Before Rachel, Travis and I started Terra Cultura, I spent several years bouncing back and forth between farming and community organizing. During that time, I was lucky enough to be an organizer for a number of successful political campaigns. The best campaigns, for me, were the ones that were victorious, but were also invigorating and exciting to be a part of. These two often go together. It’s much easier to engage more people in a campaign that feels good, and the more people involved, the bigger the movement, and the more likely you are to achieve your goals. So, as an organizer, I began thinking about what needed to happen early on to build this kind of a campaign. How could we make engaging in these issues feel exciting and worthwhile, and what did we need to do to keep people coming back? The piece that stuck with me the most was community.
The most successful campaigns I participated in made an effort to create a strong sense of community amongst the people involved. The leaders were welcoming and inclusive of new volunteers, and worked hard to show appreciation to all campaign participants. Time was set aside for people to just spend time together, allowing everyone involved to get to know each other and build relationships. Potlucks were common, and there were many milestones to celebrate. Another key part of this was that all members of this new community were given the tools they needed to truly contribute to the campaign, and that was empowering. Of course there were lead organizers, people who generally had more experience and time to contribute to the campaign, but everyone was trained and educated about the issues, and the systems we were working in. Volunteers walked into their work with a sense of confidence, as well as the space to contribute in the way that made the most sense for them. The combination of feeling valuable and valued, and feeling like working on the campaign was really just getting to spend time with your friends, created the perfect environment for us to win.
At Terra Cultura, we believe that there’s much we can do to build and prepare communities to take on any challenge that comes their way. By cultivating a place that invites participation in its creation and encourages the community to utilize it, we hope to provide the space that’s necessary for relationships to be established and strengthened. We hope to empower the members of Terra Cultura’s ever expanding community by teaching them how to grow their own food, how to construct sustainable buildings, and how to nurture their creativity, while giving them a place to freely express themselves. We hope to all be on an endless journey to learn about the systems we exist in, and how we can contribute to creating a more just future. We hope that our community itself will be a model of this future, but also a community that is primed and ready to take action in whatever ways are necessary to create a more just and sustainable world.