Saturday, September 12, 2015

Together we'll find a way....


Gathered to talk about a future for West-Park

The day was spent in focused preparation for a meeting with our closest community neighbors.  Ever since the landmarking struggle of 2010, there has been an ongoing awkward dance. West-Park has always believed that once our building was declared  a significant piece of the community’s shared cultural heritage, there was an implied obligation of the community to share in the restoration and preservation of the building. And that is an important distinction.

There has always been a need on the community’s part to know that West-Park could be/would be responsible for its own operating experiences. The neighborhood had no obligation to save the church. This of course quickly leads into a conversation involving chickens and eggs, oranges and apples and carts and horses and other assorted metaphors and analogies mixed and not. The issues always have been interrelated.

At the heat of the battle, there was of course (then) Councilmember Brewer’s promise of $10 million, which she believed passionately she could raise. She did succeed in helping raise the $80000 that brought a new boiler. There have been approaches and avoidances  and uncertainties.

But we are at a new day. West-Park can now reasonably say that it will support itself, one way or another. The partnerships with Noche, Shen Wei and Town Square are  all for 5 years. There is a new city council member, Helen Rosenthal, who explicitly campaigned with West-Park as an issue. The Center at West-Park s waiting to (finally) become a reality. And so the day is spent getting ready. And we meet at 6 to go over roles and responsibilities and who will speak to what. Pat has brought the graphic reports on reconstruction and priorities he previously prepared. Mim has brought refreshments. We’re nearly ready.

Our visitors begin to arrive. Mitch from north, who’s always expressed interest and openness. Jen from next door who when she learned about the history of the Goodman family who had been there joined their work. Melissa who handles communication for our neighborhood association, who saw Antigona and was completely blown away, she got it. Martin’s mom from across the street.  Martin. Session members and center board members. And of course, Helen.

I welcome everyone. Pat shares his overview of what has been accomplished, what had to be done to achieve that, and what needs to happen next. Martin spoke of how Antigona came to happen here because of a particular vision, that both inspired him and sustained him and encouraged him to step out and make it happen.
Martin makes a point
Which Luli spoke to as well, as one who lives right across the street. Helen spoke of the limitations of government but her willingness to walk with us. Laurie of what we have coming up. And we asked what kind of structure was needed so that the community would feel comfortable committing to the process. For a moment, there was one of those  step back moments to which I said, No, we need to keep moving forward….

Which out on the steps, Helen told me was the right way to go.  The community has to see us ready to keep walking forward with them. (Of course there is more  than enough rational reason on our side to be less than completely trustful.) This is a new day.  Time to keep moving.

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