Allegheny College’s annual theme for the academic year, the Year of Meadville, is coming to an end on April 30 with a community celebration. Common Roots, formally known as the Meadville Community Development Corporation, plans to carry on with the social infrastructure established through the Year of Meadville.
The organization is comprised of an eight-member board committed to expanding the Meadville community by connecting local individuals with organizations and groups that can facilitate in keeping the local food and economy subthemes alive. The group has 20 members that are using some of the same efforts that helped to establish the Year of Meadville.
Currently, Common Roots is the head of the community organizing meetings, which takes place at Voodoo Brewery once every few months. People come together to share ideas and upcoming plans during the bar’s happy hour. Common Roots also holds weekly community door work sessions, an open forum for the community to come together at Creative Crust every Thursday from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The idea behind both of the community forums is to initiate a talk about possible solutions for issues on the local level and to put them into action. Autumn Vogel, ’15, the head coordinator for the Year of Meadville, was a main component in making sure the theme would continue.
“The momentum that this group [common roots] has gained from the Year of Meadville has soil to grow into something so much bigger than what it is,” said Vogel.
Moving forward, Common Roots plans to establish a group that can make local homes more sustainable and energy efficient. They are in the midst of gathering local community members to educate others on how to retro fit these homes.
Common Roots plans to continue the local food theme by creating food hubs, which are centers for farmers to bring food to be distributed to consumers and retailers. The organization is in the preliminary stages of establishing food hubs in Meadville by communicating with farmers to see when and what products can be yielded to create a network of communication between the farmers, retailers and consumers. Food hubs were one solution to bridge the gap between farmers and consumers that The Year of Meadville’s sub theme for February, local foods, addressed.
Peter Zimmer, a Common Roots board member, explained that food hubs are an opportunity to create a more economic friendly environment for farmers and a chance for better quality food for consumers.
“The more volume you have, the cheaper it is to ship and sell. If you can make it cheaper to distribute at large quantities, it benefits the farmers as a whole,” said Zimmer.
Common Roots plans to implement mobile slaughter units for farmers. A mobile slaughter unit will allow for resell, or a day to day United States Department of Agriculture inspector to mobily come to regulate the slaughter at the farm. This benefits both the consumer and the farmers, since the farmers do not have to pay for the cost of travel and high prices of an on site slaughter house. The consumer also benefits by receiving a fresher and higher quality of meat, as the animals are not releasing stress hormones during travel. Common Roots would act as the liaison between farmers and the USDA.
“We would do the research arm of getting in contact with regional directors with the USDA and the department of agriculture of Pennsylvania by making sure it is following all codes, regulations and laws,” said Zimmer.
Common Roots is currently trying to get an unused room in the Meadville Fire Department as a meeting place for the organization. After the announcement of the organization’s kickstart during the Year of Meadville, they plan to use the space to hold meetings for planning and collaborating on the energy efficient homes, food hubs and mobile slaughter units. The Vice President of common roots, Jason Puryear, is working towards having the organization become a liaison between the community and local businesses to make these efforts become possible.
“We plan on being out in the community as much as possible. One of the biggest jobs of Common Roots is to bridge the gap and to assist in bringing together other groups,” said Jason Puryear, Common Roots vice president.