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Milton-Freewater, OR

Milton-Freewater, OR  2015
Pomegranate Project Partners: Milton-Freewater Downtown Alliance, Blue Mountain Action Council, Rural Development Initiative
Funding:  Sherwood Trust, Ford Family Foundation, Milton-Freewater Community Foundation

When the rural town of Milton-Freewater, Oregon, invited Pomegranate Center to help spark creativity and breathe new life and economic vitality into their community, we jumped at the opportunity. Through a partnership with Sherwood Trust, we ran a complete Fellows Training to teach locals our collaborative community engagement process. We assisted with the community visioning process that identified a dozen new goals. And, as the grand finale of the training, we transformed an empty lot adjacent to the school into a gorgeous central gathering place that celebrates historic elements and the diverse beauty of this small town.

Using ideas generated by Milton-Freewater residents, a grassy knoll beside an artfully adorned stage now proudly mark the heart of this community. Speaking of heart, this community showed up in droves! Over 160 enthusiastic volunteers took part in art-making (mosaics, banners, and concrete staining), building (gabion walls and columns, outdoor lighting, and shade canvas panels), gardening (leveling and spreading soil, laying sod and planting), and general merry-making. When residents come together like this, not only do they create beautiful spaces, they gain an immense feeling of pride and build lasting connections to neighbors and their community as a whole. Most importantly, they know for certain that, when collaborating, they have the power to successfully tackle new projects.

Media: Work Ramps Up for Milton-Freewater Gathering Place, Union-Bulletin Volunteers Unite in Hyphenated Town, East Oregonian