STOKES Visit, Visit Again, Make It Yours.
Our Communities grew out of the engagement of Francisco neighbors interested in being included in the county’s 2014 long-range planning process, called Stokes 2035. The planning and implementation of Our Communities moves forward independent of, but in concert with, the Stokes 2035 Plan. We look forward to an ongoing relationship with the Stokes 2035 team, county leaders / staff and others, and to new partnerships.
Our Communities of North West Stokes Foundation ocnwstokesfound.org is responsible for the fiduciary management of grants and charitable giving.
Francisco and surrounding communities will be the most desirable area in our region to live, work, and play. Our Communities lie at the heart of picturesque Northwest Stokes County where a pristine stretch of the Upper Dan River meanders along and under scenic Route 89, connecting family farms and rustic retreats with a rich agricultural heritage while preserving a sense of caring for people of all ages.
We are committed to investing creativity, common sense and capital in northwestern Stokes County; revitalizing our communities; and securing a bright inclusive future for area families. Revitalization will be achieved through a comprehensive, integrated, and place-based development strategy that draws on traditions of stewardship, self-reliance, and rural innovation. Our planning combines education, outdoor recreation, farming, innovation, local arts & crafts, and community-building in traditional and new ways as we rise to the challenges of agricultural and generational transition.
HOW WE WORK
Community teams lead this initiative. These teams are diverse, comprised of long-time residents, many of whom have been here for generations, and new comers. All neighbors ready to take up the challenge to advance opportunities in our area are welcome and encouraged to do their part. The teams work independently and together to address priority needs and develop new initiatives identified by the community. The teams designate a team leader that becomes part of our Organizing Group, which meets to provide guidance and additional resources for community goals.
The community members will determine new initiatives, focusing on creative solutions to local challenges, such as: (a) roadside appeal, (b) support services for neighbors, including elder care, (c) funds / human capital support for community organizations, (d) new investment opportunities, (e) innovations in farming, community supported agriculture, and product marketing, (f) enrichment of community life, and (g) promoting our region’s beauty.
- Priorities and Initiatives:
Revitalize Education– Explore options and services for children (K-5) in the wake of the Francisco Elementary School closure; pre-K childcare and education; tween and teen support; cross-generational engagement; life-long learning; and relevant vocational training.
- Develop Outdoor Community Spaces– Repair, upgrade and maintain school grounds; create a community park; plant wildflowers along roadsides; explore Community Supported Agriculture; initiate barn art and mural programs; address deteriorating buildings; and, working with property owners, design a trail system linking the Dan River with other local assets and attractions.
- Strengthen support for Community Centers and Local Organizations– Starts with Community Building, closed school facilities (if repurposing is determined feasible and sustainable), and community building / school commercial kitchens, as vital centers for community activities, services, education, heritage, and recreation. Explore a compatibly designed, centrally located, filling station…food, fuel, priority convenience items, back porch music, and internet café…adding to local gathering places and guest stops.
- Expand support for Local Businesses and Vision-Compatible Economic Development: Boost awareness / revenues through enhanced neighbor-to-neighbor communications, external promotion to attract guests and residents (retirees and younger future leaders), create a directory (OC’s List), and initiate / support enterprise recruitment based on who we are, broadband infrastructure, and our human capital.
- Accelerate the build out of Broadband Internet Connectivity: Access and gig speeds for education, business, innovation communities, and personal use.
- Wildflower / Roadside Planting
- Adopt a Highway Program
- Establish Walking Track on School Grounds
- Paint / Repair Playground Equipment
- Refurbish Basketball Court / Backboards
- School Grounds Beautification
- Master Gardener Classes
- Community Garden
- Drive-By Book Exchange
- Construct Information Kiosks
- Website Development
- Add Free WI-FI Hot Spots
- Create Area Business Directory
- Design Newcomer Kits
- Repurpose Francisco School
- Fundraisers / FUNraisers.
- Prior to school closing, held a Clothing Exchange, tutored Francisco Elementary students, and provided “Back to School” Supplies for students entering new schools.
- STMC created 8 WI-FI Hotspots for emergency services (password protected) and working with the broadband team, created 2 free public Wi-Fi hotspots with 5 more planned.
- Enjoyed Community Dinners with music.
- Held Community Meetings to identify area needs, school uses, and gauge support for key strategic directions and decisions.
- Created Community Teams to address identified needs and special projects.
- Created a Non-Profit Corporation (approved in March 2016) to support area projects and other specific goals.
- Created a Memorandum of Understanding with Board of County Commissioners for steps toward repurposing the Francisco School.
- Began community park development, refurbishing playground and equipment, and creating a wellness track.