Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Demo Day

"Demo Day" is this Sunday, April 22
On most Sundays, the corner of Young and Park witnesses the arrival and departure of those attending First Presbyterian Church. Sometimes, street feeders swoop in to the southside of Young, pulling up in front of The Stewpot’s main door, to hand out sausage sandwiches and a few words of evangelism to homeless individuals.
But this Sunday, something entirely different will occur at the corner of Young and Park—a building will be dismantled to pave the way for an outdoor amphitheater. What you will be able to see swooping in this Sunday will be a demolition claw knocking down the walls of 1900 Young.
Sometimes, something must be torn down for something new to be built up. In good theological fashion, that is the current situation for 1900 Young. That building will come down so that something new can come forth.
Demo Day marks the beginning of a major expansion of The Stewpot’s ministry. The Stewpot will reach across Park Avenue to save a historic building and create a resource center, with something for everyone. In this, it continues its innovative approach to emerging community needs.
Last year when The Stewpot purchased the three properties across from it, they had been empty and neglected for twenty years.
The Stewpot recognized that they provided a unique opportunity to grow its programs. For the core clientele of The Stewpot, programs we have been involved in will be able to be expanded by the addition of the space across the Street.
The Open Art Studio will move to 508 Park, and a pottery workshop and framing shop will be added.  The concerts for homeless individuals which have been ongoing for more than fifteen years will perhaps be staged in the amphitheater in future years.
A recording studio will be created, so that groups can record in the historic space where people like blues legends Robert Johnson and Eric Clapton recorded in the past. Homeless individuals will be provided opportunities to record.
Educational opportunities for children and youth will include receiving music lessons from our music partners. They will also have the opportunity to learn how to do a music recording in the recording studio.
          Many exhibits of art from the Open Art Studio are hosted throughout the year at various local galleries, as well as at the annual exhibit each December at the Dallas Public Library. At 508 Park, a permanent gallery space will be created for displaying and selling the artists’ creations. Like music, art is a medium that unites people. As more and more people experience art created by homeless and at-risk individuals, we expect that some of the barriers of prejudice about homelessness may be broken down. Since, with each sale, The Stewpot artists earn money, a permanent Art Gallery provides more opportunities for self-sufficiency.
          Also included in 508 Park will be a small coffee bar, a green room for performers at the amphitheater, office space on the second floor for music partner organizations, an event place (including a roof deck) for meetings and celebrations, and a Museum of Street Culture that provides a social context for the music that was recorded at 508 in the 1930s and for the social locations of the Depression of the 1930s and of homelessness today. The flat lot on the south side of 508 will become a community garden space.
         508 Park will be a place where music will continue to be made. We especially are envisioning programs that will work with children and youth to insure that music is a part of their lives. 508 Park is moving music and artistic outreach into the future in a way that is inclusive of all varieties of people and welcoming of all.
          Demo Day begins at noon. A small ceremony will occur and then the demolition claw will do its job. Bruce Buchanan suggests “if that doesn’t work, then everyone will be given a hammer.” The General Contractor is J. P. Barry and the architects are Good Fulton and Farrell.
          Twenty years in the making, Demo Day will continue The Stewpot’s work of making new things possible. Join us as we begin transforming the corner of Young and Park.
For further information see 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pilot Food Distribution Program

Saturday, March 31st was an exciting day at The Stewpot for staff, volunteers, and 13 families who participate in our ESL classes.  The Stewpot is now serving as a Multi-Family Food Program distribution site for Crossroads Community Services—and Saturday was the pilot distribution!

On Friday, staff members received a huge palette of bulk food items from CCS—including frozen chicken quarters, eggs, jalapeno peppers, corn, and much more. Volunteers arrived at 10:30 Saturday morning prepared to have fun and work hard—which they did! They began by spreading the 1,761 lbs of food out on tables by food category. Once that was done, they began building each family’s individual food order. Each family received a week’s worth of groceries—and because of the incredible system Crossroads has in place, each member of every family received their correct caloric amount of food based on age, gender, and activity level.

The families joined the group at noon and everyone enjoyed a brief nutrition lesson (be sure to make half your plate fruits and vegetables!) and Ants on a Log (or celery with cream cheese and raisins…) before the groceries were loaded up into each family’s vehicle. It was a warm and rewarding day of hard work and fun. We are now eagerly looking forward to our next food distribution on Saturday, June 23rd! If you are interested in volunteering please contact our Director of Volunteers, Jean Jones, at