When I first moved to the valley, Geof Childs told me that you weren’t really a local until you had three jobs and a yard full of chickens. Like most people in the valley, I work for several different employers and volunteer with a few organizations. I own zero chickens. But my surrounding neighbors all have flocks of dinosaur descendants, aka maker of eggs, aka chickens. Ergo, by principle of proximity I am halfway to a yard full of chickens, and I juggle multiple jobs.
In addition to writing for the Methow Valley News, I manage the Bear Fight Institute (BFI). BFI moved to a remote-work model in recent months and sold the office building. Like many businesses, the pandemic has been a driving factor in redefining how BFI operates as a business. With the recent sale of the physical space, the Bear Fight Institute transformed from a solid state to a gaseous state — with the ability to flow where needed, when needed through the ether of the internet. Still here, still conducting research.
Like all changes in life, you don’t notice the small increments until the big picture comes into focus. As I cleaned out storage areas of the Bear Fight Institute, changes over the last decade became clear. With internet connection speeds and secure online document transfer methods, businesses can transmit and share documents instantaneously.
As I cleared out file cabinets, I noted the amount of paper filed in 2020 was dramatically less than the amount of paper filed in 2010. Out of curiosity, I researched if there was a worldwide decline in paper demand. I found a decline in demand for developed countries; however, an article published in Business Partner Magazine in January 2019 states, “Key growth drivers for the global paper industry are the growing daily print circulation in developing nations … [and] the growing literacy rate and reading capacity in the developing nations.”
There is worldwide good news: a reduced carbon footprint for businesses, a growing literacy rate, and an increase in daily print circulation, aka newspapers, in developing countries.
Before there were yard chickens, or the Bear Fight Institute, or paper use in general, there were storytellers passing knowledge to those who would listen. Winter episodes 8, 9 and 10 of “Notes from the Center,” from the Methow Valley Interpretive Center (www.MethowValleyInterpretiveCenter.com), share oral history and stories as told by Arnold Cleveland, Matilda “Tillie” Timentwa, and from the “Book of Legends” published by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.
Winter is the traditional time of storytelling, when everyone goes inside — literally and figuratively — to reflect on lessons learned over the past year, and plant seeds for the time ahead.
The story of the Methow Valley is not complete without recognition that this is the traditional territory of the Methow people, who wrote their stories in stone from the mouth of the valley at Pateros, to the spires of Washington Pass. The foundations of their ancestral homes lie along bustling routes and existing homes. The Methow people have been here for thousands of years and are still here, honoring their ancestors and traditions. Remember this thought when appreciating the Methow Valley. Just because you can’t see the solid state of an entity, doesn’t mean it’s not all around you.