Jennifer Hackett founded Washington Hometown to address two challenges. As a new resident with two children, she struggled to find recreation opportunities in her area that would meet her needs (How difficult is the hike? Does it have a flush toilet? Does it take the Discover Pass?). Working in the field of geographic information systems (GIS), she was frustrated by the amount of time she spent searching for information for her recreation mapping projects. There was a wealth of available data but no single source, attributes were not standardized, and there were significant gaps. Jennifer decided to address this shortfall starting in 2009 when she built a data set of recreation in Kittitas County to support projects for the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce and Ellensburg Downtown Association. This initial effort was expanded into the statewide Washington Hometown project in 2015. Her data set, drawn from over 100 sources with more than 14,000 records and growing, includes information from all of the major public recreation agencies, as well as county, city, utility and private assets. For each place, there is both a spatial record (point, line and/or polygon) that allows it to be mapped and a database record with 100 fields that can be used to capture information about the place.
Information from the Washington Hometown project is available to the public through a set of interactive maps oriented towards users, as well as the Kittitas County visitor site, the Recreation and Conservation Office Land Interactive Mapping Tool and the Mountains to Sound Greenway web map. The data is also used on maps created by Washington Hometown and is available by subscription to any group with their own mapping program.