COTTAGE GROVE — This summer, The Center for Rural Livelihoods, a nonprofit centered in Lane County and aiming to advance social, economic and ecological resilience, hosted an Americorps team that served the greater Cottage Grove region.
The crew had a rocky start, driving from the Americorps headquarters in Denver to the Center for Rural Livelihoods’ (formerly Aprovecho) forty-acres campus six miles west of Cottage Grove. Their journey was delayed due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the Americorps headquarters in Denver, and when they hit the road it took four long days of driving. Upon arrival at CRL, one of the nine Americorps volunteers opened the van doors and exclaimed, “Kiss the ground!”
For six weeks, the crew stayed at the Center for Rural Livelihoods. They spent over two thousand hours living up to the Americorps’ motto of “Bringing Americans together to serve communities.” The Americorps volunteers in Cottage Grove—hailing from Idaho, Washington, Louisianan, Rhode Island, and beyond—lived up to their motto and slogan.
Americorps’ National Civilian Conservation Corps and the Center for Rural Livelihoods teamed up to provide resources for this group of volunteers to work full time. Much of that energy supported CRL’s Community Supported Forestry initiative with the crew revitalizing six miles of trails; enhancing over ten acres of oak meadows, moving well over two thousand pounds of biomass for fuels reduction, and helping in the biggest milling operation at CRL for almost two decades.
Abel Kloster, CRL’s Forester, especially enjoyed seeing the Americorps team work alongside the Kennedy Conservation Corps who have been steadily engaged in forest work at CRL’s campus over this past year. Josh Fattal, the Executive Director of the CRL, praised the group for helping to “reboot the campus” as well as to “infuse our partner organizations with youthful, spirited energy.”
The Americorps labor was directed well beyond the CRL campus and into the broader community. They spent time volunteering with Community Sharing in their pantry by sorting and inventorying clothes for distribution and on environmental restoration projects on Mosby Creek Rd. as well as Cerro Gordo Rd. They also supported the Siletz Indigenous Food Sovereignty initiative located toward the coast and the Komemma Cultural Protection Association’s land base for Kalapuya cultural revitalization in Yoncolla. The team served at Branch Road Farm School and they worked at SquareOne Villages—putting to use the wood they helped mill on the CRL campus for affordable housing initiatives.
Fattall praised the group’s work outside the CRL campus, saying, “They helped embody our new mission of supporting a social reconstruction that emphasizes ecological, economic, and social resilience in Lane County.”