This is the first in a series of profiles on Diverse City Fund grantees! Stay tuned for more posts that will tell the stories of our amazing grantees!
by Diverse City Fund volunteer Rachel Cohen. Based on an interview with Valerie Critten-Stewart and Amanda Huron, residents and volunteer leaders at MTC
Did you know that 2012 is the United Nations’ International Year of Cooperatives? Neither did I, until I met with Valerie and Amanda from the Madison Terrace Cooperative (MTC), a community-based residential complex in the Brightwood neighborhood of DC. Valerie, the Chair of the MTC Board, and Amanda, the Chair of MTC’s common space committee, are working with their fellow residents to make MTC a leader in the international cooperative housing movement, and with this year’s celebration and recognition of cooperatives, their DC Fund grant could not have come at a better time! By using their DC Fund grant to improve their communal spaces for hosting events, they hope MTC can first become a model to coops across the Washington metro area, and eventually – given the national and international attention on our city – a model for sustainable cooperative living across the world.
Madison Terrace is a single-building, 45-unit housing complex, occupied by a mix of singles, couples and families. MTC residents are a diverse group from all backgrounds and income levels, but they all share a commitment to living a cooperative lifestyle. The residents of MTC came together in 1983 to buy their building when it came on the market, and since then MTC has existed as cooperative housing built on communal responsibility. Many residents volunteer with coop work; keeping up the building and grounds, working on committees that plan music and movie nights and starting a coop newsletter to keep everyone informed on their activities.
The $2,000 grant that MTC received from the Diverse City Fund last year will make a big difference for a group that stretches its limited budget a long way. MTC has a communal space that has long been used for events, including a planned event to celebrate the DC coop movement this fall. MTC’s leaders plan to use the majority of their grant funds to upgrade the common space so that it can be used to host more events and become a venue for the whole community. They are excited to outfit the room with 50 new chairs, tables, a P/A system and a projector & screen. Building up the Coop’s communal room as a well-outfitted space means that will be available not just for MTC meetings and events but for music nights, activist trainings and all kinds of other events that will benefit the broader community. They see the communal space as something that should be open to and geared toward their community, and making sure the room has physical equipment needed to host public events is an important step toward this goal.
With this grant in hand, MTC is thinking big in planning for the future. They hope to one day host a Spanish-English Learning Center in the communal space with regular conversation classes and events so residents can learn to better communicate with each other and communities across our city. Eventually they hope the space can also be used for fundraising events to support children’s activities across and beyond the city. Another area where MTC hopes to lead is environmental sustainability. They are exploring plans to use their roof deck as an urban garden space, or to install rain barrels to capture water for reuse in the building or garden.
Their DC Fund grant will enable them to explore new possibilities, project and partnerships in the area of sustainable living. Many of the DC Fund grantees work on food justice and sustainability issues so MTC looks forward to connecting with some of these groups and their projects. They are already building strong community relationships through the grant-making process, working with Washington Peace Center as their fiscal sponsor for the grant.
The DC Fund grant will enable MTC to move forward on the path to becoming an anchor in its community, a first step to being an international coop leader. As Valerie and Amanda explained, the DCF grant is relatively small but fits MTC’s needs perfectly and will go a long way for the cooperative. Support from the DC Fund will be critical to building up MTC’s community space, and the residents of the Madison Terrace Cooperative can’t wait to put their grant into action this fall.
For more on International Year of Cooperatives, visit http://social.un.org/coopsyear/cooperatives-are.html. For more on the DC Cooperative scene and upcoming events, visit http://coopdc.org.