Lemmon’s Placemakers Co-op is not a place, it’s people.
It all started with Judy Larson’s overflowing kitchen.
“We’d been getting together with friends to make things and have some fun,” says Judy. “In November 2017 I had twenty adults, a bunch of kids and three dogs crammed into my house making lavender bath bombs. It was crazy! A few of us had heard about maker spaces and thought that would solve our space problem.”
The group decided to investigate a few possibilities around the Lemmon area.
“We looked at some spaces, but we didn’t want to spend all our energy figuring out how to take care of overhead expenses. We decided not to invest in a building, but just to work around it. Once we took the need for dedicated physical space off the table, it opened up all kinds of creative ideas,” says Judy, who now serves as the Placemakers Co-op president.
Judy explains that Placemakers Co-op embraces the philosophy behind the “third places” concept, which is all about the need for people to have a place to gather besides home and work to relax, socialize and connect.
The Co-op also has a mission statement they follow very closely: Placemakers Co-op creates space for makers and doers to share ideas, collaborate, build relationships and use their varied talents for the good of the group and the community.
Without an actual dedicated space, Placemakers Co-op events have occurred in places like the Legion Club, local garages, the Kokomo Inn art gallery, and the LIVE Inc. facility, which supports people with developmental disabilities. The group gathers at least once a month, and the maker projects have ranged from mixology classes and beer brewing to painting classes and building cornhole boards. Several “marquee” community events are also put on by Placemakers Co-op.
“On February 23 we held our second annual Smoke & Ice Festival, which involves ice skating, snow games, pond hockey, BBQ and a hot chocolate contest,” says Judy. “We are also extending our Bike Tune-up event into a Bike Week celebration this year. We’ve organized a cornhole tournament and a ‘Jingle Mingle’ community Christmas party.”
There are at least 15 other core members who deserve recognition for making the co-op possible, but the entire Lemmon community of about 1,200 people has rallied around the organization by attending and helping with events and expressing their appreciation.
“Two different families have donated memorial money to us on behalf of their loved ones because they believe in what we are doing,” she says.
Judy is most excited about the partnership with LIVE Inc. The space itself has a commercial kitchen, a gym area and a conference room, and gives the group a chance to share time and experiences with developmentally disabled community members.
“It can be difficult for the people who receive services from LIVE to integrate into the community and this way we can help bring the community to them. We are currently working to bring an artist-in-residence to LIVE Inc. with classes that would be available to all members of the community, whether or not they currently receive services there,” she says.
If you would like to learn more about the “third places” concept, Judy recommends reading the book The Great Good Place by Ray Oldenburg. “Placemakers Co-op is the best thing ever. It started out as a group of friends but has grown as new people choose to become a part of it. It’s not complicated. It’s just a bunch of people getting together to have some fun while sharing their talents. Everyone is welcome. People need to do things together and connect in order to feel like they belong in a community. This fills that need,” she says.