It’s with some relief that I turn the camera away from destruction and potential destruction for a bit with a view to the Community Design Center and their efforts to make our city a better place. Located at the intersection of Union and Gay, just across from Tailor Lofts, the center has been offering professional design and planning assistance to community groups, non-profit agencies and others for over forty years.
An annual fundraiser provides some of the support needed for what is an expensive service. Many of the groups utilizing their services could never afford to pay for it themselves, so others have to step in for their work to continue. I attended my first such event last year at the Emporium, thanks to a neighbor’s generosity and this year a couple of very kind friends provided tickets for myself and Urban Woman.
It’s a fun event which starts with a great spread of food provided by local restaurants which this year included Bella Luna, Tupelo Honey, Cafe 4, MagPies, and Woodruff Brewing Company. Lovely wines were offered at the end of the serving line and beautiful tables for sitting or standing provided spaces for mingling.
For downtown residents, it’s a chance to run into friends and acquaintances. Through the course of the evening we enjoyed talking with my friend Ken Mills and his lovely family, Brenda and Josh. We talked to Finbarr Saunders and Ellen, Steve Horton, Mary Holbrook and others.
Music was provided by Yuns featuring Steve Horton (the musician, not the protester), Danny Gammon and Michael Crawley. Kelle Jolly also joined them onstage for a bit, and that’s always a treat. The last time I talked to Steve he pointed out that they were paid that night with pizza and beer which pretty much is what they’ve earned at most gigs for years (though that night he played with the Lonesome Coyotes). At least on this night the beer was good quality and the food was a definite upgrade from pizza. The music was excellent.
A silent auction garnered a bit of attention with items ranging from a Pat Summitt autographed basketball to art, services, wines and cigars. Last year I entered a $125 bid for a piece of Brian Pittman’s art and lost. This time we went for the cigars (for Urban Brother-in-law) and lost. Many of the items sold for more than their value, which is very generous on the part of those bidding.
There was very little in the way of a program explaining the Design Center and their work and I felt it could have been beefed up a bit more. Perhaps all those in attendance know what the group does, but I know it was helpful to me to hear some detail last year. Even an update on the current year’s activities would be good.
This portion of the night was wonderful and thanks go to Mary Holbrook who chaired the committee to plan the event. Of course, the big draw of the evening is the opportunity to tour a few downtown homes. Last year the focus fell on the 100 block of Gay Street and this year it shifted to Market Square homes. That will require its own blog post and I’ll try to have that for you tomorrow.
Don’t miss the irony that the same week two groups discuss plans for downtown demolitions of old buildings, a sold out (I actually heard it was over-sold) event focused on tours of guess what? Old Buildings. A huge crowd, at $50 a pop to see old buildings. Not parking lots. Old Buildings. Is anyone from St. John’s reading this?