Little House That Could: The Windows Have Curtains and Soon the Doors Will Open!Posted: September 29, 2014
Way back five years ago when we first started the McElroy House Organization we thought we’d quickly open up the tiny little house that served as the organization’s name sake.
Turns out, things don’t always go as planned. There are babies to have, places to move, and lives to live. It’s in these moments we learn what community work really means. We’ve learned about fluidity, the importance of deep listening, and the pace of sustainable growth.
Rather than give up on our goals, we became an organization without a building, working in the community to explore local history and build connections between generations and cultures. We slowly grew our organization, bringing together a core group of people from Dover to Little Rock who helped to shape our mission statement and core goals.
And we let things grow organically, discovering along the way that our organization needed to be grounded in Pope and Yell Counties while also reaching out and weaving together connections between rural central Arkansas and Little Rock.
Here are some of the things we’ve done to grow the ideas of the Mc House:
1. Developed an ongoing series of community media projects that explore lesser known aspects of local history including an ongoing partnership with ABOUT the River Valley magazine and KUAF radio. All of this work can be viewed on our publication page, the Boiled Down Juice. (Also see our Oral History Radio pieces here. )
2. Offered internships at Arkansas Tech, which is how Marie Williams came on board as one of the McHouse’s core leaders.
3. Continued our local Seed and the Story column exploring how the past interacts with the future and how we can use this information to grow more just futures.
4. Researched and written articles about our region for the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture
5. Worked in partnership with many groups of people in Little Rock to help create Little Rock Collective Liberation, a group where rural and urban Arkansans can come together to work for change.
6. Worked with the University of Arkansas Community Design Center to plan a green parking lot design for our center.
7. Created the ongoing Garden Book Project, exploring regional growing traditions and the importance of affordable food for all.
8. Created a partnership with ARVAC and Freedom House to re-envision their Garden Project for today’s community. This will include working with local growers and craftspeople to create healing garden and meditation spaces on site at Freedom House as well as creating follow-up programs to help ensure access to healthy, whole foods in the community. (Much, much more on this soon!!)
Slowly, slowly we kept at the dream of having an actual space—a tiny, simple, working class 1940s house where we could come together to give space to ideas about what it means to work across divisions, to build local solutions, and to study the past with the hope of building the future.
With our partnership with ARVAC now in place, we’re getting really close to realizing that dream. Thanks to this partnership, we’re going to be able to build the parking lot the city requires for us to open an organization in a residential area.
And after our first annual fall fundraiser we’re going to be able to open our doors for regular gatherings at the center. Marie Williams will keep the center open a few days during the week and Meredith Martin-Moats will open the center on the weekends. And we’ll continue our work growing conversations and connections between Little Rock and Pope and Yell Counties.
Thank you so much to everyone who’s helped us get this far. We look forward to what the future holds! If you’re interested in supporting our work please note that we are now able accept 501 c3 donations! Please contact us for more information. 479-957-0551.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Take a look around at the space we’re growing to use with you!