“Somebody knocked on my door,” Board member Sharon Hanna explained of her serendipitous path to getting involved with Pinchot Partners.
She was based in Portland at the time, but when the stranger mentioned the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Sharon lit up. She and her husband Dana had property in a tiny town called Packwood.
As it turns out, the person at the door was doing old-fashioned grassroots outreach for a nonprofit called Cascade Forest Conservancy.
Sharon started volunteering at their office and even agreed to be featured in their testimonial video. Later, the executive director suggested she learn more about the local forest collaborative, Pinchot Partners.
“I just showed up at a board meeting in Toledo,” she said, “at first just trying to learn what everyone was saying, in a subject I knew nothing about.”
She hung in there, learning the acronyms, asking questions and joining the board several years later.
To deepen her understanding of forest management controversies, she joined the Zones of Agreement committee. Drawing on her finely honed word-smithing skills from a long career in Communications, she helped the group get clarity in the gray areas, as together they created a kind of topographical map of the group's position.
“I can generally see merit on both or all sides of an issue,” she said. “That makes it harder to take a position, but investing the time to hear all perspectives generally results in better outcomes. The forest is teaching me patience.”
She’s learning that lesson well from the 130 acres she and Dana call home. In November, they traveled to Cle Elum to participate in an intensive four-day Family Forest Stewardship Program. A collaborative effort by the Washington Department of Natural Resources and Washington State University, the program educates and encourages small forest owners to create a Forest Plan for their property, particularly those that border state and federally managed forests. The increase in wildfires, even on the West side, has shown that fire doesn’t care about jurisdictions. With so much at stake, and all of us affected, it’s even more important to keep working on common ground.