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Guest Blog: Q&A with Friends of the Columbia Gorge // How Web Solutions can Support Wild Places

With my four-cylinder pickup truck loaded to the brim and my grad school textbooks in tow, I drove through the Columbia River Gorge for the first time on September 1, 2017. As anyone who has hiked, climbed, kayaked, or stopped to take a picture in the gorge knows, it’s a remarkable 85 mi long river canyon that welcomed Lewis and Clark, and now me, to the Pacific Northwest. The Eagle Creek fire shut down interstate 84 through the Gorge a day later.
 
Friends of the Columbia Gorge is the only non-profit organization dedicated entirely to protecting the Columbia Gorge. They rely not only on hard working staff to advocate for the natural world, and on volunteers brandishing work gloves and shovels, but also on sophisticated technology to support their work.
 
Stan Hall, Digital Content Specialist at Friends, shared why they chose Cascade Web Development for their website re-design, and how having sophisticated technology at the ready helped them respond when all whom love the Gorge turned to their organization for direction.
 
Q: Why did you choose Cascade for your website redesign?
 
We had a website that was ’08 vintage. Not mobile friendly. Clunky. Easy to break on the back end. We depended on a developer in the Bay Area to make simple fixes…
 
We liked their product, Evergreen. The content management system was powerful enough to do Salesforce integration, event registration, a trails database, and make it work properly.

 “We had a couple shops that didn’t want to even meet in person, but Cascade came to us and worked hard for our business … They were cool, but not too cool.”
 
Mosier Oil Train Derailment – June 3, 2016
The Mosier oil train derailment was one of the first times where the attention given to the Gorge was beyond just people who were interested in the Gorge. It was about environmental and energy policy ... We, as the only non profit dedicated to the gorge, were looked to as a source of expertise and direction. With the website we made a whole bunch of news posts, opinion pieces and were able to use the website to give credibility to the material we created.
 
Eagle Creek Fire – September 2, 2017
“The fire started on Saturday. By Sunday we realized it wasn’t an ordinary fire and we had heard about the stranded hikers. Hood River Search and Rescue is a unit that is stretched thin budget wise; they don’t get reimbursed if non-Hood County residents are rescued. As a thank you for them we decided to start a fundraiser. The Cascade team was really alert and able to help us. We had the fundraiser going the second day of fire. We thought we could get $2,000 to help their budget ... we raised over $46,000, all crowdsourced and from a lot of small donations. The public and other stakeholders were really looking to us for direction. We used the database, salesforce integration, and had to have all of that working properly with the website to respond so quickly.
 
Get out and hike! – GorgeFriends.org/Hike
“Probably the most complicated aspect of whole site was the trails database.” Gorgefriends.org/hike has map of 100+ Gorge trails and ways to customize the perfect hike for you. The interactive trails database “helped us to inform and disperse people after the fires.”
 
Q: Has the new website freed up additional staff time to spend on cause-centric work?
To be honest we spend more time working on the website now. Not because it’s harder to use, but because we can do more with it. With the last site, we would just leave it alone for weeks on end because it wasn’t that useful, but now, because it’s such a useful tool, it’s become a much bigger portion of my job, and other people on staff are able to do their jobs better.

Jacob Taddy is a MBA Candidate at Portland State University and a member of the Net Impact, B-Impact program. B-Impact provides free consulting services for companies engaged in the B Corp certification or recertification process.
 


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