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Dear 418,

I first walked through your doors in 2004 for Dance Church.  I was new in town, in the middle of a divorce, and didn’t really know anyone here.

You looked like a mess, but it didn’t matter so much, because I had found something that overcame my distaste for the unsavoriness of the surroundings.  Watching the sharing circle after Dance Church, trailing along as people went to lunch at New Leaf, being greeted by folks who saw me at the dance, I felt as if there was ringing in my ears.  I didn’t know what I was feeling was Acceptance.

Something in me began to bloom then.  Was it just circumstances?  All I know was that I felt welcome.  The friendships I developed in Santa Cruz, many of which I still treasure, sprang from my times inside you.

In the last eleven years I have had my first performance experiences with you, danced hundreds of hours, and felt community in a way I never knew existed.

I don’t know what my life would have been like had I not walked through your doors, but I do know the life I have is immeasurably sweeter because of your place in it.  And I’m pretty sure life in Santa Cruz would be less sweet and less amazing without you as a community resource.

It took me quite a while to see that, even though I connect my experiences with the building itself, that your spirit doesn’t reside in the concrete or even the floor.  It lives in our hearts.

I love you, 418.

Laura Bishop

Executive Director, The 418 Project

To the 418,

This studio has changed me more profoundly than words can begin to describe.

When I first auditioned for What is Erotic? it was 2015 and I had just turned eighteen. I read two spoken word poems that I had written, but afterwards as Laura explained the schedule I was disappointed to realize that I couldn’t make the official audition or the callbacks. I reluctantly assumed that would be the end of our relationship. I was wrong, and a week later I received an email saying that I was in the show. I went to my first rehearsal, and as soon as I dove into the beautiful energy that surrounds our studio I knew that I was hooked.

The love I have for The 418 Project and the people in it is one of the purest and most selfless things I have. At fourteen I barely knew how to hug properly, and six years later I can now dance and embrace – perhaps not completely without insecurity, but with hope and genuine love. I know for a fact I wouldn’t be who I am without the studio, and I am unimaginably grateful for everything it’s done for me.

You have every best part about me, 418. And I love you, dear reader. Let’s hug it out.

Miranda Caravalho

Social Media Manager, The 418 Project