I was asked to say a few words last week at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ArtSpace building that is going up in Elgin. ArtSpace, in case you haven't heard of it, is an organization out of Minnesota that builds affordable live-work lofts for artists and their families. Now that is an organization that I could get behind: I happen to be a big believer that artists are among the first indications that a neighborhood is about to have a renaissance. We had gotten in touch with the good folks at this particular ArtSpace in the hopes that we might be able to find affordable space to turn into the headquarters for Blue Damen Pictures (it's still up in the air) so when the opportunity to speak at the groundbreaking ceremony came up we jumped on it.
I'd never been to a groundbreaking ceremony before, much less spoken at one, so I didn't have any expectations. It all took place on October 18th , 2011 in the soon-to-be-demolished building at 51 South Spring Street where the new ArtSpace building will eventually stand. When I got there I at first thought that I'd missed it as the construction crew was already at work tearing up the building next door before noticing a crowd disappearing around a corner down the street.
I may have had trouble finding the place but I think I was the only one: there was a great turnout. I recognized quite a lot of people, to my surprise. We'd done some shooting in town over the summer and into the fall and had gotten to know more people with the city than I realized. The other speakers were all very important folks:
- Mayor Kaptain, City of Elgin
- Keith Farnham, State Representative
- (Me- Representing the artists in the area I guess)
- Mark Siegle, Owner of Seigle's Cabinet Center
- Michael Noland, State Senator
- Karen McConnaughay, Kane County Board Chairman
- Mark Harris, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of Governor Pat Quinn
I don't remember what I said, exactly, but I don't recall stumbling too much for not having any notes: I wasn't a "pro" speaker like my fellow speakers, after all! But I got to feel like a big-shot getting to hobnob with so many actual big-shots. Who knew that groundbreaking ceremonies were such a big deal?