Spoke Folks is a worker-owned, bicycle-powered cooperative that provides trash, recycling and compost pickup.
Our services reduce food waste, local traffic, and greenhouse gas emissions. We create good jobs and cultivate a regenerative approach to waste management.
In 2015, Scott Vlaun of the Center for an Ecology Based Economy (CEBE) began researching Pedal People Cooperative in Northampton, MA, where he conducted interviews and did volunteer work with the group to identify how the model works in practice with the idea to bring this model back with him as a project of CEBE.
After keeping this project “back-burnered” for several years, CEBE became a training recipient of the USDA’s Rural Communities Development Initiative, with the Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) as the intermediary service provider. During that time, Scott, with support from CDI, the Democracy at Work Institute, and the entire training cohort, developed a project plan and recruitment strategy to launch Spoke Folks as a cooperative enterprise.
In late 2019 Scott was joined by Jessica Cooper and Justin Bondesen as worker/owners. More recently Lucas Brown joined the team, and Annie Doran from Pedal People joined the steering committee.
The business development process started in 2019 with branding and modeling work.
When COVID-19 hit the area, Spoke Folks jumped to action prior to their projected launch date to provide a free delivery service, funded by a small grant, for both emergency food pantries and the business district to help maintain micro-access to food and business within the Norway-Paris downtown.
Spoke Folks hauled hundreds of meals, rode over 100 miles collectively, and still has a weekly route for delivering boxes of food and hot meals from the food pantries and local CEBE Food Working Groups project Community Food Matters.
Establish a robust service providing for over 300 households in the direct service area (10% of households)
Build up community composting site/services.
Continue to work with community development organizations like CEBE to provide practical education and story sharing, and to spread the model to like minded organizations and municipalities across Maine.
Work with the town to implement more waste management services that reduce waste, regenerate waste by composting, increase recycling, and reduce carbon emissions.