Librero=Bookshelf and Other Things We’ve Learned at La Colmena

Colmena teñido 2

 

The forniture donation we got a few days ago has made a huge difference to the Casa Colmena, or at least it seems that way to me. The tiny bookshelf we had before was overflowing with books so much that it was difficult to even try to organize them. Once we got the new bookshelf, big, red, and shiny, it seemed like our library started really growing. We have started to create a catalogue of the books we have, and to arrange them in sections: There are lots of History and Latin American Studies Books, lots of poetry books because we have quite a few poet friends, and now lots of children’s books because I brought in all my childhood books.

Finally having a table and chairs inspired us to rearrange the space to have more definite purposes for the different rooms in the house. One of the rooms (the one with the wooden floor thanks to my friend Antares’ floor donation) is now totally clear for the things that need more space, like Yoga and theatre rehearsals. The smaller room has become the library/reading space, and we have been holding there the English and Spanish learning group. The textiles dyeing class used the little backyard today to dye and let dry some awesome shirts, scarfs, and socks; and Java can always be found in between the kitchen and the garage, making some delicious food or creating a masterpiece with recycled materials.

The first month here was really busy, and for me personally, quite stressful and difficult. Signing the contract for the house and getting the support of some family friends to be able to do so felt like a big, scary thing. I was not sure how to assume a role of organizer while trying to set up a horizontal structure, and I often felt overwhelmed, scared, and unsure of where things were going and whether I was or would enjoy them. I could see the good things that this project was bringing though, I could feel that people were happy to be sharing this, and I felt incredibly lucky to have around so many people that I love and admire. So I guess it was like seeing all these great things but not really being able to enjoy them because of the pressure I felt, but in the past few days, this has started to change, and I feel like I’m finally having a little bit of time to see what we are doing and stop to enjoy it. Hana and Onyinye had to leave at the end of June, and it was really sad to have to say goodbye so soon to two amazing friends and people who were here for such a crucial time at La Colmena, putting in so much work and figuring out with us how to live, create, and learn together. But right then Yaqing and Emily arrived and brought to the house a refreshing outlook and new and exciting ideas that are making La Colmena acquire that feeling of permanent change that I assumed it would have and that will, I hope, keep it always open and in movement.

Today I had a staffing shift at La Colmena with my sister (we have a staffing schedule to make sure there’s always someone greeting people who come by, introducing the project before every workshop, taking care of some small chores, etc.) and we got to help out with some awesome things that happened. Five children came to the batuque workshop, a space for playing percussions that had always been attended only by adults but that was open to anyone who wanted to come. There’s no need to say that the workshop was a little more chaotic than it usually is, but the parents of these children left really happy about the space and said they will come back tomorrow for the Taller de Reflexión para Padres y Madres de Familia, a space for parents to reflect on parenting issues and strategies. All the children left with a book they borrowed from our little library.

Neighbor Luis came to the English and Spanish space and read some poetry with Java, Emily, Chloe, and Roxana. Some of us went to play basketball at the courts that are under the bridge a block away from the house, and on the way there, they found an abandoned fridge, the one thing we really needed!

Melipona got a new necklace that Rebecca made for her, and she also got milk and kitten food that my mom brought her, so she ran and played in the backyard and around the house. Tomorrow I’m going early in the morning to pick up another furniture donation before my staffing shift, so I should go to bed now, but coming soon from La Colmena… a radio show, a documentary, a fotoblog, a zine, a comedy troupe, and mucho mucho más, we hope.

-Mariana

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