April is a wonderful month. It’s filled with all the springtime things. It starts to feel like we can all get out of winter mode and back into doing things. We have spent this month having a blast being busy. We brought our themed event with Emo night. It was really heartening to see so many people come in, enjoy time with friends and get into the vibe of things. It was an all ages event and I think the littlest community members have some of the most fun. Part of having events is knowing that people have families and being able to go out with everyone is so important. That same weekend we hosted our first monthly open Game Night. We all learned how to play new games and met new people. It was a nice way to unwind after Emo Night. This month also hosted a private party, monthly Arts Council Meeting and After School Youth arts program. For that we chalked the front sidewalk to welcome students. We are ending the month with Open studio time for artists to come and create together. We have added a screen in the front window so we can show everyone what all we have going on.
In our personal lives we have had a really busy month. The Arts Council has some really exciting projects on the way and that has been taking up a lot my time. We also rescued a family of cats in need. For a while three baby kittens were needing extra feedings while their momma cat was cared for and recovering. Being up every two hours day and night is an endeavor. The family is doing pretty well, recovering, and growing. Justin and the kids started an online radio station project and they have been having a great time being busy with that. I’ve also been working hard on getting through my own schooling so I can bring a much needed service to the area.
All in all April has been a great month with a lot to be grateful for.
In sociology, the third place refers to the social surroundings that are separate from the two usual social environments, which are home and work. Common third space churches, libraries, gyms, front porches, cafes, and bookstores. Any place where we meet and hold other social interactions. Third places are where we commune and hopefully create the social ties that unite a community. I spend a lot of time observing life around me. It’s a substantial part of my introverted nature. A few pretty significant observations that most of us as adults feel profoundly about is how much harder it is to make and keep friends and the time and energy (also moneconnect with other adults meaningfully. We also seem to hold onto wanting to have a reliable community of people to rely on. There is this saying regarding parenthood about how it takes a village, but often we no longer feel like the village exists for us. Those villages and friendships of the past were built in third spaces.
In Minneapolis, there is a surprising amount of third spaces that are pretty underutilized for helping people hold onto those connections. We have an abundance of churches, and our excellent library staff putting together ways to connect people in the community. With the Farm, we have a place to meet and enjoy coffee or a brew while we spend time with friends or attend one of their many events. This weekend we hosted the Arts Council for open studio time, and the group met to cut and sew the banners that are painted and displayed downtown. Sitting back and observing how we as a community can come together and laugh, share, cry, and connect was almost indescribable. It’s a feeling of community and support. I think that is something that so many people are missing.
The feeling of the village. That village is created by the community’s people coming together and getting to know each other, helping each other. Having the ability to reach out because they know the people around them. I’m not from Minneapolis, and it has been a challenge to find a place in a community of people who many have been here for generations. I now have children who I want to know what it feels like to grow up in a village, looking at how they can contribute to their communities and have their community create a place for them. I want that for all of us that live here. For us to grow and connect. To be a place that people want to both visit and come back to. Where we can know our neighbors and share a community, that is why our third spaces are so important. They allow us to get to know each other and connect within our communities.
Upcoming plans for events. Some are solid and waiting on deciding dates, and some are things I’m still looking into how to implement. I am always looking for ideas from people with what they would like to see.
Expansion can be uncomfortable, but it should never be unwelcome.
This last month has had a lot of expansion for me. At first, it felt uncomfortable. Mid-December, we all got covid. I’m at high risk for side effects, and up until then, we all managed to avoid it. Inevitably we did eventually get it, and I have been struggling with the symptoms of long covid. This experience has had a tremendous impact on daily life, as it has for anyone who struggled with the many issues of covid. Getting sick has a way of giving pause and reflection on where you are in life. I had to pause and slow down. I was angry at not being able to finish my renovation goals as planned. I was upset at how exhausted I was. I did use those places between naps to make some decisions on what I wanted this new year to look like. I decided that I, in fact, could not do it all and needed to figure out what was the most important for me to focus on. That is solidly placed on my family and creating a community in Astoria. I came up with two very big decisions. The first is to leave my daytime job as a barista at Ad Astra books and coffee house. I will always value my time there. I adored my job. Coffee is an immense love of mine, and that isn’t going anywhere. The community of people I met through my years there are some of the most valuable I have found since I moved to Kansas. But it was time to say goodbye and move on to the next phase of life. My second big decision was to take on schooling to learn to be a meditation and mindfulness coach. Years ago, I was a hypnotherapist, and life with tiny babies put that on hold. I have missed those practices and want to be able to add wellness practices to the things Astoria offers. There are many ways to build community, and better self-awareness is a significant step. I really want to spend my time building Astoria to be the space I envision and I can’t make that happen if I am overbooked and not able to dedicate my personal resources to it.
It’s the time of year that never fails to sneak up on everyone and as we get older seems to happen so much faster than in the past. We made it through the holidays and are looking forward to the new upcoming year. For some, it feels pretty ambivalent and downright scary, and for others, a time for hope. For us, this year is full of hope and promise. The last year has seen so much progress in getting Astoria renovated into a usable space. We have dedicated more personal hours than I even tried to count. In the upcoming months, we are planning on opening the doors to really pulling people together and starting to have classes, events, opportunities, and much more.
Something very dear to my heart and plan for Astoria is the ability to help others achieve their dreams of starting or building their businesses. This goal started a long time ago when my first baby was just a baby. I began a journey to becoming a hypnotherapist. It was a challenge to be a new mom and start a practice. I had a high-need baby and needed to start small to grow. I couldn’t find a space to allow me to have the office I needed for a few hours a month. I decided that I would wait until the timing was better. So now here I am, and I have a goal to help others who want to start their businesses and need a space that they can work in for the time they need without worrying about leases and making rent. The ability to start small and work on a schedule that works for growing families and growing businesses. It’s not an easy to market concept. It doesn’t fit into a simple two-line ad, but I hope to spread the word to the people who want to change their lives.
I hope to provide opportunities to everyone from teachers who want to run their own classes(yoga, arts, dance, crafts), influencers or people on social media platforms who wish to have an easy place to set up and film, people in the healing or helping arts. There are endless possibilities.
I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, December always comes with a heaviness. The feeling that it’s time to slow down and start focusing on home and heart spaces. The time of year for starting projects and planning how to spend the cold winter months. Winter is the time I like to set aside for learning new things and enjoying the slower pace of the world.
With that feeling, we are ecstatic to announce this December, we will be hosting a residency of Anonymous Productions / OPFX. If you happened to stop in or drove by the Electric Sandbox event, you were sure to notice the lights and screens. During the month, they will work on building and planning for future endeavors, recording DJ sets, and running full productions. So if you drive by and it’s all lit up, there is some pretty cool work happening. If you would like to find out more about what each company does, reach out and shoot them a message. You can find their Facebook pages here. https://www.facebook.com/APwichitahttps://www.facebook.com/imopfx
In the meantime, if you want an up-close view of some of what’s happening, stop in this Saturday, December 3rd, for our 80’s / 90’s night. It is $5 at the door, and great music and production inside. See you then!
The last week has been super busy! After Art in the Park, I took a week off working as a barista and focused on pushing through hard to get as much done as possible. Everyone in the family but me has come down with a stomach bug this week, so it’s been balancing the work with caring for them. At the end of the week, we have the walls up and painted in the main room. The flooring has also been patched in and is ready for filling and sanding. We are down to many little details, trim, and some wall lighting. The space has come a long way in a week!
While I work, I tend to spend an abundance of time thinking, and I thought a lot about community this week. What does the Astoria community look like? I’m not often fond of things like mission statements and buzzwords that mean nothing. I am a pretty conscientious person, and I live by those principles I hold dear. Two have stood out a lot this week while I worked.
Kindness Matters and People above Profits.
The people who have helped make this space happen come from all different places and beliefs. We don’t always agree on beliefs and ideals. I want to think at the end of the day; those two ideals will hold us all together and create a genuine community. We come together in kindness, even when we disagree, and people always come first over profit. We all need money, as a fact, and that fact doesn’t detract from the fact we need each other more. I can’t wait to start bringing people together in meaningful ways to create a community.
I struggled with what to call the place in both name and description. I had so many ideas for what I wanted to see and do that it was hard to wrap them all into a simple, straightforward definition. At heart, I wanted something that summed up both individuality and community. In the current climate, those things don’t seem to be able to be married together. The individuals create the community, and the community supports the individual. Each person brings value to the community, and the community comes together to support them. With that plan began the work to create a space that brings people together. Astoria is a creative community venue because it’s a space to be. When I was creating a map for all the things I could see in this space, it covered so many different options. I want a space for the Arts Council to be able to host classes, poetry, or music. I could envision people coming in for yoga, meditation, Zumba, and so many other options. There are needs for small business owners that need a space for a few hours a month and don’t want to meet clients at home or have the capacity to rent an entire building. We already have plans to bring a unique music scene into the space. I have plans to support the local community through get-togethers like game nights, local business pop-ups, a blessing box, and working with local organizations to try to bring the individuals together to create a community. At its heart, this space is a place for people to find what they need to be a supportive community member and have a community that supports them.