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!
October always comes like a ton of bricks. It is always the busiest month for us. This year, I officiated my first wedding. It was an incredible experience. I loved being there to send two people in love to the beginning of a new chapter of their lives. Every month, on the second Monday of the month, the Ottawa County Arts and Humanities Council has its monthly public meeting here at 7:00 p.m. After that, I was allowed to attend a symposium for all the Arts Councils in the state on October 11th & 12th. It was an incredible experience that will bring more opportunities to Ottawa County. It was enlightening to know how much tourism money the arts bring in. I would love to do more to bring people into the county.
Immediately following the symposium, we began getting the 8th annual Art in the Park event ready on the 14th. If anyone has ever been the head of an event run by a small group of volunteers, you will know that it is an insane amount of running around. On the day of the event, though, everything always comes together. It was a chilly event this year, but it turned out lovely! The Card Collector Corner met as well. This group is so passionate and dedicated to their hobby. They are a super fun bunch! If you are a sports fan, stop in and check it out.
This month, we have some inspiring events happening. Our first Holiday vendor market will occur on November 11th from 10 am to 3 pm. This was created and organized by Merry’s Boutique. There will be a whole afternoon of snacks and holiday shopping! I am so excited about this event. I hope it’s a fantastic success for all the vendors. There is no better way to support small local businesses than to attend these events. You can get holiday shopping in and not have to leave town. I’m always happy not to add an extra trip to Salina or Concordia.
The other event we have is a partnership with several nonprofits to provide a Friendsgiving potluck! Smokyhill Equality Coalition, LgbtqKS, and Salt City Pride are coming together to host a potluck dinner for anyone in the community who may not have a family to spend the day with. We plan on an enjoyable day with food, games, music, a hot cocoa bar, and a chance to enjoy the day and not be alone. Everyone deserves a loving space on the holidays, and we are happy to be able to provide one!
Starting this month, we will seek artists and crafters to create an open gallery and art market for December. If you would like more information, please email or message us! We will kick off the month on December 2nd for a full day of shopping and events in downtown Minneapolis. Astoria will have both the Artist Market and The Ottawa County Arts & Humanities Council will have ornament decorating.
We are so excited to be able to give the Ottawa County Arts & Humanities Council a place to host their first Artist Reception & Fundraiser Preview. The Downtown Banner fundraiser is tied into their Annual Art in the Park Event. The Banners are a way to highlight local artists’ work, raise money for the council, and create a visual space for people to enjoy during the month of September. To find out more about the Banner Project, Art in the Park, and The Ottawa County Arts & Humanities Council, visit their Facebook page at the link below.
I recently saw a post on Facebook about how we can’t rely on having a village because they don’t exist. It made me sad that this was posted by a young mom and reflected a lot of struggles that new parents, the elderly, the disabled, and many others feel daily. Loneliness is such an epidemic so large other countries have entire divisions to work to combat it. In so many ways, we are more informationally connected than ever before, and it feels like we are more emotionally disconnected than many past generations. What does it take to build the village that we are missing? What does that village even look like?
Last week I shared the very special things about this community I live in. Things that make it a really nice place to live. Those special things don’t happen by accident they are often by design. One thing I will say is we can still do better. A village is built not just by the people in it taking but by them giving back. We have amazing people that run committees, councils, meetings, planning boards, and volunteers to make it work. There are a fair number of us that are in different organizations and give a lot of time and dedication to these things. Volunteer burnout happens sometimes. To create the village we want, we must show up and give back on top of asking for what we need. This summer, the Minneapolis Rec Commission really worked hard to bring an abundance of activities for kids, and our Markley Grove Park Friends work on bringing community events at the park. Those that volunteer do great things and our communities need people to give back and show up. These activities help to build a village because it takes us out of behind our screens and out of our houses. It puts us directly in contact with the people we live with. We reconnect. It becomes much harder to be divisive when you know that easy words online are to your neighbor. We get to know the people around us, how they are different, and how we are similar. Community is built in bigger events like the many we have here and in so many small ways. The ability to know you can ask for an emergency cup of sugar or the people that will be there for you if you need them.
Community is not a spectator sport! Show up often! Give as much as you can in ways you can, big and small! Ask questions and be curious about those around you.
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.
I wanted to make a quick post about our first regularly scheduled event. Game Night!
I adore games! Board games, tabletop RPG, card games, dice games, any games that are fun to play. With the amount of game stores and game creators out there, I know I’m not the only one. With that in mind we are bringing Game Night as a regular event for people. Bring a game and some friends or just come in and we will have something to play. If you don’t know the game we will teach you. For groups that already have the games and want a space we have that too. We will have snacks and drinks for sale but if you are looking for something more Minneapolis offers baked goods, coffee/teas, beer and wine at The Farm. We have restaurants, Pizza Hut, Papa’s burger mill and Fajitas.
I keep hearing my fellow adults ask, “how do you make friends as an adult?” Science says you just consistently show up to anything that you enjoy. It takes time and consistency. It also takes having something that is open and available. My dream is for Astoria to be that place. Where friends are made and the community comes together.
Right now the other regular event is Open Studio time brought to us by the Ottawa County Arts and Humanities Council. This is a way for people to come together to create with other artists. If you bring your own projects, it’s free to just stop in and hang out. If you would like access to art supplies it’s $10 a session.
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.
This project feels so all over the place. In some ways, things feel like they are moving much faster than I was anticipating, and in others, they feel like they are at a snail’s pace. This last weekend we got started on the drywall. After years of looking at the timbers in the wall, seeing drywall looks unfamiliar. Tomorrow will bring putting more drywall up and hopefully getting the walls of the central part of the building completely covered. It will be such a massive jump in the project and the space. Then will come the snail’s pace part of the project. Next week will see minimal movement. I will be busy finalizing everything with the Art in the Park. There are just not enough hours in the day to make everything happen. I’m looking forward to the process of mudding the walls. There is something soothing about mudding drywall; cathartic to see it go from just a screwed-on piece of stuff to a complete wall. I’ve found a portion of the floor that needed some extra love, so what I thought was finished still needs some work. I feel like these things are probably the never-ending process of owning a 100+-year-old building. I’m looking forward to our tiny bits of forward motion and excited about next weekend’s Art in the Park event.