Thanks to those who made it to the recent get-together, I found it an inspiringly diverse and positive evening! I counted 22 people and we had 4 apologies so there is a strong interest from quite a cross-section of the community.
For those who could not attend - we had a general conversation about ideas, things already happening and that have been done in the past, and trying to clarify what people wanted to see happening. The group was more or less equally comprised of craftspeople and growers, and it was unanimously felt that one brand could cover everything produced locally. One big topic covered was what it takes to run a website, with a couple of models being discussed - namely, a comprehensive website marketing what we do here and coordinated by a central person/s who is paid (properly!) for their role; or a website with users taking responsibility for their own content and site management. The web hosting costs would still need to be covered in this case. Thanks, Anthony, for your expertise here.
At this stage, a physical space was felt to be more needed, and Vinnie updated us with his plans to have a gallery of local work in his upcoming cafe at Market Cross. If you can help him get that place set-up, please contact him! (he's at the coffee yurt beside the Four Square every day). The Information Centre is also keen to promote more local work, as most tourists are looking to buy locally-made products. A community kitchen was discussed, as well as a community art/craft/creation space for more sharing of time, skills and resources. The Community Building (formerly RSA), the dairy factory and upstairs at the Bush Lounge were all raised as possible options.
Another important part of the conversation was a recognition of the value of grassroots community. Already we have good trading networks for those in the know, and we can build upon these to include more people, skills, value and education. Anthony has set up a "skills, swap, barter' thread to begin mapping this, please add yourself to get connected.
The amount of 'stuff' that is imported into the area, and the subsequent rubbish, was raised as an issue that a more connected, locally producing community could help mitigate and in doing so become more efficient and sustainable.
People wrote in their own words on 7 topics that came up as being pertinent (thanks Poppy for the lovely illustrations!). I have transcribed the comments that resulted from that below. Different contributors' thoughts are separated by a ';'... I encourage anybody who wants to be part of the conversation to add your own values, aspirations, concerns etc... my intention is that this will be part of a dynamic, community conversation. I expect that we will see many different examples of collaboration in the future (as there already are!) so please keep an open, positive and supportive mind as we float ideas and look to ways we can meet our differing needs and dreams.
A 'Karamea' brand - north of the bluff; representative of all products (arts, crafts, produce...); cohesive, encompassing; all products under one brand?; yes, the customers will gravitate to what interests them; resources mainly local eg >65%; humourous, fun, joyful, memorable; values based; high quality, strong criteria, monitoring panel; we have such amazing, diverse talent! showcase.
Values - caring for whole community, welcoming to strangers and different cultures, hospitable to visitors; zero waste (minimal); selfless empathy, honesty; sustainability, recycling, sharing of knowledge, working together as a community; education - children involvement; local; integrity, quality, reliability - saying something will be done and doing it; diversity, ethical, sustainable, local, supportive.
Opportunities - feasts!; baking, dairy products, brewing/fermentation; home deliveries; workshops, learning opportunities; opportunities for learning or teaching; communal art/craft studio and use of a commercial kitchen, skillsharing; swap/bartering; would love to see more local output at summer market - popular with visitors and lacks local support due to no craft or display; central point of opportunity; networking; festivals; govt agencies; security/insurance; celebrate our isolation and local character, home-based employment with efficient internet, organic Karamea from the top of the bluffs.
Community - continue winter workshops and art exhibition. These build and strengthen us socially as well as potentially economically; smart economies, local currencies; school, elderly, parents, singles...full and trageted inclusion, close loops so we circulate skills and resources; support; need for an informed network - directory or via events?; sharing - give- take; communication; teaching/getting youth interested in important skills/forgotten crafts; representation of producers of anything to be central; workshops, barter, local festivals - love the idea of a harvest festival along the lines of Italian 'long-table lunches'; chance to share skills.
Website - aim for it to be the definitive place for reliable info and thought-provoking commentary; raise profile of the area, bring in HIGH-VALUE tourism; community skills/produce, register for barter; efficient; info exchange, virtual shop (eventually); easy to use; clever, simple platform, self-supporting, ability to manage own products; if the upgrade of website already existing actually happens this should be used. Also links to www.felt.co.nz; websites help sell, ongoing basis after people see what is here. Not everyone buys straight away.
Sales - central brand with room for individuality; opportunities for individuals to start small eg local market, then widen to Westport, West Coast, nationally. Reduces risk for individual entrepreneur; not as important to me, basic needs met - sustainability first; vital for people to generate income and be able to stay. Start small, start for local market and visitors, with goods unique to our area; low commission; connecting customers with producers; could travel to markets/craft fairs etc together to share costs and time commitments while reaching a wider market.
Space - congratulations to Arts Council and L.R. cafe for fantastic Art Exhibition - good use of current space; afforable, inspirational; for teaching/learning, kitchen!; loads of people here with skills and ideas, but no legal venue; physical and virtual space; cooperative gallery - high quality, LOCAL craft; something regular, permanent, advertised, high quality; shared workspaces and selling space would be ideal - visitors buy if they see things being made; share resources eg workshop but also tools in workshop, collaboration in growing so foods can be grown in soils/micro climates that suit them, self-guided walking map at Info Centre so visitors are directed to existing different workshops, galleries, exhibits, stalls.
If you wish to add to these, please post your comments and I will cut and paste into this so it is all together.
And keep your eyes open for the upcoming Karamea Harvest Banquet at the end of April: a chance to feast together and celebrate the best of local abundance feeding our community!
Be well folks,