Mission and Definition
Our Communities of NW Stokes is a local development initiative dedicated to the revitalization of our area and to building programs and partnerships that benefit all of Stokes County. It is a community-built, community-driven and all volunteer effort. The Our Communities Foundation was started in 2015 to support this work and help with the funding of local projects.
Our Communities brings people together in our area to work toward securing a brighter future for NW Stokes County. We are looking forward and moving forward.
Improving local services; promoting education and technology; creating a business-friendly environment; conserving our natural, historical, and cultural assets; integrating the arts into community life and development; increasing community involvement and inclusion.
A Brief History
The initiative evolved from a series of locally produced forums held in 2014. Decades-long decline and dwindling government investment in our area had reached a crisis point. The initiative gained urgency and momentum after the area’s elementary school the heart and center of our communities--was closed in 2015. With a history of self-reliance and resilience behind them, residents decided to test the idea that ordinary people, even in tiny farm villages, could shape and propel sustainable development from the grassroots up. Finding no models that seemed to fit our size, circumstances and needs, the group set about crafting its own original approach, one that is community-driven (not just community-based) all-inclusive, responsive and action-focused. The main challenge is building local capacity. The work involves outreach, skills-building, community-learning and engagement.
Some of our Activities
Organizing and presenting an annual FarmFest Festival; leading a community-driven planning and development process; creating opportunities for civic engagement and education; raising funds for local organizations and projects; teaching classes and workshops; sponsoring music events; leading arts initiatives; documenting and preserving local music and history; partnering with providers to expand broadband internet access; maintaining and expanding community outreach and information tools; building partnerships with other agencies and organizations.
Our Communities in 2020
Over the past five years, Our Communities has built the capacity to take on some big projects. We now have a core volunteer base of more than 50 people, and a record of progress. In 2020 we will be continuing our planning and development process. Over the next two-years, residents of all ages will participate in putting together a 15-year comprehensive development plan and designing a 21st century village. A store, a park, and a walking trail will be part of this design. A campaign to attract a store is underway and preliminary work has been done for both the park and the walking trail.
These projects focus on three priority needs:
1. Creating an environment that builds and supports “community”.
2. Solving the food desert problem
3. Identifying and recruiting next-generation community leaders
Our Communities invites everyone interested in this work to join us. Our hope is that the lessons learned here will benefit other underserved and marginalized communities.