Hohohobos strives to create jobs and joy during the darkest time of year.
We started in 2015, in the Oldschool Pizzeria parking lot, operating out of a fireworks stand on loan from a Nisqually elder. Since then, every December we’ve been somewhere: in camps, shelters, under the bridge, or on the streets of Olympia: facilitating unhoused people in constructive, meaningful employment, making and selling Christmas wreathes. Hohohobos strives to support cooperative street leadership, while fostering positive attitudes and actions.
We’ve taught hundreds of people to make wreathes, and paid each one for their creation. In this way, our project has had a small impact on a lot of people. But the project has also had a much bigger impact on the lives of a small number of people, engaged as leaders, sales people, and organizers. Hohohobos has helped some folks pay for housing, or get a vehicle, or has been an important part of people’s stability and recovery. From year to year, our core organizers shift, and the project plays different roles in different people’s lives, but our values of trust, effort, and joy, always remain.
In 2021, we’ve doubled our price-per-wreathe from $5 (where it’s been for six years) to $10. We are making wreathes on at Percival Landing, near the Kissing Statue. We do not have permission to be there. Every time we’ve asked the City of Olympia permission to be anywhere, they’ve said “no”. This year we’ve been threatened with trespassing charges, for making wreathes on public property, although we haven’t been told what rules we’re breaking by doing so. But with the broad and enthusiastic support of the general public, Hohohobos will continue our work of providing jobs, connections, and holiday joy.
This year we’re also facilitating hand-painted ornaments, based on the same premise of paying unhoused folks upfront to paint ornaments, which HoHoHobos then sells. This is sort of a pilot program, and we are still working out the mechanisms of sales, quality control, and profit-sharing. Already, we’ve gotten good feedback about the therapeutic value of warm, dry, art time.
Hohohobos funds itself. We do happily accept donations, and Walker regularly hits up his mom for start-up money. But for the most part, we support our operation through our own sales. Decisions around money are made collectively at our weekly organizing meetings. Anyone who comes to these meetings can vote to use the money to make more wreathes, buy supplies, give bonuses, fix vehicles, help friends, or throw our annual Christmas party. In the past, Hohohobos has elected to fund a community laundry initiative, and one year we tried to save up to build a community locker.
We’re a pretty disorganized organization. The nature of our work also has a lot of moving pieces and chronic unknowns. Please be patient with us.
Got questions? Want to help with the project or locate the Sales Sleigh?
Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org