Transmissions from the JCP General Meetings

When (not if!) we finally move into 209 Mavety Street, I’m going to miss meeting at SMASH Gallery, a local vintage and salvage furniture and fixture store / gallery /workshop. The owner, Paul Mercer, has generously let our group meet there for months now, since the very beginning of the project. And the thing about meeting at SMASH is that you never know what tables and chairs you’re going to get to use – but you can always count on them being unique. It seems like every week there’s a few different chairs, a new table, and all manner of menagerie we have to move around in order to make a meeting space (For a couple of weeks, there was a massive moose head we had to move off of the table we were using. It must have weighed 75lbs.)

I love that the space is cluttered with old, discarded and neglected chairs, tables, light fixtures, moose heads, neon signs, and dozens of other things that Paul has seen fit rescue, reuse, refurbish and make useful again.

And it struck me at our meeting last night, that we’re also working to refurbish a space and give it a new life. Of course I’ve never really forgotten the fact that we’re trying to save a discarded police station in order to restore it into a thriving, dynamic community hub – though it is at times easy to loose sight of that fact. Last night we addressed some pretty tiresome issues – trying to finalize our constitution, nailing down the details of our communications plan, discussing our funding proposal to hire a consultant, and figuring out exactly what we want that consultant to do. In other words, we’re at a point as a group where some of the excitement has given way to the nitty gritty and at times frustrating work of animating our vision. We’ve all put in so much work up to this point, yet we’re still so far away from our end goal, and that can be sobering.

At the end of yet another meeting that went to 10pm on a Wednesday, we were all pitching in to put things back where they were when we got there. Did anyone remember where this antique drafting table went? Where was this pile of old apple crates? I have no idea what this is, or where it goes. Thank goodness that moose head is gone! And even though we were all exhausted and burnt out from a pretty heavy meeting, everyone was cheerfully, if a little sluggishly, chipping in to move everything back to where it was (to the best of our recollection!) And in that moment, I suddenly felt reenergized – inspired by the people I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past few months who still had the energy and the grace to work together to carefully re-assemble Paul’s gallery. It gives us something tangible to touch, to move, to worry about, but also something to dream about: We will finalize our constitution. We will finish our grant proposal and get funding. We will convince the city to let us refurbish and transform 209 Mavety Street. Our Twitter feed will have thousands of followers. We will have a quirky meeting space to call our own one day. And what a glorious day that will be. But part of me will still miss meeting at SMASH.

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