The beginning is always today…

Just a few days ago we ushered in a new year. For many people, it feels like a reset, an opportunity to start over. According to an article in Forbes from a few weeks ago, about 37% of Americans eagerly set a new year’s goal or resolution. Historically, statistics on their ability to follow through for the entire year are very low (under 10%), but despite that, 80% of them are confident they’ll follow through on their intentions.

Let’s be honest, those stats are not great or inspiring. Maybe there is a different, better way to think about goals, resolutions, trying new things, and starting again.

Maybe what we need is a shorter timeline than 12 months to start again . . .

Maybe setting an intention for ourselves in the morning, for that particular day, would give us a better success rate. That way, if we make a mistake or miss the mark that day, we will feel like we have a chance to try again sooner than to wait for the start of 2025. In the words of novelist Mary Shelley, “The beginning is always today.”

This sentiment was echoed in a 1997 article celebrating the retirement of 577’s first pottery instructor, Edith Franklin. In the article, she shared what she learned from her friend, our founder and benefactress, Virginia Secor Stranahan: “. . . to be open to new ideas and accept and welcome changes and try new things. If it doesn’t work, try again.”

How beautiful that we never have to wait until January 1 to start over! In fact, we don’t even have to wait until tomorrow. We can begin again right here, right now. And if it doesn’t work, we can always try again.

Of course, every beginning also marks an end. I’ve been reflecting the past few weeks on all of the marvelous magic you’ve created at 577 through classes, donations, purchases in the Curiosity Shop, and with your presence.

Check out these things that you made possible in 2023!

Donated 1825 pounds of produce: Community members lovingly nurtured 58 organic garden plots, donating 1,825 pounds of produce to local food banks including the Islamic Center Food Bank at Perrysburg Heights Community Center, the S.A.M.E. Café at the Toledo Public Library, and PCU Food Pantry.

Grew 1588 plants: Staff and volunteers grew 1,288 vegetable plants (and a few flowers) and 300 houseplants that were purchased by members of the community to dote on in their homes.

Over 200 pottery class sessions: The intro pottery classes welcomed 117 new students, qualifying them for independent studio time. Open-to-all pottery classes and advanced pottery classes reached over 1,000 registrations (1,077!), and advanced pottery students used the studio for independent creative time for over 4,000 hours in 2023!

928 + 289 + 348 + 246 + 353: What are all of those numbers? They represent the number of learners that engaged in Studio & Fiber Art classes, Horticulture, Garden & Nature classes, Health, Wellness & Enrichment classes, Culinary Arts classes, and we welcomed kids, ages 3 to 17, to explore across all mediums. Total: 2,164!

Opened Doors for All: Thanks to your donations to 577’s Opening Doors for All fund, with matching funds from the Trust Company Family Offices and Taylor Automotive, and a grant from the Lott Conlon Foundation, the grounds are now more physically accessible with safer sidewalks, automated doors, and raised garden beds.

New garden installation: The gardens by the Log House saw a refresh. Staff and volunteers planted the area with historically accurate medicinal and dye plants, with a wonderful nod to indigenous wisdom and ecology.

Music in the Gardens: During the summer of 2023, Music in the Gardens enhanced people’s experience outdoors and in Virginia’s House. Seven performances brought community members together to hear a variety of musical genres, supporting local musicians and performers.

Welcome Center & Curiosity Shop opened 6 days: The open hours for the Curiosity Shop increased to six days a week, thanks to a grant from the First Solar Community Giving Fund at the Greater Toledo Community Foundation.

Over 850 volunteer hours: Individual and group volunteers donated their time and talents in the gardens, pottery studio, Curiosity Shop, and for special projects and events.

Plus! The Courtyard Renovation: Thanks to your donations and grants from the Country Garden Club, Perrysburg Rotary Foundation, Toledo Rotary Foundation, Stranahan Supporting Organization, and the City of Perrysburg, this space is beautiful, safer, and more functional for lingering and enjoyment. Did you know that we’ve incorporated 1,100 historic bricks from the original streets of Toledo into the renovation? Details of phase two of this project are coming soon.

So many incredible, serendipitous moments of people coming together “to be open to new ideas and accept and welcome changes and try new things!”

Let’s keep it going in the new year. 577 is the ultimate group project, and we’re looking forward to seeing your contributions to making this happen today and every day at 577.

With all of 577’s opportunities and growth, the need for unrestricted donations is greater than ever. Will you make an end of year donation to 577 today?

Cheers to new beginnings, today and every day,

Heather

Heather Gallant, 577 Executive Director

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