Chimacum Center for Equity, Ecology, Arts & Agriculture
To cultivate community, sow sustainability and grow more equitable and resilient relationships through land-based interconnection, inclusion, education and celebration.
In the Fall of 2020, amidst the disruption of the pandemic and inspired by the necessity and possibilities of the social justice and climate justice movements, Finnriver established a non-profit branch called The Chimacum Center. With the principle anchors of equity, ecology, arts and agriculture, this project will operate on the 50 acre Finnriver Orchard property - in partnership with Finnriver Farm & Cidery and in collaboration with the other land partners on site and allies around the region.
Emerging from the landscape and core values of Finnriver, the Chimacum Center will function as a grass-roots incubator of interconnectivity through creative, collaborative and restorative land-based projects.
16 years ago, Finnriver Farm was started on these traditional S’Klallam and Aqokúlo lands in the Chimacum Valley— seeking ways to convert historic dairy farming land into a diversified model aspiring to do organic and 'sustainable' agriculture. We held an intention to grow nourishing food for the community while caring for the land and kindling a reconnection between people and the earth that sustains us. We've had a lot to learn, un-learn and re-learn about these aspirations.
After five years of growing organic vegetables, produce and grains, we expanded the farm in 2009 to include hard cider fermentation and this launched Finnriver Cidery, which branched off and relocated to the 50 acre Bishop/Brown dairy farm at the Chimacum corner in 2015. The Cidery has remained committed to the core founding mission and has continued to pursue a people-planet-purpose farm model— growing a Certified Organic Orchard, obtaining B Corp and Salmon Safe certifications, and working to embody and role model viable practices and solutions in land and watershed conservation, alternative energy, local living economies; and moving forward with enacting our commitments to racial justice and social equity.
However, throughout the lifespan of our business, the co-founders, partners and crew have wrestled with the tensions inherent in our current economic system. In seeking to operate with deep care for our landscape, ecosystems and community, we have confronted the constraints of profitability and the disincentives for sustainability, equity and accountability embedded in the current corporate-dominated and commodity-driven markets.
The 2020 covid pandemic, the movement for black lives, and our growing cognizance of the harmful impacts and legacies of colonization and systemic racism and exploitation, has prompted us to more thoroughly evaluate our mission, to review our business model, to acknowledge and challenge the oppressive systems we have participated in and been propped up by, and to question the pathway we want to walk forward.
As we keep reaching for ever-deeper understanding of social and ecological justice issues, we hold racial equity as a necessary prerequisite for a just and resilient local food system, real community health and a functional democracy. Our understanding of this work has expanded as we have turned to face the urgencies and complexities of the times, and we have realized that we can work more nimbly and more intently on sustainability, equity and community with a non-profit branch. We are aware of the problematic aspects of traditional models of philanthropy and the ways the non-profit structure reinforces some of the painful patterns we seek to change. We continue to study the pathway of "Liberatory Consciousness" presented by Barbara Love and presented by Desiree Adaway-- moving us from awareness to analysis to action to accountability.
We have partnered with the local/national nonprofit fiscal sponsor Social Good Fund to establish the Chimacum Center and, as it is, the formation of this no-profit project will allow us to focus staffing, attention and resources on endeavors that create more synergy among county and regional partners doing related work; to develop and implement more transformative and healing models; and to embody and showcase rural, land-based, community solutions that are more equitable, ecological, restorative and artful.
Chimacum Center questions and aspirations:
We acknowledge the complexity of our social and environmental challenges and, because we are located at a geographic and cultural/ideological intersection in this rural community, we will work at the intersection of social change, ecological restoration and consciousness shift— within a framework of individual and collective resilience, healing and thriving. We are not moving forward with a pre-set plan or with an arsenal of answers. We are proceeding with the sense that we can only meaningfully affect that which we are in relationship with. That we need to be responsive, vigilant and committed to “loving for the sake of greater life and living for the sake of love (Pace e Bene)." That we need to keep seeking and asking transformative questions:
- Can we be bridge builders and change makers at the same time?
- How do we withdraw support for what is wrong, while working to build alternatives?
- How can we create more authentic and empowered inclusivity in our hearts, organizations and community?
- Can we balance short term efforts and long range strategy to seed growth and transformations that serve our mutual flourishing here?
- How can we most respectfully learn from indigenous wisdoms of belonging to place?
- How can we acknowledge and respond to the traumas of our times with courage and compassion?
- And all of the other questions we have not known to ask yet…
Sample projects for the Chimacum Center include: co-hosting regional retreats for urban/rural activists, artists and organizers; offering land equity advocacy services for Black, Indigenous and Farmers of Color; establishing arts fellowships and events that prioritize inclusivity and diversity; helping to create and offer coursework on rural citizenship and on belonging to place.
If you have ideas, concerns, questions and curiosities, or if you would like to support this work, please reach out to Crystie at: firstname.lastname@example.org