Follow the Pink Parasol: Welcoming Madisun Stern to the Staff

Madisun Stern joined our staff team in September as Database Adminstrator. She brings skills in event planning, community engagement, and non-profit marketing as well as a profound appreciation for our organizational mission. Here’s a transcript of our conversation. —Marnie Jackson

Who are you and what are you into?

I’m really excited to be joining the team at the Institute. When I’m not here, I plan fun events and I run a non-profit program, Pink Parasol Productions, and a photography business with my husband David. We live on an historic pumpkin farm on Ebey’s Reserve, and our family includes our ducks and dog. We’re really involved with the halloween activities that happen on the farm. Everyone should come see Sherman’s Pioneer Farm in this season—it’s an amazing halloween wonderland, and living there has been a dream come true for me and David.

Our non-profit was developed specifically to hold all my many ideas for providing the community with free, fun opportunities. Pink Parasol is structured as a non-profit program of the amazing Island Arts Council. Our mission is to engage the power of community through non-profit social events. When I have a parade or procession to lead, I carry a pink parasol, which I think of as a bright beacon which people can easily see and follow from great distances. It’s become my trademark for guiding community.

What is your history with Whidbey Island?

I grew up in the middle of the woods on a homestead on North Whidbey. I really loved it out in the middle of nowhere. Later, I spent time living in Oak Harbor, living in Seattle, and travelling. I moved back to Whidbey about three years ago. I worked at the Greenbank Store and Grill, which is wonderful, and then had the opportunity to be the events coordinator at Greenbank Farm. It was a wonderful experience but came to an end when the farm management was reassigned. The end of that propelled the start of the new event planning and photography businesses, allowing me and my husband to fulfill our own visions for community events.

Why were you drawn to this position at the WI?

It came at a good time, when our business was in its startup year. I had capacity to take on another role, and I have a lot of experience in office management-related tasks so the responsibilities fit well in my skill set. Database management is tied to my deeper values. While it may seem that I’m just putting names into a  computer, I see them all representing people who have relationships with the Institute in one way or another. Our database is like a memory of meaningful interactions, a record of people that were touched by the place and are entrusting us to maintain that connection.

How does this work align with your values and goals?

Anything that celebrates community and nature, and combines those things together, is really important to me. Those are things I’m drawn to and I see that happening here at the Institute. People are coming here, appreciating the beauty around them, and appreciating one another. It’s a really wonderful feeling, like magic.

I like to think of myself as an environmentalist, and I do a lot of work educating people about nature and community. I’m part of the Whidbey Earth and Ocean Month Committee, a group of people that coordinates a full month of activities that all get advertised together each Spring. This will be my third year with the Committee.

The thing I’m most passionate about, and why I’m back on Whidbey, is to help nurture and grow what’s already happening here. I feel like I’m the next generation that needs to step up and make sure these things are happening. Even if they’re little to start with, they’ll make a big impact.

I want to be supportive of the community. That’s what it all comes back to, and why I’m so excited to be here at the Whidbey Institute.