Tag: RARE AmeriCorps Program

Adopting the Klamath Basin Resilience Mentality

By Lydia Ivanovic, Rural Tourism Coordinator, Discover Klamath

Crater LakeRural life is characterized is often characterized as slow and even at times stagnant, but then again many folks who don’t live in rural places don’t see the work that community members and the speed at which they can organize around the development of their hometown. In the wake of COVID-19, I have seen my community suffer economic losses that strain small town business and threaten the emerging tourism market. But, I have also borne witness to the very resilience that defines the Klamath Basin, and the opportunity to be a part of that. After the cancellation of the biggest outdoor recreation events for several small Oregon-California border towns, a $4 million loss to be precise, it seemed the bounce-back just wasn’t in our vocabulary. But, I was proven wrong. The event was rescheduled for a few more months out and we were on to the next, pushing along a marketing campaign, and installing the very first Quilt Barn panel on the Tulelake Cold Storage building, a shining beacon for the multi-panel quilt trail to come.

I quickly adopted the Klamath Basin way and resilience became my M.O., too. No longer able to host the first ever community float event bringing visitors to our waterways? We now have the opportunity to construct an industry leading event for community members themselves to the float the waterways and engage in a multi-stakeholder conversation on what story we want to tell to visitors and lift the voices in our community through the connection we have with water.

Rural Klamath CountyNo longer able showcase local producers in food trucks at the upcoming Oktoberfest event? Instead, we will create the first local food guide in the Klamath Basin and take on individual outreach to connect farmers and foodies.

Maybe we can’t showcase the restaurant procuring local products in a highly trafficked restaurant weekend right now, but come fall time, an open air market might be just the thing to give local restaurants the spotlight they deserve.

In a matter of weeks, much of the work that I came to do in my community became impossible, stalled in the planning phase. But just as quickly, we came together to identify new gaps and “offline” opportunities and new strategies were put to the test. As a RARE member, I have been at the front lines of this creative thinking, leading all team meetings, researching regional examples of the work we want to accomplish, and always serving as a a point person for every comment, query, and the occasional complement.

About the author, Lydia Ivanovic: Lydia completed her undergraduate studies at Smith College in western Massachusetts, majoring in Economics. Having worked on her school’s food sustainability campaign, Lydia is excited to see her food systems organizing skills put to work in developing the Basin’s agritourism network, among other projects. While Lydia hails from the big apple, she is excited to embrace the close-knit nature of rural communities and work alongside grassroots organizations to inspire real change. When not in the office, Lydia loves rock climbing, hiking, and playing the saxophone.

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.