Wolf Tree Collective Celebrates One Year Anniversary Sunday

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Last year Wolf Tree Collective opened their doors to the many varieties of families who call Athens their home. Over the past 365-some days, the entirely volunteer-run outfit has done everything from provide family-friendly musical entertainment to regular yoga and tai chi classes.

The organization has also hosted 10 pop up shop events, showcasing 28 regional businesses; provided over 300 open hours to more than 500 people, allowing the community to take advantage of the organization’s space; hosted internationally regarded family and wellness psychotherapist Nancy Mellon; brought together six enormously successful clothing swaps, and much more.

Wolf Tree is a product of the Appalachian Progressive Education Center, which advocates for cultural and social renewal in the region by supporting groups that provide productive programming for those living in Southern Ohio.

Executive director and founder Laura Post said that the inspiration for the organization was born of her many years of working with families and children. In particular, she cites nearly 20 years as an outdoor educator, as well as her 9 years as a birth educator, prenatal and postnatal yoga instructor, and doula. She is also a mother of two.

“I just heard all these conversations from parents, the joys, the struggles, of being a parent,” said Post. “I saw that people were learning again and again from the same books, versus learning directly from people. I felt that there needed to be a place where people could pass on and share the wisdom of pregnancy and birth, and the many joys of parenting.”

Wolftree Collective executive director speaks to a group of families gathered in the organization's sunny storefront. (Submitted)
Wolftree Collective executive director speaks to a group of families gathered in the organization’s sunny storefront. (Submitted)

Based out of the former Athens Book Center on East State Street in Athens, Wolf Tree Collective seems a natural fit into the space; with its large windows and abundance of natural light. The calming atmosphere of Wolf Tree is intentional, and also one of the main reasons families congregate there every day of it’s operation.

“People often tell me that they like coming here because it feels so welcoming,” said Post. “What we do here isn’t about one particular lifestyle; it’s about all lifestyles, it’s about bolstering our culture by recognizing the importance of the family, from everyone from the young child to the wise grandparent.”

Young children take part in a family-friendly concert at Wolftree Collective. (Submitted)
Young children take part in a family-friendly concert at Wolftree Collective. (Submitted)

The wolf tree, for which the organization is named; is itself a living example of thriving diversity. Large, ancient trees, wolf trees are rare, remnants of North America’s heavily wooded state before the European colonization of the Americas. In addition to growing vertically, like most trees, wolf trees grow horizontally, with wide, long branches; accommodating a variety of ecosystems.

The tree is an apt symbol for the highly diverse clientele of Wolf Tree Collective.

“We want to recognize the needs of the family, as well as the young child and the parent,” said Post, who said that most of the families who frequent Wolf Tree Collective tend to believe in the “slow parenting” approach, which puts an emphasis on allowing children to develop naturally, without rushing their maturation – psychologically, emotionally or otherwise. “We want to provide resources for human development in general.”

Outside of resources for families, Wolf Tree also provides a space for regional artisans of all types to sell their wares. Silk scarves, used books, and other items line the interior walls of the space.

This weekend the organization will celebrate it’s one year anniversary with an event on Sunday, Feb. 26. The birthday celebration will feature a silent auction of various local items, such as a gift basket from Donkey Coffee, jewelry from Mansfield Metalworks, tamales from Nixtamalized, a gift certificate for LuLaRoe (a clothing retailer with a location in Albany), organic wines and more. Those who attend will also be treated to samplings of local chow from the likes of Pork n Pickles, Lapp it Up Kombucha; storytelling; crafts, and a concert by Athen’s Megan Bee. There will also be a free TRE (Tension and Trauma Release Exercise) class with Heidi Ann Pendergast. The event will kick off at 1 p.m., and all proceeds will be invested directly into keeping the physical space that the organization occupies open.