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!
The last month and a half have flown by. Here at Astoria, May was pretty quiet. We focused on Arts Council projects and had an enjoyable Game night. We played Magical Kitties Save the Day. This is a tabletop RPG that got its start through Kick Starter. It’s a really great game for starting kids into the world of gaming. We had a small group that was a mix of kids and adults. It was a fantastic time.
Art was another big focus for the month. Ottawa County Arts and Humanities Council has been busy with projects like Down Town Rain Walk, Painting Banners for their yearly fundraiser, monthly meetings, and planning for new projects. The last Sunday of the month is always open studio. It’s where Astoria and the Arts Council come together to create a meeting and collaboration space for the community. This time is open to the public to bring their own art/crafting projects so we can meet and work in a group setting. If you would like access to art materials, it’s $10. This gives anyone access to the Arts Council supplies.
June was an absolute blast at Disco Night! Everyone that attended had a great time. We start the nights earlier than most and quieter so parents with kids can attend and bring their families. Nobody dances harder than our youngest attendees. We want everyone in the community to have an opportunity to come out and attend. *I remember the days when my kids were little, and I was missing that going out social life. I wanted to ensure that nobody in our community would miss out on being able to do something fun. -Karen*
June also kicked off our collaboration with The Card Collector Corner. This has been an awesome weekly event. This group was created to share the love of sports card collecting. A fun place to share your PC (Personal Collection) and learn more about the hobby: they have a desire for this to be kid/family-friendly, which aligns with Astoria’s values so well. We have been excited to have Jarid and all the collectors. This event runs on Sundays from 3:00 pm-6:30. With a small break for Father’s Day and vacations. We appreciate them coming in and transforming the space for their event!
We hope everyone is having a great summer so far!
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.
A blessing box and community fridge
Meditation classes and regular events
Monthly game night
Cultural speakers and events (music/arts)
Creating a barter and odd job board area
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,
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.