The following is a message I wrote to our community in early March of this past year:
This one is going to be personal.
These past few weeks have been difficult for us all. Our lives have been changed in a flash. People we know have taken ill and some have passed away. Our town, our region, our state, our country, and indeed our world, have been hit very hard. We have a long road ahead of us to get to a place where we can feel some grounding.
The Stissing Center is no exception. We have had to cut back on staff and operations for a while.
The other day, after making this difficult decision, I went to visit my dear friend, The Stissing Center building. I say “friend” because, after giving it all my attention for the past five plus years, working on its design, overseeing its construction, envisioning its potential, and hosting its first events, it has become close to me in a way I never could have imagined.
After checking out the halted progress downstairs, I walked up to the main stage space and pulled up a chair to have a silent conversation with my friend about our past and uncertain future.
It was quiet. So quiet. As quiet as I’ve ever heard it. No street noise. No construction. No music. It was also clean and totally empty. The first time I had ever seen it that way. Silence.
My friend suddenly said, in my head, “Where have you been? I’ve missed you.”
I said, (I mean I actually said aloud,) “The world has changed. Gone a bit crazy. Not sure about what is going to happen. Tomorrow…next month…next year. It all makes me want to cry.”
After a long pause, my friend said, “I get it, but I’m still here. Look, you built me for the long run. Not just for a couple of years, but for decades to be a home for music, art, dancing, laughter, community, joy, and, yes, sometimes for tears, so, go ahead and cry.”
So I did… about it all.
“Okay,” my friend finally said. “We’re not done. I’ve waited for over 100 years to be made for this, and I’m not about to let it stop now. Take the time you need to plan for the next step, but when the time comes, TAKE THAT STEP!”
This conversation actually happened.
I had been struggling to find a way to ask for help with moving The Stissing Center forward. I mean, this is just about the most difficult time for planning and gathering funds any cultural community non-profit has ever experienced.
But, after time with my friend, I can say again, without hesitation, that we will get through this and we will need The Stissing Center to be a place of celebration and shared humanity once again when we get there.
I am sharing this experience with you in the hope that you help us finish the work we began so that you can get to know my friend as well as I do.
I look forward to seeing you soon.