Tag: Oregon

A Greater, More Resilient, Applegate

By Ryan Pernell, Outreach and Engagement Assistant, A Greater Applegate

Erica Mooney and I presenting notes taken during small group discussion at Rogue Valley Food Systems Network F.E.A.S.T. event (RARE’s supporting other RARE programs, yay!)
Erica Mooney and I presenting notes taken during small group discussion at Rogue Valley Food Systems Network F.E.A.S.T. event. Hooray for RAREs supporting other RAREs!

There are many stories I could share that capture the impact the RARE Program has had here in the Applegate since my start date in September. AGA’s neighborhood listening sessions are growing in attendance and enthusiasm, the Applegate Valley Business Network has formed and has started working on projects aimed to support the economic vitality of the region and A Greater Applegate has been able to begin responding to some of the needs of the community that are increasingly becoming known to the organization. These are all things that I have played a part in and take great pride in.

Probably the best example of the RARE program’s impact on the Applegate Valley is A Greater Applegate’s graceful, albeit on-the-fly, transition from general community building to community organizing in the context of COVID-19 emergency preparedness & response in partnership with the greater community.

Humbug Creek/Applegate Neighborhood Connections Listening Session (2 groups at stations that I was facilitations lead at)
Humbug Creek/Applegate Neighborhood Connections Listening Session

Emergency preparedness in the Applegate is something that is frequently the minds of Applegaters but has had little success being implemented on a valley wide scale. As a 500 square mile region, with a population of nearly 18,000 and no formal governing body, it quickly became clear to AGA that the Applegate was going to be one of the last regions between three counties that would be considered for aid and allocated resources in this emergency and future emergencies. Fortunately, AGA was able to harness the power of the networks (business, nonprofit, neighborhood) that we have been steadily building over the last year and relationships created with stakeholders outside of the valley to formally organize around a response effort to ensure residents of the Applegate Valley have access to the resources they need for the duration of the pandemic.

Applegate Valley Business Network providing feedback on logo designs
Applegate Valley Business Network providing feedback on logo designs

There certainly has been no shortage of willingness within the community to help and because of that some really incredible response has taken place. AGA was able to assess what people were already doing, help organize those efforts and fill in the gaps when needed. Some of the key projects we have taken on as a result include developing and coordinating an Applegate Valley Mutual Aid Network, coordinating with local farmers/producers and foodbanks to ensure the local food system remained functional and people had access to food, implemented a virtual information hub for businesses, nonprofits and community members on our community website (applegateconnect.org) and provided Zoom trainings/hosted Zoom meetings for organizations without access to the program.

This response effort has shown the impact that AGA’s community building efforts have had for this valley. Because AGA had already been laying the framework for a resilient community prior to the emergency, Applegaters were able to make an easy transition to addressing needs and supporting one another in the face of this unprecedented event.

Photo of the authorAbout the author, Ryan Pernell: Ryan graduated from Western Washington University with a B.A. in Urban Planning and Sustainable Development and a Minor in Disaster Risk Reduction. Ryan enjoys the intersection between community development, health and safety, and environmental sustainability. Ryan looks forward to bringing her experience working in rural communities to the nonprofit sector and engaging with individuals who care deeply about the place they live.

Closeness of the RARE Community

By Paige Crenshaw, Rural Organizing Project

At RARE orientation, I remember looking around the room as our fearless program leader, Titus, stressed that this room contained our new best friends. As he went on explaining the RARE “family” I remember chuckling to myself. Not that I didn’t think I would become friends with the others in my cohort, but because the word family felt over-the-top. A bit comical, even.

My oh my. How that has changed! In the many months since that initial meeting, I’ve crisscrossed the state of Oregon, visiting RARE friends from northeastern Oregon to my new home in the south. I’ve traversed snowy mountain passes and made my way to the coast and gotten a flat tire here and there. I’ve seen the cowboys of Lakeview and sang karaoke in Roseburg and watched the sun go down over Pendleton. I’ve spent many an evening in the Applegate Valley drinking wine and looking at the stars with the best friend I could ever ask for.

I drove down to the coast a few months ago with another RARE member and friend. It was incredible. Oh, goodness. Erica and I sat on this little rock ledge overlooking the most insane ocean landscape. We both are from the Midwest, and were always marveling at the open sky and bigness of it all. We had spent the afternoon laughing and walking around the mystic redwoods. Between bites of slightly-stale Gardeto’s and chocolate-covered granola, I remember looking at the grandness of the landscape in front of us in silence. I burst out laughing in pure amazement as they turned to me and said, “How the hell did we get here?”

The RARE community organically lends itself to cultivating intense and inspiring relationships. When hearing uniquely talented minds talk about the nature of our world, its people, and its cultures, we can become transformed and inspired, both personally and professionally.

If you’re looking to join the RARE program, remember that wherever you land, you exist in such a unique place in the world. You are able to put yourself in the way of beauty every single day, intentionally or not. Please don’t let yourself lose sight of that. Learn to trust yourself and to appreciate the closeness of the RARE community. Try not to wait until your last couple of months to notice the special place you’ve chosen to spend a snapshot of your life. But also remember that the world is vast and inviting outside of a small rural Oregon town, and the work you will do after RARE, whether it be as a city planner, educator, farmer…is so important.

Photo of author wearing a black shirt and glasses, standing in front of a red flowering currantAbout the author, Paige Crenshaw: Originally hailing from Chicago, IL, Paige studied Sustainable Community Development and Sociology & Social Justice at Northland College in Ashland, WI. After working on both urban and rural farms of different scales during her undergraduate years, Paige developed her own food ethic and understanding of what the relationships between and across food, soil, regional development means for community resilience and long-term sustainability. This understanding led her to explore other facets of community work, spanning multiple sectors — public health, sustainable food systems, and cross-community collaboration. Paige is thrilled to dig into potential and existing possibilities for community development in Southern Oregon. Paige is also jazzed about swimming in natural bodies of water, tidal pools, contra dancing, and garlic.