This is my time.
When I moved to Washington, DC after my freshman year in college, I used to ride the Metro to dance classes multiple times a week. One stretch of the ride was above street level, and passed through a rather deserted and depressing section of the city. These types of areas have always called to me, in every city I have spent time in – from San Francisco to Paris. The grittiness, the harshness, the creative use of materials and spaces when buildings and streets are no longer in their prime, have always captured my interest. There was one building I passed on the train that caught my eye in particular. It was a huge structure, obviously some sort of warehouse, abandoned years ago. The entire length of the rectangular building was encased in a domed roof. I could visualize the inside as the perfect open warehouse space. Without even understanding the importance of it, I remember saying to myself, “I am going to renovate that space someday.” At the time, I was still thinking I would pursue architecture as a career, but even then I imagined it as an arts space. Soon after, I moved and bought a car and put the building out of my mind.
Several years later, I found myself being recruited to manage a dance stage at a month-long visual and performing art event. My first visit to the site took me to the top floor, where the dance stage would be housed. The newly developed high-rise hadn’t been completed on the inside, so consisted only of floors and columns and concrete, with no interior walls or lighting or fixtures. This was the perfect recipe for creativity and I was immediately hooked. The building would be brimming with artwork, dance performances, music, food and drinks every day for an entire month. Each night slightly different, each night offering new possibilities. As I gazed out of the expanse of glass behind the stage, there it was… “my building!” It seemed to me a sign that I was supposed to be working and learning in that space, all the while keeping an eye on my future site. I was reinvigorated to work with these artists so that someday, I could make “my space” a reality. That was five years ago.
I went to visit “my building” again recently. This was the first time, remarkably, that I had walked around its perimeter. The area around it is going through major transitions. It’s being developed and gentrified, with pockets of neighborhoods that seem to be trying to hold onto their footing. The space itself is now being used as a parking garage, and has a for lease sign on it. I snapped the below photos and entertained the idea of calling the leasing office, but then thought better of it.
Life changes, priorities shift, dreams fade. Or not. Almost eleven years after my first sighting, I find myself ready to move back to DC and return to this very same dream, of renovating a building (“my building” preferably) and turning it into a creative community space. This dream just won’t go away. This time, I plan to listen.
So in a month I begin in earnest to get settled back into the city and arts community, work on my business planning and vision, and then set about to put together my small but mighty team that will be able to help make this dream a reality. I finally am beginning to understand I can’t do this alone and I’m ready to embrace that realization. I will be looking for innovative thinkers, entrepreneurs, socially conscious business-makers, and all around enthusiastic creatives. Know someone who fits the bill? Send ’em my way.
Here’s to another day of creativity…