The December Gallery and Creators Market wrapped up. I couldn’t have been happier to see how many artists showed up, most of them local and some from as far as Wichita and Dodge City. I hope that all the items purchased for gifts were thoroughly enjoyed by their recipients. I cannot thank the Artists and Creators who shared their works and allowed us the opportunity to work together. Without them, the market wouldn’t have been possible!
We were really hoping to use the month of January to get caught up on some of the renovations that are still in progress. Unfortunately, it was bitterly cold, and the upgrade we were working towards was upgrading our heating system. It was far too cold to get the work done indoors, and those projects will come together in time.
February brings in some very awesome news! We are so excited to announce that we are now working with Jim’s Formal Wear to be able to rent and sell tuxedos and suits! We are working on ways to provide discounted rates to those in Ottawa County to help make prom season and weddings a little easier and stress-free! Being local and living so close to Astoria will allow us to be able to get fittings and orders at times convenient for you. Not having to drive to Salina, not having to take time out of work/school days, and getting a special local rate are huge benefits.
In additional community news! We can finally move forward with our goals for a community pantry! This week, we are purchasing two used newspaper machines that we will convert into a community pantry for anyone with a need. These are also going to join with another project that we are beginning. We will be working with the Ottawa County Conservation District to turn the small plot of dirt behind Astoria into an urban community green space! We are planning on having a few raised garden beds to be used for pollinator gardening and a few other options. We will work together to use this as an opportunity for classes and workshops to teach kids and adults about conservation and ways to make it work in small spaces. There will be updates and events to come as the weather warms up. If you are interested in participating in this project or would like to contribute, please let us know so we can ensure you are updated!
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.
Happy Days Ahead,
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.