Our History…So Far

The school was first conceived by Stacey Waterman-Hoey in the late summer of 2012 after attending the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend. Stacey was impressed by the number of people who cared about hand crafts (including traditional music) and fell in love with the broad cross-section of people who engage in sharing these skills. Stacey began to see the potential for craft education in leading a shift toward local, sustainable, empowering economic development.  These skills have served our social, economic and environmental needs for millennia until the last few generations which have pushed historically common skills into elitists realms.  Stacey is deeply motivated to provide skills for making useful or beautiful items (as well as music, storytelling and community organizing) which people want for their own lives and that require minimal technology to achieve.

With the support and encouragement of her husband, Stacey left a career of 18 years in energy and climate policy to focus on developing the school. She spent the fall of 2012 researching folk schools, writing a vision document, estimating a cash flow analysis, researching business structures and building this website.

In January of 2013, Stacey began reaching out to others who might be willing to work on turning the concept into reality. Very quickly, she met many others who were interested and had a variety of skills to contribute to the effort.

While the school’s business model is to be self-supporting like any responsible business, public support is required to ensure broad access to our classes by those who may not be able to fully cover the cost of classes.  There is a long list of needs for tools, equipment, program support and technology that we can’t cover with class fees.

Stacey began reaching out to the woodworking community in the Olympia area to gauge interest in teaching, taking classes or otherwise supporting the school. She discovered there is a deep pool of world-class talent, some of whom would love to expand their professional horizons by teaching, others whom are already teaching all around the country but were relatively unknown in their own communities.

We have a ceramic advisory committee guiding the development of the ceramic studio facilities and programming and have spawned the Olympia Woodworker Guild.  There are many communities formed which have grown out of Arbutus activities!

In August of 2013, Arbutus found its first home at 600 4th Ave E., Olympia, WA 98501.

February 2014: Arbutus hosted its first collaboration with the Olympia Old Time Festival, which we will continue to do every February.

April of 2014: Arbutus begin the monthly Acoustic Open Mic.

June of 2014: Arbutus received our certificate from the IRS that we have been classified as a tax-exempt 501(c)3 non-profit.

Nov of 2014:  Arbutus moved next door to 610 4th Ave E.

Oct 2015: began our partnership with Kokua Services to offer Hummingbird Studios every Wednesday.

To date we are cranking away trying to keep the calendar full and strategizing for growth!