Building Community

Warning nostalgic post to follow…

I’ve been painting this street for awhile now and it’s so dang hard. Yes there are lots of details with the decorative buildings but one building in particular pulls my heart strings, the building that used to house Clockworks Cafe & Cultural Center. So many great memories in this building. Under this roof ideas incubated and flourished.

I stumbled into the doors first to lead a community zine project in 2010 and my involvement grew from there. This was a time where there wasn’t much going on downtown. There were lots of empty storefronts and not a lot of events or activities for people to do (Salem’s dark ages). But things were turning around. For the first time in a long time I was able to create events and activities that used my former RA skills and my silly creative skills as well. There I could pitch ideas and the owner said “okay” (thank you Ryan!). I brought a ridiculous anti-Superstition event that was part performance art and part education. People broke mirrors, walked under ladders and spun the wheel of misfortune. I made misfortune cookies and I recall one misfortune made a poor girl cry (eek, sorry about that!) I hosted monthly community craft nights and gathered folks to fly paper airplanes from the mezzanine and taught people how to sew. I helped lead folks to collage a grand piano on a busy street corner in the Play Me I’m Yours art project. And it wasn’t just me coming up with events. At Clockworks musicians, poets, writers, photographers and activists led events that made Salem feel unique.

Those brick walls housed amazing people who also loved community. At Clockworks people came together to create KMUZ and I helped start the Salem Etsy Team there. Creatives, fueled with Stumptown coffee, shared ideas, knitted, gathered into teams, and gushed over books. It was a safe place to let ideas grow and find themselves.

I long for a place like this again. A meeting space that is free. A place where ideas are supported and encouraged. Where goofy and creative is celebrated and the growth of ideas and the human spirit is rewarded in friendships and warm memories. Thank you Ryan Rogers for bringing a golden age to our once sleepy Salem. Because he invested his funds, his trust, and his time, great things were able to happen.

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