Building Community one Tool at a Time
From the street, Anchorage Community House looks like your average home in an ordinary Anchorage neighborhood. But looks can be deceiving.
Anchorage Community House was born from a desire to build community. Meg Zaletel, the owner and director of ACH, had the opportunity to purchase a house across the street from her own.
“I was fascinated by the long and important history of community houses in the United States. Community houses have long served as places that promote a sense of belonging, equity, and access to everyone in a community,” says Zaletel. “I wanted to help build a friendly and supportive place in Anchorage that could provide affordable learning opportunities and could help make our community stronger and a better place to live.”
Use of the Anchorage Community House is based around individual and family memberships. Members get a discount on renting the entire house and classes are provided to members free or at reduced prices. Members can also make arrangements to use the workshop, art room or any part of the house depending on availability. Membership also allows users privileges to ACH’s tool library, the only one of its kind in Anchorage. There are over 170 different tools available for use, with a wide variety from tools for lawn care to construction to gardening to the kitchen.
After almost a year in operation, ACH wants to continue to grow the tool library.
Funded primarily through private donations and modest membership fees, ACH recently launched an IOBY campaign (like a nonprofit equivalent of a Kickstarter campaign) with the express purpose of raising funds to purchase new and used food preservation tools for the library.
The wish list includes professional grade vacuum sealers, dehydrators, food mills, a meat grinder, a sausage maker, a fruit steamer, a smoker and a meat slicer.
“We’ve been talking to members of the Anchorage community all summer at the Spenard Farmer’s Market. We keep hearing the same need expressed again and again - make more tools available for food preservation. As Alaskans, I think we all value the health and economic benefits of preserving our own food, and we want ACH to reflect the needs of our community,” says Zaletel.