Community Agriculture Alliance: On building restoration

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Although I may be dating myself, I have remembered for a long time the simple truths found in Robert Fulghum’s book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list back in 1988, it’s a little book packed with lots of wisdom about how the simplest, most basic things in life provide the best opportunities we have for learning, growing, caring and connecting with ourselves and one another.

My work with Friends of Crossan’s, the town of Yampa and many other partners to rehabilitate Crossan’s M & A Market has reiterated many of these same lessons. I wanted to share three of these “a-ha moments” that have been especially meaningful to me.

■ Just do it. There were so many excuses not to try. This is a million-dollar project for a town of 429 residents. We never had applied for a State Historical Fund grant. We didn’t know enough about construction. We didn’t have a plan. In short, we truly didn’t know what we didn’t know, and we still don’t. But we decided to blunder ahead anyway. And along the way, people with the know-how have come along to help us; people have shown us patience and generosity, and we’re learning quickly. It’s taking a lot of hard work and a lot of luck and faith, but it will happen, slowly and surely.

■ Have fun. This group is a hoot. Their first item of business at every meeting is deciding who will bring baked goods to the next meeting. The marmots who have taken up residence there always are a major topic of discussion and have become characters in this story in their own right. Picture for yourself a marmot dressed in a white hazmat suit and mask working on lead paint abatement. Yes, I told you we have fun, and our discussions tend to digress a bit. Humor is not something we’re lacking. If only the money were as easy to raise.

■ We’re in it together. Friends of Crossan’s and all partners involved are amazing. They care for one another and contribute to the project with pure motives. We’ve had remarkably generous donations from companies and individuals, whether it be money, baked goods, burritos, drilling services, volunteerism, glass for windows, fundraisers — the list goes on. There are times when we celebrate, like being awarded the State Historical Fund grant. And then there are the “deer-in-the-headlights-look” times when creative and collaborative solutions save the day.

Who knew that saving an old building could be like kindergarten? I’m thankful for being reminded of these lessons learned long ago with the work I do every day. And most important, I look forward to who will be bringing the cookies to the next meeting.

Meg Tully is a certified association executive, executive director of Historic Routt County and owner of Nonprofit Know How, which provides services to nonprofits of all shapes and sizes.

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