Friday, September 27, 2013

Columbia Preservation Alumni back again


Columbia Preservation Alumni

Day filled with places to be. Late afternoon, stop by to visit with RL. Listen to some of his recordings, including One More Cup of Coffee. And talking about things that maybe don’t even need to be said but do. 

My big job today is to host the Columbia Preservation Alumni. I want to give them my usual tour of the church, archi-socio-historical. But I have another agenda. To remind them of their connection with this place. 

Back in December 2010, early. We were just in the process of coming back in. The big iron gates ordered to discourage the homeless were still up. We had to open them in order to squeeze into the sanctuary.  (

We had two events scheduled that month. First, Amanda would host an evening of ritual space with her friend Bill the architect and Matt the photographer and her own music. Later in the month there would be New York Creates’ Crafts Festival and the first Balcony Music Festival. But first....a day of work to get the building, closed for three years, ready to be open for the public again.

In preparation to host the Preservation Alumni and their work day,  the gates had to come down. Our
Welcome back Cristiana
friend Nazim from the  Belnord staff and his crew  brought them down and when Hope said Thank you for taking down our gates, he said, No God brought them down. The removal of the gates alone  was reason for celebration. (

Then the Presevation Alumni, joined by volunteers from Landmark West! and other community folk would come  for a whole days’ work. Amanda was our captain for the day. And inch by inch we began reclaiming the space. It was a beginning.

In between then and now, Cristiana worked for LW! and was always a true friend, always working to promote our events and keep public awareness up. In may ways she is a real example of the best of young preservationists coming onto the scene seeking a more holistic  urban approach to the process-- and business-- of preservation. 

She’s since gone on to a new job and we have missed her.  But keeps her connection to the alumni group. This is their annual fall party. We start in Mc Alpin for food and drinks, then I take everyone down to the sanctuary and do my rap.Then many follow me into the chapel for the continuation. And I point out the famous gates. By this point, I’ve got a pretty good routine down. They are bright and earnest in their questions. And what can they bring? There’s more than enough still to do. 

There was so much excitement back in 2010. Like an adventure being  undertaken. Sometimes, these days, we get a certain surprised annoyed response, like, oh you’re still doing this? from those who really have no idea what it takes. And it will stay that way until more choose to get involved. But a new adventure is just on the verge of beginning....

There’s still more than enough work to go around...

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