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Our Founder

A career of building community

For over 25 years, Maren Van Nostrand has worked within communities to help them discover, clarify, and define what is important to their health and future using trademark processes that involves people working toward the identification and preservation of special community places and the traditions that take place within them. A professionally-trained community organizer, she's passionate about connecting people with each other and with their precious shared places and resources, for ultimately healthier and more sustainable community living. It's been a life rooted in both music and planning, often simultaneously, sometimes even overlapping, and always bringing people together over shared priorities.

Maren also has an array of performing and teaching experiences: at Benaroya Hall as a mezzo-soprano with the Seattle Symphony Chorale and as a percussionist with Northwest Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Seattle. She studied and performed percussion at the University of Washington under the instruction of Seattle Symphony’s Timpanist Mike Crusoe and well-known vibraphone player, Tom Collier. In her hometown Carnation, Maren has taught piano/percussion/voice for 20 years, directed the Tolt UCC choir of Carnation, and accompanied and substitute-directed the middle- and high-school bands and choirs. Maren created Soundfalls in 2006 as community-involvement company focused on music education, performance, and stories featuring her students alongside regionally- and nationally-known artists. She and her husband, Byron Ricks, were the emcees of the show, and the Soundbites Band--featuring George Seccombe on guitar, Todd Powell on keyboard, Maren and Stacy Powell on vocals, and Byron on trumpet--usually accompanied and harmonized a bit with the guest performers. The show grew in attendance to 80 to 150 people. Eventually Soundfalls expanded to include a wider level of participation through the hosting of workshops and song and story circles up and down the Snoqualmie Valley. 

While not involved in music, Maren conducts natural and cultural resource planning, in the past for King County and cities within King County, and  for FEMA in the Pacific NW and Saipan and Guam.

Maren is also an expedition kayaker, canoer, and adventure traveller, outdoor educator and guide, with thousands of miles covered on land and water, both solo and in groups, as leader and as friend. Read more about one of her adventures in the book, Homelands: Kayaking the Inside Passage, (Bard/Avon, New York, 1999).

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We are passionate about building community.  If you are curious about our process, we are happy to meet with you for an initial consultation.

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