“Who owns Pybus Market? All of us,” says Publisher Rufus Woods

This newspaper column written by Wenatchee World publisher Rufus Woods was published in the newspaper on Sunday, February 11, 2018:

“One of the myths in the Wenatchee Valley is that Pybus Public Market is “owned” by local philanthropists Mike and JoAnn Walker.

While they made extraordinary contributions to make the market a reality, the truth of the matter is that the citizens of the Wenatchee Valley — that’s all of us — now own this facility. Pybus Public Market Foundation with a board of 21 community members controls the property.

We have an opportunity, and I would go so far as to say an obligation, to take our ownership of this market seriously and make sure we are supporting it in meaningful ways because of the community asset it has become.

Our first big opportunity is providing the financial support to make the $1.2 million renovation of the Pybus event center space usable, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. Keeping the industrial feel of the place but having better acoustics, quiet heating and air conditioning and glass doors that lead out to the patio with a view of the river will make a tremendous difference.

I spoke recently with two Pybus Foundation board members, veteran civic leader Katie Pauly and emerging leader Kristin Wright Lodge, about the $1.2 million renovation work of the Pybus event center space that will increase community engagement and enhance the experience for visitors and community members.

You can listen to our conversation by accessing my podcast on iTunes or via the artofcommunityncw.com web site.

It is undeniable that Pybus has been a game changer for the Wenatchee Valley. Early on, the vision was that it would be the hub of community in the valley and that has come to pass. It’s place where great ideas are hatched as people interact with each other. More than 150 nonprofit events were held at the market last year.

All of the activities and experiences reinforce and build social capital, in which people choose to do things for the common good rather than seek self-interest to the exclusion of everything else. It’s that commitment to the common good that makes this valley and region special and unique.

“Community is brought together there,” said Lodge. “It’s where we engage with one another and learn and are enriched by one another.”

Lodge grew up here and started a career in Seattle, but she and her husband chose to return to the valley after having kids.

Pauly grew up in Seattle, spent time in the Peace Corps and met husband and fellow community leader Doug Pauly of Northern Fruit.

One of the charms of a smaller community, she said, is “that our problems are small enough that you can really get your arms around them and move the needle.”

Another value of Pybus, Pauly noted, is that it provides a key link to local businesses downtown. It’s a connecting point rather than a competitor.

While Pybus has been extraordinary successful from a community standpoint, it is also financially solvent, although not to the extent that it can support significant capital upgrades, like the remodel of the event center space. All of the funds Pybus produces go back into the facility.

Of the $1.2 million price tag, $700,000 or 60 percent, is being covered by reserves of the foundation. Between board contributions and early donations, a total of $135,000 has been raised. That leaves $365,000 for us to raise in the community to make Pybus even more valuable for all of us.

Mike and JoAnn Walker gave this community an unbelievably generous gift in providing millions of dollars in financial support to create the market. We can thank them and honor that contribution by stepping and doing our part to support this renovation and ongoing improvements.

After all, we own it. Let’s make it even more amazing.”