With multiple firefighting aircraft overhead, smoke filling the upper valley, and Department of Natural Resources fire teams scouting our lane, once again the angst of summer wildfire has arrived. The packing “P” list is reviewed again: people and pets; papers, phone numbers and important documents; prescriptions, medications, eyeglasses; pictures and irreplaceable memorabilia; personal computers/tablets, USBs, phones; plastic (credit cards, ATM card) and cash. Another list compiled by one who had to evacuate in the past included a suitcase of clothing essentials, sleeping bag and pillow.
Amidst this ongoing fire/evacuation worry, I met with a remarkable young man this past Sunday morning: William Bell. William just graduated from Bush School in Seattle where his mother Stacy is an English teacher. His father Davis teaches science at Epiphany School, down the street from Bush in the Madrona neighborhood.
In early 2020, William and several of his classmates embarked on an intensive elective project called “Cascade.” Hilary Kaltenbach, Bush School’s Methow Campus program manager, suggested a project to post signs along Methow Trails describing some of the history behind the area. The students diligently began researching some of the possible sites and delved into early history of the Methow. Shafer Museum exhibits and archives were invaluable tools, as were many books written about the history of the Methow.
Then, along came coronavirus, which sidelined the worthwhile project.
As William was in need of a senior project several months later, he resurrected the incomplete research and signage idea. He has spent many hours and utilized skills in several different areas and is just now putting finishing touches on the project.
After consulting with David LaFever, executive director of Methow Valley Interpretive Center, William’s first sign is “Land Acknowledgment,” which recognizes that Bush School’s Methow Campus sits on the homeland of the Methow people. He encourages people to acknowledge and learn about the history of colonization and the ongoing relationship between the Methow People and their homeland. This sign is located on the Methow Trail kiosk on the Bush School Campus.
Six other signs along the trail highlight the Civilian Conservation Corps near Early Winters Creek, the Mazama School/Community Club, the Mazama Store/Post Office, Lydia Lyons’ home outside of Winthrop, the McKinney Mountain neighborhood, and the Patterson Lake site of the Rader homestead. Each sign has a QR code which will take you to the website that William created for the project — methowhistory.neocities.org. The website also shows the location of each of the markers.
William cut each of the signs on a metal laser machine. He also designed larger, poster-sized prints of the photos and historical information, which are on display in the “warming room” at Bush School.
This project is a magnificent display of what a young person with drive and thoughtfulness can accomplish. William utilized research and writing skills, learned how to create laser-cut metal signs, designed and created a website, and developed an appreciation for indigenous peoples. William will soon head off to college — either Colorado College or Vanderbilt. Good luck to him!
The Mazama Community Club held a birthday party for its 100-year-old clubhouse on July 7. The former Mazama schoolhouse has a long, interesting history that William highlights on his second trail sign and website. The birthday party was a happy social event (after the long COVID drought), complete with root beer floats and cake to honor the little building.
Louise Stevens offered an entertaining presentation of the history of the building. Midge Cross, board president, gave news of the club that includes the planned construction of a picnic shelter on the grounds with funds bequeathed by the late Red McComb. The club welcomes new members. The membership fee of $35 per family can be paid online at mazamacommunityclub.com.