Clayton Bussey never really had a plan.
He moved to Washington from Ohio in 2011, following a job opportunity he'd learned about from friends. The job, doing office work for GFI Hay Processing, wasn't necessarily a long-term career. But he didn't have anything lined up back home, so it was enough. It got him here. And once he was here, Bussey set about getting involved.
"Back in Ohio, I had no first-hand experience with any community organizations or civic organizations, no idea how any of that stuff functioned," he said. "Coming out here, I realized I was kind of curious about that."
He started volunteering at The Seasons Performance Hall, just to meet people and feel like he was part of something. That's where he first encountered fellow volunteer Soo Choi.
After a brief stab at dating, the two determined they were better as friends. And in 2016, they founded the Sagebrush Hills Film Festival, which has grown each year since.
"Soo had the idea," Bussey said. "She wanted to start a film festival. And I'm her loyal partner in crime."
They make an interesting team. Choi is an animated, outgoing, force-of-nature type. Bussey, while sharing Choi's intellectual curiosity and willingness to engage with the community, goes about things more quietly and deliberately. That dynamic works well for running the film festival. Choi takes the lead on artistic direction and outreach; Bussey crosses the t's and dots the i's.
"She's the idea person," Bussey said. "She's always the driving force. I'm the detail guy. I do the actual day-of operations to run the event. I do the bookkeeping."
He plays a similar role as the finance chairman of the Larson Gallery Guild board, of which he's been a member for 3 1/2 years. As is the case with the film festival, Bussey doesn't have particular experience with art but makes himself useful by playing to his strengths.
When he moved to Yakima as a 21-year-old, Bussey wouldn't have pictured himself co-founding one arts organization and sitting on the board of another. That's just sort of how it worked out.
"I like to be involved," he said. "I like to be part of things."