Thursday, May 27, 2010

We Did It! 49@Raven Place opening a smash hit!



We did it. And by "we" I mean ALL of us: friends of 49 writers, volunteers, members of the new 49 Alaska Writing Center, broader members of the Alaska writing and reading community. From Ketchikan to Barrow, we came together this year and propelled our vision from its virtual origins into a physical reality, anchored at 415 L Street in Anchorage -- "Raven Place" -- with plans to reach far across the state.

Last Saturday, we put away the paint cans and enjoyed Raven Place as an author event space for the first time. Deb explained how we grew from a collaborative blog into a nonprofit lit org with plans for workshops beginning this fall, a September retreat at Tutka Bay Lodge, and more. Heather Lende cut the yellow ribbon on our porch and moved us with readings from her new book, Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs. Volunteers were 'honored' (if a toilet seat, or paintbrush with googly eyes, can be considered an honor) for the amazing work they did in the last three weeks, transforming our space into beautiful shape. Writers and readers mixed on the sunny porch and in the renovated kitchen, enjoying appetizers and conversation.

There were many announcements to be made Saturday, including these biggies:

By event time, we had raised $10,009 in individual contributions, far surpassing our first May fundraising goal of $2000. Contributions ranged from $30 to $5000. We appreciate them all, and given the significant cost of renovating our space and launching the writing center (with expenses ranging from business licenses to website development) we are putting every contribution to excellent and immediate use. The fundraising campaign continues. Thank you to every one of you who sent in your contribution. We'll be listing those names in our next email newsletter.

We're on track to reach our first membership recruitment goal in record time. You don't have to be a member to enjoy our writing center events or upcoming classes, but membership does have benefits and supports our mission.

Raven's Brew Coffee has offered to be our writing center's official coffee sponsor -- with promises to keep us caffeinated at all our major events. They also charmed us with our own collection of raven-decorated ceramic mugs and travel mugs, in time for Heather Lende's reading. Raven's Brew coffee at Raven Place -- is there anything cooler than that?

We also have a new logo, and a website under construction. We'll share a glimpse of those on another day.

For now, we're trying to take just enough of a breath to bask in what we accomplished last Saturday. No one who knows me will be surprised that I got just a tiny bit choked up looking at the crowd that gathered for this first opening event: friends and colleagues, writers and editors I've known for over a decade, plus writers and readers and neighbors I met for the first time on Saturday. But why not get choked up? A writing center isn't born every day. Here's to watching it grow and blossom in the months and years to come.

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