The Community Building campus is situated right downtown — it welcomes visitors and Spokane natives alike into the heart of our city. With a plethora of stores selling local handmade goods, art lining the walls and spaces for people to gather, the building is a testament to what makes Spokane Spokane.
When Jim Sheehan inherited a large sum of money 24 years ago, he immediately got to work on a Main Avenue building creating a space for nonprofits to gather and where innovation thrives.
"It's not the building that's inherently special," says his daughter, Katy Sheehan. "It's the community that makes the building special."
Katy is just one contributor included in the new book One-Block Revolution: 20 Years of Community Building. It's not every day that you get a book written about a specific building in your city, but the Community Building warrants that kind of attention.
"This building welcomes everyone," Katy Sheehan says. "When my dad started this project 20 years ago, this wasn't 'downtown' yet. People thought he was crazy, asking, 'Why are you doing this?' The buildings are beautiful and were originally a part of Chinatown, so they have significance and importance to the Asian-American community. This was a place of gathering before we got here and was absolutely worth saving."
It turns out that a couple dozen other Spokanites feel the same way. The book contains essays by 20 Spokane natives who describe their connection to and adoration for the Community Building, including Summer Hess, the book's editor and Jim Sheehan's previous executive assistant and project manager. Hess split the book into two parts: "Community Building is a Noun" and "Community Building is a Verb."
"We weren't trying to write a history," Hess says. "It's a representation of the kinds of players that help a place like this run."
In Hess' introduction to the book, she mentions the mission statement of the Community Building: "To host, inspire, and catalyze social change in the Spokane region." The statement is reflected in the tenants of the Community Building: the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, Refugee Connections Spokane, the city's beloved independent movie theater, the Magic Lantern, and the Saranac Commons.
"That mission statement is still true to this day," Hess says. "And it will evolve and change along with our city. Spokane is constantly evolving, so of course we should move along with it."
A celebration for the release of One-Block Revolution will be held at the Community and Saranac buildings on Friday Dec. 3, from 5-8 pm. Festivities will include appetizers, live music, a no-host bar, tours of the building, and conversations with building residents and book contributors. There will also be a panel moderated by Hess, which features several of the book's contributors at 6 pm.
"We're so excited to invite the community to a celebration of this book hosted in the space that it's about," Hess says. ♦
One-Block Revolution Release Celebration • Fri, Dec. 3, 5-8 pm • Free (donations in support of the Salish School are accepted) • Community and Saranac Buildings • 25-35 W. Main Ave • community-building.org