Dana Whitcomb

Dana Whitcomb's Fundraiser

Help The Learning Council Move Downtown image

Help The Learning Council Move Downtown

A place to call home after 23 years of service... Ollie's is under contract by TLC!


$1,210 towards $10,000

The Buell Foundation is matching $41,000 worth of donations to help TLC purchase the building. Double your donation!

The Learning Council is purchasing a building to create a hub for community service and education in downtown. My personal fundraising will contribute to the $500,000 goal. TLC is using Network for Good, a platform that allows individuals to set personal fundraising goals that funnel into the main campaign.

We need donors at all levels to create a community educational center! If you are interested in a bigger gift for year-end giving, you are welcome to do that here or please reach out to TLC directly by emailing thelearningcouncilpaonia@gmail.com

Whether you can give $5, $20, $100 or more - TLC is deeply honored and empowered by your generosity and will work to make it a gift that keeps on giving in our community.

This is the story of why this organization means very much to me.

My name is Dana Whitcomb. My partner Chris and I run Mountain Oven Organic Bakery in Paonia, Colorado. We moved to the North Fork Valley in 2018. In the couple of years before moving to this valley, we were commuting on a weekly basis from over the hill in Crested Butte. We had a fixer upper of a house needing rehab (soon to be our first home!), a search for a facility for our bakery to move into by the coming spring, and a desire to start integrating into the community here. That last one was a lot easier than anticipated.

For me, that first happened at workshops put on by The Learning Council. First I spent a weekend learning about seed saving. Next I was pleasantly surprised by a beautiful, locally sourced meal in which I was only asked for a donation in return.

I fell in love with how this organization works - the gift model to make all offerings equally accessible, diverse classroom experiences reflecting the character of our valley, nourishing meals provided to the community out of the Trading Post, and the way this organization leads with such a profound level of love for the community and attentiveness to its needs. TLC was clearly a force for good in the community and was working overtime to teach, feed, and advocate for the needs of the whole.

In Delta County, resources can feel scarce. With The Learning Council, I see something entirely different emerging. A bright spot of abundance, movement forward hand in hand without leaving anyone behind, a level of service that stops me in my tracks time and again to evaluate what I can give out of love and in good faith that what is good for the whole is good for me, too. TLC puts this sentiment into action and shows us how we can contribute.

At a TLC bee keeping workshop hosted up at Thistle Whistle Farm, my sweetie Chris casually mentioned to TLC's Executive Director (Alicia) that I would love to serve on the board if there was ever an opening. I'm sure I turned scarlet - I so deeply admired Alicia and this organization. Over two years later, I still serve on this board and am evermore inspired by the impact of our work.

We are in a moment of big growth and are hopeful to garner community support to realize a dream! After 23 years of service in the valley, after 23 years without a headquarters for this work, we are on the verge of moving into a place to call home. If you live in the NFV, you've noticed the for sale sign on the Ollie's Ice Cream building in downtown. Well, TLC has the building under contract!

Check out the main page for our campaign here.

Here is an idea of what TLC will do with this space:

  • Commercial Kitchen serving weekly community meals at the Trading Post or Arbol Farmers Market while teaching food classes all provided via donation (TLC's signature gift model!)
  • Classroom Space for courses in health, music, dance, agriculture, social and environmental justice, and more
  • Arts for All educational programs in visual arts, music, and performing arts
  • North Fork Community Parade & Marching Band practice and performance venue
  • Diversity Library open to the public with representation of authors from all backgrounds
  • Teen-led ice cream shop open year-round to honor the heritage of the building and teach teens how to lead, run a business, and serve community
  • Working Area for Delta County Coalition Advocating for Radically Equitable Spaces
  • Bike Co-op shop and outdoor patio space
  • Space for co-working with our partner organizations and colleagues
  • Educational space for the Health and Vitality Council to teach Comprehensive Sexual Health Education to parents and students

Besides the purchase of a building on a central block in downtown when the real estate market is at an all time high, there is also a need to restore and renovate the building to TLC's needs.

When I close my eyes I can see it buzzing with life: teens having a place to gather and learn, doors wide open with folks pouring in and music pouring out, a space for creation of all kinds, family bike rides into the back lot to get a tune-up from the bike Co-op, a roof under which we will work to build community, advocate for our fellow community members, and welcome all. Energy, love, and action enlivening downtown Paonia to the benefit of all.