As an open architecture network, RCRA connects regional leaders helping overcome the isolation of the large geography of the region linking similar projects happening in different part of the region with the goal of creating synergy, doing collaborative resource development, shortening the learning curve, and identifying challenges that can best be overcome by working collectively across the region.
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Redwood Coast Rural Action (RCRA) was formed in 2000 by a partnership between College of the Redwoods (CR), Humboldt State University (HSU)and Humboldt Area Foundation (HAF), all of whom had a vested interest in the future of the region. But the idea that a community could take control of its future started in 1996 when Humboldt Area Foundation reached beyond the traditional role of a community foundation to support a collaborative effort address the economy of Humboldt County. That initial initiative, called the Institute of the North Coast, planted the seed, that grew into RCRA –a regional connecting of the four counties in the northwestern corner of California (Del Norte, Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino).
Formation of RCRA
As a result of building community capacity to address the future of the region, emboldened citizens pressed for meaningful engagement in the process of hiring new presidents for the two institutions of higher learning serving the region: Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods.
Those new presidents, with a mission to bring their institutions to bear on the future of the region, joined with Humboldt Area Foundation to expand thinking from the economy in Humboldt County to building the collective voice and the power across a much larger region connected by history, geographic isolation and common economic drivers.
Between the years 2000-2002 the partnership brought together diverse leaders from the four counties to explore similarities and differences between their respective counties and identify, if possible, issues that were difficult to address county by county, but could potentially be solved by working together.
The Common Agenda
Five areas were identified:
- Improve the health care and the housing infrastructure for living in the region.
- Build the economic base and employment/workforce of the region
- Increase the economic success of the region’s poor and working families
- Attend to natural resource care & use by the region
- Amplify our rural voice at state and national policy tables
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