Way to Wellville teams experience Clatsop County, further their own initiatives


By Sue Cody


W2W 2017 National 19 FBThey came from North Hartford, Connecticut; Spartanburg, South Carolina; Lake County, California; Muskegon, Michigan; and New York City, all for the simple purpose of advancing the work of Way to Wellville in the most meaningful and impactful way.


Five members from each of the Wellville 5 teams and the national team descended on Clatsop County for three days of intense collaboration, sharing accomplishments, struggles and ideas. Invited guests offered expertise on team building, data sharing and funding models.


The Way to Wellville started three years ago as a demonstration project to show how communities can use known methods, collaborate with stakeholders and build a healthier society by investing in health rather than spending trillions of dollars on health care. “The whole idea is to show what communities can do for themselves,” says Way to Wellville founder Esther Dyson.


W2W 2017 National Gathering Esther FBEach year, a national gathering is held in one of the Wellville 5 communities. This year Clatsop County hosted the event, organized by local Strategic Council member Paulette McCoy and local Wellville Coordinator Sydney Van Dusen. They organized the meals, transportation and lodging, while Jeff Doemland and the national team organized the operational end.


Doemland writes, “We can declare this year’s gathering a great success. We’d probably all agree the setting was spectacular, the food delicious, the accommodations comfortable and the logistics seamless.”


W2W 2017 National 14 FBLocal residents participate


Local residents sat on panels and gave presentations along with Way to Wellville members and invited guests.


Iris Sullivan, co-owner of Blue Scorcher Bakery and Café, sat on a panel discussing team collaboration toward a common goal. She stressed the importance of establishing trust among team members. Norma Hernandez and Merianne Myers of the North Coast Food Web, spoke about nutrition and food accessibility.


Astoria City Manager Brett Estes gave his popular slide show on “Astoria Then and Now,” depicting people and buildings from throughout the city’s history. Dan Gaffney, Universal Preschool Feasibility Study coordinator, and Kevin Leahy, CEDR (Clatsop Economic Development Resource) executive director, spoke about economic development in Clatsop County.


Strategic Council member Kristin Tschannen, owner of Seaside Yoga, led breathing exercises to help people decompress after the showing of “Resilience” at the Liberty Theater, and again near the end of the event.


A farm-to-table dinner, “wellness bowls,” a crab feed and pop-up lunch provided a sense of Clatsop County’s nutritious offerings.


W2W 2017 National 12 FBThe projects


Participants enjoyed the view of traffic on the Columbia River from the Riverview Room of the Holiday Inn Express, situated under the Astoria Bridge, as they discussed their initiatives and listened to panel discussions.


Each team worked on a large-scale, fundable project toward which they will commit resources over the next year and beyond.


The projects:

• Clatsop County: Universal preschool and trauma-informed care.

• Lake County: Lake County Accountable Communities for Health (ACH) Collaborative.

• Muskegon: ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) and trauma-informed care.

• North Hartford: Improving the lives of the city’s children.

• Spartanburg: “Hello Families,” a pay-for-success initiative providing comprehensive services to families with newborn children.


W2W 2017 National 21 FBReactions


The process during the national gathering was “fascinating and interesting,” says Chris Story, city manager of Spartanburg.


Sharing the common goal of trauma-informed care and preventing ACEs for the upcoming generation was a bonding point for many.


John Thomas from North Hartford says he can identify with others better because of the national gathering. “This creates a space where we all can come together. Sometimes there is resentment for highfalutin people with alphabets behind their names. But everyone faces adversity,” he says.


Participants expressed pleasure in the overall experience, including the view, food, panels, collaboration and the chance to meet new people.


“It gets better each year,” says Esther Dyson. “We are constructing a way to help people make progress.”


Jeff Doemland writes, “The whole experience … makes us (the national Way to Wellville team) eager for the year ahead — for our achievements and what they turn up, and for continued opportunities to support each other. So thank you all for your time, energy, commitment and passion — you all had a part in making the Clatsop County Gathering a great springboard into the future.”


W2W 2017 National 3 FBPaulette McCoy says she was really pleased with how everything turned out. Many visitors said they wanted to return and bring their families. She even heard the comment, “Forget Seattle, I’m coming to Astoria”


McCoy says, “It was like we gave them an appetizer and now they want to come back for the full meal deal.”