The Smashing Color Retreats in 2012 will take place in the ArtSpace at TaborSpace in Portland, Oregon. Located in the historic Mount Tabor neighborhood, TaborSpace is an innovative grassroots community center sharing sacred space with a 100 year old stone church.
The ArtSpace is on the second floor of the Parish House. Its a comfortable, quiet, spacious, well-lit room with a large wooden table and stunning views of Portland. A perfect spot for immersing ourselves in color!
The coffeehouse at TaborSpace serves gourmet coffee, local pastries, handmade sandwiches and fresh soup. The baristas are volunteers from all around Portland. Its a non-profit so payment is by donation. Here’s a picture I took of the Commons this afternoon after the rush – note the stocking up on the mantel for all the volunteers.
There is plenty of parking and a bus stop on the corner. A pod of Portland’s famous food carts is within walking distance, and nearby B&B’s are warm and welcoming. If you are coming from out of town for one of the retreats, we can find you an affordable place to stay.
Here’s a little bit of the history of TaborSpace and of my involvement there.
Three years ago Mount Tabor Presbyterian church was almost empty except for a few hours on Sunday mornings. In the spring of 2009, I started noticing activity centered on the bell tower. A sandwich board appeared on the corner saying “TaborSpace: A Gathering Place. Elegant Coffee. Coming Soon.”
I wondered what could be going on? Was a new church moving in? Or was the building sold to a business? At the end of June, I saw that the the bell tower doors were wide open. The sign had changed to read “TaborSpace -Now Open.” I went up the steps and into a whole new phase of my life.
Don’t get me wrong. I have a church. I go every Sunday. Its a 20 minute drive. I love the progressive community and the constant challenge to activism and social justice. I have many friends there and spend lots of time volunteering. I did not need a church. What I needed was a community closer to home. A place I could walk to and get involved in.
I have a great neighborhood. We do lots of things together. The usual block parties and holiday parties of course but much more. For the last 13 years we have gathered every Wednesday night in the summer in someone’s backyard to share dessert, wine and good conversation until the stars come out. We share tools, help each other out and offer space in each other’s homes for overflow guests when someone has a big family event. We know each other pretty well, and I wanted to share that feeling with more people.
What I longed for was to ripple out from our close knit neighborhood and build community at the next level. Ten years ago I worked for the Northwest Earth Institute coordinating the Neighborhood Sense of Place Program. What we learned was that strengthening the connections between people who lived close to each other enriched their lives in very natural ways. Ways that were simple, affordable, and did not use up the resources of the earth.
The TaborSpace project was founded in 2009 by church members and a committed team of neighbors in order to build community and to offer this beautiful, historic building as a resource for the neighborhood. Just five blocks from my house, TaborSpace is now at the heart of my local community.
The new coffee house welcomed the neighborhood to come in, enjoy locally roasted Ristretto coffee and pastries from Nuvrei Bakery in the Pearl District, and relax in the Commons surrounded by stained glass and good company. I was drawn by the beauty of the architecture, the spirit of welcoming, and the fun of working together on something brand new – a unique overlapping of church and neighborhood.
Do the congregation and the neighbors always see eye to eye? No. Sometimes its a little bit tense as we work together to build trust and share this beautiful building. But it is working. There are new events and activities happening every day – and more and more people of all ages coming through the doors, for yoga, music, art, and healing. Though the TaborSpace project is intentionally non-denominational, the Church’s coffee-house service on Sunday is growing. Its a classic win-win.
What started as a partnership between the church and the neighborhood is becoming a thriving grassroots community center. I am so happy to be there and to offer the 2012 Color Retreats in this place that is now my second home. Please consider coming to experience it for yourself!
For more information on TaborSpace.
PS The beautiful drawing above was done by one of the TaborSpace team members, Jim Longstreth of PhotoBrush Studio.