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Episode 205 - Life At The Center with Willi Brooks
Episode 2051st September 2022 • The Jackson Hole Connection • Stephan C. Abrams
00:00:00 00:40:14

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Willi Brooks is the Event Operations Director for The Center for The Arts. Willi is one of the lucky ones who was born and raised right here in the Valley. On top of working full-time at The Center, Willi is also one of the owners of Roots Cannery and is an active member of the Travel and Tourism Board. 

In this episode, Willi shares what it was like to grow up in Jackson. He goes into how a part-time job at The Center has turned into a full-time career as the Event Operations Director. Willi talks about the impact The Center has on the area and how appreciative they are to be a part of such a supportive community. Stephan and Willi also chat about the Scouts, the Jackson Hole Food Cupboard, Roots Cannery, the farmers market, and the importance of volunteering. 

Find out what events are happening at The Center at jhcenterforthearts.org

Learn more about Roots Cannery at RootsKitchenCannery.com

This week’s episode is sponsored in part by The Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum connecting people to local history by sharing artifacts and ideas to foster curiosity and continual learning, forge connections, and inform our 21st-century dialogue. Learn more online at jacksonholehistory.org

Support also comes from Teton County Solid Waste and Recycling. Old Bill’s Fun Run donations directly support zero waste education and outreach. Recycle often, recycle right, and donate today! Donate at OldBills.com. More at @RoadToZeroWaste.JH

Want to be a guest on The Jackson Hole Connection? Email us at connect@thejacksonholeconnection.com. Marketing and editing support by Michael Moeri (michaelmoeri.com,@thatsamoeri)

Transcripts

Stephan Abrams:

You are tuned into the Jackson hole, connection, sharing, fascinating stories of people connected to Jackson hole.

Stephan Abrams:

I'm grateful for each of you tuning in today and support for this podcast come from.

Stephan Abrams:

Thank you for tuning in today and participating in this podcast For me, I enjoy learning from others and sharing what I learn from other people And so I have a quote for you today in today's quote is you make a living by what you get.

Stephan Abrams:

You make a life by what you give.

Stephan Abrams:

And that is from Winston.

Stephan Abrams:

Churchi.

Stephan Abrams:

And today on episode number 205, I have the pleasure to interview one of the few folks living in town who was born and raised here.

Stephan Abrams:

And that person is Willi Brooks.

Stephan Abrams:

Although Willie is not his given name.

Stephan Abrams:

It is the name we all know and cherish Herbert by Willie learned at an early age, the importance of hard work and being involved in his community.

Stephan Abrams:

Now, a business owner while carrying a full-time job at the center for the arts and committing many hours a month to the travel and tourism board.

Stephan Abrams:

Willie is living a life of leadership and showing other people by example of how to be involved in a C.

Stephan Abrams:

Willie shares with us, his viewpoint of life.

Stephan Abrams:

While growing up here in Jackson hole, it is a unique one and every community is different today.

Stephan Abrams:

Compared to yesterday, how we participate in our communities will determine the.

Stephan Abrams:

Of our communities.

Stephan Abrams:

Willie has been a strong member of this community since childhood, the place that we call Jackson hole, Wyoming.

Stephan Abrams:

I know you will enjoy listening to Willie today, and it will provide you an opportunity to reflect on how you can be a community contributor wherever you live and

Stephan Abrams:

how you can teach the next generation to give back to their community as.

Stephan Abrams:

Willie, thank you for taking time out and welcome to the Jackson hole Connection, and look forward to having some insightful conversation with you

Willi Brooks:

today.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah.

Willi Brooks:

Thanks Stephen.

Willi Brooks:

Really appreciate you having me here.

Stephan Abrams:

You're you're welcome, Willie, let's start off with you connecting the dots to this place where we call

Willi Brooks:

home Jackson hole, the place that we love and

Stephan Abrams:

where did your

Willi Brooks:

life start off?

Willi Brooks:

And how did you land out here in Jackson hole?

Willi Brooks:

How long you been out?

Willi Brooks:

Well, I was really fortunate in the sense that I didn't really make the choice to make it here.

Willi Brooks:

I was, I was birthed here.

Willi Brooks:

and so thanks to my mom and dad, I kind of just came to the universe.

Willi Brooks:

So that, well, if I had like a St John's hospital, if I had bells

Stephan Abrams:

or, you know, buzzers to ring, I'd do that for you.

Stephan Abrams:

Cuz you're one of the few people that I've interviewed that was born

Willi Brooks:

here.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

When did life start for you here in, at St.

Stephan Abrams:

John's hospital in Teton county,

Willi Brooks:

in 1987.

Willi Brooks:

and yeah, so I guess we can ring the bells and blow the whistles for my mom cause.

Willi Brooks:

I know that a lot of mothers out there birthing humans is quite the, the task.

Willi Brooks:

Thanks.

Willi Brooks:

Thanks mom and dad for making it happen here for me.

Willi Brooks:

So that's right.

Willi Brooks:

Pretty happy about that.

Willi Brooks:

So, yeah, I was in 1987 February, St.

Willi Brooks:

John's hospital.

Willi Brooks:

And it's funny because, the doctor that actually was my mom's OB GYN.

Willi Brooks:

just passed away like this year and it was wild.

Willi Brooks:

So many people turned out for his Memorial service, but just like talking to people like during that happening this summer of like, oh my gosh, like, yeah, I'm sure you were in there and had your kid with this doc.

Willi Brooks:

And I can't remember his name, but my mom, I remember just like growing up my mom being like, Hey, there's your doctor that, you know, basically birthed.

Willi Brooks:

And that was, you know, I mean, there was like, I dunno, maybe a couple babies a week

Stephan Abrams:

being born back then.

Willi Brooks:

but I know that like, it was probab, like my mom still talks about how beautiful the room was that like, they got to be in like post and.

Willi Brooks:

I've heard that from so many other moms.

Willi Brooks:

And I know that like the hospital has that wing where it just like outlooks over the elk re is like a really pretty pristine and very privileged place obviously to pop into the world.

Willi Brooks:

So yeah, it

Stephan Abrams:

is.

Stephan Abrams:

Both of my children have been, we're born here and, oh, cool.

Stephan Abrams:

We fell.

Willi Brooks:

We feel quite blessed to

Stephan Abrams:

awesome.

Stephan Abrams:

Be raising children here.

Stephan Abrams:

What brought your parents out here?

Stephan Abrams:

How long have they been out?

Stephan Abrams:

Um, my dad's been

Willi Brooks:

out here since the seventies.

Willi Brooks:

And so is my mom.

Willi Brooks:

my dad tells this story that like the, they were all kind of sitting around and they were watching their draft numbers come up.

Willi Brooks:

I believe for the Vietnam war or the American war, however you wanna call it.

Willi Brooks:

But, uh, his number got pulled like very last.

Willi Brooks:

And so.

Willi Brooks:

Him likely being drafted was very low.

Willi Brooks:

And then him and his friends that were also very low on the pole basically were like, well, we should go out west and go skiing.

Willi Brooks:

And he says that they had a map and just covered their eyes and pointed onto the map.

Willi Brooks:

And we're like, oh, it looks like we're close to this place.

Willi Brooks:

And came out here to Jackson.

Willi Brooks:

I don't know if that's actually how it happened,

Stephan Abrams:

but it's a pretty romantic story.

Willi Brooks:

And then my mom, came out with my dad's little sister because they went to college together.

Willi Brooks:

Hmm.

Willi Brooks:

And one summer my aunt was like, Hey, I'm going out

Stephan Abrams:

to Jackson hole.

Stephan Abrams:

Like it's a really cool place.

Stephan Abrams:

My brother

Willi Brooks:

lives there.

Willi Brooks:

I've been out before y'all should come out kind of similar to how you hear.

Willi Brooks:

It's still happening with friends from wherever.

Willi Brooks:

And my aunt showed up to my dad's tiny, tiny little shack of a house.

Willi Brooks:

with four girls in tow from the east coast.

Willi Brooks:

And my dad was under the impression that he just had his little sister staying with him for the summer.

Willi Brooks:

And here's five ladies about to crash on his floor.

Willi Brooks:

And he was just like, so that's couple years down the line I, they were together and that was kinda it.

Willi Brooks:

So yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

Yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

Your aunt probably exponentially grew the female population back then in the seventies.

Stephan Abrams:

It's by one carload.

Willi Brooks:

Exactly.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah.

Willi Brooks:

So, yeah.

Willi Brooks:

they definitely speak of that for sure.

Stephan Abrams:

And for you, do you have siblings?

Willi Brooks:

I do have a younger brother, who, I'm lucky that he's in town as well.

Willi Brooks:

And.

Willi Brooks:

My best friend and, you know, we run on the same circles and so I'm pretty lucky that we both get to be back here, and make it work here.

Willi Brooks:

So, yeah.

Willi Brooks:

That's that's fabulous.

Stephan Abrams:

I, I got to see my brother very recently and I know what it's like to be close to your brother.

Stephan Abrams:

It's yeah, this is the reason I moved out here was my brother.

Stephan Abrams:

I've said that several

Willi Brooks:

on the podcast.

Stephan Abrams:

Yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

Yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

so what was it like for you to grow up here in, in Jackson?

Stephan Abrams:

or, I mean, your main big part of your childhood was in the nineties.

Stephan Abrams:

I mean child of the nineties, some good metal

Willi Brooks:

bands.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah, totally.

Stephan Abrams:

set tapes D CDs just

Willi Brooks:

coming out.

Willi Brooks:

Absolutely.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah.

Willi Brooks:

you know, I mean, like, it was a very sheltered life and I I mean, I honestly just, I, and this is going to sound extremely.

Willi Brooks:

Ridiculous, but I just kind of assumed that everyone lived a life.

Willi Brooks:

Like we lived here, which is obviously very not true and very white boy privileged.

Willi Brooks:

but it was like, I mean, it was amazing.

Willi Brooks:

Like I had like the best possible probably upbringing.

Willi Brooks:

That I could even think of, you know, like we would go cross country skiing in fourth grade and also listen to no doubt on CD, on somebody's CD player at lunch.

Willi Brooks:

you know, like we would go out to Teton science school and listen to the elk bugling.

Willi Brooks:

but then for my 11th birthday, my parents.

Willi Brooks:

Took me to my first major concert of my life when I was in sixth grade to rolling stones concert in salt lake.

Willi Brooks:

I had probably the best upbringing anyone could ever have.

Willi Brooks:

you know, when it comes to.

Willi Brooks:

Being in

Stephan Abrams:

nature and just skiing on the

Willi Brooks:

weekends.

Willi Brooks:

I was really lucky.

Willi Brooks:

My dad worked at the mountain resort for over 40 years.

Willi Brooks:

And so we had ski passes, you know, up until I was 18.

Willi Brooks:

And he always says like, if I didn't work in the ski industry, you wouldn't have grown up skiing.

Willi Brooks:

which, you know, I totally believe because everybody knows how pricey it is to be a skier or be, you know, Going to a resort every weekend.

Willi Brooks:

but yeah, it was like probably the best possible upbringing I could have just biking around, having fun with friends and being on the river or being in the mountains, camping and doing anything like that.

Willi Brooks:

It was pretty amazing.

Willi Brooks:

So yeah.

Willi Brooks:

Would your

Stephan Abrams:

parents in the summer just let you and some friends go out camping?

Willi Brooks:

my dad at a very young age, got us involved in the Scouts, and I know this sounds crazy, but like in the eighties and nineties, like there wasn't a lot of money here and like my dad and mom, and like, I hear other friends' parents talk about just like how hard it was to like, make it here, because like the tour in industry wasn't there.

Willi Brooks:

Like, I know this is gonna sound crazy, but like Teton village wasn.

Willi Brooks:

A thing in the summertime until I was probably like in an adult, an adult.

Willi Brooks:

And so like people, you know, there was the resort, the school district and the hospital.

Willi Brooks:

And I know that those things are still very prevalent to the community, but like, you know, it was a lot there.

Willi Brooks:

Wasn't a lot of money here back then.

Willi Brooks:

And so like my parents.

Willi Brooks:

My dad was like, well, like Scouts are a great way to like, get you guys out.

Willi Brooks:

And so we would go camping, you know, with them, I'd go camping with friends, I'd go camping with my parents.

Willi Brooks:

and It wasn't until later, probably in my high school years that like, I was really allowed to go like out camping on my own, just because everybody knows what happens on high school, camping trips.

Willi Brooks:

Hmm.

Willi Brooks:

you know, but yeah, like just being out in the summer, I mean, we would go camping in the winter time too.

Willi Brooks:

And it was just, yeah, it was a great.

Stephan Abrams:

I'm I'm glad that you mentioned about how in the eighties and, and nineties, there wasn't as much money here.

Stephan Abrams:

And I think a lot of people don't realize that especially people that are new or are just now following Jackson in the past few years, they think, you know, they just see Jackson as right

Willi Brooks:

now.

Willi Brooks:

Mm-hmm

Stephan Abrams:

so, but even with you saying, you know, Hey, you assumed everybody had a life like you did.

Stephan Abrams:

It was in a way, you know, somewhat of white privilege.

Stephan Abrams:

living here, but that's even with, there're not being much money here.

Stephan Abrams:

I mean, it was a, a poor community.

Stephan Abrams:

Um, it wasn't, yeah, it was not a very wealthy community.

Stephan Abrams:

Like you said, it was, it was the resort, it was the hospital, the school district.

Stephan Abrams:

And, and then also the federal government think about before the resort was started.

Willi Brooks:

You didn't even have that in the wintertime.

Willi Brooks:

Exactly.

Willi Brooks:

Like, yeah.

Willi Brooks:

I don't even know what it was like what, 1964, I think Paul McCallister put in the tram and like really started the resort.

Willi Brooks:

And so, yeah, like it was ranch land, you know?

Willi Brooks:

that's pretty wild.

Stephan Abrams:

How far Did you go into the Scouts?

Stephan Abrams:

How far did you make it in

Willi Brooks:

there?

Willi Brooks:

I got my Eagle scout.

Willi Brooks:

Nice.

Willi Brooks:

I think I was.

Willi Brooks:

15.

Willi Brooks:

And a lot of that came from because my, my parents pushed me really hard to get it.

Willi Brooks:

And I mean, my dad even said like, sorry, like, you're not getting a car until, or you're not allowed to drive until you get this.

Willi Brooks:

which looking back on, like, I really appreciate like that discipline, like I'm sure in the moment I was like, very.

Willi Brooks:

With my dad, you know, but yeah.

Willi Brooks:

You know, it was, I had a lot of help along the way to get that.

Willi Brooks:

And a lot of my friends that were also in Scouts also achieved that.

Willi Brooks:

And I think like a lot of that was because of the community around them.

Willi Brooks:

And we were like a small scout group, you know, and everybody worked hard on doing what they were doing to get the requirements done, that they needed to do it.

Willi Brooks:

but it is like a, I know it's a very controversial thing now, the Scouts, and then some ways like, pretty excited to see that, like that program still lives on, especially with like allow.

Willi Brooks:

Anybody into it.

Willi Brooks:

And I know that there's been a lot of turmoil and controversy surrounding that, but it really should be a thing for everybody.

Willi Brooks:

I think so.

Willi Brooks:

What was your

Stephan Abrams:

scouting project for Eagle to get your Eagle scout?

Willi Brooks:

so there was a guy, his first name was Levi and I can't remember his last name, but back before the Jackson food cupboard was a, was really a thing there.

Willi Brooks:

He had put up some shelving units in the basement of St.

Willi Brooks:

John's Episocapal church mm-hmm and it was kind of like this thing, like, we always did like scouting for food every November.

Willi Brooks:

And.

Willi Brooks:

All the food that was collected, there would just like go and sit on the shelves and then like folks at browsed by like, it was like a very disjointed kinda method of like, if somebody needed some food, they would go to brows by and brow, like a worker from browsed

Willi Brooks:

so my project was.

Willi Brooks:

Basically, in closing and kind of really taking the food covered to the next level of like, putting in walls and a door and actually like establishing a place that like people could come to and get food from on like a regular basis.

Willi Brooks:

And, Like my mom always is like, oh, well, like you should say that you founded the food cupboard.

Willi Brooks:

And I don't really look at it like that.

Willi Brooks:

Like, it was more like, it was just like a piece to the puzzle because like then, what was called community resource center at the time eventually like took it on and there's a food bank board and everything, or a food covered board and everyth.

Willi Brooks:

Which is now under 1 22, which does a really great job at every like running that and running all the programs that they run in the community.

Willi Brooks:

but so basically, you know, I was a part of kind of starting and getting the food covered to where it is today.

Stephan Abrams:

and, and remind folks how old you were When you, when you helped build the place, when you took it from just shelves, being someplace to building the walls, the door and et cetera,

Willi Brooks:

how old were you?

Willi Brooks:

Yeah, I, I think I was like 14.

Willi Brooks:

and so we fundraised and there was a really great guy named bill Weiss who, passed away just recently.

Willi Brooks:

And mm-hmm, his, family's still in town and he just threw like, Being a part of the community when it was smaller, you know, like I just knew him and he donated, I, I don't, I can't remember how big the check was that he donated, but he wrote like a pretty sizable check.

Willi Brooks:

And then the guys over at Jackson lumber, the Clark brothers donated a bunch of materials and, you know, there were, I mean, there were so many people that worked on it.

Willi Brooks:

Like I like, You know, my dad's a builder.

Willi Brooks:

And so my dad and my uncle, and then like a bunch of friends and other Scouts helped, like, I don't know, we put in.

Willi Brooks:

Bunch of hours into basically framing walls and putting, hanging sheet rock and things and getting building inspections.

Willi Brooks:

And it was just like a really interesting process as like a 14 year kid that just didn't know existed.

Willi Brooks:

Like I thought just walls and call it good.

Willi Brooks:

But you know, like we had to have fire marshals come in and everything to make sure that sprinklers worked and whatever.

Willi Brooks:

And, I'll never, I like, I'll never forget, like the day that we hung this Dutch door.

Willi Brooks:

that splits in half so that like the top half could be open and people could walk up and like, you know, basically say like, oh, this is what I want.

Willi Brooks:

And like, people are like, okay, cool.

Willi Brooks:

Like, there's three people in here right now.

Willi Brooks:

Like once somebody leaves you can come in and kind of shop around.

Willi Brooks:

but like I hung that door with, Willie Watts.

Willi Brooks:

Who's the fire chief and his son, Robert, you know, so like just things like that, like.

Willi Brooks:

A pretty cool experience and also just very lucky that I get to have that experience too.

Stephan Abrams:

Well thank you for being so important in raising the bar for the food cupboard here in town.

Stephan Abrams:

And well, thanks.

Stephan Abrams:

Look at where it's gone.

Stephan Abrams:

Gone now.

Stephan Abrams:

Yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

So, you know, let's talk about where you are today.

Stephan Abrams:

You are the events, operations director at Center for the Arts.

Stephan Abrams:

And you're a partner with several other people at roots, kitchen and cannery.

Stephan Abrams:

Yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

yeah, so I

Willi Brooks:

started at the center part-time in kind of 2014 and just, I don't know, was kind of just looking for something a little bit more, I guess.

Willi Brooks:

Some people would say grown up mm-hmm and I don't know if like, that was just kind of like where I was in my life of like, okay, like, it'd be great to start to like a new chapter versus just like working seasonal jobs.

Willi Brooks:

which there's nothing wrong with working seasonal jobs.

Willi Brooks:

I really loved working the seasonal jobs that I got to work.

Willi Brooks:

But yeah, it was just like looking to start something new and came on.

Willi Brooks:

Part-time here as the house manager and have seen it just kind of go from, you know, I think when we, when I started, we were doing maybe like a hundred to events a year, and now we have like active days on the campus when it comes to events, like, well, over like 200.

Willi Brooks:

250.

Willi Brooks:

but there's been a lot of people that like have gotten it to that point.

Willi Brooks:

You know, Martha Bancroft was the executive director when I started here and she, you know, really pushed the vision along with the board as well.

Willi Brooks:

And, guy named Mike Dowda was here and he worked really hard to like, make everything work here.

Willi Brooks:

You know, it, it's a really small team.

Willi Brooks:

It's always been a small team.

Willi Brooks:

to like operate an entire city block worth of a building as well as work with the partners that are the residents and the nonprofits in the community to work, to produce events and do their, our own programming and everything.

Willi Brooks:

And so, yeah, it's pretty exciting to like, even see where it's gone, like through the pandemic and now with our.

Willi Brooks:

Executive director, Marty Camino.

Willi Brooks:

Who's like really, you know, took us through the pandemic into now.

Willi Brooks:

Like it's pretty wild to like see it because there were so many venues that shut down and didn't reopen.

Willi Brooks:

and we're just really lucky that, you know, the community supported.

Willi Brooks:

This is in the resident and the mission and like the outdoor space and to get it to where it post pandemic.

Willi Brooks:

it really feels like to where we were and doing more.

Willi Brooks:

we were so it's kinda wild, it?

Stephan Abrams:

It is wild.

Stephan Abrams:

And, and when you think about the number of days, To, to do 200 to 250 events a year.

Stephan Abrams:

That's just massive.

Stephan Abrams:

yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

When you think about how many days of the week there are, I mean there's 365 days and you start taking out holidays and weekends.

Stephan Abrams:

And I mean, but weekends are probably your bigger times to do things

Willi Brooks:

anyway.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Willi Brooks:

The team like from, you know, I mean, we're Our organization that is just the center, you know, is responsible for just making sure that the building is open and that the sidewalks are shoveled or the lawn is cut or the sprinklers are shut off appropriately, or the roof doesn't fall in.

Willi Brooks:

And then on top of that, we're in charge of helping everybody else out and do what they do here.

Willi Brooks:

but then.

Willi Brooks:

You know, there's all the residents that have their own staffs all the way down from like one person staffs to, you know, 20 person staffs as well.

Willi Brooks:

And it's, we're lucky that the supports it to the level that they do.

Willi Brooks:

Every single resident in here.

Willi Brooks:

cuz it really takes, it's pretty wild, what it takes to, do everything like we're we are starting a new roofing project today.

Willi Brooks:

just because, I know that a lot of people don't

Stephan Abrams:

really look up when

Willi Brooks:

they come into the building, but like there's yeah.

Willi Brooks:

I mean, Snow on a big building, like this really causes some major issues.

Willi Brooks:

Oh, I bet.

Willi Brooks:

So.

Stephan Abrams:

Yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

Yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

Hey Willie, we need to get a break to get a word from one of our sponsors and then we're gonna be right back.

Stephan Abrams:

Perfect.

Stephan Abrams:

Sounds great.

Stephan Abrams:

Welcome back.

Stephan Abrams:

thank you for your time right now.

Stephan Abrams:

And I'm enjoying speaking with you as an, committed member of our community and.

Stephan Abrams:

I've forgot to ask you a question.

Stephan Abrams:

Is Willie your given

Willi Brooks:

name?

Willi Brooks:

no.

Willi Brooks:

Well, it was given to me by my mom.

Willi Brooks:

but my legal name is Herbert Euclid Brooks, the fourth.

Willi Brooks:

but so my, because my dad got to give me my legal name.

Willi Brooks:

My mom said, well, I'm gonna give the name calls.

Willi Brooks:

So, she, I don't know why she landed on Willie Uhhuh.

Willi Brooks:

I think, well, my uncle is bill.

Willi Brooks:

And he goes by Billy, which I guess is short for William so that, you know, it probably, it could have come outta that.

Willi Brooks:

So.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah.

Willi Brooks:

That's, mom's

Stephan Abrams:

given so much to be thankful for.

Willi Brooks:

Oh yeah, yeah.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah.

Willi Brooks:

My mom is, uh, yeah, my mom's a pretty great lady.

Willi Brooks:

So, yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

And does your mom still live here?

Willi Brooks:

Yeah, my I'm really lucky.

Willi Brooks:

My parents both are still here in the house that I grew up in, that my dad and her.

Willi Brooks:

Back, I think in 19 88, 19 89.

Willi Brooks:

and yeah, so they're still here.

Willi Brooks:

they always talk about how like one summer you would go build Bruce's house and then the next summer you'd go build Steve's house.

Willi Brooks:

And then like, it was just like this rotating thing.

Willi Brooks:

Cause like, yeah, you could work in the winter at the resort a little bit or work in the summer as like, I dunno, at least teas mm-hmm . but yeah, like they just kind of did this like revolving door of like building each other's houses, which is kind of a thing that I still wish existed a little bit,

Stephan Abrams:

but yeah, that'd be, that'd be nice.

Stephan Abrams:

Wouldn't it?

Stephan Abrams:

Yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

And, and tell me about roots, kitchen and cannery.

Stephan Abrams:

What's what's that about?

Stephan Abrams:

Yeah.

Willi Brooks:

well, so I grew up with one of my good.

Willi Brooks:

Friends from growing up, a guy named Orion, Colorado, who would be another great.

Willi Brooks:

interview for you guys, Stephen.

Willi Brooks:

he, so his dad and my dad actually were roommates back in the seventies and, our moms were in like birthing class together and he, you know, like we were just.

Willi Brooks:

Always buddies growing up and in the same glass.

Willi Brooks:

And, when I moved back here, I was just like looking for some summertime part-time work.

Willi Brooks:

And, he, for the longest time, had a pie stand on the farmer's Mar at the town square on the farmer's market mm-hmm and at the people's market that he was also super involved in starting with slow food and the Tetons and, I just kind of started making pies with him part-time one summer and then was like, Hey, there's seems to be a little bit more here.

Willi Brooks:

And he was like, well, you know, we're trying to launch this can.

Willi Brooks:

And, so I just kind of bought in and jumped to help push things.

Willi Brooks:

And there were a number of years where we just worked our butts off and, It was, you know, we put everything back into the business and didn't get paid.

Willi Brooks:

And, and then finally we started to pay ourselves a little bit and, we opened up our can up in Bozeman with another partner, guy named Patrick Burr, who runs our facility up there.

Willi Brooks:

And there was a, a guy named Bo Baldock who.

Willi Brooks:

Was kind of early steps in the business and then he kind of moved on and then I came in, and so Ryan and Bo and Patrick, you know, they were kind of just figuring things out.

Willi Brooks:

And then I came in and jumped in a little bit and, we started figuring more things out and now the cannery is still running gangbusters up in Bozeman.

Willi Brooks:

And, You know, we distribute nationwide.

Willi Brooks:

but our whole mission there is kind of to, take regionally sourced, fruits and vegetables and preserve 'em so that they can be, you know, enjoyed in the middle of the wintertime.

Willi Brooks:

When, you know, you can't necessarily get carrots or beets, from your area or fr from the area.

Willi Brooks:

so.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah, it's it's off and running.

Willi Brooks:

And it's the first year that we haven't had a stand at the farmer's market.

Willi Brooks:

And I dunno how many years, but, but yeah, you know, we used to be out there selling pie and, and pickles and jam and cookies and scones and different things that, you know, we would just get from different friends that were also makers in town and put at our stand.

Willi Brooks:

like I'll never forget this one summer, like friend of ours had found like, three, five gallon buckets of Chan trail mushrooms.

Willi Brooks:

And we just like, we sold those at the farmer's market.

Willi Brooks:

cuz he was like a fun and like we were able to say like, yeah, this is actually what it.

Willi Brooks:

And our friends at the health department, like showed up and

Stephan Abrams:

were just like, what is this?

Stephan Abrams:

And we were like, no, we're

Willi Brooks:

a booth.

Willi Brooks:

I dunno, since two, six, maybe.

Willi Brooks:

2005.

Willi Brooks:

I've

Stephan Abrams:

I've enjoyed some of those pies and Keisha's before awesome.

Stephan Abrams:

And the other baked goods and, and they are bummer.

Stephan Abrams:

I mean, it is delicious.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah.

Willi Brooks:

But congratulations that you guys have grown to the point where you have, you don't need

Stephan Abrams:

to be there anymore.

Stephan Abrams:

that's that's just how a business grows and,

Willi Brooks:

and morphs.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah.

Willi Brooks:

I appreciate that.

Willi Brooks:

I don't know if it's that.

Willi Brooks:

We, I mean, there's certain things that have to just like, kind of go by the wayside when you get older.

Willi Brooks:

And it was just like, it was a lot like, I know there's been a lot of people that have made pies for the business and worked Saturday farmer's markets.

Willi Brooks:

I don't know how many people, friends that we've had, but they know like, I mean, that process starts on like a Tuesday and you end on Saturday at.

Willi Brooks:

Three o'clock in the afternoon.

Willi Brooks:

and on top of like having full-time jobs and everything, everybody was just like, wow, this is a lot mm-hmm and so, yeah, so it was, it was kind of bittersweet to see it go away, but, has definitely made the summer a little bit less stressful and I bet, enjoyable.

Willi Brooks:

So, yeah.

Willi Brooks:

Hey Willie, tell

Stephan Abrams:

me.

Stephan Abrams:

Your thoughts on being involved in the community.

Stephan Abrams:

I know that you're on the travel and tourism board, which is a volunteer position.

Stephan Abrams:

but even being at the center for the arts that runs with people who are willing to give their time and you being an Eagle scout, you certainly gave your time.

Stephan Abrams:

What's, what's your view on, on that and, and how that helps individuals, but also helps the C.

Stephan Abrams:

Yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

I'm not saying

Willi Brooks:

that like people have to like go out and offer up something to like, be a real member of the community here.

Willi Brooks:

I know that it's like, it like winters can get long.

Willi Brooks:

And this past winter was probably one of the longest winter.

Willi Brooks:

I've never experienced

Stephan Abrams:

here.

Willi Brooks:

just because like I've, and I think there's like a number of components that come out of that with lack of snow and it just rained late into the season and snow late into the season.

Willi Brooks:

And, you know, they can just get dark and kind of gloomy and, to like take care of yourself.

Willi Brooks:

You know, it, if somebody's just moving here or even if you've lived here for 20 years, you know, The community really takes care of its community members.

Willi Brooks:

whether that's, you know, I've seen people that have broken their backs and there's fundraisers for them or things like that.

Willi Brooks:

But like, I have found for myself If you are out and like volunteering, like even if it's an hour, a month or an hour a week, or whatever, you know, like, just like having, like plugging yourself into a sense of community and talking to somebody that is, you know, 40 years older than you, or 40 years younger than you for that much.

Willi Brooks:

Like, it really has helped me in just like my mental state You know, I feel like I could call up a, a number of different people and you know, not that I am looking at doing this, but like people, if you are helping, like, if you are out helping in the community, like the community is.

Willi Brooks:

Really there for you.

Willi Brooks:

in a sense, you know, like we had the million pound party here last night at the center for the arts and, just to like see all the different walks of life, like come out and be involved with that.

Willi Brooks:

Like, it was like really great, you know?

Willi Brooks:

Cause what is the million

Stephan Abrams:

pound party?

Stephan Abrams:

The

Willi Brooks:

million pound party is an event put on by whole food rescue.

Willi Brooks:

which is a really awesome.

Willi Brooks:

Nonprofit in town, that deals with like few food insecurity and, you know, they have a really great team and a team of volunteers and their staff is awesome.

Willi Brooks:

but just like, that's just like a little like snapshot of like, you know, if you're just move, if you've just moved here or, you know, you've been here forever or, you know, you've.

Willi Brooks:

40 million or if you've got a hundred bucks, you know, like we go out and just talk to people and, you know, work at one of these organizations or volunteer for a board or something like that.

Willi Brooks:

Just because like, it'll make, not only like your experience in Jackson so much more meaningful, but like also, like you'll learn like, just so much.

Willi Brooks:

Other people and like how, how to be in this community.

Willi Brooks:

Because I think it's really important.

Willi Brooks:

Like there is a certain way of being in this community, it's a tough place to live.

Willi Brooks:

You go off the road, you need to get pulled out.

Willi Brooks:

You know, you can't pull yourself out without a car.

Willi Brooks:

You're gonna have to rely on somebody else to help you out.

Willi Brooks:

And so if you know, I'm not saying that like, you need to go out and like do your part to like, be a part of a community, but like if you put yourself out there, which I know is really is a very difficult thing to do.

Willi Brooks:

Like it's crazy, you know, putting yourself there out there is.

Willi Brooks:

A big thing to do, but if you just show up and like help, yeah.

Willi Brooks:

Be in uncomfortable situation from time to time, but

Willi Brooks:

in

Stephan Abrams:

very, I appreciate it.

Stephan Abrams:

Uh it's it's your perspective.

Stephan Abrams:

And, and I agree with.

Stephan Abrams:

When you're out in the community, then you feel like you're part of the community and the community's gonna be there for you.

Stephan Abrams:

And I think that's any community.

Stephan Abrams:

Totally.

Stephan Abrams:

Um, here it is different because of our winters are longer and you know that you've met other people you've expanded your circle of who, you know, and, and like you said, you could be.

Stephan Abrams:

doing volunteering with somebody who worth 40 million and somebody who's got a hundred bucks in their pocket and that's all they have.

Stephan Abrams:

you just don't know, but that's not important.

Stephan Abrams:

It's what you're doing.

Stephan Abrams:

It's the action of volunteering.

Stephan Abrams:

So

Willi Brooks:

yeah, I've got this joke with my girlfriend.

Willi Brooks:

That's like because we have here at the center, we support so many missions and so many causes and she's always just kind of.

Willi Brooks:

Gosh, is there a cause that you could like, that you don't care about?

Willi Brooks:

And I'm just like, oh, you know, it just kind of comes with the territory, but you know, like you do have to kind of just, you gotta care about everybody.

Willi Brooks:

And I know that the pandemic really sectioning people off because we had to, and it's hard to come back from that and like be in the community.

Willi Brooks:

Or it, you know, after that it's, it was just a difficult thing to get back out and like really be together.

Willi Brooks:

so yeah, its, you know, I'm sure it's it's very the same for other communities, but yeah, you, somebody say hi, I dunno.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

Streets say hello people like, yeah, there are people just like you, you and me and.

Stephan Abrams:

Yeah, I, I thank you for saying that you have to care about other people.

Stephan Abrams:

Yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

it's very kind and gracious of you to say that and to share and keep, keep teaching that to other people, Willie.

Stephan Abrams:

Yeah, please do.

Stephan Abrams:

Yeah.

Willi Brooks:

I mean, that's an easy thing for me to say, you know, we're here, you know, there's a lot crazy stuff happening in the world right now that is making in the way it's.

Willi Brooks:

so pretty lucky that I get to.

Willi Brooks:

Be that way.

Willi Brooks:

Mm-hmm so, yeah.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

So if people wanna reach out and connect with you,

Willi Brooks:

learn more about

Stephan Abrams:

how you could help direct them to volunteering in the community or learn about roots, how to find that, how can people connect

Willi Brooks:

with you, Willie?

Willi Brooks:

I mean, email's super easy, but like, if you're looking for something.

Willi Brooks:

That you like wanna volunteer for?

Willi Brooks:

Like, I would just say like, what are you passionate about?

Willi Brooks:

And there's probably something in this community.

Willi Brooks:

Mm-hmm, , that's going to align with that.

Willi Brooks:

And the community foundation, you know, has a list bills is going on right now.

Willi Brooks:

There's a list of a million nonprofits that you, I mean, if you like hockey, you can volunteer for youth hockey, you know, I'm sure.

Willi Brooks:

Like somehow I dunno how, but like coach just connect.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah.

Willi Brooks:

Connect.

Willi Brooks:

Like the, or an organization that you're, that you align with, cuz you're gonna have a lot more fun while you're doing it.

Willi Brooks:

But yeah, you know, I mean, If you wanna reach out via email to me, please feel free to, but there's so many resources in our community when it comes to the community foundation or anything else that really you can connect with and get tied in with an organization to help out with or whatever.

Stephan Abrams:

What's your email, Willie that you want people to use?

, Willi Brooks:

let's not use my work email.

, Willi Brooks:

Let's use Herber.

, Willi Brooks:

B IV com and that's probably the only email that I've ever really, or over time that I've ever used that

Stephan Abrams:

legal name outside of.

Stephan Abrams:

I love that

Willi Brooks:

email document.

Willi Brooks:

Herbert B Herbert the fourth.

Willi Brooks:

That's awesome.

Willi Brooks:

Well,

Stephan Abrams:

you're

Willi Brooks:

the only one that has that, so good for you.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah.

Willi Brooks:

yeah, I know.

Willi Brooks:

Appreciate,

Stephan Abrams:

well, I'll let you get back to your day.

Stephan Abrams:

You have plenty to do,

Willi Brooks:

with all the events that are happening there at the center for the arts.

Willi Brooks:

Thank you for keeping that place, vibrant, being a part of that.

Willi Brooks:

yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

And volunteering at the travel and tourism board, I've thoroughly enjoyed having a conversation with you today

Willi Brooks:

and my glad and thanks.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah, you're welcome.

Willi Brooks:

I know it's super

Stephan Abrams:

cheesy, but it takes a village.

Stephan Abrams:

It does.

Stephan Abrams:

Yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

And takes a bunch of people to make up that village.

Stephan Abrams:

Doesn't it?

Stephan Abrams:

Totally.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah.

Stephan Abrams:

Well,

Willi Brooks:

take care.

Willi Brooks:

Thanks Willie.

Willi Brooks:

Good to see you.

Willi Brooks:

Yeah, you too.

Willi Brooks:

You well, bye.

Stephan Abrams:

To learn more about Willie be and his community work.

Stephan Abrams:

Visit the Jackson hole, connection.com episode number 205.

Stephan Abrams:

Thank you all for tuning in today.

Stephan Abrams:

Get out there and share this podcast.

Stephan Abrams:

You can share it via social media, texting it to folks, Thank you to Michael Moeri.

Stephan Abrams:

Who's been editing and producing these podcasts since day one.

Stephan Abrams:

And of course, to my wife, Laura, my boys Lewis and William who give me everlasting support through hugs and kisses and, smiles and funnies.

Stephan Abrams:

Right now, Lewis is reading Garfield and William is seeing William.

Stephan Abrams:

Pick up on what Garfield's humor is, is quite fun to see.

Stephan Abrams:

I appreciate you sharing your time with me today and cheers till next week.

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