This place is who we are

Community conversations about the Pacific Northwest

I have listened to four exceptional conversations over the last several weeks. Four conversations among people who knew one another to varying degrees, some not at all. The conversations had all the hallmarks of a stilted fiasco – 43 guests invited to talk to each other and not to the intrusive cameras placed around the room, about subjects assigned, not chosen naturally by themselves. Fiasco avoided, each worked on its own terms, with its own character and with moments of profound clarity. Wonderfully so.


Forterra presents Harnessing Change: A Sustainability Forum at Arctic Club in Seattle, Washington, on Monday, January 26, 2015.
Photo by Danny Ngan

Forterra hosted these four structured conversations to seed our Next Wave – the revamp of our Cascade and Olympic Agendas – with provocative, big-leap ideas. The subjects were Cities Built for People, Wild and Working Lands, The New Northwest Town, and Social Cohesion. To help our guests break the ice with one another, they started by breaking bread together over a family-style dinner prepared by Matt Dillon of the London Plane Restaurant secured by Board Member Ruth True. Board Member Dean Lisa Graumlich and past Board member John Howell facilitated the conversations.

community, sustainability, forum, Next Wave

The conversations were lively, at times pointed, and unconstrained throughout. They weaved, turned-about, challenged our assumptions and produced the insights we hoped. In each conversation there were declarations and questions, stories and recollections that have stayed with me. One with notable resonance follows: This place is who I am. It can’t be said any better. It’s why Forterra is here.


In the upcoming months, Forterra will host more structured conversations across our region, with colleagues, thought leaders and community members. A many layered, in-depth analysis of all that has changed in our region over the decade since the release of the Cascade and Olympic Agenda is also underway with all Forterra departments participating. Crowdsourcing for the Next Wave, which began at our Forterra Awards Breakfast in May, will continue this month, with interesting and important queries out to you.

We will anneal analysis and insight together to produce the Next Wave as a renewed plan of action for our region. It will live online in an interactive format, rather than static on the page, with a release sometime spring in 2015. Send us an email if you want to be sure to have a chance to participate. Together, this place is who we are and together we can make it all it can be.