The Beginning of it All
First, I want to acknowledge, that Living Snoqualmie would not exist if not for the hard work of Danna McCall.
McCall, the OG of Living Snoqualmie, started the website in the summer of 2010; her husband challenged her to do something with all her (as he called it) ‘Useless City Knowledge.’ So, the next day, she designed a website, started a blog and called it Living Snoqualmie.
Initially, Danna designed the website using WordPress templates. Later, she had a friend and neighbor help switch to a purchased website template to incorporate ads better. This was done as a trade arrangement.
Danna recognized the need for information because she knew the city was still growing, and when you move to a new city, information and advice from those in your situation can be invaluable. The Valley only had a weekly newspaper then, so she filled an existing information gap for real-time, hyperlocal information.
The blog began to take off during the Valley-wide multi-day ice storm power outage in January 2012. At that time, Danna had two close friends who worked at KOMO News, one as the assistant News Director. He was getting information to her regarding when the power might be back on directly from PSE sources.
The blog had already been growing at this point, but this accelerated the pace. After this power came back, The McCalls decided as a family that since the website was taking so much of her time – she had four children between 10 and 17 at that time – it was either shut it down or have it generate income. At this point, Living Snoqualmie started accepting local advertisers.
When I asked if she misses Living Snoqualmie, Danna said, “Sometimes, but I do like focusing on one city versus the entire Snoqualmie Valley.”
Around this time, 11 years ago, I was supplementing my income as a dog trainer by working in a pet store in the Issaquah Highlands. My boss then asked if I would be interested in writing an occasional article for a local news website; I agreed to give it a shot.
Over time, under Danna’s tutelage, I started writing about more than pets. My role morphed into writing stories about dogs, local wildlife, and occasional fun local social media buzz.
A Change in Ownership
In 2020, Danna decided to change career paths and take a job as the public information officer for the City of North Bend, she is now at the City of Snoqualmie as the Communications Coordinator/PIO, and wanted to know if I wanted to buy and take over Living Snoqualmie.
Absolutely not. I’m a dog trainer.
However, after some thought, I said yes, became the new owner and almost instantly regretted it. I had/have a wicked case of imposter syndrome. “Who am I kidding? I’m not a writer; They’re going to KNOW.”
In time, I got over it and started enjoying learning about city politics and issues. While I can always do better, I was excited to learn new things and help others learn them, too, just like Danna did initially.
Living Snoqualmie’s Facelift and Those Who Helped Along the Way
My excitement lasted until a couple of months ago when the aging website started breaking ALL THE TIME. Some days, I’d wake up, and the homepage would be gone; others, all the ads would disappear. I spent an excessive amount of time on Fiverr speaking with someone halfway across the globe, trying to fix all my problems.
It was time to redesign and update the website. I recently published a press release about the new website for Snoqualmie Valley Transportation. I learned about a local company called The Medium, run by North Bend locals Josh and Lisa Tuininga. I wanted to support local businesses, so I asked if they would like to help with my project.
The Tuiningas were high school sweethearts who met at the end of their senior year at Newport High School in Bellevue. The couple have lived in North Bend since 2001. The Medium began in 2003 in a spare bedroom, with their first piece of office furniture being a huge, heavy white desk from Value Village.
Their company name came about because they wanted something that echoed the idea of art as much as graphic design. Says Lisa, “The Medium is such a wonderful, broad concept – the idea that creativity can result from the use of many different tools and approaches. Also, we consider ourselves a happy medium for design services – we’re between the freelancer who doesn’t have the bandwidth for larger projects and the big design firm with high overhead and layers of process and communication.”
Over the years, they hired more employees, including local Jacqui Lott, but worked from home until 2015, when they found office space in Downtown North Bend. Locally, they’ve worked with the Snoqualmie Brewery, the Dahlia Barn, the Downtown North Bend Foundation, The City of North Bend, The North Bend Theater, and the Snoqualmie Ridge block party.
They’ve branded and provided signage and a website for the previous Mt. Si Montessori and work with Orenda winery in Carnation, now Alveare – watch for new bottles and a website soon! Josh’s T-shirt designs can be found in the North Bend or Snoqualmie Trading Co. shops. Encompass NW, Big Star Studios and Mt. Si Gymnastics have websites designed and developed by our team. They were the perfect choice.
I sent Josh my inspiration pictures for what I wanted as the new artwork, and in very short order, he sent me back the first draft. It was like he had reached into my brain and dragged out EXACTLY what I envisioned but didn’t have the artistic ability to express.
Jacqui Lott then took over the homepage design and gave me exactly what I wanted there too. Hopefully, I wasn’t the most nitpicky client of all time (they all reassured me I wasn’t, but they are also very nice) and then sent me off to their contractor Ryan Tvenge with Hoverboard Studios in Minnesota to finish the rest of the design.
I learned that I’m way pickier about details than I thought, slow to act when I feel overwhelmed and have a constant annoying need for reassurance. Everyone was great, and if you have a project like this, I highly recommend working with the Tuiningas and their crew.
New Website Features
Some things remain the same on the website, and some have changed.
I am frequently sent photos and artwork of the Valley but had nowhere to put them. So, one new feature is a gallery featuring local photographers and other artisans who would like to put their art out to a larger audience. Travis Wetherbee is the first featured photographer, who will be introduced in an article later today.
Email email@example.com with photos/artwork if you’d like to be featured.
Also new is a dedicated weather page with a ticker for local conditions in Snoqualmie and North Bend and a menu item where you can go to find the latest traffic headaches. If WSDOT tells me about roadwork, I’ll let you know, and it will be there.
Ad sizes and positions have changed to spotlight content and support local businesses equally, hopefully. We’ll be running a special for new advertisers, so please email me for details.
While this is likely enough change (and expense) for now, all the valley communities -North Bend, Snoqualmie, Fall City, Carnation, and Duvall- have a spot on the menu under the Valley News heading. I’m hopeful we can start covering more of the lower and upper Valley.
In addition, I am so in LOVE with Josh’s design that I had t-shirts made at Dark Horse Ink with the thought that other people might be as enamored with it as I am, and I might offer them for sale someday.
Located at 201 W North Bend Way in the Sunset Garage building, Dark Horse was started by PNW native Michael Hughes in his garage in Issaquah. A ‘Dark Horse’ himself, he moved his business to Preston when it became too big of an enterprise to fit in his home anymore.
Hughes is also married to his high school sweetheart and has three children: one in high school, one in middle school and a new edition. Dark Horse has two employees-Anna & Billy.
A recent rent hike prompted his move to North Bend. Dark Horse has been in the Valley for 15 years, and Michael has supported the community for at least 13 years. He provides printing & embroidery for many schools, organizations, teams, marathons, and corporate entities and is the current President of the Board of the SnoValley Chamber of Commerce.
The journey of Living Snoqualmie, from Danna McCall’s initial vision to its present form, mirrors the vibrancy of our community. This revamped website isn’t merely aesthetic; it reflects our commitment to keeping the community informed and connected. Thanks to local talents like The Medium and Dark Horse Ink, we’ve blended tradition with innovation. Living Snoqualmie remains your gateway to all things local, whether you’re a longtime resident or a newcomer. Dive in, discover the new features, and let’s continue to grow together.
-Thank You Danna!