Sometimes I get encouraging emails or comments that show that people are truly grasping what we are trying to do in this space – other times not so much. It is a fine line that we are trying to walk here at The Water Shed Arts Cafe. Our name embodies our purpose – we are attempting to create a place where everyone feels at home; is encouraged in their own personal creative expression and experience; and can connect with others that are both similar, and completely different from themselves. We want people to feel ownership; that they are a part of the creation of the cafe, because they are.
We are about the community and so we reflect the community. We are who we are because of the groups of people who have found a home here. The fine balance is for everyone to be able to have this experience that chooses to participate in our little experiment. However what often happens is a certain group feels ownership, and they name the cafe for their personal expression and experience – so we are labeled a student hangout, a business office, a kids playroom, or are associated with a particular faith.
This last label is a real juggling act for us.
Religion and spirituality is core to many peoples existence or experience, and the label can have two effects – it can cause people to feel as though they belong, or conversely can cause people to feel on the outside. Some people are excited and want to be connected with a group that claims a certain faith, others just want to run as far away as possible. So how do we here at The Water Shed create a place that is safe and welcoming for everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or faith? This has and will continue to be our greatest challenge.
I guess we have to continue to speak out commitment for this to be a safe space for everyone to express themselves and find a home. We are committed to community with all. We are committed to promoting justice locally and in the world at large. We are committed to excellence in what we do. We are committed to the arts and providing a showcase for existing and aspiring local artists of all varieties. And we are a work in progress. Our greatest hope is that you will join us on our journey.