At the conclusion of each calendar year, ThurstonTalk writers have formed a tradition of looking back on our published stories.  Each writer picks a favorite article and shares a few sentences about why the article was impactful.  Over the past 12 months, ThurstonTalk.com has published more than 1,650 positive stories about what it’s like to live, work, and play in Thurston County.  Thank you, readers, for being a vital part of our success.

Carrie Bellcreative office logo

My favorite article was about Kate Scriven’s story about Raise for Rowyn. This family has taken tragedy and turned it into an organization that helps so many in our community – truly inspirational.

Kailey Caldwell

Olympia is rapidly growing in a healthy direction. As our community explores all realms of their tastebuds, productivity and creativity is also explored. It is difficult to pin point a favorite article of 2016 but I really enjoyed my assignment on Ricardo’s. It was great to learn about aging meat and see the passion of craftsmanship in every form.

Grant Clark

I was going to catch Jonny Hansen toward the end of practice for this interview and was late. When I got there Jonny was still practicing even though most everyone else had left and I felt bad for having him wait around. His coach, however, said Jonny stays late every night anyway so it wasn’t a big deal. Jonny is an incredibly hard worker and very humble.  I also liked the story about Cole McMason’s ballet accomplishments and the article about Bryan Hoddle.

Andrea Culletto

My favorite was Experience Another World at Wat Prachum Raingsey because stepping through the gates at Wat Prachum Raingsey really was like stepping into another world. The congregants were so eager to share their religion and culture, both of which were breathtakingly beautiful and fascinating.

Doris Faltys

Surprise is still the feeling I have when I think of my chance meeting with Calypso the parrot, and her owners Kathy and Terry Raettig. I thought I might see a loon, or cormorant on my weekly walk at Frye Cove Park, but never imagined I would encounter a parrot. It was a fun surprise that first day, and a very fun article to write.

Gale Hemmann

ThurstonTalk is always full of great articles! I recently liked “Calling All Cat Lovers: Inspurration Connects Cats, Owners” by Jessica Hoppe. I loved the playful creativity of this article. For many of us Thurston County residents, our pets are of utmost importance. This article presents a fresh idea and a good example of why the Olympia area is so unique.

Lesley Klenk

Sometimes an article writes itself. This was the case in the story of Kevin Finger and his leadership as the store manager of the Marvin Road Home Depot. I listened to Kevin, Bryson, Jonathan and his staff laugh, tell tales, and share memories about their involvement in the Special Olympics and the Down Syndrome Buddy Walk. Kevin is a quiet hero in our community. Bryson’s shiny appliances and Jonathan’s tightened screws are the pride of the store – and Kevin Finger created the family of employees who celebrate each other.

Nikki McCoy

It’s hard to narrow it down to one favorite story! But one that sticks out to me is the recent story of Nancy Hadley by Kate Scriven. It seems like people who live outside society’s norms can get a bad rap, and live a tough life, which she did. But, because of her fierce maternal instincts, and strong head on her shoulders, and the support of SPSCC Foundation, she turned her life around, without sacrificing her independent spirit. She’s planning to be a metal welder – an unconventional path indeed. I don’t know her personally, but it makes me proud to know she will be contributing to society, raising her family, and inspiring people along the way.

I also loved writing about new restaurants in the area, including IzakayaRush In Dumplings, and Don Juan’s–us Thurston County folk need to know where to get good eats! I love discovering and sharing new places and foods. Plus, it’s nice to learn from the owners and managers directly, and hear their journey to hospitality.

Haleigh Missildine

My favorite article that I wrote this year was Dive Into Olympia’s Art and Culture with Olympia Pop Rocks. Interviewing Jemmy Joe and Guire reminded me of the importance of expressing yourself in a creative way. We don’t always get a chance to do that, yet it’s so important. It also got me more interested in podcasts.

Laurie O’Brien

My favorite piece this year was back in January when I did an interview with Elizabeth Lord. I came across Elizabeth at one of the first StoryOly events and thought she was fascinating. I’m glad I had the courage to ask for a sit down conversation. The best part about writing for ThurstonTalk is featuring unique people, like Elizabeth, who make our community such a great place.

A truly gratifying story to write was a follow up I did on a dear friend of mine, Jim Brown, in May. It was the year anniversary of his Stage IV Lung Cancer diagnosis, and Jim shared how he was beating the odds. I’m happy to tell in you that now, 18 months post diagnosis, Jim is still thriving and holding fast.

Mary Ellen Psaltis

Business owners in our community continue to amaze and inspire me. It’s especially wonderful to talk with women who use their dreams and talents to bring us quality good and services. It’s always a treat to be in the presence of Phoebe Martinson, owner of two Phoebe’s Pastry Cafe locations. Her enthusiasm and joie de vivre bring a smile to me – and then there are all those goodies! Enjoy. Read about the opening of her newest café.

Alyssa Ramsfield

My favorite article from this year has to be the Oly Taproom Tour! Exploring our beautiful area and enjoying craft brews is a win-win for any resident or visitor. It’s always fun to see new breweries pop up along the way and share these spots with family and friends.

Douglas Scott

I have three favorite stories for 2016.

  • The Lake Cushman article was fantastic to write, as it is one of the most underrated hiking regions around the Pacific Northwest. With mountains to climb, lakes to discover and family-friendly hiking and camping, being able to share my love of this region was a blast.
  • Any time I get to talk about camping and nature, I am happy. That is why when I got to write about the top destinations for camping and lodging, I was over the moon. We are lucky enough to have the best naturally beautiful regions right in our own backyard and can connect with them so easily.
  • Our Washington State Parks are where many of us first experience nature in the Pacific Northwest, which is why I was excited to write about volunteering within the parks. Being able to help your local park is an important aspect of being part of our community, and this article helped highlight that.

Kate Scriven

There are so many inspiring and interesting stories from the past year, but the one that touched me the most as a writer was sharing stories of scholarship recipients and donors for the SPSCC Foundation. It was very emotional to hear the personal impacts made on students through scholarship dollars, talking to them personally about their hopes and dreams for a better future that are being made possible by scholarships. And, then speaking with the donors who are so dedicated to helping strangers, students they have never met, with a “hand up” through an educational scholarship was incredibly inspiring. I hope that readers were inspired by the story, too, and more new donors will give and more potential students will realize their dreams are within reach.

Lynn West

Sitting down and chatting with Pastors Eric and Beth Utto-Galarneau shortly after they launched the Clean Kids initiative with their congregation sparked a story that has stayed with me, and it is one I have retold many times. “St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Lacey Launches Clean Kids” begins with the fact that 800 families in North Thurston Public Schols are homeless, which is a stunning statistic. However, learning about how the pastors and their congregation continually step up to help is truly hopeful.

Gail Wood

Sid Otton’s measuring stick of success wasn’t just wins and losses. The state’s all-time winningest football coach was also about shaping young lives. Getting to write about Sid’s farewell from coaching at Tumwater High School was a highlight. “I’m 100 percent happy with the course of my life,” he said. Our community is 100 percent happy he coached here. Getting to share Phil Lonborg’s farewell was also special. As River Ridge’s longtime track coach, he also shaped young lives. Two great coaches said their goodbyes in 2016.

Photo credit: jennlvs2smile

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