Sierra Shared Spaces holds community hub event

Photos and story by Catherine Stachowiak

Thursday, May 16 many groups and individuals attended the Sierra Shared Spaces community hub, at the Kern River Valley Veterans Center, in Lake Isabella.

The idea for the community hub was the brainchild of a Whiskey Flat Days mayor fundraising campaign, by long time locals Justin Powers and Chris Zuber, also known as Powder Packin’ Powers and Madd Miner Zuber.  

Sierra Shared Spaces founder Justin Powers said, “The goal of what we’re doing here is; We’ve been talking about this concept of a community hub for awhile now. We’ve gone on this journey, from having Kernville Cowork over the last six years and seeing the impact at having people work in the same space and being able to come together and work on different things, and we’re looking for a way to take this to the next level.  So we’ve created a new nonprofit, Sierra Shared Spaces. And we’re using this as a vehicle to (say) let’s create something brand new here. And this is the community hub that we’ve been talking about.”

Now the Sierra Shared Spaces board was asking the community what others would like to contribute to the vision.

Ashley Proctor, who has been assisting Powers, was planning to speak at a Coworking Spain Conference in Madrid.  Powers said others outside the valley internationally were cheering the project on.

Kern Community Foundation has been supporting the Sierra Shared Spaces, as well, Powers explained.  

Powers said he was grateful that Robert Gomez, representing the Tubatulabal tribe, for coming to the event because he appreciated them coming to the table.  Powers said, “They were here first, this is their land.  And I feel like we’re borrowing it.” 

Different groups represented at the event were Kern Family Health Care, Kern River Valley Art Association, Senior Citizens Inc, Kern River Conservancy, and Kern Valley Historical Society, among others.  

“I really want to dedicate this time to allowing all of you the ability to put input and breathe life into what we’re doing,” Powers said.

Activities during the meeting included placing message stickies on posters to identify what people thought the community needed most in a community hub, which organizations were doing a lot within the community, what people wanted to see happening in a hub, and what people were willing to do to assist the community through the hub.

Proctor said, “It’s really important to gather your input. We need your honest input.”  

People were allowed to post their opinions anonymously or committing to future volunteering. On one poster table requested the public to list criticisms and fears as well so that the Sierra Shared Spaces board could address them.

“As we’re doing this kind of co creation event, we’re dreaming really, really big,” Proctor said.  “There are absolutely no limits in this room. Money is not an obstacle in this room when we’re dreaming here.” 

Poster questions included, “What kinds of events would you want to attend?” and, “What do we need locally?”

Another poster posed the question, “What needs do you have that a community hub could help solve?” Yet another poster posed the question,  “Who should we partner with?”

Kern River Ceviche Company of Lake Isabella catered the buffet dinner, for the event, sponsored by Valley Strong Credit Union.