October Thoughts from Heather Gallant, 577 Executive Director
And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. ~ Roald Dahl, The Minpins
Not a week goes by when someone doesn’t tell us how magical 577 is. We hear things like:
“I just feel good when I come here. I walk through that archway and my shoulders relax.”
“577 is like my own secret garden. It’s my happy place.”
“There’s really nowhere else like it.”
That is some special magic, hidden right here in a little corner in humble Perrysburg! Do you see it? Do you “watch with glittering eyes” to see the magic, the “greatest secrets”?
One area where we’ve been working to increase the magic is at 577’s main entrance: the historic Courtyard leading into the Welcome Center & Curiosity Shop. Wait until you see the transformation that is already in motion! What may look like concrete crop circles and mud pits will soon morph right in front of your eyes into a welcoming oasis, a calm yet energized space where you will be able to linger, learn, and play.
The updated Courtyard will lead you into another magical space at 577: the Welcome Center & Curiosity Shop itself. I’ve been thinking about what makes it so special. Unsurprisingly, it comes back to you ~ the vibrant people who come here, creativity, and nature:
- Generous, open-hearted sharing: folks freely give books, art supplies, pottery, and more in the hopes that other people will enjoy the items. When other people purchase those items, they give the item a second (or third, or fourth) life in their own homes. The money they spend on those items is then invested back into running 577’s programs so that the cost of classes can continue to be affordable.
- Conservation: keeping these donated items out of the landfill creates opportunities for other people to use them, staving off the consumption-to-disposal loop a bit longer. Mother Earth thanks you for that!
- Exploratory, slowed-down, creative ambiance: Different from other shops, being in the Curiosity Shop is intended to be a slower, more exploratory experience. It should be a quest to find a book that piques your curiosity, or a happy accident of stumbling across an art supply that electrifies your creative juices.
- Building social cohesion: everything at 577 should be in service of building a creative, caring community. The Curiosity Shop is designed to do the same, offering spots for you to sit and engage with people you may not have otherwise met.
Thanks to a second generous grant from the First Solar Community Giving Fund of the Greater Toledo Community Foundation, you can now enjoy the magic of the Curiosity Shop six days a week!
This second grant allocation provided seed money for 577 to hire a part-time employee, fiber artist Ellen Seeburger, to staff the Curiosity Shop for two additional days per week. The Welcome Center & Curiosity Shop is now open Monday through Saturday, 10:00am ~ 5:00pm!
Of course, this is only the magic of the entrance to 577. Stepping over the threshold into your other favorite spots ~ whether it’s the pottery studio, community gardens, geodesic biodome, children’s nature playscape, Virginia’s House, riverwalk, log house, and more ~ there’s magic everywhere you look. People sharing with each other, bonding and bridging differences. Learning to take care of the earth. Slowing down, exploring, and sparking creativity.
This is all magic.
Have you found it?
p.s. In addition to First Solar, please join us in thanking the generous grants and gifts that have been awarded to initiate the Courtyard magic: Country Garden Club of Perrysburg, Perrysburg Rotary Foundation, City of Perrysburg, Entelco Foundation, and Walter Krueger (who supplied the historic bricks for the project: original street bricks from downtown Toledo!). Funding is still needed to alchemize the Courtyard; contact me for details.