Monday, January 26, 2009

Cleaning Up The Interplayers Theatre

Here is my first entry of a "Spirit of Service" story (which are explained here). There's a theater in Spokane called Interplayers. It is our last remaining professional theater in town, what with ARt (actors repertory theatre) and CenterStage having shut down in the past year. They are the nicest people there, do wonderful theater, and are very welcoming. A year or so ago, they even had me come do a reading of my baseball novel (called "Until The End Of The Ninth," based on the true story of the 1946 Spokane Indians minor league baseball team that died in a bus crash midway through the season).

There is another group in town that was new to me until a few days ago. They are called the Spokane Preservation Advocates (SPA). They are about 10 years old, have about 800 members, and work diligently to "maintain and improve Spokane's historic character by preserving our heritage and pursuing outstanding, compatible new development."

So what happened when these two groups came together this past Saturday? A clean-up, that's what. It was SPA's idea. Once a quarter (or more often), SPA chooses a "doing it" project for hands-on preservation work. This quarter, they chose to clean up Interplayers, itself in a historic building. Interplayers was thrilled. And a mess. When I read about the clean-up project here,, I thought I'd try to come by and help. It didn't matter that I wasn't an SPA member - one handwritten nametag later, and I was drafted for the project. I got assigned to the "sorters" group. We were in charge of hanging up clothes, organizing hats, and identifying trash for tossing. It was freezing cold! (Interplayers keeps some floors heatless to save on costs.) We wore winter coats as we sorted (at least I did). We took some goofy photos wearing various theater hats which likely will be uploaded on the SPA at some point. It was fun, and fast. Anytime you have five or more people helping, the job can go quickly. We talked a lot, too, about SPA's different projects. My mom's a historian and I'm a storyteller, so I do really honor and respect the kind of work they do. Currently they are working hard to save big trees in town - very important. Also, we lamented how one of our historic buildings got torn down because the owner (from CA, and without a care about this place) refused to sell it at a reasonable price, even to a local building owner (Rob Brewster) who was willing to take on the project to save the building. In the end, they just tore down the building to build a parking
.........SPA folks at Interplayers.................. garage. I will never, ever park there. Ever.

I had decided to help with the clean-up before I knew about the "Spirit of Service" section for this blog. But once I was there on Saturday, I thought this story would make a great first-entry into the foray of celebrating service. These organizations are two of the greatest groups in this community, run by people with a passion for the project but not always with the recognition that they deserve. Hats off (or on!! as the case may be) to both Interplayers Theatre and Spokane Preservation Advocates. Thanks for being here in town.
The one thing I didn't ask the SPA folks: how did doing this project feel in light of this recent "call to service" by our new president? Feel free to leave a comment below in the "comments" section on that (or on anything else, of course). For me, it was a wonderful coincidence to set the intention of doing something service-oriented and then be able to manifest that intention just a few days later.
BTW, SPA does things besides "doing it" projects. They even have grants that they fund from their own coffers. Check out their site: Also, here's the website for Interplayers:

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