This week I’m on vacation in Montana and Idaho. I thought about missing a column (which I haven’t done in 150 weeks) because I’m not living “valley life” this week. Then a series of events happened that made me realize that our valley is interconnected in many ways with what we consider the northwest region.
First, I stopped at the Community Chest Thrift Store in my hometown. Since I am a true believer in recycling anything reusable, I usually know the best thrift stores in towns I am familiar with. (I’ll check out my other favorite, The Gold Mine, in Ketchum, Idaho, next week!)
This thrift store donates so many dollars back to the community and is also the recipient of many fine discarded goods. What I didn’t know is that the already cheap prices are cut in half for one hour from 10-11 a.m. on Thursdays. I happened upon the store during that hour.
It was obvious that this was a well-known sale by the number of people shopping. Since pup and pop were in the car, I knew my shopping time was limited. But, being a seasoned thrift store shopper, I had a handful for purchase in a few minutes. I spoke to the lady in front of me to check out and said, “Did I read the sign right? Is it half price during this hour?”
“Oh, yes,” she replied. “That’s why there are so many people here. The locals know.” A further conversation revealed the woman had only recently moved to Montana from Seattle and had friends in the Methow. Small world, right? My handful amounted to $6 and there’s no sales tax in Montana!
On another day, I rented a bike from Dan Bailey’s Fly Shop and tooled around town seeing old sights. Parked behind the high school — where I belonged to the first graduating class from the “new” school building — was a Team Rubicon trailer.
I first became familiar with Team Rubicon through Michael Chiu last summer during the wildfires. Michael posted many updates on the fires on Facebook that were very helpful to the community. He explained to me that Team Rubicon is committed to making properties Firewise and was working hard to start a program in the Methow where they would gather a group of their volunteers (mostly veteran military) to help people otherwise unable to get their properties cleaned up (elderly, disabled, financially challenged) and prepared for the next wildfire.
Team Rubicon was also here in Montana to help with cleanup from the Yellowstone River flooding in June. Many people found their houses filled with mud and water damage. The volunteers came from across the country to help people get back on their feet.
A Team Rubicon leader said, “The skills that veterans and first responders … gain while being in the military or in fire and police, EMS etc., really works well in the disaster environment.”
Just this week, Michael Chiu posted that they had their first successful operation in making a Methow home firewise. He said, “To be doing good work for people who really can use the help in protecting their home from wildfire … (is) rewarding.”
Lastly, Seattle based Glassybaby Foundation, which has donated more that $12 million to organizations that offer hope and healing to people, animals, and planets, plans to open a manufacturing plant in Livingston, Montana, through grant funds from the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund.
There are plans to hire 140 local workers to be trained in glassblowing and paid a living wage. Glassybaby Foundation will continue to infuse worthwhile nonprofits with funds from sales of its colorful glassware. There is no doubt in my mind that many a home in the Methow has a beautiful Glassybaby candle votive on its tables and shelves. I do.
Meanwhile back in Mazama, the blissful summer days make for a great bike ride. It is a far cry from the day a lightning strike destroyed our summer just a year ago.