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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