Welcome to Common Roots!

We are a non-profit community organization that is transforming how we live together in Meadville, Pennsylvania by organizing for cooperative, sustainable housing.





Common Roots’ mission is to provide resources for residents to establish power over their circumstances and create social and economic change. Common Roots is committed to a grassroots, bottom-up model of community development. That means we seek to engage residents directly in the work of building better systems for the common good. Our current focus is on developing cooperative affordable housing.


After talking for years about their belief in the untapped potential in the Meadville area, a group of likeminded individuals began to hold community organizing meetings at Voodoo Brewery in November, 2013. The initial purpose of these meetings was to organize the community, work on local economic development, and strengthen & expand social networks – all while having fun and getting to know each other.

Community Organizing Happy Hour (Feb. 2016)
The group caught the attention of key individuals at Allegheny College, who have long desired to more fully integrate the College and its surrounding community. An idea was born: Allegheny College’s 2015-16 annual theme would be
The Year of Meadville and would revolve around community and economic development.


A steering committee, comprised of Meadville residents and Allegheny representatives, assessed where current energies, movement, and interests were concentrated, what areas folks would be most excited to work on, and where the capacity and needs of the community converged. 

The fall of the Year of Meadville was all about connecting and listening. Residents came together to share their personal stories about everyday life in Meadville, as well as their hopes and dreams for the future.


As her senior project, Meadville Area Senior High student Gabby Miller (now a student at Allegheny College) worked with Year of Meadville organizers to bring Project Voice spoken-word artists Franny Choi and Phil Kaye to town for a series of performances and workshops. These events empowered young people to make their voices heard through poetry, and culminated in a community open-mic night at the Academy Theatre where high school and college students shared their work.

The spring of the Year of Meadville was all about building new systems for the common good. First, we explored how we could create a local food system – one that supports our farmers and producers and ensures everyone has access to healthy foods. We learned from a range of folks and organizations doing exciting work in other communities.

Homepage slideshow-3

We were especially keen to consider what it might take to establish a local food hub. And guess what: a year later the French Creek Food Hub was launched!

Next, we focused on how to build a thriving local economy – one that builds real wealth right here in our community.  Stacy Mitchell from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance came to town with concrete ideas for sustainable economic planning and development. She met with local business leaders and city officials, and helped to lay the groundwork for the recently established Northwest Pennsylvania Investment Cooperative. We also learned about a range of approaches to community development rooted in social enterprise and economic justice.

The Year of Meadville ended with an epic Community Celebration at the Downtown Mall. The event brought together local residents, vendors, and organizations to celebrate all the good work that is happening in Meadville. There were also installations, including the Meadiaville Listening Project which documents the lives, talents, and stories of youth media-makers in the area. Mayor Leroy Stearns even proclaimed April 30, 2016 Community Celebration Day and encouraged all residents to participate in public life in order to build a better Meadville.

The centerpiece of the Community Celebration was A Town For Us, a play based on stories collected throughout the Year of Meadville and performed by local residents. The play followed Lilah, an agriculturalist and mother of two, and Lindsey, president of a manufacturing plant, as they struggled to find a sense of security during a troubling time, and examined the meaning of home, community, and empowerment. A Town For Us was written by Katie Beck, who is the founder of Gum-Dip Theatre, and was directed by Lee Scandinaro, who was working, and continues to work, on youth voice and leadership development in the area.

As the Year of Meadville came to a close, organizers were determined that this vital work continue. Common Roots emerged as a legacy project of the Year of Meadville. Inspired especially by Year of Meadville speakers Evelyn Burnett of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Dan Conant of Solar Holler, and Jenifer Kaminsky of PUSH (People United for Sustainable Housing) Buffalo, Common Roots decided to start by tackling one of the thorniest issues Meadville currently faces: a lack of affordable, safe, sustainable housing.

Board of Directors

Julie Wilson, President

Autumn Vogel, Secretary

Stephanie Martin, Treasurer

Brian Cagle

Ian Carbone

Don Goldstein

Sarah Wolford

Peter Zimmer