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Lake County Community Co-opThe Original Vision

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October, 2008 - A couple weeks ago while having my car worked on at Big O tires, I took a walk down Lakeshore Drive in Clearlake and had a vision. Not the huge, religious, revelatory visions of the bible, but a simple, local, community vision. I noticed the big open windows of the old Jules Miniature Golf building (that has recently served as a medicinal marijuana outlet), the abundant parking lot, and an overgrown miniature golf course and noticed it was for sale.

Figure 1 - 14250 Lakeshore Drive, Clearlake

What I saw was a potential. An open and airy health food co-op that had a little sandwich/smoothie shop, organic gardens planted with yummy, delicious, organic produce interspersed among the 18 holes and the rest of the land sectioned off into little community gardens that could be used as fundraisers/education centers for the different youth groups in the community. Conceivably, they could sell their produce directly through the store.

Figure 2 - 3 Bdrm House and Granny Unit as part of package.

I saw a revitalization and transformation of downtown Clearlake. I saw an opportunity to bring community together, create a contributing solution to the most challenging environmental crisis known to humankind, provide local farmers an outlet for their crops, provide more local dollars in Lake County, provide truly monetarily accessible entertainment to the families of Clearlake at a centrally located spot to the most disadvantaged youth, educate youth (and adults!) in the workings of environmentally sound alternatives, contribute to a healthy option for fast meals, and save literally tons of CO2 emissions from those of us that commute to out of area shopping alternatives (Ukiah Co-Op, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, etc.).

Here’s a little background info on the environment situation, which you may already know. Food to our stores travels on average 1,200 miles. That’s a huge amount of C02 contribution to the atmosphere, not to mention the tons of pesticides and petrochemicals used to sustain the current form of corporate agriculture. (My studies at Sonoma State allowed me to see that a grassroots movement is happening not only across the nation, but all around the world, in efforts to reverse a completely unsustainable way of living—namely this one. One of the largest contributions we can make to this necessary shift is through agriculture—specifically, a switch to bio-intensive organic produce from local and regional sources.) The organic part is a given. The local and regional sourcing of our food will cut C02 emissions in essential ways, and contribute to sustaining a local economy in a new way. ($1 spent locally is worth three times as much to the local economy as $1 spent in a chain store.) Couple that with providing the incentive to diversify Lake County agriculture away from its current direction towards mono-cropping and the benefits become obvious.

So, from sharing the idea with the few people I have, opening to the unfolding, and doing a bit of research on the property, the following has arisen:

  • Local organic farmers, which I ran into just days after seeing this, are looking for outlets for their products. (With the cost of fuel it is making more sense to pay extra to shop organic and local.)
  • The idea of turning the golf course into a working environmental education course, where once you had a windmill turning using electricity you now have a windmill that is actually providing electricity for the store; where once you had an outhouse, you now have a composting toilet (I haven’t seen how this one can be incorporated into the process, but I bet there’s a way! ;+)). This added feature opens the opportunity for partnering with many different environmental organizations, foundations, etc. You could even have different organizations or products sponsor different holes, etc.
  • Classes that support the environmental awareness/alternative energy arenas could be given on site.
  • The property is zoned C-2 DD (Design District) and according to the City of Clearlake Vision Task Force documents, and talking with Bill Perkins, it seems to fit within the vision for that portion of Lakeshore Drive.
  • The asking price for the property, which includes 1+ acres, the course, the 2,000 sf. business building, a 3-Bdrm house and granny unit and a utilities building, plus paved parking, is $1.25 million. It is currently being leased (which is due to be up in November) and the owner is open to a lease option, though I’ve yet to discover the per sf cost.
  • Nature’s Own health food store is for sale (asking price $50,000 which doesn’t include the approximately 1,000 sf building as they rent) and having bumped into the real estate agent while at the city (divine synchronicity?), he believes they would be open to look at offers for equipment only.
  • Lastly, the Masters program through the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies is called, “Action for a Viable Future.” I am attending an informational meeting in a couple of weeks, but the initial reaction from administration was that this project would fit into that program—so, I may be able to set my sights towards my Masters with the added support and resources of a dynamic school at the forefront of the environmental movement.

I see this email as the next step in the possible unfolding. I’m asking you to help with two things—one, is to spread this email to everyone you know in community, and two, to send me feedback, both in a “survey” form (see “initial survey.doc”) and in general comments and contributions. It is in Word Format so you can fill it out and email it back. (You’ll need to fill it in right next to the question or it will do wonderful circles and start renumbering for you!)

Is it time for Clearlake to get on board with a viable community project such as this? I don’t know, but I’m open to finding out!

Thank you for your time and, may you be happy, without reason!

JoAnn Saccato
[email protected]

Clearlake Community Co-Op Initial Survey

  1. Would you like to see a health food Co-Op in the Clearlake area? If not, would you like to see it somewhere else in Lake County?
  2. Would you become a member of a Co-Op?
  3. Would you shop regularly, often, sometimes, or rarely at a health food Co-Op?
  4. Even if the prices were higher than other food sources in town?
  5. Would you be willing to alter your diet to a more regional and seasonal diet in order to help sustain a local economy?
  6. If you have children, would you take them to a miniature golf outing? If so, how often?
  7. Do you know of youth organizations that might be interested in partnering and learning about organic farming, gardening that are interested in using the proceeds as a fundraiser?
  8. Would you like to see eco-art opportunities for youth?
  9. Are you interested in taking courses to learn more about sustainable living and organic gardening?
  10. Do you know of foundations or organizations to approach for funding?
  11. Would you be interested in working for a Co-Op health food store?
  12. Would you be interested in being on a Board that is in charge of the organizational structure of such an endeavor?
  13. What talents/skills/resources would you be willing to contribute to such a project?
  14. Are you interested in the project, but think it needs to happen on a different property?
  15. What have I forgotten to ask that you know I need to know? ;+)
Lake County Community Co-op