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Weddings and Partnerships

2009 04 08

Lil & I spent the weekend at an old friend’s wedding in Chehalis about 3 weeks ago.  The groom was my super-senior year roommate and stayed with L & I for a month or so as he transitioned from Portland, Maine to Portland Oregon, 6 or 7 years ago.  He’s an entrepreneurial financial planner and has spent the last 5+ years developing a network of friends, creatives, outdoor types, and movers/shakers.


I was a little nervous about the trip – I’m a one-on-one rather than large group kind of person, and had very little connection to his circle outside of college.  We were invited to the rehearsal dinner, and after 3 hours of sitting on the I-5 slog from Seattle to Olympia, we arrived late. Ahhhhh, road rage.


We sat with some of Matt’s family, a nice cross-section of Midwesterners.  I immediately struck up a conversation with Matt’s brother, a music teacher and sax player from Ohio. Despite a lack of shared experience, we were immediately neck deep in it, and sharing ideas in a way I don’t get enough of in my day-to-day worklife.


What impressed me most about the weekend was the commitment that Matt and Robyn had to connecting and  deepening their network of friends, grounding it in the sacred space created by the Chehalis community.  Their ceremony was performed at Red Barn Studios, a property in rural Chehalis.  Space owner Jason Dix guided us into our parking space behind the apple tree, and we spent a few minutes chatting with Jason about some of the wonderful ideas that they are trying to implement with their business and with the space.


Red Barn is a hyper-local positioned establishment – 90% of all the food served at the wedding was grown/harvested from within 40 miles of Chehalis (they had to go to Portland for the Salmon).  The salads themselves were harvested in the backyard, in the 400 square foot greenhouse.  They plan to extend their growing space by plowing several plots on their 25 acre property.  For the rest, they’ve partnered with local farms, dairies and ranches to source the freshest beef and vegetables year round.   And they have their own photography service for the space – who better to know the best nooks and crannies for capturing the moment on film?  This end-to-end service transformed the Red Barn from an alternative to the local church/VFW facility to a “destination” business that also embodied the regionality of place.


As I spoke with several other friends, I realized that locavore commitment was something Matt had been nurturing himself for a while.  We spoke with an old friend in New England who was homesteading and committed to the voluntary simplicity lifestyle.  Another who has been running a greenhouse supply business out of Cleveland for the last five years.  The caterer  who sourced all of the food and is opening the second liquor distillery in Washington State. We live in different neighborhoods, cities, states, but I felt a kinship and an opportunity to build bridges upon this sea change that is happening within our local communities.  Email addresses were exchanged, and I hope to include a deepening of that conversation in this space in the future.

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