the Methow needs your help

I am writing this post at an altitude of 38,000 feet, flying north over what looks like California’s Central Valley. The land below is a patchwork of mostly rectangular fields that appear yellow and brown through the hazy air. The late-afternoon sun is glinting off the surface of streams and irrigation reservoirs. And now, just minutes later, there are mountains below us, golden-brown, fast obscured by clouds traveling south (or is it just the plane traveling north?).

I spent the last 6 days visiting my parents, doing a bit of telecommuting from their house during the day and hanging out with them in the evening, doing leisurely things like cooking, eating, playing board games, and watching a DVD together. Meanwhile, up in Washington State, the Methow Valley burned for the second summer in a row. As I write this, the flames there, dubbed the Twisp River Fire, appear mostly contained, although Okanogan Valley over to the east is still suffering. Three firefighters are dead, one of them only 20 years old, and four others are hurt; all victims of the Twisp River Fire.black wood photo

(“Eye of the Fire” photo by sunrisesoup from Flickr; used via Creative Commons License)

Reading about the wildfires in the news churned a whole host of conflicting emotions and thoughts in my mind. Wishing I could be in my favorite place in Washington during this difficult time, yet realizing both the logistical impossibility of it, and the senselessness of trying to go there even if it were possible, as I’d only get in the way of firefighters and other emergency personnel as well as take away from the limited resources that locals need right now, like fuel. Wandering if maybe we shouldn’t move to the Methow after all, or worrying, what if I still want to move there but P. has second thoughts? He has repeatedly said that he hates the dry, hot climate; will he feel even more strongly about it after the second summer of fires? Wanting to share my concern and sadness over what’s happening in the valley with my parents, yet being cautious about what and how much I say so as not to upset them, as they are deeply opposed to our potential move.

In another post that I am probably going to start drafting as soon as I’m done with this one, I’m going to summarize where we are with our proposed move and life in general (ambitious, I know). However, I’d like to hold off on publishing that one for just a bit in order not to dilute the call to action: please join us in helping the Methow Valley recover from the recent fire. Here is what you can do:

Donate

There are a couple of places where you can donate money to support fire relief:

The Community Foundation of North Central Washington: http://www.cfncw.org/fire/

Okanogan Community Action Council: http://occac.com/

Support local businesses by shopping online

If you can’t travel to the Methow Valley, or are waiting for things to settle down a bit before you head over there, you can help out local farmers, artists, and craftspeople by buying their goods online. Here is just a quick list of Methow businesses whose awesome products I am personally familiar with (of course, as you can imagine, I am not being paid to put these names out there; I just want to help):

Aspen Grove home & kitchen store: http://taghomedecor.com/

Bluebird Grain Farms: http://bluebirdgrainfarms.com/

Blue Star Coffee: http://www.bluestarcoffeeroasters.com/

EQPD bags: http://www.eqpdgear.com/ (note: I haven’t actually tried these, but they look cool, and their employees host free gear-fixing sessions at their shop regularly!)

Lariat Coffee: http://lariatcoffee.com/

Live in Art: Jewelry Designs by Nicole Ringgold: http://www.nicoleringgold.com/

Jewelry by Joanne Marracci: http://www.marraccidesigns.com/

Molly’s Soap: http://www.mollyssoap.com/index.html

For a more complete list, try the Methow Made website, where you can search by type of product or business name. Know of other Methow Valley businesses that you can shop online? Please list them in the comments or email me and I’ll add them to the post!

Travel to the Methow when the roads and businesses reopen

I am hoping to plan a trip to the Methow with P. and maybe a couple of friends in the coming month or two. We have little disposable income, and our friends are not big spenders either. However, most, if not all, of the businesses in the Methow are small, family-run enterprises, and every little bit helps. That cup of coffee you buy, the burger or pizza, the night at the local hotel, the jar of honey or bunch of greens you pick up at the farmer’s market – it all ads up, and it all directly supports the Methow residents who operate the businesses and produce the goods. So, even if you don’t have that much money to spend, consider spending a couple of days – or longer, if you have time – in the Methow Valley and doing whatever shopping and dining you feel you can afford. You’ll feel good knowing that you are helping the local economy thrive again.

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