May Skill Share: Building Basic Rain Barrel Systems

May Skill Share photoWhat: Community Skill Share on Building Basic Rain Barrel Systems

When: Saturday May 21st 12:00-2:00

Where: McElroy House 420 S. 2nd Dardanelle, Arkansas

Contact: 479-957-0551 or McElroyhouse.wordpress.com

Click here for fb event. 

About:

The McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources invites you to join us for a workshop on building basic rain barrel systems for your home or business!

Sergio Picado of Dover will lead this interactive skill share on building and installing simple rain barrel systems in your home or business! He will build and install our system at the McElroy House while explaining the process and walking participants through each step. You’ll leave with tools needed to implement similar systems at your home.

The McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources offers one skill share a month led by community members and visitors. All events are free and open to the public!  Keep up to date with us on facebook by clicking here. 

For more information call 479-957-0551

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Little House That Could: The Windows Have Curtains and Soon the Doors Will Open!

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We have handmade curtains with uneven seams. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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!!)

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Front of the house facing Second Street.

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! 

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Donated drawing table

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Decades old pecan trees planted by the late LLoyd McElroy.

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Donated school desk from the old Dardanelle Schools.

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Information table on snazzy old record player we hope to soon get ready for use.

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Handmade cabinets original to home made by local cabinet maker.

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Flowers growing wild in the former garden space.

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Kitchen curtains.

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Fall flowers growing wild.

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Clothesline in the backyard.


Our Partnership with CAAH (Conserving Arkansas’s Agricultural Heritage)

1025915_10151488904751010_1255911591_oGreat, great news! We’ll soon be hosting the Pope and Yell County local heirloom seedbank in partnership with CAAH!

We wrote all about it in the Seed and the Story column which ran in the Courier and on Boiled Down Juice site, our partner project.

Go here to read all about it!  Yay! 


Pies and Postres for Pavement

Thanksgiving pies in Yell County.

Thanksgiving pies in Yell County.

We’re gearing up for our fall fundraiser to help us open our doors at the center! Check out this week’s Seed and the Story column for all the details! This column was originally published in the Post Dispatch and Courier newspapers and via our partner project, The Boiled Down Juice. 

Can you help us out? Read on to learn how! 

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Food says a lot about who we are and where we’ve been. And if you’re a regular reader of this column, you know I often talk about how stories are passed down in families and communities. In many ways food and stories are inseparable. And in this region marked by the foothills of the Ozarks, the edges of the Ouachita Mountains, and the banks in the River Valley, we really like to make pies. And these pies don’t come out of nowhere. They’re often passed down from generation to generation, changing over time as each pie maker brings in their own ideas to the creation.

At the McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources and Community Action we’re working on getting our community center ready to open to the public, and to do this we’re finding all kinds of creative ways to raise money to create our parking lot (If you want to read more about how and why we’re creating a parking lot, please check out our website listed below). We want to make sure everything we do relates to our mission of exploring local history while also planning for a collective future. So in honor of all the great pie makers in this region and the approaching fall season, we’re hosting something we’re calling Pies and Postres (the Spanish word for dessert) for Pavement. This community-wide pie-making project will highlight the stories of area pie and postre makers and help make these regional desserts and the stories behind them available to the larger community.

Here’s how it will work: Volunteers of all ages and from all around the community are making pies to donate to our project. These can be decades old recipes or new creations. Along with the pie, the pie maker will also submit the story behind the pie or postre. This could include how they learned to bake, where the recipe comes from and why it’s important to them, or anything else they want to share.  If possible, we ask that pie makers also submit a few photos. These can be sent online or mailed in. On our webpage you can find a list of questions for pie makers, which can be answered directly or used as a prompt to get you started in sharing your story.  We will then compile all these stories and photos and make them available for people to read at our pie booths taking place throughout the fall. Pie makers are also invited to share their stories in person at the pie booth!

Tres Leche Cake from La Popular in Dardanelle.

Tres Leche Cake from La Popular in Dardanelle.

We’ll be have an information-only booth at Ozark Memory Days in Dover on September 28th and are planning separate pie sale events for the month of October throughout Pope and Yell Counties. If you’d like us to set up a pie booth at one of your events, please let us know! At the pie booth visitors can purchase the pies, learn more about the pie maker and the diversity of regional pie making traditions, and learn more about our work at the McElroy House.  The stories from the pie makers will then be compiled on our webpage and into a booklet that will be printed and made available to the public. We’ll preserve these stories for generations to come.

Do you know someone who makes delicious pies or postres? Would you be willing to donate one of your own creations for this project or help an older relative share their story? You can learn more about this and find all the details at www.mcelroyhouse.wordpress.com. Or give me a call at 479-957-0551.

Below is a list of questions/prompts for pie makers, but feel free to add your own information or throw out these questions all together. We’re interested in hearing your story, however you want to tell it.  

1. How did you learn to cook?

2. Where did this particular recipe come from? 

3. What’s your first memory of someone making pies/postres? Can you tell us about this person?

4. Why did you choose this particular pie/postre?

5. Why is pie making important to you?

6. Are you teaching this skill to the next generation? If so, we’d love to hear about this. 

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The Seed and the Story is a partnership with theCourier and Post Dispatch newspapers in Pope and Yell County, Arkansas. This weekly column explores folklife, oral history, and community in central Arkansas, particularly the Yell County area where the column originates. Columns are often written in partnership with the McElroy House: Organization for Folklife, Oral History, and Community Action and humbly attempt to bridge intergenerational themes in the region.


Home

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Cleaning rags hanging out to dry on the backyard clothesline.

We have wonderful news!

For a while now we’ve been an organization without a building. But that’s soon to change!

We recently begun work on our building, the McElroy House!

Located at 420 S. 2nd Street in Dardanelle, Arkansas, this small house was built in the late 1940s and served as the inspiration behind our name.

We’ve got a lot of work left to do, but soon(ish)we’ll be using it as a community resource space and idea hub where folks can stop by and say hello, share local cultural resources, learn more about and engage in  community-based media work, and (eventually) take a walk through our kid-friendly food, water and butterfly garden.

For now we’re in the process of cleaning up the building, brainstorming and building sustainable fundraising models, and getting our organizational plans in place so we can most effectively serve the community.

We are beyond thankful for the support we have received from friends near and far. Thank you, thank you, thank you for believing in our work. It’s finally coming together.

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Bryan Moats cleaning the front windows.

Parking Lots and Such

Our first building related project is finding funding for, and installing, a few designated parking spaces, as required by the City of Dardanelle under our special use permit. We’re researching affordable ways to utilize what’s often referred to as “low impact design,” a way of approaching construction that works with nature rather than against it.

Parking lots are known for creating increased water runoff in neighborhoods, which leads to soil erosion, water contamination, and flood damage.  Even though our lot will be quite small, we feel this is a great opportunity to explore how principles of low impact design can be utilized in all communities, including low-income small towns in the rural south. We’ll be using our parking lot as a working experiment and working with the University of Arkansas’s Center for Community Design to come up with a plan to reduce storm water runoff and create a simple solution to our parking issue that is affordable and created locally. More on this in the very near future.

Ways You Can Help:

All of our work is grassroots and volunteer-based. If you’re interested in donating time, money, or resources, please let us know and we promise to put them to good use. We’re working to build locally-sound models for our work, which isn’t just about funding our own work,  but about collectively generating and supporting sustainable resources for the larger community. So let’s do this. If you’d like to get involved, donate time or money, or just learn more about what we’re doing and why we think it matters, please let us know. You can contact Meredith at meredithmartin_moats@yahoo.com


Saira’s Images from Russellville High School Garden

Chuck Campbell tends to the Russellville High School Garden

Chuck Campbell tends to the Russellville High School Garden

A few weeks ago we posted about one of the new collaborators on our garden book project, Phyllis and Chuck Campbell in Pope County Arkansas. Go here to read more about them. 

Chuck Campbell teaches AP Environmental History at Russellville High School and helps to run a small teaching garden on the high school campus.  School is out for the summer, but the garden is still going. Saira Khan stopped by the garden recently to take a few pictures for our garden book. Check them out below!

To learn more about Saira and her work on this project go here.

Learn more about her photography, Arie Kae, here .

To learn more about our ongoing Garden Book Project, go here.

sairaBe sure and keep up with Saira’s photography by following Aria Kae on FB here. 


Seedling Sale this Sunday!

Seedling-sale

Come out this Sunday to the Green Corner Store on Main Street in Little Rock for our first ever butterfly-loving seedling sale!You can attend the Bernice Garden Market to pick up some fresh produce, come on over to our table for some flowers, and then eat ice cream at Loblolly Creamery!


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Here’s what the containers look like before planting. All of these were made with local newspapers and created with the help of volunteers.

Here’s What You Can Find At the Sale:

All of our seedlings are flower or herbs and will help bring butterflies and bees to the garden. All the seedlings were grown with heirloom seed purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds or Seeds Savers Exchange. They’ll come in recyclable containers made from newspapers, and can be placed directly in the garden. The container will biodegrade into the soil. So all you have to do is the dig the hole and give them water!

And here’s a few photos of some plants that are ready to be taken home!


Image from the Garden Book by Saira Khan. Pope County, Arkansas.

Image from the Garden Book by Saira Khan. Pope County, Arkansas.

What You’ll Be Supporting:

This seedling sale will help support our Garden Book project, a community-based media project exploring the importance of gardening in Pope and Yell Counties. Much more than a directory or a how-to book, the Garden Book will focus on the people behind the gardens, illuminating the power of living traditions and sustainable living, the importance of teaching youth, and the diversity of sustainable growing traditions in the region. The book will feature the photography of Saira Kahn and the research of Marie Williams. All people featured in the book are from Yell and Pope Counties.

Our goal is to encourage a larger conversation about the importance of local food production and organize for the future. Our goal with this book is to help generate larger conversations and community-based organizing toward greater food security in the Pope and Yell County areas where the McElroy House is based. You can read all about the project here. We’ll be finishing up the research this summer, putting the book together through the winter, and the book will be released early next spring.

Our Garden Book project has been supported by the Pope County Community Foundation and this seedling sale will add to their support!  Want to know more about the seedling sale like how we grew the seeds and where our soil came from? Go here. 


Image by Saira Khan.

Image by Saira Khan.

Other Ways to Get Involved With This Project:

There are many ways you can help support our Garden Book project and our work at the McElroy House in general. We’re a totally volunteer-run organziation working toward sustainable ways of funding our work.  Here are just a few ways you can help with this project. If you’re interested in supporting other aspects of our work, please contact us! We love support! Send an email to meredithmartin_moats (at) yahoo.

  • Donate a few dollars to printing costs for the book.
  • Spread the word about our work to interested people near and far.
  • Give us your extra heirloom seeds for future sales
  • Donate extra potting soil or compost

We’d love to know you’re coming. Join the Facebook event.