Happy to Give: A conversation with Kent Wales

by Marnie Jackson

Kent Wales discovered the Whidbey Institute when a colleague invited him to Spirited Work in 2002. The program, hosted by Anne Stadler and others including Gabriel Shirley and Mark Jones, was once described by Tree Fitzpatrick as, “an ongoing experiment that embodies collective wisdom as a conscious system.” These Open Space gatherings continued to draw Kent west from his Spokane-area home until Spirited Work concluded in the mid 2000s. As a result of the program’s influence in his life and in appreciation for this land, Kent donates regularly. As part of his care for this place, he became a monthly donor to the Whidbey Institute in 2013.

I recently connected with Kent to thank him for his ongoing generosity and to find out more about why he gives. He shared about his experience with Spirited Work, which he said helped bring balance to his life.

“When I go back there, walk the land, or go to a gathering, I feel grateful for the perspective that has been brought to me by that place. It’s opened me to new perspectives and possibilities.”

“I’m fairly conservative,” Kent said, “raised by business-owner parents on the east side of the state. Spirited Work has helped open some doors for me, helped me see where I fit in the world, and helped me open to what I might call a spiritual side of myself.” Kent conveyed a deep sense of gratitude for Anne and others who created the conditions for Spirited Work to succeed. “The Open Space Technology really gave people permission to participate [as they felt called],” he said, “and a strong, inner group stepped up to hold the energy and to create a strong container.”

“Something big that I got out of Spirited Work, and still keep in mind, relates to the four principles and the one law,” Kent explained. “The principles are, ‘when it starts, it starts; when it’s over, it’s over; those who show up are the right people; and the thing that happens is the only thing that could have happened.’ The law is the law of two feet: you’re responsible for your own experience. If you’re not happy, go where you’re happy. Go where you’re called, where you can be fulfilled.” Kent went on to share that despite the long passage of time since Spirited Work came to a close, he continues to feel connected to the land and to beloved friends from the program, including some on Whidbey and some living near him in Spokane.

When asked why he chose to become a monthly donor before the Whidbey Institute had created a formal giving program for recurring support, Kent explained a philosophy rooted in practical experience. “I’m a business process guy,” he explained. “It’s how we run our service business.”  As the owner of a Spokane-area residential and commercial laundry business, Kent knows the importance of cash flow. He and his wife Monica rely on the predictability of weekly deposits to keep Happy Laundry running smoothly.

“There’s something about getting cash flow every week, deposits every week, that makes doing the work easier.”

“There’s something about getting cash flow every week, deposits every week, that makes doing the work easier,” Kent said. “Maybe that’s my gospel.” He went on to explain that he, Monica, and Happy Laundry give monthly in modest amounts to many organizations, including Monica’s church, a civic leadership organization called Leadership Spokane, and other community organizations. When asked to make larger, one-time gifts, Kent always declines. “I like to give this way,” he said. “It’s programmed monthly in my budget.”

“My wife and I have both been through Leadership Spokane’s yearlong program,” he said. “There are about 1400 graduates of the program. If 200 of us could donate every month, wouldn’t that would be a significant amount of support—enough to help with someone’s salary?”

Kent was glad to hear that his donations have been especially supportive of essential land and facilities care in this time of constrained resources, and even chose to increase the size of his recurring donation to the Whidbey Institute in 2021. He expressed a hope that more people will choose to give monthly in support of this organization and others they value, noting the longstanding success of the tithing model used by churches.

“If 200 of us could donate every month, wouldn’t that would be a significant amount of support—enough to help with someone’s salary?”

At the close of our conversation, Kent said he feels the influence of the four principles and the one law in how the Whidbey Institute and the land itself operate. “When I go back there, walk the land, or go to a gathering,” he said, “I feel grateful for the perspective that has been brought to me by that place. It’s opened me to new perspectives and possibilities.”


Kent, thank you for your ongoing support and your many contributions to the health and future of our land and programs. We’re so grateful to have you with us in this work.

A special thank you to all 23 donors who currently give monthly, providing ongoing care for the Whidbey Institute!

Reader, are you one of 27 more donors who may sign up to give monthly this year? 50 donors supporting our monthly cash flow would be so deeply appreciated.  Learn more and schedule your recurring support

 

March 4, 2021

People & Partners

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