Wednesday, June 25, 2008
"Too Busy To Die" Co-Op Conference
The “Working With Our Dreams” community conference brought together many of the ideas at the Three Sisters of Clallam art gallery and healing center in Clallam Bay, Saturday and Sunday, June 21-22. Pictured: Lora Messinger, publisher of The Sunset Times and oil painter, Ken Dehnert of Olympic Art Works, Jane Hielman of the West End Co-Op, gallery owner Sue Heiny, and Terry Hielman, also of the co-op. The painting is among others by Dehnert that will be featured in the gallery.
“Too busy to die” is how a Sekiu co-op gardener put it.
He'd been failing after his retirement, until instituting the West End Co-op garden project gave him a whole new interest in life.
But it could apply to the whole area, where Westenders are refusing to submit to a narrowing resource base and economic stagnation, and are putting together the beginnings of a new economic diversity.
The “Working With Our Dreams” community conference brought together many of the ideas at the Three Sisters of Clallam art gallery and healing center in Clallam Bay, Saturday and Sunday, June 21-22.
The conference was put on by the co-op, which is part of the local initiatives recognized by the Community Action Teams established after the receipt of a $50,000 economic stimulus grant awarded to the Clallam Bay/Sekiu chamber of commerce.
Hielman said the co-op was originally listed by the CAT as a co-op farm, but “it was still floundering,” and had not yet defined itself.
The co-op has since grown without rigid central supervision. Residents are taking projects into their own hands, digging gardens and researching resources specific to the area. For example, a local honey industry could take advantage of access to the Olympic Peninsula “homesteader” bee strain, that has been proving resistant to the mites and fungus diseases that are causing colony collapses around the world.
The co-op's goal is to organize residents to produce, buy, sell and trade fresh, healthy foods. Such products, organic and shipped in from outside the area, are already featured at the co-op, but will ultimately be based on locally-raised fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk and meats.
“The conference did its work before it started,” said Hielman, referring to the daily interaction at the co-op, where residents come to purchase and suggest a steadily-growing inventory of foods, health products and dry goods. Some of the products a customer can find at the co-op store include dates, feta cheese, epsom salts, black, green and herbal teas, couscous, local eggs, planting soil, and even coconut milk.
Hielman said the conference could become an annual business meeting, replacing monthly co-op meetings, a necessity as the price of gas goes up and it becomes more difficult for far-flung residents to drive into town.
Hielman said, “The core of the conference is to create a fun atmosphere to relax,” while sharing new ideas for gardens, food and small business.
Conference attendees included Lora Messinger, publisher of The Sunset Times and oil painter, Ken Dehnert of Olympic Art Works, Jane Hielman of the West End Co-Op, gallery owner Sue Heiny, and Terry Hielman, also of the co-op, and singer Donna Wilke, from Neah Bay.
For co-op details, call: 360 963 2189