Angela San Filippo is project coordinator of Imagine Ellensburg, a Community Heart & Soul® project in Central Washington just east of the Cascade mountains. San Filippo balances a busy life working as a Long Range Planner for the city of Ellensburg and serving on advisory committees while also enjoying many outdoor activities. Find out more about San Filippo and the Imagine Ellensburg Heart & Soul project from the Q & A below!
Q: How long have you lived in Ellensburg?
Angela San Filippo: Two years.
Q: What brought you to Ellensburg?
ASF: I originally moved to Ellensburg for a job with Kittitas County updating the county’s Comprehensive Plan, and Ellensburg appealed to my love of small towns.
Q: When did Ellensburg’s Community Heart & Soul project get started?
ASF: About a year ago—August 2016
Q: What phase of Heart & Soul® is Ellensburg’s project in?
ASF: Phase 3—Making Decisions. We are in the process of evaluating options and reviewing recommendations. We hope to have our Comprehensive Plan adopted by the end of this year.
Q: Does the project have a name?
ASF: Imagine Ellensburg. The project is part of our Comprehensive Plan update.
Q: How did you get involved in the Heart & Soul project?
ASF: My position as a Long Range Planner with Ellensburg includes being the coordinator for the Heart & Soul project. The city’s Community Development Director, Kirsten Sackett, had worked on a Heart & Soul project in Cortez, Colorado, and she brought her experience and knowledge of Heart & Soul to Ellensburg. Kirsten was the driving force behind getting city council buy-in, initiating the Heart & Soul process, and getting me on board.
Q: What have you learned about Ellensburg as a result of doing this?
ASF: I have learned so much about Ellensburg. It’s hard to pare this down. I think the biggest things that I have learned about Ellensburg is the strength of this community and how often people come together to support each other in times of need. I have also learned a lot about Ellensburg’s history and the statistics and trends that I know off the top of my head surprise me on a daily basis.
Q: Has anything about the project surprised you?
ASF: Part of the project has been getting to know this community, and one thing that has surprised me is the depth of knowledge and resources that we have available in the community that aren’t necessarily common knowledge. I would love to see, as a result of this project, that we work out ways to better tap into these resources and let the community know how to access them.
Q: Can you think of some examples of untapped resources?
ASF: One example is the Community Clothing Center that is run by a local church. This is a resource that is available to anyone in the community to shop for free clothes and/or donate clothing they no longer use. This provides an opportunity for community members to access free, gently used clothing and an alternative for community members that might otherwise donate clothing to stores that sell the clothing, making it unavailable for those that are the most in need.
Another example comes in the form of our local university. Central Washington University has over 11,000 students (more than half our city’s population). There is a lot of potential to tap into the knowledge of faculty and staff at the university through partnerships or joint research projects as well as getting students involved in the community through internships, class assignments, and volunteer opportunities. These happen to some degree already, but there is a lot of potential to increase the coordination between local government and community organizations and the university.
Q: What do you enjoy doing when you are not coordinating Community Heart & Soul?
ASF: When I am not coordinating Heart & Soul I am exploring and adventuring outdoors in the incredible Pacific Northwest. I like to travel downhill fast, but I equally enjoy earning my turns. In snowy months you will find me snowboarding and cross- country skiing. As the seasons change so do my methods of travel. In warmer months I will be mountain biking, backpacking, and paddle boarding on one of many rivers in the area. In addition to serving on the county’s Board of Health Advisory Committee, I enjoy getting involved in my community, and I work in as many volunteer and civic activities as my busy life allows.
Continue with your great work Angela! We are excited to watch the Imagine Ellensburg Community Heart & Soul project grow.