Saturday, May 25, 2024

IRIS Community Success Summit, social success

Initiative for Rural Innovation and Stewardship (IRIS)



CHELAN – The Initiative for Rural Innovation and Stewardship (IRIS) hosted the annual Community Success Summit in Chelan this year. Wednesday, Nov. 8, the Community Gym was full of various levels of personal and entrepreneurial successes. 

IRIS holds annual social seminars throughout the northwest, emphasizing the importance of community and inspiring community members to communicate and grow through and with each other. 

To kick off the summit, in the spirit of tradition, the Mayor from last year’s community summit, Quincy Mayor Jim Hemberry, passed the IRIS baton to the current hosting city’s mayor, Chelan Mayor Mike Cooney. As Cooney accepted the baton, he expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to hold the summit in Chelan, then introduced who he vocalized as the man that made hosting the event possible, Lake Chelan School District Superintendent Barry DePaoli. “Today is about amplifying the spirit of the community,” started DePaoli, emphasizing “the real beauty of the valley is in the people.”

With initial introductions out of the way, Chelan High School Actors and Chelan School of Innovation Artists performed an expedited informational skit, on “The Story of Chelan,” reenacting the creation of and ultimately the settlement in Chelan. The play began approximately 40,000 – 10,000 BC, as enormous glaciers carved through the valley and eventually settling, creating what we see now as Lake Chelan. Following acts displayed settlers from as early as 8,000 BC to the presence of power to the new town in 1928. Each act displayed accurately themed wardrobe, props, and action – making the play an action-filled historical education piece. The play was produced, written, and narrated by Wendy Isenhart, with direction and fact-checking by Jane Lloyd, and production by Erik Peterson of Chelan School of Innovation, and Aiden Peterson of Chelan High School. 

In a “Beyond Chelan Success Sampler,” Colville Tribe Member Douglas Marconi spoke about current water sheds programs and the struggles and successes he’s encountered with each. He then concluded his speech by playing a tribal song, and asked the audience to not photograph or record the music, but to simply listen, eyes closed, and remember it in your heart. The tune was about the mind, heart, and soul, and to take care of these essential parts of your being. 

Next year’s summit has been proposed to be held in Pateros. Mayor of Pateros Carlene Anders, said she would be honored to host the event, given approval by council.

IRIS’ mission is stated “to foster sustainable rural communities in North Central Washington by gathering and sharing success stories that enhance a sense of belonging, inspire action, and build community. We believe that thriving communities in a healthy environment create success.” Success summit themes include Land and Water, Heart and Unity, and Thriving Livings, all aspects that are vital to the creation and sustainability of success in individual and professional lives. 

For more information on IRIS, visit


The success focused seminar presented a variety of speakers, one of which was Phil Long with the Lake Chelan Research Institute with Kari McLaren of the Lake Chelan School District. Long introduced himself, and listed some of the successes the Research Institute has received. He began speaking of the launching of the first ever “long-term water quality monitoring program for Lake Chelan in 2016.” The studies included participation of approximately 60 students from local High School, Middle School, and Elementary School students performing a variety of testing and data collection from the trip, providing an educational tool that the students can take forward into their futures, and even expand on throughout the years.

IRIS, success summit, Chelan


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