The partnership with the high school students is an example of the kind of collaboration TwispWorks strives to create, said Don Linnertz, executive director.
Education is a growing part of activities at TwispWorks. The campus is now home to the Methow Valley School District’s Independent Learning Center and Liberty Bell High School’s welding classes — part of the high school’s Careers in Construction Academy.
TwispWorks is also the future home of Little Star Montessori School’s new childcare center, which will open this fall to serve families in the lower part of the valley.
Space in a former Forest Service warehouse is being renovated for the new Little Star facility, which will provide childcare and early childhood education for up to 16 children per day.
The Methow Valley Interpretive Center features displays related to the original Native American inhabitants of the Methow Valley as well as the geology and natural history of the valley.
The Interpretive Center is surrounded by an extensive Native Plant Demonstration Garden, which hosts classes and tours.
In addition to education, TwispWorks promotes arts and culture, technology and agriculture — in keeping with its overarching goal of increasing economic vitality of the Methow Valley, Linnertz said.
More than 30 partners occupy the campus, offering a wide range of services and products including consulting, design, music recording, artist studios, light manufacturing, catering, and offices of the local radio station and newspaper.
“TwispWorks started as a place. Programs are a natural outcropping,” Linnertz said.
One of the new programs offered by TwispWorks is the Methow Investment Network, designed to bring together potential investors and local business owners who need capital to start up or grow.
“We’ve got 20 members, and investors have indicated they have $2 million that could be loaned,” Linnertz said.
As TwispWorks grows and becomes busier, it benefits the town of Twisp and the rest of the valley, Linnertz said.
“Glover Street sends people to TwispWorks, and we send people to Glover Street,” he said.
The next phase of campus-wide improvements includes creating pathways throughout TwispWorks, and improving pedestrian access from Glover Street onto the campus. Currently, most people walk through the parking lot to enter the campus.
TwispWorks received word last week that it has been awarded about $240,000 from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust for the pathways and to repave the parking area, said Linnertz. The work is expected to begin in 2018, he said.
Work on the plaza was completed with funding from Icicle Fund, Bonneville Power Authority and individual donors, Linnertz said. A Seattle-based donor funded design work for the project by Seattle design firm GGLO, Linnertz said.
The plaza project cost approximately $300,000, and with the exception of design, work was done entirely by local contractors, Linnertz said.
The completion of the community plaza, and plans to improve pedestrian access on campus will help draw more people into TwispWorks to explore, said Sarah Prochnau, community relations manager.
One of the first community events scheduled at the new plaza is a June 10 performance sponsored by the Methow Chamber Music Festival called Chamber Music 101.
The festival will bring the Serendipity String Quartet from Seattle for a free performance, and a discussion of the origins and evolution of chamber music.
New additions to TwispWorks
Two new additions to TwispWorks — the Old Schoolhouse Brewery Taproom and Main Events Rentals and Commercial Kitchen, are nearing completion.
The Old Schoolhouse Brewery Taproom is being opened “as a gathering place for locals,” in the lower valley, said Troy Anderson, a co-owner of the brewery.
“With summertime and how crazy things get in Winthrop, we’ve heard from locals (who) don’t want to come up…on weekends,” Anderson said. “The real focus for the taproom is a local hangout.”
The taproom will serve customers over 21, offering prepared snacks like pretzels and chips, he said. Because it is not a full restaurant, the clientele must be limited to adults, Anderson said.
Customers will be able to bring in their own food if they desire, he added.
The taproom will serve Old Schoolhouse beer, as well as Lost River wine and Six Knot cider, all local products, he said. It will also feature “guest beers” that aren’t usually available locally.
The 800-square-foot space can seat about 40-50 people, and will have a small outdoor seating space in front, Anderson said. It will include a game room and will display local art, he said.
The Main Events Rentals and Commercial Kitchen is being opened by Kathy Borgersen, owner of Sunflower Catering. Borgersen will operate her catering business out of the commercial kitchen, and will rent the facility for community events and classes, or for private uses. The kitchen is expected to be completed in early June, she said.