Camille Storch for Philomath School Board

March 25, 2017 · 2 comments

Camille Storch

Hi. I’m Camille Storch, and I’m running for Position 3 on the Philomath School Board. If you live in the Philomath School District, I would appreciate your vote in the May 16th election.

I’m a lifelong Philomath resident and product of Philomath public schools (PHS class of 2001). I’m a parent of two children currently attending Blodgett Elementary, and my husband Henry and I own a business here (Old Blue Raw Honey). I’m certainly on the young end of the age spectrum of Philomath parents, but I am committed to being active in this district for the next decade no matter what. In the next four years (of a school board term), my children will be students in three of six district schools (Blodgett Elementary, Philomath Elementary, and Philomath Middle), and hopefully they will participate in a wide range of school and community activities (sports, band, theater, etc.). I will be right there with them.

I am running for school board to help bring the perspective of a current parent of young children to the conversation. I believe that all eleven candidates running for positions on the Philomath School Board have good intentions, and I value the wisdom and experience of the current board and older community members, but I also believe that it is important to have parent of students currently in district schools on the board. I think the perspective and stakes for parents of current students are different than those of parents of adult children. I understand the challenges young families in this community are facing in terms of job opportunities, real estate and housing availability, child care and preschool options, and being priced out of the quality of life that many families had in this area a generation ago.

Ideally I believe a school board that will set district policy for decades to come should be made up of mostly parents of current students, preferably with kids attending many or all of the district’s six schools and involved in a wide range of school and community activities. As a parent, I also understand that serving on the board is a huge time commitment that can be too much to ask of most young families. I am fortunate as a self employed person to have a flexible work schedule that will allow me to participate in necessary school board functions, so I want to take advantage of this opportunity to contribute back to the community.

I’m a good listener, a quick learner, and a curious person. As a school board director, I will maintain professional working relationships with other board members, staff, administrators, students, parents, and community members of all types.  I believe a good board should implement policies that provide all children with a safe, respectful, inclusive environment that fosters learning and personal growth. We all want Philomath students and graduates to represent our community well and to go on to become productive citizens here and elsewhere.

Community service has always been a big part of my life. For several years in high school, I volunteered weekly serving dinners at the soup kitchen at the Methodist church in Philomath, I was the president of the PHS Community Service Club, and I participated in Philomath outdoor school for two years in high school and three years in college. As an adult, I’ve been active in the leadership of the Marys River Grange for the past seven years, and I’ve been a classroom volunteer in Mrs. Priewe’s class at Blodgett since my son started kindergarten in 2013. Old Blue Raw Honey has been a member of the Philomath Area Chamber of Commerce for most of the last year, so I have been attending Chamber events regularly, and I recently joined the newly formed Philomath Streetscape Stakeholder Committee. You might also spot me in a reflective vest picking up trash along the Alsea Highway because that’s one of the most convenient ways to contribute to my community on my own schedule these days. (Seriously, it’s one of my favorite pastimes. You should come out on litter patrol with me.) **UPDATE I’m having a Community Litter Pickup campaign event the afternoon of Sunday, April 23. Everyone is welcome. Details here.

I am a college graduate (OSU class of 2005), but I’m also a strong advocate for career and technical training in addition to traditional academics during and after high school. I believe in the value of meaningful work.

My family lived in the Wren area (at the end of ~2 miles of gravel road) for ten years, so I am quite familiar with many of the joys and hardships of rural living. We’re a little closer in now, but many of my kids’ classmates at Blodgett Elementary come from the far reaches of the district, so I hope to be a voice for those who live well out of town.

I recognize that people want to know where I stand on the ongoing troubles at the high school. For better or for worse, I have no close personal ties to any current Philomath High School students or parents of current PHS students. I do know a few teachers at PHS both from my time as a student, and from meeting people in the community as an adult. I have attended five school board meetings this school year (November, January, February, March, and April), I have read all written public statements from the Philomath United group, and I have heard some of the facts and a whole lot of hearsay about the situation. Considering all that, I still do not believe I have enough information, nor will I (or most community members) ever have enough information to have an informed opinion on decisions made this year, and the last thing this town needs right now is one more uninformed person spouting off ill-considered observations and judgements. If you want to know what “side” I’m on, I will tell you that I am only on the side of civility and community mindedness.

I am running for school board on my own merits and would like to be judged as such, but if you live in this area, there’s a good chance you know some of my family members who have helped shape my worldview, parenting style, and sense of community mindedness. My mom, Nancy Muir, has been selling bread and vegetables at Corvallis area farmers’ markets since the year I was born. She was a classroom volunteer at Philomath Elementary School for close to two decades but finally moved on after Mrs. Burgess retired. Now she is a volunteer Dial-A-Bus driver for four hours every week, making sure elderly and disabled community members get to work, the grocery store, appointments, etc. My dad, Cameron Muir, has been an employee at Starker Forests, Inc. for going on 40 years. He’s an avid gardener and helped coach my AYSO soccer teams for many years as I was growing up. My husband, Henry Storch (CHS class of 2001, OSU class of 2004), has been a professional farrier in the area since 2003, and though he still shoes and trims some horses, now he mostly focuses on his migratory beekeeping operation and our company, Old Blue Raw Honey. Henry currently serves as a director on the Benton Soil and Water Conservation District board. My father in law and step mother in law, Bill and Joanne Storch, are professional woodworkers in Corvallis, and my mother in law, Sara Power, is a retired Methodist minister who is an active volunteer at the Philomath Food Bank, Room at the Inn (the Corvallis Women’s Cold-Weather Shelter at the First United Methodist Church), and Jamming for the Hungry.

Special thanks for inspiration and encouragement in this campaign go to my excellent high school civics teacher Mr. Crocker (who says I’m the first of his former students to run for local political office), my Oregon public school teacher brother and sister in law who have shared many stories of their own rewarding and challenging experiences in the classroom, my friend Adam Nilsson who’s the newest member of the Baker City city council, and lastly my mom and my husband for being incredibly supportive and offering to pick up the slack on the child care front so that I can have time to dedicate to school activities and school board commitments. Thank you!

If you want to know more about me, you’re welcome to scroll back through my blog posts here–this one might be particularly relevant–or you can look at/read/hear various things I’ve photographed/written/said or things that have been written about me in other places. (**These stories are somewhat more substantial, interesting, and/or revealing.)

**School Board Candidate Q-and-A: Position 3 in Philomath Express

**Farmers’ market provides downtown buzz in Corvallis Gazette-Times

Philomath School Board election attracts 11 candidates for 3 positions in Philomath Express

Is This Idea Even Better Than A Peg Board on The Kitchn 

**Oregon Instagrammer Camille Storch Gives A Glimpse Of Rural Life (audio here) on OPB’s Think Out Loud

Philomath woman finds growing audience on Instagram in Corvallis Gazette-Times

Episode 142: Quesadillas, The Silver Palate Cookbook, Camille Storch on Local Mouthful

Farm Visit: Old Blue Raw Honey on Dine X Design

**Simple Matters 03: Camille Storch on Reading My Tea Leaves

Sweet as Honey in Taproot Magazine (FOLK)

6 Fascinating Homesteaders Who are Living the Dream on Rodale’s Organic Life

Instagram Photographers to Follow in All 50 States in TIME

The Skinny on Soil Blockers on Floret

What’s Cooking This Weekend, Henry and Camille Storch? on The Kitchn

**Henry Storch 5-Part Grower Tour on The Kitchn

23 Country Instagrammers You Need in Your Feed on Country Living

Guest Post: Honey-Vanilla Bean Quince Preserves from Camille Storch on Food In Jars

 Modern Day Homesteading: A Story in Photos on Etsy

From Rural Oregon to Brooklyn for Community with @waywardspark on the Instagram blog

**Guest Post: Pickled Beets with Honey from Camille Storch on Food In Jars

**Artisan finds niche with cutting boards in Corvallis Gazette-Times

Featured Seller: Red Onion Woodworks on Etsy

If you have a question or comment, you can leave it below, and I will do my best to respond. You can also email me camille_storch@yahoo.com. Please keep things civil. I reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments. 

Update: 

On Tuesday, I lost my bid for a seat on the Philomath School Board. (Congratulations go to Jim Kildea, Greg Gerding, and Shelley Niemann.) Here are some thoughts about my experience…

I presented myself as a legitimate candidate and ended up with 22% of the vote in a four-way race, which is nothing to scoff at. I feel like in the last two months, I have gained respect from many community members (some who eventually voted for me and some who probably chose not to), and in the end, I have no regrets. I have maintained good relations with all the current board members, future board members, and other candidates, so I am hopeful that I will be able to participate in district-level policy making in some way, and I will be heard by the board when I feel like I have something to say.

I’m particularly proud of my performance at the candidate forum last week. I was able to articulate specific, original answers to many questions in ways that resonated with the audience. I presented myself as a knowledgable, professional adult (though younger than most other candidates by several decades) with good communications skills, and I was sited multiple times by other candidates in the context of, “as Camille mentioned”, “like Camille, I believe”, “Camille brought up”, etc.

An important lesson I’ve been learning recently (and I credit Henry almost entirely for encouraging this in me) is that it’s way more effective to listen, learn, and try to empathize and understand first before insisting upon being heard and/or making demands when dealing with people and groups. There is a time and place for yelling and protesting (egregious violations of public trust, time-sensitive matters, etc.), but the time and place for civil discourse and honest, respectful conversations is all the time and everywhere. I feel like I got a lot farther and earned a lot more respect by asking questions like, “How can I/the school board better support you?” and “What do you want me to know about your situation?” instead of, “This is why you should vote for me.”

A few months ago, Andrea Silenzi (host of excellent podcast Why Oh Why), sent me a link to an episode of the Ezra Klein Show with guest Jennifer Lawless. The Cliffs Notes version of the show is that a) Running for public office can be incredibly personally rewarding, win or lose. b) More regular folks should run for local and regional political office because if we leave it up to those that are specifically inclined to the craziness of politics, the people elected will not be good representatives of the citizens in their districts. c) The two biggest reason that women, specifically, don’t run is that no one asks them to run, and they don’t feel qualified. (i.e. A woman has the exact qualifications as a man. He thinks he’s qualified enough, but she doesn’t.) I’m not a huge Ezra Klein fan, but I found this show to be highly inspirational, and I wholeheartedly agree that running in this election was a huge learning experience that made me a better person and better community member.

One thing that I want to expand upon beyond the Jennifer Lawless’s advice is that while it’s not okay to tell women that they are unqualified, any candidate really should do their homework and familiarize themselves with the office and the situation before deciding to run. I’ve been a parent in the Philomath School District for four years and a member of the Philomath community my whole life, but I only started attending school board meetings in November 2016. When I filed to run, I had been to three meetings, so having attended more obviously would have been better, but in just three board meetings, I was able to get a pretty good sense of the people involved and the issues and challenges at hand. After filing, I did a deep dive into many aspects of the school district by engaging in countless conversations, scheduled and not, with many parents, teachers, staff, administrators, and community members. I was able to learn so so much in a relatively short amount to time, and I would not have been happy with myself if I hadn’t tried so hard meet the people I needed to meet and understand the issues I needed to understand to be an effective school board member before the election. If you want to get involved in local politics, I highly recommend you spend at least a few months attending meetings, gathering information, and familiarizing yourself with the players and the issues before making proposals or inserting yourself into the fray.

During the course of the election, I had a long talk with a woman who’s a parent and district employee, and she admitted to me that she’s “afraid” of hummus. This is a preposterous concept to me. Hummus has been on the shelves of every grocery store in America for at least 10 years, and I assumed it was extremely mainstream and unoffensive at this point. You would think that I, a hummus lover, wouldn’t have anything in common with someone who is literally “afraid” of hummus, but the reality is that she and I see eye to eye on a lot of issues in schools and in life. That’s been an ongoing surprise to me, how people in my community can hold extremely different world views than I do, but how we can also find common ground on many things, too.

Lastly, running for school board has been my best coping mechanism for turning down the volume on national politics in my mind. Yes, I’m still keeping myself informed of the chaos, but having something tangible to focus my attention on, something that I have a degree of control over that will affect real people in my own community has helped me be more optimistic about everything. I’m not really an anxiety-prone person (So thankful for that!), but the national political situation is stressful. I highly recommend throwing yourself into local politics if you want to alleviate some of that stress.

If anyone has any questions about my (very small, personal) experience, I’m happy to answer. Thanks so much to all of you for the support and encouragement. It’s meant a lot to me.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Briar Winters March 26, 2017 at 6:08 pm

So inspiring, Camille! I know you would do an incredible job in this position!

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Kelly May 11, 2017 at 1:37 pm

I first found your site while looking for information on local blueberry farms, and we’ve purchased many products from your family since we moved to the area. We’re in Corvallis but are excited to see that you’re running. Good luck!

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