Methow Valley News, January 10, 2018

The Winthrop Column

By Ashley Lodato

Sometimes the period after the holidays is a bit of a let-down, especially if you overspent, so I thought I would note some of the great free things that are happening around the valley, in case you’re needing a little reminder that daily life is still full of interesting options that don’t blow the budget.

First, did you know that there is a free shuttle bus that runs between Winthrop and Mazama on Saturday mornings, giving you access to a ski along the iconic Methow Community Trail between Winthrop, Brown’s Farm, and Mazama without having cumbersome transportation logistics? You can save time, hassle, and fossil fuels by hopping on the ski bus. Visit for more information. (OK, the skiing is not free — gotta pay for the heavy equipment and personnel to keep those trails groomed — but the shuttle is.)

Another thing to celebrate is the work happening regarding the Winthrop Library. Friends of the Winthrop Library (FOWL) has set to work at a blistering pace, with the goal of improving and enhancing the Winthrop library’s facility and services. Big-picture plans include a new building, with square footage that would meet the American Library Association’s recommendations for a community the size of ours, with an expanded book collection, meeting and gathering spaces, and resources that support 21st-century endeavors (such as accessing higher education, navigating increasingly complex options for health care, and seeking employment).

Immediate projects include programs like the free after-school Art Labs on Friday afternoons from 3:45 – 4:45 p.m., the March Poetry Slam, and the Late-Winter Essay contest. FOWL is also sponsoring a scholarship for Liberty Bell High School seniors as well as some literacy-related art residencies in the school through Methow Arts.

At the December Poetry Slam (sorry if you missed it — it was great fun), one of the contestants, local handyman Joshua Dodds, read an original poem referring to the library as the “truth-brary” (get it? “lie-brary” versus “truth-brary”). And the truth is, individuals and communities alike benefit from a thriving library, so please consider learning more about FOWL’s goals at

One final free event: the Second annual William Stafford Birthday Reading will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 17, from 5 – 6:30 p.m. at Trail’s End Bookstore. This evening is a communal tribute to William Stafford, whose Methow River poems were commissioned by the U.S. Forest Service in 1992 to reflect the landscape and spirit of the North Cascades. Stafford has a dedicated readership in the Methow Valley (for good reason) and his birthday will be observed by local poets reading his poems aloud, celebrating — in Stafford’s words — the “long party” that life is. Learn more at