Intern Articles

Tori Simpson

Mar 31

[ARCHIVED] Revitalizing the "Old Rec"

The original item was published from March 31, 2021 2:02 PM to April 30, 2021 9:51 AM

The walls are thin at the Community Art Center.  Really thin.  When a child runs down the hallway, I can hear it from my office three rooms away.  When three children run down the hallway, it sounds like a heard of elephants.  I am careful about having private conversations - even when my door is closed.   And when the theater group is rehearsing for a show, I inadvertently memorize all the songs too.   

I love the noise.  I love the distraction of a group of squealing children or from an art teacher looking for the glue sticks.  I love the activity and the humanity of it all.  Having this building full of activity fills me with pride and laughter and satisfaction in my role as a community builder.  It drives my purpose and reminds me why I work here.  And, in more ways than one, the noise is very symbolic of our #MountainForward movement. 

If you have lived in Truckee for any length of time, chances are high that you have been in this building.   Known to many as “the Old Rec”, this place has been through many reincarnations.  Over 100 years ago, this building was the local elementary school.  Fifty years ago, the Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District (TDRPD) acquired it and turned it into a recreation center.  Ten years ago, it was turned over to lessees and local businesses.  Now, in 2020 it is the Community Art Center.

When TDRPD decided to reinvest in this building it was a conscious decision to focus on art and culture.  Recreation takes on many forms, and in this town full of world class athletics art is sometimes an afterthought.  But we saw an opportunity to deliver on something that the community needed.  Not everyone is an athlete and offering a space for art is the type of creative evolution that #MountainForward is all about.  Art, as our Wonderhub preschool teacher Julie says, “can change our way of thinking and seeing the world.”  Or, as our pottery teacher Patty says, “Without ART, Earth is just Eh.”  

About this time last year, the Community Art Center was progressing slowly but surely with afterschool art classes, adult workshops, film festivals and a weekday movie series.  But you know what happened next.  Coronavirus took over our world and with it our vision of what the Community Art Center could be changed.

We needed space to care for children.  
Within weeks, we had this building licensed with the state as a childcare center, and the Community Art Center had every room full of physically distant children going to school virtually.  With the full-on investment of an amazing staff team, we had this place hopping with grateful parents and smizing kids and whatever type of programing the state allowed at the given moment.  The Community Art Center has been a symbol of resilience and #MountainForward since we reopened in mid-May. 

Next Monday our school district will be going back to school in-person five days a week.  Thank goodness!  If you ask me (a parent of 2 school-aged children) it is overdue.  But going back to in-person learning has created another adjustment for the Community Art Center.  We have a bit more down time in the schedule here.  It is time for another adjustment.  Another #MountainForward move.  I’m excited to see where this new opportunity will take the facility next.