What a difference a year makes.

One year ago today I took the $9,000 I had saved from my photography biz (and auctioning off my paintings) to purchase a 12,000 sq. ft. empty auto parts store for $78,900 – regardless of some skepticism.

An additional $42,747.44 later, we have a full blown arts center with a dance floor, 20×30 stage, theatre seating for 120, stage lights, a sound system, cinematic movie projector, gallery space, music room, concessions area… And between camps, classes, and donations we brought in $27,266!

I – AM – PROUD.

Did we make money? – No. Did I lose money? Weeeellll, I guess the short answer is yes but the actual answer is “HEEELLLLL NO”.

Sometimes I hear that little voice saying: “Who does that?” Who says, “I’m going to buy a building, a HUUUGE building, sink 40K in and believe, that within a year, we’ll recover 27K back.” Crazy people I guess. But anyone who knows me has called me crazy at least once – or maybe a few dozen/hundred times.

I think the world needs more ‘crazy’ people.

Without my crazy I never would have had a home to go to when my marriage fell apart. Without my crazy I wouldn’t have been surrounded by fellow crazies, at the ready to hold me up when the most familiar of my walls came crumbling down. Without my crazy I might have second-guessed the second greatest thing that ever happened to me…

Today, one year ago, I liberated my creativity, true inner child, unbridled passion, independence – simply, myself. I wish the same for anyone who ever, even for one second, dreamt any dream that anyone else deemed impossible.

I want to thank the people who made it possible. Those who have helped me wake up with such purpose that I can barely get to sleep at night (every-single-night).

I want to thank the people who have stuck with me through arguments, tears, nervous breakdowns, my darkest moments of anger and doubt… Oh – and also, NO HEAT during the absolute coldest spell on Pennsylvania record.

They are the true heroes. They are my friends. No giant grants or huge corporate dollars built this place. THEY did. $5.00 – $50.00 – a hundred-dollar donation – a spot in camp or painting party appearance made this place possible. Volunteers who killed themselves to save us thousands and thousands of dollars put breath into the beams and life in the seats.

This is the place that WE built. Near or far, sweat or donation, the people who truly care to keep the arts alive made this happen and continue to do so.

I have doubted myself. This winter and family change has brought me to an unwelcome place where I had to force myself not to give up. But I won’t. I promise you again. Evo is a commitment I made to myself, my community, my sons, my friends, the volunteers…

The New Year is a time to reflect on the past and the future.

I am doing that now, and once again let me shout it from the rooftops, I – am – proud.

We created something from almost nothing. We will continue creating as long as there is breath in my body (and even after that y’all know I will haunt anyone who tries to take this down!)

Happy New Year my friends (and fellow crazies). I can’t wait to see what we create in 2018.