Our Baby Has Legs!

Jan 10, 2013 | 2 comments

The parking lot at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum was filled to overflowing when I arrived yesterday morning.  It was the first-ever-meeting of the Pacific County Historian Project – the first of fifteen Wednesdays of learning, teaching, sharing, experiencing and even creating (!) Pacific County History.  Birthed and on the move at last!

This particular ‘baby’ has been almost two years in gestation.  It was February 11, 2011, that Jim Sayce called me to talk about an ‘idea’ he had – “to establish a workable vehicle by which we can perpetuate the history of this area.”   The next day I sent him a follow-up email full of plans, ideas, concerns which ended … And meantime I’ve been cursing you (just a little) for piquing my interest in yet another subject I really have no time for.  Little did I know… or did I?

Within a week or so Jim and I met right here at our place along with museum director Betsy Millard, and journalist/educator Cate Gable and began brainstorming.  The meetings continued monthly or oftener and eventually involved museum collections manager Barbara Minard and recently-retired State Parks curator/collections manager Donella Lucero.  All of us were there yesterday along with the sixteen first-ever participants.  And, of course, the speakers of the day.

Appropriately, biologist/ecologist Kathleen Sayce started us off at ‘the’ beginning –13.8 billion years ago!  With slides and maps and hands-on ‘show and tell,’ Kathleen took us through the historical landscapes of Pacific County – land forms and geology of the area, Ice Age floods, basalt cliffs and moving sands, our unique environments of currents, tides and weather. And always with the focus on Pacific County – our rocks, our sand, our weather, our special characteristics.  I don’t think any of us will ever look at our garden soil or listen to a weather forecast for our area in quite the same way again!

After a build-your-own-sandwich lunch and a chance to visit with one another, artist Charles Funk took center stage to share some of his fabulous landscapes of the area, as well as the stories of their creation.  An elder of the Chinook Tribe, Charlie brings a special dimension to his work and to his story-telling, interweaving his personal history with the history and legends of the Chinookan people. Not only did he give us all an inside look at his unique way of perpetuating Pacific County’s history, but his humor and his obvious enjoyment of life here in this area underscored the program’s purpose.

Hooray!  Our project is up and running!  Our baby definitely has legs!

Photos by Cate Gable.


  1. Stephanie Frieze

    It sounds as if it was a wonderful event and project! Bravo for everyone’s efforts. Will any of this information make it into print?

    • sydney

      I’m not sure what you mean by “any of this information” making it into print. There will undoubtedly be reports in the newspaper about the project but as far as the information presented at each session… highly doubtful. The project is designed a bit like a college course — you get the information by signing up for all fifteen sessions, Hopefully, each person attending the sessions will choose a topic that intrigues them and will choose a way to disseminate what they learn through various forms of research. That might entail getting their information into print — but it could just as well result in a lecture, a tour, a painting. Stay tuned…


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