PANORAMA - Voices from the Walla Walla Valley

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Muriel Kenyon

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Akira Takemoto

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Rodney Applegate

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Alan Dawson

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Sue Gillespie

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Mike Gillespie

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David Chase

Watch Voices episodes below

Since November, Carlos Virgen and I have been producing videos that profile Walla Walla Valley residents and their stories. Our hope was that we would find humorous, touching and unusual stories about the valley we call home.

To our surprise, we found that our "Walla Walla" stories spread far beyond the shadows of the Blue Mountains. During our interviews, we got a glimpse of why our interviewees are now in Walla Walla - for work, school, family or friends, whim or sheer happenstance. While each story has proven to be disparate in nearly every way - the location, theme and feel of each piece - all of the stories converge here. Our featured people live in the Walla Walla Valley. We are given the rare opportunity to see our neighbors illuminated briefly through this snapshot.

It would be impossible to condense a life story into a short video, and that isn't our goal. Instead, we look for a few salient points that, together, reveal something about our interviewees.

Our first episode featured Rodney Applegate, who has traveled to India 20 times in the past decade to help implement much-needed projects. Applegate has donated sewing machines to destitute women, provided medical services to people in need and improved water sanitation and collection in rural towns. As a result of our project, Applegate has received donations for his work from sources within and outside of our community.

Our other stories vary immensely: Akira Takemoto, a Whitman professor who returns to Japan annually to visit the headquarters of his tea school; Muriel Kenyon, whose great-grandfather was reunited with the family after an arson incident in Milton-Freewater drove them apart 50 years prior; Sue and Mike Gillespie, who are important proponents of education; Alan Dawson, a brave man who has battled serious drug addictions; and David Chase, whose ready smile belies his long wait on the heart transplant list.

With every episode, we incorporate new ideas and equipment to improve the pieces. We're very pleased to say that photographer Colby Kuschatka will be joining us and will greatly add to the depth and breadth of our photos. Instead of releasing a video every Sunday, we will switch to every other week to give us more time to refine each episode.

We can't thank you enough for your attention to our project. We have received comments from viewers and from our interviewees, and we pay attention to every note and suggestion. Please share your thoughts and recommendations with us, and we hope you enjoy future episodes.

Find out more about the series and watch installments of Voices from the Walla Walla Valley.

Katrina Barlow can be reached at katrinabarlow@wwub.com.

Rodney Applegate

Akira Takemoto

Muriel Kenyon

Mike and Sue Gillespie

Alan Dawson

David Chase

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