The Co-Op is a project which provides both immediate and long-term direct mutual aid to our community. We combine commerce, agriculture and education in order to meet a variety of needs. The potential grant funding for such projects is great, but we are more likely to get funding for big things if we start small on our own. Through these projects, we will not only provide a market place, community farming, education and increased economic opportunities, but also hope create a template for other rural communities to follow.
This project is active, and we are currently seeking volunteers. This project is an easy one to plug into – even if you have a busy schedule. And the rewards to the community can be immediate.
The Three Sisters of the Co-Op
The Co-Op is broken down into three major sections: Education, Agriculture and Commerce. These parts are referred to as The Three Sisters due to the way they intertwine and benefit each other. The material produced in one section through an educational workshop can be sold in the store. Development projects can become educational opportunities. These are projects with multiple tactics and multiple outcomes and many possible ways to volunteer.
Big Bend’s isolation can make meeting material needs frustrating and expensive. In 2016, the BBCLT started a community yard sale, which sells donated items to residents on a sliding-scale basis. Since we’ve expanded into a community bazaar, offering a place for local merchants to sell their wares. Due to the facility situation, we’ve only been able to do occasional events recently. We plan to establish a more developed storefront with semi-regular hours, and hope to have a regular farmer’s market in the near future.
Growing food is a mainstay for many Big Benders, yet it can be incredibly time consuming, with many lacking the space or fencing to do it at home. Together, though, we can create a surplus. We are building a 150’ by 150’ horse-proof fenced community garden in the next few months. We want to start a CSA-like egg co-op, where many people help with one flock and we all get eggs. We can teach while we grow and sell what we make.
The School of Ordinary Skills, or S.O.S., is an initiative to provide educational opportunities for residents. Skill-shares can provide opportunities for neighbors to enlighten each other. Workshops can teach people how to make or operate different things. Some proposed events include a Spanish language club, a music class, sewing workshops, martial arts and events for children. Eventually we can develop different fabrication shops, such as woodworking, metalworking, etc., which can be places of production and learning.