OUR LOCATION & COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
The Commons located in the heart of Viroqua Wisconsin, a rich community of artisans, actors, performers, musicians, creators of all kinds, metaphysical and energy workers, poets and writers, visionaries, organic food lovers and cultivators, activists who are passionate about community and good food and creative expression, students from every walk of life that are growing and learning and expressing their talents in many forms, and local people who love living and working and being in the Driftless region and all it has to offer.
ARTISTS GALORE IN OUR LOCAL COMMUNITY!
There are over 300 working artists/crafters, including printmakers, comic book makers, actors, writers, visual artists working in various mediums, ceramicists, filmmakers, musicians and hand-made goods creators, from clothing/jewelry to puppets and body care to chocolates, candles, baskets and weavings.
GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY:
The Commons’ strengths include a dynamically involved community, plus a strong mission willing to do whatever it takes to create a viable and self-sustaining venue for inspiring, enriching and expanding creativity and the creative life. The Commons has always received a tremendous amount of support from the Viroqua community.
Sinking its roots as the Community continues to show support and use the building to inspire, enrich and expand our sense of being human. This is the greatest gift, fulfilling our deepest needs: to commune, to celebrate, to comfort, and to rise and clap for a performance well done.
This building is an institution and has established a pattern for people to want to gather to express creativity, spirituality, coupled with the need for cultural and general socializing in person. The Commons extends its invitation to everyone. The doors are open to any reasonable activity that supports the mission.
Since opening the doors, the Commons has become THE place for multiple school groups, individuals, other non-profits to gather and do their thing. The Viroqua Community is amazing in that it features a strong intergenerational component and the Commons provides a center for many of these types of activities.
VIBRANCY OF OUR COMMUNITY:
While off-the-grid geographically, The Commons is energized by a community of professional retirees, young Green families, and “local food” organic farmers, who connect culture with permaculture.
The awarding of an FCC license to and the development of WDRT community radio station (founded 2010) is developing as a communications hub for the regional music and journalistic arts community.
Vernon Trails (founded 2010) is committed to expanding and maintaining sustainable roadways and trails, and does this through annual trail building events, summer camps, and community rides.
Viroqua’s food systems are thriving and the region boasts one of the country’s highest concentrations of organic farms, which supply Chicago, Minneapolis, Madison, and Milwaukee.
DIVERSITY OF OUR COMMUNITY:
One of the reasons that young “local food” Driftless farming families are thriving is that this influx is matched by a growing local medical professional community that serves two hospitals—Vernon Memorial Healthcare and clinics from the Gundersen Health System.
The Commons’ support is anchored in Viroqua, a community of 4,500 whose Viroqua Food Co-op has over 3,000 members. Additionally, educational options reflect the diversity of the community and include a Pleasant Ridge Waldorf Elementary School, public system, Montessori public elementary charter school, Laurel Charter high school, Cornerstone Christian Academy, a Kickapoo Homeschool Cooperative, a Western Technical college campus, and the Driftless Folk School. The two major hospitals support integrative medicine therapies and are complemented by a comprehensive range of alternative healthcare providers, such as the Healing Arts Center.
Intergenerational: The Commons’ support of the puppetry “Harvest Parade” demonstrates its emphasis on nurturing young people to develop as renaissance artists who are committed to community service. Critically, The Commons educational offerings fill the gaps left by the underfunding of art education in local public schools, while its adult and public programs introduce stimulating art education serving pre-schoolers to elders. During 2013, over 4,500 volunteer hours and pro bono professional services evidenced the key role The Commons already plays across demographics to impact community wellness. (See, Appendix D, “Harvest Parade.”)
Family-centered: Small, rural towns and surrounding agricultural communities are traditionally family-centered. Historically, local churches hosted many social events and provided social services. Picking up on this long-standing community value, The Commons offerings and programs focus on presenting events and classes that reach many community sectors.
Community “owned”: While “intergenerational” and “family-centered” convey two prime Commons values, they also buttress the fundraising effort as, when combined, they lead to a participant’s sense of The Commons being community “owned,” that is, that it is a valuable community asset. When each and every member of the family—from tots to grandparents—have a reason to attend a Commons event, they become a potential “owner” and so also a fundraising resource.